It was seriously alarming, pun intended.
“You’re scowling now.”
His words had her hurriedly rearranging her face into a smile.
“You look like a clown.”
She tried one more time.
“A psychopath now, but it will do.” His voice turned brisk. “Are you not enjoying your work here?”
Fawn shook her head quickly, realized it might be misinterpreted, and nodded. Then she realized that could be misinterpreted as well, and she croaked out, “I r-really enjoy my work here.”
“Hard to tell,” the prince murmured after a beat, “after you nearly killed me by putting salt in my coffee.”
Because you made me nervous with how you kept staring at me!
She mumbled, “Sorry, prince.”
“I haven’t seen you around since then.”
She could only smile weakly. She had been avoiding him. After her first day fiasco, Fawn had been convinced that she wouldn’t survive the job if she kept bumping into the prince. Since then, she had done her best to familiarize herself with the prince’s schedule and movements, therefore ensuring she wouldn’t ever have to work anywhere near him.
And she had succeeded—-until now.
“It makes me think you’re avoiding me.”
Fawn wanted to throw up at the direct question. Mary, Jesus, and Joseph, had she been found out? She cautiously took a peek at his expression and nearly collapsed.
He knew she was avoiding him!
The prince was gazing at her quizzically, and she knew he was expecting an answer. She knew but she didn’t want to, knowing that when she was nervous, she tended to—-
The prince raised a brow.
“Never, prince. I could never, like, seriously, never.”
She tended to do that.
“I was actually just giving you, umm, a…wide berth? Not that I’m saying it’s because you’re fat because obviously you’re not, and I’m speaking from experience because I’ve seen you half-naked more times I’ve seen my own boyfriend—-”
Realizing what she had just let slip, Fawn turned red and shut up.
The prince was visibly stunned. “Are you telling the truth?”
“About what, prince?”
Emerald-green eyes boring through hers, the prince said pleasantly, “You should know I fire people who force me to repeat myself.”
Sweet Jesus protect my job.
Wincing, she stammered, “It’s true, prince.”
“Is your boyfriend gay then?”
“What? No!” She shook her head incredulously, thinking he really was the Prince of Darkness, to immediately assume that Grant had to be gay just because he liked to have his clothes on.
Would he fire her if she told him he was asking her something that didn’t have anything to do with work?
“Yes,” the prince said.
She gaped at him. “Did you just read my mind?” He really was the Prince of Darkness!
Idiot, the prince thought. Her face was just too easy to read. He asked impatiently, “Why then?”
“W-why do you even want to know?” she asked helplessly.
“Curiosity perhaps,” he answered with a shrug. “Or boredom.”
She wondered if he knew how insulting that sounded and thought, Probably. It wasn’t like insulting her would do anything to the prince’s shockproof conscience. She said reluctantly, “Because he r-respects me.” Or at least that was what she liked to tell herself these days.
So girls like this one still existed, he thought. Pure as driven snow, thinking she could guard her virginity until she made it to the altar.
Idiot, he thought again.
“M-may I go now?”
“Of course…parthena mou.” The last one was unintended, but since he was unable to recall her name at that moment, the prince decided to use the first term that came to his mind in describing her.
Turning away and tightly clutching her mop like it was a weapon of self-defense, Fawn wondered nervously what those last words meant. What had he said again?
She remembered the cuss words she got one of the other maids, a half-Filipina, had tried to teach her. It really sounded similar, she thought suspiciously.
It really sounded familiar.
Could the prince be cursing her?
Alone in his study, the prince thought for a moment before walking to his desk and accessing the employee database in his computer. The girl’s file came up a few moments later.
Her name was Fawn.
And for one moment, the prince had an uneasy feeling that it was a name he would never forget again.
THE NEXT TIME THE PRINCE encountered her again, it was purely accidental. He was inside the watchtower, speaking with Noah, his chief of security, when he heard an unmistakable voice call out gaily, “I have something for you, Noah.”
Noah automatically looked at the prince for permission. Ex-army and in his fifties, Noah was all about the chain of command. Although Fawn was a good girl, the prince was his first priority.
“Don’t bother letting her know I’m here,” the prince murmured.
Nodding, Noah then poked his head out of the open window, saying with a cheerful smile, “Good morning, Fawn. You’re early today.”
“Classes were cancelled,” Fawn answered, smiling back up at Noah. “I asked Igor if I could do an extra shift and he said yes.” She lifted the paper bag she was holding. “Bagels, and like you’ve never tasted before.” At his doubtful look, she insisted, “I’m not exaggerating. Should I bring it up?”