Page 16 of Prince Next Door

“You two aren’t dating, right?” continued the first.

“Prince William?” I snorted. “I think you’re taking the whole Prince Charming thing to a whole other level.”

The women looked at each other, exchanging confused glances.

“What?” I asked.

“Prince William really is a prince,” said the first woman. Her voice was distressingly nasal and high-pitched.

“Yeah, he’s, like, a distant nephew to the Queen,” explained the second.

I frowned. It took me a moment to understand. But that was when everything seemed to click into place. William was surrounded by lavish extravagance. I had convinced myself that he was just really wealthy. He himself said he came from a wealthy family, I just didn’t realize which wealthy family. Personal stylists, expensive champagne, executive suites, tiaras, and paparazzi trying to sneak in for pictures. His gentle tone, his perfect manners, his ideal posture –it all suddenly made sense.

The first woman turned her face up at me and scoffed. “I guess he didn’t tell you.”

“No,” I mumbled. “He didn’t.”

“Just as well. He wouldn’t want to waste time on some commoner like you. He’ll find a new girl in less than a week.”

The second woman puffed out her chest, adjusting her small breasts to push her cleavage together. “And that new girl is going to be me.”

“You wish.”

I wasn’t paying attention anymore. I didn’t know how to feel. Why hadn’t William told me the truth? Did he think I’d treat him any differently if I knew that he was royalty? And even if I did, why was he slumming it with someone like me? I was just some hotel receptionist trying to get by. Maybe he thought I was an easy target. Maybe I just looked desperate enough to want to tag along with him. I anxiously chewed on the inside of my cheek, doing my best to fight the tears welling up in my eyes.

I placed my glass down on the table and started off. I seriously needed some fresh air. Everything inside the banquet hall smelled too sweet, too suffocating rich and haughty for my poor lungs.

Before I managed to find my way to the exit, somebody called my name. “Hannah? Is that you?”

I turned, startled by how frighteningly familiar the voice was. Standing behind one of the buffet tables was Milton, my ex-boyfriend.

“Oh, Jesus,” I sighed. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Milton frowned. “I’m the caterer,” he explained simply. “It’s nice to see you, too.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s been… Well, it’s been a rough night.”

Milton rounded the table and stood before me, frown melting away into a soft smile. “I’m sorry to hear that. You’re not on your way out, are you? The party’s just getting started.”

“I don’t know. I guess I’m just not feeling it.”

“I can sneak you a couple extra apple strudels, if you’d like.” He winked at me. “I know how much you like dessert.”

I set my jaw, unable to keep up with the pleasantries any longer. “No, that’s okay. I’m just going to–”

“You look gorgeous,” he said. “Are you doing well?”

I shrugged a shoulder. “Yeah. I guess so. I see your career’s coming along nicely.”

Milton beamed. It was a familiar, heart-warming smile that had me head over heels for him almost a year ago. Now, it just reminded me of how terrible we’d left things. He wanted to focus on his catering business, and I wanted some more excitement in my life. Nearer towards the end, he didn’t have time for me, and I felt too trapped in a routine.

“I miss you,” he said quietly.

“You do?”

“Yeah. Is that so hard to believe?”

I didn’t want to dignify his question with a response. It was hard to believe. Mainly because he was the reason our relationship ended. I took one measly trip to Spain and suddenly he wanted to break it off because long-distance was too hard? Yeah, right. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be.

“Are you here with anybody?” he asked.

I glanced over my shoulder to find William being dragged out onto the dance floor with some petite redhead. I swallowed at the dry lump that had formed in my throat, but couldn’t manage to make it go away.

“No,” I said. “I’m here alone. And I’m about to leave, too.”

As I turned, Milton placed his hand on my forearm and stopped me from leaving. “If you’re free, I’d love to take you out for coffee sometime. You know, for old time’s sake? Maybe we can catch up.”

I forced a smile. “I don’t think I have time,” I muttered before leaving through the doors of the banquet hall.

I wound up pulling my phone out and giving my best friend, Lara, a call. I liked to chat with her whenever I was feeling down. She was always so optimistic and sweet. Lara always knew the right thing to say, and I really needed to get everything off my chest.