TITLE: The Cracked Slipper
GENRE: Fantasy/Women's Fiction
In a ballroom packed with those who live their lives governed by strict decorum, a harried woman elbowing her way through the crowd attracts considerable attention. This is doubly true when the woman in question has been on the arm of the crown prince for most of the evening. She does not bother excusing herself; she plows on regardless of who blocks her path, be it a strapping soldier or a frail grandmother. Her corset is a tight fist around her chest, and she fights for a clean breath through a hundred conflicting perfumes and the scent of burning candles. The spell is slipping through her hands. She trips over pieces of tulle dangling from her petticoats and is jerked backwards as others step on what trails behind. It seems inevitable she will be left standing in the middle of the ballroom in her servant's rags.
The tide of her luck changes as the very person who seeks to prevent her from leaving unwittingly allows her escape. Trumpets blare, but the poor buglers are so suddenly and unexpectedly called upon that their normally synchronized fanfare becomes the braying of a troupe of confused donkeys. Callers bedecked in the royal colors of purple and green shout commands through golden megaphones.
"Fall back! Make way for Prince Gregory! Make way for the prince!"
Like hundreds of trained dogs the assembled guests retreat to the far sides of the ballroom. She finds herself alone in a wide aisle, a stranded bride in the heart of a great chapel.