This is the story of how I died.
It was a cold and stormy night in Angeles. The lightning clapped over the castle as I sat in yet another one of those endless budget meetings. This one was different though. It was at night, almost eleven pm. It was odd. Even odder was the fact that the moon was shining brightly in the clouds. A full moon. I never thought they were real, but it was werewolves who killed me.
No. I'm totally joking. Though that thought did occur to me in the middle of a meeting. Made up a whole story in my head about it. I know, I know. I should have been paying attention. But, before you judge, have you ever been in a classified meeting about the federal budget?
Didn't think so.
It's boring, okay? I know it sounds cool and all, but it is literally the worst thing that someone could have to suffer though. Sometimes I wish that one of the advisors would turn into a werewolf during the budget meetings. It would really liven things up in there.
Don't get me wrong, of course I want to be Queen. You might be getting the wrong impression of me from all the whining I've done so far, maybe in hindsight a tale about werewolves was not the best way to open a totally normal story about my love life. (How cool would it be to marry a werewolf though? I would die. Of happiness, not of him sucking my blood. Wait, that's vampires. Or do werewolves eat humans too? I'm getting distracted, sorry about that...Moving on.)
As I said, probably not the best first impression. You know what they say, you only get one first chance. Guess I really botched that one up. But, as the princess, I command thee to forget that ever happened.
So, let me re-introduce myself.
Hi, I'm Princess Carolynn Mirabelle Grace Schreave, Heir to the throne of Illéa. I know, pretty cool huh. This is the part where you get starstruck and start asking for my autograph.
Kidding, kidding. Stop taking everything so seriously, what are all the other stories you read about bloodbaths?
My life is pretty good. I live in a palace for one thing. I get to wear ball gowns which is the best thing ever. And I have an amazing collection of tiaras. I'm not technically supposed to wear them till I'm married or the Queen, whichever comes first, but after a lot of begging and crying my parents agreed to let me wear them. Speaking of my parents, Queen Farrah and Prince consort Max, they're the best. Most of the time at least. You'll love them I'm sure.
Of course it isn't all peaches and cream. Ruling a country, or in my case learning to rule a country is hard work. There are more serious aspects to the job that I really don't like to dwell on. (Hint: These serious aspects will be very important later down the line. Be forewarned.) And, it is a lot of pressure. Talk about needing a work-life balance.
I enjoy it though. I want to be Queen. I will be Queen. One day that is. Mom isn't exactly ready to step down yet, and I'm hoping to get a good few more years in before I start developing frown lines. Botox looks scary.
Now you know who I am, but you don't care about my obsession with pumpkins or my huge tiara collection. No. You want to hear the story of my selection. And what a selection it was. I mean, boy were those guys hot.
Where to begin? I could start at the end, at the ceremony. But that's cheating, and I don't like cheating. So, I'm taking you all the way back to November 5th, 2239. Otherwise known as the day my mom decided that my love life was part of her business.
Well, enjoy the story.
And good luck.
You're gonna need it.
Thursday, November 5th, 2239
Princess Carolynn Schreave
"Spending in the third region was up 24% in the last quarter, for a combined three quarter total of 17%. Of course, this number is expected to go up in the fourth quarter for an annual or four quarter total of 19%." One of the financial analysts read out. Jem Hensley, I don't know on what basis he was hired , but if it was the ability to cram the word quarter into a sentence as many times as possible he was the best fit for the job.
I didn't even know why he was giving this report. It took up precious time with information that could have been conveyed on a piece of paper so easily. In fact, it was printed on a piece of paper that was currently right in front of me yet he was still talking.
I held back a sigh, waiting for him to get to the end of his report. As I expected, Mom spoke after he was done. "Great. Thank you. Cut the tax credits for major corporations in that area." She said to the room as a whole, assuming somebody was going to listen and file it for her.
The next person to speak sounded eerily similar to Jem. As in dull, boring, and lifeless. God, these people needed to take a vacation. The report was about the same, a little less positive, but the same nonetheless.
I didn't want to be here. I much rather would have looked at the numbers in my office (Well, I call it my office. It's just a desk in my room) then be here right now. My first act as Queen was abolishing the monthly budget updates.
