LOVE BEYOND MONARCHY CHAPTER 1/2
I welcome all our online readers to another fantastic story. Kindly read from word to word and enjoy the story from the begining to the end.
“London,” Ida breathes, grinning wide. I take a seat across from her, leaning over excitedly. The old pink table my aunt has had for the past fifteen years creaks loudly as my elbows dig into the plastic.
“London,” I reply, awed myself. London.
London is the key to everything. London is where all my studying, all the tireless hours educating myself have lead to. My brand new agent, Joe Howard, informed me just minutes ago that I will be performing a Soprano solo at the Royal Opera House in London, England and all I can do now is shake.
Shake because everything is working out the way I’d always dreamed. The way my mother always dreamed. Ida reaches over, running her hand over my dark waves sweetly.
“I always knew you could do it, Mia.”
“It’s a good thing they needed to fill a spot.”
“I bet they saw the tape of you at the Metro… Gosh, you’re going to blow them away. I wish I could be there to see it.”
“You can, Ida. I can save up. I’ll be there in a month.”
“No, absolutely not. You save up every dollar for the trip. Knowing Al, he’s probably going to be late paying you.”
I smile, sighing. “I actually think I’m going to talk to Al about quitting.”
She looks momentarily shocked but after a moment, nods. “If you’re sure. I know you hate cleaning for them.”
I stand up. “Well, it was only a temporary job. Besides, I have to make sure I get this solo is perfect. My whole career could be based off of this one night. It could change everything for me… for us .”
I rub her shoulders, bending down behind her chair. “You’ve worked at that dry cleaners way too long. And the reception job. And the other reception job.”
“It’s paid the bills.”
“Yes and I’m grateful.” I lean down, kissing her cheek. “But I don’t want you to have to work anymore.”
“Honey, I’m fifty-six years old. If you want to get famous and take care of me, by all means, I’m not gonna stop you.”
I chuckle, shaking my head and straighten. “Well, there’s no time to waste then.”
“I have tonight, Ida. Just tonight left before I leave, and I still feel like I’m not making that note correctly.”
“You sound perfect,” Ida says, sounding uninterested. She’s endured three hours of one song. I lift the kettle of cold water, setting it down onto the warmed stove. “And if you keep landing those notes, you’re going to lose your voice.”
I massage my throat, rolling my eyes. When the door bell rings, I hold up my hand. “I’ll get it.”
“Good. This issue of Good Housekeeping is far too good to deter myself from,” she utters. I open the door. “I have to figure out how to make this carrot-”
My hand tightens on the knob as I stare at the familiar man in our doorway. My first instinct is to slam the door in his face. However, I know I can’t do it.
“John,” I breathe.
My ex-boyfriend of five years smiles softly, his young, masculine features stun me momentarily. “Mia.”
“What are you doing here?” I turn slightly, looking back at my aunt, who is glaring as if she’s seen the devil.
“I need to speak with you,” he says, moving to try and get into the apartment. I shake my head, closing the door enough so he can’t get past. “We have nothing to talk about. It’s been five months. I thought we were done with this.”
“Please, Mia. Just give me five minutes,” he pleads, looking contrite.
I shake my head, mostly at myself and open the door wider. He walks into our small two-bedroom and I’m transported back to a time when seeing him in here wasn’t a foreign anomaly.
“Ida, how are you?”
“Peachy keen, since you’ve been out of her life.”
I don’t tell her to stop. He deserves this. She trusted him. I trusted him.
John looks at me, clearing his throat. “I’d like to speak in private, Mia.”
My aunt crosses her arms over my chest defiantly. “Whatever you have to say to her, you can say in front of me. Or are you worried you won’t find the chance to slam her face into a wall if I’m here?”
I hold up my hand then, pressing my lips together. “Ida, please. I’ll be fine.”
John’s gaze is set squarely on the floor, unmoving as my aunt lifts herself from her seat on the couch, taking her magazine with her to her bedroom.
“You holler if you need me, baby,” she says, protectively. I nod, silently, only looking to him when her door closes.
“What the hell are you doing here, John?”
“What do you think I’m here for? I’m here to apologize.”
“It’s been five months,” I state, planting my hands onto my hips. “I know there aren’t expiration dates on apologies, but-”
“You hate me and you have every right to.”
