While some of the traditions mentioned in this chapter are based on fact, some are simply the products of my imagination.

huge thanks to detochkina, lj summers, and my husband


"The love of the people is my reward."

Karl XIV Johan of Sweden


Chapter Nineteen

His Royal Saber


Asses, Army Medals, and Scene-Stealing Siblings:

Part One of Our Royal Wedding Coverage

This morning at approximately 11:14 a.m., the former Miss Esme Platt became a Princess of the Seven Kingdoms of the Westerlands. The ceremony—much like Carlisle and Esme themselves—was completely unremarkable. No, really. Much to our surprise, the whole thing came off without a hint of drama. In fact, if not for the groom's brother and the bride's sister, we would have nothing interesting to write about. Exactly what did the best man and maid of honor do to create such a stir, you ask?

Let's start with what they wore.

His Royal Hotness Prince Edward the Ginger

We expected he'd be in some kind of uniform, and not the kind one wears while asking, "Would you like fries with that?" Despite being a Royal Fuck-up, over the years Prince Edward has received several honorary military appointments, giving him his choice of threads. Imagine our shock when he arrived at the cathedral in the dress uniform of Her Majesty's Army, the insignia on which indicated the rank of Captain. Then our intern pointed out that among the medals on his chest was the Combat Service Medal, an honor only given to those who've completed military service in active war zones.

Though our intern has a history of hitting the hallucinogens, we sent a WTF email to Masen Palace just in case. We received the following response:

Upon graduating from university, His Royal Highness Prince Edward of the Seven Kingdoms of the Westerlands attended Officer Candidacy School overseas with our allies as part of a special agreement between The Westerlands Ministry of Defense and Coalition Forces. His Royal Highness has since served three tours of duty in combat zones, having been deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense had kept the true identity of Captain Edward Cullen classified for the safety of the soldiers serving alongside him. As His Royal Highness is no longer on active duty, the Royal Family is now able to recognize Prince Edward's contributions to the war effort without putting others at risk.

Wait. You mean he's not a fuck-up? All those "humanitarian missions" weren't stints in rehab? But! But! He drank the bong water! Best we can come up with: when the army asked for hair samples, he shaved EVERYTHING.

The Baby Sister Formerly Known as Not-a Swan

Our first glimpse of Isabella Swan was on the red carpet outside the cathedral. Her dress was white and fitted, with a draped neckline and slight train. Her partial updo framed her face nicely, and her makeup was flawlessly understated. We're going to be honest, here. If we didn't know who she was, we wouldn't have known who she was.

The mystery of what His Royal Hotness sees in her? Totally solved. In fact, she looked so good today, we can no longer justify calling her Not-a Swan. For a few minutes, we weren't sure what we'd call her. Then we got the full-length shot of her from behind.

Hello, Ass-a-bella!

Other than That...

Boring wedding is boring. We know other news sites are providing the usual detailed coverage, like the exact timeline of whom arrived when, which hymns were sung, the order of the processional, blah blah blah. You tell us what's more interesting: a Royal Wedding ceremony or the stuff royals whisper to each other when they think we can't hear them?

Clearly the latter.

This is why we hired a forensic lipreader to help us compile our own timeline with the juicy audio the TV cameras couldn't pick up. We should disclose that we can't verify any of his transcript as accurate, but then again, the same can be said of everything we post here at Royal Bitch.

Since we've never let that stop us before:

10:25 a.m.

Prince Carlisle to his brother Prince Edward outside the cathedral: "I hate walking into this place...always makes me think of Mom's funeral."

10:30 a.m.

Prince Carlisle to Prince Edward on their way to the altar: "No one will hold it against you if you change your mind."

Edward: "Shouldn't I be telling you that?"

10:32 a.m.

Prince Edward: "I think Carl-Philip is still drunk from last night."

Carlisle: "Just like he was at Gui's wedding. Nice."

10:45 a.m.

Charlie Swan to his stepdaughter Esme leaving the St. Regis: "You okay?"

10:51 a.m.

Bella Swan to her sister Esme on the steps of the cathedral: "I love you."

Esme: "I love you, too."

Bella: "You look beautiful."

Esme: "I'd better. I mean, after primping for ten years..."

Bella: (laughing) "Go get your... [unreadable]."

10:53 a.m.