The remaining half an hour of the torture went by painstakingly slowly. So slow I was almost convinced my watch was broken. When we finally ended for the day I was the first one up. I always liked to stretch my legs after a meeting.
"Carrie, I need to speak to you about something." Mom says after we exit.
"What is it?" I ask inwardly rolling my eyes. Mom doesn't like when I actually roll my eyes. She says one day they'll get stuck like that and I'll only have myself to blame.
Mom glances at the advisors leaving behind us. "Not here. Let's just go to my office, alright?"
"Yeah. Fine. Whatever." I follow Mom to her office where she has a guard shut the door behind us. "So, what's this mystery meeting all about?" I ask, collapsing into one of the plush chairs next to her desk. Mom sits next to me.
She purses her lips before speaking. "I've never tried to pry into your relationships before. You want privacy, I get that."
Hmmm. That sounds suspicious. I don't like where this is going. "I feel like there's a but coming." I say slowly.
'Yes. There is. I know that most of the public thinks that you and Henri are friends. That you've been friends for years. But if you want to keep your romance out of the public, then I suggest not gallivanting around pumpkin fields holding hands." Mom slides me her phone to show a news article accompanied by a picture from last weekend of me and him picking out a pumpkin.
"Why? No one's ever said anything about it before." It's true. We've been photographed together more times then I can count and it's never been an issue so far..
"Carrie, you're 21 years old. Most of Illéa is waiting for you to have a selection. They're starting to think you're putting it off. They're going to conclude that it's because of him." She jabbed her finger at Henri's face to drive home the point.
"I am putting it off. You know that." I say, folding my arms across my chest. "And it is because of him."
"Be that as it may, people are going to think it's odd. And now they're seeing photographs of you running around Angeles with some boy." Mom scoffs slightly at the end of her sentence, almost as if she can't believe that it came to this. That instead of having an outdated, sexist, expensive selection to find love like most others in my family I managed to get myself my own boyfriend.
"So? I don't really care if the public knows. I don't understand why I have to keep it a secret." At this I really do roll my eyes.
"Don't do that." Mom corrects quickly. "And I thought the scandal with Henri was just beginning to die down. You don't want all that to come flooding back at him do you?" She challenges. I shrink in my seat. Of course I don't want that to happen, Henri was miserable for months after he came to Illéa, I would never wish that on him. Still, I can't help but think that it's not fair.
"I don't understand why people would be upset." I say in an effort to divert Mom's attention.
"Carolynn, you're the heir to the throne and you're dating some foreigner. No Illéan wants to see that."
"Why? He has royal blood, there's no denying it." I supply.
I knew I was pushing her before, but at this Mom finally explodes. "Of course there's no denying it. The results of his paternity test were splattered on every newspaper in Europe, Asia, and Illéa."
I keep my voice calm. "We both know that was a weak attempt by his father to get a divorce. Look on the bright side, at least now there's no question about his legitimacy." I supply.
"You and I might be aware of that, but most people aren't. You were privy to the inner details of what happened, some random woman in Likely was not. Last they heard he was the bastard son of the Countess of Cottenham, and his father wanted nothing to do with him. People still say that he should have his title revoked even with the results all over the internet." Mom explains patiently. She's right, I know she is. I've heard the rumors, seen the unfactual articles in the trashy tabloids. I've never mentioned them to Henri, but I know he's seen them too. It's not his fault, yet he's always painted as the villain in that junk. I don't understand how people think it's okay to make profit over a boy's suffering. Those writers should be disgusted with themselves.
"Okay. You win. What do you want me to do about that?" I ask. There's not a lot that can be done anyway, you can't turn back history. It's Mom though. She has a plan or she wouldn't have brought it up to me.
"If he was virtually anyone else we wouldn't be having this problem. If he was a natural-born Illéan citizen, then it wouldn't have mattered. If he had been higher up in the british line of succession, then we could have positioned it as beneficial for the country." Mom ignores my question. Great. I don't need a lecture about how I picked a bad boyfriend.
"Again? What can I do about it?"
"Well, the public needs to see him as one of us. As an Illéan in more than just a passport." Mom pauses for a second.
"That's not an answer." I say, using her pause to cut her off.
"Carrie, I think you know what we need to do." Mom says giving me a meaningful look.
She couldn't be implying what I think she is.
