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“Dais,” she says, and yup, here it comes. “Why are you so resistant?”
Scooting closer to the table, she takes my wrist, shaking my arm. “A prince, Daisy. Castles. It’s a whole new world opening up to you, and you should be, like . . .” She lets go of my wrist to clench both fists in the air, opening her mouth to give a sort of silent shriek of excitement, eyes squeezed shut.
I laugh, flicking her with my pencil. “I’m not all”—I mimic her gesture, then drop my hands back to the table—“because this isn’t my thing. It’s Ellie’s. And now it’s . . .” I don’t want to get into that, not even with my best friend, but Isa is merciless.
“Oh no,” she says. “Not the wistful ‘if only . . .’ look. Spill.”
Shooting her a glare, I shrug my shoulders, wondering how even to explain it. Finally, I settle on an example.
“Okay, remember when I was in fourth grade, and my parents lost their minds and decided to do that road trip out west?”
“The Grand Canyon Incident,” Isabel says, nodding sagely, and I point my pencil at her.
“That’s the one. So on that trip, we ended in California for the last day, and I wanted to go see the Winchester Mystery House because obviously.”
“Obviously,” Isa echoes.
“But that same time we were there, this college Ellie wanted to check out in San Francisco was doing an open house, and she wanted to go to that. So my parents said we’d add an extra day—do Ellie’s college thing first, then, on that extra day, go see my thing.”
Isabel tilts her head to one side. “Fair,” she decides, and I nod.
“Problem is, we all ate these little shrimp thingies during the open house, and then got food poisoning, so there was no second day. No Winchester Mystery House. And I get that it was an Act of God—”
“An act of bacteria, but continue.”
“But the point is that it’s always been like that. Ellie’s thing, then my thing if we have time. And I can’t even be mad about it because Ellie’s thing is always, like, going to see a college, or volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, or taking a summer trip to Guatemala to teach English.”
I hold up my hand, turning it to one side, keeping my palm straight. “She’s always been laser-focused on stuff that matters.”
Dropping my hand, I shrug again. “And I just want to see weird houses or exhibits or whatever, so I get why her stuff has to come first. It’s just . . . marrying Alex means her stuff is always going to come first. We’re going to spend the rest of our lives planning Christmas around her schedule. And like I said, I can’t be mad about it. I get it. I just . . .”
This time when I trail off, Isabel doesn’t call me on it, and I shake my head.
“Less focus on Ellie and royals, and more focus on Key West,” I say, tapping the end of my pencil on the top of her laptop screen. “We are now at two weeks, and we still haven’t coordinated wardrobes.”
If there’s one thing that can distract Isabel from talk of “Seb,” it’s our Key Con visit, and she nods, giving me an exaggerated wink.
“You’re right,” she agrees. “Eyes on the prize.”
We’re talking about the trip—namely, what we’re going to wear and what panels we want to hit up—when Hannah and Maddy enter my peripheral vision.
I’ve known both of them since third grade, but they’re both approaching so hesitantly, you’d think we were total strangers. I can actually feel my heart sinking.
“Heeeey, Daisy,” Maddy drawls, playing with the ends of her hair. It’s about the same dark blond mine used to be before the big dye job.
“Um. Hi?”
“So. Your sister.” That’s it. Literally all she says, like that explains it all, and I just nod at her. Across the table, Isabel is slumped down in her chair a little, watching them both as she taps her nails on her plastic cup.
“You’re going to be in the wedding, right?” Hannah asks. She has the same black hair as Isabel, although hers is cut in a long bob, the points brushing her shoulders as she leans closer. “And, like, on TV?”
Maddy shifts her weight from one foot to the other, moving a little closer. “And are you gonna move there? To Scotland?”
Hannah shakes her head at that, eyes wide. “I mean, you’re basically going to be a princess, right?”
Sighing, I take a sip of my tea before saying, “I’m not really allowed to talk about it.” Then I drop my voice to a whisper and add, “For security reasons.”
