The Things We Do For Love

When disaster strikes, the show must still go on. Even if it involves princess dresses and reluctant fathers. Oh, the things we do for love. This may seem familiar if you've read I Told You So, but it's not required.

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1. The Things We Do For Love

Crap.

The princess just had to have an emergency today, didn't she? No, I shouldn’t think that. It's not her fault.

But it is the party company's fault for not being able to replace her. A full refund is nice and all, but it sure doesn't mean anything to the little girl the party is meant for. Unlike adults, you can't just shower her with cash until she cheers up. We wanted to celebrate a seventh birthday with a magic kingdom theme. Kind of hard to do without the royalty.

My ears are flooded with the sound of Izzy's tears as she clings to my leg, distraught.

"Is the princess coming, mommy?" she asks. "Why isn't she here yet?"

"Um, I'm not sure sweetheart."

I try to pry her off as gently as possible, handing her to her grandmother so I can search for my husband.

"Ben!" I hiss once I find him. "Get over here!"

"What's going on? I leave for ten minutes and I come back to Izzy crying."

"The girl we hired got stung by a bee on the way over and had an allergic reaction. Nobody else is available."

"What?" he groans, running a hand down his face. "Izzy's been excited for that all week. Like she said, 'The princess is the most important part, daddy.'"

"Do I really look like I need you to tell me that?"

He scans my face for a moment, deciding it's in his best interest not to make some snarky comeback. Good call. I wouldn't want Izzy to have two things she cares about go to the hospital today.

"So what now?" Ben asks, seeming lost.

"Now we take this into our own hands and find a new princess."

"Ah!" he exclaims, looking cheerful. "Great idea! You have the fluffy dress from that time you went to a masquerade party. Izzy's never seen you wear it. You'll look just like a princess."

"It's not going to be me," I reply, attempting to ready myself for his reaction. "It's going to be you."

"Excuse me?"

He recovers from his shock, immediately shaking his head.

"No way," he snaps, voice almost venomous. "I am not wearing a dress."

"Oh, yes you are," I challenge, staring him down.

"It wouldn't fit. We're not the same size."

"We are," I shoot back, reminding him of a fact which usually makes me want to die inside. "You'll fit."

"I don't even look like a girl," he protests, now growing desperate. "I'd have to, um . . . shave!"

"Please," I scoff. "You and I both know you still have the body of an eight-year-old girl. Put on the wig I used for my vampire costume last Halloween, and ask my mom to help you get makeup on. You'll look more like a woman than I do."

"Why can't you do it?" he whines.

"Mommy!" Izzy screeches, clearly tired of being taken care of by someone else.

"That's why," I respond.

She lunges for me, still sobbing. I glare at Ben, gesturing to the little girl. He can't be heartless, right?

He shakes his head again, looking argumentative.

Fine. I've got another trick up my sleeve.

"Izzy," I call, my voice soft. "Daddy has to tell you something about the princess, okay? Go give him a big hug and listen to what he has to say."

She follows my instructions, reaching her arms up until Ben holds her.

"Listen, baby girl," he starts, reluctant. "The princess . . ."

When he trails off, torn, Izzy looks up at him. Wide-eyed and still teary, her gaze begins to break him.

"What about her, daddy? She's coming, right? You promised me she'd be here to dance with me."

Bingo. The words have an almost magical effect on the man. I win.

"Of course she's coming!" he chimes, working hard to look enthusiastic. "She's just running a bit late, that's all. In fact, I'm going to go help her get to the house. I'd never break a promise to you."

"Yay!" she cheers, wrapping her arms around his neck to hug him. "I love you so much! Daddy's the best!"

He smiles at her, but the expression drops from his face once he hands her to me. He shoots me the nastiest glare I've ever seen when she looks away, making it clear he doesn't approve of my tactics.

All's fair in love and war.

He trudges off while I entertain the now excited bundle of pink fluff that is my daughter. When he comes down thirty minutes later, looking like a perfect princess, I almost bust a lung trying not to laugh.

The wig falls a bit too naturally on his shoulders, the black locks framing his face. The blue dress hits his hips in a way that almost makes me jealous, and the bodice fits him like a glove. It seems our assistant had the idea to stuff the chest area so he looks less flat there. Even his makeup and contouring is well-done. I'll have to go applaud my mother later.

"Hello, girls," Ben chirps, and I'm sure he's straining his voice trying to get it that high. "Sorry about the delay. I was almost kidnapped by an evil king on the way here, but a handsome young gentleman saved me. It was the man who was hosting this party. He was so good looking that I almost swooned-"

"Hey, princess," I interrupt, holding back a snicker at his compliments to himself. "Why don't you stop with story time and show us how to curtesy?"

I catch the briefest of soul-piercing glares, but it's gone before the kids even notice. I can tell Ben grits his teeth, but he holds onto the dress and dips in a curtesy. All those princess movies with Izzy were instructional, it seems.

"Now then," Ben starts, "I think it's time this party got started. I hear it's a very special girls birthday today, so I'm going to name her an honorary princess. Everyone can be a part of the kingdom too."

The kids eat it up, of course.

"How did you know my name?" Izzy asks, eyes wide with wonder.

I can see Ben curse himself in his head for not thinking of that.

"Um, because your father told me!" he replies, ushering her to the middle of the yard and motioning to my brother to play the music set up for today. "He left on a very important errand, but he'll be back soon. So, I heard you wanted to do something with me once I got here. Right?"

"Yeah!" she responds, eyes twinkling. "I wanna dance with you because you're so pretty and awesome."

Ben manages to brush off the "pretty" comment, and Izzy gets her dance.

Though I'm sure he'll shun me for a few days after this, I can't help but be happy I made him do it. His smile is soft and warm as he twirls around our daughter, and it only takes a few minutes of this to remind me why I love him.

Even after the party winds down and the princess leaves, Izzy doesn't suspect a thing. When Ben comes back ten minutes later, face red from attempting to scrub off the makeup, he's greeted with joy and affection. And when we go to bed that night, walking back from tucking Izzy in, I don't fail to see his smile.

"You owe me big time for that," he comments.

"Alright, you baby. I owe you. But it's not like you didn't enjoy it. Don't try to fool me."

"I don't know what you're talking about. Nope."

"You're a bit too convincing as a princess," I reply, snickering. "You'd do well with it as a full time job, if your performance today is any indication."

"Just doing my fatherly duty," he defends. "After all, the show had to go on."

"Your secret is safe with me."

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