I own nothing here.

This was originally supposed to be the opening scene of a longer story. The story was particularly terrible, so I trashed it. But I hated to do away with this scene – it's just a bit of fun.


Clarisse stood on the steps of the French embassy's front entrance. It was a gorgeous day, luxuriously warm and fragrant. The spring sun bounced and danced off the marble columns of the building.

There was some sort of delay with the limo, but she was in such a good mood, she didn't mind waiting a few minutes. Joseph stood just behind her and the two French sentries on either side of them seemed rather like marble columns themselves.

Clarisse took a deep breath and stifled the urge for a long, cat-like stretch. She clasped her hands in front of her, and rolled her shoulders a bit to release the slight stiffness she felt after sitting all morning.

Joseph was murmuring quietly into his radio, no doubt checking on the limo. She didn't listen to what he was saying, but merely noted, for probably the eight millionth time, the silky quality of his voice. He could read the ingredients of her breakfast cereal and still sound sexy.

She looked down the driveway at Lionel. He was positioned next to the street, anxiously awaiting any sign of the car. She watched him shift from foot to foot, looking this way and that. He was always a bundle of nerves – it made her jumpy just to watch him.

So she stopped watching and turned to Joseph, eyeing him with mock appraisal. He grinned at her and raised an eyebrow.

"Aren't you hot in that outfit?" She indicated the all black ensemble, including leather blazer.

"So I've been told."

She rolled her eyes at him and turned back toward the street. Lionel was still pacing.

"Lionel," she said over her shoulder at him, "would take a bullet for me."

"I know," Joseph said. He hesitated just a beat then leaned in close to her ear. "But I would hold your hair while you tossed your lunch."

Clarisse laughed out loud as the door opened and Charlotte joined them outside.

"Charlotte," the Queen waved a hand at her assistant. "Cancel my next appointment with Paolo. I think I can finally grow my hair out long."

Joseph laughed.

Charlotte knew she'd missed something.

But she wasn't sure what it was.