LOVE BEYOND MONARCHY EPISODE 4
Continue from EPISODE 3
I close the door to my room behind me, pressing my hands to the wood. I shake my head, smiling ridiculously to an empty room. Even the atmosphere in here is different. Lighter. More exciting. I feel like I could explode with happiness.
I deposit my bag and dress onto the bed, shaking my head.
I’ve just spent the entire night with a prince. A handsome prince, who likes skinny-dipping and rock music. I begin to remove my clothing, desperate for a shower. I’m turning for the bathroom when the phone line in the room rings.
I walk over to it, picking up the landline. “Hello?”
“So… when I said I wanted to see you again, I meant tonight. I hope you knew that.”
My face is going to break. I shake my head. “Is that so?”
“It is. I have a few friends coming over for drinks, after a state dinner we’re attending. I don’t know how you’d feel about it?”
Friends? Wow. “Um, are they… are they royal too?”
“Noble, yes, they are.”
“Well, I don’t know. Won’t that be awkward?”
“No, they’re very nice people. And they should only be there for an hour or so… It will just be you and I after.”
I smile, looking down. “Um, okay. If you’re sure.”
“I am. I will have a car come for you at nine.”
“Bring something to sleep in. I’m having a guest room prepared for you.”
I gape, slightly, stunned at his bluntness. “Oh.”
“Unless you’d like to go back to your hotel, of course. I only said guest room because I didn’t want to imply anything. I figured drinking…”
I rub my neck, shaking my head. “No… it’s alright. I will bring something.”
Did I really just say that ? There’s a short pause. “Good… Well, I’ll see you tonight then.”
“See you tonight,” I breathe before I hang up. I lay down the landline, raising my hand to my mouth slowly in contemplation. I truly don’t know what I just did. Did I just say I’d be spending the night in his house?
I sit on the edge of the bed, pulling my phone out of my bag. I type a quick text to Ida.
Sorry I didn’t call back. Busy night, large hangover. Will call later. Xo
I hit send and my gaze flickers to the window, to the long, busy streets of London.
What the hell am I doing ?
There’s a knock at my door, at nine sharp. I look to the door from my place by the window, truly frightened with no actual idea why. Well, maybe I do know. I won’t allow myself to think of the consequences of this.
In my relatively boring life, I’ve been given this blessing. A blessing to come to London to do what I love, to explore my wildest dreams for this next week and a half. I’m not just Mia Tyler here. I’m not a maid, I’m not a student, I don’t live with my aunt here. I’m who I want to be.
And I’ve been given a chance to spend time with a man who excites me in every way. I won’t let myself think of who he is, what this flirtation means… I just want to enjoy myself. This does not have to be love.
I stand up, looking down at my dress. It’s black and ankle length, casual but pretty. It’s the only thing in my closet that I thought wouldn’t make me look ridiculous next to people in formal attire.
“Coming,” I breathe, walking to the door. I unlock it, opening it to find a man in a suit, headpiece on his ear.
“The car is downstairs for you, Miss Tyler.”
I nod, smiling awkwardly as I reach for my bag by the door. “I’m ready.”
He nods, without a smile. “Follow me. Keep your eyes down towards the ground.”
Oh . I follow behind him, pressing my lips together. Thankfully, it’s a small inn so within a minute, we are exiting onto the street. I look up fleetingly, finding another bodyguard opening the door to the back of the car. As I slide into the empty vehicle, I finally find the time to breathe, to look around.
The door shuts and I rest my bag down slowly beside me. There’s no going back now. The ride is silent. I didn’t feel I had the authority to raise the partition so I just sat, staring out the window, overthinking like a mad woman. Sometimes, peace and quiet is not a good thing.
By the time we reach the palace, Kensington Palace, I’m in the throws of a full-on panic attack. I had completely skirted around the idea that Prince Henry lived in a palace. We pull up around it, passing the front entrance. When we stop on an edge of the large mansion, I realize we’re going through a side entrance, to keep from the public eye. I’m glad for it.
