“Oh, my gosh, Wendy!” Willa yelled and jumped off the couch, nearly kicking Duncan in the head. She ran over and hugged me enthusiastically. “This is so exciting! I am so happy for you!”
“Yeah, congratulations.” Rhys nodded. “He’s a lucky guy.”
“I can’t believe you guys didn’t tell me,” Duncan said. “I was with you both this morning.”
“Well, we hadn’t really told people yet.” I untangled myself from Willa’s embrace. “I’m not sure if we’re supposed to tell people, but I thought you should know.”
“But I don’t understand.” Matt stood up, clearly disturbed by the news. “I thought you were all hung up on that Finn guy.”
“Nope.” I shook my head and lowered my eyes. “I’m not hung up on anybody.” I let out a deep breath. “That’s all behind me.”
I was surprised to find that that might be true. I wasn’t over Finn exactly, but I had begun to realize that we would never be together. And it wasn’t because of our social standings anymore. That I could fight with, argue against, try to legislate.
But Finn’s unwillingness to ever try or give me credit or make any effort at all to be with me had left me exhausted. I couldn’t be in love by myself.
“Your wedding is going to be so fabulous!” Willa held her hands together in front of her chest to keep from hugging me again. “When is the big day?”
“I don’t know exactly,” I admitted. “After I turn eighteen.”
“That’s less than three months away!” Matt shouted.
“We hardly have any time to plan!” Willa paled. “We have so much to do!” Then she grimaced. “Oh, Aurora’s gonna have her hand in all of it, isn’t she?”
“Oh. Yeah.” I scowled too when I realized that I was going to have the mother-in-law from hell. “I guess she is.”
“I’m so glad I’m a guy and I don’t have to plan any of these things,” Rhys said with a lopsided grin.
“The planning is the best part,” Willa insisted and looped an arm around my shoulder. “Picking out the colors and dresses and flowers and invitations! That’s the funnest!”
“Wendy, are you really okay with this?” Matt asked, looking at me directly.
“Of course she is, Matt,” Willa said with an exaggerated eye roll. “This is every little girl’s dream. To be a Princess and marry a Prince in a big grand wedding.”
“Technically, Tove’s a Markis and not a Prince,” I pointed out.
“You know what I meant,” Willa said. “It’s a fairy tale come true.”
“Willa, stop for a second.” Matt’s icy stare rested on her, and she shrank back, retracting her arm from my shoulders. He turned to me. “Wendy, is this really what you want? To marry this guy?”
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.”