Lily sighed, knowing exactly what was going to happen.
Courtney had accepted that James had a girlfriend and was taken, though, she never ceased to bring trouble with every step she took with her diamond-encrusted heels.
"Courtney," Emma said, seeming bored.
Courtney let out a loud 'Hmph' before she glared at her rival.
"Out of all the balls you could've gone to, you decided to go to mine," Emma muttered to herself.
"You are not going to get away for stealing my man," she said decisively.
"Yet I already did, and he never was yours," Emma said confidently.
Her confidence and ego seemed to always be boosted whenever Courtney was around, probably because any slip up she made would be criticized, and also since she despised the brat of a duchess.
James, Connor and Lily watched, ready to hear the insults the two probably already had prepared for each other, and James also ready to pull Emma away if a fight was to ensue.
"What a lousy ball," Courtney said rudely.
Emma suppressed a sneer.
"Yet out of all the balls, you still chose to come to mine," Emma said, delivering a great comeback.
Emma fist-bumped Lily, who was clearly amused by all this, and didn't mean to intervene at any time.
Especially since Courtney's reaction to Emma's comeback couldn't be described as anything other than priceless.
She was exuding anger, and if she was any more provoked, she would've already slapped Emma in the face with her heavy designer purse that poor Winnie was forced to carry.
"Listen here you little peasant. Remember that I'm still of higher title than you, and if I talk to daddy, I can have your title revoked," she threatened.
Emma didn't seem fazed by the threat, only laughing before she gave her reply.
"Go ahead and run to your daddy and see if I'm any scared. That seems to be the only way you get your revenge, by turning to others since you yourself are too scared to do anything to me, which leads to you making your slaves to do it for you," Emma savagely replied.
James smiled, proud of his girlfriend, as he watched Courtney narrow her eyes before stomping away, acting just as immature as a little child throwing a tantrum, since she knew she wouldn't be winning this fight. Especially not since Emma had a team of four, and her a team of two.
"Looks like none of us had to intervene since you had it all under control," Connor said, grinning.
He too despised Courtney. Heck, probably everyone that attended ZALE with the small exception of Winnie did.
"You certainly put her in her place, but it's getting troublesome when she keeps on coming back with more and more trouble," Connor said as he averted Lily's caring gaze.
James, noticing how they were acting around each other, whispered to Emma.
"You're right. They're so nervous around each other. Maybe we should leave them alone to do their own thing, Em. Besides, I have a small surprise waiting," he said with a small smile.
Emma looked at James.
"A surprise?" She asked excitedly.
Emma then raised a brow.
"Isn't there still a ball going on? It wouldn't feel right," she admitted.
James pursed his lips, as he did every time he thought of something.
"Yes, you're right. Maybe you could ask King William and Queen Isabelle for permission. You are the whole reason there's this ball in the first place, and no one would notice if you disappear a while before the ball ends now would they?" James reasoned.
Emma nodded, enthusiastic.
"Right. I'll go ask them for permission. Want to come with?" She asked, knowing the presence of her boyfriend would definitely help convince the two monarchs of Zenovia.
"Of course I'm coming. How exactly could I say no when my princess needs her knight in shining armor to save her from this boring ball," James said firmly.
Emma smiled at James as the both of them neared their way to the two monarchs of Zenovia.
After greetings were once exchanged with the monarchs, with Emma also having to curtsy in her huge ball gown which was in itself one difficult feat.
"May we have permission to leave the ball early, your majesty?" Emma asked politely, her hand intertwined with James'.
King William thought about it for a while, before coming to his decision.
"Apologies, but the answer is a no. After all, you are the reason this ball was held in the first place," King William answered.
His wife shot him a look.
"William, cut the children some slack. They want to spend some time together. The guests won't notice the disappearance of the two, and it's ending soon anyway," Queen Isabelle reasoned.
Emma smiled, grateful for Queen Isabelle.
King William sighed.
"So be it. You two are free to leave," King William, coming to his final decision.
An exchange of goodbyes, and the two were on their way.
Yet right before the two left the grand ballroom, Emma wanted to bid goodbye to her mother. Unfortunately, she couldn't find her mother, who she then assumed probably returned to her quarters to rest after the exhausting task of having to talk to the other guests all night.
"Well, I wouldn't want to bother her, so let's be on our way. I can't wait to see what you have for the surprise," Emma said, unable to hide her clear excitement for what was to come ahead.
The two swiftly left, luckily not gaining the attention of the other guests who were busy having the time of their life, or their boring lives, so to speak.
As Emma and James walked through the palace hallway, they flirted with each other, and James kept her occupied from looking ahead, keeping her wondering about what was it that he would be surprising her with, right before something caught the corner of their eyes.
They looked at the floor, only to see what lay there, to get the worst surprise of their lives.
Emma fell to the floor, her legs unable to carry her anymore as she saw the terrible sight, her gown taking the harsh impact.
She covered her mouth, stopping a shriek and loud scream that would with no doubt attract the attention of the other guests in the ballroom.
James was speechless, not believing the horrid sight himself.
He kneeled, embracing his girlfriend as he tried his best to shield her from what she just saw.
Lying on the floor, drenched in a puddle of her own blood that was growing larger by the moment, and not needing any check of a pulse to determine she was deceased, was the dead corpse of Viscountess Chloe.
Emma's beloved mother.