Loving the Princess(7)

By: A.C. Arthur

Kris gave the update while Sam listened intently. After the explosion she’d been whisked off to her room and left there with four guards to ensure her safety. For most of the night she’d paced the floors, wondering what was going on. First, there had been the car accident that could have taken her father’s life and then the explosion. She was afraid and she was angry. And there was nothing she could do about it, either.

“In the meantime, all palace security has been revamped. We’ve upgraded our electronic monitoring systems, added more guards and increased our pre-certification efforts for local and off-island events,” Kris continued.

Sam shook her head. “You had advised me to keep every appointment and appearance on schedule and to make sure the people of the island knew we were all safe because the culprits had been apprehended. So you lied?”

The words were bitter and she hated having to speak them to her brother, but he had left her with no other choice. While he stood beside their father’s grand, dark wood desk, wearing a black suit and a gray silk tie, looking every bit the royal that he was, Kris managed to make Sam feel like an idiot. That wasn’t something she planned to take lightly. She’d always thought that she had a close relationship with both her brothers. After all, besides her father, they were the only other people in the world she could truly trust. They were her life. So betrayal cut quick and painfully.

“I told you what you needed to hear in order to do your job,” Kris stated. “We were handling the rest.”

“‘We’? As in you, Dad and Roland. The men of the family. Let me guess, you were all protecting me, keeping the bad stuff from the youngest child, so that she could continue to smile prettily for the cameras. Keeping the tourists coming onto the island no matter what danger they might encounter?”

Because her hands threatened to shake, Sam clasped them tightly together, concentrating on holding them calmly in her lap. She knew he was staring from where he sat in the chair beside her. She could feel the heat on the side of her face from his glare.

Gary had started this conversation off by declaring that they would continue to act as if they were involved. Sam had been ready to disagree with the plan, despite her own part in instigating it, but Kris had taken the opportunity to drop his little bombshell.

“We are here to keep our people safe,” her father countered. “It is our priority. As Kris stated, we have instituted a complete overhaul of our security program. In addition, we’ve had several meetings with Captain Briggins. As a result of the rise in tourism, we had money in the budget to hire additional officers for his battalion, as well. We are keeping everyone’s safety in mind.”

“You’re also keeping secrets from the island’s goodwill ambassador,” Sam countered. She’d wanted to scream this point to her brother and her father because it seemed as if they weren’t getting the severity of their error. Of course, she didn’t raise her voice. It wouldn’t have been respectful and Sam knew how imperative it was for her to always show respect. She’d watched her mother do it so gracefully that she’d taught herself how to handle difficult situations with the same finesse.

“It was no secret, Sam,” Kris added. “We handle business every day that you know nothing about.”

“Yet you insist on keeping that royal calendar so that you always know where I am and who I’m with. So it’s fine for me to be under your thumb, but I shouldn’t worry about the things you feel I don’t need to know?”

“We each have a job to do here,” Rafe stated, his voice a little louder than it had been before.

“And what’s his job?” she asked without looking over at Gary.

She couldn’t. Not without feeling that eerie stirring in the pit of her stomach that had begun the moment her lips had touched his last night.

“My job was to examine Grand Serenity’s infrastructure and to assist in implementing new security protocols,” he replied.

Resisting the urge to look at him wasn’t going to work this time. Sam turned to him then. That dark gaze of his already engulfing her.

“You work for us and now you’re suggesting that you and I act as if we’re having an affair. That’s the recommendation we paid for?”

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