However the prince’s mystery woman fascinated the press. The paparazzi had followed the trail from the beauty therapy centre but had come upon a dead end. She seemed to have arisen from dust and the Cinderella idea had captured the world’s imagination.
The media in Sestonia had run online line opinion polls which showed that no one believed the official line that Stephen’s Cinderella was merely an acquaintance. The prince looked wooden on his official engagements with and without his betrothed. The official date of the wedding was still to be announced though she wasn’t popular with the people and most were sympathetic to the prince’s secret love, with or without a slipper she had to be found.
Various international papers and internet pages offered money for her to come forward or for any information as to whom she was and there was a deluge of people contacting the media from all parts of the world, a sightings blog was set up and the add your comments section outline had been designed as glass slipper.
The Duke and Duchess, parents of the princes’ betrothed announced the official suspension of the engagement. It was clear they didn’t like the nature of media attention and the implication that their daughter was made out to be a cosmetic expedient.
The princess was euphoric at the news though never ceased to be amazed at the speculation. However things remained difficult, she could not go to the papers it would be an international scandal, her parents would never forgive her, the press would have a field day and would they believe her.
The prince was beside himself. He longingly remembered his months with the princess now he had been liberated from his commitment and with the media still bursting with hypothesis he began to wonder who he really loved. As his mind cleared he recalled, she had been happy not to establish a routine, and see each other at odd times in unusual places. He himself could do nothing, who could he trust to make his own enquires. What secret thing was there between them that would give him a clue as to who she really was. If only he could speak to her again. If only he did have a glass slipper.
Places they had visited together were making it easier for impersonators to make false claims as everyone cashed in on the Cinderella speculations. The beauty therapy centre was booked to the gunnels and they were turning out clones of her in disguise. Fees had always been paid in cash. The on line dating agency had made a fortune in publishing their questionnaires and while undertaking her royal duties she too was invited to speculate
“Princess Papaver who do you think the Cinderella is? Could she be a friend of yours?”
Her reply was always the same,
“My status does not permit me to comment.”
The absurdness of the situation brought a wry smile to her face, so obsessed where they in finding her in disguise they were unable to recognise her when she was under their noses though she knew that was no surprise. The princess looked at herself in the mirror, she was unhappy with what she saw and happiness now seemed permanently out of reach. She would settle for one meeting to tell the truth anything was better than living spinning in this vortex perpetually maintained by the mental lashes of if only’s and should haves.