The Prince's Christmas Vow(5)

By: Jennifer Faye

 Her gaze scanned over Demetrius’s tailored charcoal-gray suit and polished dress shoes. He looked quite smart in his designer clothes. His hair was a little shorter and styled. So much for the laid-back, not-worried-about-his-looks prince. The tide had most definitely turned. The man standing in front of the camera definitely had a serious persona about him.

 What had happened to turn Demetrius into the focused prince standing before her? The question teetered on the tip of her tongue, but she knew that it was no longer any of her business. The thought settled as a lump in her stomach. She’d done what she thought was best at the time by walking away—even if she had loved him.

 When his dark gaze met hers, the breath hitched in her throat. It was abundantly clear that she was the very last person he’d expected to see today. And he was none too happy about it. Her fingers fidgeted with the material of her skirt. Would he have her replaced?

 Zoe’s stomach dipped. This job was not only impressive but it also paid well—quite well. It’d certainly improve her declining bank account and give her the funds necessary to continue helping her ailing mother. Without it, she didn’t know how she’d make do.

 She’d lingered too long. It was time to slip inside the mansion away from the paparazzi, away from the questions—away from Demetrius’s accusing stare. She was just about at the front door of the mansion when a man stepped out from behind one of the columns.

 “Smile for the camera, sweetie.” He snapped a picture of her.

 The flash momentarily blinded her. She stood rooted in the same spot. What in the world?

 The man was short and had a paunch. He hadn’t seen a razor recently and his hair was greasy with a long, stringy comb-over. His eyes narrowed in on her. “They’re going to love you.”

 “Who are you? What do you want?”

 “I’m the man who’s going to learn your secrets.”

 There was no way he was with Ms. Russo. Zoe started to back up. Not realizing there was a step behind her, she tripped and a scream tore from her lungs.

 “Zoe?” Demetrius called out.

 Her hands flailed about as she struggled to regain her balance. And then suddenly there was a steadying hand clutching her arm, pulling her to safety. Once she was on level footing, her gaze met Demetrius’s concerned look.

 “Are you all right?” His voice was gruff with concern.

 “I’m fine.” She glanced around but the man who’d startled her was gone.

 “Did you see that man?”

 Demetrius shook his head. “Was it one of the construction workers?”

 “I don’t think so. He had a camera.”

 Demetrius called over one of his security detail, and in hushed tones they spoke. Then he turned back to her. “Don’t worry. If he’s still here, they’ll find him. Do you know what he wanted?”

 Zoe shook her head.

 Ms. Russo rushed over. “Is everything okay?”

 “There was a man here,” Demetrius explained. “He startled Miss Sarris.”

 The reporter lowered her microphone. “I caught a glimpse of him just as he turned to leave.”

 Zoe was so relieved to know that someone had seen him. “Do you know who he is?”

 “I don’t know his name.” Ms. Russo’s dark brows drew together. “I’ve seen him before. I think he may be a stringer, selling whatever dirt he digs up on celebrities to the highest paying publication. He doesn’t look it, but he’s very good at sniffing out the scandalous stories.” Ms. Russo’s gaze moved from Zoe to Demetrius. “So Prince Demetrius, do you know why he’s investigating you?”

 Demetrius frowned. “I have no idea.”

 Wanting to diffuse this line of questioning, Zoe spoke up. “What will happen if they catch him?”

 Demetrius’s gaze met hers. “Did he hurt you?” When she shook her head, he continued. “He’ll most likely be questioned and released.”

 It wasn’t exactly a comforting thought to know that man would soon be loose. But Demetrius was right. They couldn’t lock him up just because he’d scared her.

 “Don’t look so worried.” Demetrius’s voice was low and comforting. “He was interested in me, not you.”

 Zoe wasn’t so sure about that. The man’s beady eyes had been staring right at her when he’d spoken. Goose bumps raced down her arms. She’d prefer to never see him again.

 “Are you all right?” The reporter sent her a worried look.

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