Prince Carlisle to Prince Edward: "I wish Mom were here."

Edward: "Mom has the best seat in the house."

10:55 a.m.

Charlie Swan to Esme: "You okay?"

Esme: "Yeah."

11:02 a.m.

Prince Edward to Prince Carlisle: "She looks beautiful. Sexy. And her hair is down."

Carlisle: "Nice. How does Bella look?'

Edward: "I just told you."

11:04 a.m.

Prince Carlisle to Esme at the altar: "You're perfect."

12:08 p.m.

Queen Charlotte to her sister Princess Eleanor leaving the cathedral: "I don't care for their dresses."

Princess Eleanor: "No one does."

12:15 p.m.

Esme to Prince Carlisle during the carriage ride to Iron Palace: "Are you happy now?"

Carlisle: "Yes."

Esme: "You mean that, don't you?"

Carlisle: "Of course I do. I love you."

12:32 p.m.

Prince Carlisle to Esme on the balcony of Iron Palace: "They want a kiss."

Esme gives him a quick peck on the lips.

Carlisle: "Come on. You can do better than that."

12:34 p.m.

Prince Edward to his grandfather Prince Peter on the balcony of Iron Palace: "What's it take to get a beer?"

Here are some other things you may not know about the wedding of the decade:

Prince Edward's request for beer isn't as random as it sounds. Carlisle and Esme reportedly banned beer from their wedding reception because it's too low brow. His Royal Hotness allegedly threw one of His Royal Hissy Fits over having to go a whole day without his preferred alcoholic beverage.

Esme is the first royal bride who wasn't required to have her virginity verified; however, she was still required to undergo an exam by the royal gyno which allegedly took place last month.

Prince Carlisle is The Westerlands' first born-royal to sign a pre-nup. The best part? It was Esme's stepfather, Charles Swan, who required it. Turns out Carlisle's wealth is tied to the monarchy, whereas Esme has a substantial personal net worth.

Speaking of money, despite heavy government subsidy, it's believed that today's festivities are costing both Charles Swan and Prince John tens of millions of dollars. Weddings like this one aren't cheap.

2000 guests will attend the ceremony this morning, of whom 1000 were invited to the wedding breakfast immediately following at Iron Palace. These events are considered state functions and will be broadcast live on national television. Coverage is expected to wrap up mid-afternoon, allowing the bride and groom some downtime before the real party tonight at Masen Palace, which was described by a Palace spokesperson as a "low-key, intimate gathering for close friends and family."

Right. Because white-tie functions are so low-key, and a guest list of 500 totally qualifies as intimate. Most disappointing of all? Since Prince John is footing the bill with no cost to the citizens of The Westerlands, media is not permitted to attend. In fact, Masen Palace is so determined to keep things private that guests will be required to hand over their cell phones before entering the building. Why do we have a feeling this is when the really juicy shit will go down?

Here's hoping there's a waiter we can blackmail.

COMMENTS (showing 8 of 6498)

Lady In Waiting

A captain in the army? HOW THE FUCK CAN HE BE A CAPTAIN IN THE ARMY?!

HRH Princess Edward

Wait. How can he even wear fatigues? Isn't he allergic to polyester?

Lauren M.

Latex. He's allergic to latex. It's condoms that send him into prophylactic shock. Why are you people so dumb?

Boners for Bomer

Anaphylactic shock is what Prince Edward gets from wearing condoms. Prophylactic shock is what he experiences when they break.

Leisure Suit Larry

Captain Edward Cullen? I thought his last name was Masen.

swatchdogs-n-dietcokeheads

As a member of the Royal Family, Prince Edward has no last name. Traditionally, they use their father's territory as their surnames while completing military service. In Edward's case, his father is Prince of the Cullen Islands, thus the name Edward Cullen.

What does everyone think about Bella? I thought she looked amazing. Did you know her ass has its own Facebook page? It came across my feed when boyfriend "liked" it. I can't say I blame him. As bottoms go, hers looked spectacular.

Assman 11

I know all about that Facebook page. Who do you think started it? ; )

My Narcissistic Alias

Why is everyone ripping on Esme's dress? I thought it was pretty.

His Royal Gayness

I'm interested in gowns, not girls. If a couture wedding dress and some woman's ass are in the same photo, it shouldn't be the woman's ass that catches my eye. The bride is supposed to be the center of attention. What has everyone been talking about? Edward's army uniform and Not-a's butt.

