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Dancing Skates

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CHAPTER 1

October 10
Dear Saeli,
I hope you are well back at Ricardson Manor. I am very sorry to say that I won’t be back for three months. When I return, I will have many gifts for you, your stepmother, and stepsisters. I hope they are treating you kindly and you are getting along with them. Your stepmother Eleanora is a very beautiful and pleasant lady, the perfect duchess for our kingdom of Aragon; please try to be respectful to her. It would please me if you tried to be friends with Araminta and Kalina, too. As the duke, the journeys to the nearby kingdoms are important to me, so I hope you won’t cause trouble that requires me to return. I mean this Saeli; do not go looking for trouble. As you know, the Winter Solstice Festival will be held in two months with many festivities, a feast, and most important of all, the Ice Dance. I hope you’ll meet some kindhearted young men at the dance. Your mother, Rosetalia, would be so proud if she knew about your skating skills. As you’ve been told many times, you are the exact image of your mother, with the same long, wavy black hair and bright emerald eyes framed with long lashes. She was an exquisite ice dancer, you inherited her talent. Your mother was matched with me on her last Ice Dance and I remember everything so clearly, as if it were just yesterday. The gown she wore was exquisite but sadly, no one knows where it is now. If you ever find it, keep it; she’d want you to have it. Since I will not be back in time to see you at the Ice Dance, I wish you best of luck and hope you have a wonderful time. Keep up the good work in your classes; I’ve heard from Reina and many others that you are an amazing horseback rider and I am glad you and Nightshade have gotten along. I will be back in time to see you perform in the Riding Championships, so keep practicing. Continue to practice your fencing with Sir Thoren and at least try to do well in your etiquette class. I hope to see progress when I come back in three weeks. And remember; do not go looking for trouble.
Your loving father,
Xavier Ricardson
Duke Ricardson
Master of Ricardson Manor

I folded the letter in half and carefully placed it in my wooden treasure box. This petite, little mahogany box was my mother’s jewelry box, passed down to me. I used it to hold my most treasured possessions. This included all my father’s letters, a silver comb studded with diamonds that belonged to my mother as well, and a beautiful blue-green albatross feather my father brought back from sea once. I dipped my pen into the inkpot and held it over a fresh piece of parchment, poised to write.

October 13
Dear father,
I am very well, thank you. But I am shocked to hear you will be missing my birthday. Madam Eleanora (I refuse to call her mother or stepmother) is not mistreating me, but she is not treating me like a daughter either. Once you left, my old toy room became my bedroom. My luxury bedroom now belongs to Kalina and Araminta. Everyday, I have to put up with Araminta and Kalina bickering and ordering me around. I tend to ignore their orders, but I still end up doing most of them. My two witches of a sister (I apologize for the name calling, but it is true) treat me like a maid, but I make sure to let them know I am most definitely not. Madam Eleanora is cold to me, her words are those to a stranger, but she still lets me have freedom. As you probably know, my stepsisters have stolen most of my belongings and most of mother’s too, but I still have my clothes and shoes. By the way, I have been practicing my skating every day on the frozen pond near our manor; many people tell me I am very talented. I am hoping I will have a chance to dance with Prince, or as you know him, Prince Joreneth II. Every girl in the kingdom is madly in love with him and I am no exception. But I am highly in doubt that he even knows I exist. I remember that when we were small, you used to bring me along to the palace and Prince and I would often play together. I still remember, of course, but I’m sure those old memories have long slipped his mind.

Araminta and Kalina are madly in love with him and I laugh to think Prince would dance with them. But my heart feels heavy for I know they have a better chance than I do. With much fancier dresses, jewels, and furs, they can capture his attention before he can even glance at me in my hand-me-down gowns. And since Madam Eleanora is now the duchess, she gets to bring Araminta and Kalina to the palace whenever she wants. She rarely ever brings me though. I haven’t been to the palace since your wedding to Madam Eleanora. Maybe when you return, you can take me to see the palace again. I would so love to see the gardens and the pond. As I was saying, as the Ice Dance gets closer, Araminta and Kalina try on all sorts of outfits and skates, getting nastier every day. I think they are jealous that I can skate better than them. They are rude to me and try every possible way to stop me from practicing and trying to piece together my own gown. I have only just finished tightening the waist and shortening the sleeves of a pale blue gown that used to be Kalina’s. Three months is a long time, father, but I can endure.

