“Who was that? He’s scary,” she whispers to me as he goes around the corner. Then before I have a chance to respond, she goes, “Mon dieu, that was him! The Queen’s butler.”
“He’s Aksel’s secretary now.”
“Oh, so strange. Why would he do that? He killed his wife.”
I shrug and let out a sigh. “Well, it was an accident. But I don’t know. I would say that guy is the only downfall of working here. I’ve asked Aksel more than a few times on why he’s here, but I get what I think is a whole bunch of bullshit instead. Who knows.”
“He’s not creepy to you, though? This butler.”
“Not at all. I mean, I don’t like him, but he stays away from me for the most part.”
Although the few times when Nicklas has approached me and Aksel was nearby, Aksel practically chased him away. This happened even before Aksel and I were together.
And Aksel happens to be our last stop on the tour.
Because it’s Sunday and it’s the evening, I know just where to find him.
He’s in the living room, in his usual chair, drinking brandy. I had told him twice already that Amelie was coming, hence why I was actually using my day off. I normally would just march right over to him, but since I’m supposed to be the mere nanny and he is a King and this is my supervisor of sorts, formality rules.
I clear my throat loud enough for Aksel to hear it.
“Pardon me, sir,” I say, and he turns in his seat to look at me, brows raised. “But I have a guest here to meet you.” I look to Amelie but her cool French façade is cracking and she’s frozen in her tracks. “Amelie, this is His Majesty, King Aksel of Denmark.”
Now, I have to admit, it never stops being fucking cool that I get to introduce him this way, even if I am just one of his staff members.
And it definitely doesn’t stop being amazing that at night, I’m the one who gets to share his bed.
Of course, I can’t tell her that.
Aksel gets to his feet, even though I know he’d rather stay in his chair by the fire, nursing his drink. Past a certain hour, he says he really likes to ignore the whole “king” part of his life, like he’s off-duty with unionized breaks.
Amelie is still a statue of herself, so I grab her hand and lead her over, like I would Clara or Freja.
He shoots me a bemused look, the kind of look that makes him look younger, carefree. I’m seeing that look from him more and more often.
I like to think it has something to do with me.
He sticks out his hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Amelie.”
When Amelie still doesn’t do anything but gawk, I take her hand and put it in Aksel’s.
He shakes it and only then does she kind of respond.
“Oh, hello. Oh, oui, Your Majesty. Désolée! I am so sorry, I do not know what happened there. Perhaps I lost my mind.”
“It’s quite alright,” Aksel says and then looks to me. “I completely forgot that she was coming today.”
“That’s because your brain has been elsewhere these days,” I say.
And that’s because all the blood that normally goes to his brain has been redirected to his Danish dick. Not that I’m complaining.
He nods at the chairs. “Do you girls want to join me?”
“Phhfff,” I say. “Girls? Ladies you mean.”
Now it’s Aksel’s time to scoff. “If you say so. The French one seems all right, but I’m still not sold on you.”
“You are sold on me,” I remind him. “You pay my salary.”
It’s then that I realize Amelie’s gaze is ping-ponging between us. “I don’t mind staying here,” she says. “We don’t have to go out.”
“Yes,” I say, grabbing her arm and pulling her away from Aksel. “Because you’ve made such a big deal about it, we do.”
“You can find men another day, no?” she asks.
Shit. My eyes laser onto hers. She wasn’t supposed to mention that, and she especially wasn’t supposed to make it look like it was my idea.
“Find men?” Aksel repeats, voice hard.
I glance at him warily, trying to give him the she’s crazy look with my eyes, but I’m not sure he’s picking up on it.
“Oui,” Amelie says. “Men. Like yourself, or perhaps less royal. Single, though. You don’t expect Aurora to become an old maid working for you, do you?”
Aksel’s gaze is as sharp as an icepick. “No,” he says after a moment. “I wouldn’t.”
Oh, for crying out loud.
“We’re just going out for a drink,” I assure him. “I’ll be home before you know it.”
“But it’s your day off, no?” Amelie says, tilting her head. “You’re allowed to stay out as long as you want. He isn’t the boss of you.”
“Technically I am,” he says gruffly, back into full-frowning mode. Yeesh. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time untangling this mess.
