Shit! An ear-shattering scream broke the tense silence when the shoe fit perfectly, like it was made for that vein-infested foot. Charming looked up, his diplomatic training coming in full force to his aid as he tried to hide his disgust at the moustached , pock-marked face that looked ecstatically back at him.
Charming looked back at his body guard, but he was, right then, studiously avoiding his eyes by adjusting his sword on the belt and then fidgeting with the feather on his hat.
Charming looked back at the horrid woman. Her eyes were bright, mad and feverish. In a split second he imagined spending the rest of his life with her. Her stinky mouth would wake him in the morning; her greasy hair dirtying the diamond tiaras that his mother would bestow upon her, happy to finally have acquired a daughter in law. She would laugh loudly and gracelessly at the monotone attempts at humour that the Prime Minister would crack from time to time. She would gorge on the palace food like there was no tomorrow, growing fatter everyday until the obese princess would hardly be able to fit her ample behind on the throne. She would attempt to kiss him with her slobbery lips and she would try to seduce him every night with inadequate charm and shapeless figure.
Charming caught his breath and in a fit of panic removed the shoe from the foot and dropped it. The glass shattered with pleasing doom.
“You broke it!” shouted the girl angrily.
“No matter, bring forth the other shoe. It will do just as well.” A brilliant idea had just popped in his head.
“The other shoe?”
“Yes, they usually come in pairs don’t they?”
The girl bit her fat, bottom lip. The mother swooped in. “The shoe is being cleaned, Your Highness. Crystal, you know, is very delicate.”
“I will wait until the other shoe is brought.”
The three women looked at each other. Panic now transferred from Charming to them. He knew it. His new plan was flawless.
The mother made a show of calling the servants. An old man came. He was ordered to go to the shoemaker and be back in less than an hour. The ancient servant looked confused, and scared. He scurried away on his mistress’s orders.
Tea was offered and the prince drank at leisure. The three women chattered loudly, eager to entertain. At one point Charming thought he heard banging somewhere from inside the house, but when he asked, the mother blamed the cat in a cold undertone. Charming ignored the incessant banging after that.
He was on his third cup of tea when the old servant returned. He was ashen-faced and Charming noted his shaking fingers.
“The shoemaker said that the other shoe has been…misplaced.”
Charming jumped to his feet and produced the smile he had become so famous for, “Oh that is unfortunate. Without a shoe I can never prove to my father that my lady is the one. So I am sorry. It has been a pleasure. Thank you for the tea.” Charming bowed obligingly and swooped out of the front door dragging his retinue behind him.
He could always plan another ball. There were plenty of women in the kingdom. The right one would turn up, eventually.