The Royal Guardian

By: Sokai

Disclaimer: I, Sokai, do not claim ownership to the workings of W.I.T.C.H. - I leave that honor up to Elisabetta Gnone. Nor do I own Meg Cabot's "The Princess Diaries" series (even though this story isn't even really related to the series. Just don't want to hear law suit claims LoL). However, I can and DO claim to own this story and its inspired ideas FROM said series.

Note: (Quick Message to a One "Yellow 14:" Yeah, you. Still waiting. LoL) Hadn't been the initial plan to take so long to update this particular story, my Sweet Peas, I swear! As you can see from the date, I had outlined and then actually began to write this way back in June, pretty much immediately following after the post of the first half of this chapter.

Didn't want any of you to have to wait so long in general, and because I didn't want it, having been divided and all, to remain unfinished for too long.

It made me feel . . . dirty, otherwise. LoL

But, around that time was the beginning of a LOT of personal life stress, primarily having to do with my hubby's visa process and being unable to see him for the summer like we'd hoped, OR for December, as it so far turns out, as well . . . thus making it a full year by that time since we will have seen one another, or been physically together, rather. =/

And then, I suppose as a result, my general Writer's Block was also beginning around that time, which has also crippled my former progress with my book, to the point where a lot of revisions needed to be made, I felt, and that anything I'd try to write in general just . . . well, sucked.

So, instead, I ended up playing a lot, I mean, a LOT of "Granado Espada," in the meanwhile. LoL

And now that I finally was able to get one of my characters to 'Veteran' status and made my first billion Vis (the game's currency), I felt fulfilled enough to let it all go for now, and give the renewed writing cravings I was starting to feel at that time an honest chance and . . . here I am, I guess. =)

First, my "Reloaded" story a few weeks ago, and now this.

Yay! HeHe

AND, further good news, well, for me, I guess, since I don't honestly know if any of you would rightly care (only because he's not YOUR husband LoL), Gray-Ham and I are finally, FINALLY just about finished with his overall petition, having recently sent one of the last few remaining forms, which they'd informed us this past Monday this week that it's within review and would be approved or denied within the next week or so.

BETTER be approved, 'cause I've just about HAD it with all these damned forms for the last year and a few months now!

=)

Anyhow, I've bored you all enough, so please, read on, and grow super, SUPER hungry as you read every last painstaking detail Will gives you about her meal. HeHe

Oh! Almost forgot!

Three things, as well.

First off, seeing as a lot, and I mean a lot of you reading this tale have, over time, increasingly wondered whether I'd ever do a sequel to this . . . I don't know if you mean to be reminiscent of 'TPD''s serial nature or what have you, and even though I personally, while having thought about once it had been brought up, am not certain, despite already having a pretty strong inkling of where I'd take this overall tale next, I thought I'd finally make an official poll about it to see where everyone's interests lie, as well.

Wanted to keep quiet about it, just in case it'd backfire and I'd get a resounding "Hell, YES!" for doing so, and then, for whatever reason, I couldn't do one for you guys, after all, but it's been a recent intrigue of mine to hear more about what can be said about the notion. =)

So, feel free to hop on over to my profile before or after reading this chapter, and vote away!

Onto numbah two.

It's just a teeny tiny little shout out of sorts to one 'RosieGurrl,' who was the last one to review for this story right before this specific update. And BOY, did she review. LoL As I'd told her within reply, having received such an enthusiastic response to the previous chapter – The overall story – truly warmed my heart, as it has upon having read all 460+ reviews from the rest of you. =) But this one, seeing as it had occurred while I was finishing up this particular chapter, ended up giving me ample motivation and encouragement to go, go, go and complete this 52-pager. =)

So, my avid thanks to you, 'RosieGurrl,' for that!

And onto numbah three.

It is, as always, my continued gratitude for all of YOUR continued support and general enthusiasm for this, and all of my stories (AND my artwork, again, for those who follow me over on dA). Because of you, I continue to strive to be my absolute best for both areas.

So, thank you, again, my lovelies, and enjoy. =)


This chapter was written/created in June 2011, and completed in September 2011.


Chapter Fifty Two (Part Two)

Saturday, November 11th, 5:35 am

"My Bedroom" Inside of the Presidential Suite of the Infinity Crowne Plaza Hotel

Sorry, sorry.

Guess I did end up knocking out, after all, since the last thing I can remember is draining the bathtub.

Don't know how or when I ended up being wrapped up, all nice and snug within the bed sheets and comforter, but that's how I woke up a few minutes ago. (Could you just imagine if it turned out that one of the "never really seen" hotel employees, for this suite, anyway, just barged in to clean the bathroom while they thought I was already fast asleep, and ended up carrying me to the bed, instead? Please, God, don't let that be true. . . .)

And then I just looked at the time and saw that it's already morning, of the nearing sunrise variety (and of the nearing Eli-rising variety, as well, unfortunately), and felt bad that I'd ended up falling asleep on you like that, Journal . . . literally, actually, as I realized once I'd rolled off of my stomach, how I'd awakened, and then onto my back.

But you don't look any worse for the wear, though, so . . . yeah.

Sorry, again.

Well, geez.

Since I do so much "talking" to you, anyway, maybe I really should just go ahead and buy a new diary, one with some kind of electrical influence, and bring it to life, after all.

It'd certainly save me some time where writing every last, painstaking detail of my absolutely chaotic life is concerned, anyway.

And, not to mention give me more time to sleep, as well (and time for my studies, since I tend to forsake them in favor of promptly updating you), since, even though I'm barely awake right now, in truth, I'm still going to try to press on and record the damned dinner, once and for all.

Plus, in that way, I can go back to sleep with it out of my mind for good . . . at least, in theory.

Now, where did I last leave off?

. . . . Oh, okay. I see it now.

Me, Mom, and Eli were all leaving the Presidential Suite and were about to vacate the hotel, altogether.

Right.

So we all leave the suite, and lined up against the walls on either side of us is the "Makeover Mob," waiting patiently for us to do their bowing and curtsying, again, before thanking each of us for the opportunity to be of service, and then also wishing that we have a pleasant evening.

Sure will. (Yes, sarcasm.)

And then, after Eli thanked them in return (and after three of them suddenly, as well as carefully helped us put on the three, slightly similar-in-design, winter, fancy trench coats we ended up wearing for added protection against the brutal cold outside. And, of course, mine just had to be white colored, while my mom's and Eli's were black . . . lucky bastards. Er, well, Eli's definitely 'bastard worthy,' anyway, not my mother, even if she's still not currently my friend), he quietly informs two of his regular four bodyguard buddies to stay behind for a little while and mind after everyone, while the rest of us went on ahead to Le Beau Expérience as planned.

Obviously he must have thought that some, if not all of them would have ended up trying to break into the suite and steal our valuables, or something.

That, and he most likely wanted someone left behind to eavesdrop upon any and all sort of conversation which might have been had about the Royal Family.

So paranoid, that one . . . although I'm clearly one to talk, myself . . . sadly.

Anyhow.

So then, we all piled into the elevator, and after which made it safely into the awaiting stretch limousine outside, somehow without my mounting nerves completely doing me in (since it seemed like every last occupant, fellow hotel guests and employees alike, who had been present at that time, were naturally gawking at the three of us . . . or, more likely, primarily at Lil' Ol' me).

Or that my damned high heel shoes hadn't done me in, for that matter.

And with icy conditions to contend with, at that.

So, ha! I guess I can walk competently within shoes which aren't either floppy, frog shaped slippers, or good old, reliable Tennies.

At least, I thought I could, and honestly had been that entire time, from when I'd left the Presidential Suite, walked into the elevator, and out into the limo.

But then, after that, evidently, my feet had said "Screw this! You're on your own, Will!", because by the time the fancy-schmancy vehicle had regrettably (or thankfully, depending upon how you look at it, seeing as I couldn't take another minute of being trapped inside of it with Eli, who refused to shut up the entire near half hour ride, what with his making sure for the final time that I remembered all of my important etiquette guidelines and would be on my best behavior) slowed down to a stop in front of the equally fancy-schmancy restaurant, they honestly felt like absolute jelly.

In fact, my entire body suddenly began to feel like some sort of primordial ooze, really, as my heart started to pound excessively behind my breastplate, and my formerly smooth and recently manicured hands became super clammy and gross.

I must have gone deaf temporarily, as well (which, of course, couldn't have instead occurred while Eli had been 'Blah-Blah-Blah'ing' in my ears beforehand), alongside my sense of general awareness having shut down at the same time then, because the next thing I know both Mom and Eli are already standing outside of the now open limousine, with Eli doing his best to maintain a calm expression upon his face while extending a for once naked (in terms of excessive jewelry) hand out for me to take.

Evidently he had been speaking to me before I'd finally caught on right then, because when I did I could hear the mild agitation within his voice as he goes, as quietly as he can, ". . . . Princess Wilhelmina . . . now would be a fine time to take my hand, wouldn't you say so? We cannot - And will not keep our guests waiting."

And all I could offer up within response was a profoundly dumb, "Guh?", before the sudden, brutal gust of frigid wind completely snapped me out of my daze once and for all, and I sickeningly took the man's hand.

But, oh nooo, Journal, the fun didn't stop there.

Certainly not.

After all, like I'd just said, my legs had decided to abruptly boycott this little family outing (although I can't honestly say that I could blame them, even if their having done so cost me what little dignity I had left), and because they had, the very instant I'd extended my right foot out of the limo, it immediately crumbled beneath my weight, causing me to fall forward . . . and straight into Eli's naturally taken aback self.

And with only about a thousand, increasingly familiar (and increasingly annoying) 'Pop, pop, popping' noises and fierce flashing of the surrounding Paparazzi going on, who were of course already there, waiting outside of the restaurant for who knows how long until we'd all arrived, just so that they could catch glorious moments such as this.

I can barely stand to be within the same gene poolas Eli, let alone disgustingly within his arms . . . even if he did save me from further embarrassment, had he not caught me just in time and I ended up flat on my face upon the mercilessly freezing, and filthy ground.

And with the get up I currently had on, that would be all I'd need (not to mention that it would have most likely made Eli's head explode to have witnessed . . . literally, knowing him, as his personal capabilities are never-ending).

So there we are, pressed against one another (Eww. Almost threw up in my mouth a little, there.) for what feels like ages, while Mom's just kind of standing a bit awkwardly to the side and watching on with a crooked sort of smile on her face, when Eli is the first to snap out of our dual abashment, I'm sure.

Stuff like this must have happened a lot in the past or whenever to his other family members, peers or what have you, though, since, upon recovering, he totally played it cool as he flashed our surrounding parasites a generous smile, before smoothly turning me around to properly face them all and extended his left hand out towards the restaurant's still awaiting entrance-way.

Meanwhile, I'm still within a partial daze, with my mind rapidly thinking, Did that seriously just happen? Did I just do that, and in front of a platoon of people, who will regrettably plaster this moment all over their websites and within their magazines come Monday - Hell, tomorrow?

All I wanted to do right then was promptly dive back into the warm, and shielding limo, and beg the driver to take me back to the hotel, but by that moment he was already pulling away from the scene.

Nowhere to hide now.

". . . . I trust we will have no more of that once we are inside, Wilhelmina," Eli softly murmured to me as discreetly as he could, while continuing to smile graciously at the ferocious sea of Photogs.

Was he serious?

Well, duh.

Of course he was.

He's Eli, after all.

But, honestly, though.

Like I did that purpose, and want to continue on with "more of that once we are inside," or at any time within the public eye!

Can't catch a break, I swear. . . .

I didn't say anything to that, just merely continued on within my Jell-O-like state at his side, and desperately willing my legs to cooperate with me once again, while also starting to steadily freeze my ass off as the harsh winds continued to howl all around us.

While I was praying to High Heaven that I could, at the very least, somehow make it inside of Le Beau Expérience before my next accident, and feeling very much as I had during my first day out in public as Princess, that's when all of the questions started rolling in.

I should've known. . . .

I mean, what's a Paparazzo without his or her armed inquiries, ready to sling at any moment at whichever famous person he or she is busy harassing?

But, even though I was feeling all the more nervous about that, I also figured that since this was an evidently important event and he kept stressing about being punctual and such, Eli wouldn't allow any one of us to stop and answer a single one.

And he hadn't . . . but he did, however, allow each of us a few moment's time to pause and . . . pose for a few photographs.

I should've known that too, though, right?

I mean, one, like I keep telling you, Journal: it's Eli, and you just never know what to expect with the guy.

And two, he did give me that brief, semi-lesson on how to properly stand while allowing my picture to be taken.

Thing is . . . I'd already forgotten it.

Even with my mom standing beside me, after both she and Eli guided my still a bit wobbly self (and thus, most likely looked as though I were inebriated, which is ironic, since . . . well, we'll get to that later) along the brilliantly red carpet placed right outside of the restaurant's glossy, golden doors, and her effortlessly assuming the correct position I could have then easily mimicked, as a result, my brain still didn't catch on.

Nope.

I ended up pretty much doing everything Eli didn't want me to do, standing a bit lopsidedly off to one side, while folding my bare arms across my chest and keeping my legs spread.

Okay, that sounded bad, didn't it?

I just mean that I didn't do that drape one foot behind the other bit like Eli had earlier instructed me to do.

Sorry, but I was way too busy trying to swallow down my continually rattled nerves, in addition to battling against the freezing weather!

Because right before Mom, Eli and I did our posing thing, (Well, their posing thing. I just did a . . . thing, period) the next thing I know each of our previously forgotten bodyguards suddenly appeared (including the two Eli had commanded to momentarily stay behind back at the Plaza), and practically tackled us before then gently seizing our coats.

I'm surprised that I'd managed to stop myself from screaming Bloody Murder the moment my bare back got violently lashed by another onslaught of frosty wind, before I swiftly hunched over a bit and raised my arms to my chest within futile attempts to stay warm.

What a fine time to be short one Guardian of Air. . . .

I don't know how my mom (and Eli, although screw him, since he was completely clothed, by comparison) was able to stand there with perfect poise, honestly rockin' the "runway," so to speak, like that.

I mean, she was pretty much just as physically exposed as I was, after all.

But she never even flinched against the undeniable chill, not once.

I guess all of her princess training from yesteryear was simply coming back to her more and more.

To be honest, even though I was currently trapped within an overwhelming situation, freezing my "Royal Ta-Tas" off, if you please, it was actually pretty . . . nice, I mean, to witness my mother within her currently blatant, regal glory.

It was almost like she was in the zone, or something right then, seeing as she was, for a change, not looking completely "Zombied-Out" like she's usually been lately, and instead looked positively radiant.

Oh, yeah.

The "Adoring Public" was definitely going to revere her even more, if not already, come the release of these particular photographs of her, for sure.

Lucky. . . .

Anyway, after what felt like an eon, plus one, Eli, who once again seemed to be doing his absolute best to conceal his never-ending surplus of shame where I was concerned, finally then took the lead and started to walk inside of the now open restaurant doors (of course, courtesy of one of his many, many bodyguards), while Mom, and then myself followed suited (mindlessly, in my case).

And just as I was finally about to cross the threshold between super evil, Ice Age-like weather, the apparently coldblooded locusts carrying on outside behind me, and the super inviting warmth of the vast, ritzy dwelling now before me, I could just make out one Paparazzo curiously ask, "Your Majesty! Will this particular outing serve as a premiere date for Princess Wilhelmina and Lord Kendrick?"

And as soon as I'd managed to hear that very daunting inquiry, I immediately turned my head around, and uttered out a rather loud, "What?" within alarm, right before Nova and Ernest, the last two to have filtered into the building, promptly took it upon themselves to seal the doors behind us.

I can't wait to see that snapshot, as well, as I'm sure a great majority of those damned Photogs effortlessly caught that celebrated moment at all sides.

Until then, screw worrying about that, when I now apparently have to be more concerned about the fact that this once simple (all right, so not so simple) family dinner was now suddenly becoming the makings of a blind date for Royalty!

I.

Should.

Have.

Known!

I totally should have!

I mean, for the umpteenth time now, I have to say it, that is Eli who is pulling all the strings, in all his diabolical glory, and he did say that there would be an extra guest joining us, alongside my scrummy-yummy Emin Evgar.

Holy Cheese!

Emin!

Now what the hell is he going to think, seeing me being literally wined and dined by some stupid, big shot nobleman, who's probably just as stuffy and insufferable as Eli?

This will totally ruin any chance of him becoming completely entranced by my current appearance like I'd hoped, not to mention totally ruin any chance of our own romance sparking!

. . . . Okay, so, in all likelihood, it probably wouldn't have ever happened between the two of us, anyway, no matter how "hot" I'd look at any given time, but still!

I was still going to try to impress him and catch his eye, if only for tonight, seeing as it doesn't seem like I can snag any guy I presently want.

But now, there's no chance of that happening, thanks to this annoying, stuck up, imbecile of a Lord!

Well, okay, fine.

To be fair, I didn't even meet the guy at that point, let alone even know anything about him.

But, so what?

Most people of royal blood are usually full of themselves, after all, right?

I mean, negating myself, obviously, and I guess also my mom, too.

At least, nowadays, anyway, since I clearly wasn't around to know what she was like back in the day.

And anyhow, with a name like "Lord Kendrick?"

That has "Snooty-Patooty" written all over it!

Sorry, Eli, but whatever plans you secretly had in mind for the two of us is not going to happen.

And I was about to tell him just as much, when he gently, yet also with a slight firmness, clasped the back of my right elbow before quietly stating, "Now, whatever it is you are presently thinking of, or thinking of doing, simply cease and desist at once, Wilhelmina, as we are about to be within the presence of great importance, for the both of our patiently awaiting guests."

I immediately frowned up at him and was honestly about to wrench my arm free before telling him off, damn the public spectacle it would cause, when one of the partially busy establishment's Greeters suddenly approached our large gaggle of "Royal Company."

"Oh, welcome, Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, and Your Royal Highness, to'Le Beau Expérience!'" said the black haired, overly spray-tanned chick with a broad, blatantly nervous grin, after she'd executed an equally nervous curtsy within respect. "My name is Cloelia, and on behalf of the establishment, I wish to welcome you fondly, and thank you for making it your choice within fine dining this evening! Now, if you will please follow me, I will lead you to your private room, the 'Chariton,' where The Lord Kimball and Mr. Evgar are already present, awaiting your esteemed arrival!"

A few thoughts then popped into my head upon hearing that long winded spiel from the one evidently known as "Cloelia" (which is a pretty awesome name, if I do say so, myself. Methinks I'd even take her name over "Wilhelmina" any day, as well).

First, I started to think about what a relief it was that we'd at least be eating within our own little secluded quarters (hopefully sans windows, as well, unlike this main area I was currently standing within), evidently, away from the fair amount of "Normal People" who were present and naturally watching all of us like some sideshow exhibit.

Then I started to think about Emin, again, and the look on his face once he saw how "Supermodel-ish" I now looked, but then also started to dwell upon the fact that this stupid Lord guy was also here, and would ruin pretty much everything for me.

Which, of course, then made me fleetingly wonder if maybe Emin wasn't busy duking it out with him right at that moment, fighting feverishly for my honor . . . or not.

Anyway, after that admittedly idiotic thought, I started to focus more upon Mr. Big Shot Lord Kendrick, himself, although more so about his name.

That is, I thought it was "Lord Kendrick," not "Lord Kimball," like the Cloelia Greeter-lady just said?

Maybe amidst her obviously frazzled nerves (Join the club) she'd just gotten his name mixed up, was all.

Hell if I'd know, naturally, since I know diddly about 'Lords' and what they are, what they do, or anything like that.

Well, Royalty on the whole, really, as we've already established many times before, Journal.

At any rate, while those particular thoughts were busy running through my head, they were immediately pushed aside the moment I suddenly heard Eli mutter, thankfully more so to himself, "And she'd already addressed us - Addressed me, before having been spoken to first. How . . . primitive. . . ."

Was he serious?

I mean, seriously serious here, this time?

Because how many other people, that I can recall, anyway, had done the same since he's been here in Heatherfield?

And it's only now he's complaining about it?

Man, what he must think of this place all the more now. . . .

Besides!

That's the woman's job!

She's supposed to come up to you and start things off first, you moron!

I bet you if she hadn't naturally done so, Eli still would have had something to gripe about.

See what I mean about Royalty?

At least Mom seemed to be upon the same train of thought as me, because as we all made our way further into the restaurant, with the employee-in-question leading the way, I could hear her let out a gruff sigh in front of me before slightly leaning forward towards her brother in front of her and says, "She's a Greeter, Elisud; that is what 'Greeters' do. They greet people, including you, no matter how 'primitive' you may believe such a courtesy to be. . . ."

Eli said nothing within response to that, just kept right on walking and probably trying hard not to scowl, while I then tried my best not to start laughing joyously at his expense.

Although doing so right then probably would have done me a world of good, as I was beginning to feel my stomach tightening up and twisting within avid nausea over the fact that I was now only mere seconds away from meeting my supposed "date."

Ugh.

I still can't believe Eli did this to me.

I still can't believe that I still can't believe Eli did this to me. . . .

Anyhow!

So the Cloelia gal leads us to a closed set of sleek, black colored and windowless double doors before silently curtsying once more, and opens one of them, while one of Eli's "Bodyguard Quartet" rushed forward to do the same for the other.

And . . . well, hold on a sec.

Before I continue on with how or what this Lordio looks like, lemme first tell you about how this Chariton Room looked.

The overall Le Beau Expérience, the main room, I mean, was admittedly quite gorgeous, from what I'd gotten to see before being led away, of course.

But this particular private dining area was positively exquisite.

Everything was just so . . . so . . . sparkly, really, and "goldish" and crème colored all over the place, with its five, super huge chandeliers dangling high above the seemingly endless stream of circular, and fairly intimately sized dining tables.

And there were also oodles of tall, slender pillars erected every which way you could look, too, which, as a result (well, also because of the chandeliers which hung from it, as well), made you look up to properly gaze upon the intricately designed ceiling, which had practically hundreds of square shaped . . . tile thingies in it, I guess, with what looked like a single rose etching decorating the very center of each.

In summation, it really was a very beautiful room.

Just don't tell Eli this, or else he might want to book it again in the future, this time as a rehearsal dinner venue for Lordie's and my wedding.

I shudder at the thought . . . or the strong possibility, rather, where that repulsive man is concerned. . . .

Right, then.

So, yeah, after momentarily marveling at the admitted beauty now all around me, that's when my eyes finally landed upon the only table being presently occupied within the immense, otherwise empty room.

And when I saw him.

Emin, I mean.

I didn't even bother to look at what's-his-face yet in all honesty, even with my consistent anxiousness over his unexpected presence.

But really, could you blame me for scoping out Emin first?

He was just so . . . so . . . mmmm. . . .

Er, I mean . . . oh, forget it.

Both he, and "Mr. Lord" immediately rose from their seats across from one another (probably because they couldn't stand to be any closer, given that Emin had made it abundantly clear that he was not going to leave this dinner without first asking for my hand in marriage . . . right. I know, "Shut up, already, Will." Got it.) once they'd seen me, my mom, and Eli enter, which fleetingly made me remember a little bit of my past royal lesson about that.

You know, about how everyone's gotta rise from their spots as soon as the Head Honcho host comes in and such.

Anyway.

And that's when I was able to more properly see Emin in all his handsomely handsome glory, decked out within a black tuxedo and bow-tie which, by comparison to Eli's tux, anyway, seemed pretty plain and borderline "poor . . . ish."

But I didn't care.

He still looked just as delicious as always, even more so, now, with his rich, brown hair gently slicked back and . . . woooo.

I need a moment, sorry, Journal. . . .

Maybe I really shouldn't give up on ever getting with Emin someday, after all, I mean, seeing as just the mere thought of him usually makes me like . . . well, this.

And considering that he's the first guy to ever make me feel like that, ever since I'd stupidly fallen for equally stupid Caleb, it wouldn't really be a bad idea to give it a shot, anyway.

Emin would probably at least humor me with one, measly date, if I'd ever have enough proverbial balls to ask him, which is a lot more than I can say for that damned ex-Rebel Leader, who most of the time can't even be bothered to speak to me for no more than ten minutes throughout our entire . . . "acquaintanceship," really.

Jerk. . . .

Anyway.

Moving on, right? That's what we've decided to do, once and for all, Will.

After generously taking in Emin's dreamy appearance (and practically dying right then and there when I actually caught him do a double take upon looking at me, before smiling! Yes, for me! A total, freaking double take! And an obviously approving smile, thereafter! Yes!), I finally, and regrettably let my attention shift over to Lord Kendrick . . . or Kimball . . . whomever.

. . . . And that actually ended up not being all too "regrettable" once I had.

I know!

"How could you say such a thing, Will? This is the guy your uncle - This country wants you to end up having babies with in the not-so-far-along future, if they both get their way!"

I know.

Seriously, I do.

But it's not like I'd planned to find myself . . . surprisingly attracted to the guy.

There, I said it!

I'd spent the better part of that entire evening trying my supreme hardest to deny it, for obvious reasons, but I'm finally admitting it!

At least to you, anyway, Journal.

But it wasn't, or isn't just because he turned out to be easy on the eyes or nothin', though.

No.

There were lots of other reasons I'd discovered, as the night went along.

But I'll get to all of that in a second.

First, let's backtrack to "Lord K.'s" looks.

For starters, he's a blonde.

"Dirty Blonde," but a blonde, nonetheless.

And I honestly don't go for the "Fair Haired Fellow," if my past track record with crushes and inevitable boyfriends wasn't any sort of indication to you.

So it was quite the shocker when I'd felt the same sort of nervously giddy, heart-lurching sensations I usually feel whenever around Emin (or "You-Know-Who," still . . . sadly. No. Irritatingly, is more like it), and had been in that moment, suddenly being transferred over to "K-Squared," instead, the moment our eyes met.

Ugh.

'The moment our eyes met?'

God.

Does it get any cheesier and princess sounding than that?

. . . .

I'll let that slide, though, but only because that's honestly how it happened.

My brown eyes gazed into his hazel and . . . yeah.

I was definitely then starting to think, What the hell's the matter with you, Will? This cannot be what I think it is, as I continued on within my silent assessment of the smiling, young lad.

He also donned a black tuxedo, although much more ritzy looking than Emin's and thus, more on a par with Eli's, with a satiny lapel like his own, as well, matching bow-tie, but with a vest underneath.

His hair wasn't gelled back like Emin's and Eli's, though, although I guess simply because it was a bit too short for that, as it was slightly spiky in contrast.

Well, I mean, not the obnoxious sort of spiky that you see at school or on the streets all the time, when guys decide to overdo it with the mousse and actually think that it'll look sexy, and that any girl will get turned on by touching the rock solidness which has become their locks.

No.

It was honestly barely slathered with any sort of hair styling product at all, from what I could tell, anyway, which probably would have meant that it'd be quite soft to the touch.

Er, I mean, in a general sense, not an "Oh, how I wish that I could have run my hands through it" sense. . . .

Yeah.

Definitely not.

Anywhoooo. . . .

"K-Squared" was, or is pretty tall, too, or tall enough, anyway, I mean by comparison to Eli, Emin, and the whole of the Royal Family's male bodyguards who were present that evening.

He was naturally taller than me, even with the added inches I'd gained, courtesy of my high heels (which, I might add, and in case you weren't noticing, Journal, were once again cooperating a tiny bit more with me up to that point. . . . Up to that point, I said.), but still was a tiny bit shorter than my mom, and definitely Eli.

He was, however, even with Emin, I did notice, which then made me feel the great urge to start a score-keeping list of who was the better man . . . and I actually did for most of the evening, and hadn't honestly realized I'd done so until the night was finally over.

I know, I know, I say again, damn it!

. . . . I hate being a teenager.

So, anyway, back to describing "K-Squared's" physical appearance.

One thing I will say that Emin scored higher than him about was his skin tone.

That is, Emin has this healthy sort of tan, I guess, I don't know, while his unknowing competitor does . . . well, not.

I mean, not to say that he's sickly or super super pale, or anything, because he's not.

He's pretty much Cornelia's complexion, although just a teeny tiny bit lighter, that's all.

And considering that the rest of his present company, negating our protectors, had some sort of natural or self-imposed bronze effect going on, that "teeny tiny bit" went a long way.

But none of that certainly stopped him from possessing a . . . yes, mesmerizing sort of gaze any time he'd look at you with those hazel eyes of his.

And then add that to the . . . cute little birthmark on his left cheek, and the equally cute, closed lipped and lopsided sort of smile of slight shyness he'd kept giving me all night and . . . yeah.

"K-Squared" honestly wasn't all too bad to look at, like I said.

And he apparently must have been thinking the same thing about me, since he didn't really blink a whole lot the entire time he and Emin watched me, Mom, and Eli approach.

I don't even think he honestly looked at either one of them, actually, from what I could tell, anyway.

At least, not until Eli actually spoke a few moments later.

"Ah! Kendrick, my boy! How you've grown since I'd seen you last in person! Two years, I believe!" the King announced joyously upon reaching our awaiting, small party. He then extended one of his hands to the young man in question and shook it once, but firmly before letting go. "I trust that your flight from New York City was a safe and comfortable one, then?"

"Yes, of course, Your Majesty, thank you! And it is always quite an honor and pleasure to be within your company, as well," "Mr. Lordie" politely replied upon at last tearing his eyes away from me (Sounds shallow, I know, but it was true, though.), speaking for the first time (within a light, yet still noticeable accent, which was different to Eli's, that I couldn't quite put my finger on). "My family, naturally, send their best regards to you, and to the rest of the Royal Family, as well. . . ."

His voice was . . . deep, yet youthful at the same time . . . and also . . . smooth?

I don't know.

It admittedly reminded me a lot of . . . yes, Caleb's, unfortunately.

And thus, naturally, that was an automatic point against the new lad.

Afterward, but before proper introductions could have been made, I suppose, Eli then turned his attention to Emin so as not to be rude (for once in his life), and made his way around the table to greet him, as well.

"And, of course, a warm welcome to you, as well, Mr. Evgar! Always a pleasure, I'm sure," he remarked in kindness, before doing the same sort of handshake with that tall drink of Sexy, too.

"A pleasure, indeed, Your Majesty," Emin replied with a generous grin, which made me melt over how boyishly, yet devilishly handsome it looked.

Another score added to his side, now.

And now, came our turn.

My mom and me, that is.

Eli, being the obvious leader of the pack, took it upon himself once more to initialize the formal introductions, starting first with Mom.

"Kendrick, while your family had once been familiar with my sister long ago, you, of course, are not, having yet to be born," he began with a soft smile towards the curiously blushing . . . Kendrick, I think is his first name, "and thus, I present to you, Her Royal Highness Princess Almira Lilith. . . ."

Eli had surprisingly said that whole spiel without gritting his teeth, or scowling deeply, you know, considering he was making a direct reference towards his older, estranged sibling, after all.

Instead, he almost looked sort of . . . proud, I guess?

Or maybe it was just leftover emotions from the blatant esteem and fondness he harbors for the young Kendrick.

I silently watched as my mom moved past me to properly meet the blonde nobleman, who did that bowing from the neck thing that men have to do for "we Royalty."

