Chapter OneMature

“I’m going to kill that turkey when I get my hands on him!” exclaimed Vivika, dashing down the grand staircase of the Underlandian Palace. Courtiers all around the halls were gawking at her as she went. Each one gasped or made an exclamation of ‘Heavens!’ or ‘Goodness gracious!’

or something along those lines. Even if her dark brown skin were light enough for a blush to creep over her cheeks, she wouldn’t have been blushing. It was hardly like she cared about the situation. Her only focus was Victor. “Victor! Show your face, you sorry sack of shit!”

          As she tore her way through the corridors, avoiding maids with towering stacks of laundry in their arms or nobles on their way to some place or another, she came across a little girl. She smiled up at Viv with her toothy round grin. She had ivory skin and ebony curls with sparkling aqua eyes. She was a little over three years old. Viv remembered the birthday celebration well. The girl wore a frilly blue dress and cute Mary Jane’s on her feet.

          “Oh, thank God,” said Viv. She reached up behind her head and unlaced the ribbon keeping her hair in a bun. It tumbled down her shoulders in glinting copper waves. She was too busy to wait for the hairdressers; she’d take her own hair down, thank you very much. “Candy, where’s your dad hiding?”

          “I dunno,” said Candace, grinning and putting her hands behind her back. Viv crossed her arms and shot the girl an accusatory look. “I dunno!”

          “Candy…” said Viv in a warning tone. Candace giggled and her meagre resolve crumbled under Viv’s scrutinizing glare.

          “Daddy’s in da tree house. He told me not to tell you cause he stoled your dwess,” said Candace, smiling up at Viv. “Is that why you’se naked?”

          Viv looked down at her body. It was not, in fact, naked, as Candace had said. Viv was covered from her armpits to the tips of her toes. She was clad in a snow-white corset and matching bloomers and stockings. If it weren’t for her ridiculous cousin, she’d be wearing an eggplant purple silk gown with gold lace at the neckline, cuffs, and hem. A thick satin gold sash tied around the waist and had a big bow in the back when tied properly. The Alterran royal family had had it custom made for her. She hated the color purple. She preferred yellow. Viv rolled her eyes. She didn’t have time to debate what naked was with a three-year-old, she had too many things to do.

          “This is not naked, Candy, I’m just not wearing a dress,” said Viv, placing a kiss on the top of the girl’s head. “Thank you for your help. Now, go tell your mother she married an idiot.”

          Candace nodded enthusiastically and took off running down the hall. While she ran by a closed door, the door suddenly burst open and a group of councilmen emerged. Candace slammed into the door and went sprawling onto the hallway floor. Her head contacted with the polished marble with a loud crack as she went down. Viv winced audibly and she and the councilmen rushed to assess the damage. If she were too seriously injured, the man who’d opened the door, clearly the one who looked the most concerned, could get in very deep trouble. After all, she was the Crown Princess. Despite her ordeal, Candace sat up without even so much as a sniffle. She spat out a bloody wad of saliva, which contained a tooth, and grinned stupidly to show off the new gap in her top row of teeth. Despite the blood spilling from her mouth and the blood pouring from her split lip, she stood up, giggled like she’d just been told a hilarious joke rather than obtained a bodily injury, and ran past the councilmen on her quest to tell her mother of her father’s idiocy. Viv muttered about the resilience of toddlers and ran the other way.

The End

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