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Princess in Waiting

Meg Cabot


  The Princess Diaries, Volume IV

  Princess in Waiting

  For Walter Schretzman,

  and the many others who scatter largesse so

  selflessly throughout New York City.

  Don’t think we haven’t noticed.

  With thanks.





  About the Author

  Books by Meg Cabot



  About the Publisher

  “If I was a princess,” she murmured, “I could scatter largess to the populace. But even if I am only a pretend princess, I can invent little things to do for people. I’ll pretend that to do things for people is scattering largess.”


  Frances Hodgson Burnett

  Thursday, January 1, Midnight, Royal Genovian bedchamber


  I will stop biting my fingernails, including the fake ones.

  I will stop lying. Grandmère knows when I am lying anyway, thanks to my traitorous nostrils, which flare every time I tell a fib, so it’s not like there is even a point in trying to be less than truthful.

  I will never veer from prepared script while delivering televised address to the Genovian public.

  I will stop accidentally saying mèrde in front of the ladies-in-waiting.

  I will stop asking François, my Genovian bodyguard, to teach me French swear words.

  I will apologize to the Genovian Olive Growers Association for that thing with the pits.

  I will apologize to the Royal Chef for slipping Grandmère’s dog that slice of foie gras (even though I have told the palace kitchen repeatedly that I do not eat liver).

  I will stop lecturing the Royal Genovian Press Corps on the evils of smoking. If they all wish to develop lung cancer, that is their prerogative.

  I will achieve self-actualization.

  I will stop thinking so much about Michael Moscovitz.

  Oh, wait. It’s okay for me to think about Michael Moscovitz, BECAUSE HE IS MY BOYFRIEND NOW!!!!!!!!


  Friday, January 2, 2 p.m., Royal Genovian Parliament

  You know, I am supposed to be on vacation. Seriously. I mean, this is my winter break. I am supposed to be having fun, mentally recharging for the coming semester, which is not going to be easy, as I will be moving on to Algebra II, not to mention Health and Safety class. Everybody at school was all, Oh, you are so lucky, you get to spend Christmas in a castle being waited on hand and foot.

  Well, first of all, there is nothing so great about living in a castle. Because guess what? Castles are totally old. And yeah, it’s not like this one was built in 4 A. D., or whenever it was my ancestress Princess Rosagunde first became ruler of Genovia. But it was still built in, like, the 1600s, and let me tell you what they didn’t have in the 1600s:




  Which is not to say there isn’t a satellite dish now, but, hello, this is my dad’s place; the only channels he has got programmed are, like, CNN, CNN Financial News, and the golf channel. Where is MTV 2, I ask you? Where is the Lifetime Movie Channel for Women?

  Not that it matters because I am spending all my time being run off my feet. It isn’t as if I ever even get a free moment to pick up a remote and go, “Ho hum, I wonder if there’s a Tracey Gold movie on.”

  Oh, yeah, and the toilets? Let me just tell you that back in the 1600s, they didn’t know so much about sewage. So now, four hundred years later, if you put one square too much toilet paper in the bowl and try to flush, you create a mini indoor tsunami.

  So that’s it. That is my life in Genovia.

  Every other kid I know is spending his or her winter break in Aspen skiing, or in Miami getting tanned.

  But me? What am I doing for my winter break?

  Well, here are the highlights from the new datebook Grandmère gave me for Christmas (what girl wouldn’t love to get a datebook for Christmas?) of what I have done so far:

  Sunday, December 21Royal Daily Schedule

  Arrived in Genovia. Due to large bagful of Skittles consumed on flight over, almost barfed on official Genovian welcome committee who came to airport to greet me as I disembarked from the plane.

  One full day since I last saw Michael. Tried calling him at his grandparents’ house in Boca Raton, where the Moscovitzes have gone for winter break, but no one answered, perhaps because of time difference, Genovia being six hours ahead of Florida.

  Monday, December 22 Royal Daily Schedule

  While touring naval cruiser, the Prince Phillipe, tripped over anchor, accidentally knocking Admiral Pepin into the Genovian harbor. He was okay, though. They fished him out with a harpoon.

  But why am I the only one in this country who thinks pollution is an important issue? If people are going to dock their yachts in the Genovian harbor, they really ought to pay attention to what they are throwing overboard. I mean, porpoises get their noses stuck in those plastic six-pack holders all the time, and then they starve to death because they can’t open their mouths to eat. All people have to do is snip the loops before they throw the holders out, and everything would be fine.

  Well, all right, not everything, since you shouldn’t be throwing trash overboard in the first place.

  I simply cannot stand idly by while helpless sea creatures are being abused by a bunch of Bain de Soleil addicts in search of that perfect Saint-Tropez tan.

  Two days since last saw Michael. Tried calling him twice. First time, no answer. Second time, Michael’s grandmother answered and said I had just missed him, as Michael had gone to the pharmacy to pick up his grandfather’s prescription foot powder. This is so like him, always thinking of others before himself.