"It is a pleasure to finally make your direct acquaintanceship, Lord Kimball," my mom was the first to speak, smiling warmly at the shorter individual, and sounding suddenly super regal for the very first time since her royal secret had come spilling out of the bag. "As The King had previously indicated, I, too, was once quite familiar with your family, although more so your grandparents, as your mother and father, the current Duke and Duchess, were but young adolescents at the time, as The King and I. . . ."

A bunch of thoughts began to run through my head right then, for sure, like, was "K-Squared's" first name "Kendrick," or was it "Kimball," after all, since both Mom and Eli, and even that Cloelia broad had each called him two different things?

I had enough things to worry about not making a continued fool of myself over, after all; I didn't need to add flubbing up the poor guy's proper name to the list, as well.

Then I started to wonder who this woman was, and what happened to the formerly rebelling mother I used to know, or even the thereafter moping, depressed gal who just kept crying all the time now and everywhere she went?

I mean, ever since she'd first reappeared, all dolled up within her specific attire back at the Presidential Suite, my mom has seemed to have undergone some sort of . . . I don't know.

"Spiritual Awakening," or something.

I couldn't tell if she was just putting on a show, perhaps for my sake so that the overall, undeniably daunting impact of tonight wouldn't be as devastating for me.

You know, like to make certain that I understood that I at least had her support in this, and to possibly act as my buffer if at any time I may end up acting like a complete buffoon (which definitely happens more often than not for me, it seems).

Or, maybe she was suddenly acting like a recent pageant winner, or something, because, well, maybe she was suddenly beginning to enjoy the recent reconnection with her former royal lifestyle.

I mean, I know what she'd said about it, that she didn't regret leaving it behind and all, but maybe being completely thrust back into it, with all of the returned focus and attention onto her by way of kiss-asses, and also being around her baby brother again after all these years of his absence . . . I don't know, maybe tonight and everything which had accompanied it was simply the final jolt Mom needed, or even wanted, to get back in touch with the woman she used to be, before being simply known as "'Susan,' Single Mother of One."

And then, thinking like that honestly made me feel bad for her all over again, try as I might to have denied it.

I mean, my mom really has seemed to have gone through quite a lot within her life, and seemed to make a lot of different sacrifices, some good and some bad, I'm sure, to get to where she currently is today . . . and she's never honestly complained much about it, or anything else, really, either.

Now, I'm not saying that I will completely forgive her for having cheated on Dean, evidently, as that act is still inexcusable . . . but I guess that I will at least try to meet her halfway, once and for all, about this whole princess situation.

It'll be pretty hard, but I will try. . . .

In any event, whatever the ultimate reason for Mom's apparent turnaround that evening, however, would have to wait until later today to be discovered, once I'm more awake and she, herself, wakes up, period, to be properly asked.

Until then, back to the actual dinner, and her blatantly owning the "Awesome Princess" scene in that moment.

Even Eli seemed to be impressed, as well, as I did manage to catch his facial expression during the exchange between his sibling and Lord Kendrick/Lord Kimball.

His dark eyebrows slowly, although surely raised as he watched the display, before a very, very, I mean very faint sort of smile graced his lips.

And, as surprising as that had been, I swear to you, Journal, that I could also see what looked like . . . tears briefly shining within his eyes, I kid you not.

It was only for about a second or two, since when I looked harder I couldn't see anything anymore, and his eyes looked a lot less glassy, but I'm telling you that I saw something of the "Water Works" nature within Eli's eyes in that moment.

I would be more inclined to think something like, Aww, that's actually kinda cute . . . you know, that perhaps the long since buried sibling bond he and my mom used to share seemed to then be resurfacing or something, except that it was Eli we're on about.

Even though, true, for once, he wasn't busy looking down at his older sister, or looking quite exasperated with her as he usually does with me, you still have to take this brief . . . "truce" of sorts between them (for that entire evening, at least) with a grain of salt.

I mean, Eli could have been more so pleased with the fact that Mom hadn't embarrassed him by instead using all of the so called, "nasty, commoner habits" he constantly accuses her of having picked up throughout the years since she'd abdicated the throne.

He probably had been expecting her to have just been all, "Hiya, Kenny! How's it hangin'?", or something upon being introduced to "Lord Double K," and already had some secret "Mom Evacuation Plan" ready to deploy thereafter, too.

So that's the more likely reason why the guy had looked so flushed and wracked with emotion then, simply because my mom had proven him wrong and left him so taken aback, as a result.

Whatever.

I tell ya.

Too bad Eli really couldn't just simply rent a brand new Royal Family to have accompanied him tonight, and any other night (and day), really.

Would make all of our lives much, much simpler.

Anyhow, so after Mom and "L.K." (God, I've made so many different nicknames for this kid already, haven't I? No, they are not "pet names," Journal.) did the introduction thing and made a passing bit of polite small talk, thereafter, it was finally . . . dun, dun dunnnn . . . my turn.

Gulp.

Okay, be cool, Will. Just simply wait until Eli or Mom or whomever introduces you to the guy, and also wait until either one of them tells you his actual, proper name before opening your mouth to speak at all, I quickly told myself in silence as the young nobleman and I locked eyes with one another once more, nervously on both ends, I did manage to notice.

Aww.

Kinda.

Ahh!

"And now, Kendrick, dear lad, I present to you, my niece, Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina Janan," Eli once again took the helm of the "Who's who" scene, extending an arm out towards me within further acknowledgment (which only served to add to my present anxiousness of the overall situation, as well as aggravation that he just had to call me by my full name, first and middle, in front of the guy). "Princess Wilhelmina, let me introduce to you, His Excellency the Right Honorable The Lord Kendrick Kimball. His parents, as your mother, Princess Almira so insightfully pointed out, are The Duke and Duchess of Chibuike, within the country of Fiera. It was once a proud kingdom during its earlier beginnings, but is today a far more exultant duchy, I will have you to know."

"'Duchy?' What the hell is that?" I was almost tempted to ask right then, seeing as, well, I honestly didn't know.

I still don't.

Well, I didn't, until I'd looked it up within the dictionary right before I'd started the previous entry, anyway, so that once I finally got to this part of the overall evening, I wouldn't be as confused the second time around.

What? So, sue me.

As I've told you many times before, Journal, I, and in fact, a great deal of fellow Americans, don't honestly know a chunk load's worth about royal terms and what not.

Okay, well, maybe that's just my assumption, more than 'fact,' but you get me.

I didn't even know how to correctly spell the word until the online dictionary I'd used auto-corrected me, itself, with its 'Did you mean. . . .?' alert message.

And even after I'd seen the proper spelling, I still didn't know how the heck I was meant to say it, that's for damned sure.

I know.

"But, Will, your uncle just said it, himself."

Yep, he sure did.

But it doesn't mean that I'd remembered that in all this time, like so many of the general things which spew out of that man's mouth, in fact.

And so, because I'd promptly forgotten the word's pronunciation as I was typing it into my laptop, I kept thinking that it was either said one of two ways . . . one of which, if you'll forgive me, greatly mimicked that of a particular, female hygienic device, except with an "ee" sound attached at the end. . . .

Yeah. . . .

And then the second way I thought it was meant to be pronounced was like "Doochee."

You know, sort of like the tail end of that one rowdy, former child star's last name.

Between the two, I'd have much rather embarrassed myself in front of "L.K.K." by having pronounced the place or area or whatever his parents ruled as "Doochee," instead of . . . well, you get me.

Anyway, upon clicking onto the little sound byte clip thing provided next to the word, I was then reminded that it is actually called "Dutch-ee," which, honestly, makes much more sense.

I mean, based upon how it's spelled, and all.

But as usual, I, and many others I know, tend to overly analyze certain words and automatically assume that some are meant to be pronounced all complicated-like, courtesy of the sometimes admittedly complicated way they may be spelled.

But this one actually looks the way it's meant to be spoken, and I still ended up getting it wrong.

In my head, anyway.

I didn't dare to open my mouth about it at any time during the entire scope of that evening.

Nooo, sir.

Oh.

Before I forget, lemme quickly jot down the definition of a "duchy" for you, as well:

'The territory of a duke or duchess.'

. . . . I know.

"That's it?"

This is a prime example of why I tend not to know the definition to a lot of words, especially the ones I may recently acquire within my continually increasing personal vocabulary.

Because at any time I do bother to look them up, I'm even more confused about what the damn thing actually is than I was in the first place.

So then, as a result, I ended up doing a bit of extra research, this time about what the hell is the difference between a "duchy" and a "dukedom," a word I am more familiar with . . . or, at least, knew of its previous existence.

I mean, you gotta, right, what with all the "Duke of" this, and "Duchess of" that you constantly hear about throughout the years regarding other Royal Families.

Anyway, so after this new, unexpected search, I'd managed to learn that a "Duchy" is the 'geopolitical domain,' it said, within which the duke or duchess possesses actual subjects and/or land holdings, or "fief," another word I'd learned. (Boy, do I feel increasingly stupid.)

But then a "Dukedom," on the other hand, is more so simply title based or a rank of nobility, and it isn't always necessarily attached to any sort of duchy.

Sooo . . . basically, then, I guess a duchy is pretty much like a kingdom, except maybe a step or so below that, and instead has its dukes and duchesses overseeing it.

But then I'd also briefly read that duchies, like super back in the day, for example, were specific areas over which the dukes and duchesses ruled, but were still chump change by comparison to the super grand, overall land area whatever kingdom was also there ruled.

So then, that made me a teeny bit confused, I mean because of what Eli had said about how . . . this "Fiera" country, assuming I'd spelled that right from how he'd said it, used to be a kingdom, but now is entirely a duchy.

I'm still honestly befuddled by that, even now.

And then, too, if the country (another one, I might add, I'd sadly never heard of) is called "Fiera," then why are "K-Squared's" 'rents Duke and Duchess of "Chibuike?"

Shouldn't they be called The Duke and Duchess of "Fiera," instead?

That's another thing which has always had me mixed up about titles and such.

I mean, why is it that all of these royal people have so many different names, which are also usually different from the actual country or whatever they're from?

Bahhh . . . head . . . hurts.

Way too much psychoanalyzing so early in the morning like this.

I wasn't going to, but maybe later I'll just do a new, much quicker search, this time about the actual country, and learn a little more about its history.

And no, I'm not gonna do it because I want to learn more about "L.K.K.," either, Journal!

Yeah, I know that's what you're thinking.

Just because I'd openly admitted to you that yes, okay, I did, or do find him to be a bit attractive, it doesn't mean that I'm now hopelessly into him, to the point of wanting to know every last thing about him.

I just think that it'd be a good idea to know, is all . . . you know, just in case Eli decides to make his next princess lesson for me all about the country of Fiera and its history.

No, really.

As it was, it was a miracle that Eli didn't dwell on it during dinner, or point out the fact that I know jack-squat about the place.

I mean, sure, it was technically only a fact known simply by myself, and maybe Mom, since we're both well aware of how Geographically-Challenged I can be.

But seeing as Eli constantly believes me to be some blithering ignoramus majority of the time, I'm sure that he was probably thinking along those lines, anyhow.

I guess he simply hadn't spoken up about it merely to save face for himself, that a member of his Royal Family actually wasn't previously aware of the country of Fiera, the Duchy of Chibuike and all that jazz.

Anyway.

It's still not for "Lordio's" sake that I might read up on his background, though.

It isn't.

Moving on!

So, like I said, he and I are busy looking at one another like it's our first day of Preschool, where we don't know a soul, and I'm thinking about what to do next.

That is, do I make the first move, or should he?

For a handshake, or something, I mean.

Eli did, after all, but he seems to be more than just "quite familiar" with the nobleman, based upon their super super friendly interactions earlier, and indeed the remainder of the evening.

Plus, he did also keep simply calling him "Kendrick," by his first name (about which I am now absolutely certain), instead of adding the "Lord" title in front, unlike how my mom, Emin, and yes, even I kept on doing throughout dinner whenever we (well, they did, not I. No, way) directly spoke to him or were addressed beforehand.

Well, actually, Mom and Emin kept calling him "Lord Kimball," by his presumed last name, instead, and I, of course, followed suit since it seemed to be the correct thing to do, I don't know.

No one had corrected me or made a face about it, so yeah.

Anyway, and then I thought about doing what my mom had when she'd first been introduced to Lord Kimball (There, see? I'm just gonna stick with that from here on out, all right? No more nicknames.) . . . which was nothing.

That is, she hadn't offered up her hand for him to shake, or kiss (Ahh!) or whatever he, as a Lord-person is meant to do whenever faced with a princess, or another "higher up." (Wait, we, er, they are higher up on the "Royal Food Chain," aren't they? Princes and princesses and crap, yeah? Obviously kings and queens are, I know that. At least, they gotta be, I'd wager. And princes and princesses come from the aforementioned, so I suppose then, logically, they would be "better" than Lords . . . whatever the hell they honestly are, seriously.)

But was that the wrong, or right thing to do?

Or maybe the right thing for her to do, seeing as she's my mother and is technically "more important," or at least, had come first before me where being a princess is concerned?

But then, if I do the same, then will I end up offending not only Lord Kimball, but his entire duchy-country-place, and effectively void any sort of treaties it may possibly have with Eli's?

Or hell, with this one?

Ugh.

Did I mention how much I truly hate being a princess?

Even though I was utterly perplexed about what I should or shouldn't do right then, I was about to once again settle upon the "Monkey see, Monkey do" mentality I'd tried to adopt about my mom (you know, during our little "fashion shoot" earlier), when Lord Kimball saved me the trouble.

At least, where how to properly greet him was concerned.

He didn't speak yet, mind, I guess because of that whole stupid "do not speak until spoken to" crappy rule (which, again, makes no sense, because only a fleet of people have already done so to me, to Mom, and to Eli. But, also again, most of them naturally don't have the similar royal background or royal education like the two siblings, or Lord Kimball, as well, most likely, to know any better. Wow, did that sound incredibly snooty. Sorry, sorry!), but did offer up the same sort of neck-bow to me within respect.

Which meant that it was now up to me to say the first few words, instead.

Crap.

You just know that I'd screw that up, right?

Sure enough. . . .

". . . . U-Uh . . . h-hi? E-Er, I mean, h-hello, Lord. Kimball! Lord Kimball, sorry," I said like the typically raving loon style I seem to consistently possess during such times, feeling my cheeks grow incredibly hot as I remembered at the last second what the guy's last name was and how to properly address him.

All I can say is, it's definitely a good thing that Caleb had never turned out to be a prince, or something, otherwise I would have been dead years ago from ample embarrassment over possibly getting his titles and junk wrong, like how I now felt with Lord Kimball.

And I only find him to be cute, not "in love worthy" as I had for the ex-Rebel Leader, to boot.

I'm sure that Eli, like the way I'd ended up doing for both Emin and Lord Kimball that entire night, was most likely also keeping a mental (or physical, who knows with him) score card for me, as well, but instead for how smart or dumb I'd behave throughout the prestigious event (and seeing as it was also meant to serve as my first, stupid test for my royal lessons with him thus far, I wouldn't put it past him).

And if that was the case, I definitely got awarded about fifty demerit points in that one moment, alone.

But at least all of my blunders, present, and possible future (which, again I will say, had sadly been the case) would continually be more or less isolated, courtesy of the private dining area we were all within.

Still was ridiculously mortifying, all the same. . . .

So while Eli was, as I could then see, tightly clenching his teeth together in front of me but did his best to appear undaunted, and both my mom and even Emin faintly chuckled within amusement (Yeah. Ha, ha.), Lord Kimball merely gave me another one of his adorable (Ah, shut up, already, Journal, 'cause, yes, I said it again.) crooked, closed lipped smiles before nodding his head in acknowledgment.

