Page 14 of Prince Next Door

“Phenomenal,” he whispered helpfully into my ear. “Extraordinary. Radiant. Gorgeous. Take your pick.”

Hannah giggled, cheeks flushing the most adorable shade of pink. “Thanks, Sergé.”

Sergé had to nudge me in the ribs for me before I regained enough sense to step forward and offer Hannah my arm. “You look beautiful,” I said finally. I gave compliments all the time, but I genuinely meant it. Hannah had managed to steal my breath away with just a glance and I was entirely unprepared. When she hooked her arm in mine, my heart was pounding furiously in my chest. Someone must have let that little Energizer bunny loose on my heart because my rapid pulse was almost deafening in my ear.

“Have fun at the party,” joked Sergé. “You bring her home before midnight, you hear me?”

Hannah laughed. “Shall we get going?”

I could only manage a nod. I was too worried I’d say something dumb and would want to swallow my tongue right after.

* * *

The wedding was gorgeous. Marriage wasn’t exactly something that I was interested in, but watching Andrew standing up at the alter as Carla walked down the aisle made me wonder if married life was really as bad as they said. I’d known Andrew a long time, but I’d never seen him so happy. He was always a romantic, eager to find his other half in the most determined of fashions. And now that he was getting his happy ever after with the love of his life, I wondered what great surprises awaited them in the future. Were kids on the horizon? Were Andrew and Carla scouting for a big house with a huge lawn? Was Andrew going to give up his title and his responsibilities and move to America permanently? Was that an option I could explore, as well?

The after party was even bigger and wilder than the bachelor party I hosted for Andrew. Flashing lights, blaring music, tons of people. Andrew and Carla’s wedding planner even had to hire security for the event because there was a significant media presence outside trying to sneak a few photos to sell to the tabloids. This was technically a royal wedding, but Andrew didn’t hold that high of a position in the hierarchy to warrant cathedrals and carriage processions and the like.

I tried to keep close to Hannah during the party. There were a lot of people here, full of pomp and circumstance, and I didn’t want her to feel intimidated and uncomfortable. But as luck would have it, fate had other plans in store for me. Just as we entered the venue, a massive banquet hall in a five-star hotel, I was swarmed by eager schmoozers. I tried to hold onto Hannah’s hand, but she was shoved out of the way and lost to me in a sea of people.

“Prince William!” gasped one of the party guests. She was a woman in her early twenties, clearly a social climber with no significant power. Judging by the way she dressed, gawdy Instagram makeup and hastily put-together ensemble, she must have been one of those so called ‘social media influencers.’ Her obviously fake eyelashes were abnormally long, coated in layer upon layer with mascara. Her lipstick was bright blue, a deliberate fashion choice she’d made to no doubt attract people’s attentions. Both of her wrists were covered in loud, jangling bangles, and she deliberately wore sharp stilettos so that everybody could hear her approaching. Everything about the woman screamed, Look at me!

What a joke.

“Uh, hello,” I mumbled.

She pressed up against me, placing her hands on my arm in an attempt to get closer. “It’s so lovely to see you here. Are you enjoying the wedding so far? You must be so happy for Duke Andrew.”

“It’s a lovely wedding,” I stated.

Another woman pushed her way through the crowd and tried to get my attention. She looked freakishly familiar. “Prince William!” she cooed. “Do you remember me?”

“I, uh–”

“Tracey,” she reintroduced. “We had a really fun time in Madrid last summer, remember?”

I swallowed, cheeks heating up. I looked around quickly for any sign of Hannah, but I was blinded by the sparkling jewels and overbearing perfumes of the ladies trying to sidle up to me to locate her. I sincerely hoped Hannah hadn’t heard this last woman’s comments. I was sure she would understand I was a man with needs. It wasn’t like we were in a committed relationship and I had to disclose my sexual conquests of the past. But for some reason, I silently prayed that Hannah would never find out just how bad of a playboy I was in my early twenties. I still had an appetite, but I liked to think it was maturing as I aged.

Tracey tucked herself beneath my arm, snuggling up like we were more than a one-night stand. “What are you doing after this? Do you want to grab a few drinks with me?”

Tags: Nicole Casey Books Romance Books