  Tuesday, December 23Royal Daily Schedule

  At breakfast with Genovian Olive Growers Association, mentioned unseasonable drought afflicting Mediterranean area must be the “pits.” No one seemed to think this joke particularly amusing, particularly members of Olive Growers Association.

  Three days since last saw Michael. No time to call due to pit controversy.

  Wednesday, December 24Royal Daily Schedule

  Gave televised Christmas Eve greeting to Genovian public. Strayed somewhat from prepared speech by mentioning amount of revenue generated in five boroughs of New York City by parking meters, and expressed belief that installing parking meters in Genovia would contribute greatly to national economy, while also discouraging cheapskate day-trippers from venturing across our border. Still have no idea why Grandmère was so mad about the whole thing. New York City parking meters are NOT hideously ugly blights on landscape. Most of the time, I never even notice them at all.

  Four days SLSM (since last saw Michael)

  Thursday, December 25, Christmas Royal Daily Schedule

  SPOKE TO MICHAEL AT LAST!!!!!! Was finally able to get through to him. Conversation somewhat stilted, however, as my father, grandmother, and cousin René were all in room from which I was calling, and Michael’s parents, grandparents, and sister were in room in which he received call.

  He asked me if I got anything good for Christmas, and I said no, nothing but a datebook and a scepter. What I wanted was a cell phone. Asked Michael if he got anything good for Hanukkah, and he said no, nothing but a color printer. Which is still better than what I got, if you ask me. Although scepter excellent for pushing back cuticles.

  I am so relieved that Michael hasn’t forgotten all about me. I know my boyfriend is vastly superior to all the other members o
f his species—guys, I mean. But everyone knows that guys are like dogs—their short-term memory is completely nil. You tell them your favorite fictional character is Xena, Warrior Princess, and next thing you know, they are going on about how your favorite fictional character is Xica of Telemundo. Boys just don’t know any better, on account of how their brains are too filled up with stuff about modems and Star Trek Voyager and Limp Bizkit and all.

  Michael is no exception to this rule. Oh, I know he is co-valedictorian of his class and got a perfect score on his SATs and was accepted early decision to one of the most prestigious universities in the country. But you know it took him about five million years even to admit he liked me. And that was only after I’d sent him all these anonymous love letters. Which turned out not to be so anonymous because he fully knew it was me the whole time, thanks to all of my friends, including his little sister, having such exceptionally large mouths.

  But whatever. I am just saying, five days is a long time to go without a word from your one true love. I mean, Tina Hakim Baba’s boyfriend, Dave Farouq El-Abar, sometimes goes that long without calling her, and Tina always becomes convinced that Dave’s met a girl who is better than she is. She even confronted him about it once, telling him that she loved him and that it hurt her when he didn’t call… which only caused him not to call anymore, since Dave turns out to be commitment-phobic.

  It would be very easy for Michael to meet a girl who is better than me. I mean, there must be millions of girls out there who have things actually going for them, aside from being a princess, and who don’t have to spend their holidays cooped up in a palace with their crazy grandma and her freakish hairless toy poodle.

  And even though when Tina starts insisting Dave’s dumping her, and we all go, “Oh, he’s not,” I think I am starting to know how she feels.

  Talked to Mom and Mr. Gianini. They are both doing fine, though my mom still won’t let the doctor tell her what it is she’s having—a boy or a girl. Mom says she doesn’t want to know, since if it’s a boy she won’t push, due to not wanting to bring another Y-chromosomed oppressor into the world (Mr. G says that is just the hormones talking, but I’m not so sure. My mom can be pretty anti–Y-chromosome when she puts her mind to it). They put Fat Louie up to the phone so I could wish him a merry Christmas, and he growled with annoyance, so I know he is doing fine as well.


  Friday, December 26Royal Daily Schedule

  Forced to watch father and cousin René play in charity golf tournament against Tiger Woods. Tiger won (no surprise) as Dad is middle-aged and Prince René confessed to having attended grappa-tasting party the night before. Only sport more boring than golf is polo. Going to be forced to watch Dad and cousin René play that next month—although technically anyway, René is barely even my cousin. He’s, like, eleven hundred times removed.

  And even though he is a prince, he is no longer allowed by Italian law to set foot in his native land, due to the socialists running all members of the Italian royal family out of town. Poor René’s ancestral palace now belongs to a famous shoe designer, who has turned it into a resort for wealthy Americans to come for the weekend and make their own pasta and drink two- hundred-year-old balsamic vinegar.

  René doesn’t seem to mind, though, because here in Genovia everyone still calls him His Highness Prince René, and he is extended every privilege given a member of a royal household.

  Still, just because René is four years older than me and a prince and a freshman at some French business school, doesn’t mean he has the right to patronize me. I mean, I believe gambling is morally wrong, and the fact that René spends so many hours at the roulette wheel instead of utilizing his time in a more productive fashion irks me.

  I mentioned this to him. It just seems to me that René needs to realize there is more to life than racing around in his Alfa Romeo, or swimming in the palace indoor pool wearing nothing but one of those little black Speedos, which are very stylish here in Europe (I asked my dad to please, for the love of all that is holy, stick to trunks, which, thankfully, he has).

