Love ISN’T!” declaimed Kyle, gesturing grandiloquently and – in general – making a complete ass of himself.
“Huh?” slurred Lachlan, bleary-eyed.
“There’s no such thing,” explained Kyle. “It all makes sense now.”
“Ohhhh…” said Lachlan. “Go to sleep, ya bugger”
Kyle, however, was hungry. He grabbed another cupcake from the fridge and broke a piece off. Chocolate… not exactly original, was it? But oh, so good! That bakery was fantastic. He started to break off another piece, and paused. A corner of folded white paper was sticking out of the cupcake where he’d broken the original piece off. He pulled it out, scattering a few crumbs over Lachlan’s already-grotty carpet.
You will find true love tomorrow. The princess awaits.
“Oh, Lordy!” Kyle groaned. “Someone’s been getting drunk at work and putting the fortune cookie fortunes in the cupcakes! That’s a bit more original, I guess.”
Lachlan stirred again.
“I found a fortune in my cupcake!”
“Like, a dollar?” Lachlan giggled.
Kyle rolled his eyes. “Never MIND!” Then he got it and laughed.
Kyle woke, groaned, and stumbled to the bathroom. After a shower (drying himself with yesterday’s tshirt) and dressing in clothes belonging to him but found deep in Lachlan’s wardrobe, he felt slightly better.He decided to head down to the bakery downstairs for a croissant and coffee.
With a muffin (they were out of croissants) and half a mug of espresso inside him, Kyle was starting to feel better again. Almost human. Then a sound like quietly tinkling bells started just over his left shoulder. He rolled his eyes and sighed. Did he want to know? Suddenly, the tinkling changed to a business-like single PING! A puff of air whooshed over Kyle’s bare neck in the sudden silence. He looked at Miguel, the bakery owner… who was staring at something over Kyle’s shoulder. Before he disappeared from view with a THUMP.
“Oh dear,” said a sweet, motherly voice. Kyle was even more on guard than before. He knew that sweet motherly voices belonged to sadistic serial killers almost as often as they belonged to sweet motherly people… if not more often. In fact, he didn’t remember ever meeting a sweet motherly person. He turned around.
Standing behind him was a plump, sweet, motherly-looking woman dressed in pink and clutching a purple fluffy wand with a sparkly star on the end.
“Some people just DO not cope with the paranormal,” she tsked. “Now you – you look like a sensible lad. No fainting for YOU!”
Kyle fainted, out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
He woke up, still in the bakery, with the pink-suited woman bent over him. She was tapping the purple fluffy wand on his forehead.
“TA-DA!” She announced, proudly. “Awake!”
“What do you want?”
“Is that any way to speak to the woman who saved your life?” she demanded.
“You didn’t, you daffy dame… you just scared me into a brief coma!” Kyle riposted.
“Oh, have it your way,” she huffed. “Anyhow, I’m your fairy godmother.”
Kyle closed his eyes. His headache was a lot worse now, and he really didn’t need this. Fairy godmother?
“Everyone has one, you know!” she continued brightly. “They’re not always lucky enough to meet theirs in the flesh, though!”
“OK, I’ll bite,” groaned Kyle, “Why am I lucky?”
“Because you’re about to meet the woman of your dreams! An absolute princess!”
“And if you don’t pay attention this time, you’ll end up miserable, miserly, bitter and alone for the remaining 50 years, 3 months and 9 ½ days of your life!” she trilled.
“OK… OK, I’ll keep an eye out, and I’ll fall in love, alright?” Kyle said. “Now… will you leave me the hell alone and get back to your psych ward? They must be worried about you by now.”
“Well, I…” the fairy godmother stuttered, outraged, “…I NEVER!” And she disappeared, somehow managing to make the tinkling and PING sound offended.
There was a THUMP from the direction of the counter as Miguel fainted again. It was going to be one of those days, Kyle mused, as he gently tipped a glass of water over Miguel and copped a right hook to the jaw for his trouble.
Miguel opened his eyes, focused blearily on Kyle, and muttered, “Don’t fall in love with the princess!” … then closed his eyes again. Kyle sighed. He was used to weird trips, but they usually happened because he’d deliberately taken something in the safety of his own (or Lachlan’s) flat… all of this was just strange.
Merryl, Miguel’s baker, bounced in the door and stopped dead.
“What happened?” she yelled, “You didn’t do this, did you? Were there robbers? Are the takings gone? They didn’t steal the bread, did they?”
Now that was an impressive obsession, thought Kyle. Who on earth steals bread these days? He quickly explained… and was astounded to discover that she seemed to believe every word. Together, they got Miguel on his feet and, propped up by the counter, able to serve customers. Merryl pulled him out the back with her.
“Tell me something,” she said, “They kept mentioning a princess?”
“Yup,” Kyle agreed morosely, staring at the oven and wondering if the weirdness was over for the day.
“Oh, well then..” she grinned, “You’re screwed. I’m the princess, and I’m irresistable!”
She leant over, pulled him out of his slouch, and kissed him slowly and carefully.
“Ummmm…” said Kyle when he finally got his breath and wits back (just). “Princess?” Bet she wants a pumpkin carriage to take her to the wedding, too, he thought cynically. Too many women with princess fixations these days, thanks to Disney. Although maybe he could cope with it from Merryl… dear God she was hot! And that kiss…
Before he could slide completely into a dream world, Merryl slapped him gently around the face and answered. “Yup, bona fide pedigreed princess of the blood royal here. No money – our country disappeared into myth centuries ago – but I’ve got the proof right here. Only two craftsmen in the entire world know how to craft them these days.”
“You carry a tiara in your handbag?” Kyle questioned derisively, if weakly.