“Yes, but it’s her day off, and according to the Danish labor laws, you have no say over it,” she says.
“But I make the Danish labor laws,” he argues, narrowing his eyes.
Amelie doesn’t care. She shrugs. Whatever effect on her he had has worn off and she’s back to being blasé. “Hmm, no, that would be the prime minister. Sorry, Your Majesty, but I look out for my client first and the King of Denmark second.”
She grabs my hand. “Come now, darling, let’s go paint the town rouge.”
She drags me to the door and I look at Aksel over my shoulder.
He’s fucking pissed.
Is it wrong that it makes me feel a bit giddy inside?
We get in the car and Henrik drives us to the Ruby bar nearby, which I’ve always wanted to go to because it’s supposed to be hip and cool and all the things a normal twenty-six-year-old should be seeking out.
“Okay, so which Dane in here do you want to screw?” Amelie asks me.
We only got to the bar a few minutes ago and we’re sitting on a couch in the corner with a full view of the patrons. Only I’m just idly looking. I’m thinking of Aksel this whole time.
“Um, no one yet,” I say, taking a sip of my drink. It’s called a Nuda Veritas and it’s supposed to make me tell the truth. God, I hope not.
“No one? They’re all Nordic Gods. Dirty Danes. You know, if I didn’t have my boyfriend…” she glances at me. “You’re not even trying.”
I both sigh and swallow at the same time and nearly choke on the drink. “I don’t want to,” I say, coughing. “I’m fine.”
She squints at me. “Mmhmm. Yes. I can see that. Is that anything to do with your boss?”
I give her a steady look. “No.”
“He seemed rather concerned that you were going out. Is he always this controlling?”
Now, I can’t tell if she’s asking me this on a professional level or a friendly level, but even so, there’s only one answer. “He’s not controlling. I mean, he is a king and all and I’m his employee but if you’re asking me if it’s a problem, no. It’s not.”
He can be extra controlling in the bedroom, but I know that’s not what she’s asking.
Or, I hope that’s not.
“You do have a special…bond with him, no?”
I shake my head. “No. Not really.”
She leans forward, brushing her bangs out of her eyes to get a better look at my face. “Really?”
“Yeah,” I tell her, pasting on a smile. “It’s all fine. I love this job.”
She studies me for a few moments and then leans back in the couch, taking a long sip of her drink. “D’accord. Then all is well.”
I just nod.
All is well.
Until the night is over, and Henrik has taken us back to the palace.
It’s much later than I thought it would be, nearly 1 a.m., when we stumble up the stairs to our rooms. Amelie is in one of the guest suites which is near Aksel’s room and I figure that there’s no way he wants to see me tonight anyway. He’s either waiting up for me, seething, or he fell asleep.
I say goodnight to her and go to my own room.
I remove my clothes, step into a nightshirt and head to the bathroom, only then noticing a note on my desk.
I’m in your bathroom.
What the fuck?
The note has been torn from my day planner, which I don’t appreciate, and scribbled with a Sharpie. Only I don’t know if it’s Aksel or not since I don’t ever recall seeing his handwriting.
“Aksel?” I call out quietly.
I head to the bathroom door—which is closed when I know I left it open—and slowly open it, reaching in to flick on the lights.
Aksel is standing right by the door and I almost scream, jumping up and down in fright.
“I left you a note,” he whispers harshly.
“I know!” I cry out as softly as I can, my heart racing. “That didn’t make this any less scary! Why are you in my bathroom?”
“I needed to see you.”
“In my bathroom?”
“In your room.”
“So wait in the room.”
“I didn’t know if you were coming home alone.”
I nearly bite my tongue. “Seriously? You really thought I was going out to pick up guys?”
“Well why did you go out?” He comes out of the bathroom and I notice how wild his eyes are, the firm clench of his jaw. He’s mad. For no reason.
“I went out because I’ve been living in this city for half a year and I’ve never gone to a bar. That’s why.”
He mumbles something in Danish at that and I don’t care to know what it is. “Well, you could have told me that.”
“I didn’t tell you because it doesn’t really matter in the long run. I did it because Amelie came here, and she wanted to. And I haven’t had a girl’s night in a long time.” I pause. “Still doesn’t explain why you were hiding in my bathroom.”