Rules 17

It was less than an hour before the dinner, and everyone in the castle was filled with excited energy. The servants were in every room, a constant flurry of movements as they saw to last minute preparations, and the needs of their employers. Much pampering and dressing was going on, as lords and their ladies brought out their finest suits and dresses, jewelry and cufflinks. Hair was being done up in elaborate coifs, make up being applied. The men got ready with indulgent sighs, trying to hide their lack of enthusiasm. There was few if any who looked forward to these events were they had to dress up, and make polite conversation. Though seeing the women in their silk and sating finery was nice, they’d rather have a good drink, and go right to the bachelor party.
Of course the noble women were the ones who really enjoyed these gatherings. They loved the chance to be able to dress to the nines, and flaunt their latest piece of jewelry. To walk in with their latest paramour on their arm, and let everyone know, “Look who I’m dating. He’s worth millions!” or, “He’s so handsome.” or even, “He’s amazing in bed!” Not that the men knew the women talked about them like that! –
And with these get togethers, came the bragging rights. Especially for one that was as exclusive as the Corral’s and Lotor’s Engagement Party tonight. How they would flaunt over being one of the few people invited to this night’s celebration. There was many insulted ego’s that would need soothing. And that was not even mentioning how jealous all the single, young women were of Princess Corral managing to snag the handsome, RICH, Prince of the Doom Empire. Even older, married women were seeing green over this love connection!
Naturally tongues were wagging over how reluctant the bride groom had been. His sudden turn around put a slight damper on mean spirited gossip. It made the situation harder to swallow, when Lotor seemed to be warming up to Corral! Not that anyone would dare say anything about the prince’s previous behavior in front of the princess. They were not stupid! It wouldn’t do to anger the young princess, and get thrown out of THE social event of the year!
No, the women who had gathered in Corral’s suite, kept a lid on such talk, pretending to be happy for her. Some did not have to, for they were true friends, and did not entertain any envious thoughts. Though they knew what was being whispered, and had to fight with all their strength to keep from slapping the catty upstarts.
Another person heard the talk too, and it concerned her. For you see, Corral’s Aunt Lapis was past the age of first love’s fancies, and was willing to see past daydreams of true love suddenly conquering all to the deeper picture. She suspected something was up with Prince Lotor’s change of heart. It wasn’t born out of jealousy, though she wasn’t old enough to have grown out of passing about gossip herself. But see, she made the effort to abstain in delighting over other’s problems when it pertained to her family.
She had tried to broach her concerns with her brother, Anador but…he was too busy. He had brushed her off, too harried over a staffing problem to hear her out. He was too busy engaging in a verbal fight with that battle axe of a Chore Mistress. It seemed they were disagreeing over someone’s suitability to do a job. If Lapis hadn’t been so concerned, she would have been insulted over being dismissed so he could deal with a servant!
She went to finish her on preparations for tonight, but would not, COULD not remain quiet. Especially when she saw how happy Corral was, and knew if she was right, her niece would be crushed. The girl did not seem to be entertaining any thoughts of her betrothed being false…but maybe a warning would help her ease through it…easier to deal when you’ve had doubts rather than it suddenly happening…what would happen, Lapis was not sure, but she could not shake the fear of possible betrayal from the prince.
Wishing to speak privately to the girl, Lapis ordered everyone to leave. Servants AND friends. There was a slight protest, but one steel eyed look from Lapis, quickly quelled their voices.
But not from Corral, who was more than a bit annoyed at having her dressing interrupted. “Why did you do that Auntie?” She demanded, fingers fumbling over her corset’s lacing.
“Because I wanted to talk to my favorite niece alone.”
“Auntie, I’m your ONLY niece.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t be my favorite. Here, let me…” Lapis stood behind Corral, and began pulling tightly on the laces.
“Now, what is so important you had to get rid of everyone?” Corral asked, bemused by her Aunt’s actions. No one of any importance ever dressed themselves, and they certainly never deigned to assist someone else. That was work of the common folk.
“ust…about your fiancee…” Lapis fingers moved, and with a nudge, Corral’s breasts were adjusted to give all an eye popping view.
“He’s wonderful, isn’t he?” Corral said, a dreamy expression in her eyes. “So handsome and kind…He’s an amazing dancer!”
“Then you two will have to show off on the dance floor tonight.” Lapis said, inwardly fretting, “She’s got it bad…” She reached for Corral’s top, a fitted forest green bodice, black edgings over the plunging neckline, small black bow centered between the breast. The long sleeves were made of sheer, translucent lace, and was a lighter shade of green. “Though I didn’t want to talk to you about that.”
“Then what did you want to discuss?” Corral couldn’t hide the curiosity she felt.
“Corral…dear…don’t you find his recent behavior strange?” asked Lapis.
“Strange…well…” Corral fidgeted. She did find his behavior towards her doing a complete turn around as being…sudden…to say the least. But it had been so nice to not have him glaring at her from across the table, or completely ignoring her existence! “He just…finally came around…”
“Uh-huh.” Lapis didn’t sound reassured. “Not that I am doubting your womanly charms, but I think the reason WHY he changed, is the million dollar question.”
“Why…” Corral looked away from the mirror, unable to meet even the reflection of Lapis, in the eyes. “I guess he finally realized I’m a MUCH better catch than that princess he was lusting over!”
“Yes, you are much prettier than that tomboy.” agreed Lapis.
“I’m also friendlier, have a great figure, am willing to communicate, and I am worth a whole LOT more than Allura!” Corral wasn’t shy about listing her assets! “She’s only got one dinky, back water planet! I’ve got a whole galaxy to offer! And I’m smarter than her too! She could have bettered her position by marrying Lotor when he asked! But nooooo! She turned him down, proving the little twit would rather play at death and war, than live as a Queen envied by all! It’s not as if it would be a hard marriage! Is she blind to his looks? HMPH! Lotor just got tired of waiting! Men may like the hard to get act at first, but that gets old real fast.” Corral smirked. “And what one deluded girl child thinks as trash proves to be another’s treasure!”
Lapis blinked. She had never heard her niece be so vocal, so passionate about anything before! “Well, that is all true. She has been a fool to time and time again turn down his love, especially when he holds the fate of her planet in his hands.” She pursed her lips. “But is Lotor ready to move on…it’s not so easy to give up on your first love. Is he ready to accept that you can be all he could ever want or need?”
“Of course he is! Isn’t he…” Corral sounded like an unsure child at that moment.
“I don’t know dear…” Lapis sighed. “But I’d find out the truth, BEFORE I start trusting him wholly and without reservations.”
“What do you mean?” Corral frowned. “Are you saying I shouldn’t marry him before the trust issue is settled?”
“I didn’t say that.” Lapis replied. “Just…don’t give him to much freedom. Better yet, let him think he can do as he pleases. Then a man’s true colors come out. And by the Gods, Corral…don’t lose your heart to him!” Though she feared that warning had already come too late.


