Five minutes had passed by the time Grant was able to straighten, and when she tried leading him back to the restaurant, he shook his head jerkily. “No. I d-don’t want to be around too many people.”
Seeing how real terror had darkened his gaze as he spoke, Fawn could only humor him, saying soothingly, “We won’t go back then. What about your car? Is that okay?”
At his nod, she led him to his car, and he followed her obediently, almost like a child rather than the full-grown man that he was. When they reached his car, Fawn’s concern grew when Grant’s shaking fingers had him clumsily dropping his keys.
“Let me?” She took the keys from him and got the car open, helping him inside before going around to get in the passenger seat. Inside, Grant remained still and white-faced, leaving it to her to turn on the engine and air-conditioning.
Minutes passed before Grant finally spoke. “I know about you and the prince.”
She jerked. “Grant—-”
He shook his head vehemently. “I d-don’t want to hear a thing. I d-deserve it.” He swallowed. “The p-prince said it’s nothing compared to h-how I betrayed you, and he w-was right.”
Unable to believe what she was hearing, she asked unevenly, “You spoke to the prince?”
Grant gave her a jerky nod. “H-he told me you would n-never have been with him if you h-hadn’t s-seen me—-”
Fawn bit her lip hard, Grant’s words forcing her to remember the day she had caught him cheating. And even though it was the prince who owned her now—-
It still hurt.
Betrayal would always hurt.
“I think she set you up,” she said dully. “The other girl…”
“I s-still love you.” Despite his stuttering, Grant’s voice was fierce, his gaze focused on her completely.
“Please.” Grant took hold of her hand. “I n-need you.”
And she could see that he did, more so than he ever had—-
But it was too late.
“But he d-doesn’t love you.”
Taking a deep breath, Grant said tensely, “It’s true. I k-know you d-don’t have to believe me, but I’m n-not lying. He t-threatened me, Fawn. He told me n-not to h-hurt you, but he a-also told me n-not to tell you I k-know the two of y-you are l-lovers—-”
Fawn slapped him, and as Grant’s head snapped to the sight, she whispered shakily, “Stop lying.”
It took a long time for Grant to face her, but when he did, she was stunned to see tears running down his face.
“Y-you don’t know.” A crazed laugh escaping him, he said hoarsely, “You d-don’t know how t-terrified I am t-to s-say t-the truth. If you only knew—-”
“Then tell me!”
“I can’t.” Grant began beating his own chest hard with his fist. “I’m different. You k-know it. I k-know it. Everyone k-knows it.” His voice broke, and tears fell faster down his cheeks. “B-but I had to w-warn you. Because now I know I love you.”
A sob spilled past her lips. “Grant…it’s too late.”
His lips twisted. “E-even so. I n-needed to t-tell you. I o-owed it to you. And I d-don’t want you hurt.” He grabbed her hands. “So please l-listen. He d-doesn’t love you. Y-you’re like a f-fetish to him—-”
“Stop it, Grant—-”
He let her hands go, staring at her with leaden eyes. “I’m n-not lying. But I am sorry.” Grant’s head lowered. “I’m so d-damn sorry it c-came to this.”
She could only stare at Grant, realizing that she was looking at a man she no longer knew.
Because he was right.
He had changed.
But then…so had she.
“If you’re really sorry,” she heard herself whisper, “then promise me one thing.”
Grant’s head jerked up.
“Please pretend this never happened.” She smiled tremulously at his stunned gaze. “If it’s t-true, and I’m n-not saying it is, but if it’s true you’re the only reason I can be with him now, then…” She sucked her breath. “Can you please let me stay with him just a little bit longer?” Her own voice broke. “Give me a chance to make him love me, Grant. I’m begging you.”
The prince turned away from the windows in his study as soon as he saw Fawn’s car roll down the driveway. Returning to his seat, he waited tautly for the sound of her footsteps, but when they came—-
He sensed her skulking behind the door, which he had left slightly ajar, and he wondered grimly if it was a sign of guilt that she couldn’t make herself enter his study. Then again, he had no right to be furious, did he?
Hadn’t he been the one to demand Bennett to keep his relationship with Fawn?
When the prince got tired of waiting, he took his wine glass from the table, and as he stared into the dark liquid, he murmured, “Stop peeping and come in.”
There was a squeaking sound of horror, and then she was tiptoeing inside his study. He turned to her as she closed the door, and when she spun to face him, their gazes met.