MARCH 2, 1930

Hale shoved the food on her plate around in circles, taking a few minutes to admire its pearly surface, waging wars with the butterflies knotted up in her stomach. Her mother and father partook in civilized conversations beside her, at the head of their elongated dinner table. It had been lengthened to make room for their dinner guests. After all, today was a very momentous occasion; it marked the tenth anniversary of her beloved father's company, Gladiator Incorporated. Everyone who was anyone would be here.

That didn't mean she wanted to be. In fact, she'd give just about anything to abandon this fancy dining hall and put on something more comfortable, perhaps slip out of her window on the second floor, and run as fast as she could to that alley way. Roger would be waiting there for sure…Hale should be there by now…She pulled out her silver pocket-watch anxiously and checked the time. Already eleven…damn.

"Young lady, put that thing away." Her mother scolded, "And eat your food, like a proper young woman. You're fifteen, start acting it."

"Yes." One of the older women at the table sighed in agreement, "It's about time you two start looking for a proper husband for the girl. They're getting harder and harder to find each day."

"Indeed, they are" Another old bird clucked, "I reckon though that many a suitor will pursue your young Hale. Being as pretty as she is, and coming from a well-off family as well."

Hale's mother smiled in gratitude at their words, as was costume. "We actually have just started to look into it." She said, "That gentleman, young sir Harry, the one whose father is head of the queen's guard, has been of our highest esteems thus far…"

Hale bolted out of her chair and slammed her palms on the maple wood of the table, making her food and cutlery leap as she did. "NO!"

Everyone looked astonished. Her mother dropped her fork and her father turned bright red. Hale froze, brushed herself off, and sat back down, trying to take back everyone's good opinions. "I mean…" she tried to explain herself, then blurted without thinking, "I've already been proposed to."

"What?" Her mum exclaimed franticly, "Dear, why didn't you tell us? This is something we need to know! Oh, and you just had to wait until now, of all times…"

"Hale," Her father muttered, taking another forkful of food, "You know that's not how it works. He's supposed to approach us first, ask for your hand…but not before courting you of course, and always waiting until you're good and ready…ripe, some put it."

"Dad!" Hale blushed.

"I'm just stating the truth."

Hale's mother attempted to be a bit more civil. "Well, sweetie," She stammered, "Can't you at least tell us who it is? I'm sure he's a fine gentleman…which family does he hail from? I heard you've been hanging out with the Wallace's a lot at school. Is it one of their boys? Sigmund, perhaps? He's very handsome…"

"uh…" Hale flushed white. What should she say, how should she respond?! Nobody had actually proposed to her! But, if she didn't answer, and quickly, her parents would make her marry some stuck-up prick! Why did things always have to end up like this for her…She racked her brain for a list of names. Who was inconspicuous enough that mum and da wouldn't know them at first mention, and that didn't care enough to act as a suitor, even if for just one night?!

"Roger." She blurted out. Her parents both looked at her quizzically as she blushed bright red, even at the saying of his name. She regretted saying his name.

"Is he a sir?"

"No, just Roger." She muttered in reply.

"Last name?"

"Just Roger."

"What does he look like, darling?" The first bird crooned, "I reckon that one of us ought have seen him somewhere around the city."

"Um…well," Hale tried to cover her cheeks with her handkerchief, "I…He's…he's not much to look at to the average person…but he's very cute to me and I've always kind of liked him. He hangs out around da's workplace a lot, and he's a little awkward. He's got really pretty eyes…"

Mum smiled at her warmly. "methinks you are in love, dear child."

"Stoppit ma!" Hale complained light-heartedly, laughing. Her dad still didn't look impressed.

"Next week, we're having this…Roger…over for dinner. I still have to approve of this." He grunted disdainfully. Hale stuck her tongue out at him when no one was looking, then sagged and moaned pitifully in her seat.

Goddamn her and her big mouth.

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