Princess mia, p.1
Part #9 of The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
For Amanda Maciel, with love and thanks
“Ah, yes, your royal highness,” she said. “We are princesses I believe. At least one of us is.”
Sara felt the blood rush up into her face. She only just saved herself. If you were a princess, you did not fly into rages.
“It’s true,” she said. “Sometimes I do pretend I am a princess. I pretend I am a princess so I can try to behave like one.”
A LITTLE PRINCESS
Frances Hodgson Burnett
About the Author
Other Books by Meg Cabot
About the Publisher
Friday, September 10, 9 p.m., Beauty and the Beast, Lunt-Fontanne Theater, ladies’ lounge
He hasn’t called. I just checked with Mom.
I don’t think it’s completely fair of her to accuse me of believing the entire world revolves around my breakup with Michael. Because I don’t. Really. How was I supposed to know she’d just gotten Rocky down for the night? She should turn off the ringer if he’s turning into that much of a problem sleeper.
Anyway, there were no messages.
I guess I shouldn’t have expected there to be. I mean, I checked on his flight, and he’s not due to arrive in Japan for another fourteen hours.
And you aren’t allowed to use cell phones or PDAs while you’re actually in the air. At least, not for calls or text messaging.
Or answering e-mails.
But that’s okay. Really, it is. He’ll call.
He’ll get my e-mail and then he’ll call and we’ll make up and everything will go back to the way it was.
It has to.
In the meantime, I just have to go on as if things were normal. Well, as normal as things can be while waiting to hear back from your boyfriend of two years with whom you’ve broken up, but to whom you sent an apology e-mail because you realized you were completely and unequivocably wrong.
Especially since if you don’t get back together you know you’ll only live a sort of half life and be destined to have a series of meaningless relationships with supermodels.
Oh, wait. That’s my dad. Never mind.
But, you know. It’s me, too. Minus the supermodels.
Watching Beauty and the Beast tonight with J.P. has made me realize how completely stupid I’ve been this past week.
Not that I hadn’t realized it already. But the show has really driven it home.
Which is especially weird, since Michael and I have never exactly seen eye to eye on the theater. I mean, I could barely get Michael to go with me to see the kind of shows I like, which are primarily ones involving girls in hoop skirts and things that fly down from the ceiling of the theater (such as The Phantom of the Opera and Tarzan: The Musical ).
And on the few occasions he DID go with me, he spent the whole time leaning over and whispering, “I can see why this show is closing. No guy would really stand around singing to a talking teapot about how much he likes some girl. You know that, don’t you? And where is the full orchestra supposed to be coming from? I mean, they’re in a dungeon. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Which I used to think actually ruined the whole experience. As did Michael’s excusing himself every five minutes to go to the men’s room on the pretense of having drunk too much water at dinner. But really he was just checking for World of Warcraft alerts on his cell phone.
But even though I’m having a nice time here with J.P. and all, I can’t help wishing Michael were here to complain that Beauty and the Beast is just a cheesy Disney musical targeted at little kids, who are hardly discriminating viewers, and that the music’s really bad and the whole thing is just to get the tourists to spend money on expensive T-shirts, sippy cups, and glossy theater programs.
It’s especially sad he’s not here, because I realized tonight that the story of Beauty and the Beast is really the story of Michael and me.
Not the beauty part (of course). And not the beast part, either.
But the part about two people who start out being friends and don’t even realize they like each other until it’s almost too late….
That is totally us.
Except, of course, that Belle is smarter than I am. Like, would it really have mattered to Belle if the Beast, back before he ever held her captive in his castle, had hooked up with Judith Gershner, then failed to mention it?
No. Because that all happened BEFORE Belle and the Beast found each other. So what difference did it make?
I just can’t believe how stupid I’ve been about all this. I swear, even as cheesy as it is—and, okay, I have to admit, I can see the cheese factor in it now—Beauty and the Beast has brought new clarity to my life.
Which shouldn’t be all that surprising since it is, after all, a tale as old as time.
Anyway, I know in the past I’ve said my ideal man is one who can sit through an entire performance of Beauty and the Beast, the most romantic and beautiful story ever told, and not snicker in the wrong places (such as when the Beast is undergoing his onstage transformation into the Prince, or when the fake stuffed wolves come on—well, they can’t make them TOO scary, since there are little kids in the audience).
But now I realize that the only guy I’ve ever attended the show with who has passed that test is J.P. Reynolds-Abernathy the Fourth. He even—I couldn’t help noticing—had a single tear trickling down his cheek during the scene where Belle valiantly exchanges her own life for her father’s.
Michael has never cried during a Broadway show. Except in that scene where Tarzan’s ape father is brutally murdered.
And that was only because he was laughing so hard.
But here’s the thing: I’m starting to think that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think guys just might be different from girls. Not just because they actually care about things like whether or not there’ll ever be a Nightstalkers movie starring Jessica Biel reprising her role as Abby Whistler from Blade: Trinity.
