The words made things so hurtfully real, made it impossible for her to keep closing her eyes until she could pretend that she had just imagined what she saw.
Sobs tried to crawl out of Fawn’s throat but she forced them back down, sinking her teeth into her lower lip until she drew blood. It was tempting – so, so tempting – to sink deeper into the oblivion the prince’s hands offered.
But she knew she couldn’t do that.
Because now she realized that was what she had been doing all these months.
Pretending she didn’t notice Grant was changing—-
Pretending she didn’t know Grant was lying—-
Pretending she didn’t feel Grant was cheating—-
Fawn reached shakily for the prince’s hands, and she didn’t have to say anything else. It was as if he had read her mind, felt her need to face her fears and her pains, and the prince slowly released her from his hold.
She turned to him.
She could see him again.
And somehow, even though Grant was no longer in front of her, seeing made the pain worse.
He took her hand, and she let him. A moment later, and he was drawing her away from the door. As they descended the stairs, they heard footsteps coming up and the prince automatically released her hand.
She followed behind him, neither of them speaking until they made it out of the building where the prince’s limousine was waiting.
He helped her inside and as the car started to move, the prince said casually, “Just say the word—-”
She looked at him in confusion.
“And he’ll die tonight if you want.”
Fawn almost, almost laughed. “Prince.”
His rock-hard shoulders moved in a Gallic shrug. “You know who I am.”
“Oh, of course I know you,” she managed to say with feigned solemnity. “You’re Reid Chalkias, Christopoulos University’s most infamous and heartless playboy.”
“And a prince,” he reminded her solemnly.
“And a prince,” she agreed.
But deep in her heart, she knew…
She had always known the prince was more than that.
The prince was a man burdened by secrets—-
A man trapped in the darkness—-
But he was also a man who took away other people’s pain, a man who gave others a chance for a new life at the cost of his own.
Shaking her head, she said unevenly, “I do know who you are, prince, which is why I know you wouldn’t really have been able to kill him just like that.” She snapped her fingers for emphasis.
The prince’s lip curled. “You underestimate me, parthena mou. Whoever said I’d have to dirty my hands with his death?” He added solemnly, “I can always ask one of my henchmen—-”
“Stop it.” This time, Fawn managed a watery smile, thinking how the last word was so woefully inaccurate in describing the fatherly demeanor of Noah, Igor, and the other senior guys in the prince’s staff.
“We both know you won’t do that,” she told the prince. “So stop pretending.”
“Not pretending,” the prince said quietly. “I just wanted you to smile.”
“Sorry. I’m n-not used to you joking.” She swallowed. “I mean, I’m used to seeing you joke around with others, but with me, you don’t really—-”
“My adopted mother says the same thing,” the prince revealed in the same casual tone, almost as if he was deliberately downplaying the fact that he was telling her things she had never expected to know about him.
“When I crack a joke in her presence, she thinks it’s the end of the world.”
She choked back a teary laugh. “I k-kinda feel the same.”
As the prince watched her wipe her eyes, he heard himself say, “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry I made you leave that way.”
Without meeting his gaze, she whispered, “Then why did you say it?”
The prince laughed humorlessly. “Do you really not know?” Tipping her chin up, he looked straight into her eyes and said in a hard voice, “Because I was jealous.” Her eyes widened, and he could see that she truly had no idea.
The prince released her and exhaled his breath in frustration.
She was even denser than he thought.
“Sorry,” he heard her mumble in a small voice. “I didn’t realize it.”
“It’s fine.” And not wanting to give her a chance to delve deeper into his fit of jealousy – which he was doing his best to forget – the prince swiftly changed the subject, asking bluntly, “Do you wish for more time to lick your wounds?”
Despite the numbing pain inside of her, Fawn couldn’t help rolling her eyes at his less than sensitive question. “Are you ever this outrageously offensive with other people?”
He smiled lazily at her. “Only with you.”
“Oh.” Should she be flattered or offended? She thought about it and decided on the former. It wasn’t the nicest method for giving comfort, but she couldn’t argue with the results, the way he was able to keep her mind from—-
Images she had unconsciously tried to bury resurfaced.
She choked out bitterly, “I can’t stop seeing them fuc—-”