-o-O-o-

When Esme comes out of the bathroom of our suite at the St. Regis, she's no less green than she was going in.

She leans against the wall and sighs. "No one should ever be this stressed on her wedding day."

"You've got to stop throwing up eventually. It's been, what? Eighteen hours since you've eaten?"

"They're dry heaves. Hopefully they'll go away when my Valium kicks in."

"You shouldn't make yourself sick over this. You do this all the time, right? The crowds, the TV crews...You've handled them all before. Don't let it take away from your day. I mean, how long have you wanted this?" I make my voice as enthusiastic as possible hoping it will be infectious. "You're getting married!"

"It's the marriage part that's making me nervous."

I lead her over to the sofa and take a seat.

"Talk to me," I say, pulling her down beside me. "If you're having doubts about Carlisle...if you don't think you'll be happy—"

"I know I'll be happy. But Carlisle..." Her voice is soft, and she doesn't look at me. "They were hoping he'd call it off. They still do."

"Who?"

"The Royal Family. Nell's the only one with the balls to be vocal about it, but they all feel that way. Even Edward. Especially Edward. But he put his own feelings aside and convinced Carlisle not to call off the wedding. Edward's too noble for his own good—"

"Maybe you shouldn't have popped a Valium on an empty stomach—"

"Typical," she says, rolling her eyes. "I'm trying to have a serious conversation with you, and you think I'm high—"

"Because you're not making sense! Two weeks ago, you were all, 'Promise me you won't fall in love with him.' Now he's too noble for his own good?"

"Yes—and that's exactly why you shouldn't get any more emotionally involved than you are already. You need to understand something: Edward is not Carlisle. He will always put duty first—"

"This isn't a bad thing."

"It is when Parliament has to approve your marriage! It doesn't matter what Edward wants. You won't live happily ever after—that's not how these things go. This is nothing more than a fling for him—that's all it can be. You're way too smart to believe the two of you have any kind of future together."

This isn't right. Hearing I can't have what I don't want shouldn't feel like this. My face shouldn't be wet. I shouldn't be choking on my breath.

Esme claps her hand over her mouth. "Oh my god. You do, don't you? You actually think you'll end up with him. Bella, no. It won't happen."

She's wrong. She has to be. She doesn't know how Edward's been with me, the things he's said, the rules he's broken, how determined he is to do right by me. He hasn't been acting like he's looking for some quick fun; he's acting like a man in love.

How could I have not seen it until now? Edward feels the same way about me that I do. And if he and I end up together, Esme will no longer be able to justify her decade-long waiting game.

"You're not like me, Bella. They'll never accept that you—"

"They accepted you, didn't they? What makes you so much better than me? What? That you're thinner and prettier? You've spent the past decade dieting and primping—of course you're thin and pretty! We both know what this is really about. You need to put me down to feel good about yourself—"

"That's not true."

"It is and you know it. Remember the day I graduated from Wharton? Daddy said he was proud of me, and you made this comment about there being far fewer HRHes in the world than there are MBAs. You make everything with us into a competition, and even when you win, you're not satisfied until I lose. Why can't you just be happy for me?"

"This isn't about us. Fuck!" With her palms against her forehead, she takes a deep breath, scrunching up her shoulders. "This is all my fault. I should never have kept this from you. I don't blame you if you hate me. God knows I hate myself right now." She pushes her hair away from her face and sighs. "Do you remember that list you found in Edward's apartment?"

"Oh, no. Stop right there." I know exactly she's doing—she's pulled this crap ever since we were kids. "All the times I've asked you what that list was, you pick today to finally come clean? Well, I'm not letting you do it. Whatever it is, it can wait. I'm not letting you off the hook this easily. You are not using your wedding as an alibi." I get up from the couch and head for the hallway separating our suite from that of our parents. "I'll send Mom to get dressed with you."

-o-O-o-

My parents notice things aren't right between Esme and me, but despite giving us the look several times throughout the morning, neither of them call us out on it. My mom's too busy bossing around the stylists, and judging by the puffiness under my dad's eyes, he's got other things on his mind. To be honest, so do I. As various beauty professionals have their way with me, I mentally replay my last night with Edward. One thing he said to me stands out:

"If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that you will end this."

