Tatania is tired of living in her sister's shadow but doesn't know about Princess Anna's dark secret. Bound by a sacred oath, Anna's struggles to live a double life that can never be her own.
Described as "Sense and Sensibility meets Ever After with ninjas," Arabesque is full of action, romance, intrigue, and betrayal.
Since I've always been super paranoid, Arabesque was officially copyrighted in 2009. Duplication or use of this work in any other form is prohibited by law.
Read Chapter 1 here.
So I won't give you the details of the ear-splitting lecture that I got. Naturally, Elena decided that I was the leader of our little expedition, and that I'd corrupted a very innocent young gentleman, and "barbarically assaulted an honored guest...thus endangering diplomatic relations with a foreign ally."
Yep, that's me in a nutshell... a malignant, barbaric disgrace to the royal family. Okay, I'll admit, attacking a diplomat and kissing a guy in the snow right in front of everyone weren't the smartest things I'd ever done. No, you really don't want to know what the dumbest ones were. Believe me, it's painful.
Elena's punishment reflected the extent of her evil genius. On the upside, we would be going home in a few days instead of the weeks we'd expected. The downside, I would be the official royal liaison to Sir Alec's family. You see, Lady Elena seemed to resort to a desperate make it or break it approach with me. The experience would either transform me into the appropriate lady that she wanted me to be, or end up "a complete disgrace, neither acknowledged nor spoken of in good company. No more absurd dilly-dallying between the two," she had said.
So, a few days later, Anna and I were packed and heading home. I was excited to leave, but I was very worried about what Father and Aunt Eloise were going to say about the incident. I'd disappointed them yet again.
Thankfully, the weather had turned warm, almost like spring decided to arrive entirely overnight, but it was hard to enjoy the quiet ride in the beautiful weather. Alec and Dorian were both in our carriage.
I could stand Alec not liking me, the feeling was very mutual, but Dorian hadn't spoken to me, or barely looked at me since the kiss. What was going on? Did he like me or not?!
I thought our experience would bring us together, but the last few days before we left, it was almost like he was avoiding me. I tried to go places I thought he'd be, but he hardly was, and if I did see him...was he ignoring me or did he just forget that I existed?
I could tell that Alec was avoiding me. One time when I actually managed to find Dorian, he was talking with a group of people; Alec was nearby with how own group. When I walked over to join Dorian, Alec excused himself and left the room. Of course, I was totally okay with him avoiding me-the less I had to deal with him, the better.
Riding with those two, I realized that there weren't just bad feelings between Alec and I, Dorian and Alec didn't seem to like each other either. I hardly noticed at first because it seemed so natural to me to not want to look at or listen to Alec.
After our first day of the journey, I noticed how quiet our carriage actually was. Anna and I spoke a bit, but how could we really be expected to say anything with those two listening? Alec and Dorian barely spoke to each other at all. Of course, they were both nice to Anna, but if they weren't talking to her, they kept quiet.
We stayed overnight in the small town of Kiress. Anna and I started to leave the inn together, hoping for time without men, but they caught up to us before we'd gotten more than a few steps out of the building.
There was no way I was going to put up with Alec a second longer than I had to, so I asked Dorian if he'd escort me through town. Hat shopping was the best excuse I could come up with, which was ridiculous because I'd never actually felt comfortable wearing hats. I mean, some were absolutely beautiful, but I had the uncanny ability to make the most elegant hat look absurd once it was on my head.
Dorian and I made out way to the commercial district of the town. It wasn't very large, but it did have one millinery shop with enough hats to keep us occupied well past the short time we had until sunset.
I looked over the hats without much interest. Some were gorgeous, others were as ridiculous as I knew I'd look in any hat.
I tried to think of something to say to Dorian, but things had been so weird between us that I didn't know where to start.
What did he think of me? Did he think of our one kiss as often as I did?
