Bowing, they slowly slinked out through the back door.
Emery, the prince’s in-house chef, shook his head. He had to toughen up those kids just a bit more.
Meanwhile, Fawn was doing her best to come up with an excuse—-
The prince raised a brow. “Yes?”
“The party’s going to make you—-” Fawn paused in a panic. It was so hard to lie under pressure!
The prince waved a negligent hand, murmuring silkily, “Go on.”
Giving up on logic and rationality, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “The party’s going to make you the subject of rumors again.” She mentally sighed in relief. That had turned out more plausible than she expected.
Turning to the prince, she said firmly, “I’m just concerned, prince. Seriously.”
The prince drawled, “How touching.” What an adorablly inept liar she was, seriously.
Warming up to the subject, Fawn continued, “And because I’d like to protect you from these rumors, I thought it would be a good idea if I work overtime—-”
“A nice idea—-”
“Unfortunately, I have to refuse.”
Frustration had her bursting out, “But that’s so unfair. You’re letting Paula stay, and she’s younger than I am. Then there—-”
The prince said very pleasantly, “Fawn.”
Holy sweet crap. Her courage disappeared in a flash. Whenever he used that coldly charming Prince of Darkness tone with her, the one that promised ecstasy even while he slit her throat with the sharpest blade—-
It. Was. Not. Good.
She whispered, “Yes, prince?”
“Do I pay you to give me your opinion about who should and shouldn’t work for me?”
Fawn gulped. “No, prince.”
She smiled weakly and flashed him a peace sign, saying, “Rock on, prince. It’s time to par—-” Seeing the prince’s face hadn’t even cracked with the slightest smile, she finished lamely, “—-tay.”
The prince said coolly, “Do we have an understanding?”
“Which means you will now—-”
“I’m glad you understood.” The prince left then, and Igor, after excusing himself, followed after his charge.
As Fawn collapsed in her seat, Emery patted her head sympathetically. “You were very brave.”
“Very brave,” Noah agreed. “But also very stupid.”
“I didn’t mean to antagonize the prince,” she mumbled defensively. “I just sometimes speak before I think.”
“There, there, we all have our moments.” Of bravery and stupidity, Noah finished in his mind.
“I don’t think the prince likes me.” It was a hard admission to make, but more and more she was beginning to believe it. These days, the prince seemed to live to catch her off guard, showing up out of the blue to do something outrageous like suddenly whispering in her ear—-
She repressed a quick shudder at the memory.
Oh, how often he did it, and there was even one time he had accidentally licked her ear—-
Fawn covered her face.
It was like the prince was deliberately toying with her, and all to see her mess up at work.
“Do you guys think the same?”
She looked up. “This is the part you’re supposed to convince me otherwise, guys.”
Emery chuckled. “For the record, I do think you’re imagining things. The prince has no reason to hate you.”
“But I truly think he does. I’ve seen how he is with other girls, and he’s so much nicer—-”
“So you want him sweet on you then?” Noah asked.
Fawn gasped. “No!” She shook her head vehemently. “Why would you even think that? I’m engaged, remember? I’m not interested in him that way. Seriously.” She tried not to cringe afterwards. Dear Jesus, her voice had been so stupidly shrill.
Noah and Emery looked at each other. It was obvious that although Fawn felt something for the prince, she was too dense to realize it.
Their poor master, both men thought. Even after all this time, he was still second to Grant Bennett.
“All I’m saying is the prince’s different with me. I’m not kidding. I’ve counted the number of times he smiled at me this week, and it was 2.5.”
Emery and Noah exchanged looks again.
Finally, Noah couldn’t help asking, “How can a smile be a point five?”
She imitated the prince’s smile, with only the left corner of her lip curling up. “That’s how.”
The two men exchanged looks once more. That was a smirk…wasn’t it?
Emery said finally, “The prince has his reasons, and they’re all good ones. Tonight’s party isn’t for the likes of you.”
“But I’ve served at his other parties—-”
Noah’s smile was grim as he cut the girl off with a shake of his head. “Not this kind of party.” Tonight, new initiates would be recruited, and when fresh blood scented the air, all the wolves came running.
He looked at Fawn.
She would be the freshest of them all, and the prince knew it.
“THIS PLACE IS AMAZING.”
Or at least that was what Noelle thought her newfound friend said. Managing a conversation was virtually impossible when attending a party hosted by the Prince of Darkness.
The music seemed to flood out from every direction, swirling around them like a living, throbbing being, interspersed with soft moans and raw groans from couples fornicating in every hidden corner of the prince’s expansive gardens. Combined with the mists coming out of the fog machines and the moving strobe lights streaking the moon-less sky, it was like entering the most exotic version of hell.