Black Moon Draw (Chapter Seven, page 2 of 14)

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Everything she does is unnaturally graceful. Slender, tall and with a posture that tells me she doesn't spend eight hours a day at a desk, and a slightly upturned nose I'm instantly jealous of, she's a character worthy of her own fairy tale.

"Thank you," I say finally in the awkward silence.

"I have never met a battle-witch." There's excitement on her features and she glances nervously over her shoulder. "A princess does not normally concern herself with war."

Ugh! I've always had a love-hate relationship with Disney princesses and real live princesses from other countries. Until now, I never really thought myself too unworthy of being one, because it's what's on the inside that counts. Right?

Nope. This woman is every bit what a princess should be. I'm smaller than her in stature, without her Grace Kelly jawline and baby doll eyes. I have stretch marks on my hips from where I grew too fast between the ages of eleven and thirteen, acne scars on my back, and an aversion to dresses.

How did I ever think I could be a princess? I can almost feel my self-esteem drop several pegs. If I have to be stuck in a book, why don't I get to be the prettiest girl?

"'Tis an honor." She curtseys. "Is there aught I can help you with?"

To make matters worse, she's nice.

I need to get out of here.

"I was going to find the Shadow Knight," I reply. "Where is he?"

"At battle with Green Dawn Cave. They attacked us last night out of nowhere, perhaps when they heard the news about you," she says, concern on her perfect princess features. "Are you well enough to venture onto the battlefield?"

"Apparently I'm invincible." I stare at my new hand, a little squeamish at the idea it grew back overnight.

"You missed a most wonderful battle! I have recorded it here." The squire starts and fumbles with a satchel, drawing out scrolls. "We defeated the advance party of Green Dawn Cave last -"

With no clue or interest about his story, I stand. I'm refreshed - but at a loss as to why I'm still here. "So if he's at battle, there's no one to chase me down, right?"

The boy gives a half-hearted nod. "Do you wish your robes?"

"Sure." I'm in what appears to be a nightgown. It's opaque and heavy, the material scratchy. Wool maybe?

He retrieves a gown of deep purple from a satchel with such reverence, I almost laugh. Setting it on the bed, he promptly turns his back so I can change.

"Allow me to assist you," the princess says. She takes the clothing and sets it down, shaking out a gown. Even her hands are delicate, her nails filed to perfect ovals.

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