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The True Story of Valentine’s Day by Annette Mori

The True Story of Valentine’s Day


Princess Tinesa hid in the corner watching her mother, Queen Amelah, gracefully approach her father as she stroked her hands over each other in a nervous gesture known only to the family. Her mother was the perfect Queen and Tinesa was her exact opposite in every way, except for her startling green eyes— the only trait she inherited from her mother.

She could almost hear her mother’s anxious words to her father. I don’t know what to do with that girl. She’s off again in the corner while several suitable companions mill about the ball waiting for her to notice them. She didn’t have to be a lip reader or mind reader to know these were the words out of her mother’s mouth—because this night was simply a repeat of the once a month ball, held in her honor for the last twelve months since she turned twenty-one.

Princess Tinesa was affectionately called Princess Tiny, but that wasn’t because she inherited her mother’s petite frame. Oh no, she had to take after her behemoth of a father. All efforts to hide in the corner were usually for naught, because how could one possibly hide when you’re over six feet tall and as broad as any of her father’s warriors.

Tiny groaned as her mother dragged her father, the King, over to where she was hiding. Her mother didn’t fight fair.

“Tinesa, you know this ball is in your honor. Please come out from your favorite hiding place and dance with these handsome suitors who keep asking where you are. Your father is embarrassed by your behavior.”

Tiny watched as her father made a face, that to her indicated he wanted no part of this exchange, but wasn’t about to cross her mother. She may be small, but her temper is mighty.

“What’s embarrassing is the fact that I tower over every one of those Princes that you’ve practically ordered to be present. Please don’t make me do this again.” Tiny hunched over even more in an effort to make herself smaller.

“Prince Andon is nearly as tall as you and he would make a fine King,” Amelah offered.

“Oh please, he is an arrogant, son of a…”

“Tinesa. Mind your tongue. Is that any way for a Princess or a lady to speak,” Amelah chastised.

“I’m only a Princess by birth and I am definitely not a lady,” Tiny retorted.

Amelah huffed, “You will go over there right now and do your duty. This conversation is over.”

“Father?” Tiny looked over to her father for support.

King Ismal coughed. “Would it be so hard to simply say hello, Tiny?”

Amelah glared at Ismal. “Why must you perpetuate that awful nickname, Ismal.”

“Sorry, my dear, the men have not given her this name in disrespect. You know how they all love her.”

“I don’t mind, Mother, at least the men treat me as an equal,” Tiny interjected.

“Yes, that is another thing I have been meaning to talk to you about, Ismal. Tinesa is not their equal—she is a Princess and should not be playing with swords and horses. None of the other Princesses in the other kingdoms are taught to wield a sword. Why must you treat her like a Prince versus a Princess?” Amelah asked.

“She begged me. How could I refuse my beautiful little Princess? Besides, she is quite talented with the sword.” Ismal puffed out his chest. “I am proud of her skill.” Ismal winked at Tiny.

Tiny thought her father would pay for that comment, but she wasn’t about to get in the middle of that debate. Tiny sighed, ultimately she knew she might win a battle here and there with her mother, but she would never win the war. She would be dancing with all the eligible Princes tonight whether she wanted to or not. Tiny glanced over to where everyone was politely dancing. She saw a crowd of her mother’s hand selected Princes creating a ring around someone or something. Her interest was piqued. I might as well do my duty and then maybe I can find out who or what is in the center of the circle.

“I’m going now, Mother. Can you please leave father alone?” Tiny stumbled toward the crowd of Princes.

The evening gown and high-heeled shoes her mother picked out for her looked out of place on her large frame. Tiny wasn’t really overweight, but she was definitely heavily muscled and her athletic structure filled out a tunic much more nicely than a gown. She wasn’t used to the high heels and kept tripping over her feet. She grumbled under her breath using colorful language she was sure her mother would chastise her for.

The clicking of her heels alerted the group of men and the circle disbanded to reveal the most beautiful woman Tiny had ever seen. Her long chestnut hair hung in soft waves delicately across her shoulders. Tiny captured her cerulean eyes that seemed to twinkle under the hundreds of candles alighting the room. The woman’s upturned lips uncovered a row of perfect white teeth. As she smiled, two flawless indents appeared on each cheek to expose her charming set of dimples.

The five Princes bowed and said in unison, “Princess Tinesa.”

Tiny couldn’t drag her eyes away from the beautiful newcomer and absently nodded at the five men.

“Princess Tinesa, I am honored to finally meet you,” the woman said.

Before Tiny could censor herself she reached over and took the woman’s small hand in her large calloused paw and placed a light butterfly kiss on her palm. “I’ve not seen you at a Royal Ball before.”

“We’ve only just arrived three weeks ago from the village Lancaster. I am called Valerie. Our village was destroyed and the King and Queen were gracious enough to let some of us settle here. I was pleased to receive the invitation from your mother, the Queen. She is a most gracious woman.”

“Destroyed?” Tiny inquired.

“Yes the famed red dragon was ruthless in her quest for revenge.” Valerie looked down. “I’m ashamed to admit that some of the men in the village found her lair and destroyed the egg of her young. I did not agree with their decision and although I mourn our losses, I believe her actions were just. She spared my family because we played no part in the destruction of her egg. A few of the men responsible escaped her wrath when they fled and took residence in the forests at the foot of the mountains. I believe they are amassing an army to try to take her down. They may seek audience with your father,” Valerie explained.

Prince Andon puffed out his chest. “Our Kingdom has vowed to join the fight and destroy all the remaining dragons. I will lead our warriors to victory. Your father should bring his warriors to the fight and join in the glory of this righteous battle.”

Tiny snorted. “I don’t think so. It sounds to me like the red dragon had every right to protect her young. We ought to be tracking down the men responsible for smashing the dragon egg. I’d sign up for that. I’d love to teach those cowards a lesson. The dragons have lived in our mountains for centuries and we have never had cause to fear them until those idiot men took it upon themselves to start this war.”

“What do you know? You are just a silly girl playing in the warriors ring. Surely your father will see the logic in eliminating a threat,” Andon spit out.

“You, Andon, are a horse’s ass.” Tiny spun around and faced her mother’s fiery expression. She grinned when she saw her father look like he was trying not to laugh. Tiny thought she heard a feminine chuckle and wondered if the fair maiden, Valerie, was responsible.

“Tinesa, you will apologize to Prince Andon right this instance,” her mother ordered.

Tiny shrugged then looked over her shoulder. “Sorry, asswipe.”

When Tiny looked over her shoulder she saw Valerie grinning at her before she stalked off and took residence in the corner of the ballroom where she had previously hidden from the chosen suitors.


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