Or because they think it’s okay to sleep with Judith Gershner and never mention it to their girlfriend because it happened before they started going out.
But because they are just programmed differently. Like to be unmoved by the sight of a guy in a gorilla suit getting pretend-shot onstage.
Whereas they completely believe that scene in the movie Notting Hill where Julia Roberts’s character goes back to that guy played by Hugh Grant, even though in a million years a snotty movie star like that would never fall for a lowly bookstore owner.
And I say that as a princess who is in love with a college student.
The thing is, I finally get it now: Guys are different than we are.
But that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, as my ancestors would say, Vive la différence. Because, okay, a lot of guys don’t like musicals.
But those same guys might also give you a snowflake necklace for your fifteenth birthday to represent the Nondenominational Winter Dance where you first declared your love for each other.
Which, you have to admit, is way romantic.
Oh. The lights just flickered. It’s time to go back to my seat for the second act.
Which, truthfully, I’m not really looking forward to. It would be all right if J.P. didn’t keep asking me if I was all right.
I totally get that he’s concerned about me as a friend and all, but what does he expect me to say? How can he not know that the answer is no, I’m not all right? Do I need to
J.P. is totally sweet, but he’s a little clueless sometimes.
Although Tina is completely right, it turns out: J.P. really is a pent-up volcano of passion. The single tear proves it. All he needs is the right woman to unlock his heart—which up until now he has kept in a cold, hard shell for his own emotional protection—and he will explode like the simmering caldera that makes up part of Yellowstone National Park.
And obviously this woman wasn’t Lilly (who, by the way, also hasn’t called or e-mailed me, even to yell at me some more for being a boyfriend-stealer, which isn’t a bit like her).
On the other hand, maybe J.P. isn’t clueless. Maybe he’s just a guy.
They can’t all be like the Beast, I guess.
Friday, September 10, 11:45 p.m., the loft
No phone messages, either.
But Michael’s plane is still in the air for another eleven and a half hours. He’ll call me when he lands.
I mean, he has to. Right?
Okay, not thinking about that now. Because every time I do, I get these weird heart palpitations and my palms get sweaty.
Meanwhile, a hand-delivered envelope did arrive for me while I was gone. Mom told me about it (not very happily) when I woke her up to ask if Michael had called. (Honestly, I didn’t realize she was asleep. Usually she’s up watching David Letterman until the musical guest comes on at twelve thirty. How was I supposed to know the musical guest was Fergie, so Mom went to bed early?)
The hand-delivered envelope obviously wasn’t from Michael. It was on fancy ivory stationery with a big red wax seal with the letters D and R stamped in the middle. There was something about it that just screamed Grandmère.
So I wasn’t very surprised when Mom said, all crabbily, “Your grandmother says to open it right away.”
I was surprised, however, when she added, “And she said to call her when you do. No matter what time it is.”
“I’m supposed to call Grandmère after eleven o’clock at night?” This didn’t make any sense. Grandmère goes to bed right before the eleven o’clock news every night without fail, unless she’s out partying with Henry Kissinger or somebody like that. She says if she doesn’t get her full eight hours of beauty sleep, she can’t do a thing with the bags under her eyes the next day, no matter how much hemorrhoid cream she puts on them.
“That’s the message,” Mom grumped, and pulled the covers back over her head. (How she can sleep with Mr. Gianini snoring away like that next to her is a mystery to me. It can only be true love.)
I wasn’t liking the look of that envelope, and I definitely wasn’t liking the idea of having to call Grandmère at eleven thirty at night.
But I went to my room and ripped open the seal and pulled out the letter and started reading….
And nearly had a heart attack.
I was on the phone with Grandmère in about two seconds flat.
“Oh, Amelia,” she said, sounding completely awake. “Good. Finally. Did you receive your letter?”
“From Lana Weinberger’s MOM?” I practically screamed. I only remembered to keep my voice down because I live in a loft and my little brother was sleeping in the next room and I didn’t want to risk the wrath of Mom if I woke him up. “Asking me to give the keynote speech at her women’s society’s big charity event to raise money for African orphans? Yes. But…how did you know? Did you get one, too?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she scoffed. “I have my ways of finding out these things. Now, Amelia, I must know. This is very important. Did she mention issuing you an invitation to join Domina Rei when you come of age?” You could practically hear her salivating, she was so excited. “Did she say anything about asking you to pledge when you turn eighteen?”
“Yes,” I said. “But, Grandmère, I’ve never even heard of this Domina Rei before. And I don’t have time for this right now. I am going through a very stressful time at the moment, and I really have to concentrate on just staying centered—”
This was totally the wrong thing to say, however. Grandmère was practically breathing fire when she replied in her princessiest tone, “For your information, Domina Rei is one of the most influential women’s societies in the world. How can you not be aware of this, Amelia? They are like the Opus Dei of women’s organizations. Only not religiously affiliated.”
