Drunken disheveled Cinderella, complete with her high heel – black, classy and simple – askew on the ground.
When I slide it back onto her foot, my fingers graze the side of her ankle, and I look up at her. My eyes connect with hers and I can’t help what I do next. I slide my hands along her calf, watching as her eyes widen.
“That's not my shoe you're touching,” she says. She’s objecting, yet her tongue traces the edge of her lip, like she’s inviting me to slide my hands up higher. And I want to go higher. I want to take my hands and move them up her thighs, farther and farther until I’m reaching underneath her dress. I wonder if she's wearing panties.
“No, it’s not,” I say.
“People are looking.”
When I stand -- too close to her to be polite -- she inhales sharply, catching her bottom lip between her teeth. But she doesn’t move. She doesn't step back, the way she would if she didn't like how close I am.
The look of realization that I’m waiting for, the exclamation – Oh my God, you’re him! You’re Prince Albert! – never happens.
She doesn’t have a clue who I am.
"Yes," I say. "Fortunately for you, you ran right into me."
She laughs, tucking a strand of hair behind her hear. "Yeah, I’m a lucky girl," she says. "You could have mentioned the whole – oh, I don't know -- glaring fact that you're a freaking prince."
I shrug. "You never talked about your work."
"That's not even the same thing --" she says, her face upturned. She balls one hand into a fist, obviously frustrated, and the fact that she's at the end of her rope makes her endearing somehow. "I'm not a..."
"Princess?" I ask. "Well, you're going to be."
"Our parents are getting married," she says. "And we just got married. In Vegas. You're a prince. Please tell me you understand there's a potential for huge scandal here. Don't you take anything in life seriously?"
"I try to take all of my marriages seriously."
Her eyes widen. "There are more marriages?" I pause for a beat, and a look of realization spreads across her face. "That's not even remotely funny."
"Don't worry," I say. "You're the only woman I’ve married in Vegas."
"That's hilarious," she says, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "It was a drunken marriage. You’ve gotten it annulled, haven’t you?"
I shrug. "I had other things to do," I say. Sure I did. Except that's not the whole truth. I could have gotten an annulment. I should have gotten an annulment. Instead, I told myself it was irrelevant. Belle walked away -- and I figured it would be out of sight, out of mind. It was as if it never happened.
That's what I told myself.
Except for the inescapable fact that I couldn't get her out of my head, even half a world away and two weeks later.
A woman taking up two weeks of residence in my brain – especially one I didn't even fuck? That's definitely some kind of record. My style is more of a one and done kind of thing – I prefer not to know the names of the women I screw. Of course, Belle’s name has been on repeat in my brain, playing over and over on a loop. And I didn’t even screw her.
I married her.
"You could have gotten it annulled," I say.
"I was busy," she whispers. "Dealing with my…"
Her voice trails off, and the way she glances away for a moment sends a momentary pang of guilt rushing through me for giving her shit. Her other wedding is what she was going to say. The night I ran into her – the night we got married in one of those Vegas chapels, by an Elvis impersonator, no less – was the night she found out her fiancé was screwing her maid of honor.