As Mac and I stood there, dozens of small heads swung in our direction. A high voice yelled, "Mommy! It's Beauty and the Beast!"
"Oh, Christ," I muttered, shielding my face. As if it was that, and not the yellow ball gown, giving me away.
"This way!" Mac pointed in the direction of Cinderella Castle, a vast expanse of white stone and blue spires. Once again, I cursed Daisy, whose dedication to fairy-tale romance meant she'd insisted on getting married right in front of the damn thing.
I didn't have time to list the reasons her obsession with fairy tales and true love was ridiculous, foolhardy and 100 percent going to lead to her eventual heartbreak. At the moment, the only thing I cared about was that Daisy's absurd old-fashionedness meant the groomsmen and bridesmaids had been booked in separate hotels, divided by the longest gauntlet of child-filled castle grounds I'd ever witnessed in my admittedly castle-and child-lite life.
"Mommy, I want to hug Mrs. Potts," came another child's voice, disconcertingly close.
"Of course, honey," someone answered pleasantly. "Let's go ask her very nicely."
Mac and I turned to find a mom tugging her tiny son toward us. The mom looked up, catching our eyes. I can only imagine the full picture of what she saw, since I'd been unable to examine myself in a mirror before sneaking out of the footman's room.
But Mac—oh, God, Mac's mascara had shifted downward to make little raccoon-rings around her eyes, her pink lipstick smeared from what I hoped was hours of high-quality making out. Her teapot costume, now that I really looked, was on ass-backward, Mrs. Potts's face grinning creepily from her back.
I searched my own body with mounting dread. No, no, my dress was on the right way, at least. But I could feel my hair hanging in messy strands out of my elaborate Belle-bun, and I was sure, from what I remembered doing with the footman last night, that my face looked at least as bad as Mac's. "Oh, honey, actually, that's not—that's not the 'real' Mrs. Potts," said the mother quickly. She shook her head at us and covered her son's eyes.
"We're so sorry. We were forced to wear these costumes. I begged not to." Mac wrung her hands with regret. Unfortunately, her confession reeked of some sort of Disney-themed S&M plot, and only made the mom twist her son around and hurry him away.
Mac deflated inside her bulky teapot. Now that innocent children were involved, she'd clearly reached her limit for personal debasement. Which, as someone who'd witnessed her dating life since college, was saying a lot.
Using precious seconds, I surveyed the scene. Even though the mom and her son had run away from us, their reaction didn't seem to be stopping the rest of the families from believing Mac and I were Disney World employees, here to entertain them as Mrs. Potts and Belle. They were crowding in on us from every direction, drawing closer like a tightening noose.
I may live according to my own moral code—what traditionalists might refer to as 'morally gray' or perhaps 'no code at all'—but even I had to draw the line at scarring this many children in one fell swoop. I made a decision: since there was no way around, we'd have to go through.
"Run!" I hissed, smacking Mac on the bottom to motivate her, as one would a horse or a high school quarterback. Then I sprinted for all I was worth.
We scythed through the crowd, stunning families—me in front, Mac in back, shouting, "Sorry, 'so' sorry!" over her shoulder. Incredibly, some of the families started jogging after us, as if this was a game, and they had only to catch us to win a Disney-themed prize.
But I had our home plate in front of me, the hotel I could see just over the turrets of the castle. I narrowed my eyes and ran faster, glad my own dating life since college had prepared me for making quick escapes in compromising clothing.
"Mac, move faster! I can't have anyone recognize me walk-of- shaming."
"Oh, get off it," Mac huffed. "It's not like you're even remotely famous."
"It's the age of social media. That means anyone could take a picture of me, upload it to Twitter, and then everyone back home would see. My work is high-profile."
"Honestly, the ego on you. It's because she made you Belle, isn't it?" Thankfully, we were drawing near. The wind against my face billowed my loose hair behind me like a victory flag. We were going to make it, just had to sprint around this giant fountain, with its gushing geyser of crystal-blue water.
My phone rang, triggering an instant Pavlovian response. I dug into my purse and pulled it out, checking the caller. Wendy Kornbluth. Oh, no. Wendy was the chief of staff at the company I worked for— correction, the company I lived for—and on the very short list of people I had to drop everything to talk to.
I halted so fast I swayed on my feet. Mac ran into me and bounced off, her teapot costume saving us both a lot of pain.