Prince Ever After(5)By: A.C. Arthur
Roland DeSaunters was known for the gambling, partying and womanizing that had earned him the Reckless Royal title. Standing on the street offering a ride to a museum worker had to be a far stretch from entertainment to him.
“I can walk home,” she told him.
“No. You cannot,” he replied. His gaze had gone down to her chest and back up to her face.
A quick glance down showed that she’d buttoned her shirt wrong, so that the material was now lopsided with a gap that proudly displayed a good swatch of her sensible white bra.
Groaning, Val turned away from him. “I can. I will. And I’ll be fine. Thank you and good night, Your Highness.”
His hand on her arm was a shock—first, because he was the prince and all that royal business. But second, because the quick jolt of heat that had moved from her wrist up to her arm quickly spread across her chest.
“I cannot let you walk home at this time of night,” he said when he came around to once again stand in front of her. “My car is just up the hill. I’ll carry your bag while we walk and then I’ll take you home.”
When Val opened her mouth to speak, he simply shook his head.
“Do you really want to add to your father’s embarrassing circumstances by refusing the prince?”
She did not. So Val clamped her lips shut and let him slide the bag from her shoulder. She folded her arms and walked beside him, hating every mortifying step she had to take because of her father.
Second only to the royal palace, the Serenade Museum on Grand Serenity Island was a work of art all by itself. No matter how many times Val walked through the corridors of the ensemble of buildings set apart from the island’s Main Street by a stone bridge and its own surrounding water, she marveled at its intricate beauty.
“The Sunset is the largest of the four buildings that make up the Serenade Museum.” Val spoke to a group of twenty-five tourists. “Each building, as well as the main idea for the museum were designed by Princess Vivienne DeSaunters. These domed ceilings and the circular layout were incorporated after Vivienne had taken a trip to Berlin and became in awe of their museum island.”
One of the guests raised her hand and stated, “She was from Sugar Land, Texas. My family lives just down the road from the house where her grandparents and parents once lived.”
Val smiled and quietly acknowledged the woman’s heavy accent as she spoke proudly.
“Yes, the late Princess Vivienne was from America. She was very proud of her heritage and wanted to bring that same pride to the people of Grand Serenity by showcasing pieces of art that told the story of our island’s beginnings,” Val informed them.
“As we continue to this area,” she continued while leading the group through an arched opening. “We’ll see the Numismatic Collection which consists of coins that were pulled from the depths of the Caribbean Sea. In the late 1600s, after this island was acquired by the Netherlands, they were plagued by pirates and thus had to defend the island before life here could really begin to flourish. These coins,” she said as she motioned toward the glass-encased counters, “were actually part of several pirates’ booty. They pay homage to the Golden Age of Piracy which lasted from 1690 to 1730.”
“Will the new princess continue to approve funding for the museum?”
Val turned quickly at the odd question and looked up to see it had come from the same woman with the accent.
“Rumors back in the States say she has a plan to completely overhaul and update this island,” the woman continued while keeping eye contact with Val.
It was like a challenge, Val thought. Or was it? She didn’t know because she’d never been faced with a tourist who knew more than she did about any topic in this museum. To be completely fair, Malayka Sampson was not a topic at the museum. At least, not until she was actually married to Prince Rafferty. With that in mind, Val decided to proceed with caution. The last thing she wanted to be accused of doing was adding to gossip about a soon-to-be member of the royal family.
“We are all anticipating the royal wedding,” Val told them.
She smiled and was just about to walk to another display, which held more coins, when another tourist spoke up.
“There have been two royal weddings within months of each other. I would say love is definitely in the air here on Grand Serenity,” the much younger woman with a brilliant smile said as she elbowed the handsome guy next to her.
Val nodded. “I think you could say that. Prince Kristian and Princess Landry are very happy and the new princess is making astounding contributions to the island already. As for Princess Samantha and her husband, Gary, they continue to dedicate their time and talents to the island, as well. The DeSaunters family has always been loyal and dedicated to Grand Serenity.”