I glanced at him while pretending to examine a hat. My heart fluttered. He was gorgeous! It was hard not to look at him forever. My eyes jerked back to the hat as he started to turn toward me.
"Do you actually plan on trying on any of these or are we just going to stare at them all night?" He asked winking.
I blushed and reached for the nearest one.
"Not that hat makes a statement!" He laughed.
I tore the hat off my head and saw I'd chosen a particularly ugly one.
"Well, you know how outspoken I am..." I tried to cover my embarrassment with a giggle, but it sounded too nervous. "Maybe it's time I put it to good use and revolutionized fashion."
"That hat would be a unique fashion trend. How about this one?"
He picked up another hideous hat. I reached for it, but stopped short as he put it on his head instead!
I burst out laughing.
"Not my style, eh?"
"Haha! No...definitely not!" I took the hat from him and out it back, getting another for myself. "But maybe we should just tick to trying the lady's hats on ladies and men's to men...I think we're upsetting the shopkeeper."
We tried hideous hat after hat, laughing quietly. After a while, Dorian tilted his head to the side, examined me, then put another one on me. This one was a finely woven hat with simple, but pretty design, very different from all others we'd played with.
"Now, this one..." His hand gently brushed my cheek. "This one, I Iike."
Warmth flooded my cheeks and lingered where he had touched me.
I stumbled over my words. "Oh...surely not. No hats look good on me..."
He frowned. "Perhaps you are right."
My heart sank.
He continued, "I wasn't necessarily talking about the hat, but you're right. No hat looks merely good on you, they're far too plain to compete with such beauty. But I do think this hat compliments you best. We must have it!"
I paid for the hat and we left together, walking slowly toward the inn. We needed to be back before dark, but we were in no hurry to end our time together.
We walked in silence. Every time I tried to look at him from beneath my new hat, I blushed and stared at the ground again.
An awkward step set me off balance and he grabbed my hand to keep me from falling on my face.
I murmured a thank you and regretfully started to put my hand back, but he held it in his.
We walked silently. I still couldn't look at him for long without being forced to look down again.
Seriously, Tat! I thought. What is your problem? For goodness sake, you conspired with and kissed this guy but now you can't even look at him??
Still mentally kicking myself, I said, "I still haven't thanked you for your help at the snowball fight. I'm sorry if I got you in any trouble."
"Trouble? Ha! That was nothing! Besides, that kiss was worth it."
I was too stunned by his casual mention of the kiss to respond, and he continued. "You've always been a fighter, a rebel; I knew you had it in you, but scheming with you was more fun than I'd imagined."
Drumming up some courage, I managed to say, "You weren't so bad yourself...the whole snowball fight was your idea after all." Then I smiled. "You sure thrashed Alec! That guy's going to hate you a long time for that one."
"That guy would hate me even if I hadn't humiliated him, but it's all icing on the cake."
"It was a good day, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, almost everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. Say, where'd your sister learn to throw like that? I've still got some bruises from where she hit me!"
"I don't know. I didn't have any idea she could do that!"
"I doubt anyone would expect that from Prim Princess Anna."
That was true, but it grated on my nerves to hear him say it like that.
He flourished a bow, kissed my hand, and bit me goodnight outside of the inn.
I stood there, stunned. I hadn't been paying attention and I had no idea how long we'd been standing there in front of the inn. Finally moving my hand back to my side, my eyes darted around embarrassed. From the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Alec move back from an upstairs window.
Ugh, I thought to myself. Duty calls.
We started our journey again early the next morning. Dorian had managed to convince everyone to mix things up a bit, so I ended up sitting beside him and Anna beside Alec.
Dorian sat beside me for the rest of the ride home. It was amazing! We spent all of our breaks together laughing and joking, and covertly holding hands. He even stole a few kisses when we managed to lag behind the others.
Our blissful journey ended much too soon. The past few days had been so dreamlike that I was afraid I'd awake to our all too real world when we got home.
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