"Guess who just showed up?" she asked, barely able to contain her excitement.
My stomach felt queasy. Who indeed? I'd only been nervously keeping track of the days for the last week. Why else did she think I was wearing one of my favorite dresses? Was she really going to do this to me?
Beast'sbelle pulled a fancy Disney store box out from behind her back, keeping the see-through front facing away from me. "Belle," she said, "I'd like you to meet Robby."
"Robby?" I asked quizzically. "Look, I know I don't know everything about the movie, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't his name."
"He didn't have a name in the movie," Beast'sbelle explained patiently. "But you can't just call him 'Hey you!' all the time! I decided to name him after the actor that played his character in the movie: Robby Benson." Without another word, she turned the box around and I caught my first glimpse of "Robby".
"Nice to meet you," I said politely, holding out my hand.
He nodded. "Likewise, I'm sure," he replied nervously, taking my offered hand and hesitating. He started to bring it to his lips (my goodness, he had big lips for a boy doll!) like he was going to kiss it, then faltered and gave it a clumsy shake instead.
It was enough. With a happy sigh, Beast'sbelle said, "Well, I'll give you two some time to get acquainted. Holler if you need anything!" And with that, she was gone.
He nodded, but looked hurt. I felt ashamed of my earlier thoughts. This was no doubt just as hard for him as it was for me. There was no need to criticize his looks, even if I only did so inwardly. Some Belle I turned out to be!
Eugene strode over and gave Robby a firm handshake. "Nice to meet you. It's good to have another guy around here." He leaned closer and said in a mock whisper, "We're kind of outnumbered, if you didn't notice!"
I was amazed at Eugene. Could this be the same guy who was so suspicious of me at our first meeting? Now, I wanted to hug him. He was my hero!
Robby laughed. He had a nice laugh, I decided. Warm and inviting, the type that made you want to join right in. The last of his tension seemed to melt away. Soon he and Eugene were swapping stories of their adventures in the Disney Store and the horrors of boxes and twist ties.
"I guess, at certain angles," I said skeptically.
"Belle!" Rapunzel gasped in shock.
"I'm sorry! It's not like he's ugly or anything, but you have to admit he doesn't look much like the Prince from Beauty and the Beast. But even if he did, you know there's more to a person than that." I gazed off across the room. "If I ever settle down with someone, he'd have to be even more beautiful on the inside than on the outside. And that just takes time to find out."
"You've got nothing but time," Rapunzel pointed out.
I nodded. "Let's just hope it's worth the effort."
We turned our attention back to the guys. As Robby and Eugene talked, I watched him carefully. Really, his profile was almost handsome...and somewhat closer to the original Prince's face than when you looked at him head on.