“I can’t believe I’m letting an amateur work this dinner.” grumbled Maltilda as she watched Rommie place settings at one of the many tables set up in the ballroom.

“Cheer up Matty.” Raoul said, also eyeing the new girl. “At least she hasn’t broken any plates yet.”
“She better not!” hissed Maltilda. “If so much as a fork goes missing, it’ll be her hide!”
“Relax Matty. Things go missing all the time.”
“Raoul! The silverware is REAL silver!” Maltilda cried, a pained expression on her face. “How did I ever get talked into this?!”
“You didn’t.” replied Raoul. “The King made the choice for you.”
“And I find the circumstances around that suspicious.” Maltilda said. “How is it, she just happened to show up and volunteer right as I was telling the King how several of my girls were indisposed?!”
“Well, it’s not like she had anything to do with them getting the flu.”
“Is that what they’re calling it?” Maltilda let out a snort of disbelief. “More like a case of overdosing on sleeping pills.”
“Well the staff has been pulling a lot of late nights these last few days…” Raoul said, but he too sounded doubtful. “The lack of sleep finally caught up to them…”
“HA!! I too have been pulling double, no triple shifts! And you don’t see me sleeping on the job!” Maltilda frowned. “And then to try and explain to His Highness why I didn’t want to accept that newbie’s offer for more work…we can’t let someone that raw off the streets out amongst the guests. Imagine what kind of scandal she could cause, if she made a wrong move…Not that he would listen!”
“He’s got a lot on his mind.”
“Not as much as I do! Who runs this castle? It’s ME! I do all the work! Without me, this place would fall down in a day!”
“Calm down Matty.”
“Don’t tell me to be calm!” She snapped. “Just let Rommie dare slip up and embarrass me…!” As if somehow knowing they were talking about her, the striped haired girl turned, and smiled brightly at them. “OOOOOOOOOH!” hissed Maltilda, stomping off towards the kitchens.

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