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Chapter 8 - Shall We Dance
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     A month has past since Sarca and Becca came. Their visit has been uneventful despite the excitement it has caused among the people. As for Titian, he has been on his best behavior after being released.
     The Summerfest Ball is at the end of this week and the excitement of the event is felt everywhere. I’m amused as I watch everyone run around getting the preparations done. The only thing I’m not amused about is the idea of my sister taking me on the shopping trip she has planned.
     It’s unnerving though, the waiting that is. Nothing has happened since that day. The suspense is eating away at me. Sigh.
     “You shouldn’t look so… what? Why are you smiling at me that way?”
     “You’ve managed to escape from your court I see.” I giggle seeing him blush. “How long do you think you can evade them?”
     “For as long as possible.” He and I look out over the terrace at the people scurrying about down below. “I hate balls, I’ll be glad when this is all done with.”
     “I’m a little nervous.”
     “Nervous? About what?”
     “Well, this is the first time I’ll be going like a real girl. I haven’t gone dolled-up since I was about seven or eight.”
     Titus let out a light laugh and puts a hand on my shoulder, “I’m sure you’ll do fine. Not to mention you’ll be the prettiest one there.”
     “There he is!” a voice yells.
     “Got to run, see ya Shaina,” and just like that he was gone.”
     “Was that Titus I saw dashing across the palace?”
     “Yep that was him.”
     “You’d swear he was running from the plague.”
     “How so?”
     “Imagine, Sarca, that instead of being an idol, you were a princess; an unmarried princess, who was about to attend a ball with a lot of men looking for a wife.”
     “Ah, gotcha.” We laugh imagining Titus’ face as he’s surrounded by women. “Anyhow, you ready for some shopping?”
     “Too bad.” She grabs my arm a lugs me away.

     I can’t breathe; I don’t see how girls wear corsets.
     “Shaina, you look amazing.”
     “Becca, what are you doing here, shouldn’t you be getting ready for the show?”
     “Yes, but Sarca wanted me to check on you.”
     “You mean she wanted you to make sure that I don’t run off.”
     “Heh, yes.” She walks over to me, “Just look at you. What a fine princess you are.”
     I turn away, “I’m not as lovely as you two though.”
     “Shaina,” she stands behind me, rubbing my shoulders, “look at you.” I veer my eyes to my reflection in the mirror. “You may not have the charm or grace that we possess, but then you wouldn’t be you otherwise. You are charming in your own way. But trust me, with how you look tonight, charm will be the last thing on anyone’s mind.” She gives me a hug and walks away, “You’re a princess, and tonight everyone will see that. Enjoy it.”
     After she leaves I look at my reflection. My long red and black dress, with long sleeve, opens at the elbow. I can’t get past the cut though; it’s rather long and comes off my shoulders. I close my eyes and breathe deep.
     “You’ll be fine Princess,” Titian whispers. I open my eyes and look at his reflection.
     “I don’t think I can do this.”
     He motions me to look at him, “Shaina, just be yourself. A dress doesn’t make you a better person; it’s the person under the dress that makes it worthwhile.” I look up at him with a smile, he smiles back. “Now then, shall we go?”
     “Yes, let’s.”

     We stop outside the Grand Ballroom. The music can be heard through the large shut doors. My heart is racing. It’s almost like the calm before going to battle, the anticipation of it all.
     “Ready my dear?”
     “No,” I respond and tighten my grip on his arm.
     He pats my hand and gives a comforting smile. “Just remember, there’s nothing you have to prove. Just be yourself.” Titian motions the men to open the doors and they respond with a bow. The act of opening the doors creates a booming sound that echoes throughout the room, despite all the noise.
     As we enter the room not too many people stop to stare. The lights are so bright it’s almost blinding, and the room is filled with so much color between the guests and the decorations.
     Titian leans and whispers in my ear, “Now remember, smile.”
     “I don’t recall how to.”
     “Sure you can, imagine all the ladies’ faces once they realize who you are.”
     That worked, in fact the thought was so amusing I had to keep from laughing as we began our decent down the stairs. The further down we got, the more people began to stop and stare. I was losing my happy thought then I spotted Titus. He was surrounded by women but smiles up at me once he noticed my arrival.
     With the Prince’s eye fixated on me, everyone stops to look. I’ve never seen so many stunned faces. I had to make sure not to laugh. He makes his way through the crowd.
     At the bottom of the stairs we met. He has a huge a huge smile on his face. He and Titian bow, Titus then bows to me and I do my best curtsy. He takes my hand and leads me away.
     “Thank heavens you got here, I was about to go mad.”
     “Is that so?” Here I thought you were coordinating a harem while choosing one bride.”
     “You jealous?”
     “Why should I be?”
     We laugh and smile together, and the next thing I know we’re at the stage. Titus goes up to make introductions and to start the welcoming ceremonies. Perhaps the ball isn’t so bad afterall.

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