“There’s a giant list of things that are off-limits with you, aren’t there?” I ask. “Has anyone told you that life’s a lot more fun if you loosen up a little bit?”
“You’re loose enough for both of us.”
“That’s a terrible thing to say to your husband.”
“Stop calling yourself that,” she says. “It’s a fake marriage. We were intoxicated. How could they marry us? I don’t think it’s even legal to get married while drunk.”
I shrug. “You’d be surprised what a little extra cash will do.”
“You bribed a wedding chapel?” she asks, disbelief evident in her voice. “Why in the world would you do that?”
“What’s that saying -- when in Rome?” I ask. “When in Vegas. I figured I’d never have the opportunity to get married by Elvis again.”
“It’s not legal,” she says. “It was a dare. A joke. It should be easy enough to annul.”
“I’m sure you have someone you can trust to do that. Someone who won’t leak it to the press,” I point out.
“No, I –“ She stops. “Of course I don’t. I’ve been in Africa for the past two years. I was only in Vegas for a few days before – well, all of this with you. You have to get it annulled.”
“No,” I say. The word escapes my lips before I’m even sure of what I’m saying, before I’ve had a chance to think it through. But as soon as I speak it, I’m certain. “I don’t think I will, actually.”
“What do you mean, you don’t think you will?” she asks, her voice rising again, the way it did when she first saw me.
I shrug. “I don’t think I feel like it right now,” I say. “Maybe I will later, if you ask politely.”
“I just asked nicely,” she says, through clenched teeth. “You’re really not going to get it annulled?”
“Come on, luv,” I say, not bothering to hide my grin. “Isn’t it more fun this way?”
I don’t wait for her response before I press on the electronic keypad that opens the door to the passageway. I think I hear her protest, but I don’t wait for her response.
I’m whistling as I walk down the hallway, my footsteps on the plush carpeting suddenly light as air. I’d only come back to the palace because my term of service in the Royal Protrovian Army was up, and my father had a heart scare that turned out to be an ulcer, not a heart attack. And because he wanted me to get to know his future wife – Sofia Kensington.
Even in the military, I was treated with kid gloves, as the son of the king. So I’m enjoying the fact that Little Miss Do-Gooder isn’t taking any shit. She gives back as good as I dish out.
Maybe coming back to the palace won’t be as damn boring as I anticipated.
That stupid, arrogant, childish, irresponsible ass.
I pull open the drawer that holds the clothes I arrived with – one duffel bag, nothing fancy. In fact, it was so un-fancy that the butler who escorted me to my room when I arrived a few hours ago practically sniffed at me, disdain written all over his face. I wonder if my bag has already been burned, so as not to contaminate the palace.
Rummaging through my clothes – perfectly folded and placed in the drawers for me, each item separated by fancy lavender tissue paper embossed with the royal crest in gold filigree -- I yank on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I want out of this stupid dress and these uncomfortable heels.