Chapter 4

I liked Tessa. Like me, she was far more of a realist than the other girls, who seemed to think that they had an actual chance against fifteen girls who already knew everything there is to know about the Prince. 

I ended up spending most of our time on the ship in the company of Tessa. She was from Phoenix, Arizona and didn't like the 'cold weather'. It was nearing the end of fall, so I guess it would be very cold for someone that was used to nothing but heat. 

We ate breakfast together at the far end of the ship, near one of the windows. The red-headed girl was sitting a few tables away from us, reading the folder of information we got like it was the holy bible, muttering what it said to herself. Tessa noticed that I had looked over at her.

"Have you read it?" She asked. 

"No." I shrugged, putting down the cup of tea I had been drinking. "I overheard the other girls talk about it in the hallway, I got the recap of it."

"Help a girl out?" She asked.

"He has three younger brothers and one sister," I said to her. "The current King's name is Carrick, his wife's name is Mayela." 

"Yeah, that seems like the important parts." She looked out of the window for a few seconds. "The guy's name is Sebastian right?" I started laughing.

"Yeah." I answered. A few tables over I heard the redheaded girl sigh loudly, clearly annoyed by our ignorance. Tessa seemed to notice it too and raised her cup of coffee.

"To a free vacation!" She grinned.

It only took about half an hour for us to start seeing land in the distance. The moment the words escaped my lips the redheaded girl got up and ran over to another window. I couldn't really blame her for that, I was interested to see what it would look like too. 

We would be arriving in a brand new town, one that had been built just so that the boats could dock there. It still looked like just a tiny speck, but we really couldn't see anything but green meadows behind it. 

"It looks..." I started, unsure of how to end the sentence.

"Empty." Tessa finished. Empty seemed to cover it pretty well, I had expected it to be like home. Empty places were hard to come by, we utilized every piece of land we got. But I suppose their country was far bigger than The Netherlands.

"Ah, girls." Gwen came walking in, followed by her bodyguards and the other contestants. "We will wait here together until the ship is fully in the docks. Servants will take care of your luggage for you."

They had already informed us of this, so I wasn't totally blindsided. I had decided to wear a navy blue dress, with long sleeves. I wanted to look somewhat fancy already, but I couldn't help but wear my black vans with it. I wasn't capable of walking on heels for more than an hour. 

It took about two hours until someone came and told us that we could leave. Even Tessa looked pretty nervous. We had no idea what Medora or the people would be like. Gwen had been nice enough, but I got the feeling that she studied and copied our culture, to make us feel better. 

There was no security check this time, or we didn't have to go through it. Gwen led us directly outside, where a convoy of cars was waiting for us. They all looked like black SUV's, but they didn't have any brand or mark on them that could confirm it.

"Alright ladies, these cars will drive us straight to the capital," Gwen said, pointing at the cars behind her. "It's a long drive, so I suggest you partner up with someone you like." Within a second I could feel Tessa grab my arm and pull me towards her. I send her a grin back.

The two basic girls sat together in a car. The redheaded girl sat with Gwen, which she didn't even seem to mind. To me, it was like being paired off with the teacher, but she probably saw it as an opportunity to learn more. 

Tessa and I were in the second to last car of the convoy. The last was a small minivan. Only once all our doors were shut, and the black windows kept them from looking in, the other people on the ship started to disembark. They were clearly the reporters.

"Jesus," Tessa said. "Look at how many of them!" 

She was right, there were too many of them. Some had to stay behind and wait for another car to be sent out. That didn't matter for us though, we drove away from the ship, and into the unknown. 

Gwen had not been lying when she said that it was a long ride. We had departed at around ten in the morning, but we were informed that we might arrive in time to have dinner at the castle. 

Though Tessa and I shared the same 'free vacation' view of things, we were both starting to get slightly worried. 

"How do you even deal with royalty?" I asked her, once we had been driving for three hours. We had been making small talk about the things we saw, which wasn't a whole lot. There were not a whole lot of other cars on the road, and we could only see small towns in the distance, but never close enough to actually see anything interesting. 

"I don't know." Tessa sighed. "Do we bow?"

"We are supposed to, aren't we?" I asked back. The Netherlands had a monarchy, but I honestly could not remember if people bowed when they met them. I knew their names and faces obviously, but generally the only time I saw them was when someone made fun of them online. 

The driver had put up his little divider the moment we set off. We only had one stop for a restroom break and lunch before hitting the road again. I was starting to seriously regret my decision to wear a dress, until we got closer to the capital.

The signs that we were getting closer were obvious. The roads improved, the drivers were forced to slow down. We were starting to trade out the meadows and distant towns for close streets filled with people.

"Do you think," Tessa swallowed hard. "Do you think they are here for us?"

The crowds weren't looking at the shops or the amazing architecture, they were only looking at us. Some were even waving, or taking pictures. They couldn't see any of us through the tinted windows, but it did not seem to matter to them.

"Maybe." I just answered. 

The capital of Medora was built on a mountain. The city spiralled around it, but at the very top was the castle. It was possibly the prettiest building I had ever seen. It had high towers made out of bright, white stone and by the looks of it several floors to occupy. There was also one lone tower that was connected to the rest of the building by a sky bridge. I thought I could see someone stand on the bridge, but I wasn't sure. 

They had gone all out for the special occasion. The streets were incredibly clean, not to even mention the number of flowers they had decorating the shops and even the streetlights. It looked like we had straight-up walked into a magical fantasy land. 

"Welcome to Avian, girls." Gwen's voice sounded through our speakers. "As you can see, the streets are rather busy. It will take us some time to get to the castle." The streets only seemed to become more and more crowded as we got closer to the castle. 

"When we arrive, you will be taken to your room by a servant. This will be your personal assistant for the duration of your stay here. Afterwards, we will be meeting in one of the ballrooms, where the reporters will have ample time to interview you. I know I don't have to repeat this, but make a good impression on them. Everything you say to them will be broadcasted around the globe. The royal family will see it as well." She was quiet for a few seconds, probably to put emphasis on what she just said.

"Tomorrow morning you will have breakfast with all the other contestants, this is another televised event, so be on your best behaviour. I will give you your further instructions there." The radio turned back off. 

I glanced over at Tessa. She looked like she was just as worried as I was. 

"It's all televised," I repeated. "And here I was thinking I'll just get another job as a barista when this is over." 

"We might be able to spin it to make something better out of it you know." She said once she found her voice again. "Keeping up with Tessa and Jane." 

"Medora's next top model." I chimed in.

"The bachelor except it's just us two looking for a man." She joked and leaned back in her chair. 

"It'll be fine." I said to the both of us.

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