"Hmm . . . yes, 'Lord Kimball' will do quite fine, Your Royal Highness," he spoke softly, the previously faint rouge upon his otherwise pale face then beginning to deepen, just as mine thankfully began to lessen a tick. "It truly is an honor to make your acquaintanceship, as well, as it is your mother's, Princess Almira. I have heard quite a bit about you, Princess Almira, from my family, and about you, Princess Wilhelmina, from The King throughout our mutual letters of correspondence these some odd weeks or so. . . ."

Lord Kimball trailed off a tiny bit after that, before flashing both Mom and me another smile, sort of like he'd just suddenly then revealed too much.

Meanwhile, I just wanted to melt straight through the fancy, maroon colored carpet beneath us all, and seep past whatever the hell was underneath it, thereafter, I was feeling so humiliated all over again.

Why?

Because I could only imagine the kind of crap Eli's been feeding this poor, unsuspecting guy all about me!

And for weeks, at that!

He (Eli) hasn't even personally "known" me for super long, either!

So not only has he apparently been planning this little, so called romantic get together for ages, now, but he's also probably been writing all sorts of defaming pieces of information about me like, 'So long as you be sure to consistently conspire against the Princess in order to effectively get your way, and, of course, take care within securing plenty of aspirin during which times you might be found out by her, you should do quite well within properly handling her as your soon-to-be new bride, my boy!'

And based upon Lord Kimball's ample abashment upon cutting himself off, there, that pretty much clinches it.

Am I that presumptuously defective to the male masses?

To Caleb.

To Emin, possibly.

To Eli.

And now, probably to Lord Kimball, as well?

Geez-Louise. . . .

Aww, gee.

Now I'm depressed, again.

And, seriously here, it truly is far too early right now to be feeling any kind of emotion, especially not the heavy duty kind such as that.

I was trying my best to block out my furthered thoughts about the matter and whatever it was Eli really had written within his letters to Lord Kimball, in addition to doing my best to fight the urge to outright ask one or the both of them, when I instead did manage to get out, ". . . . N-Nice to meet you, as well, Lord Kimball. But you can just call me 'Will,' as that's how I like to be called."

. . . . What?

That crap is automatic for me, no matter what situation I'm thrust into, damn it.

And because it is so instinctive for me, I'd said it before I could stop myself (if only my own sake of not garnering any more embarrassment, versus wishing to please Eli by being a "good little girl"), and thus, utter surprise ensued.

For Lord Kimball, at least.

Eli, on the other hand (and my mom, and, Hell, even Emin and our surrounding bodyguards), didn't even flinch.

Okay, so he (Eli) did, what with his "Oh, my God, somebody better hold me back, because I swear I'm about to shank this freaking girl in about two seconds!" sort of facial expression in that moment.

But everyone else just seemed undaunted by such a request on my part, either because most of the people in that room were pretty much used to my various, very atypical princess-like ways, or because they simply couldn't care less.

My kind of people.

But Lord Kimball, naturally, was foreign to this, and perhaps within a general sense with any other princess he may have come across throughout his life.

He blinked his eyelids rapidly, looking as though I'd just asked him one of Life's unanswerable questions, or something, before finally managing to compose himself long enough to respond, a bit waveringly, with, ". . . . I-If that is what you wish, Princess Wilhelmina, then -"

"- A-Ah, of course it isn't, Kendrick, my good man! The Princess was merely speaking within jest! You will find that she can quite comical, indeed!" Eli promptly interrupted, a bit "un-kingly-like," forcing a tight smile upon his face, while a light, obviously disapproving frown graced my mom's, as a result. Before anyone could have said anything about this, either for or against, he then moved himself to the head of the table (which, being circular within shape, was tough to tell, really), extended the both of his arms out towards the remaining "Important People," and said, "Now, then! Please! Let us take our seats and partake within the delectable meal I am sure to be had at such a fine establishment as this!"

Even though both Mom and I were visibly upset by our rude family member's weak "save," there, neither of us seemed to want to bother to amend it, for most likely the same reason of simply not wishing to hear his mouth run within avid complaint.

And so she and I simply took our place at the fancily decorated table, and did the stupid waiting thing for Eli to sit down before we could, ourselves.

So lame.

I wanted to sit next to the still-ever-so-delicious Emin, but my mom had beaten me to it, making me silently curse myself over the rotten luck I evidently had, and fleetingly wonder if she didn't have a thing for him, herself.

Or worse, if he didn't find her to be quite alluring, himself, as while he had been more or less gazing upon me for majority of the time since I'd arrived (which, of course, made me feel lighter than air, at the same time that it made me feel duller than dirt, thanks to those previous, unpleasant moments of mine right in front of him), he suddenly began to look rather . . . flustered the moment Mom had moved to sit next to him.

Oh, come on, man!

That's totally not fair!

I mean, she automatically gets a few extra points ahead of me in terms of impressing the opposite sex, one, because she's been a princess far longer than I have, and thus knows what to do and how to act, even with her decade-plus neglect of actively practicing the appropriate customs.

And two, she's already been long since fully developed "in all the right places," if you get me, while I'm still very much a "work in progress!"

So of course men will fawn over her before they would ever do so for me.

So uncool . . . so uncool, indeed. . . .

But maybe it was mainly because of Mom's perfume which had Emin so currently beside himself, as its soft, yet still noticeable aroma was rather inviting, and indeed, a familiar scent of hers (to me, anyway).

Why in the Hell didn't Eli instruct anyone from the "Makeover Mob" to leave me any?

Probably because he didn't deem it "becoming" or something for a princess to wear the stuff, that's why.

And lucky Mom, that her brother's been paying more attention to me and what I'm doing, saying, and wearing all the time now, than he has been with her, so that's probably how she'd managed to get away with putting some on.

You win this round, Mother Dearest. . . .

Besides, I was too busy being overcome by the musky, rugged, yet relaxing sort of cologne Lord Kimball seemed to be wearing, himself, which I could smell more of now that the two of us were within such close proximity.

I guess it's okay, then, for male royal people to spritz on the good stuff, only.

I would be more upset by that apparent rule or whatever it is, if I weren't so woozy with secret delight over his scent.

Eww.

I'm making it sound like I was acting like an animal, feverishly sniffing out the pack to locate my mate, or something.

Extra gross. . . .

But, really, though. I couldn't help myself.

I can't even describe the way it smelled, the way he smelled, beyond what I just had, already. And since I didn't dare outright ask him what the cologne was called, I guess I'll never be able to track it down and give it to, perhaps, Caleb, for his next birthday . . . cough. . . .

Speaking of, that's one thing I've never honestly seen, er, smelled Caleb do . . . or however you wanna say it.

Wear any sort of cologne, that is.

Not at school.

Not at any of our group get-togethers with our mutual friends, like earlier that day.

Not even at school functions, like any of our past dances, like Homecoming and such.

You know, whenever I "just so happened" to be close enough to him to get a good whiff.

Man, did I sound like an honest stalker just then. . . .

It's true, though.

About Caleb never having worn cologne before, I mean, not the stalker bit . . . yeah. . . .

I wonder why that is?

Maybe he, being the alien that he naturally is, simply has never been able to fully grasp the concept of spraying such fragrances onto himself, even after all this time on Earth.

Probably thinks it's odd to use "the stuff that stinks inside tiny bottles," or however he might put it, like a lot of the other Earthly "customs" he used to think was downright insane when he first arrived to this planet.

Then again, Cornelia wears a ton of perfume, pretty much everyday, with seeming to add just a little more whenever she's around the guy, and he's never seemed to find that perplexing or bothersome in all this time.

So maybe it's probably a personal request of hers, then, that Caleb doesn't wear any, just in case she might be afraid that in by doing so, he'll attract a platoon of unwanted admirers . . . well, unwanted by Cornelia's standards, anyway . . . and mine.

Ugh.

In any event, I guess I can now understand that possible fear of hers, seeing as I was currently within the middle of focusing a bit more on Lord Kimball, and forgetting more and more about . . . um . . . wait.

What's-their-names.

Oh, my God, I'd just written it down!

Right!

Caleb, and Emin!

No, that totally wasn't staged or anything, Journal. I really did forget for a millisecond there.

Well, damn.

Either I need to go back to sleep right now and fully regain my consciousness, or the mere memory of Lord Kimball's intoxicating cologne is that powerful, indeed.

Could you just imagine if Matt had worn the same fragrance back when we were dating (instead of the admittedly at times overwhelming, in the not so friendly way, choice he'd wear . . . which he actually does no longer, now that I think about it, so I guess he eventually caught on that it really wasn't doing him any favors where flattery was concerned)?

I probably would have eloped with him and be pregnant with "Baby Number Two" by now, or something.

You.

You're good, You, whomever had created such a wonderful brand. . . .

So, anyway, there we now are, sitting side by side and a bit way too close for my (and perhaps even his, judging by the slight fidgeting he started to do for a few moments when we'd first sat down next to each other) comfort, and I'm trying to will myself to just relax, block out how good he admittedly smelled, and focus instead upon my sudden appetite which was then ferociously making its way to the surface.

Yes.

Good.

Food.

That will be a perfect distraction over the overall awkwardness of this ongoing situation, and will act as a time killer, too, since all of us will be busy stuffing our faces to have to endure any small talk.

But then, thinking about food and actually eating it in front of Lord Kimball - In front of Emin (again, in his case), was only making me feel horribly ill then, and adding to my grand superfluity. (Ha! Another big word . . . sorta. Guess my mind's not that shot so early in the morning, after all.)

Because that was a part of, if not the main part of Eli's asinine princess lesson test for me tonight, after all.

Proper utensils, plates, drinking glasses and the like.

And I still couldn't honestly recall much of that particular lesson, either, especially not now, with pretty much all of my senses swimming within rattled affect.

Maybe I could just simply opt out of eating, altogether . . . you know, for religious purposes, or something.

Nah.

Couldn't risk it, just in case everyone at the table suddenly felt I was trying to be sacrilegious, instead.

I guess I'm just going to have to try to continue on with my "Just Do Whatever Mom Does" routine, which shouldn't be too hard this time, seeing as she was right across the table from me.

Okay.

No sweat.

You can do this, Will, I silently encouraged myself, nervously clasping my once again clammy hands together and placing them upon my lap, while I then began to observe all of our bodyguards, eight, total, now (as we now must include Lord Kimball's evidently designated, raven haired protector, who was surprisingly female. I say this, only because the only time I've ever seen a female bodyguard, it's been for either my mom or myself, also female. But I guess Lord Kimball's gal is possibly more than capable of taking out any sort of threat he may face all on her own, even if she didn't really look it).

Without a word of instruction, they each decided to claim a different spot within the otherwise secluded area for his and herself.

Two of Eli's guys stood in front of the private dining room's dual entrance and exit, while the other two remained near our table, although standing far behind their King within silent vigilance, as always.

Then Tegan, Mom's chickie, and Lord Kimball's unnamed chickie, each had chosen to place themselves in front of what evidently were the restaurant's kitchen doors, seeing as two, tuxedo wearing server dudes just then came out of them, one of them carrying a platoon of large, fancy and golden hued menus, while the other carried a generous pitcher of cool and refreshing looking water as they swiftly approached.

And as for Nova and Ernest, each of them apparently had decided that it would be best to split apart for a change, with Ernest taking the far corner of the room, closest to Tegan and Lord Kimball's dark haired protector, and Nova taking the other, clear across from the three of them and closest to Eli's table-guarding . . . guards.

Yep.

No evildoer dare drop in here, now.

Eli had initiated a bit of light chit chat with his two guests, and even with my mom (who honestly didn't seem all that interested, but I suppose went along with it, anyway, seeing as it didn't just include her) by that point, so I was thankfully off the hook within trying to strike up meaningful conversation with . . . well, anyone, really.

Plus, the two servers were also heading our way, as well, leaving me zero time to try, even if I'd wanted to (which, naturally, I hadn't).

Seeing them arrive at the table, Eli promptly excused himself from speaking to Mom and the others before briefly greeting the pair of ebony haired, surprisingly calm looking men (making them just about the only ones, besides that sickeningly super hot, Juvela fashion consultant lady from earlier back within the Presidential Suite, to ever appear that way whenever around the Royal Family), and then allowed them to do their welcoming thing.

I didn't bother to pay much attention to them, as one of them went on about specialty dishes and all that before courteously distributing the restaurant's presumed dinner menu to each of us, while the other silently filled each of our water glasses (Yay. At least that takes care of that wonder, over which goblet had been which.).

After which, both men then proceeded to bow, before parting to give each of us a few minutes to decide on what we would choose to eat, I guess.

Like I said, I wasn't honestly paying much attention.

I did start to again, however, right then, when Eli, after a few moment's pause and fleetingly gazing down upon his menu in hand, gaily revealed, "Ahh, yes . . . I have heard quite a good deal of positive reviews about this particular establishment and its admirable cuisine, as well as service - Which, thus far, at least, seems to be holding true to its glowing word, and living up to its apt name. I do hope that you will find that it suits your particular tastes, Kendrick, as I had taken extra steps to be fully certain that 'Le Beau Expérience' also served a Vegetarian menu."

"I thank you for having done so, Sir. I am sure that everything will be to each of our individual liking while we are here," Lord Kimball kindly replied with a small nod and typical one-sided smile, before suddenly then looking at me at the very tail end of his sentence.

Oh, God.

Was that a not-too-super-undetectable flirtatious sort of innuendo he just did there?

And was I actually then beginning to feel sort of . . . pleased by it?

What happened to his shyness - To our shyness?

Oh, wait.

No.

There it goes, I could then see, as Lord Kimball's blanch face once more became suddenly flushed, and my insides, at least, followed suit.

Besides maybe Martin and his buddy, Alec (which is still pretty unsettling to think about), I don't think I've ever been able to make a guy so nervous before.

Feels pretty darn good . . . especially since I'm usually experiencing it the other way around, like now, as well, but still.

Feels pretty darn good, indeed.

So, anyway, thanks to Lord Kimball, and, to a lesser extent, Eli, I finally had something feasible to bring to the proverbial table of conversation.

". . . . You're a Vegetarian, Lord Kimball?" I asked within honest curiosity, somehow resisting the urge to curse aloud, as I could then feel everyone's eyes naturally settling onto me.

Bleh.

Instead of the now taken aback looking Lord Kimball (I suppose because he hadn't honestly expected me to take interest within his personal eating habit of choice) answering the question, however, Eli promptly did it for him, apparently seeming to believe that his name was "Lord Kimball," as well.

And he thinks I'm rude.

Yeesh.

"Yes, he is, Princess Wilhelmina, since he was a very young fellow, indeed. In fact, that is the inspiration towards his present scholastic focus - Isn't it, Kendrick?" the King of Marsily eagerly gushed with unmistakable pride which a parent would possess for his or her child.

Boy, did he really seem fond of this dude.

No wonder he wanted to play matchmaker for the two of us, all the more.

But then, in that case, Eli must either really hate Lord Kimball, after all, or must really secretly love me, by that logic, in order to want to do such a thing in the first place.

Ah, conundrums. (Although I certainly hope that it is the former reason, as I don't think that I can handle a loving version of Eli. . . . Ick.)

"Yes, Sir, it is," Lord Kimball replied with yet another one of his crooked smiles, before turning his attention onto me as he shyly continued. "Well, that is to say, you see, Princess Wilhelmina, I am currently within my second year at university - At the 'University of Haluk' within New York City, that is - pursuing a Master within 'Food Studies,' as well as a Minor within 'Culinary Science. . . .' It truly has been quite fascinating thus far, I have to say, as I continue to learn about the amalgamated aspects all about food, such as the social, cultural, economic, and even psychological factors which have influenced its consumption patterns and such throughout history, past and present. It . . . certainly places quite the difference within perspective, food, that is, as a whole. . . ."

I have to say that listening to Lord Kimball go on about his evident career choice, with such obvious passion, and watching his entire demeanor finally begin to relax (at least, "finally" where I was concerned) as he explained it all to me was pretty cute. . . .