I nod. “Yes, I do have every right to. You never even showed up to the hospital, not that I wanted you to. But damn, I expected an apology then at least. Now? I kind of just want you away from me.”
“I’ve gotten help, Mia.”
The Batman Trailer: This is How Robert Pattinson Looks Like Bruce Wayne Clad in The Armor of The “Dark Knight”
“I’m sure your father made you. The son of the mayor of New York involved in a bloody domestic dispute? He made sure both of us stayed quiet, that’s for sure.”
John shakes his head. “What did he do?”
“What Thomas does best, John! He made it disappear. He told me to sign a non-disclosure agreement and when I said no to that, he threatened to ruin me. Ruin Ida. So, I had to.”
“I had no idea. I would have done something if I would have known.”
“Like what? What would you have done? Told him to let me talk if I wanted to? Do you honestly think I believe that?”
“You wouldn’t talk, I knew that. We loved each other. I made a mistake.”
The tea kettle screeches, but I barely hear it. I tear my eyes from John’s face, walking over to the stove. Lifting the kettle, I close my eyes angrily.
“A mistake?” I whisper, enraged.
“A mistake,” he replies, quietly. “A terrible, terrible mistake. I was fucked up, Mia. I had no clue I could even do that to someone.”
“Yeah, well, I had no idea either. And I paid dearly for my obliviousness.”
“I need you to forgive me.”
“I’ll never forgive you, John,” I snap, turning to him. “Never!” I reach up and pull my hair back, revealing the large scar across my hairline. He flinches and looks away from my gaze of hate. “Now, get the hell out! I’m not going to talk. That should make you feel better.” “I didn’t come here about the damn non-disclosure agreement! That doesn’t matter to me! I am in love with you. And I hurt you and I hate myself!”
“Get out,” I breathe, awed at his audacity to mention love.
The air prickles violently around us as we stare at each other. I finally allow myself a breath when he moves towards the door.
“You have my number if you want to talk.”
The door slams shut.
“I’m glad you’re leaving, now that John is back in the picture,” Ida confesses, setting my bag down onto the generic navy blue airport carpet. The suns not even up, but she insisted on coming with me to see me off. Since I was thirteen, she’s raised me solely on her own, sacrificing so many possible relationships and job opportunities. She’s a second mother to me, which is why I feel physically sick leaving her here when I know John’s poking his head back in through the door.
“He’s is still far out of any picture of mine, Ida.”
“He wants you back.”
“He’s a good talker, like his dad.”
“That he is.”
Her weary features conform to what resembles worry. I place my hands on her shoulders. “I am not in love with him anymore, Ida. I do not have battered women syndrome, I promise.”
She closes her eyes and nods. “Alright, get on this plane and amaze the hell out of those Brits.”
“I will,” I answer, confidently, kissing her cheek quickly. “You take care of yourself while I’m gone. Eat your granola.”
“You’re only going to be gone two weeks. My health isn’t going to deteriorate as soon as you go.”
I look pointedly at her. “No chips for dinner.”
“God, shouldn’t I be the one telling you these things?”
I smirk, reaching for my bags. “I’ll text you when I land.”
“Okay. Love you, pumpkin.”
“Love you too.”
Placing my bag onto my shoulder, I reach for my other luggage- a worn down tan carry on from the 1930’s. It was my father’s, handed down by his father. Resourceful as hell, I seem to be able to fit my entire world in here and still manage to fit it onto the overhead cabinets of the plane.
I bend down into my aisle seat, breathing in deeply as I strap my seat belt in.
Okay, yeah, I can do this.
I set my items onto the creaky bed, distracted by the view from my window. St. Paul’s Cathedral is within eyeshot. I nearly press myself up against the window, smiling slowly.
London is beautiful. I always had imagined it would be, although history books don’t do it much justice. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be here during the 1800’s, that’s for sure. But today, the sun is surprisingly high. There are clusters of tourists and natives that fill the sidewalks.
I catch sight of a big red double decker bus and hear a sound of excitement escape my throat. I’m here. And tomorrow, I’ll be singing at the Royal Opera House. Forever, from tomorrow, I can put on my resume that I sang in London. Mia Tyler from Queens sang at the Royal Opera House.
And even if it’s the last performance I ever do, I’ll be content.
