The Prince(9)

By: Tiffany Reisz

“Women. Just can’t please them sometimes. I think I’d stay married to a guy who built me a castle. Especially one that pretty.”

Nora heard Wesley laughing softly on the other end of the line. She wasn’t sure she’d ever heard him laugh like that before—sort of throaty, kind of arrogant and undeniably sexy.

“Wait until you see my castle.”

“Are we there yet?” she asked as they hung up their cell phones.

Nora followed Wesley’s taillights all the way to a town called Versailles, which he mispronounced as “Ver-sales.” They turned onto a dark winding road and had to slow down considerably. The entire way there Nora tried to will herself to be calm. It would be fine. Everything would be fine. She had Wesley back again.

Over the summer, she’d come to accept that she’d have to live without Wesley, that she couldn’t be Søren’s property and Wesley’s…whatever at the same time. Life with Søren seemed like a beautiful prison most days, a prison she chose, a prison she would never leave. Only Wesley’s absence had made it feel like a punishment and not a palace...

“Oh, holy shit,” Nora breathed. “That’s a fucking palace.”

Ahead of her, lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, was the biggest goddamn house she’d ever seen in her life. Kingsley’s three-story town house, Griffin’s estate, even Søren’s father’s New Hampshire mansion…all of them looked like suburban ranch homes in comparison to the stately sprawling ivory box before her. She counted no less than twenty-eight windows on the front of the house alone. Windows, doors, balconies…she’d seen smaller palaces nestled in the Rhine Valley of Europe, palaces that housed real European aristocracy and not just old American money.

Wesley pulled into the circular cobblestone drive and turned off his engine. Nora followed suit. She hoped it was late enough no one would be out and about to witness her wide-eyed, jaw-on-the-ground reaction to Wesley’s house.

Stepping out of her car, she nearly tripped on a crack in the cobblestone. Wesley caught her and pulled her close.

“I only tripped so you’d catch me,” she lied, wrapping her arms around him.

“I only put that crack there so you’d trip.” He smiled down at her and her breath caught in her throat.

Wesley raised a hand and mussed her hair with such easy familiarity that the past year and a half they’d spent apart vanished, as if all the longing and loneliness were merely the residue of a nightmare from which she’d just awoken. In the dream, she’d lost her best friend in a labyrinth and no path she took could bring her any closer to him. But now she’d screamed herself awake and found him right next to her in bed. And when she looked up at him, at those big brown eyes and that too-sweet smile, and asked him, “So what now?” she couldn’t even begin to care what the answer was. She had her Wesley back. Maybe for only a day or a week or a month…but they were together now and she’d go anywhere as long as he went with her.

“What now? We go in the house and grab some food—”

“Grand idea. Totally starving.”

“Then we’ll go to my house—”

“Wait. What? Whoa, you have your own house? Is there a house inside this house that’s your house?”

“Guesthouse. In the back. No food in it, though, right now. We can fix that tomorrow.” Wesley took her by the hand and led her toward the front door of his palace.

“And then?” Nora prompted, eager to figure out exactly what he expected of her. Would it be like old times? Them living under the same roof and trying not to fall into bed together? Or did he want more from her?

Wesley grinned down at her and her heart knotted up in her chest. God damn, she had missed this kid—so fucking much that being back with him hurt almost as much as letting him go had.

“Then…” Wesley said as he ran his hands up her arms, and Nora shivered with a need she thought she’d long buried, a need for hands on her that were always gentle. She shook off the thought and the need. Surely after they’d been a year and a half apart, Wesley’s feelings for her had changed. She couldn’t quite believe how much he had changed. He seemed taller now. His Southern accent had gotten a little thicker. His longer hair made him look older. Now he looked like a man, not the boy she’d known and loved and teased and tortured.

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