And admirable, as well.

I mean, because it's always pretty cool to meet someone, at any age, really, who clearly knows what they want out of life and finds something which they truly enjoy, you know?

And considering that he's . . . what . . . like eighteen, or nineteen-years-old apparently, based upon his current college level and all, that's even more impressive . . . as well as envy-worthy.

After all, look at me. I'm soon going to be eighteen, myself, and graduate from high school soon after (hopefully, anyway), and I still don't honestly know exactly what I want to do with my own life.

Yeah, we've already talked about this briefly a few times before, Journal, I know, and I did state that Veterinary Medicine does interest me a bit . . . I think.

That I'd mentioned that, that is . . . and that it interests me, kinda.

I mean, I do have the whole "Animal-Human Simpatico" thing going on, hands down, thanks to my specific Guardian abilities, true, and I am, as "we all know," great with science.

So I guess it wouldn't be too difficult for me to pursue, especially since just in case I'd forget my training for whatever reason, whatever animal I'm trying to . . . "fix," could easily just do their tapping into my emotions thing, maybe even read my mind (well, some eerily have before in the past, anyway) to learn what I'm after, as well, and voilà!

Instant health recovery!

I'd be a regular "Doctor Didlittle," indeed.

Well . . . I could be, at least, if such a profession didn't also require a bit of mathematical know-how.

Oh sure, it would mainly be used for such events like calculating the correct amount of medication to give to the furry, winged, or scaly little creature, based upon their age and size.

Okay.

But that's a pretty big deal.

For me, at least.

Well, in general, as well.

I mean, with my current level and struggling on and off with my math classes, past and present, one little slip up from me within the office and poof!

Bye-Bye, pretty bird, lizard, or cat . . . or frog!

Nooo, no no.

Too much pressure.

Not to mention that I'd probably just cry my eyes out just about every single day over witnessing a poor little animal's injury, let alone possible death, being that I love all of them so dearly (and being that they all generally pick up upon my emotions a lot, as well, the added stress would probably kill them, anyway). . . .

Hmm. . . .

No, I think that that settles whether or not I might pursue that particular occupation.

Besides, I never really felt super impassioned about taking a crack at it, anyhow.

And that's precisely what I want to feel, everyday, about whatever I inevitably select as my vocation, just like Lord Kimball. . . .

Bah.

Now I feel like a giant, idiotic and useless bum all over again, who will probably end up living with my mother until I'm forty-years-old or until she finally dies, and also bunk with a platoon of the animals I was too sensitive to try to operate on within my earlier years.

But methinks I'd rather be that, than someone's - Many "someones" - future ruler. . . .

Seeing as Lord Kimball was suddenly so invigorated, and now, in truth, so was I (well, you know, like I said, besides my feelings of "You suck"-ism over it), I decided to humor him by asking a followup question.

'Cause, you know, like I said, I honestly was pretty interested within the current topic.

Hey, what do I know about Culinary Arts and all that, after all?

". . . . I see. So, then . . . will you become a chef, a Pastry Chef, o-or a . . . Vegetarian Chef or however it's called?" I asked a bit indecisively, although for once no natural embarrassment followed thereafter.

I guess I really was intrigued by what Lord Kimball had to say. . . .

About food!

Lord Kimball renewed his "loppy-smile" once again, before softly chuckling, most likely at my previous fumble. (And that's when my formerly absent abashment set in again.)

"Well . . . I am honestly not entirely sure at the moment as of yet, Princess Wilhelmina," he said with a small nod, our discussion now becoming one-on-one, evidently, as Eli (most likely strategically, the little rat) had by then begun another three-way conversation between himself, Mom, and darling Emin, in between perusing each of their dinner menus for what seemed good to eat. "After all, there are so many different avenues to pursue, upon graduation, within the Food Industry: 'Publishing;' 'Marketing;' 'Public Relations' . . . even Nonprofit work. Now that would truly be edifying, as well as self-satisfactory, indeed. . . . However, I believe that I will most likely work within the framework of further establishing a much broader scope for and about the Vegetarian, and even Vegan communities in terms of continually providing the finest cuisine within various restaurants . . . which is why I've recently managed to acquire a fine internship at 'Gardenia Vegetarian Cuisine,' which is also within New York City and close enough to the university. . . ."

I immediately did want to ask Lord Kimball what, exactly, was the actual difference between Vegetarianism and Veganism, since I never truly have understood that, not being either, myself and all.

But I figured that it was probably safest not to do so, just in case I ended up saying the wrong thing again (which is always a strong possibility for me) and offended the guy, and his obvious passion and lifestyle.

So, instead, I simply nodded within semi-understanding, and decided to offer up some form of compliment.

"That's really . . . involved - In a good way, of course," I said with a faint smile of reassurance, blindly reaching out for my previously untouched golden menu which lay before me. "I really hope that it all works out for you, Lord Kimball . . . maybe even to the point of becoming crazy famous and writing a bunch of Vegetarian-friendly cookbooks. E-Er, well, I mean, not crazy-crazy, like -"

"- I completely understand, Princess Wilhelmina, if you'll forgive me. And I thank you," Lord Kimball gently interjected with another nod, before following suit with the menu grabbing. "At least now, I'll know what to write for my premiere Dedication. . . ."

Oh, my.

There he goes again with his subtle, yet not-so-subtle flirtations!

Boy, was he getting good at catching me off guard with those.

And because he had, I could only let out an awkward, half giggle, half snort, which resulted within a prompt "Tomato Face" moment for me, and swift apology for it before looking away.

God.

I wasn't even trying, or indeed even really wanted to impress or charm this guy, and I was failing miserably, anyway.

But at least Lord Kimball's apparently good upbringing continually stepped in and prevented him from making a big deal about it, since he only offered up a light "It's quite all right, Princess Wilhelmina" within reply, before silence finally claimed the two of us.

Normally, that would bother me just as much, as it had earlier on, of course, but seeing as my face was still feeling super hot and, as a result, most likely just as crimson as my hair, I needed time to emotionally recuperate.

And so, I basically thrust my entire head into the large menu now within my hands, and pretended to be engrossed within its text, while watching within the corner of my eye to see if Lord Kimball was starting to do the same, before I actually did see for real whatever it is I might wish to eat.

As he did, and I began to calm down and more properly look over the menu, myself, my stomach then started to renew its efforts within letting me know that it needed nourishment, and it needed it now.

But there were so many damned choices!

Sooo many.

And I didn't honestly know which could actually be selected, and which couldn't, without having Eli further breathing down my neck.

Plus, now knowing of Lord Kimball's personal eating habits, I was feeling a bit hesitant to order anything other than lots and lots of salads . . . which I'm not a huge fan of to begin with.

Evidently, however, Eli had all of that figured out ahead of time (with no real surprise, there), because a few seconds later, when the male servers came back out to take our individual orders, it turned out not to be quite so 'individual,' after all.

That is, clearly the guy, in addition to investigating an appropriate restaurant for tonight's venue, he had also done the the same with its menu plan, and already went ahead and decided what every last person was meant to eat.

That was sweet of him, wasn't it?

"Ah, yes! Here you are! We will all, of course, commence with an Appetizer," Eli said as soon as the pair of restaurant employees approached, one to take everyone's order, while the other collected our menus, which evidently had merely been for show.

He then proceeded to rack off a long list of various foods and beverages, not simply for the Appetizers, but for the entire scope of the dinner, itself.

And while Lord Kimball and Emin merely sat there with content, and even appreciative smiles upon each of their faces, clearly having zero qualm about what the pompous man selected for them as though toddlers, Mom and I, on the other hand, looked positively disgusted.

I was tempted to speak up, damn the potential mortification to follow thereafter, but she beat me to it after the male servers exited the scene with our now useless menus.

"Isn't it truly wonderful to have such a host as The King, who was so gracious - And even perhaps clairvoyant enough as to select each of our entire meals overall, Lord Kimball, Mr. Evgar, 'Wilhelmina,' dear?" Mom said with false, sugary sweetness which really only those who did not know her well enough, like Emin and Lord Kimball, naturally, would believe to be genuine.

I immediately resisted the strong urge to burst out into a strong fit of laughter then, especially upon looking at her toothy, tight smile, and then over to Eli, whose neck I could faintly see beginning to grow red, either within bashfulness or anger.

Most likely the latter.

These are the kind of moments which help remind me just how much I really do love my mother.

". . . . Well, indeed, Almira! It is, after all, a king's duty to be well informed and mindful of the needs of his people - Or, rather, as this particular case may be, the needs of his associates!" Eli said within response before Emin or Lord Kimball could perhaps do so, themselves, forcing as stiff a smile upon his face as his sister's.

"Y-Yes, indeed, Sir, and thank you, again, for having done so," Lord Kimball chimed in with a soft smile, before then quickly looking over to my mom. "That is, if you'll pardon me, Princess Almira, The King had been so kind enough as to provide an online link to this restaurant's menu during our most recent correspondences, in order to make further certain that I would be all right with its offerings. And so I had gone ahead and informed him of what I would most likely partake in this evening, which he, again, was so kind enough to order on my behalf just now. . . ."

"And I, myself, having already dined at this marvelous establishment a few times before, had also further assured both The King and The Lord Kimball that anything which may be eaten or imbibed here will truly be superb," Emin suddenly added with a warm simper flashing across his gorgeous face, looking at everyone seated at the circular table, before settling his eyes onto me and deepened the smile.

Swoon.

Even though he was more or less siding with Eli, and thus this awarded him (and Lord Kimball, at that) a few negative points upon his score card, he did get a few positive ones added back on after giving me that dreamy smile. . . .

Mom, who still didn't seem all too enthused about it, at least dropped her fake smile and relaxed a little bit, looking away from the three males at the table and locked eyes with me, instead.

". . . . Well, while I have never eaten here before to honestly know, at least each meal sounded delectable enough, at least, right, Honey? And thankfully neither of us possess any sort of food allergies, either," she remarked with a light, although warm simper towards me, before then coolly sliding her eyes towards Eli and gave him an even sort of look about that. "I just hope that none of the wine your uncle has also selected on our - On your behalf will not be too strong for you. . . ."

Wait, what?

Wine?

We're back to this again?

When did that come up during our unified little order, anyway?

Clearly, I hadn't been paying much attention to Eli's previous ramblings, after all.

Otherwise, I would have definitely spoken up, no matter the consequences . . . like right now.

"Huh? But you know that I don't really like wine, though, Mom," I said before I could stop myself, although I honestly really hadn't much plan to do so in the first place.

It was the truth, after all.

Mom knew it.

Even Eli knew it . . . I think.

But he generally never really cares about what I want, or how I feel, anyhow . . . again, like right now.

"Nonsense, Princess Wilhelmina! True, certain wines are not as . . . favorable as others, however, one cannot experience such fine dining without its wondrous accompaniment! . . . . I do believe you were already previously aware of this, yourself, if I can correctly recall," the Jackass said within response to my semi-outburst with slightly narrowed eyes to go along with another one of his binding smiles, as he made a blatant reference to my princess lessons.

Pfft.

At this point, I'll gladly take another two or three of those stupid lessons as "punishment," so long as he just shuts up about this one, however how indirect about it he's being.

And how backwards is he, to actually want me to consume alcohol, especially being underage - And an underage princess, at that?

Even if it was for a "special occasion," which I think is also why my mom had let it slide, it's still being backwards. . . .

But anyway, seeing as this will take a while to get through, all of the crap (by that I mean food, which, even though Eli had just helped himself within deciding which ones I'd ingest, turned out to be pretty good stuff . . . but shhh about that, of course), I will now do another one of my trusty lists, seeing as I've gotten so good at doing as such:

WILL VANDOM'S LE BEAU EXPÉRIENCE . . . EXPERIENCE (ABOUT FOOD)

Round I: the Appetizers

All of Us (Negating Lord Kimball, who is, again, a Vegetarian) Had Had: 'Cucumber Wrapped Peekytoe Crab Meat, with Easter Egg Radish and Confit Meyer lemon Dressing.'

Description: Um . . . well, for starters, I don't know what the hell a "confit" is, or how it contributed to the "Meyer Lemon Dressing," seeing as I, unlike Lord Kimball, am not a chef-in-training, but it surprisingly wasn't bad.

The entire appetizer, in fact.

I mean, sure, when it first got to the table and placed in front of me, I was a teeny tiny bit wary. After all, I hadn't been the one to order it, I will say again.

But it did look kinda cute, though, the three pieces, rather, the way each green cucumber sliver was neatly wrapped around the tender looking chunks of yummy crab meat. (Hey. Crab meat is always good to me, no matter the type of dish, foreign or not.)

They honestly sort of looked like shotgun shells to me, really.

Which I guess was befitting, considering I wasn't sure whether or not my mouth was about to play a risky game of Russian Roulette with the dish.

But it smelled inviting enough, at least.

The only thing I wasn't too keen on, after I had taken my first bite, that is, was the "Easter Egg Radish" slices placed on top of each. I've never really cared for radishes much, period, although, to be fair, this one was slightly more mild than others I've tried before.

Still.

Had to discreetly push those aside, using the lemony sauce decorating the whole of my plate as my accomplice when I'd used it to drench the little suckers in hiding.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why it's called "Easter Egg Radishes," that's just because of the way it looks, I guess.

I mean, that's pretty much what I figured, anyway, seeing as some parts of the mostly white vegetable had a few hues of red, pink, and even purple I think thrown into the mix.

I don't know.

Didn't matter how "festive" it tried to look, I still didn't eat the rest.

Eating Execution Personal Grade: Um . . . a B-minus, maybe?

Well, I didn't pick up any of the cucumber wraps with my hands, as I probably would have normally done under any other normal circumstance, considering they were pretty much super-extra fancy sushi rolls, really.

But seeing as this wasn't anywhere near close to a "normal circumstance," I had succeeded within resisting the initial urge to do so, and used a fork and knife.

Which fork and knife?

. . . . I admittedly have no clue.

Like I said, I had planned on doing everything I'd see my mom do and I kinda did successfully later on as the overall meal progressed, but seeing as my brain had shut down and my stomach had completely taken over by that point, pretty much, I just reached for the nearest utensils and began to chow down.

Had it been offensive, or well received by anyone, namely Eli?

I don't honestly know, and I don't rightly care, as I had at least remembered, before wolfing my appetizers down (although as "ladylike" as possible) to make it a point to never look his way again from the time we'd all started to eat, up until the final morsel of food graced each of our lips.

It was the only way I'd be able to get through it, naturally.

In fact, I tried my best to pretty much block out the entire left hand side of the circular table, where all of the men were seated, and only look either straight ahead at my mom from time to time, down at my plate, or to my right towards the dining area's dual entrance and exit as my preferred focal.

Impressing Either Lord Kimball or Emin Personal Grade: . . . . Probably a C-minus, for all the reasons listed above.

Lord Kimball's Appetizer: 'Baby Black Kale Caesar Salad, with Capers, and Cabot Clothbound Cheese Crouton'

Description: Uhhh . . . you'd have to ask him, honestly, since I didn't eat the stuff, naturally, or anything else of his, for that matter.

But it did look kinda yummy, from what I briefly saw when the servers came and brought it to the table.

It was pretty much bathed within the cheesy flakes (which I guess means that eating dairy is something Lord Kimball is personally all right with, I don't know), and crunchy looking croutons.

Even though I personally prefer "Romaine Lettuce" above all of its other leafy 'cousins,' I mean, if I absolutely have to eat a salad, of course, I think that I might've given this one a shot, based upon how it looked.

I mean, at least it seemed to possess a pretty good cheese to crouton ratio to possibly help drown out any gross taste which may have been had . . . you know, seeing as I don't think I've ever tried "Baby Black Kale" before, myself, to honestly know for sure.

