• Published 17th Nov 2014
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Crystal's Wishes - Crystal Wishes

Crystal Wishes thought she was content just writing about ponies falling in love. While her career takes off, her love life is somewhat... lacking. Can she be happy living vicariously through her stories or will she find her own happily ever after?

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The Mare's Temptation

The suspicion crept its way back into Raven's eyes and she took a step away from Crystal. Her brow knitted and her eyes narrowed, she asked, "Wait, who even are you?" She shook her head and laughed almost bitterly. "You're just trying to stain Blueblood's good name!"

Crystal pondered the various responses she could give to try to prove herself, but her mouth had a different idea. "What good name?"

Raven gaped at her with wide eyes. Then, her ears fell and she averted her gaze, muttering, "That is a fair point." The fire reignited at another thought and she raised a glare. "So, then, your angle is to defame me? Strip my job away with scandalous gossip?" She stomped a hoof. "What do you want?!"

"A love story," Crystal explained honestly and plainly. "I'm a—well, I'm hoping to become a romance author." She crossed her forelegs over one another. "My parents did not have an inspiring romance. My first three dates have all been disappointments. I simply want to hear and write a true love story."

Raven blinked a few times, seeming taken aback by the explanation. "That's all?" The tension in her expression and shoulders started to ease. Slowly, she settled down on the ground and sighed. "I don't know if this is the true love story you're looking for, Miss—"

"Crystal Wishes."

"Miss Wishes," she continued. "How much do you know about Prince Blueblood?" She stared at Crystal with a sort of cool, almost cold seriousness.

Crystal shifted a little uncomfortably in thought. "Well, to be honest, I only know what little I've gleaned from today." She didn't meet Raven's eyes for fear of her words being offensive. "He seemed narcissistic, boorish, not very highly regarded by a servant I met, and he said something distressing to my mother."

"To your—" Raven's eyes widened. "Oh, dear. Is your mother, by chance, Mrs. Upper Crust?" When Crystal nodded, Raven winced. "Yes, he did say something rather cruel to her."

"Did you hear?" The incessant pull of a mare's heart toward gossip made her ears perk up. "What did he say?"

Raven waved her hooves quickly and dismissively. "Oh, no, I didn't hear what he said, but I saw the look on his face and how she reacted. After so many years of being surrounded by Canterlot elite, he has come to find a—a twisted amusement in making a game out of it."

"A game?" She paused, then slapped her forehead and groaned. "I see. Like making a mare run around to get sparkling water because he refuses the punch?"

Raven offered a weak smile. "Yes, something like that." The smile fell. "But, well, I can only assume your mother hit a nerve and he called her out on her intentions. He is not blessed with patience, among other things."

Crystal nodded as she thought the situation over, then shrugged and settled back into proper posture, forelegs crossed. "Well, she had it coming, so it's fine." Her eagerness sparked once more and lit a smile across her face. "So tell me more about you and the prince!"

The mare's cheeks reddened. "Well, I have been in the castle all my life. My parents are part of the staff, so I was going to end up working there one way or another. I've known him since he and I were both foals, though our paths rarely crossed." Her gaze wandered away from Crystal, growing distant while a nostalgic smile started to form. "He was always busy, you see. He is the first stallion of the original Canterlot bloodline in over fifty generations, so he is special, and his parents made sure he knew that, even if he is only a prince in title."

Raven's smile faded. "Of course, when one is told they are special and treated as such, that mentality takes root in their heart and grows like a weed. He was rude to everypony, including his own parents, and he brought many mares to his chambers when he was of age to be interested in that sort of thing.

"I hated him. In the beginning, anyway. I worked hard every day to make my parents proud while he trotted through the halls, ensuring nopony forgot how 'special' he was." She rolled her eyes, her tone somewhat bitter. "And he sensed that, so he always singled me out for teasing. When Princess Celestia made me her personal aide, he was there, laughing and making fun of me." She continued in a mockery of his voice, "'Her? Your personal aide? Why, Princess, she can hardly see past her own hooves without those ridiculous glasses!'"

Anger overtook the mock tone and she looked directly at Crystal. "What do my glasses have to do with being an aide, huh?! Ugh!" She shook her head as she settled back into a calmer mood. "Because I was always with Princess Celestia, that meant spending more time with him, too. I don't know when it happened, but I started to not mind his teasing as much. In hindsight, I should have realized it sooner, but—" Slowly, she smiled. "I was falling for him."

Crystal stared at her with glimmering eyes and a big grin, waiting for her to continue. When she didn't, she pressed, "And? And?"

The smile dropped. "And what? We see each other in secret. Sometimes I feel like he might propose, right then and there, and other times I just feel like a toy for his amusement." She turned her head away and sighed. "Since we started this confusing relationship, I haven’t been with another stallion, but I don't know if I’m his only mare. Yet something about him keeps my heart in his hooves despite my better judgment. I could focus on my career and stay by Princess Celestia's side until I grow too old to see even with glasses, but I look at him and I want something more. He's my temptation from the right path, I suppose."

Crystal was silent, and Raven said nothing further. She bit her lower lip as she waited for more and, finally, she mumbled, "Have you, well, asked him?"

"What?" Raven frowned at her.

"You know, had a chat with him about your relationship." She waved her hoof in a circle. "Talked about your feelings, figure out what you both want. You might be surprised." Her mouth wriggled. She tried to keep it pursed while her lips threatened to curve into a playful smile. "After all, you may not have noticed it, but I saw the way he looked at you."

The flush from before returned twofold and her cheeks were bright red. "You think so?" She fidgeted nervously and looked at the trees, in the direction of the party. "No. I mean—no."

