I let the Prince guide me to the middle of the dance floor, enduring hateful stares from the surrounding young women. He grasped my waist firmly and stepped into the dance in time with the waltz that was playing. I couldn’t help but smile.
“Where have you been, Marina? Seeing you in the market was the first time I’d seen you in years—let alone at a party!”
“I was a bit preoccupied with things at home,” I said evasively.
“And now you are not?” the Prince inquired with an incredulous tone. I shook my head ‘no’ with a secretive smile.
“I hear you are to be married,” I said, regretting it immediately. His face fell into an expression of irritation and dismay.
“Yes,” he answered, his jaw clenched tightly. “I have been told I must choose a…bride,” he seemed to choke on the word, “this very night.”
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely, knowing that this was difficult for him.
“Thank you. I don’t think anyone else really finds it lamentable.”
“Why would they? Their daughter could be future queen.”