Chapter Three

Jeeze! Why do girls giggle so much? I interviewed seven girls already, and I can't even remember their names. It's a good thing they have their names pinned on the dress. What would I do without that... I have three safe questions to ask them if I'm stuck – which happens a lot, I'm afraid – and I might look like an idiot if they start talking together and realise I've been using the same thing on all of them.

The next girl is coming. Ugh, focus, Logan!

"Oh, Lady Caitlynn!"

"Your Majesty." She curtsied low. At least I knew what to talk about with her.

Wispering, I asked with a mocking scorn on my face : "Did you sleep last night, or did you read?"

She giggled. "I'm not telling you." Those dimples were really cute.

"All right... that tells me you read." I shook a finger in front of her nose, trying to supress a smile.

She lifted her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay! Yes I read. But I slept, too." Keeping a straight face was hard, for both of us.

"What? You managed to put the book down?" I was impressed.

"Not really. I just fell asleep and the book fell on my belly. I woke up this morning with the light still on."

I chuckled. I couldn't undertsand readers. Reading was such a waste of time, and I never fell asleep reading a book. I never read a book I didn't have to read.

"I never read that book," or any other, for that matter, "so when you finish it, you'll have to tell me the story. During our next conversation, I'm afraid."

She curtsied. "It was nice talking to you again, Your Majesty."

"Just Logan."

She smiled – damn those dimples! – and walked away, sending the next girl over.

"Your Highness." She akwardly curtsied very low, and I couldn't read her name. I really should have at least learned them. Too late for that now.

"Good morning. Did you sleep well on your first night?"

She straightened. Good. I could read her name.

"Yes! Gosh, those beds are so comfortable, I couldn't get out this morning." She giggled. Why do girls giggle all the time?

"I totally agree, the beds are heaven. Tell me, Paralee, where does your name come from? I've never heard it before..."

I felt her blushing, but her dark skin covered it well. "I'm from Dominica. It's a very common name there."

"Oh. Well it's very pretty!" Damn, my small talk sucks...

She smiled wildly, revealing even white teeth, and did a small curtsey. "Thank you, Your Highness!"

"Please, just Logan is fine. But I'm afraid our time is over..."

"Of course. I'll send the next one."

"Thank you."

She left, without even looking back, like some did before her, winking above their shoulder. My belly grumbled. Ugh. 26 more to go before breakfast. This was torture!

"Your Majesty." I snapped back to the task at hand. The most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes opon was in front on me, curtsying. My heart missed a beat, but I recovered fast.

"Lady Haley Ann. Good morning." I held out my hand and she took it with a lacy gloved hand. I kissed the back of it, unable to take my eyes off her. She wore a strapless tealength red wine coloured dress and her hair was styled in a very intricate manner I did not venture on understanding how it all held together. "My goodness, you look beautiful!" Did I really just say that?

She blushed almost as red as her dress. "Why, thank you, Your Majesty. Not a lot of people say that to me..."

"Please just call me Logan. Why don't people tell you that?" I couldn't believe it.

She shrugged and I let go of her hand, inviting her to sit on the couch beside me. "I don't know. Maybe because I don't fit in the beauty standards. You can see I'm definitely not a model. Men like skinny girls, I'm afraid."

I shook my head. "That, Lady Haley Ann, is incorrect. Because I don't like skinny girls." I chuckled. I couldn't believe I was actually saying that.

She lifted an eybrow. "That's impossible." She shook her head, but I could see hope in her eyes. I bet she came here thinking she would be the first one to go home. But if I could, with her help, show women of Illéa that being a model is not the only standard of beauty, I was more then willing to keep her here as long as I could. "Oh and by the way, it's just Haley."

"Very well, Lady Haley, I-"

"No, no, no, not 'Lady', just plain old 'Haley'. Please."

I smiled. I liked her already. Jeeze, she was breathtaking! "All right. I'm afraid this is all the time we can have for now, I have 25 other girls to meet."

Her laugh was very clear and ringing, I wanted to laugh with her at this akward '35 grilfriend situation' I was in. "No problem, Logan. Until next time, then?"

"Very much looking forward to it." I kissed her lace gloved hand and she left, and sent the next girl over.

I'm afraid I wasn't very focused on the next 25 interviews. My gaze kept going back to Haley. The next girls came and went, politely answering my three safe questions. I was talking like I was a machine, but didn't memorise anything they said. What an idiot. Most of them were pretty boring to listen to or to look at. Haley Ann kept coming to the front of my mind, even covering up Lady Caitlynn in my head.

I realised that none of them had a chance with Haley around. But I would give them a chance, just for the sake of the show.

Finally, the last girl – Kortney – came and went, too, and we could start breakfast. I stood and I had to adress the girls. Talking to crowds, I could do.

"Ladies, thank you for your patience, I'm sure you are all as hungry as I am. Please follow me to the dining room."

I gave my arm to the closest one – Adell, I read on her pin – and led them to the dining room. Father and mother were already there, with my three brothers. I kissed Adell's hand and went to my seat on father's left, next to Rodrick.

"Did you eliminate some of them?" his voice quickly told me I should have done that.

"No father." I lowered my voice, so only he could hear. "I want to give them all an equal chance and have at least one date with each young Lady." I kept my head straight, not looking at him, but feeling he wasn't happy.

He hissed. "That's not how it should be done. You should have elimintaed at least five!"

"I'm sorry father, but this is my Selection, I decide what I do." I saw my father clutching his fist on the table but I didn't move. I had a feeling my morning working with him wouldn't be pleasant. He hated it when I talked back to him. But I wasn't a chlid anymore. I was an grown man, trying to figure out how I was going to choose my wife – my wife, for goodness' sake! – in the midst of all those girls. I wouldn't let him dictate that to me, and I promised myself I would keep my ground on this matter. He could do whatever he wanted to me, as long as my wife would be of my choosing, and not his.

I tried to protract my breakfast last as long as I could, not wanting to be locked up with my father in his office. I looked at the girls enjoying their first breakfast at the Palace. I wondered how many had hever had a full meal like this before. I wanted all of them to stay, at least so they could go home with a full stomach, but I knew I had to start emilinating them.

And, slowly, a plan took form in my mind. I would try to get over the fact that almost all of them were too thin for my liking, but I was willing to give each one a chance with a date. I chuckled at how generous I was. Father would never have done that. He only cared about his own self, and perhaps about the Queen, too. Sometimes I even wondered if he liked his people.

I wanted to be a better King then him, but I had no idea when he would give me his throne and crown. I had a feeling he was going to postpone that as long as he could, and even when he did, he would be the one pulling the strings. His advisors were all fully loyal and devoted to him, I would have to change all of them.

But this was for another time, I had to go back to work, now. I excused myself and headed for father's Office. I braced myself, took a deep breath and oppened the door.