Belle Star was carrying an armload of groceries up the stairs to her apartment when she bumped into another pony, quite literally. She tumbled down a flight of stairs and landed in a heap, with her groceries on top. The other pony rushed down the stairs to check on her. "Are you all right?"
Belle Star poked her head up out of the pile of groceries. "Oh! I'm fine. My groceries seem to be quite a mess, though."
"Here, let me help you with those. By the way, my name's Coral. I'm new to Friendship Gardens. I just moved here from Port Cactus."
"Port Cactus? I've been there! It's such a beautiful town with the beach and the ocean."
"Hey! I think I remember you! Weren't you and that handsome stallion in the beach karaoke contest?"
Belle Star blushed. "Uh huh."
"So, what's the deal with you two? Are you just friends, or more than friends?"
"Oh!" Belle Star's face turned beet red. "Well..."
"He's my fiance!" the tan pony blurted out.
"Oh! Good for you! When's the big day?"
"We haven't decided on a date yet. He hasn't even met my family! Oh, my! I hope he gets along with my grandfather!"
"Well, I'm sure they'll get along just fine."
"Really? Do you know my grandfather?"
Coral giggled. "No! I've just got a premonition. And my premonitions are almost always pretty accurate."
"Really?! I'm so relieved!"
"Say, since I'm new to town, do you think you could show me around?"
"Oh yes! Once I get my groceries cleaned up."
"Why don't I give you a hoof with that. By the way, you haven't told me your name yet."
"I haven't? Oh, I'm Belle Star! Sea Patrol officer first class!"
"Ooh, a Sea Patrol officer! How exciting! But what are you doing in Friendship Gardens? There's no sea here."
"It was a special assignment, bodyguarding a prince, then he asked me to marry him and I'm kind of between assignments now."
"That stallion from the contest is a prince? Really?!"
"Uh huh! His name is Clever Clover."
"Are you still going to be a Sea Patrol officer once you're a princess?"
"Hm, I never thought of it. I guess I'll have to ask grandfather."
* * *
Once the groceries were put away, the new friends set out to explore Friendship Gardens. "Over there is Water Lily's place; she loves to hold fancy dress balls. Down the street is the ice rink where Clever Clover coaches youth hockey, and over there is Pearl's jewelry shop, oh, I mean that way. Oh! I'm all turned around! No, that way is the flower shop where Morning Glory works."
"Morning Glory, is she a friend of yours?"
"Uh huh. She's a princess who was betrothed to Clever Clover when they were just babies."
"Betrothed? So how is it he's marrying you?"
"Hm, I don't really know the whole story..."
"You sure do have an interesting life. Hey, what's that?" Coral ran over to a flyer someone had taped to a light post.
SALSA SHOP GRAND RE-OPENING!
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!
SPECIAL APRICOT SALSA SUNDAES AT THE SALSA SHOP AND SATIN SLIPPER SWEET SHOPPE TODAY ONLY!
"Oh! A salsa shop grand opening! But it's in Dream Valley."
"Dream Valley's not too far away, and the weather is nice. It'll be a nice walk. We might as well go check it out."
"It'll be great fun! And I have a premonition they'll have real authentic salsa like they make down in Port Cactus!"
The Salsa Shop was a flurry of activity. Banners and balloons proclaimed the grand reopening under the ownership of Scoops of the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe. A long line stretched through the shop and out into the street.
Coral could hardly contain her excitement. "I can hardly wait! With a line this long, it has to be good salsa! Oh! I wish this line would move faster!"
Belle Star shook her head weakly. "Uh huh! I'm starving!"
After what seemed like an eternity, the two new friends made it to the sundae stand. Coral payed for both sundaes, as a way of showing her appreciation for Belle Star's showing her around. There were no seats available in the large tent that had been erected outside the Salsa Shop for the occasion, so Belle Star and Coral stood out in the warm sunshine and enjoyed their sundaes.
"Mmm, this sure is good! My premonition was right on! Just like Pork Cactus salsa!"
"It is good. Um, by the way Coral, what do you do for a living?"
"I'm a painter. I got tired of painting the sea and the desert so I decided to move someplace greener. Hey! I just had a great idea! I could paint a portrait of you for your fiance!"
"Oh! That sounds so wonderful! But how much would it cost? I don't really make a lot of money..."
"Hey! Don't worry about it! We're best friends, aren't we? I'll paint you for free!"
"Really! That is so nice of you!"
"It's nothing. Of course I'll have to get settled into my apartment first, and get my studio set up, maybe we could get started next week?"
"That sounds good to me. I don't think I have any plans."
"Oh! I'm so excited! I can't wait to get painting again! Come on!" Coral grabbed Belle Star by the hoof and rushed off back toward Friendship Gardens.