The gate opens and suddenly we’re on the grounds. We pull off to the side of the street, stopping to a halt. The door to the car opens within seconds and I stare out, swallowing deeply.
Everything is so large. Large, expensive, royal. Overwhelmed beyond belief, I consider telling the bodyguard to shut the door. However, my eyes catch to a moving figure walking down the steps from a large white entrance way. I recognize the large, confidant stride already and as if all my fears could go away magically, I’m scooting from the backseat, grabbing my bag.
Henry smiles as I climb out, walking across the paved path. He’s in a black and white tuxedo, missing the bowtie by this point. His grin is infectious, even in this darkness. I mirror his expression as he walks up to me, kissing my cheek.
“How was your day?” he asks, reaching for my bag. I let him take it, chuckling at how odd and domesticated that sounds coming from his lips. God, you are an adolescent, Mia Tyler. I want to roll my eyes at myself but I resist.
“Uneventful,” I answer. “How was the State Dinner?”
“Uneventful for such an event,” he says, rolling his eyes amusedly. “Come on.”
I walk beside him, looking around in awe. I’m walking into a palace. I hear wild jazz music coming from the apartment we’re approaching. Henry looks at me, smirking.
“I fear I let my cousin touch my records. It will be like this until he leaves.”
“I love it,” I answer, truthfully. “I used to sing jazz at a club when I was in high school. They had to lie about my age to let me perform there at night.”
I nod. “It was a great time. They closed down, or I’d probably still be there.”
“How long did you work there?” he asks, as we walk up the steps towards a large black door that’s slightly ajar.
“I was sixteen when I started, nineteen when it closed.”
“Wow, that must have been something.” He stops at the door, looking over at me. “They’ve had a bit to drink but they’re relatively harmless. You’re new blood in their eyes, so just be prepared for questions.”
“Well, that’s not intimidating at all,” I utter, chuckling. He leans in, kissing me briefly- an utter tease- before pulling back. I stare at him, seeing stars. It’s unnatural what I feel when he touches me.
“They won’t be here long.”
He opens the door, letting me pass through first. It’s loud but not quiet. The apartment is massive. Just the living room alone is larger than Ida’s entire apartment in Queens. Everyone is dressed to the nines, in either formal gowns or tuxedos. I place my hands awkwardly at my sides, glancing around at the chaos.
There’s a man on one of the coffee tables, sprawled out flat on his back. There’s an older man, probably in his late fifties, asleep upright on the couch, somehow able to sleep amongst the noise. All in all, there’s probably fifteen people in the room and all look inebriated out of their minds.
I glance back at Henry, who smiles softly before looking back at the group. “Everyone, this is my new friend, Mia Tyler. Make her feel welcome.”
“Hello, Mia!” I’m surprised when most of the room smiles warmly, a couple leaving their places to come towards me. Henry rests a hand on my back, catching my attention.
“What will you have to drink?”
“Whatever you’re having.”
“Well, that would be scotch so maybe you want to choose something else,” he murmurs. I shrug, shaking my head.
“No, scotch is fine. Thank you.”
He purses his lips, looking shocked. “I’ll be right back.”
“I saw you the other day, didn’t I? You sang at the Opera,” a woman states, holding a cigarette and champagne glass with one hand. I smile, nodding.
“Yes, that was me.”
“Ah, you are quite a performer,” the man beside her hums, smirking. He touches my hair, curling a wave between his fingers. “Your hair is so beautiful. What do you put in it to get it like this?”
“I was just about to ask her that too, Royce.”
“We have the same mind, that is why, my darling,” he replies, kissing her cheek.
“I do nothing to it. Just let it be.”
“Liar. You have to be lying.”
I shake my head, swallowing. “No, it’s true.”
“You lucky bitch, wow!” he exclaims, happily. I’m blinking in shock when Henry comes up beside me, handing me a glass of scotch.
“What did I hear you call her, Royce?” Henry asks, his tone laced with weakened disapproval.
