When he reached the doors, he forced the police officers to move away.
“I’ll kill the first one who moves,” his right-hand man said calmly.
It was enough for the prince.
The sight of the prince entering the operating room had the medical staff inside screaming, and the prince said in a hard voice, “Out.”
They ran past him, screaming.
An alarm sounded, and the prince knew he only had minutes left, even with Slade Wyndham making sure that his own security would be slow to respond.
Fawn was in the middle of the operating room, white-faced, back straight. She had sat up the moment he entered, brown eyes wide with terror. When their gazes met, a cry tore out of her.
It was as if having his eyes on her hurt, and the prince stilled for one moment—-
But then she raised her hands to cover her face, and an agonizing realization of the truth dawned on him.
She was ashamed of how she looked.
Pain crippled him, and his own shame almost made him feel he didn’t deserve to get an inch closer. But even so, he forced himself to move, telling himself that he owed this to her.
When his fingers circled her wrists, she asked brokenly, “Why are you here?”
“Because I can’t let you have this surgery.”
A muffled, teary laugh. “S-seriously? Are you insane?”
The sweet, innocent sound of her laughter made him suck in his breath, but even so he managed to say, “Yes.”
He felt her hands press closer to her face, almost as if she wanted another layer of flesh to keep everyone from really seeing her. “Why?”
“Because I’m selfish.”
He nodded, knowing that she could see him through the slits of space between her fingers. “Because I’m selfish…and a coward.”
And then she whispered, “Why?”
“Because…” His chest heaved as he inhaled. “It’s the only way to let you know that I can love you.”
When she stiffened, he knew she knew what he was planning—-
“N-no.” Her voice was an anguished stammer. “I’m n-not ready—-”
“I’m sorry,” he said rawly.
Her voice became hysterical. “NO! I said no—-”
His fingers tightened around her wrists.
And then he was slowly but firmly pulling her hands away, and she started to cry when she realized there was nothing she could do.
Inch by inch, he saw her carved-up face—-
“How many times will you make me beg—-” Her voice cracked.
And it was the most painfully beautiful thing he had ever seen.
His eyes burned with hers.
His heart bled with her.
And his soul wept with her.
“Fawn.” His own voice broke, and the prince’s voice turned into a strained whisper. “Fawn. Fawn. Fawn – I love you.”
Her tears fell faster, making her scars glisten with vicious vividness.
“I have loved you from the very start.”
She shook her head at him, silent in her despair, and his voice became desperate. “Meredith Grayson was wrong. I was wrong.”
But still she cried, and still her eyes told him hope no longer existed in her.
His fingers tightened around her wrists. It was almost as if he could feel her slipping away from him, and the thought made him say in a low, driven tone, “I was lying to myself the whole time. The entire time I kept pushing you away, I kept telling myself that it was for your sake, when all along…it was for my sake. I was pushing you away because you reached the part of me that not even the people who died for me—-” He sucked his breath. “My parents. Georgie. I owed my life to them, Fawn. My life. But Dio, angel, what I feel for them is nothing compared to how I feel for you.”
He brought her hands to his chest, letting her feel the frantic beat of his heart.
“I love you. I have always loved you. And I will always love you.”
The prince’s words made Fawn shudder.
“I love you, Fawn.”
“I love you, angel.”
And she could no longer stop weeping.
Her head fell.
“How?” she asked brokenly. “H-how can I believe you when I—-”
The prince started to tip her chin up.
“No!” Panic seized her, and Fawn tried to pull away, but the prince was too strong, and soon he had forced her to look at him again, her face completely exposed.
A sob escaped her. “Stop looking at me!”
“I can’t.” The prince’s voice was harsh. “Because I’ve never seen anything more beautiful—-”
The prince started to lower his head.
She cried out, trying to lean back, to shove him away, to keep him from reaching her—-
His lips touched the scar on her forehead.
His lips moved to the scar below her right eye.
And still he kissed her, every damn scar, and she screamed until she had no voice left.
When his lips finally left hers, she could only look at him, her eyes filled with self-revulsion, and his heart splintered at the sight of it.
“Oh God, Fawn—-”
“I’m ugly.” Her hands crept up to her face, and the tears started to spill again as she felt the mass of flesh under her fingers. “I’m ugly!” She wanted to tear the flesh from her own face, wanted everything to be new again. “I can’t stand this—-”