"No. No, no, no, no, and no. Absolutely not. I refuse." I screech, my voice climbing an octave as I say each no. I can't do that.
"I don't suppose you have a better idea?" Mom asks, raising an eyebrow. Obviously I don't have any better ideas, but I can't do what she wants me to. It's a disgusting concept, outdated and old-fashioned. Not to mention the fact that I didn't particularly like crushing people's dreams.
"Does Dad know about this?" I ask, looking for a way out.
"Of course he does. He agrees that it's the best thing to do in this...situation.
"Mom. I am not having a selection. End of story," My voice is barely a whisper.
"Why not? You always wanted one when you were younger. Didn't you start planning your wedding when you were 8 years old? What changed?" Mom's voice is genuine. It's not a rhetorical question. She wants me to tell her why I don't want a selection. Fair enough. I was looking forward to my selection when I was a kid. Yes, I did write out invitations for my wedding on some cardstock I had found in my room. My life was pretty much a fairytale, but a selection sounded more magical than anything else in my life. Even my swimming pool-sized bathtub.
"What changed?" I echoed. "I realized that selections cost more than my entire jewelry collection. I mean, yeah, it worked for you. And uncle Luke and Aunt Quinn. And grandma and grandpa, and I'm sure if I didn't already have Henri it would work for me. I can't do it though. If it was my only option then, whatever. I'd have one, but I don't need one. I can't spend tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a charade."
Mom seems utterly unfazed by my outburst. "I wouldn't worry about the price. We were going to sell tickets, interviews and such to papers which should subsidize at least 75% of the cost."
Damn it. "I don't feel comfortable leading on thirty-four other boys. It's kinda rude to make them think they could marry me when in reality they never had a chance." I offer up. It's true, not as true as my first reason, but much more sentimental.
"Carolynn, you know that even if the selection wasn't a sham that you would end up sending thirty-four boys home anyway. It's all part of the process. They know to expect that." Mom counters calmly. Oh my God. Why does she have a response to everything? I'm running out of reasons here.
"I...don't...like having guests over." I lie quickly.
Mom smiles. "The first two I bought, but we both know that's not true. You love having guests. I told you, if you could think of something better, I'm all ears."
That's not going to happen. I'm out of arguments and even worse I don't have a clue of what I can do instead. That only leaves me with one, rather unfortunate, choice. "Fine. I'll do it." I mutter darkly.
"You'll have a selection? Good. I don't know why you were so opposed to it. Just drag it on for a few months, you can marry Henri and it will be like none of it ever happened."
I really hope she's right. That it'll be like none of this ever happened.
"I don't want to do this." I whine to my father. I know Mom said that he was in complete agreement, but maybe, just maybe, she was over exaggerating. Maybe this is my ticket out of the hell that's about to become my reality.
"The selection you mean?" Dad asks.
"No. I meant the farm show." I deadpan. "Clearly I mean the selection! It's not fair. Just because he's from another country and not the spare or whatever, I suddenly have to go pretend to date thirty-four other boys. Don't you think it's a bit drastic? Why does this have to be my life." I complain. To his credit, Dad doesn't say anything, letting me finish my rant in peace.
"Honey, you're making a mountain out of a molehill. It's not that big a deal." Dad says after a moment of silence.
"Oh. So I guess you're on her side." I grumble.
"I'm not on anyone's side. I just want you to be happy." He says diplomatically.
"But don't you see how unhappy this is making me?" I whine. I'm not usually like this, but today has taken a toll on me. I've been in a budget meeting, found out about a selection and fought with both my parents all before three in the afternoon.
"What's going to make you even more unhappy is having to deal with backlash from the public."
"Don't you think everyone is being a tad bit over dramatic with this? I mean, yeah it could be bad, but it also might not be bad. This could all just be baseless fears. I rather take the 50-50 shot then have to hold a selection. The odds are in my favor." Well, they're not technically in my favor if we're going with a 50-50 split, but close enough. I don't bring that up to Dad though. It's a weak argument anyway without the mention that my math was off.
"Carolynn, you have to know that's not going to happen. Believe me, this is the best option for you." Dad seems sure of himself and that only makes me even more annoyed.
"How do I know it's the best option if you haven't given me any others?"
