Home > Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta's Academy #2)

Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta's Academy #2)
Author: Sandhya Menon









Rosetta Academy wasn’t just her school, it was her palace. It was the place where Caterina LaValle ruled supreme, the queen of all she saw and surveyed. Nothing dimmed the shine on her crown, not fighting with her friends, not a bad picture in the New York Times lifestyle section (she’d gotten that photographer fired), not even a breakup with an inconsequential boy.

Not usually.

Winter break was the rest her soul had needed after the breakup with Alaric last year. She’d mistaken him for a prince, but he’d turned out to be decidedly amphibian. Still. It was nothing more than a setback, a minor inconvenience. She was back now, ready to rule with even more of a platinum fist—iron was such a plebeian metal—than before. She was going to walk into that brick-and-ivy structure with a sense of ownership, a sense of power, a sense of indestructability, as she never had. Her crown wasn’t askew anymore.

Queen Cat was back. Rosetta Academy better watch out.





The rumble of the private jet’s engine soothed her. Her father liked to joke that all he had to do with baby Caterina when she fussed was stick her in the plane and fly to a different country. Easy-peasy.

Caterina took a deep breath and sipped at her freshly squeezed orange juice, proffered by the obsequious flight attendant in a crystal champagne flute. Normally, returning to school after break was something she looked forward to, something she’d have been planning for weeks with her friends. She glanced at her phone, at all the unread texts there from Heather and Ava. A small knot of something unpleasant sat in her stomach.

It was all his fault. She’d gone through the pictures on her phone, methodically deleting every single one that featured Alaric Konig, her ex-boyfriend, even if it was just an errant finger at the corner of the frame. It took an entire day—over the two years they’d dated, they’d taken thousands and thousands of pictures. Alaric was a ham; anytime he looked good, he wanted the world to know it. And he looked good almost all the time.

The strange part was, she hadn’t even loved him anymore, not toward the end. Of course she did toward the beginning of their relationship, when everything still sparkled and he told her every day that she was the most beautiful, most intimidating girl he’d ever dated. (Caterina had liked that latter descriptor more than she’d expected to.) She’d felt like she had all the power then, like she could do no wrong. Alaric had needed her more than she’d needed him.

The plane began its descent, and Caterina’s ears felt the brunt of the pressure. The thing was, she wasn’t sure exactly when that scale, that imbalance of power between her and Alaric, tipped to favor him. When he began to look at other girls, thinking, Hmm. And of all the girls to cheat with—Daphne Elizabeth McKinley? The flamboyant daughter of the McKinley Hotel dynasty. A redhead who thought distressed vintage plaid sweaters were the height of fashion. Caterina’s hand tightened around the stem of her champagne flute as the plane floor juddered with the release of the wheels. Alaric and Daphne Elizabeth had sneaked around behind her back, and no one had told her. She’d looked a complete fool. There were few things Caterina abhorred more than looking like a fool.

As the jet circled the runway, Caterina closed her eyes. Her soft false eyelashes pressed into the tops of her cheeks. She needed to get ahold of herself. Today was all about reasserting herself, about making sure her friends saw that she was still Queen Cat. That no one could ever take that away from her. Her father’s words floated in her mind like skywriting: It doesn’t matter how you feel on the inside. What matters is what other people can see, and they must see the LaValle power. That’s what defines us.

As if he could hear her thoughts, her phone buzzed and her father’s name popped up on the screen.

“Papa,” she said, answering, her voice cool and controlled.

His deep baritone thundered down the line. “Are you in Aspen yet?”

“Nearly,” Caterina said, looking out onto the snow-laden city, growing closer outside her window.

“Feeling invincible?” her father asked, a grin in his voice. It was their inside joke, ever since a journalist had once asked her, for a puff piece on “children of the wealthy,” how she felt in her pretty new dress. Caterina, then only twelve, had replied seriously, “Invincible.” Her answer had made the headline.

Now, although she felt anything but, she said carelessly, “Always. You know that.”

“Good. Show them how the LaValles do it.”

Caterina smiled faintly as her ears popped. “Just as you will when the elections roll around.”

“Business, politics, finance… we’ll be everywhere.” He paused. “Senator LaValle does have a ring to it, does it not?”

“Absolutely,” Caterina said as the plane touched down, jarring her in her seat. “Now I must go.”

“All right. And remember, topolina, trust no one.”

Caterina nodded, even though her father couldn’t see her. He had seen the havoc Alaric had wreaked on her. For the first week of winter break, she’d been unable to so much as smile, even through all the wonders of Christmas on the Italian Riviera. Finally, her father had managed to coax out of her exactly what had happened. He was furious that she’d let herself get strung along in the first place, and secondly, that she was this upset over a boy. “Get angry, Caterina,” he’d urged her, his deep brown eyes glittering. “Get angry. And then make a plan.”

So that’s exactly what she’d spent the rest of the winter break doing.

“Ti amo, Papa,” she said as the flight attendant moved toward her, beaming brightly. “Talk to you soon.”

“Shall I get your coat, Miss LaValle?” the flight attendant asked. “Are you ready to deplane?”

Caterina smiled frostily up at him. “Oh yes,” she replied. “I’m absolutely ready.”





His friends were speaking gibberish again.

“That’s not what he said!” Jaya exclaimed, laughing. She was sitting at their polished oak table in the expansive Rosetta Academy senior dining hall, as they all were, but her chair was so close to Grey’s that their seats practically qualified as a love seat. Her head was resting against his chest, and he was absently playing with her hair. Rahul didn’t understand how that didn’t drive her crazy. He hated people touching his hair.

“It was exactly what he said,” Grey argued, rumbling a deep laugh. His Kopi Luwak coffee sat by his elbow, steaming gently. “ ‘My universe would implode without you’? Come on. That’s classic codependency.”

“Or, totally romantic!” Samantha, Leo’s girlfriend, countered, siding with Jaya.

Leo laughed and stuffed his mouth with another handmade almond biscotti while, beside him, DE was pulling up the exact quote on the newest iPhone that wasn’t available to the public yet.

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