Accompanied Beverage of Choice for Us All: 'Pinot Gris'

Description (as illustrated by one of our Servers, as he presented it): "This particular 'Pinot Gris' is precisely what it should be, if I do say so, myself: enriched with a gentle citrus and delicate, tropical fruitiness, and just the right amount of a complex underlining of other orchard-type fruits to give it a crisp, refreshing finish. . . ."

So, why don't you marry it, already?

Geez.

All I gotta say is, wine is wine to me.

Although I will at least give it a mild thumb's up for having the "fruitiness" the server guy had been talking excessively about. . . .

Round II: the Soups

All of Us (Including Lord Kimball) Had Had: 'Warm Vichyssoise'

Description: Sounds extra fancy, I know. The whole "vichyssoise," I mean.

It also sounds like it's some complicated sort of dish, as well.

Nope.

To neither, that is.

Basically, it's just a thick soup which usually consists of chunky potatoes, onions, those leek thingies, and cream.

Obviously, I've had it before, courtesy of my mom.

Well not this specific vichyssoise, clearly, but within a general sense.

Except that most of the time whenever Mom makes it, she usually serves it chilled.

This one, as though the name hadn't been a dead indication, had been served hot.

And that was just fine with me, considering the "Winter Wonderland" going on outside.

Even though I had been pretty warmed up by that point, it still helped to take a nice bite . . . or gulp out of the chill.

Eating Execution Personal Grade: An A . . . minus, I think, anyway, because by then I wasn't as starving as before, thanks to those bullet shaped crab meat rolls, so I was actually able to pay better attention to what my mom was doing, before doing the same.

I'm sure that she probably thought it was a bit odd the way I kept watching her like a hawk, waiting for her to pick up her spoon, dip it sideways into the bowl and take a noiseless little sip before I warily followed suit, but hey.

I was confident that I was - She was totally doing it right, since I was taking extra care not to eat the dish as I normally would any other type of soup.

So . . . yeah.

Methinks I'll bump that "A-minus" to a solid "A," instead, if no one minds.

Impressing Either Lord Kimball or Emin Personal Grade: Oh, I so totally had to have "wowed" the both of them this time . . . although I do remember that I did make a few slurping noises here and there . . . and that I did also lean forward and slouched a bit in the process. . . .

Oh, and that I had briefly placed my elbow onto the table. . . .

Damn it.

D.

In fact, revise my "A" above to a "D," as well.

. . . . I suck.

Accompanied Beverage of Choice for Us All: 'Sauvignon Blanc'

Description (which, again, didn't come from me, but from the Servers as they poured this new one): "This lovely white wine offers a light to medium-bodied, refreshing crispness, as well as notable acidity. And being quite the 'food-friendly' sort of wine, it will terrifically accompany your vichyssoise!"

. . . . Okay, then.

If you say so, pal.

Once again, to me, it was just another glass of unwanted wine . . . and this one was really unwanted, since it honestly tasted like grass, or hay.

Just what I needed, right?

Gimme back that Pinot Gris one, instead, then.

Round III: the Main Course

All of Us (Once again negating Lord Kimball) Had Had: 'Crispy Amish Chicken with Spicy Broccolini, Roasted Spring Garlic Mash, and Sherry Vinegar'

Description: Ahhh . . . how I adore chicken.

By this time, I was starting to feel a bit full, even though the previous meals had at least been rather light going down, but upon getting a really, really good whiff of the poultry set before me, I knew that I could definitely make some room.

And then couple it with the inviting aroma of the roasted garlic mashed potatoes and . . . oh yeah.

Heavenly.

Although the fact that I was about to ingest something which would then make my breath possibly become rank, and something which was once again meat did make me feel a bit nervous again to be seated next to Lord Kimball, somehow I did manage to make it through.

I don't really know why it's called "Amish," but the chicken was absolutely delicious, even with the crispy skin left on it (which is something I normally forgo).

But the broccolini, which definitely had been true to its word about being "spicy," I had to omit from my meal completion, as I simply couldn't handle it.

What's "Broccolini," you ask?

Well, just sort of think of it like pieces of regular broccoli which have not yet finished puberty, really, seeing as their stalks are much thinner, and their . . . "Mop-Tops" as I call them (you know, the super greeny parts of the vegetable . . . the non-stalks, or whatever) are much smaller.

I haven't had them often, but whenever I have, they're usually just more so on the sweet side, and have never been anywhere near as red hot as those dudes.

And as for the mashed potatoes, of course they were mmm, mmm, good . . . even if, again, it did put me at risk for a strong bout of Halitosis in eating them . . . although I do think that I can recall hearing once about how vinegar can help cure Bad Breath.

And seeing as the overall dish apparently had some in it, I guess it could have acted as a counterbalance, then.

Eating Execution Personal Grade: . . . . Should I even bother with this, anymore? I mean, even with having copied my mom with the soup, I realize now that I still ended up doing something stupid.

But . . . for the sake of continuity . . . a C-plus . . . I guess.

Well, I did remember, or realize, rather, that the giant fork, instead of the smaller one still set upon the table next to my plate was the correct one to use, at least . . . and, I mean, there isn't really a whole lot of ways to screw up this specific meal.

It's a chicken, so you cut it, then use your fork to eat it.

Oh, but I did also use my fork to eat my mashed potatoes, as well, or to scoop them up, rather. . . . Was that right?

Ah, damn it!

And I kept leaving leftovers on my plate!

I do remember now that that wasn't a good thing to do, according to my dinner etiquette lesson.

Holy Hell, do I really, really suck. . . .

Downgrade that grade again, "Teacher," because methinks I'll be taking another D, please. . . .

Impressing Either Lord Kimball or Emin Personal Grade: Not quite an "F" (yet), but not quite a "D," either, on this one, or even a "D-minus," as I think that even that might be a bit too generous . . . so I'm just going to invent a grade and give myself an "R. S.," for "Ridiculously Sucky. . . ."

Accompanied Beverage of Choice for Us All (Except Lord Kimball): 'Riesling'

Description (yes, courtesy of the Servers): "Riesling wines can be highly aromatic, as you will each soon see for yourselves, either with apple, pear, or peaches at the forefront of its delectable scent, which mix with invitingly soothing floral undertones, and often even honey or zesty spice lightly hitting the nose! And on the palate, this wine mirrors that of its brilliant aroma, bringing along with it citrus and tropical nuances!"

. . . . Please.

No more . . . wine.

I can't take it anymore.

Even if this one had been a thousand times better than that gross Sauvignon Blanc junk.

Yes.

A thousand times better.

Lord Kimball's Main Course: 'Port Wine Seitan'

Description: . . . . I'm sorry, here.

I mean, I'm honestly not trying to sound . . . "prejudiced" or insensitive or whatever you want to call it in regards to Lord Kimball's eating preferences, here, but . . . eww.

Seriously eww.

I'm sorry!

But you should have seen it, like I'd regrettably had to when it was brought to him!

You know those alien or monster movies, and how the entrails look, after a human, or two, or twenty has just finished being massacred by the otherworldly predator?

Yeah.

There you have it.

I know!

That's so horrible to say about the guy's vegetable dish!

But that's seriously what it looked like to me!

The whole plate was absolutely murdered with what I guess (or hope) was a red wine sort of sauce, while various pieces of what appeared to be sliced mushrooms and . . . Spare rib-ish looking pieces (although it obviously couldn't be, considering who was eating it) drowned in it.

About the only thing which did look appetizing on Lord Kimball's plate were the only two other things I could readily recognize, which was the ice cream scoop shape and amount of mashed potatoes . . . sitting on top of . . . I don't know, a giant onion ring, I guess, and a few strands of spinach underneath that.

Like I've said before in the past, Journal, I'm up for trying new things . . . for the most part, I guess.

But that dish . . . unless there's another way it could be prepared without looking so . . . heinous, then no.

I'm sure it tastes super awesome and all that, but no.

No, thank you.

Accompanied Beverage of Choice for Lord Kimball: 'Pinot Noir'

Description (by da Servers, oui): "Your Excellency, this wine you have selected embodies flavors which are reminiscent of wondrous plums, sweet, ripened red berries and cherries, even tomatoes! You might also be able to detect a faint, although still noticeable wood-like flavor, as well."

I don't think I've ever learned so much about wine, about alcohol, period, as much as I had this evening, I'm telling you.

And even though I'm still not a huge fan of the stuff, I can at least say that I now just might possess a newfound sort of . . . respect for it, especially after having heard about and tried so many in one sitting.

Now I can kinda see why people go away over the weekend at times to do that whole "Wine Tasting" thing.

I just always thought that that was mainly just used as an excuse for them to get piss drunk.

Round IV: the Dessert

All of Us (which once again included Lord Kimball) Had Had: 'Chocolate Coconut Marquise'

Description: Sweet, merciful Heavens, I really can't eat anymore!

. . . . But . . . it is chocolate. . . .

And ohhh, what wonderfully wonderful chocolate it had been.

No idea why it's called a "Marquise," although Eli did end up making a curious little (and stupid, to me, anyway, even though I didn't honestly get it) jolly sort of reference to Lord Kimball's evident sibling, his "older brother," and how it was a shame that he was not also here to enjoy this particular dish.

I don't know.

Don't ask me.

Eli's a mysterious moron, of that I do know.

Anyway, back onto the yummy treat.

It was frozen, first off, or they were, rather, the two, rectangular pieces placed upon each of our plates, which were also accompanied by . . . I don't know, a meringue of some kind (which looked as though it had honestly been torched a bit, too), and sprinkled lightly with super good, chopped Pistachios.

Oh, and with cocoa powder dusting the top, as well, and a rich, smooth chocolate syrup decoratively drizzled beneath it.

All of it just . . . melted (although I suppose it'd have to, since it was frozen) in my mouth, and oozed out "Oh, my God!"-ness potential.

And being the avid, self-admitted "Chocoholic" which I am, I'd almost moaned out said words upon taking my first bite.

There were other flavors mixing in with the chocolaty goodness, too, like a mellow sort of coconut taste, and even a bit of citrus-y lime.

Ha.

Listen to me go on.

I sound like a professional Food Critic, now.

Ooh!

Maybe I can do that as my career.

Just travel the world, eating nothing but tasty chickens, mashed potatoes, and frozen chocolate ice cream . . . cake sort of dishes.

I'd definitely pack on quite a bit of poundage in the process, but it'd be soooo worth it, if I got to eat more of this delectable treat. . . .

There was another taste I'd managed to pick up while continuing to eat my chocolate, too.

It was sort of rum-like, I think.

So I bothered to ask about it.

". . . . That's because it is rum, Sweetie," my mom had answered with a faint smile, a mixture of natural concern for her child to have been continually consuming far more alcohol than she ever has within her entire life, as well as vague irritation, which was most probably reserved for her baby brother that he'd allowed such beverages to be put within said child's vicinity in the first place.

But by that point, I didn't honestly care anymore.

I wasn't really sure if it was because I was too busy "making love" to my dear, literally sweet chocolate, or because my naturally low (very low) alcohol tolerance was already doing a piss poor job of combating all of the previously imbibed alcoholic beverages still overflowing within my system.

Whichever the reason, I was finally, finally beginning to feel much more at ease within my own skin.

So much so, that I'd actually "unbanned" my eyes from gazing over at the left hand side of the table, at last.

I looked over at Emin first, who apparently had already been looking at me, with a sort of amused look upon his face, which made me fleetingly wonder if it wasn't because he might have been thinking about how possibly easy it'd be to take advantage of my potentially inebriated state.

In which case, I say bring it on.

I mean, of course I've never been for any such acts within a general sense, but a sloppy, drunken make out session with his unbelievably hot self would be just fine with me.

Hmm.

Add another handful of points within his favor onto his score card just for that.

I know.

I'm bad. . . .

Anyhow, I then let my eyes wander over to my other, semi . . . "interest" seated next to me, and he, too, appeared to be slightly entertained, which, of course, then made me feel briefly panicked for a sec, like maybe I had some chocolate syrup or bits of Pistachio stuck on my face.

But seeing as Mom hadn't previously alerted me to anything like that, and that Lord Kimball was currently merely smile, smile, smiling at me as usual and nothing more, I guess I was safe.

And since I was still gleefully riding the waves of chocolaty bliss, I sent one right back at him without hesitation.

It was actually more so along the lines of a grin, really.

A "Cheshire Cat"-like grin, more like it.

But that only seemed to tickle the young lad's fancy, as he followed suit (along with a monstrous blush, of course) and flashed his evidently perfect teeth for the first time.

. . . . Extra cute.

Annnd a few extra points heading his way, as well. . . .

Boy, was this competition getting heated.

Okay, so not really, and yeah, okay, so it was thus far based upon shallow reasons, for the most part.

You know, who was the hotter guy and all.

But, really, here . . . Lord Kimball wasn't, or isn't all too bad a guy, as far as I could tell.

I mean, he seems rather ambitious, and passionate about life . . . or, at least, passionate about his personal career pursuits, anyway.

And being so knowledgeable about it thus makes him smart, as well.

And with all the blushing and usage of a soft tone of voice to further convey his shyness (at least, whenever talking to me) means that he's also sensitive . . . not within an annoying, whiny sort of way, but a healthy, emotionally in tune capacity.

You know, for a guy, anyway.

And yes, of course, he's pretty handsome, as well, and has the whole respectful toward others thing down pat, so . . . honestly, so far, anyhow, I can't figure out a single thing wrong with him.

I mean, besides being a fellow Royal, that is.

But even with that against him, I honestly wouldn't have known that he was had Eli not said anything about it, seeing as he isn't at all what I'd originally thought he'd be.

You know, basically a mini Eli, as frightening and gross as that is to further think about.

If it were another world or lifetime, I'd just think that Lord Kimball was just another regular kid like I, myself, used to be, and who possibly went to my school or hung around my neighborhood, or something.

Or like the kind of guy I could go for. . . .

Ahhhh!

Moving on.

Again.

I did spy a glance ol' Eli's way after Lord Kimball and I had shared our . . . whatever the heck you wanna call that was, and he surprisingly didn't look as generally repulsed or vexed as I thought he would have.

You know, considering the gigantic mess of the overall dinner I now feel that I'd made.

He merely gazed upon me with a neutral sort of expression and slight nod of his head within acknowledgment a moment, before returning his focus onto his own, similar dessert . . . and seemed to do so with nearly as much joyous relish as that of my own.

Was Eli . . . a possibly fellow "Chocoholic?"

While that could have given him much needed points of his own, that is, within the respect and tolerance department, it sadly does not, for the overall thought that he and I could share an otherwise jovial interest and obsession such as that terrifies me far too greatly. . . .

Accompanied Beverage of Choice for Us All: 'Merlot'

Description (one more time, thankfully, by the Servers): "I am sure that you will each find that a broad scope of fresh, inviting flavors shall dominate this type of wine, such as blueberries, cherries, plums, and even blackberries mixed with just a hint of cocoa and black-pepper tones. Whatever will be the taste individually detected most, you will still find this particular red wine to be absolutely superb, especially when accompanied with your fine dessert. . . ."

I know.

Wine even with chocolate?

Yep.

Even with chocolate.

But people seem to do that all the time in the movies, you know, right before "getting down and dirty," so I guess there must be something to it.

And besides, I was already ingesting mixed in rum, of all alcoholic beverages at the moment, so why not some Merlot, as well?

Thank God I wouldn't be driving home, or I'd be royally screwed . . . no pun intended.

But the Server-super-Wine-Expert was right, though.

It really did end up going pretty well with our unanimous dessert.

And I did end up picking up the faint taste of berries and cocoa . . . although the cocoa bit could have simply been leftover from the actual dish.

At any rate, it had all gone down smooooth. . . .

