Even now, he had no fucking idea what happened, and the look of hurt on Fawn’s face when he told her he wouldn’t be joining her for breakfast slashed his mind.
She was just his lover, he thought savagely. She had no business acting like he was obliged to spend every damn minute in her company.
She had no right to think that.
Even if he had told her things he had never told anyone else—-
Even if there was nothing else he wanted more than to continue being with her—-
Even if she was crying now—-
Cursing under his breath, the prince swung away from the window and stalked out of his study. He started walking, but in the end he was running, feeling like the more seconds passed—-
The prince halted with a rare display of inelegance and tried to catch his breath as his gaze urgently sought Fawn—-
He found her seated alone at the dining table, gazing at him with wide-eyed shock, her half-opened mouth literally stuffed with…cake.
The prince couldn’t help it.
Cringing at the sound, Fawn hurriedly gulped down her glass of water so she could swallow the rest of her cake.
Holy sweet Jesus, this was just—-
The. Most. Embarrassing. Moment. Ever.
The prince strode into the room, looking his usual beautiful self. No swollen eyes like hers, no pale skin, no flaw whatsoever, and her shoulders slumped. Maybe I need to be a bit more evil, she thought miserably. The way it looked like now, bullies got prettier while idiots like her got uglier.
When the prince reached her side, she said weakly, “Hi.”
“Enjoying your breakfast?”
She nodded. When Igor had seen her sobbing over cereal, he had left without a word and came back with a large slice of her favorite red velvet cake.
“Sweets will always make you feel better,” Igor had told her politely before leaving.
She had decided to take him up on his word, stuffing herself with cake—-
And that was how the prince ended up catching her transformation into a glutton.
Fawn stiffened as the prince came to crouch beside her chair. When he slowly reached for her hands, she tried to pull away, but by then he had her locked in his grip.
She bit her lip hard.
“I didn’t know how to look at you. I didn’t know how to talk to you. Now that you know the kind of person I really am.”
She still didn’t speak, but now it wasn’t because she didn’t want to.
Now, it was because she couldn’t.
“I don’t know what’s happening anymore,” Fawn choked out.
And as the truth came out, so did the tears.
“I’ve known you for months, but you…”
The prince’s hold on her hands tightened.
“You don’t just make the pain go away anymore, prince.” The tears fell faster. “It’s beyond that now. You…you can actually hurt me more than Grant can. And I don’t understand why.”
The prince brought her hands to his lips. “I’m sorry,” he said harshly. And he was. He was sorry because unlike her—-
He knew exactly why he could hurt her, knew exactly why she could hurt him the same way.
He knew, but it didn’t matter.
She looked down at the prince’s bent head, and she couldn’t keep herself from crying, couldn’t stop herself from remembering.
She remembered the first day they met—-
“Please tell us a bit about yourself, Ms. Cornwall.”
She remembered how she used to think he was so dangerous, remembered the way she had forced herself to smile at him, and he had said—-
“You look like a clown.”
And most of all, she remembered the way he had looked at her when she had seen Grant having sex with another girl—-
“What do you want me to do?”
He had asked it quietly, simply, like there was no limit to what he could and would do for her.
How could that man, who would go to such lengths to protect her, be the same man who could abandon her with such cruel ease?
She felt the prince’s fingers release its hold, and she swallowed back a sob as his hands moved up to cup her face.
He made her look at him, and she did.
“Can we start again?”
The tears were endless, and she could only look at him.
“Let me just protect you, the way I promised.”
A smile wobbled on her lips even as her heart crumbled. “F-for how long?”
“For as long as you need me to.” The prince wiped a tear away, and her heart crumbled even more.
The prince might call her an idiot, and maybe she was, but she could read between the lines, too.
And there was her answer, she thought numbly.
He would be with her for as long as she needed him.
Such pretty words, when she knew what it really meant was that he would only want her for as long as belonged to someone else.
She knew that, and if she weren’t an idiot, she would tell him that wasn’t enough for her.