Page 18 of Prince Next Door

By the time I got back to the executive suite, everything was a mess. Stray bottles and day-old food and deflating balloons and tangled streamers from the bachelor party littered every surface. There wasn’t a soul in sight, which only made it more obvious how lonely the suite was. For all its grandeur and size, there wasn’t much substance here. I’d spent a lot of times in suites like this one, filling it with people I didn’t necessarily know to help me swallow down expensive champagne I didn’t like. As I walked down the wide hallway to the master bedroom, I couldn’t help but wish that Hannah were here to enjoy the space with me.

I wondered what she was up to. Where was she and what was she doing? Was she thinking of me as much as I was thinking about her? I regretted not being able to make time at the wedding reception for her. I would have loved the chance to introduce her to my aunt and uncle, to Andrew and Carla. I wasn’t sure if my parents would approve, but Hannah seemed like a real people person. They would have adored her.

I sat down on the edge of the large bed and sighed. It must have been really sad looking in from the outside to see a man in his early thirties lying all alone in a California king. It was then, and only then, that I realized I had deeper feelings for Hannah than I initially believed. I stared up at the speckled ceiling, bitterly disappointed in myself. I’d just made a terrible, terrible mistake. And the worst part?

I didn’t know if I was ever going to see her again.

I pulled out my phone and stared at the time, watching the minutes pass at a painfully slow pace. My flight home tomorrow wasn’t until late in the evening, and I honestly didn’t know if I could be staying in this hotel any longer. If Hannah wasn’t here, was there really any point in sticking around? I certainly didn’t think so.

I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes. I tried to convince myself that Hannah was just another girl. We both hadn’t been looking for anything serious, so why was I dwelling on it so hard? She clearly just wanted to have fun, and I had no intentions of throwing myself into a long-term relationship. I was a young bachelor, living life to the fullest. I got to enjoy the finer things in life and rarely ever worry about the consequences. There’d be a new woman on my arm in less than a week, of that I was sure.

But why did I so badly want to have Hannah here with me, sleeping in my arms?



When Lara broke out the tub of non-fat dairy ice cream, I knew I must have looked rougher than I felt. She handed me a spoon and plopped down beside me on the couch, her own spoon in hand. Little Clarissa was already down for the night, and Chuck was leaving us to our lady’s night. He mentioned that he wanted to work on his upcoming workshop agenda, so after we all had dinner together, he retreated quietly into his study down the hall.

Lara and Chuck were living the dream. Their house was full of life and vibrant colors. Family pictures hung from the walls, all of the furniture was new, and they’d even spent the summer renovating the kitchen. Since Chuck made so much off of his book’s royalty cheques, Lara didn’t have to work, but chose to anyways. I adored her little bookshop, which always smelled of old paper and fresh coffee.

“So, who’s the guy?” she finally asked me, digging into the ice cream.

I helped myself to a healthy scoop and stuffed the vanilla ice cream into my mouth. The sweet treat melted against my tongue, but not before it unleashed a terrible brain freeze on me. I frowned and grumbled, “He’s no one.”

Lara rolled her eyes. “You’re a terrible liar, you know that?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Relationships tend to be.”

I cocked an eyebrow at her. “You and Chuck ever have problems? Like, before. When you two were dating.”

Lara’s eyes widened. “You’re dating this guy?”

“What? No. No, it’s just… It’s a no strings attached typed situation.”

“Ah, I see. Though, typically, there are always strings attached.”

“How would you know? You weren’t exactly playing things fast and loose before you met Chuck.”

Lara shrugged a shoulder. “I’m not talking from experience. That’s just what I’ve observed. But to answer your question, Chuck and I did have problems. Not with each other necessarily, but with his ex-wife.”

“Right, right,” I hummed. “The infamous Sandy Hill. What a name.”

Lara grinned. “I know, right?”

“How did you know Chuck was the one? When did you know definitively?”

“It’s hard to say,” she mumbled as she took another bite of ice cream. We were devouring the whole tub, and I didn’t feel the least bit sorry. Lara continued, “It just felt right, you know? I would get so happy whenever he walked into a room. I still do. He’s the only one I see, and I think he feels the same way.”