CeCe's alarm rang and she groaned as she reached over to hit the snooze button. With a jolt of realization, she remembered it was Saturday morning. Gasping, she sat up, grabbing at the clock desperately. How many times had she pushed snooze already? Please don't let it be too late! The numbers stared up at her. 5:45.
No! She didn't have much time, probably not enough, but she was going to try! Launching herself out of bed, CeCe hurried to get dressed. She ran her fingers through her hair, hoping that it didn't look like a complete mess as she hurried out of the apartment.
Faster, faster! She thought to herself as she dashed to the street corner and managed to flag down a cab. She shouted at the driver that she had to get to the airport and then nervously jiggled her foot all the way there.
As soon as they reached the unloading zone, before the car had even stopped moving, CeCe tossed a handful of cash at the driver and bailed from the taxi. Even as she hurried toward the airport, she saw the bright orange airplane with the name of the Eastern European airline take off.
Slowing her steps until she came to a stop, CeCe was left standing in the middle of the sidewalk. People passed by on either side of her, tugging along luggage, calling out to family, and hugging goodbye. She couldn't here anything though. Her world had narrowed down to a vanishing spot of bright color in the sky. She was too late. She knew that she was good at messing things up, but this felt too cruel.
"CeCe." CeCe heard someone say her name, but it sounded far away and distant. "CeCe," the person repeated and she felt someone grab her arm and spin her around.
CeCe took a moment to register who was standing in front of her. The bright silver jacket over the glittering blue shirt could only belong to a Hessenheffer though. She took in his face and wondered if it hadn't worked after all. Maybe Prince Gunther was still stuck here. "Gunther? Did you not go back to your time?" she asked, confused.
"No, I'm me," Gunther spread his arms out, nearly hitting a man in a business suit arguing on his cell phone.
That accent. It wasn't the accent she'd heard for the last week. It was the one she was so familiar with. CeCe didn't even have time to really process what was going on as she involuntarily sprung forward and hugged him tightly around his waist.
"Whoa! Careful," Gunther was laughing as his arms wrapped around her. They held onto each other for a moment, both visibly relieved to be reunited.
When CeCe finally pulled back, she looked straight up at him. "I don't want you to leave," she pleaded, arms still around his waist. "I mean at least not until we've given this a chance."
Gunther was smiling back down at her, his eyes glittering with happiness. "It would be a little difficult for me to leave now that I've missed my flight. I didn't want to leave anyway, so it's a good thing that you're not going to try to chase me off."
The two of them couldn't help, but smile at each other. "I didn't know how I felt about you until I realized what it would be like without you," CeCe explained.
"I knew how I felt, but I didn't have the courage to tell you until I was about to be sent away. Can we call it even?" Gunther moved his hands to rest them on her shoulders. "I mean, as long as you didn't fall for my past self while I was gone."
CeCe pushed herself up on her tiptoes, pressing her lips to Gunther's mouth. It was their first kiss, but there was something perfect about it. Gunther kissed her back with the same feeling, one of his hands sliding through her hair.
As she broke the kiss, CeCe met Gunther's eyes, trying her best not to blush. "I think that makes it clear which one of you I want," she said.
Gunther was grinning at her. "You know what I learned?"
"What?" CeCe asked, curiously regarding him.
"That you loved me in every lifetime," Gunther teased her.
CeCe playfully scowled at him, taking his hand as she led him away from the airport. "Keep telling yourself that."
A few weeks later, Rocky slid into the booth at Crusty's. Gunther and CeCe were seated across from her, their hands intertwined and whispering. "Ahem," Rocky interrupted them, setting her backpack down loudly on the table.
CeCe looked over at Rocky with a broad smile. "Well, what did you find out?"
After they had met up at the airport, CeCe and Gunther had gone back to the Hessenheffers' house. They had searched for the letter to return Gunther's refusal, but they couldn't find it or the airline ticket anywhere. It was like Gunther had never received any notice from the old country at all.
"Turns out that Gunther is not the only choice for heir, so they didn't have to contact him," Rocky pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack. "A distant cousin of Gunther's is taking the throne."
"What distant cousin?" Gunther asked, frowning in confusion.
Rocky hit out a little drumroll on the table. "It's the great, great, great, great, great…."
"We get it, Rocky," CeCe rolled her eyes, waving her hand to encourage Rocky to get to the point.
"Grandson of a Prince Gunther, educated in England, and his wife, the famous ballerina, Cecelia," Rocky finished with a wink.
Gunther and CeCe looked at each other in surprise. "We changed time?" CeCe gasped.
"I think we just fixed it to the way it was supposed to be," Gunther put an arm around her shoulders and leaned back against the booth.
CeCe breathed deeply, feeling more content than she could ever remember feeling. Some things are just meant to be. In every lifetime.