Red stands awkwardly in the grand room; far more opulent than anything she'd ever seen in her tiny village.
A stab of guilt goes through her chest as she thinks of Granny's repeated warnings about wandering too far from home and talking to strangers.
But something in Red has always wanted to roam, to see the world beyond the borders of her boring life.
So when a carriage drew up beside her and a kindly old man addressed her by name, telling her that the Queen had requested to meet her, Red could hardly turn that kind of adventure down.
Red had never been in a carriage before. A haycart, yes, but that was nothing compared to the finery of the Queen's carriage.
The seats were cushioned with silky, purple fabric and Red couldn't help but run her hands over them. The smell inside was of exotic perfumes and something else that Red couldn't quite place.
The man turned out to be the Queen's father. He smiled at her curiosity and answered her questions about the carriage to the best of his ability.
But when she asked why the Queen wanted to meet her, his smile dimmed. "I know not the workings of the Queen's mind, these days," he said, looking at his hands.
"I only know she wanted to meet you. She was most vehement about it." And that was all he would say.
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