Loving the Princess(6)

By: A.C. Arthur

“Yes, I am. However, I do not need a chaperone,” she told him.

She took a step forward, praying he would follow her lead and take one or two or three back. He didn’t.

Instead of waiting for him to move, Sam pulled the door closed behind her. She was forced to look up at him at that point and she did so with what she hoped was her most cordial but undeniably annoyed look.

“If you’ll excuse me?” she said.

“Certainly,” he replied and finally stepped aside.

Again she wanted to breathe a sigh of relief and touch her hand to her still-pounding heart. She didn’t, of course. It wouldn’t look dignified and would definitely cause him to ask more questions. So she began walking instead.

“Since we were both summoned to this meeting, I thought it made sense that we go together,” he said as he walked beside her.

Sam didn’t respond immediately. She was taking the time to get her thoughts together. They moved ahead in silence, before she stopped and cleared her throat.

“Gary,” she said, determined to stay in control of her thoughts and her words today. “Let me first apologize for what I did last night. I should have thought more before I acted. As I told my brother, it was just a way of getting Morty off my back. Your admission—false as it was—to him afterward was not required. Still, I’d like to extend my appreciation for your quick thinking in a matter that you should not have been a part of in the first place.”

She paused to take a breath and then wondered the same thing she had last night when she’d first come up to her room. “Why are you here? In the palace, I mean. I’ve seen you around and with Kris and Roland, but I’m not certain we were ever officially introduced.”

Now Sam did feel like an idiot. She’d just admitted out loud that she’d willingly thrown herself at a man she did not know. In her defense, it was the recognition from seeing him around the palace that had made her feel it was okay…well, at the very least plausible, that she’d kiss him. Still, she really did not know who he was. That fact only compounded the rough morning she’d already been having.

“No. Not officially. But I know who you are,” he replied.

“That’s why you kissed me back so readily?” she asked.

He paused and stared at her. Gary was a good-looking guy. He was taller than six feet. She knew this because Kris was six feet, two-and-a-half inches; Roland was six feet, one inch; and her father was six feet even. Gary was taller than all of them. He had a golden brown complexion with very low-cut black hair and penetrating brown eyes. All of those features were enough to cause a second and third look. That’s without mention of the bulk of his muscles showing definitively through the suit he’d worn last night, and the dark denim jeans and long-sleeved, gray, button-front shirt he was wearing now.

“I’m certain no man would have resisted kissing you, whether or not they knew you were a princess,” he finally replied.

“So you kissed me knowing very well what other people would think?” she continued. The question popped quickly into her mind as she looked at him.

“I’m not a member of a royal family. So I stopped giving a damn what people thought about me a long time ago. Now, I know that you’re fanatic about being on time, so I’m going to hurry us along so as not to break your record.”

This time he extended his arm. Sam looked down at it to see that he was waiting for her to lace her arm through his and walk with him like…a couple. Or something along those lines. She began walking but avoided touching him. If he wanted to say something, or to insist that she take his arm, or whatever, he didn’t. Instead he fell into step quietly beside her and did not speak another word until they were both closed inside her father’s office, sitting in the chairs across from Rafe’s desk.

That’s when he said, “It makes sense that the princess and I continue with the façade of a relationship.”

* * *

“Harry Copeland and Amari Taylor are sitting in jail. Neither has requested any counsel, nor have they given any indication as to why they conspired to attack the palace. The tribunal is set to convene in two weeks, at which time they will be officially sentenced.”

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