After a while, the door behind me opens, and I expect Mom to be there, her hands fluttering like they do when she’s nervous. But when I turn, it’s Ellie.
“Can you maybe not do this?” she asks, frowning a little.
I raise my eyebrows. “Not do what? Freak out because things are about to get deeply weird for me?”
Her frown deepens, and I suddenly feel like a total garbage person. “El, no,” I say, propping a hip against the porch railing and pushing my hair out of my eyes. Even El is looking a little shiny.
“I’m happy for you,” I tell her, but she just shakes her head, looking up at the porch ceiling for a second.
“Maybe practice saying that so you don’t sound like you’re dying,” she says, and I shift my weight from one foot to the other, arms crossed. The wind is picking up a little bit now, but strands of hair still stick to my face and neck.
“Maybe if two weeks ago, my boyfriend hadn’t decided to use my connection to you to score a little extra cash, I’d be happier, but he did, so I’m not.”
“How is it my fault that you have terrible taste in boys?”
“Michael was not terrible,” I say, even though half an hour ago, I for sure thought he was pretty terrible.
“I know it’s really hard for you to comprehend that not everything is about you, Daisy,” Ellie goes on, “but—”
“It’s not!” I interrupt, and here we go again. Maybe the seven years between our ages is too much, maybe we’re just too different, but put me and Ellie in a room together for more than ten minutes, and we always end up here somehow. “I get it,” I go on, “but you’re not thinking about us. Like, I know it’s going to be super sweet to be a princess and all, but none of us signed up for that. For tabloids and pictures and”—I wave one hand at the car of bodyguards—“that.”
Huffing out a breath, Ellie shoves her hands into her back pockets. She’s definitely sweaty now, and it’s honestly a relief to see some of her princess coating cracking.
“Well, life isn’t always fair,” she says, “and I’m dreadfully sorry my falling in love with a wonderful man is an inconvenience to you.”
I snort. “Oh, right, because you’d’ve fallen for Alex even if he worked at the Sur-N-Sav, I’m so sure.”
Ellie’s eyebrows nearly shoot up into her hairline. “What is that supposed to mean?”
But before I can answer her, I glance up and catch a glimpse of what’s happening through the front window, and—
“Oh god, Mom,” I say, and Ellie whips around, giving me a face-full of blond hair.
“No!” she gasps, and we both scramble for the front door, united for once.
Mom is sitting on the couch next to the future king of Scotland, one arm wrapped around his shoulders, the other holding her phone out.
She may be old-fashioned about her writing, but when it comes to phones, Mom is very up on her technology, which means in the past year or so, she has become Queen of the Selfies. And then some evil person, probably our neighbor, Mrs. Claire, taught her about silly filters, and our lives have been a hell of dog faces and anime eyes and unicorn horns ever since.
God love him, Alex is smiling gamely as Mom lowers her phone, chuckling. “Oh, this is a new one, this is perfect!” she crows before turning her phone to face us.
There are Alex and my mom, both wearing oversize cartoon crowns and heavy chains around their necks, a bubble coming out of Alex’s mouth that reads, “It’s good to be king.”
“Mom,” Ellie says, like Mom just stabbed Alex in the face as opposed to taking a goofy selfie with him, but she waves Ellie off, still chuckling as she types. “Oh, relax, Eleanor, he’s family now! And it’s not as though I’m going to put it on Facebook or some nonsense. It will just be for me.”
For her and twenty of the ladies she knows around town would be my guess.
“It’s a very good picture of us,” Alex says, and Ellie and I both turn to look at him. Maybe he’s not a prince so much as a saint.
Then Dad sticks his head out of the kitchen, a bottle of champagne in one hand. “Shall I open this, then? Granted, I can’t drink any. Last time I had champagne was 1996, and I ended up snogging Ewan McGregor in the lobby of the Mandarin Hotel.” He shrugs. “Very pretty bloke, must say, didn’t mind a bit. But anyway, since then, off the sauce for me. Well, not just because of the kiss, because of all the other stuff as well, you know.” Dad waves his hand. “Addictions, car accidents, life ruination, and such.”
Peeling the gold foil from the champagne, he gestures toward Alex with the bottle. “Now, there’s a story for you. That last big hurrah, before I gave it all up for good, happened in Scotland, actually, and involved one of those shaggy cows you have up there. I don’t know if you know many of those cows by name, but this one was called Eliza. No, Elspeth.”
Dad wanders back into the kitchen, still expounding on Scotland and cows and a stolen train, and I look over at Alex, sitting on the couch, his hands locked together between his knees as my sister goes to sit next to him, a hand on his shoulder.
“Welcome to the family,” I mutter.
THE BRIDE WORE PLAID
Or she will? Maybe a sash at least? WE CAN HOPE. So Prince Alexander of Scotland announced his engagement to Actual Human Barbie Doll Ellie Winters (ugh, that naaaame! Shouldn’t she be the plucky lead on some kind of lawyer show set in the Deep South? Oh, wait, I bet we’ll have to call her Eleanor now because ROYAL). Anyway, Eleanor-Not-Ellie has been dating the utter snooze that is Prince Alexander for like ages now, so no one is really surprised, although it’s been a long time since Scotland had a royal wedding, and given this particular family, I’m expecting things will be balls OUT.
The wedding will be in December in Edinburgh—blah blah, WEDDING STUFF—let some other blog handle that. Let’s get to the REAL questions:
Is Seb going to bring a date? If so, can it be me?
Are the “Royal Wreckers” going to throw a bachelor party—sorry, “STAG NIGHT”? How many people will be arrested/deported/killed if they do?
Does Eleanor-Not-Ellie even HAVE a family to come to this thing, or is she a fembot? (You know MY vote.)
No, seriously, how come we never hear about her family? People cannot shut UP about a Certain Sister of a Certain Royal down in London, so how come we haven’t heard anything about Eleanor-Not-Ellie’s peeps? Hmmmmm . . .
(“The Bride Wore Plaid,” from Crown Town)
“Your new brother-in-law really is super hot,” Isabel says, and I frown at her over the top of our laptops. We’re sitting at a small table in the corner of the Bean Grinder, Perdido’s one and only coffee shop, and while we’re supposed to be taking a practice SAT test, it’s clear Isabel is using the internet for something very different.
“A,” I tell her, “he is not my brother-in-law yet, and B, what happened to helping me ignore all things Ellie?”
Isabel doesn’t even bother to look guilty as she sucks the straw of her iced white chocolate mocha. “That was back when Ellie was just dating a prince, not when she was marrying one,” she reminds me, “and since you’re so determined to ignore everything, I figure someone needs to keep an eye on you.”