Methinks I might start to incorporate a bit of wine with my meals within the near future, when I'm officially legal, that is.

Well, provided that someone picks them out for me or teaches me, 'cause otherwise I'll probably end up selecting truly horrible ones . . . like that Sauvignon Blanc character. . . .

Oh, right.

Nearly forgot.

My grade upon how I'd eaten my dessert.

Eating Execution Personal Grade: Who honestly cares anymore? I don't, and didn't, like I said, by that point.

Besides, it's chocolate.

I always automatically receive a resounding "A-plus-plus" whenever I eat it, no matter how I eat it.

Can't bring me down on this one, Eli.

Can't bring me down.

Impressing Either Lord Kimball or Emin Personal Grade: Also another, marvelous "A-plus-plus," for the same reasons stated above.

That, and because of those clearly "Wow, is she super hot" looks the both of them had given me during such time.

Clearly.

C'est fini!

Finally.

I didn't think I could lift any of my utensils again, let alone use them to eat another bite of anything . . . ever . . . again.

That frozen chocolate dish had truly been the perfect finish to my less than perfect overall day and then later, evening.

Just the endorphin-releasing ticket I needed to finally unwind me, as well.

At least, it had started to, anyway, up until I'd caught the words "premiere television interview" coming out of Eli's annoying little mouth after our places had been cleared by our once again exiting Servers.

I knew it had to be a trap, offering onto me such a brilliantly brilliant, edible adventure as my final meal that night, right before I was then ambushed by the greatly unwanted discussion of my very first televised event.

That's probably why Eli had been so calm and collected while he ate the sugary sweet, as well, all the while thinking to himself, Thaaat's right, my dear Wilhelmina . . . enjoy your alcohol-laced chocolate. Be absolutely content with it. Because by the time you've finished with it, you will not know what hit you. . . .

Such a sneaky, sneaky bastard, seriously!

I regrettably concede this match to you, old man.

Although, to be a tiny bit fair (which he naturally does not deserve), Eli did already more or less warn me that this would happen, anyway, when we'd bumped into one another earlier this morning . . . and indeed that was also a part of why Emin had been invited to join us, as well. . . .

Bleh.

Still sneaky, though, I don't care what you say.

Oh, yeah.

Just in case you had been wondering about whatever it was all of us might have discussed throughout the entire meal, Journal, you know, on the whole . . . nothing.

Not really, anyway.

I mean, I didn't say much of anything, except mainly that "Is there rum in this chocolate?" question, which I guess might have also been why both Emin and Lord Kimball had found said inquiry to be so comical, I don't know.

From what I could tell on and off, anyhow, Eli seemed to be doing most of the talking (as always), either singularly, or as a united front, with various complimenting comments about the food we were all eating, or miscellaneous tidbits about his beloved country which he evidently felt should have been noteworthy.

Not for me, it wasn't.

So long as he hadn't dragged me into his multitude of conversations, which he thankfully hadn't, then I was fine. (Although he probably hadn't bothered to do so, one, because he most likely figured, What the Hell can she bring to the table of discussion, really?, and two, he might have wanted me to have as little distractions as possible, so that I could better focus upon my "test." Focus upon failing it, more like it, as I'm now pretty certain about.)

Anyhow.

Back to the now uncomfortable situation at hand . . . again.

"Yes, of course, Your Majesty; I do agree that Princess Wilhelmina's premiere television interview shall be one to remember for many ages to come!" I heard Emin say with a broad grin, once my ears were fully functional again. "I have, as we've earlier discussed, outlined a few inquiries which I believe will be suitable for answer; I do hope that both you and The Princess are pleased with them."

I raised my hand at this, like I was still stuck inside one of my classes.

"Erm . . . yeah, except that I'm not, since I never got any outline of questions," I said without hesitation or filter, clearly the uncharacteristic overdose of alcohol coursing through my insides continually working its magic on me. "But I don't really think that I'll like them even after I read them, anyway, seeing as I never actually agreed to doing this 'greatly anticipated' interview."

Wow.

Yep.

That had been said aloud, and not within my head, or at least said solely to Eli during our one-on-one moments.

I guess I can definitely kiss my would-be romance with Mr. Emin Evgar goodbye after that.

Especially since he actually looked hurt right then, like a disappointed parent or teacher, before his beautiful face flattened into one of rejected insult, like an unexpectedly dumped boyfriend . . . or like I had just spit into the remainder of his glass of Merlot, which was gently being clasped in between his fingers by the stem.

Oh, yeah.

'I loved you yesterday . . . and yesterday's gone. . . .'

Seriously. . . .

I can definitely understand now why everyone else at the table then looked at me with widened, "Did she just say what I think she just said?" eyes, but right then, still rapidly becoming under the influence, I'd simply raised an eyebrow at it.

I mean, it was true, after all.

I really didn't want to do this interview.

I don't even honestly wish to do Irma's interview.

And I'd already gotten bombarded by her about that earlier that day, so naturally I wasn't up for another similar round, this time more "professional" like.

I can honestly say that if there hadn't been so many witnesses at the time, Eli probably would have leaped clear across the table, "uncivilized manner" be damned, and throttled me.

Instead, though, he did, true to form, his usual tightened smile, before suddenly rising from his seat.

"A-Ah! Always presenting us all with such . . . colorful amusement, Princess Wilhelmina! How droll, indeed!" he said with a brief nod towards me, before extending his arms out to the rest of his guests. "Now, then! Perhaps we should all take our leave of this courteous institution, and adjourn to my Presidential Suite for a bit of coffee!"

Man, is that guy seriously prepared for pretty much any sort of disaster, social or otherwise.

I still wasn't really seeing the big deal over what I'd previously said, but didn't say anything more after that.

Not until we'd all gotten back to the hotel, anyway.

Until then, that was a "should-have-been-a-lot-more-awkward-than-it-had-actually-been" limousine ride, considering it now housed both Lord Kimball (who did appear to look a bit uncomfortable enough to me, when I'd look at him from time to time at his place next to an even faced Eli), and a still slightly brooding Emin (who'd seemed to prefer sitting as far away from me as possible, and even Mom this time. I guess the "Honeymoon" was now over for the two of them, as well).

That, and my obvious "Every little thing is gonna be all right" cruise of intoxication I was still very much on.

Why does it always have to require some form of Substance abuse before anyone's inhibitions lower to non-existent levels?

Well, that's what it always seems like to me, anyway, given that I am still a teenager and, besides Cornelia and perhaps Irma . . . and maybe Hay Lin . . . oh, and definitely Ryan (I think, anyway. I mean, seeing as I don't really know her yet and about what may or may not go on behind closed doors), just about every other person I know of is usually ridiculously too second guessing to ever speak up and say precisely what is on his or her mind.

Persons around my age, anyway.

Oh.

And Eddie.

To add him to my list of enviously confident young people.

. . . . And Eric.

Okay!

So then clearly it's just mainly me who has the issue, while everyone else has their acts together!

Whatever!

Right then, at least, I couldn't have cared less.

Especially since I was starting to also feel the "Itis" taking effect, as well.

A nice, warm bubble bath, maybe a good book, and then off to "Dreamland" was the only thing I was looking forward to once we arrived back to the Plaza.

But of course that's not what I immediately got.

Nope.

It was still "Mingling Time" with our guests, even though it was pretty clear that the atmosphere had drastically changed by then, what with my truthful admittance. (Since when are we meant to be persecuted for speaking the truth? And for someone like me, that's a pretty big deal when and if such an event happens.)

And so, because of my brief candidness, Eli spent the rest of that evening doing immediate social damage control with Emin, and for Lord Kimball, apologizing profusely on my behalf (as though I really wasn't within the main area of the suite, "enjoying" a piping hot cup of coffee with everyone else seated around me and bodyguards scattered about again), and that I would have to be excused, naturally, as I had had a rather strenuous day and thus was only now starting to feel the aftereffects of it.

At least my mom had stuck up for me, within true Mom fashion, although also with a "diplomatic" approach to it, if only for the sake of our continued guests. (Because otherwise, we all know that she would have probably railed into Eli for once again pretty much insulting her daughter, and trying to make her out to be some hapless creature. Yay for moms.)

She'd countered with citing the fact that I had also been given quite a bit of alcohol, which is something that neither of us within our personal household have ever imbibed much of, especially not me (which, like I said before, is true, but I guess Mom was just making sure to put extra emphasis upon it for "P.R.'s" sake, or something, just in case).

Not to mention the fact that I hadn't been able to eat much of anything prior to that dinner (which was true . . . sort of, anyway), and that I am basically an extreme Lightweight (although she had put it within far more flattering words).

You tell 'em, Mom.

After she had done so, Emin, even Eli seemed to be much more at ease and even satisfied with such an explanation (because after all, who would know better of the conditions and limitations of a child than a mother, right?), before looking upon me with undeniable pity.

Thanks.

Lord Kimball, at least, didn't seem to feel the same way.

That is, that he could reach across the coffee table and gently pat me upon the head within sympathy, or something.

No.

He just smiled warmly towards me a moment, before slowly raising his warm, fancy coffee cup to his lips and took a quiet, small sip.

And when he did that, he immediately reminded me of Caleb, again. . . .

You know, like how he had sort of done the same earlier that day at The Silver Dragon, in between taking a sip of his tea.

The "Sexy Cup Glance," remember?

Yeah.

And just like how it had sent shivers down my spine to have witnessed such a look from the brunet, it then had the same effect on me when the blonde did it, as well . . . especially since that was right about when I was awarded another ample inhalation of his glorious cologne, thanks to his renewed movements.

Ahhh!

This has got to stop!

Not to mention the last thing I want to do is to start associating Lord Kimball with Caleb!

Because then the respect I currently possess for him (Lord Kimball) will instantly evaporate, and I'll just start to hate him the way I hate that jerk of an ex-Rebel Leader.

And that wouldn't honestly be fair to the guy, since he's so far been pretty cool, and sweet and likeable. . . .

God!

I'm doing it again!

I cannot start to have feelings for Lord Kimball!

It just wouldn't work out!

I mean, we come from two, completely, completely different ballparks, for starters.

And the other, more important factor?

Eli clearly intended upon setting the two of us together, whether or not he'll admit once I officially interrogate him about it later today, probably.

I refuse to give that man any sort of satisfaction, even if Lord Kimball would turn out to be my absolute soulmate.

Whoa.

Where'd that come from?

Didn't have to go that far with it, Will.

After all, you just met the guy, and it isn't as though you're even super sure that he's interested in you, anyway, even with his slight dalliances from time to time.

And besides, you two totally have nothing in common.

. . . . Okay, so that's not entirely true.

I mean, negating the whole "Blue Blood" common trait going for us, and everything.

Seeing as the previous "fire" had been effectively put out by my mom, and because I was "clearly" not within any sort of correct mindset to further discuss it with them, Eli decided to continue on within the inevitable interview conversation with a returned-to-normal looking Emin, and with Mom as my apparent substitute.

They were better off doing so, anyhow, seeing as I didn't really think that anything I'd have to say about it further, drunk or sober, would honestly matter.

And at least now, just in case anything of the "out of line" variety may have been put onto the table as one of Emin's intended questions, Mom was right there to set him - And Eli straight.

Seeing as she was on a roll tonight, I didn't doubt that for a second.

And so, that left only Lord Kimball and me to talk . . . or not to talk.

That really had been the question at first, upon having excused ourselves away from the coffee table and allowed the "Big People" to gab away.

Well, actually, I had excused myself, alone, mainly because I didn't want to continue to sit there and be talked about like I didn't exist, and because I didn't want to hear any more about that damned interview.

I was only just starting to feel minutely better, thanks to the strong coffee I (or my mom, rather) had pretty much forced myself to drink; I didn't want a relapse.

But as soon as I got up and started to carefully walk towards the roaring fireplace ("carefully," because despite being more or less drunk, I had yet to endure another one of my "Clumsy Moments" within my high heels in all that time, so I figured that I was by now well overdo), I suddenly hear Lord Kimball go, "P-Please allow me to accompany you, Princess Wilhelmina!"

I just stared a bit blankly at him as I turned my head a moment, before murmuring a soft, ". . . . All right" and continued on my - On our way.

. . . . You know, I'm pretty surprised that Eli had invited Lord Kimball up to the suite.

I mean, with Emin it wasn't exactly a super super big deal, considering that he's already been here before, and is "a lot" older . . . sadly.

But Lord Kimball is around my age, is much more famous (I guess, I don't know), and is already the subject of much speculation in regards to whether or not he may one day become my Royal Consort, or something (thanks to all of those annoying Paparazzi, who'd patiently waited, within the absolute zero weather and the entire hour and a half we were all still inside Le Beau Expérience, just to repetitively ask if Lord Kimball and I will be seeing one another again, and more regularly from now on).

Surely he (Eli) didn't want to have to fan the flames of yet another scandalous fiasco, and so soon, after the first one which had also been his fault.

You know, when he'd publicly "outed" me, himself, like the idiot he is.

But I guess since he figured that he'd be present to "chaperone," what could be the harm?

Whatever.

At any rate, so Lord Kimball and I are now standing before the deliciously warm fireplace, sans coffee cups, and I'm doing my best to keep my focus upon the open flames before the two of us, and not the fact that his damned cologne is continually driving me insane.

And he's standing next to me at my left, all perfect posture-like and hands clasped leisurely together behind his back, while I'm busy assuming the position which was sort of reminiscent of the pose I had taken outside of the restaurant before entering. (Thank God Eli had seemed to be too enthralled within his discussion with my mom and Emin, otherwise I'm sure he would have shouted out another one of his typical "Mon Dieu!"'s at me before finally calling it a night.)

Neither of us had said a word for a couple of slightly awkward moments, before we finally did, and at the same time.

"Did you -!" we both said simultaneously, turning towards one another, before promptly cutting ourselves off and turning away to face the fireplace again.

Oh, yeah.

My senses were definitely starting to return to me more and more by then, because my stomach was instantly beginning to knot up within embarrassment, while Lord Kimball's pale face once again became inflamed due to a similar sentiment, I'm sure.

"S-Sorry . . . you go first," I weakly apologized, turning my head to gaze up at him again.

". . . . O-Oh, well . . . I was simply going to ask if you had enjoyed your meal this evening, if I may be so bold as to ask, Princess Wilhelmina," he replied with one of his now familiar, crooked, closed lipped smiles, his cheeks growing more flush.

I blinked within a bit of surprise at this, and softly smiled back at him.

"Yeah? That's actually what I was just about to ask you, as well, Lord Kimball," I revealed, before the two of us lightly chuckled.

"I . . . suppose, then, that you and I are perhaps in sync, Princess Wilhelmina," Lord Kimball remarked with another smile, his hazel eyes curiously twinkling while I realized that, yet again, he was doing one of his undercover flirtations.

Damn, you really are good, man.

Trying my best to hide my flustering nature as a result of his having done so, I pushed on ahead to finally answer his question.

"U-Um . . . I did enjoy my meal, thank you, Lord Kimball, and I hope you did, as well. Oh, and please, do just call me 'Will.' No matter what my uncle says, that is the name I prefer," I told the briefly startled looking blonde standing next to me with another smile, this time within reassurance, before he, too, seemed to relax.

". . . . If you don't mind my saying so, I have to admit that I rather . . . admire your directness, Prin - E-Er, W-Will. . . ." Lord Kimball confessed gently, before suddenly grinning, as though someone had just said something super funny. "That is, if you'll forgive my having 'kept track,' firstly, you had indeed asked me to refer to you as such during our introductions . . . before The King had amended your request. And then, secondly, there was your open expression over not desiring to conduct an interview with Mr. Evgar, which I will say is a bit understandable, given that they can be rather nerve-wracking. . . . I suppose, then, that The King had been quite correct within his collection of descriptions about you throughout our private correspondences. . . ."

