I'm sure you've heard the fairy tales. You know what I'm talking about...a jealous villain is out to get an innocent princess, a handsome prince comes to the princess's aid, and the two ride off into the sunset together (once that nasty villain is taken care of, of course).
The problem with these stories? They're all lies.
You only hear one side of the story. The side they want you to hear. These so-called "heroines" aren't the chaste little girls they say they are, but it's much easier to place the blame on someone else, now isn't it?
But I know the truth, and I think it's about time you did too.
"Excuse me, but I hope you will not mind if I cut in. I would really like to dance with my new sister."
Caleb wiggled his eyebrows and grinned. "Of course. But be careful...she will step on your toes if you do not pay attention."
I rolled my eyes at him and he walked away, throwing me a smirk over his shoulder as he went. I allowed Todd to pull me into frame as we prepared to waltz.
"Well, Bianca, as I a sure you know by now, I am Todd, your new step-brother," he said.
"I know," I answered. "It is lovely to finally meet you."
"Not nearly as lovely as you are, I am sure. You are quite the beautiful creature."
"Thank you," I said graciously, "though I am not nearly as lovely as your mother. I am told I take after my mother in my countenance. I can not confirm this myself, as she died giving birth to me, but I do see some similarities to her portrait. She was far comelier than I am though"
"Where is her portrait?" he asked, "I would like to see this creature that you dare claim superior to you in appearance, for I cannot possibly imagine such a thing to be true."
I blushed. He sure could charm a damsel, couldn't he?
"It is in my chambers," I said. "It once hung in this room, but when my mother died, my father was so overcome with grief that he could not bear to look at it. It's the only piece of my mother that I know."
"Would you mind showing it to me?" he asked. "I understand if it is something you would rather keep to yourself."
I debated this. On one hand, I had never had a boy in my chambers before, and I was not sure my father would like it (although this was not necessarily a deterrent...my father still had not been around much, opting to spend most of his free time visiting the countess in Lotisia). On the other hand, Todd was technically family now, so it would not be that big of a deal, right? (That is what I was telling myself, anyway. I figured if I could rationalize it, I would be ready to go through with it).
"I do not mind showing you," I said. "It would be nice to share my mother with someone else. Nobody here ever really talks about her because it has always upset my father too much."
"Let us go then." He smiled and offered me his arm. I accepted it, and I led him through the meandering halls and passageways to my chambers, cautiously (but hopefully discreetly) checking to make sure we were not being watched by any prying eyes that may be roving for gossip. I hoped that the wedding feast and ball was enough to keep all of the servants occupied.
We entered my chambers, and I led him to the window, next to which was the portrait of my mother.
"So this is what Queen Adele looked like, huh?" He studied it quietly for a few minutes. "You do take after her you know. You have your father's eyes, but you have her coloring. And her hair." He ran his hands through my locks. "You have her nose," he said, lightly touching mine.
My heart was starting to race. He was just so...near.
"You have her ears," he whispered into them.
It sent shivers down my spine.
"And your mouth. That perfect little rosebud mouth. That is hers as well," he said, voice still hushed, bringing his lips close to my face, but stopping just before they touched my own. "If you want me to stop, all you have to do is say the word."
I responded by kissing him.
It was a more gentle kiss than any of my kisses with Caleb had been; it was soft, sweet and a bit naive. Todd responded by wrapping his arms around me and pulling me close. I savored the feel of his arms around me, so warm and strong and masculine and safe. I wanted to melt into him.
We began to kiss one another passionately, with a fervor I had never known was inside of me. I was surprised at myself, to be honest. I had been enthusiastic with Caleb, but this was something completely new and something completely unexpected. Todd seemed to know what he was doing, which was good, because I really did not.