“Your dressing area is in the corner there, Miss Tyler. You have twenty minutes.”
Holding my makeup bag and large dress bag, I look from the distracted stage hand to the door for my dressing room. At this point, everything is a blur. Opening the door, I find the room is small and relatively bare, apart from a vanity and couch.
I lay my bags down onto the couch, humming my aria to myself softly. On the vanity is a single piece of paper, scribbled on it is:
Thank you from the Royal Opera House and good luck on your performance tonight, Miss Tyler. Feel free to ask the staff for anything you may need ahead of time.
P.S. Tea is available upon request
I’m walking to the door immediately. Opening it, I’m greeted by a young man with a clipboard. He’s talking into a headpiece. He looks at me, nodding.
“There’s a note about tea?” I utter, sounding like an idiot. He nods, turning without a word. Oh, okay, it’s that easy I guess. I walk back into the room, glancing at the clock. Fifteen minutes now.
Holy crap, I’m terrified. My fingers tremble as I bring down the zipper of my dress bag. Thankfully, I only brought one choice of dress and shoes, so I’m not conflicted. If this dress looks like shit, it looks like shit.
I take the black sequined gown from the hanger, quite sure I’m about to be sick. However, I have no time to slow down. London traffic is definitely my enemy right now. I’m zipping up the back when there’s a knock on the door.
“Come in,” I breathe, clearing my throat. The clipboard guy has a tray in his hands. A silver tea set is on top. He sets it down onto the vanity, pressing his finger to the piece on his ear.
“No, we need that to be centered,” he says, already turning for the door.
“Thank you,” I say, as he shuts the door again. I stare dubiously at the door, until I hear ten minutes ring loudly over the intercom. Then, I fall into panic mode.
My body is completely useless by the time I make my way to the curtains. Two singers have already performed- I am the last. Which means I’ll either send the audience into comatose or be the one to leave a lasting mark. It could go either way, really.
I rub my hands over the sequined dress, nervously, watching as a blonde strolls from the stage, looking unbelievably pleased with herself. Man, I wish I could have that kind of confidence. I smile, stupidly to her, expecting camaraderie yet she walks by without so much as a twitch across her lips.
And that’s showbiz.
“You’re up,” clipboard guy whispers, guiding me forward with a strong hand on my back. I nod, flexing my fingers, approaching the curtain. God, I wish Ida were here . I’m going on stage in front of thousands of strangers. I’ve never performed in front of a crowd this large.
I’m going to throw up. With mad eyes, I look back to the door of my dressing room. One song. One song and then I’ll be back in the safe confines of those four walls. Away from the judgments and then I can enjoy London like a proper tourist for the next week and a half.
“Ladies and Gentleman, Miss Mia Tyler, performing Dido’s Lament from the opera
Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.”
My heels click against my figuratively unstable ground as I make my way to center stage, feeling my adrenaline spike by the sound of applause. I step beside the piano, glancing at the young pianist I met only today. He looks up at me, fiery curls on his head, nodding reassuringly. Damn, I must look scared. I smile, forcing myself to nod back to him. The orchestra is in the pit below. After the run through rehearsal earlier, I’m sure of where to get my cue. The conductor, a Welsh man, holds up his hands and I feel a fluttering of nerves at the base of my throat.
Breathe, Mia. Legs apart. Knees relaxed . I place my hand on the piano, inhaling deeply, feeling just how momentous this moment is and then I look to the darkness of the audience.
And the music swells.
I push open the door to the dressing room, not ten minutes later. I shut it behind me, pressing my trembling fingers against the wood. I smile, exhaling.
“You did it,” I whisper to myself, in awe.
It was thrilling. Perfect. The perfect performance. I’ve never sung like that in my life. I’ve never felt emotion like that. My vision is still blurred from the tears I shed on stage. I glance around, searching for my next move before I rush forward for my bag. I dig my hand into it’s endless pit, searching for my phone.
I chuckle to myself as my fingers type in Ida’s number. This moment definitely surpasses sucky long-distance fees.
“I’ve been sitting by my the phone since midnight. How did it go?” she asks, answering on the first ring.
“I think I did good!”
“Good? You’re saying it was good ? No complaints?”
