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Jessica Snell's day job is editing for a small press, mostly non-fiction. But for fun, she reads as much sci-fi and fantasy as she can get her hands on. This is her first published speculative fiction story. She blogs about books, faith, and family at jessicasnell.com.
No one knew about them, the counterfeit princes. In this day and age, no one would suspect. Who could have hoped to get away with it when every tabloid had them on the cover at least once a month? Their fans had memorized their faces, their gaits, the way they held their shoulders, the way the younger prince's mouth quirked up to the left side whenever he flirted with a commoner's cute baby.
But there they were. Raised alongside the true heirs, raised with every benefit of education, every nuance of culture, every privilege of class.
I didn't know about the counterfeit when I first met them, that day I attended the benefit held at the palace. I watched along with everyone else as the royal family smoothly did what they always did: finessed the crowd so that everyone felt special, but only because we were confident that they were more special than we.
I shouldn't have even met him, and when I did, I felt everything you might expect a girl to feel when a handsome prince holds out his hand and smiles.
He was tall and dark and lanky, but he moved with the grace only bestowed by an excellent musculature.
I have never had a defense against that type.
And I didn't even try. Why try to fight, when your daydream decides to dance itself into reality?
I watched, and I smiled, and I curtseyed when he excused himself to his grandmother, and I waited in the corner when he asked me to. I folded my hands politely on my knees, across the thick skirt of the dress that was both conservative enough and expensive enough to wear in the presence of the queen. I waited until he came back to me, and grasped both my hands, and his wide smile intimated that his attention was now wholly mine.
And that he was happy it was so and that all the wine and the dancing and the admiration had been but the quotidian dull chores that take up any person's day, and that the flowering of time was now, when he was there alone with me, and could kiss me.
And his kiss was more than my life was worth: rich and overwhelming and far beyond my normal fare, just as he was. I could not add anything to it, and indeed, I had very little to do with it: the kiss was all his doing: his mouth, his tongue, his hands, the warmth of the very being of him, given to me for a moment, encompassing all that I was and much more than I had ever looked to be.
I was his and to be his was to be the fairest of women, the desire of all the world.
When he left, I thought he would be right back.
And when he came right back, I made the mistake of thinking it was actually him.
"I'm sorry," he said, and the mouth that had just kissed me turned down in a familiar, polite, patrician frown. "They can't stop this sort of thing from happening, and I think I might insist soon that they get rid of the replica. I really can do my own work, and I don't know why Granny is so fixated on this extra level of security. The collateral damage is really quite unacceptable."
Of course the collateral damage was me. The replica was very exact, just like the real prince, because that was the point, wasn't it?
And they couldn't keep an exact replica of a charming prince from behaving like prince charming.
His kiss was more than my life was worth.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, January 25th, 2016


Though I suspect living your life in the limelight is actually a very difficult business, I can't help but find the smooth public relations machines around various European royal families just a little bit spooky. What if that eerie impression had some kind of reality behind it? That question sparked the idea for this story.

- Jessica Snell

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