Maddy and Hannah both widen their eyes, stepping back a little, and Isabel grins at me before schooling her face into a serious expression and adding, “Yeah, she had to sign papers and shit. If she talks about any of it, she’ll get in trouble. I mean, big trouble.”
“Isa!” I say sharply, and then glance around, like people might be watching us. “You know what happens if they hear us!”
I give Isabel my best solemn look, then draw my finger across my throat. Isabel swallows hard, looking properly scared.
“Jesus,” Hannah breathes, and Maddy looks at me with her jaw hanging open.
“Just . . . don’t ask me about it, okay?” I say, and both Hannah and Maddy nod so hard I’m surprised their necks don’t snap.
They go back to their table, whispering again and genuinely looking a little pale.
“We’re evil,” Isabel says, rattling the ice in her cup, and I shrug.
Going back to my test, I let Isabel go back to her gossip surfing, thinking I might grab some kind of fried seafood on my way home this afternoon. High-stress days require high calories, so . . .
“Oh holy god!” Isabel yelps, and my head shoots up. For a second, I think maybe she saw a bug or, even worse, a snake—Isabel is deathly afraid of all things slithery—but then I see her eyes still glued to the screen, her face going kind of gray underneath her tan, and I know it’s much worse.
Seems like Eleanor Winters is not the only member of her family with royal ambitions. According to our exclusive interview with Michael Dorset, Daisy’s most recent boyfriend, now that Daisy’s sister, Eleanor, is not just Prince Alexander’s girlfriend, but his fiancée, Daisy has seen her own prospects skyrocket.
“Daisy has always been a really chill girl,” Michael tells us. “You know, laid-back, never gave a [expletive deleted] what other people thought of her. But she’s been different since Eleanor started dating Prince Alexander. And once they were engaged? She wouldn’t give me the time of day.”
When asked if he thought Daisy would be setting her sights on Alexander’s brother, Prince Sebastian, Mr. Dorset shrugged. “I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s obvious everything with her sister has gone to her head.”
Mr. Dorset then played for us a sample of a song he’d written for Daisy Winters, a song, he claims, that left the soon-to-be-royal-adjacent high schooler unmoved.
Ahem, Gentle Readers, was I NOT just wondering wheeeeerrrrre the heck Eleanor-Not-Ellie’s family was? And did you not DELIVER, my angels?? YOU DID! SO! So we knew our Miss Eleanor comes from $$$. Maybe not the same kind of F You Money she’s about to marry into, but still. Her dad was a rock star—albeit suuuuuper briefly—and her mom writes those mystery books where people get killed in small towns in really cutesy ways. You know, “Oh no, the local pastry chef was stabbed with a cake server!” THAT kind of thing. But we KNEW that stuff, so the BIG FIND is that our Eleanor-Not-Ellie has a HOT YOUNGER SISTER. Don’t they all? Attaching a pic someone sent me below, and ommmmggggg, the hair!! Don’t you KNOW Miss Eleanor is NOT HERE FOR THAT? I swear I used to have a Little Mermaid doll with hair that color. ANYWAY, her name is Daisy (and her dad once had a song called “Daisy Chain,” which adds a nice touch of ICK to everything), she’s in high school (this is why we haven’t heard much about her before now, according to my “sources”—Alexander’s scary family wanted her left alone because she’s not eighteen, which seems kind of dumb based on how many Celebrity Rug Rats I’ve seen in tabloids, but whatevs). TMZ has an exclusive interview with her wastrel of an ex, who is saying she dumped him because, like her sister, she has PRINCELY AMBITIONS. She works at a GROCERY STORE of all things, aaaaaand I’m giving you a link to her Facebook because hey, not like we don’t already know I’m going to hell, so let’s add RIBBONS TO THE HANDBASKET, SHALL WE? It’s pretty boring, NGL, but come on. She HAS to be the slutty one, right?