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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Skin Deep

by Cathy Graham

One morning the king and queen sat drinking coffee as they looked at the newspaper.

"Will we ever find that boy a wife?" the king asked.

"What about this?" The queen held up the classified section. The king perched his reading glasses on his nose and peered at the small print.

"Woman looking for a sensitive man who likes long romantic walks on the beach…"

"No, not that. We're not that desperate yet! Besides, sensitive? I think not. I'm talking about this!" The queen took a red pen and circled the ad. "Image consultant for hire. Change your personality, change your life!"

"Do you really think they could do much?" the king asked. "Seems pretty hopeless to me."

"It's worth a try, isn't it?" Before the king could answer, they heard a loud yell from the prince's study.

"That does it! I quit!" Mary, the chamber maid stormed past the dining room and slammed the door.

The king turned to his wife and sighed. "While you're at it, how about hiring another maid from the agency? That's the fifth one this week."

A loud crash came from the study and the king and queen quickly turned up the volume on Coronation Street.

The next morning, there was a knock at the castle door.

A pretty young blonde woman smiled and curtsied, pulling down on her shabby wool skirt to hide the big run in her stocking. Her carefully made bun was already spilling out uncooperative curls giving her a frazzled look.

"G-g-ood morning. I’m Rose," the girl stammered. “I’ve come about the job.”

"We've been expecting you," the queen said. "You can go right up. Prince Leopold is in the study working on the computer."

Rose stood in the doorway admiring the prince’s dark curly hair and boyish good looks. She couldn’t remember the last time she went out on a date. Finally he looked up from the computer and frowned. “What do you want?”

"Lovely to see you too," Rose said “Are you always this rude or are you just having a bad day?” She resisted the urge to dump a nearby pitcher of water over his head.

"Go away." He frowned and turned his attention back to the computer.

Rose walked over and pulled out the plug.

"Hey, lady! What do you think you're doing?"

"The name's not Lady, it's Rose. You certainly are bad mannered, aren't you?"

"Why you impudent girl! "

"So it is true what they say about you." Rose put her hands on her hips and glared at the prince.

"Who talks about me? Tell me their names so I can have them thrown in the dungeon!" Prince Leopold jumped to his feet and clenched his fists.

Rose rolled her eyes and laughed. "The whole kingdom knows what a pain you are. Just because you're rich and good looking, you think it gives you the right to be rude and selfish. Well, hear this! Rose doesn't take that kind of crap from anyone."

The prince collapsed into his chair and sighed.

"What can I do Rose? Why doesn’t anyone like me?" He looked so pitiful that her heart softened and she caught a glimpse of the sad, lonely man hidden beneath the gruff exterior.

"You could start with some manners,” she said. "And that awful temper of yours! Have you ever considered taking an anger management course?”

The prince tossed his head back and laughed.

"You're wonderful Rose. What a feisty woman! I like that! Come! Let me show you around the castle.” He bowed and offered his arm like a true gentleman. Rose took it and he covered his hand over hers, giving it a playful squeeze.

"It’s so dark and gloomy in here. Don’t you find it depressing?" Rose asked as their footsteps echoed down the drafty hallway.

"I guess it is depressing. I never really noticed before," the prince agreed. As they toured the rooms, they laughed and talked together like old friends. Rose realized she was enjoying herself and didn’t want the moment to end.

They returned to the study and the prince poured them some tea. As he handed Rose a cup their eyes met. "I've never felt so comfortable with a woman before. My parents are always trying to match me up with boring princesses but you're different. You’re the first woman who had the courage to stand up to me."

There was a knock on the door and the king and queen peeked in.

"Mother, Father. Have you met Rose? She's amazing. This is the woman I intend to marry!" The prince glowed with happiness and Rose blushed.

"Marry?" The queen pulled Rose aside. "What's all this nonsense about marriage? You'd better not be one of those gold digger types!"

"Of course not! What kind of person do you think I am? I think it's time for me to leave. No job is worth this humiliation." She marched to the door and flung it open.

Prince Leopold grabbed her by the arm.

"Please marry me, Rose."

"But we're practically strangers," Rose protested.

"I feel I've known you all my life. You’re the one I've been waiting for." Prince Leopold pulled her into his arms and kissed her with such tenderness that all her resistance broke.

Rose’s mind swirled with confusion and she could barely speak. She took a deep breath and looked into his dark eyes. “All right, I will marry you. But let's get engaged first so we can get to know each other.”

Prince Leopold grabbed her by the waist and twirled her around.

"Bravo, my boy!" The king patted his son on the back. "You've found yourself a lovely wife and we didn't have to spend another cent at"

"I guess we don't need to hire you as an image consultant after all," the queen said, her face beaming. "You seem to have worked your magic on Leopold already."

"Image consultant?" Rose looked at her in confusion. "I came about the maid position."

About the Author: Cathy is happiest when she is expressing herself creatively whether through writing stories for children and adults, singing in a choir, playing the flute or drawing and painting. She lives near Ottawa, Ontario with her husband, two sons, three dogs and two cats. You can read more about Cathy at

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