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“You are a Princess, and you need to dress like one.” He went through my dresses and pulled out a long white sleeveless gown. It was gorgeous and much too fancy for me. When he came out of the closet, he handed it to me. “I think this might work. Try it on.”

“Isn’t everything in my closet suitable?” I tossed the dress on the bed next to me and turned to look at him.

“Yes, but different things are better for different occasions.” He came over to the bed to smooth out the dress, making sure it didn’t have any wrinkles or creases. “This is a very important dinner, Wendy.”

“Why? What makes this one so important?”

“The Stroms are very good friends of your mother’s and the Kroners are very important people. They affect the future.” Finn finished smoothing the dress and turned to me. “Why don’t you continue getting ready?”

“How do they affect the future? What does that mean?” I pressed.

“That’s a conversation for another day.” Finn nodded toward the bathroom. “You need to hurry if you’re going to be ready in time for dinner.”

“Fine.” I sighed, getting up off the bed.

“Wear your hair down,” Finn commanded. My hair was wet, so it was behaving now, but I knew that as soon as it dried, it would turn into a wild thicket of curls.

“I can’t. My hair is impossible.”

“We all have difficult hair. Even Elora and I. It’s the curse of being Trylle,” Finn said. “It’s something you must learn to manage.”

“Your hair is nothing like mine,” I said dourly. His hair was short and obviously had some product in it, but it looked smooth, straight, and obedient.

“It most certainly is,” Finn replied.

I meant to prove him wrong, so impulsively I reached out and touched his hair, running my fingers through the hair at his temple. Other than being stiff with product, it felt like my hair.

It wasn’t until I had done it that I realized there was something inherently intimate about running my fingers through another person’s hair. I had been looking at his hair, but then I met his dark eyes and realized exactly how close I was to him.

Since I was short, I was standing on my tiptoes, leaning up to him as if I were about to kiss him. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that would be a very good course of action right about now.

“Satisfied?” Finn asked. I retracted my hand and took a step back. “There should be hair products in your bathroom. Experiment.”

I nodded my compliance, still too flustered to speak. Finn was unnaturally calm, and at times like that, I really hated how aloof he could be. I barely even remembered to breathe until I was in my bathroom.

Being that near to him made me forget everything but his dark eyes, the heat from his skin, his wonderful scent, the feel of his hair beneath my fingers, the smooth curve of his lips . . .

I shook my head, clearing it of any thoughts of him. That had to be the end of that.

I had a dinner tonight to worry about, and somehow I had to do something with my hair. I tried to remember what Maggie had used in my hair before I went to the dance, but that felt like a lifetime ago.

Thankfully, my hair magically decided to behave itself tonight, making the whole process go easier. Finn seemed to think my hair looked better down, so I left the length of it hanging in the back and pulled the sides back with clips. To top off the ensemble, I got a diamond necklace from my jewelry box.

The dress turned out to be trickier than my hair. It had one of those stupid zippers that refused to move higher than my lower back, and no matter how I contorted myself, I couldn’t win. After struggling with it so long my fingers hurt, I had to get help.

Tentatively, I pushed open the bathroom door. Finn had been looking out the window at the sun setting over the bluffs. When he turned, his eyes rested on me for a full minute before he finally spoke.

“You look like a Princess,” he said with a crooked smile.

“I need help with the zipper,” I said meekly, gesturing to the open slit down my back.

He walked over, and it was almost a relief to have my back to him. The way he looked at me made my stomach swirl with nervous butterflies. One of his hands pressed warmly on my bare shoulder to steady the fabric as he zipped me up, and I shivered involuntarily.

When he had finished, I went over to the mirror to investigate for myself. Even I had to admit that I looked lovely. With the white dress and the diamond necklace, I almost looked too lavish. Maybe it was too much for just a dinner.

“I look like I’m getting married,” I commented and glanced back at Finn. “Do you think I should change?”

“No, it’s perfect.” He looked pensively at me, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say he looked almost sad. The doorbell chimed loudly, and Finn nodded. “The guests have arrived. We should greet them.”



We walked down the hall together, but at the top of the stairs, Finn deliberately fell a few steps behind me. Elora and three people I guessed were the Kroners were standing in the alcove as I descended the stairs, and they all turned to look up at me. It was the first grand entrance I had ever made in my life, and there was something wonderful about it.

The Kroners consisted of a stunningly beautiful woman in a floor-length dark green dress, an attractive man in a dark suit, and an attractive boy about my age. Even Elora looked more extravagant than usual. Her dress had more detailing and her jewelry was more pronounced.