Crystal shrugged. She stood up, stretched all of her legs, then shook out the moss in her mane and tail before she smiled down at Raven. "Well, nonetheless, I'd like to write a happy ending for your story. I'll change the names and situations enough that it shouldn't point to you, of course, and I'll send you the draft that I'll be sending to Mares Monthly for your approval."

Raven, still recovering from her embarrassment, nodded meekly. "Yes, thank you. I would really rather not have that kind of attention if you wrote about me specifically."

"Then it's a deal! I'll call it—" She paused, rubbing her chin, thinking on as much of Raven's exact words as she could. "The Mare's Temptation." She grinned. "Oh, I like that!" Pride and excitement in every step, she practically pranced her way back to the party. "I wish you the best of luck, Raven! And I'll be in touch with you soon!"

Crystal's pitch was prepared and in Sunset's hooves. She had her pink scarf tied around her neck and her heart-shaped braid in place. Already both simple things—a scarf and a braid—were becoming good luck charms in the superstitious part of her mind, and she wasn't going to risk blowing this opportunity just to spite herself.

She sat as still as she could, watching his gaze sweep across the pages. After the garden party, it was as though a muse had taken residence in her mind and sang an inspirational aria long into the night. The pitch was no problem; it only had to be of the highest level detail, after all. It took her only about an hour to figure out and write down the characters and plot. She even drafted a first chapter, which Raven had approved with surprisingly emphatic glee.

While a clock ticked off every second of unnerving silence that passed, Crystal tried to calm herself by thinking of the mare. Raven had agreed that, if The Mare's Temptation was going to move forward, she would be given a brief tour of the castle to ensure it was properly represented. More than that, she also offered to give advice for portraying the main characters, Sable and Prince Highborn, in a manner befitting of a castle servant and a prince. She would be lying if she said she wasn't totally giddy at the opportunity.

Her mind flew back to her current situation in an instant when Sunset finished the last page and looked up at her. She tried to smile.

"This—" He stopped.

Her smile wavered. "Yes?"

Sunset stared at her a moment longer, then dropped his gaze to the papers. "I'm not a mare, so I can't speak for them, but I do a lot of research in mares' interests. Of course. Kind of a requirement when you work for Mares Monthly, eh?" He chuckled.

Although his tendency to ramble was amusing most of the time, right then, it was just making her sweat. Was he stalling? "Of course," she said, her voice cracking with nerves.

"What I'm trying to get at is I'm no expert, but I know a lot about what mares like, and this—this—" He finally looked back up at her, his smile making her heart race faster. "It's going to be an absolute hit!"

"Oh my gosh," she said quickly as she released her held breath. "You scared me, Sunset!" She giggled. "Couldn't you have said that a little faster?"

Sunset sputtered and waved a dismissive hoof. "Oh, pfft! What, I can't have a little fun?" He leaned to the side to holler out his office door, "Paper Pusher!"

A young stallion bounded into the room, his eyes glittering with an eagerness to please. "Yes, boss?"

Sunset held out the papers Crystal had given him. "Take these to Kahuna and tell her it's got my approval."

"Right away, boss!" Paper Pusher rolled up the papers and stuck them into his saddlebag, then bounded back out.

Sunset crossed his forelegs on the desk and returned his attention to her, his expression growing serious. "So now that you've got a pitch that I'm sure my boss will approve, it's time to talk about a contract. First thing's first!"

Most of what he discussed went over her head. She understood the basic gist and that the most important thing he stressed was that by working with Mares Monthly, she wasn't allowed to publish under the name C.W. Step with another magazine. The second important thing noted was that if she missed a deadline, The Mare's Temptation would move further to the back of the magazine with each overdue installment until it was dropped completely.

Finally, he slid the contract across his desk toward her. "It's up to you now, C.W. Please put your residence here, and print and sign your full name here." He gestured to lines on the parchment as he spoke. "You can still back out and take your pitch elsewhere. If you decide to join up with us and your story is a hit, we are partnered with a book publisher for this project. They're looking to bring more mare-targeted stories to market, you see."

Crystal's eyes widened. "Do you mean to say there is a chance I could go to a bookstore and see my own story on the shelves?!"

Sunset grinned and tapped on the contract, winking. "There is if you sign."

The quill lifted, held by pink magic, and danced across the paper while Crystal nodded. "I'm in."

"Great to hear, Miss—" He paused to read her name off the contract, then smiled up at her and offered a hoof over the table. "Miss Wishes! Welcome aboard!"

"Crystal's fine, Sunset." She took his hoof in her own. "Miss Wishes makes me sound old." There was a pause before the both of them laughed and she continued, "Though honestly, I will be getting quite the workout from now on whenever I have to come to your office."

Sunset's smile didn't waver, but his tone inflected with curiosity. "Why is that?"

"Those stairs!" Crystal put a hoof to her forehead, feigning a dramatic sigh. "The first time I went up them I thought I might die!"

"The stairs?" His smile fell.

Her smile fell, too. "Yes. You know, the stairs leading up to this floor. There are so many that I'm honestly surprised you could forget them."

Sunset said nothing, instead quietly standing up and walking around his desk. He motioned for her to follow and walked out of his office, out of the main area, and out of the Mares Monthly suite. Crystal followed behind him with concern and confusion pounding in her chest. Finally, he stood outside two gilded doors.

"And these are?" she inquired quietly, almost afraid of the answer.

"Doors to the elevator." He finally broke out into laughter. "You really don't know what an elevator is? Good grief!" He pressed a button, which lit up happily. "Have a nice day, Miss Wishes! Work on that draft. If my boss doesn't approve it, I'll make her. I'll send word by courier if there are any issues. For now, let your inspiration flow freely on paper!"

A small ding! resounded, catching her attention and drawing her eyes from Sunset to the mysterious elevator. Crystal hardly heard the rest of his goodbye, awestruck by what lay beyond those shiny golden doors.

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