Was this really happening?
Was she really going to be the prince’s lover?
Panic stirred inside her at the thought, and the fact that she was inside the prince’s suite made it worse. This had always been forbidden territory, and yet here she was now—-
Deep breaths, Fawn. Deep breaths. She looked around her slowly, hoping that her surroundings would calm her down, but when she realized what she was staring at, her panic only worsened and her head started to throb.
Either she was hallucinating or the prince’s bedroom was actually covered with floral wallpaper. Floral! Granted, the background was dark gray, the intricately drawn roses a nice shade of pearl, but still. Floral!
Something, perhaps instinct, made her slowly turn her eyes skywards, and her headache worsened. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, but there were actual murals painted on the twenty-foot-tall ceilings. Murals!
She turned towards the windows, and of course the curtains had to be made of damask, with heavy golden ropes to draw them. Her gaze slid farther down the room, where a majestic-looking rug covered the textured marble floors. It looked old enough to belong to a museum and expensive enough for the Queen of England.
No, you’re not.
Fawn began to pace restlessly as her thoughts warred with each other.
Then fine, this is weird, and it’s time to leave. This just makes it more obvious that I can’t be the prince’s lover. It’s just too weird—-
How can you say that when you already let him touch you?
I wasn’t myself!
Oh, suuuuure. That’s what everybody says.
I really wasn’t! Cut me some slack, I just saw my boyfriend – GRANT! – fuck another girl—-
Ha! So now you’re using the F-word to make yourself sound tough? Pathetic.
And you’re insensitive—-
A knock on the door interrupted her, and Fawn whirled around, thinking, I’m going to tell the prince I made a mistake.
But the man standing by the door was not the prince.
“Good evening, miss,” Igor murmured politely with a slight bow. “Is it alright for me to come in?”
Fawn blinked. “Uh, yes?”
“The master said I might interrupt you—-”
“On what?” She was even more bewildered now. “I’m all alone here.”
“—-while you’re talking to yourself, miss,” Igor finished.
Oh. Her lips parted and closed. I’m going to kill you, prince, you just wait. She lifted her chin. “I…I…was not talking to myself.” She tried not to sound like she was babbling but failed. “I…I…was just wondering how my life’s changed so drastically, and then there was this voice inside me telling me not to panic—-”
Igor raised a brow.
Her voice trailed off as she realized she had still ended up admitting to talking to herself.
“It’s alright, miss,” Igor reassured her. “It is not my position to comment.”
“But I really wasn’t talking to myself.” Much.
“If you say so, miss.”
Fawn cringed. “And that. I was hoping I misheard, but can you please stop calling me ‘miss?’”
“I cannot, miss.”
“I am unfortunately inflexible on this, miss.”
She gnawed on her lip, thinking hard, and then an idea came to her, and she asked, “Are you Russian, Igor?”
Igor allowed himself a smile. “No, miss. I know my name is misleading, but I’m actually a full-blooded Sicilian.”
Seeing her bemusement, the older man tried to explain tactfully, “It’s…tradition.”
“In your family?”
“Yes, miss.” Mafia was more or less family, wasn’t it?
“And the tradition is that you…get to be called Igor?”
“The firstborns are, yes, because we’ve the privilege of serving as guardians. As the firstborn, I was chosen to serve as the master’s guardian, the same way my father served his father, and so forth.”
“Guardian. Right.” Fawn tried to think of what that meant but couldn’t. “What exactly does a guardian do? I mean, I know you handle the household now, but what about when the prince was young?”
Killed anyone who wanted to kill him, Igor thought. But knowing that would best be kept a secret from Fawn as well, the older man cleared his throat, saying, “I was the master’s…babysitter.” Igor’s father would roll over in his grave if he had heard of the way his son described their profession, which had always been a source of pride for their family. Mentally crossing himself in apology for such blasphemy, Igor asked Fawn, “May I ask what my supposedly being Russian has to do with the way I address you, miss?”
“Well, I was thinking, if you call me ‘miss’ in another language, it wouldn’t sound too formal.”
Ah. The older man nodded understandingly. That did not make sense at all, but that didn’t matter since Fawn was now the prince’s special lady. And when Fawn beamed at Igor, he knew he had made the right decision.
“As the prince is Sicilian and Greek,” Igor began, “how about you choose between signorina and kyria?”
“Good idea.” She thought about it seriously. “Signorina sounds like a nickname, doesn’t it? I think it doesn’t sound too formal.”
Actually, it did. Also, more people would know what ‘signorina’ meant compared to ‘kyria’ but because Fawn was the prince’s special lady—-