Preface


The room was extraordinarily wide, with pillars on the sides supporting the weight of the ceiling. A red carpet lay on the shiny marbled floor, a grand chandelier gave off its vibrant light, and the flowerpots just stood in their spots. For a room so big, the only items inside were majestic couches—which were atop a platform—and a very high-tech screen projector.

On one of the majestic couches sat a boy of about sixteen. He looked serious, regal, frightening, yet it could be seen beneath his emerald eyes that he would prefer to wash a plate than be anywhere within the vicinity of his butlers and instructor and cousin. The boy was sitting lazily, his arm draped on the armrest, and given his position it was clear that he was wrinkling his new suit.

"Your Highness, if you would look at the screen before you," the instructor said. The one who was addressed averted his gaze to the screen projector and yawned.

A picture of a girl popped up. She had bright hair the color of the sunset, prominent cheekbones, and a slender figure. Because of the tall palm trees and blaring sunrays, the photo was obviously taken in the beach. The instructor cleared his throat.

"Ms. Sandra Vega. Age, sixteen. Currently studying in Roslow Preparatory School for Refined Girls. Her mother is a close friend of the Lady Queen. Knows how to speak French and Latin."

"Latin? Who actually speaks Latin?" the cousin asked.

"It's a dead language." The prince yawned again. "Next."

The next one was of a girl with golden curls framing her porcelain face. She was wearing a ruffled pink dress and ballet flats. "Ms. Anna Quisenberry. Age, seven—" The cousin laughed. "—Homeschooling by one of the best teachers in the world. Heiress to Q Corporations, a successful business company." The instructor had to double-check his files. "Loves to ride ponies."

"Are you kidding me? A seven-year-old? What am I, a babysitter? Next!"

Portrait after portrait of ladies were shown in the presentation. They all looked average and normal to the prince, only that they were rich. But still, everybody was a peasant to him. He was fortunately still awake by the time it was Candidate No. 23.

"Ms. Trinity Solace—" What kind of name was that? "Age, sixteen. Studies in the International Center of Music and Arts. Her only guardian owns a famous fashion line. Aspiring actress."

"Next."

The prince leaned back on his soft and very comfortable couch. His cousin was busy eating popcorn on the seat next to his, and he wanted so badly to close his eyes and sleep. The bright light of the screen was the only thing that was keeping him conscious.

Candidate No. 24's picture was different. Unlike the others, hers looked candid. She was wearing a navy blue vest over a white blouse, and she also had on a matching gray blazer and pleated skirt. Odd, the prince thought. Her clothes looked familiar.

The girl had long dark brown hair with the sides pinned up and chocolate brown eyes. Since it was a candid shot, she was in the midst of reading a book, but there was no denying the fact that she looked irritated. An expression that looked very familiar.

Too familiar.

"Ms. Isabelle Waters. Age, sixteen. Studies in—why, the same school as Your Highness! Her grandfather was a previous general of the army designed to protect the royal family. Is a black belt in judo—"

"That girl!" The prince gasped, automatically standing up from his seat. He finally remembered. How couldn't he! "That despicable little mule! She is the culprit! She's the one!"

"What are you talking about?" The cousin asked. "By the way, she's pretty."

"Shut up, Derek!"

"Your Highness." The instructor frowned. "You needn't overreact. There are still plenty of girls you can decide upon, and you aren't even forced to marry Ms. Waters. I don't think the palace life would also suit her. She would be forced to leave her family behind."

The prince blinked. Then blinked again. And that's when he erupted into laughter. "You don't think so? I think I'd like to see for myself."

"Candidate No. 25 is Ms. Fe—"

"No! I've decided." The prince smiled smugly. "I want that Ms. Isabelle Waters. Yes, her. She is my final decision."

"Are you sure?" Derek asked.

But he merely chuckled, the emerald in his eyes sparkling. "Oh, yes. I am sure."