Hearing it, Keanne knew there was nothing she or anyone else could say or do to change Reid’s mind.
Or at least anyone else but Fawn, Keanne thought.
And for both their sakes, she hoped, she prayed that the other girl would be able to change Reid’s mind.
As the prince joined the frantic rush behind the scenes, he caught a glimpse of Grant Bennett talking to Fawn, their heads bent, just before the two started to walk away.
An ironic smile touched his lips. Why would you do something like this, Fawn? Didn’t she know that she was giving him an opportunity to dump her?
It would be so easy, the prince mused, to go there, make a scene, and tell her that he no longer wanted to be with her. Jealousy might have made him unreasonable, but it made him neither blind nor stupid. He had noticed the changes in Bennett, had known the moment the other man started seeing Fawn with eyes that loved.
He had known, but he had pretended, and he had let her and Bennett pretend, too.
Because it wasn’t love that made his world go round, the prince thought, but pretensions.
Slipping away from the organizers, the prince made a subtle motion to his security, commanding to keep everyone away as he made his way towards Bennett and Fawn. Derek Christopoulos caught sight of him, the grim look on his friend’s face telling the prince that he knew where he was going.
Are you really going to dump her here? The question blazed in Derek’s eyes.
The prince’s broad shoulders moved in a careless shrug. He would cross that bridge when he got there.
Turning around the corner, he caught sight of the two entering the room reserved for Bennett’s private use, and the prince’s steps slowed. Selfishness had won, and he gave the couple all the time in the world to air out their differences without him hearing a word.
Don’t give me a reason to make you leave, Fawn.
But as he came to stand outside the room, the thin walls weren’t enough to mask the sound of their voices. Their words reached him so easily—-
“What do you mean you’re leaving after this?” he heard Fawn whisper in a stricken tone.
“I t-tried for y-your sake,” the prince heard Grant stutter. “I k-knew I owed it to you, but I just can’t.” Grant’s voice broke. “I can’t forget what he did to me—-”
“Who?” Fawn demanded, fear over Grant evident in her tone.
“It d-doesn’t matter,” Grant muttered feverishly. “I j-just thought I should—-”
It was as if fate was mocking the prince, telling him that no matter how much he dragged his feet about this—-
He would never have an eternity with Fawn.
He would never have another month—-
Not even another night.
The prince leaned against the wall, his eyes closing.
I just wanted another day, God.
Just one more fucking day.
But the more he heard from Fawn and Bennett, the more he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford such selfishness.
He heard Fawn whisper, “It’s okay, Grant, it’s okay.” A soothing voice, and he could easily imagine Fawn taking the other guy in her arms, comforting the man who had once done his very best to hurt her.
You are the most lovable idiot in the world.
The prince heard Grant laugh bitterly. “You d-don’t even k-know what’s wrong.”
“But I know you’re hurting, and it’s enough—-”
“Even t-though I a-almost wished you were g-gang raped,” Grant snarled, “the n-night I found out about you and Reid Chalkias?”
The prince’s fists clenched as the silence stretched painfully after Grant’s revelation.
Fawn, Fawn, Fawn.
Knowing how those words would have devastated her, the prince wanted to kick the door open and snatch her away—-
But he couldn’t.
Fate had already decreed how this night would play out, and for better or for worse—-
His role was in the darkness.
And hers was in the light, with another man.
“That’s h-how s-selfish I was.” Listening to Bennett’s broken voice, it was easy for the prince to picture the other man’s crumpled expression, but even so, he didn’t feel an ounce of pity.
Desperation lined Bennett’s voice as he continued, “M-maybe I’m s-still selfish, b-but I’m trying to change. G-God knows I’m t-trying, but I can’t do it here.”
When Fawn still didn’t say anything, the prince heard Grant beg hoarsely, “C-come with me. P-please. That man w-won’t ever l-love you. You know that. Right?”
The prince waited for Fawn to deny it.
But she didn’t.
“I l-love you, Fawn, I l-love you more than ever, and I c-can’t bear leaving you behind—-”
Yet another moment of silence, and then a muffled voice whispering, “I’m sorry, too.”
The sound of a girl in a boy’s arms—-
Of Fawn in Bennett’s embrace—-
As it should be.
“I’m sorry, Grant. So sorry because I pretended I didn’t know how much you were suffering, but I knew.”
The prince’s lips twisted. Pretensions made the world go round.
“I knew that you were doing it for me, because I asked you to. But no more—-” Fawn’s voice became clearer and more audible, a girl leaving a boy’s arms. “If you leave me, and the prince l-leaves me because of it…it’s not your fault.”