I hear her exclaim excitedly. I imagine her on her feet. “Well if you, you of all people, are saying you were good, then it was fantastic. Al and I had money on how many things you’d say you would have changed.”
“I’m not that morbid.”
“Oh yes you are. You’re a perfectionist to the maximum, Mia. It isn’t a bad thing.”
“Mhm,” I hum, judgingly.
“Oh, honey, I’m so happy for you. How many people were there?”
I want to throw up just thinking of the number. “Two thousand, Ida! Two thousand !”
“Oh my god! Oh, that’s phenomenal, Mia. I wish I could have been there.”
“I wish you could have too,” I murmur, smiling softly. There’s a knock at the door and I don’t even have time to turn fully before it opens. My eyes flicker to the doorway, where a man stands.
As my aunt asks me what my plans are for the week, I stare idiotically at the stranger closing the door to my dressing room. I’m stunned. Speechless. Unable to breathe. Close to hyperventilation. The man is in a cream colored suit- not a tacky one, but one that’s intended to stop people in their tracks when he walks by. One that is obviously expensive. It contrasts deeply against his black, tousled hair. There’s a strangely perfect curl hanging in front of his eye, that wasn’t staged to be there but simply fell into the perfect spot. He’s truly pale, making his blue eyes look translucently clear. I’m gaping, I know it. It’s like this man was taken from every woman’s deepest fantasy and deposited here on earth to torture us.
When he smirks, stepping away from the door, I blink, effected.
I somehow produce speech. “Ida, I’ll call you back.”
I hang up quickly, standing. He doesn’t move closer. He doesn’t introduce himself. His smile is a secretive one, and I immediately get the idea that he is probably a mystery to many, many women.
“Hello,” I breathe, glancing down at the long black box in his hand by his thigh. He stares, blinking strangely before nodding once, stepping forward. “Hello.”
Damn, his voice. The accent. I feel my nails dig into my palm at his deep rasp of that one word. He extends the box towards me, shaking his head.
“This is for you.”
I reach for it, shocked. “For me?”
“Wow. Who sent it?”
His brows curve together slightly. “Well… I did.”
I’m the shade of a plum. “Oh, of course. I’m- I’m sorry. My nerves…” I let him see my shaking hands against the box. “I’m still recovering. I was terrified out there.”
“You couldn’t see it,” he murmurs, charmingly. I smile, swallowing.
“Can I open it?”
He extends his hand, nodding. “It’s yours.”
Stupid Mia. Stupid. I lift the top of the box, finding a red rose tucked into black satin material. It’s accompanied by small patches of baby’s breath. I’m not surprised that it’s a ridiculously perfect flower.
“It’s beautiful,” I whisper, looking up. I watch the expression on his face change. He breathes in, staring at my face intently.
“Would you mind if I asked you a relatively strange question?” Ask me anything, but dear lord, keep talking.
“How old are you?”
Whoa . I blink, laughing awkwardly. “That is a strange question,” I answer, smirking. “Why do you want to know?”
“Well, you’re accomplished. Your voice is spectacularly light, but you have such emotion. You look no more than twenty-two.”
“No way in hell,” he answers, looking ridiculously shocked. Wide eyed, I laugh, nodding.
“Bloody hell, you’re older than I am. By a year, but that’s- that’s something.”
I smirk. “Um, it’s not like I’m ancient.”
He chuckles, nodding. “Well, no. No, of course not.” He hums, looking down. “Well, I’m making an ass of myself. I’m sorry but I wanted to-to tell you in person how utterly moved I was by the way you sang tonight. You have talent.”
“Thank you so much,” I breathe, smiling wide. This is the perfect day. My prince charming man is here, telling me how talented I am. I better not be dreaming. “And thank you… for the rose.”
Why does it sound like you’re sending him away? Stop, Mia. He sticks his hands into his pockets, nodding. “Well, it was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Tyler.”
I nod, gaping slightly when he turns for the door. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
He turns, pursing his lips slightly. “It’s Henry. Call me Henry.”
Henry . I smile, softly. “Well… goodbye, Henry.”
He opens the door, disappearing then. There are two large men that move, following him as he walks down the back of the stage. People gape, pointing secretively as he passes by them.
I step forward to the doorframe, still holding the rose box at my stomach. I smile, awed as he turns the corner, disappearing from sight. The clipboard guy approaches me then, with a rare smile.
“What did he say to you?”
“Um, he said I was talented and he gave me a rose.”
“He only went to you. The other ladies are down right peeved.”
“He was nice,” I murmur, nodding. He stares at me, before his face falls slightly.
“Nice? Dear lord, please tell me you know who you were speaking to.”
“Hen-” He closes his eyes, fist against his lips. “You mean, Your Highness. You mean,
Prince Henry of Wales. He is the grandson of the Queen of this country. Did- did you honestly call him Henry?”
I blanch. I’m going to pass out. Pri-prince? “He- he told me to call him that. He didn’t tell me his name until the end… oh my god, do you think he was offended?”
“I’m not sure. He saw something in you so… just take the compliment.”
He turns, probably to go tell someone else about my stupidity, leaving me standing there in horror.
Prince? Prince charming is an actual prince ?
“Another champagne, please,” I murmur to the bar attendant, not sure if I’m slurring yet. I hold my hand up in front of my face and my vision remains in tact. Alright, so I’m only buzzed. I’ve been at the after party for two hours now. I’ve said hello to every possible person I could have. And even after all the compliments and nice words, I’m left remembering my stupidity. I should have known he was important. He did look surprised when I said hello to him. Oh god . I close my eyes. He thought he was making an ass of himself to me and I didn’t correct him.
I grab the champagne, sighing. “Thank you.”
I turn, grabbing my clutch from the bar and walk towards the double doors. It’s August and it’s surprisingly hot, but that may just an effect of the alcohol churning in my system. I step outside, reaching into the clutch. I close my eyes, praying to find one of my emergency cigarettes. When I’m panicking or out of my mind, I smoke- begrudgingly. It calms me, until the next hour when I think of what I’ve just put into my lungs.
Right now though, I can’t stop myself. I sigh when I unzip the zipper, finding one left. I take it out, along with the lighter, resting my clutch under my arm. Expertly, I light the cigarette while holding the champagne.
I lean my head back against the brick, closing my eyes as I blow out the smoke.
“You continue to surprise me.”
I open my eyes, slowly. No
Henry is standing there in front of me, his head tilted in amusement, looking like an angel under the streetlights. I stand up straight, nearly dropping my champagne.
“It’s you,” I whisper, drunker than I thought. He smiles, gently.
My eyes catch the bodyguards who are beside the sleek black vehicle parked at the curb. I look back to the Adonis before me, blinking.
“I’m sorry- about before… Your Highness.”
He closes his eyes, looking disappointed. “Someone told you.”
“You created quite a stir. Someone told me when you left.”
He hums, glancing around us. “Mind moving down there?”
I look where his gaze is directed. I raise a brow. “That’s an alley.”
“Yes, out of public eye. I can’t be seen standing on the street.”
I press my lips together but nod, somehow knowing he’s not the type of guy to fondle me in an alleyway against my wishes. The alley is small, it’s only occupant a trash bin. I tilt my body towards the wall as he plants himself beside me. It’s darker here, significantly darker.
I look at him. “Have you been here this whole time? I didn’t see you inside.”
He smirks. “Were you looking?”
Well. I grin, looking down, taking a puff.
“I would have never pegged you for a smoker,” he says, conversationally, leaning back into the wall.
“I only do it when panicking or stress takes over, really. It’s a terrible habit.”
“I have that same tick. It can be calming.”
I look at him, studying his features slowly before I hold out the cigarette to him. He smirks, but takes it. I hold my champagne glass to my lips, watching as he exhales.
“So, what are you panicking about?” he asks. “You did wonderfully tonight. You have nothing to be panicked about.”
“I met you,” I utter bluntly. “And made a fool of myself.”
“Well, I saw no fool…” he replies, looking at me. “I enjoyed your obliviousness, immensely. I never get that.”
I smile, looking down as he hands me back the bud. “Yes… but…”
He turns to me, up against the wall as I am so we’re facing one another. “I’d like you to call me Henry still, from now on.”
I must be drunk because I could swear, he just said from now on . I clear my throat, laughing nervously.
“From… now on?”
He smiles, wide. “Come out with me.”
I bite my lip, confused. Intrigued. “Why did you come back here? To the party?”
“To get you,” he murmurs bluntly, tilting his head. “To ask you what I just did.”
I shake my head. “Henry-”
“Come out with me,” he repeats, biting his lower lip to hide the grin. I can’t resist it.
“Is that an order?” I ask, blunt from the drinks.
“If it has to be,” he replies, taking the cigarette from my hand. “Show me who the real Mia Tyler is.”
“Well, I’ll have to change for a start. My things are inside.”
“I’ll wait here,” he says, smirking knowingly. I stare at him, wondering what I hell I’m doing and a chuckle of nervousness escapes my throat. Jesus Christ, Mia. Are you going to do this? I hand him my champagne glass, walking around him towards the street lights.
He’s in the same spot when I turn the corner towards the alley. I’ve got my dress bag and tote on one arm. I’m underdressed compared to him. I wore jeans and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt into the theatre, with sandals. He’s still in the dream outfit, the cream-colored suit. I can’t get enough of him in it. He walks forward, nodding. “I like this.”
I chuckle, nervously, touching my hair, still in the elegant up-do.
He reaches for my dress bag, surprising me. I let him take it, watching as he begins to walk. I follow him, heart wild. He turns back to me, walking backwards.
“Let’s just- drive.”
I blink, pursing my lips. “Just drive?”
“Yes. Just get on the road and don’t stop till the sun comes up.”
I stop in my tracks, tilting my head curiously. “We- just met.”
He slows, nodding. “We did.”
“I’m supposed to get into your car and just drive with you? All night? In a country I don’t know? With a man I don’t know?”
He smirks. “You truly only live once, Mia. You’ll never have a moment exactly like this one again. Doesn’t that intrigue you?”
He walks towards me, smirking. I feel my heart in my throat. “Well… yes…”
He’s inches away now. The smell of his cologne has my eyes rolling into the back of my head. I want to touch him. I force myself to keep my eyes on his, intimidated by his intensity.
“I- don’t know you,” I breathe, completely lacking incentive.
He clasps my face, and every muscle in my body freezes. Holy fuck . His lips swoop down upon mine within seconds. His mouth is warm and inviting and I quickly melt into the closeness, in how right it feels.
He pulls back almost immediately, looking down at me, searching my reaction. I stare back in shock, hands clasping his forearms weakly.
“Get to know me,” he replies quietly, hands on the back of my throat. “Get to know me- Henry.”
I nod as if I were ordered, knowing I want to.
I want to know Henry.
“Ivan, I want only two on detail,” Henry says, approaching the vehicle. Ivan, one of the tall men I saw by Henry’s side back in the theatre is holding open the door to the sleek vehicle. “We’ll take the Bentley, you and Billie follow.”
“Four is the minimum, sir. You know that.”
“Only two,” Henry repeats, sternly. He moves to grab the passenger door for me, surprisingly. I smile softly, taking a seat onto the leather. Henry holds out his hand. “I’ll take your dress, put it in the back.”
“Thanks,” I whisper, uncomfortably handing it to him. Jesus, Mia. You’re getting to a car with a stranger. Royalty or not, he’s a complete stranger. He shuts the door, turning to Ivan, who is still standing by the side of the car. I watch from the side mirror as Henry places his hand onto Ivan’s shoulder, smiling persuasively. Within seconds, Ivan rolls his eyes, chuckling as he turns.
I’m shifting in my seat when Henry gets into the drivers side, which in my eyes, is really the passenger side. I watch as he adjusts the air.
“It’s bloody warm tonight.”
I smile. It isn’t just me. He looks to me, smirking.
“You look nervous.”
“Well don’t be. We’re just getting to know each other.”
“You kissed me, not even five minutes ago.”
He chuckles softly. “Well, yes. That was persuasion, I admit. But, I won’t touch you again like that… unless you want me to. We can be friends.”
I press down on my lips, amazed by his beauty. “Until we’re not,” I add bluntly, after a moment, startling myself. He looks at me, failing to hide his shock. He looks pleased. “Yes, until we’re not, Mia.”
He pulls out of the space, onto the main road and I catch sight of another Bentley pulling out of it’s spot, in tow. It hits me then- just what I’m doing. Where I’m at. Who I’m with.
“There’s an aux cord there,” he says, pointing to the outlet. “You’ve got music duties.”
