Dating the Prince(3)

By: Addison Quinn


“Wait.” Alex leaned forward, squinting at the object. “It looks like a coin.”

“Copy that,” came the crackled response from the radio. “Moving to intercept.”

“Zoom in,” Alex demanded. Finn complied, and Alex shook his head in disbelief at what the woman had placed. “It’s an American penny.”

“It’s an unknown object. That penny could be laced with anthrax or explosives or any number of dangerous things.” Finn pushed the button on the side of the radio. “Waiting for your report, Colin.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Alex pushed back from his chair, exasperation making his movements jerky. Whether tourist or local, she hardly seemed like a political extremist bent on the royal family’s destruction.

“Where are you going?” Finn demanded.

“To stop this woman from being arrested,” Alex said. “She’s no more a terrorist than I am.”

“Your Highness—” Finn began.

But Alex walked out without waiting for his response. Maybe he couldn’t stop Isla from spreading lies, or make Durham trust him again. But he could at least stop Colin from shattering that woman’s outward peace and calm.





CHAPTER TWO



Libby shifted from foot to foot, trying to ease the aching in her back as Stan droned on about the history of Durham in an accent that somehow managed to be both incredibly thick and annoyingly proper. Kenzie let out a mewling sigh and burrowed deeper against Libby’s chest. The padded nylon carrier felt suffocating against Libby’s skin, and the thin cotton of her dress grew damp.

How could an eight-pound baby be so heavy? She definitely should’ve worn tennis shoes instead of sandals today. But the July heat was nearly as oppressive as the thought of shoving her feet into socks. Connie had clearly not spent her maternity leave touring palaces with a baby strapped to her chest, or she wouldn’t have suggested Libby take Kenzie in the wrap instead of the stroller—pram, Libby reminded herself. She hadn’t thought she’d need to learn a whole new vocabulary when moving across the pond.

“Construction on the palace began in 1722,” Stan wheezed on as he led them down an elaborate hallway. Oil paintings of famous battles and former monarchs lined the walls, their heavy gilded frames contrasting with the red patterned wallpaper behind them. “Before that, the royal family lived across the river in Brighton Castle. Brighton Castle, of course, has its roots firmly in medieval times…”

Ugh. The palace was beautiful and all, but Libby grew less interested in a history lesson by the second. She’d thought playing tourist would take her mind off the most recent phone conversation with her mom, who had spent thirty minutes haranguing Libby’s dad for his shortcomings without pausing for breath, but all it accomplished was making her long for Connie’s air conditioned flat and the small bedroom with soft yellow walls that was Libby’s for the next six months to a year. However long it took to stop feeling nauseous at the thought of returning to Oregon.

Libby tuned out the tour guide as he led them into the music room. She stuck a hand in her pocket, running a thumb along the ridge of one of the copper pennies jangling there. But no, leaving a penny in the music room didn’t feel right. She’d been leaving lucky pennies in places that felt special or significant for as long as she could remember—something that Cedric had teased her about. At the time, she’d thought it was good-natured ribbing. But had his annoyance with that one quirk ultimately thrown him into the arms of his leggy yoga instructor?

Kenzie squirmed in her sleep, and Libby patted the newborn’s back through the carrier and bounced on the balls of her feet. Kenzie let out a grunt, then relaxed once more in sleep.

What was Libby doing here? She should be home in Oregon, tending to the gardens in Ocean Meadow while convincing her parents not to divorce. Not touring a palace in Durham while hoping to earn enough money as a nanny to ease her family’s financial burden—and hopefully, by extension, erase the tension that had her parents deciding to call it quits after thirty years of marriage.

“If you’ll follow me down this hallway, we’ll next visit the throne room,” