I was living for a dream
Loving for a moment
Taking on the world
That was just my style
Now I look into your eyes
I can see forever
The search is over
You were with me all the while
Prince Phillip was desperate to find her, truly desperate, everyone said. The enchanting girl he danced with at the royal ball hadn't left his thoughts for a moment. He'd spent three days with her, dancing with her and getting to know her in secluded talks on the balcony. Those three days had been the most blissful in his entire life and he was determined to find her.
His father didn't mind. In fact, the king encouraged his son to seek out this mysterious lady.
"Find her, bring her back to the castle and marry her straightaway! After everything I've heard about her from you, she must be quite something!"
The young prince wasted no time sending out his royal guard to every home in the kingdom. Her unique glass slipper had been left behind and was the only way he could discover the identity of his love. So the prince asked his father to make a decree that the captain of the guard and his men, accompanied by the prince would bring the slipper to the homes of all in the kingdom requesting that the young unmarried females try the shoe on.
In his opinion, it was ridiculous to allow every maiden to fit the slipper. Prince Phillip remembered the wispy blond hair and soft features of his beloved. From the color of her hair alone, the number of citizens to call upon in the kingdom would be significantly lower. But he knew there would be an uproar from many angry non-blonde subjects and their families if he didn't give them all a chance. At least his father made it clear that the only subjects with permission to try on the slipper were young.
The prince accompanied his guards because he was positive that he would know immediately the face of the woman who'd captured his heart.
Sadly, they hadn't found her. Nearly an entire month passed since the king's announcement and Prince Phillip had begun to lose hope. Could she be afraid of him or palace life? Was she a visiting dignitary with obligations and had already left to go back to her own kingdom? Perhaps she only wanted to dance with a prince and their time together was nothing more than a little fun for her.
These were the thoughts that plagued him as he and the Royal guard went from house to house and left empty-handed. Today, they came to the final home in the kingdom, the one residence they'd yet to enter. It belonged to a Lady Teague. She'd married a tradesman who was now deceased, and had two young daughters, Victoria and Lucinda, from a previous marriage.
Upon seeing the faces of her two daughters, Phillip knew that neither of them were the woman he danced with the night of the ball, but it would be unprincely for him to suddenly decide to go back to the castle. So he bit his tongue and silently watched the captain of the guard, Stephen, try to put the glass slipper on both girl's foot.
The eldest girl couldn't even fit half her foot in the shoe due to her feet being twice the size of it and the younger almost got her foot in the shoe completely. Her skin was pink from the effort of the pushing and straining that she did. Phillip was sure that the circulation in her feet was cut off just by looking at it.
Lucinda crossed her arms and let out an angry huff, disappointed that she hadn't been the one to fit the shoe. Her expression quite funny, but this was not a laughing matter. Therefor, the prince kept a neutral look on his face.
Lady Teague clapped her hands. "There you have it! Victoria, I should have known you were the one who danced with the prince that night!"
"I didn't want to tell you, mama because I wanted to keep it my own secret. But this is a better ending than I ever imagined!" The girl fluttered her eyelashes and the prince let out a puff of air.
Absolute rubbish. Victoria was most definitely not the girl he danced with the night of the ball and she knew it, too. Phillip turned from the uncomfortable leer in in her eyes and faced Lady Teague.
"Are you sure there are no other young maids in your household?"
She blinked in surprise. "Why, of course, your highness. Since Victoria and Lucinda's stepfather died twelve years ago, we've been on our own here."
The minute she said this, a door closed below stairs in the direction of the kitchen and a soft voice began to sing. It clearly belonged to a woman.
Prince Phillip and Stephen gave Lady Teague a stern glare.
"You said there were no other ladies in this house," the prince said in a clipped tone, narrowing his eyes at her.
She laughed and fanned herself with a handkerchief, realizing that she'd been caught in a lie with possibly serious consequences. "Well, a servant hardly counts as a lady! I sent her out on an errand when I heard of your coming because I didn't want your highness to feel like you had to lower yourself to allow a common girl to wear such a magnificent glass slipper."
Stephen stepped forward, imperious and commanding as he replied, "The King of this land has ordered that every eligible young maiden try to fit this slipper. Do you dare to refuse a royal edict?"
Lady Teague licked her lips and fidgeted. She'd been caught now and no attempt at justifying her misconduct could save her now. Her only choice was to bring the girl out to meet the prince. Predictably, she cowered, backing away to the stairs where the voice was emanating. "Certainly not! I-I am a loyal servant to the crown! I will fetch her for you!" She nearly tripped as she ran down the stairs.
The two sisters, Victoria and Lucinda, had shocked looks on their faces, but wisely said nothing. As much as they both wanted to become a member of the royal household, neither wanted to get on the wrong side of the prince.
Minutes passed and Phillip began to grow impatient. What was taking her so long to bring the servant girl up? He tapped his foot and started towards the stairs. Suddenly, Lady Teague and a young blonde woman dressed in a dirty blue dress came out and walked into the sitting room.
She wore a white apron that had streaks of dirt on it, faded brown slippers and a there was a ribbon tied at the end of her long braid, holding the hair in place. It was a startling contrast to her appearance at the ball, but he'd know that lovely face anywhere.
A million emotions ran through him and he felt his heart pound against his chest as he looked at her. Finally, after so many fruitless efforts of searching the kingdom, he'd found the girl of his dreams!
Lady Teague looked as if she were going to have a stroke, but she forced a smile. "This is Cinderella, your highness. Our servant." She stressed the word "servant" as if to remind the prince that she was beneath him and therefor, unworthy of his notice.
Cinderella curtsied haltingly and kept her eyes lowered to the floor. Phillip took note of a bright red mark on her cheek. It looked fairly recent. Did Lady Teague strike her before bringing her to see him? He clenched his fists, holding back the urge to lash out at the elder woman.
There were things between he and this mysterious Cinderella that needed to be said, but in private. He had no wish to allow the presence of unscrupulous individuals listen to his overdue conversation.
"I wish to speak to your servant alone, madam."
"Oh, your highness, I don't think-"
A sharp look from Stephen stopped Lady Teague mid sentence and she bowed before scurrying out of the house like a rabbit, her two daughters following after her. Stephen handed Phillip the slipper and smiled kindly at Cinderella before exiting the house and closing the door behind him.
"So...now that we're alone, would you mind telling me who you really are?"