Suddenly Royal

By: Nichole Chase

To say my day was not going well, would be like saying the French Revolution had been a bit troublesome for Marie Antoinette. My truck had coughed and sputtered all the way to school. Only half of the students in my first class showed up, and then I couldn’t find the tests I had spent the entire weekend grading. My entire day was turning into a bad country song. By the time lunch rolled around I had been more than ready for a break. I snagged a sandwich and ate it on my way to the library. The server for our building was down and I needed to do some research.

That’s when I ran into all of the people. It was like the entire student body had gathered in the middle of the school for a pep rally. Hordes of giggling freshmen were pushing their way to the front and one of them elbowed me, making me drop the notebook I was carrying. The fraternities and sororities had painted signs and hung them on trees to welcome someone. I grimaced when I realized one of them was actually a sheet that didn’t look very clean. I looked from the signs to the crowd and realized I would never be able to make it up the stairs to the library. Standing in the middle of the steps was a group of people, but my eyes focused on the tall blond man. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from him. He was joking with a girl while she batted her eyes and twirled a lock of hair around her finger.

I tried to see exactly why everyone was so excited, but none of it made sense. Donors came to the school all the time and most of the self-absorbed student body never noticed. The man on the steps was attractive enough to be a movie star and had to be what had brought the mob out.

“Do you see him, Sam? The prince?” One of the girls in my first class pulled on my arm.

“Prince? Yeah, I see him.” A prince? A real-life prince with a crown and throne? No wonder the masses were out in the snow. A royal donor would bring out everyone. Movie stars were one thing, but a prince? That wasn’t something you saw every day. I wondered why royalty would be donating to our school, but standing out in the cold watching some guy flirt was not part of my plans. I only had a little longer before I had to be at the research center and a lot to get done in the meantime.

“He’s gorgeous,” the girl gushed while her friends made noises of agreement.

“Yeah, I guess.” I rolled my eyes.

“Even you have to admit he’s hot.” She laughed at me. What the hell did that mean? I wasn’t blind. Of course I noticed he was hot. What the hell kind of good would that do me? I’d never see him again. He was a freaking prince!

Spinning on my heel I headed for a side entrance only to see it was blocked by police. Gritting my teeth I stomped through the snow to the back entrance. It took forever, because I was dodging mobs of people. I almost tripped on a cord and the news reporter hollered at me. I gave him my best eat-shit-and-die look, but he wasn’t fazed. By the time I reached the back steps I was ready to murder someone.

There was a group of cops standing at the door, but I didn’t care. I marched up and went straight for the entrance.

“You can’t go in there, miss.”

“Why not? I pay tuition so I can use this library.”

“It’s closed right now. Should be open again in an hour or so.”

“I’ll be busy in an hour.” I gave him my best imitation of puppy eyes. “I just need to use the Internet and check out some books. Please? I’ll be good. One of you guys can come in with me.”

“Sorry.”

I took a deep breath, the cold air stinging my lungs, and turned back toward the parking lot. I went straight to my truck, cranked it up, and headed for the center. The stars had aligned and I would not be doing what I had needed to, so I might as well throw myself into the other part of my work.

Working with the birds brightened my mood. After checking through the cages to make sure there were no problems, I moved to weighing and measuring the birds. When I got to Dover, an owl who had been hit by a car, I cooed softly. She had lost an eye, so tended to be nervous when people approached her mew.

“Hi, sweetheart. Time for some food.” I unlocked the cage door and stepped in slowly. I untied the string that held her to her perch and gave her a good look-over.

Once I had her in the office, I weighed her, careful to note the exact amount in our logs before getting her food.

“Eat up. You know you want it.” I lifted the mouse to her beak but she turned away. “Aw, c’mon, Dover. It’s yummy mouse guts. Your favorite.”

She ruffled her feathers and sighed. Dover was beautiful, but getting her to eat was always a frustrating process. I lifted the mouse to her beak again, making sure she could see the food out of her good eye. Delicately, as if she was doing me a favor, she took a small bite.

“That’s it,” I hummed. “Eat up.”

Slowly she lifted her claw and grasped the mouse. I sighed in relief. She needed to eat to keep her weight up. It was also how we administered her medicine. Dover was a smart bird and I suspected she knew we were putting something in her food.

Once she was done, I took a few measurements and took her back to her mew. I checked the cage quickly and then cleaned up any mess she had made. I checked all our log books to make sure nothing had been missed, made a few notes about a Harris hawk with an injured wing, and closed up shop.

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