Beginnings

Anger would have been the correct response. She knew that was the emotion that should have been pouring through her veins. So why was relief all that she felt? She tried to tell herself that it didn't matter. That none of it mattered. It didn't matter that he was here with another girl, it didn't matter that that girl was kissing him, and under no circumstances did it matter that he was gloating.

Oh, but it did matter. She couldn't get over it, couldn't get over his cocky smile and couldn't understand what exactly she was feeling. Why she was feeling it. Couldn't understand why she wasn't angry.

"Um, Lacey, what do you think you're doing?" Sitting next to her at their table was her best friend, Jake.

Lacey blinked rapidly, Jake having jerked her away from her thoughts. "Uh?"

"Don't 'uh' me. Get your eyes off Mr. Fabulous over there. There are reasons that you aren't the girl in his arms and they are reasons you're going to stand up for. Got it?" Jake was shaking his finger in Lacey's face before he had finished talking, his eyes daring her to defy him.

Lacey smiled, loving her friend even more, "I know, I know. I broke up with him because not only did he not respect me or truly care for me, but he was cheating on me."

"Exactly, with that tramp." Jake switched his attention to the couple at the front of the room. "That little tramp, ripping away everything you'd worked towards with that jerk of a little boy who wishes he were a man, and all so he could get into her pants. That little…"

"Jake, I think I get the point." Lacey looked around the room as people stared to stare. Jakes voice was a little too loud. "I think you're more upset than me."

Jake sighed. "Sorry. It's just… I thought he was the one. I thought he was someone different." He ran his fingers through his hair. "He just wasn't. And don't look at me like that. Yeah I thought he was the one. I introduced you didn't I?"

"Yeah I know." Lacey couldn't help herself. She was staring again. Only this time it wasn't the girl draped over his arm or his smile she was seeing. Staring back at her was a black eye. Lacey gasped and grabbed Jake's wrist.

"You didn't." Lacey was gawking now.

Jake smiled, looking pleased with his handy work. "Oh but I did."

"Jake you guys where friends long before I came along." Lacey said, squeezing his hand. "You shouldn't let our friendship get in the way."

Jake clenched his jaw. "He sealed his own fate. Don't you even dare stick up for him. You're too nice for your own good." Jake let the tension slip from him, knowing Lacey didn't need his anger. He turned and smiled at her. "Such a push over."

Lacey smiled back and playfully punched his arm. "Yeah, yeah I've been told."

"You wanna blow this joint?" Jake stood up, not waiting for a reply. "It's such a lame party." He reached out and took her hand, pulling her towards the door.

Lacey looked towards the new couple one last time. They were all over each other now. "I'm beginning to think I didn't know him at all."

Jake was glaring again. "Me too."


"Chocolate?!" Jake was unimpressed. "Of all the ice cream flavors in the entire world you chose chocolate as your favorite?"

Lacey laughed. "Hey chocolate is the best."

"No," He corrected her, "chocolate is safe and reliable. Where's your sense of adventure Lacey? Where'd you're need to take chances disappear to?"

"I don't recall ever feeling the need to take chances." She reminded him.

Things could have easily turned into an argument. It was what normally happened. For the most part they got along, more like brother and sister than anything else. Taking chances, or the lack thereof, was something they could never seem to agree on.

"Okay, okay. I'm sure chocolate is quite respectable." He teased.

Lacey rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Fine Mr. Adventurous, which flavor would you grace your presence with?"

"Oh well that's an easy one. Rocky road, with a little caramel drizzled over the top. A little bit of chocolate and a lot of adventure for the taste buds." He replied, avoiding the gentle shove she tried to grant him. They argued over the level of adventure that rocky road ice cream offered for the rest of the ride home.

Home was an apartment complex two minutes away from campus. They both had an apartment in building C, on the second floor, right across from each other. It was how they had met. He had been the same pompous, loveable know-it-all boy he was today.

"Hey stop!" Lacey yelled, making Jake slam on the brakes. "I want to get my mail."

Jake glared at her. "You just gave me whip lash and scared the crap out of me so you could get your mail?!"

"Yep." Lacey sent him a smile from the passenger's seat. "You want me to get yours?"

Jake took the keys from the ignition and held up his mail box key out to her. "It's the least that you could do." It was Lacey's turn to glare, unable to suppress the grin that was making its way to her lips. She snatched the keys from his hands, slamming the door shut behind her.

The sun poured over her skin as she walked towards the metal boxes that lined the wall. After last night's party they had come home and watched movies until Lacey had fallen asleep and Jake tip toed back to his own place before he crashed. Today they had gone everywhere and nowhere, simply enjoying the first real day of summer vacation. School was over for the next two months.

Lacey found Jake's box and slipped the key in. She pulled out his mail, a few bills and a magazine from the local pharmacy. Buy three bags of Dove chocolates get one free! Lacey stashed the mail under her arm and moved on to her own box. She shoved the key in and turned it.

As she climbed back into the car Jake grew concerned. She was staring down at a letter in her hand, her expression confused. "What is it? Is everything alright?"

She nodded quickly. "Yeah, everything fine." She looked up, an unsure smile slowly spreading across her face. "Everything is great!" She exclaimed before she turned her full attention back to the paper in her hands.

"Well what is it then?!" Jake wanted to know. He tried to snatch the paper away.

Lacey glared at him before handing over the envelope the letter had arrived in. He tore into it, nearly ripping the contents to pieces in the process. Inside was a plane ticket. Destination: Kirastan, Europe. He was the one to be confused now. "Kirastan?" He said hesitantly. "I thought you said that was a story your parents made up. A story your mom used to tell you before bed."

"I did say that. I mean, I thought it was." Lacey's eyes roamed over the rest of the letter, taking in the words as fast as she could. When she was done she looked up at him, a now radiant smile possessing her entire face. "I guess I was wrong."


As a little girl nothing had excited Lacey more than stories of Kirastan. Kirastan, the perfect fairy tale setting. It had been the place she had always wished existed. She was just like every little girl, wishing Cinderella was real and her fairy-god-mother waiting around the corner, simply buying out her time until the perfect moment to poof into the picture arrived.

There had been multiple stories. One story told of an island that had once been the center of all things, an island that was said to possess cliffs you could see the edge of the world from and magnificent gardens you were bound to find true love in, there was something in the flowers. Another story spoke of a land that delivered peace. It spoke of a place where wars and cruelty were things that you only heard about, a place where love and kindness were things of reality instead of dreams.

Lacey's favorite story had not been those though. No her favorite story was that of the Prince of Kirastan, Prince Derek. His father, the King, was considered the greatest of all kings. The King's kindness and generosity were known around the world, his strength and sense of justice admired by all, and the loyalty he both gave and received was envied by all.

Prince Derek was very much like his father. The people wondered however if he was fit to rule. He had already seen five and twenty years but he had yet to select a wife, or even entertain the idea of marriage. The people of Kirastan seemed to require such a union if they were to accept him.

So it was done. The King chose a suitable bride, one who would both be a jewel to her husband but also know her place. The arrangements were made, they were betrothed, and their future was promised. All that lacked was the official ceremony. Soon there would be a guarantee that the kingdom would continue prospering just as it always had.

Then came the day that everything changed. Then came the day that the prince's betrothed disappeared. It was said that she found another, that she granted this man her heart. This was the day history changed forever. After his betrothed disappeared Kirastan failed to accept their future king. Upon the death of the King the kingdom fell into turmoil. The small island was fought over relentlessly. So relentlessly that eventually there was nothing left but a piece of rock. Destroyed to the point that even the history books failed to remember it.

Of course Lacey had always imagined that that's all they were, stories. She had never once thought that Kirastan could actually be a real place. She wasn't surprised though, she had also never thought anything about the sad ending of the story.

No, instead, when she would fall asleep she would dream of Kirastan. She would dream of the abandoned prince. She would dream that she was his princess, that she was the one who had to marry Prince Derek. Only, she would chose to never run away. She wouldn't find someone new to love. She would fall in love with the prince. She would become his princess.


"So you're just going to up and leave?" Jake was trying to understand, he was trying to be supportive. "I thought you got a summer job. I thought you were going to earn as much money as you could before classes started again next semester."

Lacey didn't answer him. She was much too busy emptying the contents of her closet into her suitcase. The smile that resulted from the gift her parents had sent her was still plastered to her face. It had yet to disappear, despite the amount of effort that Jake had put in to making her see reason.

"So what, you're just going to quit your job, the one you never started, and fly off to this place? To Kirastan!" Jake was as close to her as he could get without physically touching her. She didn't seem to notice though, as if she was busy in her own head. No, instead she simply turned around and all but skipped across her bedroom towards what was left of her closet.

"Don't you find it a little odd that your parents sent you this ticket, to a place you thought didn't really exist, didn't tell you anything about it, and that it arrived the exact day that you had to leave?" He continued to no avail.

Jake sighed and threw himself back on her bed. "You have got to be kidding me?" And yet he was happy for her. It was just that this wasn't like her. What happened to my scared, timid, shy best friend? He wondered. Hadn't he, only hours before, asked her why she couldn't take more risks though? Hadn't he been encouraging this?

He rolled onto his side, leaned on his elbow, and looked across the room at her. "Lacey." Nothing. "Lacey!" She looked towards him, startled as if she had forgotten she wasn't alone.

"What?" She asked before returning to her suitcase.

Jake sighed. "When do you get back?"

She giggled and disappeared, for the millionth time, into her closet. When she emerged again her arms were overflowing with the remainder of her closet. "I haven't the slightest clue. I'll have to be back for classes but I have two months of nothingness ahead of me. You were right, this is exhilarating. Oh and I talked to my parents, the reason the ticket just got here was because they sent the letter over-night. They were just getting ready to call me when I called them."

So she had been listening to him. Still, something just didn't add up, something felt off. "And what about me?" He asked, giving into the fact that she was going regardless of what he said.

She rolled her eyes and pushed down hard on her suitcase, unable to zip it closed. "Please, you won't even miss me. Besides it's not like I'm going away forever! I'll be gone for a little while that's all. Plus, I'll always have my phone with me. You should prepare yourself for many calls. I'll need someone to tell about my wonderful adventures!"

Jake nodded and sighed again, only amused now as he watched his friend struggle with the luggage. "Move aside weakling." He told her. He flattened out the top and slipped the zipper closed over the contents. "And that is how it's done."

"Showoff." She accused as her smile grew wider, if that was even possible.

He grabbed her shoulders and made her stop moving. "Just promise me you'll be safe. Promise you won't decide to be too adventurous. Adventure might turn out to be hazardous for you after all.

Her expression softened. "Awwww, you do love me." He shoved her playfully before pulling her back in for a bear hug. She squeezed him back. "I'll be back."

"I know," He said. He didn't know that really though. For some reason he didn't have a good feeling about this. For some reason he was unnerved at the very thought of her going. "I know."


An hour later Jake was dropping her off at the airport. She hugged him before taking off inside, her luggage looking ready to explode. "You know you're going to have to pay extra for your luggage, right? It weighs a ton." He told her as she hurried towards the door, sending her one last smile.

"Like I care." That was all she had to say. That and, "Here I come, Kirastan!" Jake watched her disappear behind the sliding glass doors. She's going to be fine. He kept telling himself. How much trouble can she get into?