I chuckle, pressing my lips together. “Um, I don’t know if you’d care for my taste.”
“I like all music.”
“You like Country? Rap? Showtunes ?”
He nods. “There’s something redeeming in all music, each genre has it’s faults and advantages. Usually, when people say they dislike a genre, it’s because they want to.”
I hum, tilting my head. “Do you have a favorite genre?”
I laugh, pursing my lips. “Rock.”
He smirks. “How did you know?”
“It’s really rock?”
He nods. “Why do you think I was so impressed with the Led Zeppelin shirt?”
I smile. “Zeppelin’s great. But The Stones, they’re my jam.”
“Your jam ?” he repeats, looking amused. I nod, feeling my face flush, despite my efforts. He chuckles. “Alright, The Rolling Stones are your jam then.”
“And your jam?” I ask as we merge onto a highway.
“I’m gonna stay true to the UK and say The Beatles.”
I hum, warmly. ” Yesterday .”
He smiles, nodding. “So good.”
I reach into my tote, searching for my phone. I manage to find it in the mess and hook it up to the aux. I pull up my library, pressing play on Yesterday by The Beatles. He smiles then, eyes on the road.
I open my eyes, slowly as the lyrics to Come Undone begin to fill the vehicle. The vehicle… I gasp, opening my eyes wide, finding Henry smirking, glancing over from the road to me.
Oh. This is real? It wasn’t a dream? I see the Bentley logo on the dashboard and feel a flutter in my belly.
“How long have I been out?” I breathe, sitting up.
“Since the Fleetwood Mac album, which I’d say was two hours ago.”
I close my eyes. “I’m sorry. I’m lousy on road trips.”
“No, it was entertaining.”
I raise a brow, warily. “Entertaining?”
He grins. “You speak when you sleep, do you know that?”
I groan, looking up at the roof of the car. “Oh, Jesus. What did I say?”
“You mentioned eggs. Eggs, Treble Clefs, and… a John?”
I blanch at the last word, looking down at my legs to hide my reaction from him. I spoke about John? What the hell. I don’t even want to know what I said.
“I’m truly odd, if you haven’t already figured that out… I’m sorry,” I murmur, embarrassed as hell.
“I like it.”
I look at him, finding that he’s genuinely smiling, he’s not joking. He does like that about me… hm.
“So where are we?”
“I don’t really know, to be honest. We’re passing by a state park.”
I look out the window. “Everything’s so beautiful here.”
“Where do you live normally?”
I nearly laugh at that. I’m on a road trip with a man who really only knows what kind of music I like and how old I am. “I’m from Queens.”
“New York. I love that city.”
“I can’t imagine someone not loving it. It’s really the center of everything in America, apart from Washington, of course.”
He yawns, gently. “I’ve been yawning since three.”
“I can drive if you want?”
He smiles, softly. “Unfortunately, that’s not possible. I’d have to call Ivan to take over and well, I’d be crazy to do that.”
“Because I have my freedom right now.”
I look back at the car in tow with us and he chuckles. “Well, my best version of freedom.”
“Must be hard,” I utter, after a moment. He sighs, looking at the road.
“It comes with the territory. You learn to get used to it.”
I stare at him, unsure as to how anyone would learn to deal with being watched everyday of their lives. “… Really?”
He looks at me, surprisingly serious. “Someday.”
Thankfully, our small chatter and the musings of U2 keep us coherent for the next hour, as the sun begins to rise. We’re about an hour and a half from Scotland by the time he pulls off the highway onto an exit.
“Where are we going?”
“I actually know where we are. There is a nice place to see the sun come up near here. You good for it?”
I nod. “We’ve made it this far. Let’s do it.”
We drive not even fifteen minutes before he pulls into a space. We’re in another state park. The Bentley behind us stops as well. I feel terrible for his detail. When do they sleep if he doesn’t?
“I’ll get your door,” he murmurs, stepping out of the car. I rub my face, knowing I probably look hideous after how many times I dozed on the ride here. My door opens and he holds his hand out. I smile softly, taking it. My bones ache as I step onto the trail.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Ivan and Billie exiting the other vehicle.
“We’re going to the lake,” Henry states, opening the door to the back of the car. I watch as he reaches in, pulling out a bottle of something. Champagne, wine? He lifts something up inside and when he straightens, he has a blanket as well.