I had to admit, this got me kind of interested, in spite of myself. “Really? That secret society in The Da Vinci Code? The one where the members whip themselves? Lana’s mom keeps a weird metal spike wrapped around her leg?”
“Of course not,” Grandmère said with a sniff. “I meant figuratively.”
This was disappointing to hear. I have never met Lana’s mom (and she clearly knows nothing about me, because in her letter, she mentioned how much Lana has appreciated my friendship over the years, and how regrettable it is that my busy royal agenda has kept me from attending more of the parties she knows Lana has invited me to at their place. Um. Yeah.), but the idea of any member of the Weinberger family with possible spikes digging into her fills me with great joy.
“And,” Grandmère went on, “I know I’ve told you about Domina Rei before, Amelia. The Contessa Trevanni is a member.”
“Bella’s grandmother?” Grandmère hasn’t mentioned her archenemy, the Contessa, much since the Contessa’s granddaughter, Bella, delighted the entire Trevanni family by running off last Christmas with my pseudo-cousin Prince René and getting, well, knocked up by him. (Grandmère says it’s more polite to say enceinte, which is the French term, but hey, he really did knock her up. I mean, hello, has no one in my family heard of condoms?)
After a stern talking-to by my dad (and, I suspect, an exchange of cash: René was just days from signing a television deal for a new reality show, Prince Charming, in which a number of young single girls were to compete for the chance to date a real-life prince…namely, René), René finally married Bella. Sadly for her grandmother, the wedding took place in a quiet private ceremony, since René took so long to finally pop the question that Bella was obviously showing, and they’re still sensitive about that kind of thing in Majesty Magazine.
Now Bella and René are living on the Upper East Side in a penthouse the Contessa bought them as a wedding present, attending Lamaze classes together, and looking as if neither of them could be happier.
Grandmère is so jealous that Bella got René instead of me—even though I’m still in high school, hello—she could plotz. Basically, we never speak of it.
“Audrey Hepburn was a Domina Rei, as well,” Grandmère went on. “As well as Princess Grace of Monaco. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Even Oprah Winfrey.”
A hush fell over our conversation then, as it always does in polite society whenever Ms. Winfrey’s name is mentioned.
Then I said, “Well, that’s all very nice, Grandmère. However, like I said, this really isn’t the best time for me. I—”
But Grandmère, as usual, wasn’t even listening.
“I, of course, was asked to join years ago. However, due to a complete misunderstanding involving a certain gentleman, who shall remain nameless, I was ruthlessly black-balled.”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, that’s too bad. I—”
“Fine. If you must know, it was Prince Rainier of Monaco. But the rumors were completely false! I never even looked at him twice! Was it my fault he was so fascinated by me that he used to follow me around like a puppy? I can’t imagine how anyone could have thought it was anything other than what it was…a simple infatuation a much older man bore for a young woman who couldn’t help sparkling with wit and joie de vivre.”
It took me a minute to figure out who she was talking about. “Y
“Of course me, Amelia! What is wrong with you? Why do you think he married Grace Kelly? Why do you think his family allowed him to marry a movie actress? Only because they were so relieved he agreed to marry anyone after the heartbreak he experienced when I rejected him….”
I gasped. “Grandmère! You turned him gay?”
“Of course not! Amelia, don’t be ridiculous. I—Oh, never mind. How did we even get on this topic? The fact is, the Contessa Trevanni will eat her own head if you give the keynote address at her women’s society’s charity gala. They’ve never asked her granddaughter to speak. Of course, why would they? She’s never accomplished anything, except to get pregnant, which any half-wit can do, and she’s such a namby-pamby, she’d probably freeze up at the sight of those two thousand impeccably groomed, successful businesswomen staring up at her—”
I gasped again…but this time for a different reason. “Wait…two thousand?”
“We’ll have to make an appointment at Chanel right away,” Grandmère blathered on. “Something subdued, I think, yet youthful. I do believe it’s time we fitted you with a suit. Dresses are fine, but you can never go wrong with a really good wool suit—”
“Impeccably groomed, successful businesswomen?” I echoed, feeling slightly faint. “I thought they were all like Lana’s mom…society wives with full-time nannies and cooks and maids—”
“Nancy Weinberger is one of the most sought-after interior decorators in Manhattan,” Grandmère interrupted coldly. “She completely furnished the apartment the Contessa bought for René and Bella. Let me see, now, the Domina Rei colors are blue and white…blue’s never been your best color, but we’ll have to make do….”
“Grandmère,” I said. Panic was rising in my throat. It was sort of the way I felt every time I thought about Michael, only without the sweaty palms. “I can’t do this. I can’t give a speech in front of two thousand successful businesswomen. You don’t understand—I’m going through a romantic crisis at the moment, and until it’s resolved, I really think I need to keep a low profile…in fact, even after it’s resolved, I don’t think I can speak in front of that many people.”
Princess Mia by Meg Cabot / Young Adult / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes