Chapter 17

(Selena)

"Have you heard the news?" Selena heard the voices even from the carriage she was riding in.

She wanted to stop the carriage and shout "Yes! We've all heard the news!" But that probably wouldn't earn her any points with the common folk. She was having a very bad day.

"Your Highness, you still haven't told me where you want to go." The man pulling the carriage said politely.

"That's because I have no idea where I want to go." Selena snapped, then softened her voice. "Just take me to the square. Please."

The man nodded and jerked the reins a bit, letting the horses know of Selena's plans. Selena hoped that the man didn't mind that she had snapped at him. He was one of her subjects too, and having subjects that didn't like you was a very bad thing indeed. She turned her attention to the small opening between the curtains and looked out at the street. People were walking around everywhere she looked, each busy with their own lives.

And one of those lives had been saved yesterday. By Laurelei.

It wasn't like Selena was angry at her for saving that boy. She was only aggravated because of how much attention it was bringing to her. Everyone was talking about Laurelei, Laurelei, Laurelei. It wasn't fair. Sure, she had saved a boy from falling, but Selena was already making plans to build a new house only for fancy clothing. Everyone would love it! People would even be able to sell dresses in the rain, with a roof over their heads. Selena was very proud of herself for coming up with the idea. But no one else was, apparently.

"Driver," Selena looked back at the man in the front of the carriage. "What do you think of Laurelei, my sister?"

"Oh, she's wonderful!" The driver shouted back to her. "Did you hear that she saved a-"

"Yes, I heard, I heard." Selena waved a hand, not wanting to listen to the end of that sentence.

The rest of the way to the square was silent inside the carriage. Selena would have found it awkward if she wasn't so busy preoccupying herself with plans for this fabulous building. She would probably have to run it by her sisters first, of course, but she couldn't imagine any one of them rejecting her ideas. The problem after that would be, of course, the location. Aleona was a smaller kingdom, but its capital city definitely wasn't. A good example of this being the fact that the town square was almost a 25 minute ride from the palace by carriage.

The building would have to go somewhere on the outer edges, since all of the good spots in the middle of the city had been taken. Selena supposed she could just take someone else's building for her own; she was the queen after all. But she didn't want to do such a thing to one of her subjects. A subject that just might tell a whole lot of other subjects just how cruel the pretty queen was.

"We're here," she was pulled back into reality by the jerking of reigns.

Selena opted for giving a pleasant wave and a smile instead of a response. She rose quickly and dropped gracefully down the steps and out into the bustling square. The people around her began unconsciously forming a little bubble of space around here; something they had probably learned to do long ago for royalty. She passed through the sea of faces until she reached her destination: a small, rickety vendor that was being held up in the middle by two long and less than safe looking sticks.

"Excuse me, madam?" Selena made her voice just loud enough to be heard over the crowd.

A young woman, no older than 19, arose and looked upon Selena with an expression of curiosity. And yes, there it was: a hint of awe.

"Your highness?" The girl lowered her gaze instantly, remembering not to gape.

"Do you sell fabric here?" Selena brought a hand up to the fabric of the tent, admiring how soft it was. A telltale sign of fabric makers.

"Yes. Yes, we do!" The girl seemed a little stunned, but she got over it fast enough and rushed over to a table near the back to pick up some swaths.

Selena, of course, could have gotten this fabric by simply asking a servant to pick it up, but she would rather go to town herself. It was such a good look, a queen being out among her people.

"Wait." Selena stopped cold. "Girl. Bring over that strip. The one hanging on the wall over there."

The girl looked over at the wall where Selena's finger pointed. There, smack dab in the middle of the fabric strip, was the symbol Selena had been seeing at least once every day for about two weeks now. A clover: Laurelei's symbol. The girl stiffened, and slowly walked over to the wall. Setting down the other pieces of fabric she had picked up, she carefully gathered the clover ridden cloth up in her arms and walked over to where Selena was standing.

"What is that?" Selena asked slowly, almost coldly.

"It's an… it's an appreciation cloth."

"Well then," Selena reached out to grab the cloth. "Where are the others?"

"The others?" The girl raised a fearful eyebrow.

"The other appreciation cloths. You know, the ones for Laurelei's other sisters."

"Well…" the girl was trembling now, and for a second, Selena almost felt bad.

Almost.

"I suppose you just haven't made them yet, right?"

The girl nodded profusely.

"Alright then. I'm not going to buy anything today." Selena started to walk away. "Good day."

As she walked over to the other side of the square, an idea struck her. A smile slowly began to spread across her face as the idea took hold. She turned to look back at the stall she had just walked away from, and found the girl still staring at her.

"What a lovely place to put my dress shop." Her eyes twinkled. "Oh, and right here in the middle of the square?"

She laughed.

"Selena, you are just too smart."