Amy Caylor
Aug 16 · 6 min read

Leon smiled as he went down the hallway. That went well. He could never quite figure Sofia out, but this time he was sure he pleasantly surprised her. Maybe. Hopefully. Her face was always so unreadable.

At least he knew he surprised her. That much had been clear. She had probably been thinking something like…

***

Sofia finished plating Lily’s hair. “There. Just like a proper princess.”

“I wish you could come to the ball.” The little girl turned to look at Sofia. “You’ll be the only person that says anything interesting.

So do I poppet. “I know. But it’s not my place.” Sofia tucked a stray curl behind the princess’s ear.

Lily’s dad, King Leon, came through the door already in uniform. “How is the most beautiful girl in the kingdom doing?” He said it to Lily, but his eyes were on Sofia. How long had he been standing there?

She flushed and her pulse fluttered. It had been doing that ever since the king had surprised her in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and charmed her with his easy manners, and love for Lily while Sofia made sandwiches. It didn’t matter that he was the king, or a widower, or unofficially engaged to Lady Diane. The butterflies in her stomach still pointlessly fluttered around. Sofia was the governess. She would never end up with the king.

She turned away and grabbed Lily’s tiara to hide her expression.

“Papa, say Sofia can come to the ball!”

“She wasn’t coming already?” King Leon lifted an eyebrow.

“I haven’t received an invitation, your highness. I’m just the governess — ” Sofia stammered.

“You are invited as of now.” The king declared. “There are some perks to being king.”

“Oh! But I have nothing to wear!” Nothing she had could compare to the sweeping ball gowns the nobles would be wearing.

“Nonsense! Marge will help you find something.” the king winked, and Sofia’s stomach flipped. He took Lily by the hand. “It’s decided then. See you at the party.” He led Lily from the room.

Sofia stood for a moment, then let out her breath. She was going to the ball!

***

Leon faltered. Who was he kidding? Sofia had always been nothing but professional towards him. Just because he thought laid awake at night dreaming of casting off the responsibility of being king and running away with Sofia and Lily didn’t mean that she did.

He was being creepy, wasn’t he? She didn’t return his feelings and was too polite to say anything about it. He had authority over her and those kinds of romances never worked. He probably had made her so uncomfortable…


Sofia finished plating Lily’s hair. “There. Just like a proper princess.”

“I wish you could come to the ball.” The little girl turned to look at Sofia. “You’ll be the only person that says anything interesting.”

And I am so grateful I’m not. “I know. But it’s not my place.” Sofia tucked a stray curl behind the princess’s ear.

Lily’s dad came through the door already in uniform. “How is the most beautiful girl in the kingdom doing?” He said it to Lily, but his eyes were on Sofia. How long had he been standing there?

She flushed and her pulse fluttered. It had been doing that ever since the king had surprised her in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and ordered her to make him a sandwich. She didn’t like the way he looked at her. It didn’t matter that he was the king, or a widower, or unofficially engaged to Lady Diane, he kept looking at Sofia. Whenever he entered the room she just wanted to leave.

She turned away and grabbed Lily’s tiara to hide her expression.

“Papa, say Sofia can come to the ball!”

“She wasn’t coming already?” King Leon lifted an eyebrow.

“I haven’t received an invitation, your highness. I’m just the governess — ” Sofia stammered.

“You are invited as of now.” The king declared. “There are some perks to being king.”

“Oh! But I have nothing to wear!” Flimsy excuse, but true.

“Nonsense! Marge will help you find something.” the king winked, and Sofia’s stomach turned. He took Lily by the hand. “It’s decided then. See you at the party.” He led Lily from the room.

Sofia stood for a moment, then let out her breath. She was going to the ball.

***

No, Leon didn’t think that was it either. He could tell when people were uncomfortable around him — it was part of being king. Sofia had never given him any indication that she disliked him.

But he had steamrolled over her protests. This was her night off — she might have had plans. Now she had to show up at a party with people she didn’t know and had nothing in common with. Leon knew that he barely could stand the balls, and it was part of his job to go to them. Why did he have to go and open his big mouth? She probably was disappointed…


Sofia finished plating Lily’s hair. “There. Just like a proper princess.”

“I wish you could come to the ball.” The little girl turned to look at Sofia. “You’ll be the only person that says anything interesting.”

Not for the world sweetheart. I’ve already got a movie on the DVR, and popcorn in the microwave. This is my night off. “I know. But it’s not my place.” Sofia tucked a stray curl behind the princess’s ear.

Lily’s dad came through the door already in uniform. “How is the most beautiful girl in the kingdom doing?” He said it to Lily, but his eyes were on Sofia. How long had he been standing there?

She flushed and her pulse fluttered. He had that way of looking like he knew what she was thinking. He always did it when she was thinking something vaguely naughty too. Like when she was considering eating all the chocolate ice cream when she ran into him a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully, she had covered that up with her rad sandwich-making skills.

She turned away and grabbed Lily’s tiara to hide her expression.

“Papa, say Sofia can come to the ball!”

“She wasn’t coming already?” He lifted an eyebrow.

“I haven’t received an invitation, your highness. I’m just the governess — ” Sofia stammered. Please no. She had been looking forward to movie night all week.

“You are invited as of now.” The king declared. “There are some perks to being king.” He probably thought he was doing her a great service by inviting her.

“Oh! But I have nothing to wear!” Other than the blanket she was planning to snuggle in for four hours straight to watch the Sound of Music.

“Nonsense! Marge will help you find something.” the king winked, Sofia’s stomach sank. He took Lily by the hand. “It’s decided then. See you at the party.” He led Lily from the room, content in that he had made the world a little happier.

Sofia stood for a moment, then let out her breath. She was going to the ball. Dang it.

***

Leon frowned. That was probably it. That was what she had probably been thinking. He was a horrible boss.

Okay, this was still recoverable. He would just wait until she came, let her have a dance, and tell her she didn’t have to stay the whole time. But not like she had to leave. Just leave if she wanted too.

Ugh, this was complicated. He wished he knew what she was thinking.

***

“You are going to be late!” Marge called from the other side of Sofia’s door.

“Almost done!” Sofia said.

Stupid kings ruining Sofia’s well-laid plans. She made plans as soon as she heard the ball was happening. This had definitely thrown a wrench into them.

Sofia connected the last wire and stuffed the bomb in her purse, maneuvering her huge ballgown. She could still make this work. Maybe she could even grab Lily as she left. She had grown fond of the girl through their time together. But a job was a job.

This was her last chance to kill him before the announcement of the engagement after she failed at poisoning him with those sandwiches a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, when Leon walked into the room, her first thought was that he had somehow found out that she was an assassin.

It was a good thing kings can’t read minds.

Amy Caylor

Written by

Lover of Words, Stories, and Dragons. Freelance writer and editor. https://acaylor.com/

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