Page 29 of Prince Next Door

“You seem really sure about that.”

He nodded. “I am.”

There was a large group of really elegant-looking people hanging around the lounge area. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why they all looked so effortlessly regal. It was only when one of the older woman, a stout lady with familiar grey eyes, noticed us enter and gasped. She waved her hand furiously and quickly approached, scooping William into the tightest embrace I’d ever seen.

“Willy, my dear boy!” she giggled.

I had to stifle a laugh. Hearing my fiancé referred to as Willy was hilarious.

“Mother,” he chuckled, hugging her back. “You’re looking as beautiful as ever.”

William’s mother turned to signal over an older looking man. He stood tall, with broad shoulders and a stiff upper lip. He leaned heavily on a cane, but still managed to walk with his head held high.

“Had a safe flight, did you?” he asked William. He spoke with the same lilt as William, only his voice was deeper and gruffer.

“Yes, Father. The flight was very smooth.” William turned to me and smiled. “Mother, Father, this is Hannah Milch. Hannah, this is my mother and father, Lady Deborah and Prince Theodore.”

I didn’t know if I was supposed to bow or curtsey or shake their hands. Luckily, Deborah wrapped her arms around me and nearly squeezed the air out of my lungs before I had the chance to decide.

“It’s so lovely to finally meet you!” she squealed happily. She took a step back and pinched at my cheeks. “My goodness, you’re a pretty one. Much better than those girls Willy used to gallivant about with.”

“Mother,” he warned, cheeks tinting pink with embarrassment. “Please.”

“Thank you,” I giggled. “That’s very kind of you.”

Theodore piped up. “Willy tells us you work in a bookstore.”

A nervous bubbled formed in my stomach. He spoke so plainly that I couldn’t tell if his comment was genuinely fond or if there was a layer of disappointment lingering behind his words.

“Yes,” I said, choosing not to let anything get me down. “I like to work. Keeps me busy and out of trouble.”

Theodore chuckled softly, which I took as a good sign. “I’m very glad Willy’s managed to find a girl with a sensible head on her shoulders. I hope you can teach him a thing or two about being grounded.”

I smiled, mentally sighing in relief. “I hope I can, too,” I agreed.

Deborah clasped my hands in her own. “So, when are you two going to sit down for your official portraits? I really want to hang one in the estate.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Official portraits?”

William stepped in and answered, “Not until after the wedding. I have to admit I haven’t really discussed her title yet.”

Theodore shook his head, but he didn’t seem too bothered. “Always leaving things until the last minute. Some things never change, I suppose.”

“Oh, sweetheart,” cooed Deborah, “let the boy be. It’s not exactly an everyday occurrence.”

I turned to William. “What are they talking about? What title?”

William cleared his throat, a little sheepish. “I meant to tell you earlier, but I couldn’t find the right time. You were just so excited about the wedding, and I knew preparations were freaking you out.”

“Spill, Laurier,” I mumbled. “What’s going on?”

“Well, remember how I was trying to give up my title?”

I nodded slowly. “Yes?”

“Well, as it turns out, it’s a lot of paperwork to get through.”

I frowned. “And?”

“And I thought it would just be simpler to keep it.”

“So, you’re still a prince? Because you didn’t want to do the paperwork?”

Deborah stepped in. “In all fairness, it’s a real hassle. And since Willy’s seventeenth in line for the throne, it’s not like it’s a big deal that he marries a commoner. Not that you’re a commoner, I shouldn’t say that. A regular person. Not that you’re regular. I’m sure you’re quite outstanding.”

“You’re rambling, dear,” hummed Theodore.

William laughed. “So, yeah. I’m still a prince. I didn’t know how to tell you. I wasn’t sure if you’d be mad.”

“Does this mean you have to stay in England?” I asked. “I thought you wanted to live with me in America.”

He placed his hands on my face and cupped my cheeks with his palms. “I do want to move to America with you, and I fully intend to. I just have to make trips back to England from time to time. And as my wife, you’d automatically get a title, as well.”

My eyes widened in surprise. “You mean… I’d get to be a princess?”

William nodded.

“Shut up,” I gawked. “No way. Am I dreaming? Am I being pranked right now?”

“You’re not mad?”

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