There’s no one around, so I’m guessing that’s why Ivan isn’t putting up a fight about us going alone. I swallow, looking around. I don’t even know if I should be putting up a fight.
“Come on,” Henry says, grabbing my hand. As he entwines his fingers with mine as we walk up the steps onto the main trail, my heart is beating from my chest. Is this actually happening? I have to keep reminding myself that I’m actually with the guy I met in my dressing room last night.
We come upon the clearing rather quickly. I smile wide, impressed by the view of the lake. Surrounded by large, dark trees, the water is dead calm, reflecting the soft light peeking in through the branches ahead. It’s a magical place with small flower weeds and patches of thick, rich grass.
My extent of nature is Central Park, and it doesn’t hold a candle to this place. I shake my head, looking at Henry.
He nods, looking to me. We start walking towards the edge of the water where there is a small place to lay a blanket. “I used to come here with my father when I was child. Just he and I. It’s beautiful, right?”
I nod, unable to stop smiling. He lets go of me to unfold the blanket and together, we lay it out. I have to admit, after the countless hours stuck in a car, this makeshift bed is looking pretty damn good.
He sits down, moving to the edge. I stare at him, smirking slightly when he sighs tiredly, running his hand through his tousled hair. He pulls off his jacket as I take a seat beside him, awkwardly. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing here. I have no idea why he wants me here, why he wanted this trip with me.
“How does dawn drinking sound to you?” he asks, grabbing the still-cooled champagne. I chuckle softly, resting my chin on my knees as he pops the top, expertly. No liquid comes out. He hands the bottle to me.
I take a swing of it, grimacing at the bubbles down my throat. However, I realize quickly it’s probably the best champagne I’ve ever had.
“That’s really good,” I murmur, handing the bottle back to him. He looks down at the label before nodding, raising it to his own lips.
“It is a prestige cuvèe, best champagne there is.”
I close my eyes, taking in the sounds of nature as the time passes by. The gentle hum of the wind against the tall grass. The sound of birds waking, the water gently pressing against the edge of the shoreline.
“Your voice is really something, Mia.”
I look over at him, curiously. His mouth curves up on one side as he raises the drink to his lips.
“I don’t know what your plans are, but you could career this, seriously. The long haul.”
I’m floating, positively floating. “You think?”
He nods. “I do.”
I smile, slowly. “… Thank you.”
He points the champagne towards me. “Anytime.”
I take it, watching as he lays down onto his back, knees up.
“Christ,” he utters, laughing suddenly. “I’m done for.”
I laugh with him, unable to help myself. I’m so tired I feel drunk. As he closes his eyes slowly, breathing in deeply, I find myself gazing at him, at the exquisiteness of his jawline, the shadow of hair appearing over it. His face is calm, there isn’t a single wrinkle or imperfection. I’ve never met anyone this close to perfection before. I don’t want to look away.
“Why did you ask me to come with you today?” I breathe, looking down at him.
His eyes open then. He stares at me so long that I don’t think he’s going to answer anymore before he extends his arm out, a gesture to invite me closer. I take it, eagerly, lying down beside him. And something happens. He pulls me in. Whoa . I turn, resting my face against his chest carefully, wide-eyed.
I like this. I like him. And I can’t. I shiver as I feel his mouth close to my hair.
“Relax,” he whispers.
“What if they’re watching us?”
“I… don’t do this.”
“Whatever this is about to be.”
“This only has to go as far as you want it to go, Mia. I’m not going to force myself upon you.”
I close my eyes as his hand descends from my shoulder blades, resting against the waistline of my jeans. “I’m- I’m not going to sleep with you.”
I look up, staring up at his face. Feeling my gaze, he looks down as well. We’re inches away from each other now. I find my eyes drifting over his features, landing on his well-formed, surprisingly voluptuous lips. God, I want him. My body aches, just imagining what this could be like.
He smiles then, softly, knowing what he’s doing to me. “Rest your eyes, Mia… We have a long trip back.”
I look away to hide my surprise. He breathes in deeply, arm holding me to him comfortably. I’m confused, I’m elated, I’m conflicted but above all, I’m tired. So, despite the whirlwind of questions floating around in my brain, I shut my eyes.