Cari leaned against a pillar on the side of the ballroom, bubbles swirling up around her from her quick approach and abrupt stop. The ballroom was full of other mermaids adorned with glittering shells and chains of exotic plants. Everyone was wearing their very best for the prince’s birthday ball. That was just another reason why Cari wasn’t sure why he had chosen to dance with her. And not only that, but he had promised to return for another dance soon!
As she leaned against the pillar trying to catch her breath in her excitement and disbelief, she felt a cold snout press into her hand. “Oh, hello there, Aquina,” Cari said, giving the dragon’s head a soft pat. Aquina blew a few bubbles her way in response. Cari was just about to turn back to watch the dance floor when she realized that something, or rather, someone, was missing. Her eyes widened. “Aquina, where is Coral?” Aquina only lifted her front legs in her version of a shrug, as Cari looked nervously around them.
It should have been quite easy to find an exuberant pixie with bright pink hair, but there was no predicting where Coral had run off to. She was incredibly mischievous, which was partly why she had been in the situation where Cari had found her. Both Coral and Aquina had lived in one of the shelters around the kingdom before Cari had found them and took them in. Now, they traveled with her everywhere she went.
“Come on, Aquina! You know we can’t just leave Coral alone… who knows what she’ll get into!” Cari wove through the pillars framing the ballroom, her eyes flicking back and forth searching for the pixie. The entire time, she just kept hoping the prince wouldn’t see that she moved and decide he didn’t want to return for another dance. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to spot Coral’s pink hair and bright orange wings.
Cari swam up to the pixie and grabbed her just before she dove into a platter of cookies. “Of course you would be at the food table,” Cari sighed. Coral only huffed at her and crossed her arms. “Oh, come on… you know you can’t just go throwing yourself into everyone’s food. Here,” she said, handing Coral a cookie to placate her. “Now, let’s go. I don’t want to miss the prince.”
Cari placed Coral securely on her shoulder and spun around… only to find herself smacking straight into the prince. Her eyes grew wide. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Your Highness. I was just…” She waved her hands around as she searched for the right words, realizing belatedly that her gestures didn’t really make anything clear. She cleared her throat, trying to ignore the blush that heated her cheeks. “Umm… this is Coral and Aquina. They’re my friends.”
The prince’s gaze flicked from Coral, to Aquina, and finally back to Cari’s face. He smiled, happy to have such a sweet dance partner. “Well,” he said. “Perhaps they would like to join us for a dance as well."