**I started writing this in August for my Instagram account, rapunzels_mother. As I have continued to write it, my writing has gotten better. I must warn you that the first chapter or so won't be as well-written as the rest**

My life changed that night. I can still remember every detail of that day so clearly.

"Put on your dress, Anna. It's time to start getting you ready," my mother said. Anna was my nickname. My name is Antoinette, which means "flower." I grabbed my beautiful pink ball gown that she and I had spent so many wonderful hours working on. The dress felt magnificent on. "It looks so beautiful on you, my dear!"

"Thank you mother. I love it."

She sat me down and did my hair, one thing that I was never very good at. "Done," she said, stepping back to look at her work. I glanced at the mirror hanging on the wall. My long dark hair fell down to my waist. My mother had pulled my hair into a three-part bun at the top.

I sighed. It was almost time for the ball. Holding a ball for the king and queen's first-born's eighteenth birthday was a tradition in Latonia, my kingdom, that dated back to its first years as a kingdom. Everyone in the kingdom was invited, as well as everyone of importance from neighboring kingdoms. The whole kingdom was celebrating. Our kingdom's flag, which was sky blue with a deep purple flower, was hanging everywhere, and the town square was filled with people singing and dancing.

Age eighteen was when you were considered an adult and able to make your own decisions. It also meant that marriage was just around the corner, and my parents had been telling me that I needed to be "seriously considering marriage." I had felt like they were hoping I would find someone at the ball. The pressure was frightening. Was I ready?

My mother placed my silver tiara on my head and smiled. I saw her wipe a tear from her eye. "What is wrong, Mother?"

"My darling girl, nothing is wrong. Absolutely nothing. You are just so grown up. It seems like yesterday you were a little squealing baby I held in my arms, but now—look at you! All grown up and beautiful. These are not tears of sadness, my dear. They are tears of joy!"

"I love you, Mother"

"And I, you, my dear!" We embraced, but were interrupted by a knock at the door. "Oh, I almost forgot," Mother said. "Come in!"

My father walked in, closing the door behind him. "Am I interrupting?"

"Not at all," my mother walked over to him, and they kissed.

"That is quite disgusting!" I said with a smile, as my head filled with childhood memories. Oh, the joys of naivety! I realized that my mother had been quite right about how quickly the time had passed. I missed those years of freedom and joy. But now was the present, and I knew that I had to move on.

My attention was brought back to the two people before me as my father handed me a small box.

"Our gift to you. Happy birthday," my mother said.

I took the little box and opened it. Inside lay a beautiful pearl necklace that I had seen my mother wear so many times before. "Your necklace?"

"It belonged to my great grandmother and has been passed down for generations. My mother gave it to me on my eighteenth birthday, and I now do the same for you," Mother said as she clasped it around my neck.

"It's beautiful!" I fingered the beads. "Thank you so much!" I enclosed my parents in a group hug. My father smiled down on me, "Are you ready?"

"I think so, Father."

We exited my bedchamber and walked down the long, winding halls. We reached the doors that led to the grand staircase in the ballroom. Two guards pushed the golden doors open and my parents stepped through, arm in arm. I could hear my father's kind voice through the door as it closed, "Welcome Friends, Latonians, Kingdomen! Lend me your ears!" Leave it to my father to add some humor to any situation.

"Thank you all for coming," my mother said. I could hear the smile in her voice. "We have looked forward to this night for so long! Now, please welcome our guest of honor!"

My father began again, "Our lovely, beloved daughter, Princess Antoinette of Latonia!"

The crowd cheered as I stepped through the magnificent doorway. I descended the long staircase, taking in the scene before me. I had never seen the ballroom so full of people. I tried to identify some of the faces, but I had never seen most of the people. I was astonished that so many strangers had gathered there for my birthday. What made me so special? The candelight from the overhanging crystal chandelier cast a cheerful, yet sophisticated glow over the ballroom. Music softly drifted up from the orchestra, growing in a beautiful crescendo as I glided down. By the time I reached the bottom, the attention was not completely on me anymore, but was turning toward the music, and the crowd began a slow waltz. I began to relax and tried to mingle into the crowd and find a dance partner.

That was when I saw him, and our eyes met.