P.S. I don’t go looking for trouble, father, trouble usually finds me.

Your loving daughter,
Saeli Ricardson




I read over my letter with satisfaction. I didn’t feel the least bit guilt badmouthing my stepmother and stepsisters. When my mother, Madam Rosetalia, mysteriously disappeared, I was only nine. Everyone presumed her dead and my father was grief-stricken. But I still have a sliver of hope that she is alive. Somewhere beyond Aragon, past the rolling snow-capped mountains and the thick, dangerous forests, my mother was waiting for someone to rescue her. Soon, my father took another wife to replace my mother as duchess. Madam Eleanora had two daughters already, both a year older. They were Kalina and Araminta, and both were ten-year-old clones of her. Not to mention spoiled. Once I was ten, Madam Eleanora had sent me around the house like a maid, scrubbing floors, and washing clothes. My father had put a stop to that, but whenever he went on trips over the sea, Madam Eleanora would return to this maid treatment. But after three years of that, I had had enough. Just a few months or so ago, I had spoken to Madam Eleanora that I would not tolerate this treatment for any longer. Of course, my stepmother did not fully relent, but didn’t force me to do work and grudgingly allowed me more privileges. But even so, her attitude to me was more like mistress to servant than mother to daughter. Now that I would be 14 in less than a week (the official age to go to royal balls, parties, and events like the Ice Dance), Madam Eleanora knew that her own precious daughters had competition. She knew that I was just as pretty, talented, and graceful, as her own daughters, maybe even more, and I had a hunch that this was why she was always so cold to me.

I sealed my letter and stood up from my desk. In the candlelight, I saw that the clock only read 7:30. I had half an hour before my stepfamily woke. Silently, I blew out the candle and left my cozy, little room.
Like I had said in my letter, once father left, Madam Eleanora had given my large, beautiful room to her own two daughters and had me stay in my old toy room. There was just enough room for a bed, a closet, a desk, and chair. But I loved my toy room; it didn’t matter much to me that my giant wardrobe, balcony, vanity set, and most of my belongings belonged to my stepsisters now. At least my clothes weren’t taken from me; Madam had said I could keep them because they were not Kalina and Araminta’s style, but I knew better. The only reason my beautiful gowns weren’t taken was because my stepsisters were too large to fit into them. Or my shoes either. Though they were both hourglass figures, they were much too tall and therefore could not possibly fir into my petite gowns. And their feet, for some strange reason, were huge (I’ve always wondered if one of their ancestors was a giant or a giantess)! No, none of that mattered. What mattered was that when they couldn’t take my things, my stepsisters had raided my mother’s jewels, furs, and gowns, snatching as much as their greedy hands could get. I had just managed to hide away some of the precious belongings before my stepsisters could take them. This included the comb I had in my treasure box, a sapphire necklace, a pair of satin gloves, and a few of my mother’s old gowns and jewelry. Sadly, I had not been able to find the gown that my mother had worn to her first Ice Dance. But I knew my stepsisters never got their hands on it either so that gave me some comfort.

Quietly, I closed my bedroom door and tiptoed down the hallway. My bare feet made no sound as I hurried down the spiraling marble staircase of the mansion and down to the Grand Hall. At the bottom, I turned to the left and tiptoed towards a door labeled “KITCHEN” in faded gold lettering. There was light streaming out from a crack and I could hear the cooks preparing the morning meal. I slipped in and closed the door behind me.



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Lilybird said...
Feb. 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm
Ok so, I'm deleting this and the continuations as well. Instead, I'm re-submitting it as a novel. So if anyone wants to read it, it'll be in the Novel category :)
 
Lilybird said...
Oct. 2, 2010 at 8:23 pm
Please comment! I need feedback!
 
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