“A month?” I ask her. My mom smiles, and I know we have a deal. “Whatever she wants, I’m okay with.” I nod to all the stuff my mom has overflowing my desk. Maybe I should get Kate a desk for in here, too. I wonder what she’ll want to do after we’re married? That fuck of an uncle didn’t even have her in school. If that’s what she wants, I’ll make it happen.

“I figured as much,” Mom responds. I can tell there’s something else when my mom fidgets with her hair. I know what that means. I circle my desk and pick up the file on Kate that John complied for me. I scan over it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

“Spit it out, Mom.” I glance at the calendar and curse when I see it’s my girl’s birthday.

“It’s about Nicolette.” I’m not sure who she is talking about, and I rack my brain for a moment. I’m already distracted and this isn’t helping.

“Dexter’s daughter?” I guess. I’m pretty sure that’s right. I try to avoid Dexter as much as possible. He is a lot of talk and not a lot of show. I don’t have time for bullshit, and he’s got a ton of it.

“Yeah. So, she was one of the woman coming to that breakfast.”

I stand to my full height and close the folder, wondering where my mother is going with this. “I didn’t want to invite her, but she begged me.” And my mom caved. My mom is a sweetheart at her core and will bend over backwards for people.

“So.” I shrug. What does it even matter?

“She was so upset when you didn’t show up, she stormed out of here.”

“Okay. I don’t care. She’s always been a brat, if I recall.”

“Then she called, crying, after hearing the rumor about you and Kate. She was hysterical, talking about how her father told her that she was promised to you and that you would be marrying her once you were finally ready to settle down.”

“What?!” I bark louder than I mean to. I know how rumors work, and I don’t want even a trace of something like that out there. The idea that I was ever going to marry that woman or any other besides my Kate is absurd.

“I thought maybe you should have a talk with her father, smooth things over.” I glance over at my dad, who is shaking his head while fighting a smile.

“Trust me. I’ll be having a talk with him.”

Chapter Nine


I stretch out in bed, surprised that I fell asleep once again. I’ll never get to sleep tonight. Sitting up, I look around the room for James but don’t see him anywhere. I slide off the bed and make my way to the bathroom to refresh myself before coming back out with a towel wrapped around me.

I want to go find James and maybe do a little exploring. I pause when I see a dress laid out at the end of my bed. I pick up the pink dress and press it to my cheek to feel its softness. I don’t think I’ve ever had a dress this pretty in my life. I quickly put it on, wanting to see what it looks like. When I stand in the mirror I twirl around and let it flare out all around me. It beautiful. I do a little happy jump. A pair of simple flats with little flowers on them have been left by the dresser, and I slip them on. James is really making me feel like a princess.

Turning the doorknob, I smile when I find it unlocked. I poke my head out and look down the hallway and when I don’t see anyone I step out into the hallway. I go the same way I came when I first got here, and pause when I see a guard standing up against on wall. He gives me a nod but doesn’t say anything. I smile in return. I walk past him, but realize I have no idea where I’m going.

“Can you tell me where James is?” I ask the guard.

“The king is likely in his office,” he tells me and gives me directions. When I get to his office door, I see it’s cracked, so I knock before pushing it open.

“James?” I call out as I step inside but freeze when I see a woman standing there. She turns her head, and I absently note her flowy, deep emerald dress is stunning. Her long blonde hair falls all around her in soft waves, and her bright blue eyes meet mine as she cocks her head at me. Now she looks like a princess. She purses her cherry-red lips and throws a bunch of flowers onto the desk, causing a mess of fragrant and colorful petals.

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