Prince Phillip’s life used to be filled with action, adventure, heroism, and focused passion—all things he excelled at. He used to think himself the most fortunate prince. Then he made the mistake of finding the princess he’d spent years looking for, releasing her from a wicked enchantment with a one-sided kiss that felt pretty creepy, so he tried not to think about it, and defeating the most evil witch his world had known, so evil her name literally meant, well…
Anyway, Phillip had made his mistake, and now, he suffered the consequences of his success.
He could only play so many polo matches and hold so many festivals, albeit he could probably dance an infinite number of waltzes. His betrothed, however, disagreed about dancing. She was a fine dancer who complimented his talent, but she preferred to spend her days doing…Phillip was not quite sure what.
Because while he had spent the majority of his life dreaming about and searching for the secret princess, Aurora had spent hers living a life that had nothing to do with him. And even after the whole celebrate-after-the-rescue bit, she still lived her own life—one that pretty much had little to do with him.
At first, he had given her space, figuring she would be drawn to him, like other ladies. But Aurora seemed to be an exception. Oh, they had chemistry, neither of them could deny that, but Aurora did not seem to feel Phillip’s presence so charming that she had to be near him all the time. Or most of the time. Or even some of the time. It seemed she really did not feel the need to be near him much at all.
And so, as the months went by and Aurora was no closer to running into his arms or responding to the many texts he sent her daily, Phillip had to admit that his dream of him and Aurora living happily together, dancing every night and doing whatever else happy-in-love couples did may not come true quite like he’d expected.
As their wedding date approached, Phillip had to do something. He was a doer, a slayer of monsters, a fulfiller of dreams, an accomplisher of great deeds. He could no longer sit back, wallowing in his discontentment, which was, after all, quite unseemly behavior for a prince.
He wanted a partner not just in name but also in actuality. Which is why he would selflessly give Aurora the option of ending their relationship, or at least the opportunity to say if she needed more distance.
For a conversation of this importance, Phillip made the bold decision to call Aurora instead of texting her.
His Find My Princess app located her at a bookstore. Perfect. She could be doing nothing pressing there.
Phillip strolled the streets of his capital city. Medieval-turned-modern buildings nestled next to skyscrapers and subway stations. An antiquated inn transformed into a hipster hangout thrived between a Wine-N-Wash Laundromat-bar and a Potions for Swap pawnshop-apothecary. Phillip crossed a busy street, which had designated lanes for buses, cars, bikes, and horses. He adored every part of his kingdom and took pride in his role as its prince.
The walk took care of his nervous energy and provided an excuse should he need to escape the conversation. Perhaps the financial district would encounter a dragon problem.
He could only hope.
As he typed in Aurora’s number, he ran into a tiny patch of difficulty. What if she was, in fact, busy? What if she did not want to be called? What if he was forced to—gasp—leave a message?
He decided to text first.
And when she didn’t answer immediately, to text again. And again.
How are you?
Can you call me?
A message from her interrupted his next one.
I’m in the middle of something. Can’t this wait until tomorrow?
Technically it could…Phillip drew on his superior self-resolve to compose his next message.
Of course, darling.
He received no response. He waited. For hours. Surely, she should have confirmed she received his text. What if she hadn’t? Should he text again? Would he seem desperate? What if another text angered her?
The night lasted an infinite number of hours. Even though he turned his phone’s volume all the way up, his phone did not dingto indicate he’d received a message.
The next day, the royal tech guy confirmed that Phillip’s phone was not, in fact, broken. Aurora had simply not felt the need to respond. But a new day meant he could text again. When more hours passed during which Aurora maintained radio silence, Phillip went for a run. He needed to stay in shape in case of a dragon or other mythical creature problem.
When his phone finally rang, interrupting his kick-ass workout playlist, he was so excited he almost dropped the phone when leaning it against his good ear. “Hello? I mean, hey. Hi.”
“Yeees?” Aurora asked, drawing out the vowel.
At the sound of her harmonious voice, Phillip regained his composure. “Darling. What’s up?”
“You tell me. You’re the one who wanted me to call. And who also texted literally forty-six times today.”
Damn his inability to tone it down. “Wisdom has it that enthusiasm is a virtue.”
“Yeah, but like, over-enthusiasm? That’s a problem.”
At last, new task: temper his over-enthusiasm. Phillip would work at it day and night. He would be so not over-enthusiastic, he would border on—dare he even think it?—unenthusiastic.
The scrape of fencing swords sounded from her end of the phone. Aurora boasted so many wonderful talents.
“Heellooo?” she said.
Phillip had learned that when she held out her vowels, she grew impatient. To him, though, those long words sounded like a wonderful song.
“Yes, darling, I’m sorry,” he said. “I was thinking.”
“Oh, honey, I thought we talked about that.”
Phillip paused to give a regal wave to some of his subjects lined up at a bus stop, which was so urbanly charming. They bowed to him and all was well.
Someone on Aurora’s side of the line grunted and said, “I yield.”
“Again,” Aurora said, muffled, then clearer: “Phillip. Is there a point to this call?”
“Yes, there is. What are you up to tonight?”
“You’re not going to throw another festival, are you?” She sucked in her breath and took a few seconds before speaking again. “Because if so, I can’t attend. I have…plans.”
“No, no. I thought perhaps you’d like to join me for a camping trip.”
Aurora stopped what she was doing, and her side of the call gave off a loud silence. “Seriously?”
“You’re constantly reminding me how fairies raised you in the woods. I thought you might like to get away for a night, get back to nature. We could go to the spot where we first met.”
“Seriously?” Aurora’s voice grew softer. “That’s actually really sweet. Let me talk to my boss.”
“The person in charge of my work?”
How could independent, decisive, in-charge Aurora have a job in which someone else told her what to do?
“I’ll text you later, okay?” She hung up without waiting for a response.
Amanda Iles lives in New York, where she writes about other worlds. She also copyedits, bakes cupcakes, and drinks lots of coffee.