"Well, let me rephrase that. Your only other choice is to do nothing, so that makes it the best." Dad shrugs.
"You don't know that. Maybe the best option is to do nothing. To leave everything exactly the same." I offer up. "I'm pretty happy with life right now. Why do we need to go flip everything upside down?"
"I know it seems that way, but how much longer are you going to do nothing for? You can't be happy having to hide your relationship. Wouldn't it be better if you didn't need to sneak around?" Ugh. As much as I hate to admit it, he's right. Of course a selection is a good idea. I feel guilty lying to my people, not to mention the fact that everyone thinks there's a selection coming. Some love-struck little boys would be upset if I canceled it. At least this way they get to think they had a chance with me.
"I guess." I say slowly.
"I promise it won't be that bad. I mean, you could do with some more friends." Dad says gently.
"I have friends." I insist looking up at him. Why I never. Whose business is it of his to imply that I don't have friends.
"Yes. You do, but don't you think you should meet people other than Anika Das and Ella Lorenson? You've known them your entire life, don't you think you should branch out?" What is with people telling me what I should think today. I'm perfectly happy with my friends. I don't need new ones.
"Well, if you hired advisors with kids my age, then maybe I would have some more friends." I suggested sarcastically.
"Carrie, we both know that's not how it works."
"Oh come on. It's yours and mom's faults that I only have two friends. Don't try to make your bad parenting skills my problem. Deal with it." I huff.
Dad seems sad as he answers me, "I'm sorry about that honey, but this is a good chance for you to talk with some new people, even if you're not looking for a husband."
I sigh. I shouldn't have snapped at him. I might not agree with what my parents are trying to push on me, but I'm no moron. They're doing this for me. They knew how much I didn't want this, if they had to settle on a selection that all other possibilities must have been exhausted. I was mad at them yes, but it admittedly was a good plan. I should just go along with it. Like Mom said, it'll be four months and then I'll forget it ever happened. "I'm sorry." I say frowning slightly.
"Don't worry about it. You have a selection to plan." Dad pats me on the shoulder lightly. "Oh, Luke!" He calls to someone down the hall. My uncle. "Have you talked to the Italian prime minister yet?"
Luke turns, coming closer to us before speaking. "Yeah. They have no idea what's going on with the ships passing through that port. Probably just the captain trying to make a few extra bucks." He says, shrugging. He seemed utterly nonplussed by whatever was going on with the Italian merchant ships. I guess if you deal with this type of thing all day every day you learn what's worth getting stressed out over and what's not.
"Did you tell Farrah yet?" Dad asks.
Luke shakes his head. "No. I just got off the phone with Garnet's school."
"What did he do this time?" I question. "Was it the math test?" Last I heard he was studying for his geometry test that was supposed to be today. I doubt it went well. My 14-year-old cousin was always getting into trouble at his school in outrageously ridiculous ways. He never seemed to understand the policy of academic honesty.
"Unfortunately yes. He got caught giving people the answers during the test. Apparently he figured out morse code or something like that. Personally, I don't think he came up with those answers himself, he had no clue what he was doing last night, but of course I didn't say that to the principal."
Dad laughs slightly. "Points to him for creativity. I don't think I've heard that one before. I'll go tell Farrah then."
Once Dad is gone, Luke turns to me. "How's my favorite niece?"
I frown. "Not very good."
"Oh." His face softens. "I guess you're not exactly on board with the whole selection?"
"You knew?" I asked accusingly. Ridiculous.
"Not exactly. This is the first I'm hearing of it officially. I saw a model application in your mother's office about a week ago though, and I guessed the rest."
"It's not that I'm against it as a concept." I admit. " I mean, I kinda am. It's a sexist, antiquated process. But for everyone else, I get it. I'm just against it for myself. It just seems like so much effort, but, like everyone keeps telling me it's the best option." I mimic my mom as I say the last few words.
"Maybe it is." Luke says. "You never know."
I shake my head. I can't be in yet another discussion about this today. I'm all argued out. "Oh! I found an old Illéan Girl doll dress for Agnes. I think she'll like it."
"That last thing she needs is more of those dolls." Luke let out a small laugh at his own semi-joke. "Quinn's bringing the kids over for dinner, I'm sure Aggie will be delighted to take it off your hands. Where'd you find it anyway? I thought you already gave her all your old stuff."