“This divine woman you’ve got here has magical powers. Her hair is a work of art. Look, not one hair out of place.”
Henry smirks, looking down. “Mia, these ostentatious people before you are the Earl and Countess of Canterbury.”
“But you can call me by Angie and my husband- Royce.”
Husband? They are married ? I try to conceal my surprise. “It’s an honor.”
They turn as a woman touches her back, wanting their attention. I glance at Henry, who laughs.
“They have- a complicated marriage.”
“I thought- I mean, I thought he was-”
I chuckle, nodding.
“He is as gay as they come. They had an arranged marriage but they genuinely adore each other. She’s fine with his excursions elsewhere and he, the same with her. They say it’s the recipe for a healthy relationship.”
I smile, looking at him. “Do you believe that?”
His brows rise. “I believe you enter through different stages of life, and in that sense, different types of relationships. It depends on where you are in your own life. That defines what you can and cannot handle.”
I nod, looking around the room. At all the glamorous people- it’s exactly what I expected.
“What do you think?” he asks, catching my attention again.
“I- well, I think when you meet the right person, that satisfies every need within you, there won’t be anyone else to look for. Until then, I think it can be healthy to test out the waters… not that I really take my own advice.”
Dear god, shut up, Mia. I look anywhere but him, raising the glass to my lips. The drink is familiar, and quickly brings back memories- memories I like to suppress.
“You’re a scotch gal.” I know I’m still blushing when I look to Henry. “That’s rather attractive.”
“I used to drink it all the time, with a friend. His father was a businessman and we spent a lot of time in his office, drinking from his selections. I acquired a taste to it.”
“And this friend of yours, was it a boyfriend?”
I nod, looking down into my glass uncomfortably. “It was.”
“You were with him long?”
He nods, drinking. “Long. When did it end?”
He nearly blanches, looking to me with wide eyes. I smirk, chuckling.
He rolls his eyes, grinning and I feel his hand rest on my hip, burning a invisible hole into my skin. I move closer to him, instinctively.
“Come with me,” he whispers, letting my skin go. I’m bereft so I nod, willing to follow him anywhere. He guides me towards a hallway. I shake my head, observing the incrusted gold that seems to decorate every mantle, every picture frame, every vase.
“Your home is so big. Is it just you here?”
He nods, looking back at me. “Yes. Ten rooms, seven restrooms.”
“Ten rooms, wow.”
He nods. “It’s a lot, but I throw many parties. And unfortunately, like tonight, since these people drink like fish, a few of them will be staying in guest rooms. Comes in handy.”
I nod, stopping when he does. He pulls open one of the doors, letting me walk in first. It’s a bedroom- a gorgeous bedroom. I feel the newly familiar fluttering in my stomach begin once again. I’m out of my league here. Henry shuts the door, gently and my knees nearly buck together.
I should be asking why we’re here. But I don’t want to. I want whatever he has in store for me. I feel desperate for him, unusually so. The lust has been there since the alley, building between us, waiting to be unleashed.
He comes up to me, clasping my face. I’m sucking in a breath when his lips crash to mine, hard and full of delayed passion. I lift my arms, wrapping them around his shoulders, pulling myself closer to him.
“I can’t keep my hands off of you,” he breathes as his hands leave my face, descending over my body, tracing the curves of my hips. The back of my body bumps into the edge of a table. His movements grow stronger, his emotions barely reigned in. I moan as we move against each other, and I’m able to feel his cock hard against my sex.
I’m surprised when he pulls back, quickly breaking all contact with me. Chest heaving, I reach out for him. “Henry.”
He presses a hand to his mouth, rubbing gently. “I need to ask you to do something for me.”
Do something? I nod, swallowing. “What is it?”
“There are a few forms behind you that- I need you to sign, before we go any further.”
Staring at him, I feel my heart drop to my stomach. Oh god . I lick my lips slowly, nodding to myself. “You mean, a non-disclosure agreement.”
He nods, smiling softly. “Yes.”
