Nick raised a brow.
“Trust me,” Nathan whispered low enough for only Fawn to hear. “It will work.”
The prince was grinning so hard it was a wonder his jaw didn’t snap as he asked, “Keeping secrets from us?”
Fawn took a deep breath and slowly raised her gaze to the prince’s. “I h-have something to say, prince.”
“Don’t fucking bother,” the prince snarled, thinking – no, knowing that it could only be about Nathan. And to think he had worried about hurting her—-
For one moment she could only look at him incredulously, unable to believe he had said such words. But then the next moment, it made her so furious, and as rage turned her vision red, it also made her forget all about her inhibitions, her doubts, and worries.
She took a step towards him, chin up, and the prince was almost surprised into stepping back. “Well, I’ll still bother to say it,” she whispered furiously, “and you will listen.” Taking another deep breath, she said, “I came here with an ultimatum to myself.”
The prince only continued to look at her, not saying a thing.
“And that’s—-if you don’t keep your promise to me tonight, I’m going to give it to Nathan instead.”
This time, the prince did react. “What the fuck?”
“What promise?” Nick was asking curiously.
Fawn forced herself to say the words out loud. “My virginity.”
Lilac’s jaw dropped. “O-oh. W-wow.”
Finally recovering from his shock, the prince grated out, “Are you crazy?”
“I had a f-feeling you were slowly pushing me away, and it w-was hurting me too much, so I t-thought a quick c-clean break would do it.” She blindly reached for Nathan’s hand, and warm strong fingers twined with hers. “So I told Nathan about it, and he offered to take the prince’s place.”
When the prince’s head snapped towards Nathan, his friend shrugged, saying evenly, “If you don’t want her then it shouldn’t bother you, should it?”
All eyes turned to the prince.
When too many moments passed without the prince saying anything, Fawn fought against the urge to cry and told herself that there still was hope. At Nathan’s imperceptible nod, she forced a smile, saying brightly, “That answers that.”
The prince whitened.
Nathan offered his hand. “Shall we?”
“You’re bluffing,” the prince suddenly said under his breath. “You’re goddamn bluffing.”
Nathan’s broad shoulders moved in a Gallic shrug. “Then if we are, there’s nothing to worry about, is there?”
Fawn placed her hand in Nathan’s. “That’s assuming he cares enough to worry, and well…” She knew she was supposed to sound tough, but right now all she could manage was to break down. She couldn’t stop her eyes from turning glassy with unshed tears, couldn’t stop her voice from wobbling as she said, “B-but he doesn’t. And I’m too tired to wait. I think with this, I’ll be finally over him.”
As Fawn started to turn, she heard the prince ask, “What about Bennett? Why not Bennett instead?”
Ah. She stilled, and her smile was wry as she answered softly, “Give me more credit than that, prince. He cheated on me, and maybe you’ve taken more virgins than you can count, but I only have one to offer, so…” She shrugged awkwardly. “I’d like to at least give it to someone who hadn’t cheated on me—-”
Her gaze strayed to the crowd behind them, where most women were on their toes, trying to peek at the prince and his friends.
“And for all I know,” she heard herself say, “you’re probably out of the running on that count, too.”
Tightening his hold on her hand, Nathan drew her away, murmuring in a voice that everyone could hear, “You don’t owe him any explanation.”
The prince jerked.
But even so, he only watched them leave, not making any move to stop them.
And just like that she was gone, in a whirl of shimmering skirts, her hand in someone else’s.
It was just a bluff, he told himself doggedly.
The moment the elevator doors closed in front of them, Fawn collapsed on the floor, breathing hard, and beside her, Nathan chuckled.
“That hard?” he commented.
“Yes.” She looked up at him suspiciously. “And you don’t sound bothered by it at all.”
“I’m not,” the ex-model confirmed cheerfully.
She made a face. Why was she even surprised?
“This plan is going to work, Fawn.” Taking her hand, he helped pull her up, saying reassuringly, “I’ve known Reid for years, and he’s a possessive son of a bitch.”
“But it seems so obvious. This is only my second time meeting you, and I’m giving you my virginity.” She cringed at the thought. “I’m not even sure if I’d feel happy if he does fall for it. Doesn’t that mean he thinks I’m that easy?”
But the ex-model only chuckled again. “That’s assuming his brain’s working right now, and it’s not.”
They reached his suite, and after unlocking it, he pointed towards the other door, saying, “That’s where you can go and prepare—-”