"Back of my closet. I was looking for a pair of boots. I think someone gave it to me as a gift and I never opened it."
Luke nods. "That explains it. I should probably get back to work, do you think you can entertain yourself for a few hours?"
I smile. "I'm sure I can manage."
I end up in my room, relaying the day's events to my maid as she tries to show me once again how to do winged eyeliner. I could never manage it. Most makeup I could do, I could even style my dark curly hair into something that looked nice, but eyeliner always mystified me.
"-And then she told me I had to have a selection. A selection. Can you believe the nerve of her?" I say to Jenna as I attempt to put on eyeliner in the mirror. My hand shakes slightly, creating a stray black line across my caramel-colored skin.
Jenna hands me a makeup wipe before speaking. "How has Henri taken it?" She asks, knowing well enough not to use his title.
I wince slightly. "I haven't told him yet. That's going to be awkward." I pick up the tube of eyeliner again, holding the tip to the corner of my eye. "Let's try this again."
"Make sure to curve it upwards, Your Highness." Jenna instructs. She had already finished her eyeliner, it had only taken her one attempt and it looked far better than anything I could have managed. "It'll be fine miss. I'm sure he'll understand."
I nod. "I know, the actual selection is not the problem. It's more the finding-out-that-the-public-hates-him that I'm worried about. He's always been sensitive."
"No disrespect, Your Highness, but I think he's fully aware that some people dislike him. It's not his fault of course, terrible what his father did, but it's unavoidable." Jenna says.
"I know. I know." I stare at my reflection in the mirror of my vanity, focusing on my second eye. The first one wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. Jenna would have to fix it before dinner. "I think it'll be fine." I say slowly. "Anyway, enough with this selection talk. I'm sick and tired of it. Tell me, what's the gossip in the palace?"
"What do you mean?" Jenna asks.
"You know. Any squabbling between maids, romantic trysts, ooh! Did any guards get into fights?"
"No, no, and only practice spars." Jenna says calmly as she watches me struggle to finish my second eye. I looked in the mirror. It was horrible. Why couldn't I just learn to do eyeliner. It was never that hard when the beauty influencers I watched did it.
"I give up." I declare, slamming the eyeliner down on the white vanity. "Anyway, that's so boring. You're sure that nothing happened?"
"I promise you that there was nothing interesting going on. If there was, you would be the first one I told." Jenna promises. She wipes off my eyeliner and starts to reapply it, her hands much more confident then mine were. Lucky her. If only I could say there was nothing interesting going on in my life.
"I think I'll wear a dress to dinner today." I decide, not moving my head as I speak.
Jenna looks at me in surprise, "Really? You don't usually…" I know what she's implying. I rarely decide to wear a dress to dinner. Formal wear is for events or the office. When I finish my workday I change into normal clothes. Not princess clothes.
"I want to try that new dress that Cifford Martex sent over. The pink one." My description is vague at best, but Jenna knows which one I'm talking about.
"Of course. There you go, all done." Jenna says, placing the eyeliner wand back into the tube and twisting it shut. "Let me grab it."
20 minutes later I was all dolled up for dinner. My hair had been twisted into two braids and the pink dress decorated my small frame. I put a gray cardigan on top of the strapless dress in case I wanted to go out to the gardens after dinner. It was getting chilly out in the fast-approaching winter, even if it was Angeles. I added kitten heels seeing as I wasn't good at walking in heels but had inherited my mother's shortness leading to my unfortunate dilemma.
"Hey." I say to my parents as I meet them downstairs in the foyer. Uncle Luke was standing a bit away from them, waiting for his wife and kids to come.
Mom seemed relieved that I was on speaking terms with her. When we get into fights I'm not usually the first to apologize. I did know it was my fault though. I wasn't that delusional. "Carrie. I like that dress. Where did you get it?" She asked, adjusting the skirt for me.
"I don't know. Some designer sent it to me." I say shrugging.
"Let me see the tag after dinner. I might get a matching one. What do you think Max?" She turned to Dad, looking for his opinion.
"It's nice, but what do I know about fashion?" Dad says.
"Not much." I mutter under my breath. Dad heard though, I could tell. Luckily, I was spared the embarrassment of him responding by the arrival of my cousins.