I immediately raised an eyebrow at this, feeling more so offended than abashed, but only because I was once again starting to think the worst over whatever it was Eli had been writing about me to this dude.

Evidently catching and then understanding my current facial expression, Lord Kimball quickly shook his head and smiled faintly before adding, "I-I certainly did not mean for that to be distressing, or indeed that anything which has been illustrated to me by The King to have been negative, as well!"

Relaxing a tiny bit, and now feeling more curious than ever, I slowly asked, "So, then . . . what did he say about me?"

This oughta be good.

Lord Kimball paused a moment, momentarily looking over his shoulder as though to make certain that we were not being eavesdropped, before turning back to me.

". . . . Well, and I hope that The King will forgive the slight betrayal of confidence here, but . . . mostly? He has been telling me all about how truly spirited you are . . . and how devoted you are to your mother, Princess Almira, and she to you . . . and how wonderfully independent and bright you are," he quietly revealed with another smile, this time within reflection, as though he could see Eli's written words clear as day within his mind. "And . . . he has said that the . . . near resilient, forthcoming nature you possess, never seeming to be so easily swayed by the opinions or decisions of others will make you a fine ruler over the citizens of Marsily one day . . . and now that I have met you, myself, I believe that I am quite inclined to agree. . . ."

. . . . Wow.

Did . . . Eli really say all of that about me?

Me?

Eli?

I thought that my "never seeming to be so easily swayed by the opinions or decisions of others" is what always pisses him off the most about me.

Now it's a trait, one of many, evidently, that he admires about me?

Nooo, no no.

I can't handle this.

Information Overload.

Eli and me, and our "relationship" is about as "natural" as water and electricity.

We just don't mix.

I'd just gotten over the brief, although palpable fear that he might actually like me earlier, when I was thinking that that was part of the reason why he might be trying to set me up with Lord Kimball!

But now I'm positively terrified, since it seems to be actual fact!

I feel like everything around me is suddenly changing even more, now, and seeing as I'm barely surviving the first change at the moment, I highly doubt I will for this.

I just want my old life back, already. . . .

Too stunned by the unexpected news that my uncle actually . . . didn't detest me as much as I'd always thought, I couldn't only murmur, "T-Th . . Thank you, Lord Kimball. . . .", before he, clearly unaware of my inner turmoil, simply smiled back with a growing blush.

Looking away from me a second, Lord Kimball then returned his gaze onto me and said, "If . . . that is, provided that it would be all right with you, you are more than welcome to simply refer to me as 'Kendrick,' should you like. . . . I imagine that having called me 'Lord Kimball' - Indeed, keeping up with the various, more appropriate protocol which has now entered your life so suddenly has been rather stifling. . . ."

I blinked within further surprise at this, unsure of precisely how to respond, lest I end up offending him, considering such "protocol," as he put it, has most probably always been a part of his own life, in contrast.

"O-Oh, um . . . well, it's still taking quite a bit of getting used to, to say the least, yeah . . . Kendrick, thank you," I said cautiously with a tiny nod, before looking towards the blazing fire once more.

I must have looked pretty bummed about that right then, because Lord Kim - Er, Kendrick suddenly goes, "Hmm. . . . Well, for what it is worth, I think that you seem to be adjusting quite well, all things considered, Will, and that . . . that you truly do look every bit of the radiant princess which you are. . . ."

Holy.

Hell.

This is just continually coming straight out of a romantic movie, I swear.

Kendrick hasn't even openly admitted, "Oh, hey, yeah, I totally like you" yet, if at all, for that matter, and I've already been complimented and flattered by him more than Matt had when he had fessed up to having liked me, himself, long ago.

I think I might have actually hated myself just a tiny bit later on if I hadn't woken up early this morning to record everything that had happened between the two of us, after all, seeing as it's just way too surreal. . . .

"Uh . . . uh. . . ." was all I could say within response, like the doofus I honestly am, my mouth opening and closing like a damned fish.

"Radiant princess," indeed.

Kendrick didn't seem to mind, though, as he just awarded me a toothy grin this time, before shaking his head a little in embarrassment, and looked down at his well polished shoes.

"I . . . I probably shouldn't have been so presumptuous like that, thinking that you'd want to hear that," he said with another, nervous chuckle, before looking back up at me. "But . . . I am glad that I have, finally, as I'd wanted to compliment your overall appearance since I'd first laid eyes on you . . . I-I mean -"

"- Thank you, Kendrick," I finally managed to sputter out, blushing furiously as I saved the both of us furthered abashment right then. Feeling I should definitely return the favor (although it wasn't hard, considering it was the truth), I also added, "And I . . . I wanted to say that you look good, yourself - Handsome! I mean you look handsome . . . sorry. . . ."

After that, the two of us seemed to reach a silent, understanding need to change the subject, so after a few moments of being unsure of what to say next, we did the "getting to know you" conversation.

Well, picked up where we left off, anyway, with this time more being revealed about myself.

Turns out that we both like animals, although perhaps not within the same ferocious level (especially not about frogs when I admitted my basic obsession with them, seeing as Kendrick's nose sort of wrinkled at the mention of them, but he still smiled about my natural enthusiasm), with Kendrick's favorite being doves.

I absently told him that that was cool, since I think they're Marsily's mascot or something, or whatever, and he only grinned, before choosing to bypass my admittedly ignorant comment and go on to say that while he finds every breed to be truly majestic, he's a bit partial to the "Ringneck" primarily because he owns one . . . a girl, since he was eleven-years-old, and calls it "Ring Ring."

How adorable is that?

I mean, a bit giggly worthy, the name, but still really adorable.

And, of course, his admitted attachment to the beautiful creature. . . .

I also learned that we have similar tastes within music, as well, which surprised me, since I naturally assumed that someone like him would enjoy nothing but Classical music.

And I guess Kendrick must have sensed that, because he lightly teased me by asking if I honestly thought as much, which I shyly confessed to.

"It is a genre I do have great respect for, of course, and listen to on occasion whenever the mood strikes me, however I must admit that I've recently found myself growing rather fond of one particular singer my university roommate seems to fancy, himself: 'Karmilla, I believe," he revealed, which made me giggle a bit uncontrollably at.

When he asked what was so amusing about that, I explained to him that Karmilla's been Irma's idol since our middle school years, and that if she (Irma) were here with us now, she'd probably immediately try to induct him into the ongoing fan club she'd personally established years ago.

"Well, then . . . I would be honored," Kendrick said with a grin of his own, before going on to compliment Irma, and how she sounds rather interesting.

That's when we transitioned into talking more about me and my life, or, at least, my old life, and what I would do on any average day.

You know, for fun or whatever.

It did make me feel a little sad to focus "once more upon yesteryear" like that, but it also made me feel pretty good, as well.

I mean, I mainly spoke about all of the things the girls and I have done since I first moved here to Heatherfield (obviously negating our Guardian duties), and how things within that regard, at least, is pretty much the same, thankfully.

"They sound like truly wonderful companions, Will; your life has always been blessed, regardless, it seems," Kendrick complimented in kind with another smile, this one being his traditional closed lipped variety, however quite relaxed and warm, in contrast to the usual timidity which would follow. "Perhaps I can meet them all one day . . . that is, assuming that I meet you again after this. . . ."

I couldn't help but look up at him within surprise at this, before grinning sheepishly and lightly nodded.

". . . . O-Oh, uh . . . that might be nice," I softly replied with a growing blush, blindly reaching up to tuck a stray strand of my hair behind my left ear.

I felt my cheeks growing even hotter when I caught Kendrick watching me do so, with what looked like honest entrancement flickering within his eyes.

WHY COULDN'T CALEB HAVE BEEN THIS WAY WITH ME?

. . . . Okay, let me stop doing that.

"And . . . if that happens, then perhaps I will make my own 'Chocolate Marquise' to bring, seeing as it appeared as though you truly enjoyed yours earlier, back at the restaurant . . . although perhaps this one shall be sans alcohol," he added suddenly, before the two of us shared a coy sort of laugh at that.

After that, it was pretty much miscellaneous small talk for a little while longer, until we were unexpectedly interrupted by a curiously beaming Eli, (Insert shiver here) who announced that Emin was leaving.

Then, after looking at the hanging clock within the room, Kendrick finally realized the time for himself, and agreed that he should retire back to his own hotel (where he was staying for his weekend visit to Heatherfield), as well.

. . . . And that was finally that.

Absolutely the longest day of my life, I kid you not.

But somehow, I'd managed to survive it . . . more or less.

Now, I just have to figure out how to deal with all of the newfound feelings I'm experiencing . . . about Eli . . . about Kendrick . . . about the sickening anticipation of my upcoming interview with Emin . . . and about whatever God-awful thing the media will have to say about my dinner outing.

But, for now, at least, all of that can be a problem for later.

Right now, however, I think I might try to go back to sleep . . . and maybe dream about a few blondes for a change. . . .

- End of Chapter Fifty-Two (Part Two)


(A.N. THANK YOU, LORD! Or Lord Kimball! HeHe Done, done, done! WOO HOO! 53 pages for technically 53 chapters, but I did it! * Collapses *

But I always hate this point, because I always end up forgetting about the things I may have wished to touch upon.

Meh. I'll wing it. LoL

Well, for starters, I don't own the song "Yesterday's Gone" by Chad & Jeremy. You know, when Will had briefly quoted a line from the chorus while lamenting the 'loss' of Emin...or her chances with him, anyway. =p

Oh, and I know it's "Dr. Dolittle," not "Dr. Didlittle" like how I wrote, but as always, we're just doing the careful thing so's we don't get sued. LoL

And how adorable IS Kendrick, though, seriously?

C'monnnn...be honest, here. LoL

Regardless of any of your guys' personal romantic preferences for Will in this story, be it with Eddie, as I'm noticing that's becoming a growing interest for a fair amount of you, 'my' version of Matt, MARTIN, like one person had admitted would be cute to see, and of course, Caleb, naturally, as, again, I DO have to reiterate that YES, this IS a Caleb/Will story...even if I do seem to enjoy toying with the poor girl's heart. LoL

I'd always planned on incorporating a semi-kinda love interest of sorts into the mix for Will, simply to keep things continually interesting, as well as to give the girl some HOPE for a change, damn it! You know, that, YES, you ARE 'likeable,' Will! And you CAN find 'love' again after Caleb, or at least a new boyfriend again after Matt.

Yeesh. LoL

And methinks she's starting to realize that, judging by the way she'd kept reacting to pretty much everything Kenny would say to her. =)

Ah. I just realized now that that was the same name as Mia's poor schlub of a secret admirer-turned-boyfriend, Kenny. LoL But NO, that's not at all why I'd named Kendrick 'Kendrick,' so that he can be nicknamed that or anything, or be anything CLOSE to similar within personality to the kid.

But methinks that that's already been pretty much established, for those who are at least vaguely familiar with 'TPD' books.

'My' Ken is, like so many other 'OCs' in this story, based off of someone within my personal life. Joey, which I'd mentioned fleetingly in another A/N, about him having been my crush and vice versa back in high school, and that's why 'MY' Mary couldn't stand me, because she wanted him, as well...hence the similar dynamics going on between this story's Mary, Will, and Matt, yeah.

Anyway, I mainly based Ken-Ken's looks upon Joey, although the two do also share that crooked, shy smile, and general timidness. At least, when Joey and I had first gotten to know one another and the attraction began to set in, anyway. =p

Ah, young love. LoL

ANYHOW!

But the rest of his persona and interests, like being a Vegetarian – Which, as Will had already stated for me, more or less, as she did so for herself, I've absolutely nothing against, so no thinking that HeHe – and his career focus, blah blah, I just pulled off the top of my head. Why? I don't know. Because 'he' told me to while I was creating him, his family members, and country's back-story...which I will probably have Will look up, after all, and write about within a future entry of hers, yeah...

Bah. LoL

Oh, yeah, and his ridiculously intoxicating cologne that made Will go weak in the knees. LoL

'My' Kendrick, or Joey, rather, would always put on that yummy "Aspen" cologne, which he KNEW made me melt and thus, he kept spraying it in, sometimes right in front of me. LoL

NOW, however, I'm super obsessed with my hubby's personal cologne choice, "Jean Paul Gaultier." Yeah, the one shaped like a super hot guy's naked torso, yeah.

And female torsos, as well, but whatever on that one. LoL

Extra kudos on the first one, though, my good man. =)

Anyway!

Oh, oh, again. LoL

Yes, as I'm sure a lot of you probably caught, Will's presumption about Caleb and his thoughts about perfumes and such had been from the "Happy Birthday, Will" episode, mmhm. GOD I love that would-be Will/Caleb overall moment episode... LoL

Moving on!

To the Vegetarianism, I mean.

My placing my personal non-thrill about Kendrick's main dish choice, the 'Port Wine Seitan,' onto Will and making it her OWN 'non-thrill,' is not at ALL me using that as an extension to say anything ill against Vegetarians, I say again, and cannot stress enough, just to be on the safe side. =)

I've tried the dish once...a bite, and after getting over the initial look of it, since it, or at least the one presented to me by a friend back in college, really did look how Will had described it, it was so so.

I liked the mushrooms, anyway.

Oh, and the mashed potatoes, again, like Will. LoL

But...yeah. Need me some meat.

Meat-meat, not...forget it. LoL

Moving on! =)

Ooh! Kendrick's pet dove, and naming her 'Ring Ring' I owe all to my adorable hubby. HeHe Although it was also to be kinda clever, I mean about the aminul's breed name, and all.

PROBABLY shouldn't have just said that, considering every time we talk about her name and how I always giggle uncontrollably about it, it usually upsets him within the embarrassed sense, momentarily. =)

I keep telling him that I'm not laughing at HIM, OR the particular thing he'd named 'Ring Ring' which, no, wasn't a dove.

It's because whenever I say her name, I say it within my 'Heffer' voice from "Rocko's Modern Life," which he naturally has no clue about, hailing from England and all...and how there was one particular episode where 'Heffer' and 'Filburt' were trying desperately to win wrestling tickets, and had a whole fleet of black telephones within Fil's mobile home so they could quadruple their chances. =)

"With Friends Like These," for those of you interested within watching the episode...or hell, the entire series, since it was so kick ass...like so MANY of the shows back in the '90s, unlike the garbage nowadays.

ANYWAY, and then finally one of the phones started to ring, and by then Heffer's brain, which usually was pretty fried, anyway, was absolutely gone by then, and he was all, "...It's ring-ging...Fil, do you hear it? ...It's ring-ging..." all dazed and shit. LoL

Sooo...yeah!

So whenever Gray-Ham talks about his precious girl, Ring Ring, that's why I burst out into a fit of giggles.

That, and because, like I said, I promptly mimic good ol' Heff's warped voice in that moment. HeHe

I'm a goofball, I know. LoL

ANYHOW!

Soooo, so much to address with this chapter so I can just get it out of the way, like I normally do so as not to deal with questions from anyone, and I don't remember! Well, the specifics, anyway.

Meh. LoL

But no, I'm not gonna turn Miss-Super-Lightweight-Like-Me Will into an alcoholic now, now that she doesn't seem to hate wine as much as before. =)

Seeing as 'this' Will takes a lot of personal views and preferences from me – Mainly to make my life a lot easier LoL – that would be a paradox or something, seeing as I still hate wine, alcohol in general, really, myself, and only really care for Merlot.

But I have tasted the other ones listed, as well, before, and how she felt about each is pretty much how I do, myself...Now I could kinda go for some wine...

Wahhh, it's starting!

Lemme go make some cocoa, instead, since it's FINALLY cooling down a bit within the weather over here, and let YOOZE guys finally click the review button! HeHe

And then we shall all meet back here, my lovelies, for another exciting, hopefully not-so-long-to-wait-for update!)