Merryl unbuttoned her jeans and pushed them down, revealing a cute black lace gstring. Kyle’s eyes widened, and he forgot what they’d been talking about. She turned around, lifted the gstring, and pointed to the ornate crown tattoo on her cheek.
“That’s my proof!” she grinned, appreciating the ego boost from his reaction. “It’s less conspicuous than a tiara!”
“Less conspicuous?” he murmured. “I’m going to remember that the rest of my life!”
“Of course,” she grinned again, “but it’s different with you. It’s your destiny to fall in love with me!”
Kyle grinned back and reached for Merryl. “That might not be so bad a fate,” he whispered, “if you fall in love with me too…?”
“Gracious no!” she exclaimed, whirling out of his reach. “That’s not in the plot at all! I fall in love with a prince only – you commoners fall in love with me all the time though, it’s great fun!”
“Huh?” questioned Kyle intelligently.
“You’re not of royal blood!” she explained slowly and patiently. “I am. You fall in love with me, I don’t fall in love with you. It’s just the way the world works, kid.”
“Well” he said bitterly, “I can see why Miguel told me not to fall in love with you. You’re a bit of a bitch, to put it mildly!”
Merryl stared. She’d never been called a bitch before. A princess yes, by people who shouldn’t have known she was one – but she’d always taken THAT as a compliment. Obviously breeding was showing, she figured. But – a bitch?
“Uhhh…” she managed, but Kyle had already stormed out.
A few days later, Kyle and Merryl came face to face in the bakery again.
“Hey, I’ve been thinking,” she said as she handed over a dozen scrolls and a croissant.
“Oh yeah?” sneered Kyle, “Does your brain hurt from the unusual exercise?”
“I was a bitch,” she said through gritted teeth, “and you’re a complete prat. I just wanted you to know that I realised that!” She walked out the back to get her composure again. When she got back, Kyle was gone, a pile of coins lay on the counter, and a long line of customers waited very impatiently for their lunchtime bad-but-oh-so-delicious carbs.
Kyle answered the phone to hear Lachlan’s languid tones.
“Hey, maaate… that chick at the bakery was asking after you! She’s hawwwwt and I think she has a thing for you… gonna go for it?”
“Nup.” said Kyle definitively. “She’s a nutcase, and everyone around her’s psycho too.”
“You’re not? Are you NUTS? Have you seen the butt on that woman? Peachy!”
Kyle sighed. He sure had. And no, he couldn’t get it out of his head. She was gorgeous, but she was a psychotic spoiled brat with a princess complex. Then again, she was gorgeous… and clearly nuts about him, no matter what she said.
Kyle approached the bakery counter with trepidation.
“Ummm, hi…” he said.
“Good morning!” Merryl said cheerfully and insincerely, “How may I help you, sir?”
“Do you have any humble pie? Because… well, I’ve been acting like a jerk lately and I’ll probably need to eat a whole one.”
Merryl attempted to stop a smile escaping onto her face.
“As a matter of fact, sir,” she said, straight-faced, “we do indeed! Best bakery in the country, you know.”
Kyle laughed sheepishly.
“Wellll…” he said, “I’ve got $10 – want to join me in a slice? My treat.”
“Just a sec – MIGUEL! I’m going off-shift!” she yelled in the direction of the back room.
She untied her apron, hung it on a hook on the wall, and vaulted over the counter. Kyle, impressed by the feat, took a few seconds to follow her to a table outside.
“Can’t stand the smell of bread right now,” she confided, and took a huge bite of her humble pie.
“Hmmm..” she mumbled, mouth still full, “I think I needed to eat this as much as you did… well come on, eat up! Can’t stand a fussy eater!”
Kyle laughed. “You’re nothing like I thought a princess would be,” he confided, “For a start, I thought princesses were all stuck-up and had perfect table manners!”
Merryl snorted. “Only the new blood,” she said dismissively, “My great great great great grandfather thought ‘table manners’ equalled not stabbing your guests at the table, and throwing the meat bones to the dogs rather than starting a food fight. That’s real royalty.”
“Sounds fun,” Kyle raised an eyebrow and grinned.
Merryl leaned over the table and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Suddenly, Kyle’s mind was blanker than usual.
“YES!” yelled the fairy godmother. “It’s all going beautifully, folks! Carry on!”
Miguel fainted. Kyle beat his head against the table a few times. Merryl laughed.
“Oh, what the hell,” Kyle groaned. “She’s right, you know. I’m head over heels in love with you. Happy?” He got up to leave.
Merryl grinned, stood up, and launched herself at him. Hugging him madly, she bounced up and down.
“I’m so happy!” she squealed. “You’re my prince, you idiot!”
Kyle got his balance back and stared.
“You distinctly told me I was a commoner, woman!” he argued.
“Well, you had to fall in love without expecting anything in return!” she beamed. “And I couldn’t fall in love with you until you fell in love with me – it’s against princess protocol! Didn’t you ever notice the crown tattoo on your bum?”
“Umm… no… I don’t look at my bum much,” said Kyle absently, illustrating a key gender difference while trying to figure things out. “So – you baked fortune cupcakes for me?”
“No, that was Auntie Helgifna,” giggled Merryl, “She thought I was getting a bit old-maidy. She’s the one with the wand.”
One month later, Kyle and Merryl were married in the park. Miguel catered the reception. Weird relatives from both sides attended, and tsked about the dodgy blood their respective relative was marrying into. Merryl was dressed in white. Helgifna was dressed in purple. And Kyle was thrilled to be starting out his new life as a prince, married to the most beautiful woman in the world.
Happily ever after, of course.