"Mom!" Came Garnet's howl as he stormed into the foyer. His dark hair was spilled over his forehead, contrasting with his red sweatshirt. "Mom! Mom! You're being so unfair. I hate you." He yelled, his face crimson with anger. I raised my eyebrows. I wasn't sure what was going on with him, but I would be willing to wager one of my tiaras that it had something to do with his doomed math test.
"Hello to you to Garnet." Luke said to his son.
Garnet let out a whining sort of sound at Luke's greeting. Quinn followed him in, 12-year-old Agnes and 10-year-old Theodore not far behind. "No. I'm not giving you your phone back. You shouldn't even have this. You're only 14." That explained it. Only one thing could incite Garnet's anger like this: Cutting him off from his social life.
"But Mom I didn't even cheat. You should be proud of me."
"Proud of you for what?" Luke asked.
"Getting all the answers right. You're horrible. I wish I had different parents. You're the worst mom and dad ever." I think I could give him a run for his money today.
"How long did you take his phone away for?" Luke asked Quinn.
"Two weeks, but if he doesn't stop whining it's going to be three." Garnet let out a huff at that, crossing his arms and going to stand in the corner far away from his parents. Agnes came up to me, she was clutching a doll in her arms like always . This one had pale brown curls and freckles, dressed in a pink gown, satin gloves, a tiny hat, and jeweled necklaces. Personally, I thought she was a bit old for it but I don't think Agnes would appreciate my two cents.
"Carrie!" Agnes says, hugging me. "I painted my nails, see!" She fans out her hand to show me the uneven lime green polish smeared on her fingernails.
I almost pinched myself to stop from telling her how they really looked. "Nice." I say, forcing a smile on my face.
"I wanted to paint Teddy's nails, but he wouldn't let me." Agnes frowns slightly. Gee, I wonder why. fOf course I refrain from saying that.
"Maybe-" I start, only to be cut off.
"No one wants you to paint their nails Aggie. You did a terrible job on your's." Garnet says coming over to us.
"That's not true!" Agnes insists.
"Open your eyes Aggie." Garnet scoffed. Don't laugh. Don't laugh. Don't laugh.
"Why are you so mean?" Agnes asks, stomping her foot.
"Why do you still play with dolls?" Garnet retorts. I watch, amused, as Garnet makes to grab the doll from Agnes' arms, but she twists out of his way leaving him grasping at air. As funny as it is, I should probably intervene before it gets out of hand.
"Can you both stop?" I ask, exasperated.
As odd as it was even thinking it, I was going to miss these nights when I had 34 strange boys in my house for me to pretend to date.
A/N: Here we are, the sequel to TGOAC. You don't have to have read that story to know what's going on in this one, but if you hadn't, well, now you know the winner. Oops. Anyway, this is pretty self-explanatory. It's a selection for Princess Carolynn, meaning that it is a male selection. The boys can be any sexuality, they just have to identify as male to enter. One thing, Carrie's boyfriend, Henri, will not be winning the selection, so don't worry about that.
1) So characters. I feel like this goes without saying, but diversity. I don't just mean ethnicities, not every guy is going to be a muscular finance student who's in it for love and is really chill and nice. There are going to be some hot headed ones, some shy ones, some not-so-nice ones etc etc. Also, jobs everyone's favorite topic. Just please be realistic.
2) I know that these types of people exist in this world, but racism, homophobia, transphobia etc etc have no place in this story. Any character you submit to me who falls into these categories will be rejected.
3) If you want your character to have some connection to the princess or the royal family, please ask first. Let's be honest here, this is a random (for the most part) lottery, so if they are like...The Queen's dog sitter's nephew's best friend's sister, it's going to need to be rigged somehow. (Another note: Please do not submit the Queen's dog sitter's nephew's best friend's sister, that was an example not a suggestion.)
4) Please fill out the forms in detail. Don't make the personality section 5 words. It's more important to me that the character is well-developed then submitted quickly, so if you need an extension don't hesitate to ask.
5) Forms are due November 1st, so let's have some fun!
I can't wait to write this story!
Also sidenote: If you read tgoac there was a joke at the end of every chapter. We're not doing that anymore. It got annoying.