As she waited for Julian to prop himself up and sit beside her, she asked teasingly, “Are you jealous?”
“You have to ask?” was his dry reply. “Of course I’m fucking jealous.” He took her hand so she could see his face. He didn’t want any secrets between them. Baring his emotions to anyone made him very uneasy, but if there was one thing he had learned from their encounter with the blond bitch from hell then it was that Cass mattered to him, more than he thought possible.
They might have only met, but it did not feel like that between them. With him and Cass, it felt like they were long estranged lovers who had finally found each other again. How else could he explain the bond he had felt with Cass the first time they saw each other?
She knew him, in the way that no other person knew him, and he knew her the same way.
Seeing Cass’ gaze still on him, Julian said bluntly, “You have been mine for over two years, and not once in our dreams you had spoken about this Sir.”
The way he spoke of the island’s reclusive owner made Cass giggle, and the playful look on her upturned face was too cute to resist. Uncaring of the boat driver’s presence behind them, Julian hungrily pulled her head close so he could kiss her. Her mouth was even sweeter than he remembered, and he kissed her more deeply, his tongue stroking hers aggressively, wanting everything she could offer.
When he lifted his head, and it was purely so she could breathe, he told her seriously, “Call him Mister if you have to, but not Sir.” He spoke the words in the voice he used when issuing a command as a prince, but his authority seemed to be lost on her.
Cass pinched his cheeks. “Get over it.” With their hands entwined, Cass was able to see his face clearly, and his disgruntled expression at having his cheeks pinched made her smile widen.
“Disobedient wench,” Julian murmured, but the way he spoke made the words sound like an endearment.
Just to make him smile, she told him, “Your English is so old school.”
He retorted, “And you giggle like you’re still in kindergarten.”
Cass showed just how much she cared for the insult by giggling even more.
As the airboat started to move, the engine roaring noisily to life as it glided over the water, Julian was forced to shout to make himself heard. “Don’t think you’ve succeeded in distracting me.”
“From forgetting you haven’t given me your promise.”
Cass only laughed. “It’s just a title, and it’s so weird if I were the only one to call him Mister while everyone else called him—-” She almost said the S-word but caught herself in time. “—-the other thing.”
“Have you never watched Fifty Shades of Grey?”
Cass’ brows furrowed. Since gray areas in life were basically the abstract term for morally ambiguous situations, she asked uncertainly, “Is that, like, a documentary?”
Julian’s lips swiftly pressed together to suppress his smile. “Never mind.”
“But what is it, really?” Cass wanted to know, now that she could sense the Prince’s amusement.
“It doesn’t matter,” Julian said firmly. “All that you should be thinking about is giving me your promise—-”
“You do remember I’m working for him, right? He can have me fired—-”
“Why not quit altogether and just start working for me?” Julian parried.
“Or maybe I can just quit,” she acknowledged impishly, “and just marry you?”
There was an abrupt moment of silence, and Cass burst into peals of laughter.
“You are too honest for your own good,” he said darkly.
“I know. I can’t help it.”
“You must not be like that. It will get you into trouble.”
“Isn’t honesty supposed to be—-”
Cass wrinkled her nose. “You sound like my friend Sunny. She wants me to be better at lying, too.”
“A smart woman, your friend.”
Cass choked in her laughter. Trust Julian to think Sunny smart for wanting Cass to be better at lying.
Julian cupped her chin. “I mean it, sweetheart. It’s dangerous to be too honest—-”
“Ah, but I have you to protect me so it’s all good, right?”
Again, she rendered him speechless, and Cass laughed. But inside, she was secretly thrilled and hopeful. All his life, Julian had been surrounded with intrigue and deception. She had tried to read as much as she could about him, and one of the more horrible things she had found out about his past was how princes in Ethereal were trained.
At a tender age of four, they were taken away from their homes and made to live in isolated camps. There, they would spend their formative years being schooled by academic tutors during the day and subjected to rigorous survival training in the evenings.
“There’s your first crocodile,” Julian suddenly murmured into her ear.
She obediently followed his gaze, and there was indeed a crocodile at the side of the airboat, its light-colored predatory eyes trained on them. It was frightening to look at, but her fear was mitigated by the pain in her chest. Remembering how Julian spent his childhood years made her hurt. For him.