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I took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes. This is what I want.”

“Okay,” Matt said reluctantly. “If this is what you want, then I’ll support you on it. But if he hurts you, I will kill him.”

“I wouldn’t expect any less from you.” I smiled. “But I’ll be all right.”

Willa continued her excited prattling, telling me all the amazing things we had to plan, but I tuned her out. Rhys and Matt didn’t really want or need to hear all of that, so they escaped to do something vastly more fun. Duncan was my bodyguard, so he couldn’t leave, but he was actually more involved in Willa’s conversation than I was.

Eventually, she exhausted herself. She said she would go home and get a few things, so she could come back bright and early in the morning to plan. We left the room with her listing everything she would bring with her.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” Willa squeezed my arm.


“This is exciting, Wendy,” she reminded me. “Act like it.”

“I’ll try.” I forced a smile.

She laughed at my weak attempt as she departed. I leaned against the wall outside the living room door. Duncan was next to me, but he didn’t say anything.

Willa was right. This whole thing was like a fairy tale. So why didn’t it feel like one?

I glanced down the hall and saw Finn, doing his evening rounds. He was walking toward me to inspect the north wing, but when he saw me, he stopped. His dark eyes rested on mine for a moment, then he turned and walked in the other direction.

I woke up the next day excited to train and get my mind off the engagement, but I’d only been awake for ten minutes before Aurora burst in. She arrived even before Willa did and stole the whole thing from her. Willa was not happy about it when she found out, but she did her best to be polite around Aurora.

We met in the grand dining room because Aurora had so many papers she wanted to spread out all over the long table. She had guest lists and seating charts and color swatches and fabric material and magazines and dress designs and books and everything anyone would ever need for a wedding.

“We need to have the engagement party this weekend, obviously, since the wedding is only a few months away,” Aurora said, tapping a calendar on the table.

I sat in a chair at the head of the table with Aurora standing on one side and Willa on the other. Aurora bent over the table, her green dress flowing around her. Willa had her arms crossed over her chest, and she glared down at Aurora.

“Before the engagement party, we need to have your color scheme and have the bridal party picked out already,” Aurora said.

“That’s too soon.” Willa shook her head. “There’s no way we can have all that ready, plus plan a party. It’s only a few days away.”

“We need to get the wedding invitations out as soon as possible. We will hand them out at the engagement party,” Aurora said. “When is your birthday, Princess?”

“Uh, the ninth of January,” I said.

“Why do we have to hand out the invites?” Willa asked. “Why can’t we mail them like normal people?”

“Because we’re not normal people.” Aurora shot her a glare. “We’re Trylle, and we’re royalty. It’s customary that we hand out the invitations at the engagement party.”

“Fine, but if we have to do that, we should wait at least another week for the party,” Willa said.

“I’m not going to argue with you about this.” Aurora straightened up and rubbed her forehead. “As the mother of the groom, I’m throwing the engagement party. It’s none of your concern. I’ll plan it and set it up whenever I feel is best.”

“Fine.” Willa held up her hands like she didn’t care, but I could tell she still was irritated. “You do what you want. That is your right.”

“Let’s work on the wedding for now.” Aurora looked down at me. “Who did you want in your wedding party?”

“Um…” I shrugged. “Willa should be my maid of honor, obviously.”

“Thank you.” Willa gave Aurora a smug smile.

“Of course.” Aurora smiled thinly at her and scribbled down Willa’s name on a piece of paper. “What about the rest of your party?”

“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “I don’t really know that many people here.”

“Excellent. I’ve compiled a list for you.” Aurora grabbed a three-page list from off the table and handed it to me. “Here are upstanding eligible young Marksinna that would make perfect bridesmaids.”

“This is just their names and a few random facts,” I said, looking over the list. “Kenna Tomas has black hair, freckles, and her father is the Markis of Oslinna. That means nothing to me. I’m supposed to pick strangers off a list based on their hair color?”

“If you’d like, I can pick them for you,” Aurora offered. “But I did list them from most desirable to least desirable to make it easier for you, although they are all acceptable choices.”

“I can help her,” Willa said, taking the list from me before Aurora had a chance to. “I know a lot of these girls.”

She immediately flipped to the end of the list, and I felt a small satisfaction in knowing she’d pick the ones that Aurora liked least.

“Can’t I just have Willa?” I asked. “I’m sure Tove doesn’t have that many friends for groomsmen either. We could have a small wedding.”