Genre: High Fantasy
Title: Lily And Lion
35-Word Pitch: After rejecting his proposal, 18-year-old Princess Callie realizes she loves Prince Rory, but now he’s engaged to her sister. When their mutual enemy attacks, they must put aside their forbidden love to save their kingdoms.
First 500: The bell sounds as I come to the balcony at the top of the entryway stairs, and my hands begin to shake. Below, a pair of footmen open the heavy wooden doors, and he walks in. It’s only Rory, I scold myself, yet my fingers find the wrought-iron banister and I can’t get them loose again.
A gust of wind sweeps in the open door, ruffling the black frock coat he wears over plain traveling clothes. The breeze climbs all the way up the stair to touch my cheek, and Rory’s gaze follows. He pulls the top hat from his golden head, and his hazel eyes find mine.
All at once I know I’ve made a terrible, horrible mistake.
It’s impossible to breathe. Every second of every day since the last time we saw each other thrums in my veins, keeping time with the grandfather clock in the entry below. I suddenly understand exactly what I’ve done, and the consequences I never could have predicted.
He’s not here for me, not this time. I have to remember that. Yet the shining of his eyes makes it impossible, and I’m thrown back into that same memory, the one that haunts my every step. The one I kept coming back to, even before I understood.
Marry me, he asks.
“Hello, Calla Lily.”
The sound of the doors swinging shut almost swallows his quiet words. I hear them anyway. I should reply. I mean to reply. But I’ve been ripped open.
I close my eyes, but it doesn’t help. I still feel the horrible aching need to reach out and draw him to me. As if by holding him I could fix everything I now know I’ve utterly ruined.
I’m not ready for this.
And I really don’t like him calling me that.
Footsteps sound in the hall below, and I open my eyes to see my mother appear in the vestibule. Her brown hair is swept up into a hasty chignon, with bits of white flour staining the hem of her blue and white striped bustle gown. White-haired, white-skinned Dahlia walks a few paces behind, all perfectly polished elegance. The sight of her starts anger surging inside me like I've never felt before. It isn't her fault, and she doesn’t deserve the blame. But she gets it anyway.
“Your highness,” my mother says, her plump arms open in welcome. Rory tears his eyes away from mine. “We’re so glad you made it, aren’t we Dahlia?”
Rory sketches an elegant bow, not that I’d expect anything less from him. My mother laughs and pulls him into a hug, leaving white fingerprints on the back of his coat. We’ve all known each other too long for such formality.
“Thank you, your majesty.” The title falls fondly from Rory’s lips, more like a nickname than an honorific. She releases him. I watch as he turns to the girl beside our mother, and takes her hand, raising it to his lips. My insides seethe.