I turn, finding the papers flat against the wood, an expensive-looking pen rested next to them. I close my eyes. You stupid, stupid girl … what are you doing here ? You’ve had your share of men with power. You know what they can do to you.
I feel him come up behind me. “Take as much time as you’d like reading it. It’s simply stating you will remain discreet about anything I will ever tell you or do with you.”
“I know what an NDA is,” I utter, trying to remain calm.
“Of course,” he says immediately, kissing my shoulder. “I’m sorry, it’s just a formality.”
“Henry? We are leaving! Come wish us safe travels!” I hear Royce exclaim, drunkenly.
Henry sighs. “They are definitely staying here. I have to go speak to them. I’ll be right back.”
I nod, staring at the papers. I hear the door close and within seconds, my chest is heaving. I suck in breath desperately as I sit down on the chair, dropping my head into my hands.
I’m unable to get images of John’s face from my mind. His emotionless face as he hovered above me, checking the pulse in my neck before leaving me, bleeding all over the ground of my aunt’s apartment.
I look up at the door, swallowing. All of this comes down to how much I want Henry. When he is near me, my body reacts. It gravitates to him. I’ve never had someone make me feel this way. But I don’t know if I want him enough to sign my name across these forms.
He could do anything to me- and I’d be silenced. He’d have all the power.
He’s not going to hurt you, Mia.
But he could. That’s the point. He could hurt the hell out of me and I’d never be able to utter a word of it.
The door opens again, and Henry is chuckling. “My lord, they are stubborn drunks.”
I stand up, in a flash, gaping slightly, unsure. He frowns slightly, looking around the room. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m- I’m going to leave.” I swallow, looking anywhere but at his face of shock. “I’m going to need my bag.”
I step forward, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. I whisper an apology as I pass by him hurriedly, clasping onto the door. Within seconds, his hand is above my head, closing the door.
I flinch at the quick slam of it, turning to look at him cautiously. Observing my face, he immediately pulls his hand back, holding both up in the air defensively. He shakes his head, looking confused.
“Mia, what the hell is going on? Why are you looking at me like that? I left for a second.”
“It’s not you, at all. I just- I have to leave.”
He presses his lips together. “Will I see you tomorrow?”
He blinks, gaping slightly. “I don’t understand what’s happening, Mia. Fill me in.”
“I can’t sign them.”
“Because why ?”
“Because I’ve been trapped before, after signing one of those. I can’t do it.”
” Trapped ? Who trapped you?”
I close my eyes. “I can’t tell you.”
“I am the Prince of England,” he states, with emphasis, sounding like one. “You can tell me.”
“No, I can’t.”
He breathes out angrily. “Did this person hurt you?” I stare at him and he shakes his head, stubbornly. “At least tell me that.”
I nod, pressing my hands to the door. He stares at me, obviously wanting more information.
He holds out his hands. “Okay, I’m going to say something. I am going to say that I believe that it was the man you spoke of earlier. You can tell me if it isn’t him, but if it is, then you didn’t breach your contract. Just don’t answer me.”
I’m struggling to breathe. I make no movements and he sighs, running a hand through his hair. He walks towards me, stopping just before me. I’m ridged when he wraps his arms around my body, silently. His strength is welcoming, shielding me from my thoughts, from everything.
I press my face into his shoulder, closing my eyes. I feel his hand on my hair, stroking it gently. “I’m so very sorry, Mia.”
I clutch his tuxedo jacket, breathing him in. He smells of expensive scotch and strong aftershave. It’s a masculine scent. I pull back, after a long while, smiling softly.
“I’m sorry too. I wish I could sign it. I do want…” I stop myself before I utter that it’s him I want.
He shakes his head, smiling slightly. “Still… you’ll stay here tonight, alright? We- we can still be friends, of course.”
Friends … I feel the blow but I nod anyway, forcing a smile. “Yes… friends.”
He grabs my hand, rubbing my palm lightly with his thumb. “Let’s- rejoin the party. I’ll get you another scotch.”
I nod, letting him lead me to the door.
To be continued….