Message From The Author
Whoever said one has to kiss a lot of frogs before a prince is found was right, thinks Princess Laurentia, the heroine of my new book, Someday My Prince.
The eager suitors vying for her hand will try just
about anything to win her favor
Bertinierre, May 1829
Excuse me? Excuse me, my good man, but I am Mr. Andrew N. Sharparrow of London, England, and I need a love potion.
Boutibonne the pharmacist raised his head from his mortar and pestle. With his sharp old eyes, he observed the dandy standing in the doorway of his small shop, and smiled. All morning long, it had been the same thing. Hed sold more love potions since this whole madness started than he had in his whole life before. Young or old? he asked as if he didnt already know the answer.
Mr. Sharparrow drew himself up to his full, but meager height. Im twenty-eight years old! Im quite young.
Boutibonne would have pegged him more at thirty-five, but the Englishman could lie if it pleased him. I meant the lady. Are you trying to seduce an older woman for her fortune or a younger woman from her virtue?
Oh. Mr. Sharparrow glanced behind him and sidled into the dim and musty shop. The lady is having her twenty-fifth birthday.
Just like our Princess Laurentia, Boutibonne said with false surprise. Say, youre not one of her suitors, are you?
Wellyes, actually, I am. Mr. Sharparrow adjusted his waistcoat. What tipped you off?
Rising, Boutibonne pulled a few corked bottles off dusty shelves. I dont get many aristocratic gentlemen in my shop, sir.
I dont suppose you do. The Englishman glanced around disdainfully and wrinkled his nose, then glanced at Boutibonne craftily. That means none of the other suitors have thought of this.
No, sir, Boutibonne lied easily. Not a one. So youre trying to seduce the princess for her fortune. That requires a very special potion. I warn you, its going to cost.
How much? Mr. Sharparrow asked. When Boutibonne told him, he stood very still as if in pain. Then he nodded. Very well. But this had better be a good potion.
The best. Boutibonne had raised the price with every new suitor to enter his shop. Hed soon have enough for a trip to see
his daughter and her new babe. As he mixed the innocuous herbs, he asked, So your suit isnt going too well, heh?
Mr. Sharparrow straightened from his examination of various canisters on the counter. It was going very well until yesterday.
Last night was the grand ball, wasnt it?
Yes. The ball was the moment every gentleman here has been scheming for. Mr. Sharparrow struck a pose. I dont suppose youve ever been to the palace. Its a grand edifice with marble floors, mirrors on the walls and chandeliers alight with a thousand candles. Mind you, when I heard that the king of Bertinierre announced he would give a great ball to celebrate his daughters twenty-fifth birthday and there she would choose her husband, I thought it was too good to be true. I thought Bertinierre must be a barbarous country, the palace in shambles and the princess a hag. But I thought, why not? I have a certain amount of charm, if I do say so myself. I could win the hag, and its not as if I have any other prospects. He cleared his throat as if he hadnt meant to say that.
Boutibonne pretended he hadnt noticed the slip. Bertinierre is small, but beautiful, heh?
Beautiful? Its wealthy! So very wealthy. Mr. Sharparrow drew a breath as if the thought of so much money had him all atwitter. And the princess is quite lovely for a woman of twenty-five.
Too old for you? Boutibonne finished mixing the potion, filled a small flask, and corked it.
A little long in the tooth, but so much better than I expected. And Ive seen her watching me. I think she likes me.
Then why the love potion?
Mr. Sharparrow deflated. Its that blackguard Dominic of Baminia. Hes a nobody, a mercenary with a long scar and a nasty way about him. The princess is infatuated.
Boutibonne held out his hand, palm up. Princess Laurentia is usually so sensible. Why would she be infatuated with an ugly
mercenary with a nasty way about him?
Mr. Sharparrow pulled out his money, counted out the charge, and placed it in Boutibonnes palm. Who understands women?
Who indeed? Boutibonne handed over the flask, and when Mr. Sharparrow had left the shop, said, Perhaps Dominic of Baminia. He seated himself at his table again and picked up his mortar. The door opened, he looked up.
And a stout gentleman with a pronounced German accent announced, I vant a love potion.
Winning isnt everythingits the only thing. Unless you lose. Then nothing beats a good excuse. Visit Christinas
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