“Her name is Beatrice Crichton,” the prince said finally. “She’s a special case, someone I took in as a favor. She’s actually the stepmother of my friends, Nick and Jason Christakos.” He paused. “She’s a star witness in a lawsuit filed by the twins.” He told her about how the shipping tycoon Abraxas Davos had almost succeeded in killing Beatrice to silence her and how, to ensure she remained safe, he had volunteered to shelter Beatrice until it was time for the former Mrs. Christakos to take the witness stand.

“Her ordeal’s left her mentally unstable, but the doctors believe there’s still a way to save her.” As the prince finished revealing the entire story to Fawn, it was then he realized just how much he trusted her.

It had him sucking in his breath, and again the prince felt his world tipping further to the side. And just like before it was because of Fawn – always because of her – that his whole world kept spinning off tangent.

“T-thank you for telling me the truth.” Her light brown eyes stared straight at him as she said with quiet conviction, “I’ll guard your secrets with my life.”

He would have smiled if he didn’t know that with the life he led, that could very well be possible, and the thought made his jaw clench.

Sensing the prince’s sudden grimness, Fawn chewed on her lip as she felt a helpless urge to comfort him. She didn’t want to pretend that she understood why he was doing what he did, because she didn’t. What she did understand was that he was her friend…and if there could be a way to make him feel better—-

She would do it.

“I, umm, remember your friends,” Fawn mumbled. She had seen the twins several times attending the prince’s parties, and it was common knowledge that the three men, along with a few other select individuals, made up what the media liked to call as the BBFs, which stood for Boys with Billion-dollar trust Funds.

The prince inclined his head to the side, murmuring, “Is that so?”

“They’re the good-looking ones with startlingly blue eyes, right?” It was Fawn’s hope that he would be happy she finally had something nice to say about his guests.

Her hope, however, had the opposite effect.

The prince said icily, “I’m pleased to know you’ve enough free time while at work to notice the color of their eyes.” She could have said it was just…blue. The prince’s lips tightened as he realized how absurd he was being.

He asked abruptly, “Any other questions?”

She shook her head.

He shook his head back at her.

Fawn blinked.

“It’s quite admirable,” he drawled, “the way you think you can lie without me knowing it.”

Oh.

“Just say what you want, parthena mou.”

She said in a small voice, “But you might not want to hear it.”

“Do I look like the type to break if I hear something I dislike?”

Somehow, the prince’s derisive tone made her smile awkwardly. “No. I don’t think you’re easy to break.” And she didn’t.

Only an extraordinarily strong man could do all these things he was doing—-and keep doing it, even if he didn’t have to.

Inhaling deeply, she said haltingly, “It’s just…I wanted to know. Did you have to be the one to keep her safe? Aren’t you unnecessarily endangering yourself?”

The prince’s face remained impassive. “And your point is?”

“It’s just…it’s just like what you’re doing with those girls, saving them, taking it on yourself to teach them. It’s like – it’s like you’re punishing yourself.”

Her searching gaze met his, and he sucked in his breath, feeling like she could see through his soul.

“Why do you feel the need to punish yourself?”

“I’m not.”

“I guess that makes the two of us.” Her lips twisted in a smile that made it seem like she was hurting…for him. “I can tell when you’re lying, too.”

“STAY HERE.”

“No, and stop treating me like a puppy you can order around.” She lifted her chin stubbornly. Another month had passed since she had learned of Beatrice Crichton’s existence, and today Jason Christakos had come for a visit. While she was certain the Greek scion was a good man, she also believed that the prince had succeeded too well in making everyone think all these crusades he had selflessly taken on did not have a toll on him.

But it did.

And it hurt, she was sure it was hurting the prince, even if there were no wounds to show.

“You won’t change my mind, prince.” She didn’t care if this made her nosy or she would end up doing something that could make the prince and his friend mad. If she felt like the prince was about to take another unnecessary risk, she was going to—-she was going to do something she wasn’t yet sure of, but whatever it was, it would stop them from proceeding.

“I don’t want you to. Just mind your own business.” When the prince moved towards the door to leave the study, she hurriedly blocked his way and spread her arms wide. “No! Stay!”


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