There goes Esme's theory. Edward wouldn't be worried about me dumping him if he was planning to dump me. I just need to see him. Then I'll know for sure. Thankfully, I know exactly how long I'll have to wait. The Royal Family is nothing if not precise, and everything is scheduled to the minute.

I spend five minutes riding from the St. Regis to the cathedral, then three minutes waiting for Esme's grand entrance.

Her car pulls up exactly on schedule. I saw her in her gown when we posed for pictures at the hotel, but there's something about how she looks right now. Even in the face of thousands of spectators and hundred there's an unreal serenity to her right now that makes me wonder if she took more Valium. Then she's close enough for me to notice she's grasping her bouquet so tightly her knuckles are white.

I don't care if I'm mad at her. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

"You look beautiful."

"I'd better. I mean..." She sighs. "I have been primping for ten years."

I laugh. I can't help it. This is how it's always been with us—our fights are vicious, but the fallout never lasts long.

"Go get your HRH," I say.

It takes two minutes to get inside the cathedral and a minute to line up in the anteroom.

My dad takes Esme's hand. "You okay?"

"Yeah," she says after a deep breath.

"Thank you."

She looks at him with narrowed eyes. "What for?"

"For letting me raise you. I know I'm not your father, that I'm your second choice for this. But I want you to know that from the first moment I laid eyes on you, as far I was concerned, you were mine. Even back then, there was nothing I wouldn't do for you. Esme..." He lets out a long sigh. "I don't care how many people are watching. If the past few weeks have given you any doubts at all—"

"Of course I have doubts. They're just not about Carlisle."

"Okay then, Freckles...okay." He leans forward and kisses her forehead through her veil. "Duchess, Princess, Queen—you'll never stop being my little girl."

"Thank you, Daddy." She throws her arms around his neck, then adds in a whisper, "You're not my second choice." After a moment, she pulls away and straightens her veil. "Let's do this."

Someone cues the music, and we start to walk. The schedule allots four minutes for the processional. Who knew walking past two thousand people would take so much time?

Just when I think we'll never make it to the front of the church, I see Edward. At least, I see Edward's back. Like Carlisle, he's standing with his back to the congregation facing straight ahead. The whole guy-not-looking thing goes back to when women were chattel and weddings were about forming alliances between ruling houses. The groom doesn't see his bride until he removes her cloak, at which point they're already legally married so he can't back out if she's ugly. The best man isn't allowed to look either. God forbid he should warn the groom in time for him to make a run for it.

When I'm finally close enough to check out Edward's butt, he turns around and catches me looking. He whispers something to Carlisle, as he looks me up and down, a smile slowly taking over his face.

I don't think he's ever looked as good as he does right now.

It's not that Edward's in uniform—I expected that he would be. When Queen Charlotte made Carlisle an honorary colonel of the Dornish House Guard so he could be married wearing their scarlet and gold regalia, the gossip blogs had a field day speculating which branch of the military would be forced to grant Edward a bullshit commission to spare him the humiliation of attending his brother's wedding in a morning coat. It's that he's in his uniform—the standard-issue dress blues all officers of Her Majesty's Army don for formal occasions—and he's told me enough about his time overseas for me to know he earned each and every one of the decorations hanging from his tunic.

When the ceremony is finished, Edward offers me his arm for the recessional. As soon as we complete the four-minute trek down the aisle, he narrows his eyes at me and starts to walk away.

"Where are you going? We're supposed to proceed directly to the carriages."

"I'll be there as soon as I adjust my saber," he says from over his shoulder.

"You're not wearing a saber."

"That's what you think."

I can't help my smile. Maybe the dress doesn't look so bad on me after all.

-o-O-o-

Riding in an open carriage through the streets as throngs of people cheer for me? Unreal.

Walking into the private apartments of a palace I once toured on a class trip? Surreal.

My boyfriend's dad not-so-subtly flirting with me? This needs to not be real.

But it was real—all of it. It's how I came to be on the balcony of Iron Palace in front of a crowd of thousands trying to keep a straight face while Edward says inappropriate things to me.

To his credit, he is being discreet about it. His eyes are focused on the crowd, and his smile fixed in place. I guess talking dirty in front of millions of people is the royal equivalent of using company time to send personal email.

