Home > Masquerade with a Prince

Masquerade with a Prince
Author: Carol Moncado

1

 

 

It took everything Prince Caleb Patrick Geoffrey of New Sargasso had to stifle a groan. Appearing uncomfortable or annoyed in public would never do for a member of the royal family - even if he was all dressed up in some variation of Medieval formal wear.

Instead, he plastered his formal grin on his face as two women, one dressed as one of the four queens of Trilunium and the other in an evening gown, walked up to him. “Good evening, Rosie. Are you looking for Cale?”

Lady RoseMarie Hargrove narrowed her eyes. “You’re not Caleb?”

Caleb laughed, the slightly awkward laugh his brother had developed over the years. He’d perfected it, along with Joss’s mannerisms, just like Joss had developed Cale’s. It came in handy from time to time, though usually with people who weren’t nearly as close to one of them as Rosie had been. “Do I look like Caleb?”

“Very funny.”

“You’re identical twins,” Lady Waterford said.

“Joss here likes to think he’s funny.” Rosie’s knuckles whitened around her clutch, a sure sign she wasn’t certain she believed him.

Out of the corner of his eye, Cale saw his brother walking their way. Now to let Joss know before he said hello to these women.

“Normally,” Rosie went on, “they wear different colors.”

Cale glanced down at his costume. Most of the royal family, as well as a number of guests, had decided to cosplay for the release party of the newly discovered final book in the Trilunium series.

The novels, written in the 1940s and published in New Sargasso in the 1950s, were the biggest literary achievement in New Sargassian history.

Every year at TriluniCon, he and Joss went as the Odzooken Princes Joshua and Caleb from the series, using cloth masks that also covered their hair, like Dread Pirate Roberts, but all one piece. They’d never been discovered at the con, and to make sure this gathering didn’t “out” them, they’d both come as relatively generic knights.

Rosie was one of the few people who knew about their cosplay at TriluniCon and how to tell the two brothers apart. Even their older brother, Gideon, hadn’t known until about six months earlier. Lady Waterford didn’t have a clue.

“She’s right,” Cale said to the other woman. “Normally, we wear different colors. Tonight, we’re both wearing black.”

Joss joined their group.

Caleb spoke before his brother could. “Cale, Rosie thinks I’m you because I’m not wearing the right color.”

Joss did a slight double take that no one else would notice. “I’d think you’d be able to tell the two of us apart, Rosie.”

As long as neither one of them needed to eat or write while Rosie and her friend stood there, it would be fine. They were mirror twins, with Caleb being right-handed and Joss left.

Joss wasn’t wrong though. Rosie could tell them apart most of the time, but it had been over a year since he’d seen her.

“How is your brother doing?” Rosie asked, tucking her clutch under her arm as she took a glass of wine from a passing waiter. “Is his wedding finally going to happen?”

Cale nodded. “Jacqueline Grace has the patience of a saint for putting up with David this long and not running away.”

“What’s taken so long? I would have thought they’d want a fast wedding. It’s usually just a few months from proposal to wedding, isn’t it? Not two years.”

Caleb didn’t like the condescending tone in Lady Waterford’s voice, but Joss jumped in before he could.

“That would have been their preference, but with Jacqueline Grace being part of the royal family in San Majoria and having two adopted children already, it made things difficult with some of the regulations in place here. They’ve finally been straightened out, so the wedding is the week before Christmas.”

Rosie stared at the wine glass she held in both hands. “David invited me, but I don’t think I’ll be able to attend. It’s just too much.”

The four of them grew somber for a moment. Rosie’s brother had been killed on a training mission several years earlier - a mission David had been on, though he hadn’t been in the helicopter that crashed off the coast of Eyjania.

“If it’s the cost, come with us,” Joss said, surprising Cale. The thought of inviting her to go with them hadn’t occurred to Cale. “If you mean it’s too much mentally and emotionally, then David will understand.”

“A little of both,” Rosie admitted, confirming Cale’s suspicions on the matter.

Cale had been closer to her than anyone when her brother died. He’d seen how it tore her apart.

But she’d also been given a very generous death benefit. Even if she’d lived recklessly the last few years - which Rosie would never do - she should have had plenty to finance a trip to San Majoria for the wedding without making a dent. Cale wasn’t going to ask about it.

“Let me know if you want to come along,” Joss-as-Caleb told her. “We’d be happy to make the arrangements for you to join us.”

Rosie tilted her head toward Joss. “Thank you, Cale. That means a lot to me.”

Which meant she’d be contacting Cale himself if she decided to come, not Joss.

Cale turned to the other young woman standing in the hotel banquet hall. “Lady Waterford, it’s been quite some time. It’s good to see you,” he told her.

“It’s good to see you, too.”

Caleb didn’t think she sounded totally sincere.

Joss held his hand out, then bent over to kiss the back of hers. “The pleasure is mine, fair lady. I believe you to be Queen Emily the Brave. I am but a humble knight. I would be honored if you would allow me to escort you to your seat for the evening.”

A glance at the stage told Cale it was nearly time to be seated for dinner. He extended an elbow to Rosie, who wasn’t in her usual costume, but he didn’t care. “Allow me to escort you?”

“Thank you, Sir Knight.” She slid her hand into Caleb’s elbow, sending an unexpected thrill through him. Her friend did the same with Joshua.

He seated Rosie as Joss seated Lady Waterford, and then found the rest of the family behind a curtain off to the side. They would be seated at one of the main tables, though not the one on the stage.

Before any of the family could say anything to them, Joss grabbed Cale’s arm and pulled him off to the side.

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