The prince choked. “What?”

Outraged at the way the prince looked like he was about to laugh his head off any moment, she gritted out, “That’s what you’re going to call it, okay? The banana in your pocket.”

When Fawn actually glared at him in the end, as if threatening to thump him if he said otherwise, the prince had to cough several times in an effort to control his laughter. After, he cleared his throat and managed to say levelly, “It will be as you wish.”

“I’m not joking,” she said sternly.

“I understand,” he murmured dutifully. “It’s, err, banana from here on.”

After shooting him one last warning look, she raised her chin, muttering, “That’s settled then.”

He checked his watch. “It’s getting late. Shall we head back?”

Head back meaning…it was time to leave her?

She forced a smile. “Okay.”

They turned around, and her heart started to sink as they steadily made their way back to the prince’s limousine. She waited for him to ask her again to be his lover, but when more time passed and he didn’t, she began to wonder if maybe it really was just a joke.

Did he not mean it?

“I can hear you thinking,” the prince murmured all of a sudden. He didn’t look at her as he spoke, and his pace remained steady and slow, his hands still delving deep into his pockets.

“I’m not thinking anything,” she lied.

“You are.” The prince’s tone was lazy. “And it probably has something to do with me, so just spill it, parthena mou. Whatever it is, I will answer—-”

“Why don’t you ask me to be your girlfriend?”

This time, it was the prince who stopped walking, and she nearly tripped over her own feet as she forced herself to stop as well.

The prince turned to her. “Are you saying you want to be my girlfriend?”

His bland voice made her feel wary and defensive, and she lifted her chin again. “Is that a roundabout way of asking to be my boyfriend?”

The prince said unequivocally, “No.” Surprised hurt flickered in Fawn’s brown eyes, and he made a conscious effort to keep his voice soft as he said, “It’s not you.”

“That’s what they always say.”

He almost smiled. “But in this case, it’s true. My life,” he said gently, “has no room for emotional entanglements.”

Fawn blinked at the prince. Emotional…entanglements? What did that even mean? Wasn’t that just another word for relationships?

“What we have is better than what you and Bennett ever had or could ever have,” the prince said quietly. “Unlike Bennett, I won’t betray you. I won’t make you any promises that I can’t keep.”

Before Fawn could answer, her phone, which she had shoved carelessly in her skirt’s loose pocket, started to ring. It was an assigned tone, and she took a deep breath when she realized who was calling her.

The prince’s gaze narrowed. “Is it Bennett?”

“Y-yes.”

“Then you better make your decision.”

“I don’t know what to decide.” Frustration underlined her tone. “You tell me you’re never going to betray me, but you don’t want me either—-”

“You know I do—-”

“But only as long as we’re lovers behind his back!”

“Yes. I do only want you that way, but at least I am not lying about it.”

Tension broke out between them, the silence only defeated by the sound of her still-ringing phone.

“If I do this,” she heard herself whisper, “—-will y-you really be able to promise it won’t…hurt?” Her voice caught in the end as an unexpected sob threatened to escape her throat.

The prince clenched and unclenched his fists. Goddamn you, Bennett. How could that asshole find it in him to hurt someone like Fawn? When her weary gaze sought his, the prince had to fight against the urge to simply haul her into his arms and tell her he was not giving her a choice. He would take care of her, fuck her, and kill Bennett for having the sheer audacity of hurting her. It wasn’t necessarily in that order, but those would be his top priorities.

The prince took a deep breath. “If you trust me, I can promise he won’t be able to hurt you anymore.” He offered her his hand. “Be my lover, parthena mou.”

She took it. “Yes.”

****

“Do we really need to have to do this?” Fawn asked uneasily ten minutes later. As soon as they had gotten back inside the prince’s limousine, the prince had automatically reached for her, saying that they had something to do before she could talk to Grant.

And by something, the prince meant that he wanted her on his lap, which was beyond embarrassing.

So of course she started to babble.

“I don’t think it’s proper. Or advisable. I mean, it might not have escaped your notice, but I’m not exactly light as a feather even though I’m stiff as a board. I could be too heavy—-”

“No.” The prince didn’t even look up as he spoke. “You’re not.” He was too busy arranging her limbs, and she found herself responding in a strangely docile manner as she allowed the prince to place her arms around his neck. After, he lifted her hips up and pulled her forward a few inches, causing her skirt to swirl as he pressed her down—-


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