"I can't believe they let you out of the hotel like that." He waves to the crowd. "Your dress was so tight when you bent down, you have the entire world trying to figure out if you're wearing underwear."

If he thinks our circumstances will compel me to let him have the last word, he's got another thing coming.

"I doubt that," I say, my smile fixed firmly in place.

"Well, are you?"

"Am I what?"

"Wearing underwear?"

I laugh. "Wouldn't you like to know."

"Is that an invitation?"

"In front of millions of people? Just try."

The next thing I know, he's squeezing my ass.

"Hm." He brushes his hand down my cheek to the top of my thigh, then back up to where the side of my thong rests on my hip. "Nice," he says, giving it a tug.

I stomp on his foot.

He doesn't even flinch. "What was that for?"

"Your grandfather's two feet away!"

"He won't notice, and if he does, he'll understand. Do you have any idea how many men wish they were me right now? That they were able to touch you like this?"

I play along even though I think he's full of shit. "Enlighten me."

"62,455—and counting."

"Oh? And where exactly did you get this number?"

"Your ass."

"Nice."

"I'm serious. Your ass has its own Facebook page."

I suppress the urge to roll my eyes. "Sure, it does."

"You think I'm making this up?"

"Not at all. I bet Rock Johnson started the page. He's probably been poking my ass all morning."

"You can't poke on fan pages; all you can do is give thumbs-up. Not that it matters. Poking and thumbing are so overdone. Facebook needs a new verb for what I want to do to you."

I swallow hard.

He presses his hand against my backside right where my bottom turns into my thighs. "Does that make you wet in here?"

Just when I think my face can't get any redder, Prince Peter looks over at us.

"Did you say something, Edward?" he asks.

Edward drops his hand back to his side. "I asked what it takes to get a beer."

Prince Peter laughs as he turns back to the crowd.

A second later, Edward's hand is back on my ass—and it stays firmly in place until we go inside for the reception.

The wedding banquet is exactly how Edward told me it would be: tedious, formal, and without any opportunity for us to interact with each other. The head table is T-shaped in order to accommodate the wedding party, our immediate families, and every major Royal in attendance. Even though Edward and I are both seated there, he's so far away I can't even see him. Meanwhile, the Queen is not only directly in my line of vision, she's close enough to engage in conversation with the people around me. And since Esme and Carlisle never bothered to present me to Her Majesty, it would be a huge breach of etiquette for me to participate.

So I don't. After what Esme said this morning, I can't. Not because I think she was right, but because I'm determined to prove her wrong. While everyone around me is feasting and chatting, I sit there pushing each of the five courses around their respective plates, afraid to eat because I was sewn into my dress this morning and afraid to speak because I don't want to offend my boyfriend's grandmother, all the while silently cursing Esme for robbing me of my chance to make a good impression. Even through all this, it's still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact Her Majesty Queen Charlotte the First of Her Name is a few feet away from me making small talk with my dad.

Queen Charlotte looks exactly like her pictures, yet she's not at all what I expected. She's always been this larger-than-life figure, a force of nature in white gloves and sensible pumps. Up close, she's just a little old lady with formal manners and expensive clothing. It's hard to reconcile the woman in front of me with what I know of her from history. Hell, I can't even reconcile her with what I've heard from Esme. The Queen serves at the people's pleasure; she only has as much power as we give her. Something tells me that when it comes down to it, Edward won't give her much.

That my mouth hurts from smiling doesn't factor into my decision not to linger after Esme and Carlisle make their grand exit. The party later is supposed to be more relaxed, and I want to make sure I have the energy to enjoy it. As soon as Carlisle and Esme's classic Aston Martin disappears from view, my dad makes arrangements for our driver to bring the car around. I'm euphoric as I make my way to the driveway behind the Palace. I did it. I actually did it. I survived the dress, the crowds, the TV crews, and my first exposure to the Queen. With the official stuff out of the way, I'm free to focus on what really matters to me.

Edward.


The great thing about honest prereaders is that they're not afraid to let you know if something sucks. Mine deserve a huge thanks for not just telling me what I want to hear—just as you deserve a huge thanks for waiting patiently as I wrote (and subsequently scrapped) four complete drafts of this chapter. Though I, too, am disappointed in myself for the amount of time it has taken me to update, I'd feel much worse had I posted something I thought was crap just for the sake of posting with expediency.

Thank you for staying with me.