Anger flashed in her face. Before she could reply a short melody burst through the charged atmosphere. Then again. And again. His damn cell phone.
‘Are you going to answer that or would you like me to?’ Those temptress tones returned—but so shaky this time.
She was trying to goad him again, using her voice, her eyes, her femininity to bring a man to his knees.
Not this man. He wasn’t that weak.
Yet she knew that already. And that was the twist. She expected him to pull away—she wanted to drive him further back because she didn’t want him too close. Because his nearness bothered her.
That realisation shocked him. His body had already betrayed him. She was so damn beautiful, for the first time in years his desire was stirred.
‘It’s my security team.’ He cleared the frog from his throat and ignored the call.
‘I’m amazed they let you wander the streets alone,’ she said dryly.
‘They know exactly where I am.’
Her eyebrows lifted. ‘You told them you were coming here?’
‘GPS.’ His watch was tracked. It even had a silent emergency alarm button. Very spy film but he’d had to agree to it to get his morning walks alone.
‘Your every movement is accounted for? So you’re like a prisoner on electronic monitoring?’
‘The concept is not dissimilar. They’re concerned because I’ve not returned to the palace by my usual time.’ He pulled the phone from his pocket as it began to ring again. If he didn’t reply to this next call, a security team would be on its way in seconds.
‘A change in the usual routine,’ she drawled. ‘Heaven forbid.’
‘Yet here you are, doing the same warm-up dance routine you’ve been doing for years,’ he answered blandly. ‘We are creatures of habit, just doing what we usually do.’
Like falling back on old defences.
But as he read the message from his security chief he tensed. He double-checked the time on the screen—how had twenty minutes passed so quickly? He crossed the room to glance out of the window. In the space of a few minutes, the world had changed.
Outside people were lining the barricaded street, already standing two to three deep. He’d been so engrossed in dealing with Bella he hadn’t heard the crowds gathering.
Swiftly he stepped back. To be seen inside Bella Sanchez’s apartment at this hour of the morning would be unacceptable. But to be seen leaving it even worse. Especially given his unshaven, dishevelled appearance. The world would think he’d had another kind of workout altogether.
His gut burned.
Was this want? It had been so damn long since he’d wanted any woman. Clenching the phone in his fist, he faced her. She’d stilled, listening to the rising clamour outside. Given the way her features had tightened, the realisation the world had woken wasn’t good news for her either.
‘It seems it is your lucky day,’ he muttered, feeling like provoking her the way she had him. ‘I will have to remain here.’
Her eyes widened. ‘For how long?’
Until his team could work out a subtle extraction plan. ‘Until they’ve all gone home.’
‘But that race won’t finish for another six hours!’
Her obvious discomfort gave him a macabre pleasure. That she didn’t want him near echoed his own unwanted feelings.
But he looked at her, outwardly unmoved. ‘What do you suggest we do to pass the time?’
BELLA STARED. HE was joking, wasn’t he? But Prince Antonio never joked; he looked as straight up serious and remote as ever. Worse, if anything.
‘Why can’t you leave now?’ She still didn’t understand why he was here at all.
He stepped further from the window, looking at his phone as it buzzed again. ‘The crowds outside are already too big.’
‘They love their Crown Prince. They’ll be happy to see you.’ He could do no wrong in his people’s eyes.
‘I’m not prepared for a meet and greet at this point in time.’ He quickly sent a text.
‘Because you’re not in one of your navy suits? The track pants aren’t all bad...’ In the baggy hoodie he looked younger and more approachable than in any of the stills she’d seen. In fact dressed like this he looked alarmingly attractive. ‘A prince at leisure—’