  And okay, René just laughed at me.

  But at least I can rest easy knowing I have done everything I can to show one extremely self-absorbed prince the error of his profligate ways.


  Saturday, December 27Royal Daily Schedule

  V. depressing day, as twenty-fifth anniversary of Grand-père’s death. Had to hang wreath on grave, wear black veil, etc. Veil stuck to lip gloss, could not get it off by blowing, finally had to pull it off, causing hat to be swept by wind into Genovian harbor. Prince René fished it out with the help of some friendly topless sunbathers, but hat will clearly never be the same.


  Sunday, December 28 Royal Daily Schedule

  Prince René was caught entertaining friendly topless sunbathers in pool house. Major ballistics from my dad, who thinks at eighteen René should be aware that he has a rep for being “Prince William of the Continent,” minus the crown jewels, as René’s side of the family have only name and not fortune to go with it anymore, and that those girls were only using him. René says he doesn’t mind being used in that fashion, and if he doesn’t mind, why should Dad? This only made my dad madder, however. Should have warned René it isn’t wise to antagonize Dad when vein in center of forehead is throbbing, but there was no time.

  Tried calling Michael; got busy signal for four hours. He must have been online. Would have e-mailed him, but only computers in palace with Internet access in administrative offices, and doors were locked.


  Monday, December 29 Royal Daily Schedule

  Met with Genovian casino operators. Was discouraged by their insistence on maintaining valet parking for their patrons. Explained substantial increase in revenue generated by parking meters, but was rebuffed.

  Asked Dad for own key to administrative offices, so that I can e-mail Michael whenever I want, but he rebuffed me, too, due to René having been caught in administrative offices last week, photocopying his nether region. Assured Dad I would never do something this asinine, not being homeless Speedo-wearing prince filled with testosterone, but argument clearly fell on deaf ears.

  Nine days since I last saw Michael, and I think I am going INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  Tuesday, December 30 Royal Daily Schedule

  MESSAGE FROM MICHAEL via palace phone operators. Says, Miss you, will try to call at bonne nuit. Asked palace operators if they are sure this is what Michael said, and they insist it was. Except this message makes no sense. Bonne nuit means “good night,” it is not a time. Possibly there is word in Klingon that sounds like bonne nuit? No time to call Michael myself, however, as was ensconced all day long with Genovian Minister of Defense, learning what to do in unlikely case of military incursion by hostile enemy forces.

  10 DSLSM

  Wednesday, December 31 Royal Daily Schedule

  Posed for royal portrait. Was instructed not to move, and especially not to smile. Was very hard not to, however, as Rommel, Grandmère’s toy poodle, was wandering around with one of those plastic cones around his head so he won’t lick away what is left of his fur. Rommel is the only dog I know with an obsessive-compulsive disorder that is causing him to lick himself bald. The American vets all thought Rommel’s hair loss was due to allergies. Then, when we got to Genovia, the Royal Vet was all, “Alors! Eet is Oh Cee Dee!”

  I do not like to make fun of the plight of any four legged creature, but Rommel was funny, the way he’d lost his peripheral vision and kept bumping into suits of armor and stuff.

  Royal portrait painter says he despairs of me. Let me out early to attend palace New Year’s party. Was big letdown, due to not having Michael there to kiss at midnight. Tried calling him, but Moscovitzes must have been out at some beach or pool party, as no one answered.

  You know what they have a lot of in Florida? Beach and pool parties. You know who goes to beach and pool parties? Girls in bikinis. Like the gi
rls from that movie Blue Crush. Like that one, Kate Bosworth, who had the one blue eye and the one brown eye and the tiny shorts. Yeah, that one. How is anyone supposed to compete against a surfer girl with one blue eye and one brown eye, I’d like to know?????

  René tried to kiss me at midnight, but I told him to go kiss Grandmère instead. He’d had so much champagne, he actually did it. Grandmère hit him with a decorative swan carved from a pineapple.

  11 DSLSM

  Thursday, January 1 Royal Daily Schedule

  GOT E-MAIL FROM MICHAEL!!!!!!! René stole key to administrative offices because he said he had to “look some things up” on Netscape (he was fully scoring people on Are You Hot or Not—I caught him) and I happened to be walking by on my way to the indoor palace pool, so I demanded to be let in. René had too big of a headache from all the champagne he drank last night to fight me on the matter.

  So I got online and there was this e-mail from Michael!!!!!!!! It turns out he was NOT at a party with Kate Bosworth-like girls last night:

  Mia (he wrote) sorry to have missed your call, I was at my grandparents’ retirement complex’s New Year’s bash (they played Ricky Martin and thought they were on the cutting edge). Didn’t you get my message? Well, anyway, happy New Year and I really miss you and all of that.

  P.S. Are they keeping you locked in a tower over there or what? Because even prisoners get phone privileges. Am I going to have to come to Genovia and climb up your hair to get you out or something?