Chapter 3 Summary
Downstairs in her workshop, Cinder prepares for a trip to the dump to look for spare parts for her family’s broken hovercraft. As she does so, she thinks about the ball and imagines dancing with Prince Kai. But she knows that this is a stupid thing to think about. After all, her status as a cyborg would make her feel out of place and Adri will never allow it anyway.
Iko asks why Cinder works so hard to earn money and repair broken machines when Adri refuses to do anything nice in return. Cinder says that she has no choice. Adri is short on money, and she is always threatening to sell Iko for spare parts. Cinder could not bear to lose Iko, so she tries to keep her stepmother relatively happy.
Changing the subject, Cinder points out that it will be wonderful to have the apartment to herself for one evening while the rest of the family is at the ball. Just then, Peony appears at the doorway of the workshop and says that she could use some time alone, too. She complains that her mother is driving her crazy. Adri is obsessed with the idea of finding a husband for her elder daughter, the seventeen-year-old Pearl, at the upcoming ball. The family's expenses will be easier to manage with one less mouth to feed.
Peony is still wearing her brand-new ball gown, and the hem brushes the grimy floor. Cinder advises her to be more careful, but Peony, who is far less practical than her stepsister, waves the warning away. This makes Cinder a bit grumpy. She envies her sister's new dresses and wishes she had one of her own.
But Peony is so sweet, nobody can be angry with her for long. She complains that her mother is unfair to Cinder, who deserves nice things as much as anyone else. Then Peony gives Iko a pretty ribbon, stolen from the dressmaker’s scraps, to wear as a bracelet.
Peony asks if she can accompany Cinder and Iko to the junkyard. Cinder says that the trip will not be fun, but Peony is desperate to get out of the apartment for a while. Eventually Cinder agrees, but she tells Peony to change out of her ball gown first. Inwardly, Cinder reflects that she is eager to tell the story about the conversation with Prince Kai at the market. Peony, who has a huge celebrity crush on the prince, will be excited to hear all about him.