This is my normal now.
But just when I thought we’d fallen into a comfortable routine—everything changed with just one question: “Feel like going to a party?”
Lightning flashes in the sky and warm rain pours down around us as James holds the umbrella over our heads when Nicholas and I step out of the car. The club is sleek, all polished onyx lacquer and stainless steel, windowless, with soundproof walls so as not to ruffle the feathers of the more conservative and ultra-wealthy neighbors. There’s a velvet rope outside the door, and a mammoth bouncer in a dark suit and sunglasses waits with his own umbrella. But there’s no line to get in—and it’s not because of the weather.
It’s because this club is invite only. Every night.
Inside, “My House” by Flo Rida blares and it looks like it’s a costume party—an eighties costume party. I see a Madonna, two Princes—the Purple Rain kind, not the Nicholas kind—and a bunch of Cabbage Patch dolls that are a whole lot sexier than any of the pictures I’ve ever seen. The main room isn’t huge—a few velvet couches and a mirrored bar along one wall. And there’s a stage, with colored overhead lights that flash in time to the music.
Ellie would say, it’s Lit.
On the stage is Tom Cruise from Risky Business—a guy wearing sunglasses and a pink button-down and, yep, tighty-whities. He dances and waves his arms, getting the packed dance floor even more riled up.
“Do you see that guy?” I yell above the music, pointing toward the stage.
Nicholas’s handsome face is tight. “Oh, I see him all right.”
I take a second look. And then I choke.
“That’s your brother?!”
The call Nicholas took in the suite library was from one of the Dark Suits in Wessco—letting him know his brother had arrived in Manhattan.
“That’s him,” Nicholas practically growls.
“He’s a brat,” Nicholas explains, shaking his head. “He’s always been a brat.”
“Okay, in the problematic younger sibling department, you win.”
Nicholas speaks to a security guy—one of the new ones, whose name I don’t know yet. The guy nods and rushes off, and Nicholas grasps my hand. “Come on.”
We make our way around the dance floor, through the tight crowd of bodies. We pass a Debbie Gibson and a Molly Ringwald from Pretty in Pink, then stop on the side of the stage. When the song ends and a techno mix of Fetty Wap takes its place, the security guard talks to Tom Cruise…uh…Henry on the stage.
His head snaps up—staring at Nicholas.
And then, slowly, like he doesn’t quite believe what he’s seeing, he smiles.
It’s a sweet little-brother smile that tugs at my heart.
He practically runs to us, jumping off the stage with feline dexterity and landing on both feet just a few yards away. His lips move—I can’t hear him, but I can read what he says.
Then he’s here. I step back so I don’t get trampled, as Henry tackles his brother in a bear hug, lifting him off his feet. They hug for a few moments, smacking backs, then Nicholas pulls away—slipping the sunglasses off his younger brother, searching his face and reading his eyes.
And a concern shadows Nicholas’s features at what he finds.
But he smacks his brother’s cheek affectionately and says, “It’s good to see you, Henry.”
Henry’s the same size as his brother, with the same broad shoulders and long legs. I see the resemblance in the cheekbones, but their coloring is different. Henry’s hair is blond, shaggy-long and curling, and his eyes are a brighter shade than Nicholas’s.
Like wild grass after a rainstorm.
But they have the same bearing—both stand tall and straight, with an air of authority around them like a halo. Or a crown.
“Did you forget to put on trousers?” Nicholas asks.
Henry laughs and flashes—with a big, all-encompassing smile that makes me want to smile too.
“It’s a costume party.” He steps back, framing Nicholas’s suit-clad form with his fingers, like a cameraman on a movie set. “Let me guess…you are Charlie Sheen from Wall Street?”
And then, Prince Henry’s attention turns to me. His interest turns to me.
“And who might you be?”
I quickly review my 1980s movie mental database and pull the hair tie from my bun, shaking out the curls. “I could be…Andie MacDowell from St. Elmo’s Fire.”
He brings my hand to his lips, kissing the back. “Quick on your feet—I like that. How are you on your knees, love?”
Oh yeah—he’s definitely Nicholas’s brother.
Nicholas shoves him, kind of playfully—kind of not. “This is Olivia.”
“Is she my welcome-home present?”
“No.” Nicholas scowls. “She’s…with me.”
Henry nods, and rakes his eyes over me, head to toe. “I’ll trade you.”
He points at me, then spins his finger around the room. “Her…for any girl here.”
Nicholas shakes his head. “I haven’t seen you in a long while—don’t make me smack you right away. Behave yourself.”
I step closer. “He’s teasing, Nicholas.” Then I take pity on the younger brother—and throw him a bone. “And you’re not one to talk about behaving…considering the first night we met you offered me money for sex.”