Book: The Ugly Stepsister (Unfinished Fairy Tales Book 1)

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FORTY-TWO

 

 

Reader, I married him.

Not right after the ball, though. After discussing with the king and queen, we set the wedding date for six months later. The royal wedding required ample time to prepare. And neither Edward nor I were keen on marrying right away.

Galen tracked down Adam Snyder’s widow and extracted a written confession from her, thus sealing the proof that Elle is indeed the earl’s daughter, and therefore Lady Montgomery’s niece and also Poppy’s cousin. After being summoned to a few court hearings, Lady Bradshaw was ordered to yield two-thirds of her financial assets, along with Earl Bradshaw’s country estate, to Elle, who used a portion of the money to pay the remaining balance on the apartment for Mrs. Thatcher and Billy. With assistance from Mr. Davenport, she established a foundation for children from the poorest and most miserable classes. An orphanage and secondary school are to be benefited from the foundation’s support.

Much to my surprise, she did not agree to marry Henry—not in the near future anyway.

“I am no longer the poor servant girl who relies on him all the time. I have a job at the palace and I need to learn how to manage the foundation. Both of us need time to adjust to our new roles. And I also need time to get acquainted with my new family.”

Poppy and Mr. Davenport bought a middle-class townhouse with a loan from Sir Montgomery. She visited me at the palace frequently until she got pregnant. Elle volunteered some time to lend a helping hand to her cousin. With her deft, capable hands and sweet nature, she and Poppy got along exceedingly well.

Bianca disappeared from the capital for a few weeks. Meg later informed me that my ‘sister’ had tried to find the fairies (maybe she wanted another spell di amor), but lacking connections, she had no luck. When she returned and found Claire already engaged to Randall McVean, she accepted a proposal from Lord Mansfield’s nephew.

Lady Gregory has not gone back to Lysander, but Meg continues to visit her in the capital and keep her updated on her fairy husband. Meg has improved slightly with her magical abilities, but I still wouldn’t trust her to cast a spell that can last more than twenty-four hours.

I moved into the palace the very day after the ball, determined to spend as much time with Edward as possible. The king and queen welcomed me with enthusiasm; Bertram informs me they are simply thankful that I managed to convince Edward to tie the knot. For most of the time, we continue to work hard on improving the lives of the citizens. I introduce him to the concepts of sick leave, maternity pay, health insurance, etc., which deeply impress him. Leisurely hours are spent mostly in his private garden, where he gives me lessons in botany and gardening. I hardly remember anything, because we usually end up in a steamy make-out session. It’s one of the few places in the palace—along with the storage room—where we can get some privacy. Neither of us mention my leaving, so as not to spoil the little time we have together.

The wedding is to take place at the palace chapel, followed by a wedding lunch attended by only our closest friends, and then a chariot ride through the city as we depart for our honeymoon at one of the castles owned by Edward’s ancestors. I insist that the ceremony is kept as simple as possible. We don’t need to waste time discussing which cut of beef to be used in the appetizers, or how many species of flowers are to be included in the bridesmaids’ bouquets.

 

“And now, I proclaim you husband and wife.”

I look up and smile at Edward, who leans in, removes my filmy white veil, and kisses me. It’s a long, languorous kiss—I don’t want it to end. I wind my fingers in his hair and pull his head down to me; he locks his hands round my back and draws me close. I hear some noble lady make a disapproving remark of exhibiting unbridled passion in public.

Neither of us care. It’s the last kiss we have together. I ignore the hollowness in my stomach, swallow hard, and try to look the radiant part I should be showing, as a happy bride.

“I love you.”

We say at the same time. He smiles; I giggle. Wedding bells begin to toll.

And then the world starts to spin, faster and faster, like I’m on a mega-speed merry-go-round.

In the back of my mind, I hear Krev’s voice.

And so, they lived happily ever after.

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