Bella gritted her teeth for the hundredth time. If the tailor stabbed one more pin through the fabric of the overpriced gown and into her flesh, she would bribe one of her brothers to kill him. Surely they could see the need to have one less pin stabber in the world.
“Miss Bella if you would please stop fidgeting,” the vicious attacker pleaded.
“You could speed it up too,” Bella snapped. How did she let herself be persuaded into getting a new dress for this stupid dinner?
“Now Bella Bean the man is only doing his job,” Tyme teased from the doorway.
Bella eyed the dagger her brother had strapped to his belt. He wisely kept his distance. “What are you doing here?”
“I thought I’d see the latest contender for the position of queen.”
“I prefer the position of chef.” She refused to address the fact that the king made her heart race a bit faster or that he was an amazing father. She could completely ignore his sexy grin or the tingles on her skin when their hands accidentally touched.
“Are you sure?” Her brother’s taunting grin made her scowl at him.
“You do realize eventually you’ll have to sleep,” Bella reminded him.
Tyme snorted. “Like you’d do anything.”
Bella gave him her sisterly smile. The one that revealed the evil plans lurking beneath. “Are you still dating Cindy?”
Tyme paled, losing his grin. “You wouldn’t.”
“You know I have her number, right?”
“Now Bella you know I was only teasing.”
Bella raised an eyebrow at her brother. “Have you asked Cindy to marry you yet?”
Tyme cleared his throat. “W-we’re not at that stage yet,” he stammered.
“Really? Does Cindy know that?”
“Um. You look real pretty Bella.” Tyme backed out of the room and disappeared.
Bella enjoyed the temporary rush of victory. Who knew when she’d get the upper hand on one of her brothers again?
“We can change you back now. I’ll have you dress ready in an hour and delivered to your rooms,” the tailor said.
“Good.” If she never had to stand for a fitting again it would be too soon. She let the tailor’s assistants help her out of her dress wincing as a stray pin scratched her. A drop of blood slid down her arm.
“Oh dear,” the tailor rushed forward and dabbed at her arm with a square of cloth. “I’ve got a bandage we can put on that.”
Bella glanced at the injury and shrugged. “It’s just a scratch.”
The tailor froze. “Are you sure?”
“I grew up with four brothers I’ve had worse injuries fighting for the sink before dinner.” Bella brushed away the fawning tailor and pulled on her work outfit. If she wouldn’t be able to cook anything for dinner maybe she’d go for a ride.
“If you’re certain.” The tailor looked like he might faint. Bella clapped him on the back.
“I’ll be fine. Which way are the stables?”
“South of the castle. I’ll have someone show you the way if you’d like.”
Bella shook her head. “I’ve got to change first.” She didn’t want to explain her irresistible, uncontrollable urge to escape to everyone. There was more than one reason she’d never had a long-term relationship.