“It was him being jealous and realizing that he had taken you for granted,” the prince explained calmly. “That’s all it was.”
“How can you be sure?” she whispered haltingly. “I saw the look in his eyes, and—-”
Again, memories tried to assault her mind.
And this time, they succeeded.
The scrub slipped from her fingers as she clutched her chest, feeling like it was about to collapse at the pain searing her heart.
I loved you.
I loved you.
“You did nothing wrong, Fawn,” the prince said grimly. “You wouldn’t be in this position if Bennett hadn’t cheated on you first.” She didn’t answer, but the silence that stretched between them told him enough, and the prince’s fists clenched in frustration.
“Talk to me, parthena mou.”
“I don’t know what to say. I thought I’d feel vindicated, seeing him hurt…but I don’t. I just…”
She clutched her chest harder as more memories rushed in.
Will you be my girl, Fawn Cornwall?
You’re the only girl I’ve had eyes for.
And that’s how it will always be.
Fawn squeezed her eyes shut. “I can’t forgive him, but I can’t make myself hate him. I thought I’d want him to hurt, but I don’t.”
“Because you love him.”
Did she? Maybe she did, but it was no longer the same, and it wasn’t just because Grant had cheated on her.
“You know what’s crazy?” Fawn whispered unevenly.
“Aside from the fact that you still have feelings for an asshole?”
A trembling laugh escaped her. “Oh, prince.”
“Forgive me,” the prince said half-seriously. “My ego isn’t used to having to listen to my woman talk about another man.”
“Oh, prince.” She couldn’t help smiling even as her eyes started to sting. “B-bear with me just a little bit. Please?”
“You ask far too much.”
“I’ll owe you a favor—-”
“Done,” the prince said so swiftly it left her blinking. “And I’ll have that favor returned tonight.”
“Umm.” Had she just been manipulated?
“Now…what you did you want to talk about?”
Her fingers tightened around her phone. “You’re going to think I’m an idiot, but…do you think she loves him?” When several moments passed and the prince hadn’t yet answered, she prodded uncertainly, “Prince?”
“You’re right,” the prince said finally. “You are an idiot.” Ignoring her sputter of protest, he said cynically, “Your guilt’s wasted on that woman. I’m betting if I offer a million dollars on the spot, she’d let me fuck her in front of Bennett.”
“She targeted Bennett because she considered him an easy mark.” The prince’s voice became hard. “And because he didn’t love you enough, he was. Despite telling you he loves you, he still fell for her hook, line, and sinker, so you should keep that in mind, too.”
It was a few minutes past eight by the time the prince returned home, and he went straight to the cabana by the pool to change into a pair of black shorts. He had just made himself comfortable on the shallow end of the water, stretching his arms against the edge of the pool, when he heard Igor murmur from behind, “Good evening, sir.”
He twisted halfway in time to see Igor bowed in greeting. Behind the older man, the prince glimpsed Fawn ascending the stairs, her body wrapped in a fluffy white robe.
“Thanks for bringing her here, Igor. You may leave us now.”
“Yes, sir.” Igor disappeared from view while Fawn continued on, making no attempt to hide the fact that she was dragging her feet. She stopped the moment her bare feet sank into a thin layer of powder-fine sand, and the prince was more amused than offended when she tightened the two sides of her robe over her body.
“Look up, parthena mou.”
I don’t want to, Fawn thought immediately, but since she knew going against the prince’s command was futile, she slowly raised her gaze to his—-
Fawn silently gulped at the sight of the prince’s ripped body, made sleeker by water glistening on his skin. Déjà vu, she thought dizzily, and her throat went dry.
Behind the prince, the sun had started to set, scattering a mix of fiery rays and shadows that crowned his dark head like a halo. He might be the Prince of Darkness, but even daylight loved him, turning him into a god who could make a girl’s heart beat madly with just a hooded glance.
Holy sweet Jesus, it wasn’t fair how sexy—-
The prince’s lips curving in an arrogant grin, he murmured huskily, “No need to limit yourself to staring, parthena mou.”
She turned red. “Gross!” Embarrassment finally allowed her to wrench her gaze off the prince, and she resisted the urge to cover her face, just to keep the prince from seeing her reddened cheeks.
She half-expected the prince to get mad, like he always did whenever she called him gross, but instead the prince simply asked, “Are you wearing it, parthena mou?”
“It” was the favor she owed him, a two-piece swimwear that couldn’t even be rightfully called a bikini. The top consisted of scraps of fabric just large enough to cover her nipples while the bikini bottom, possessing more strings than cloth, was a thong with a capital T.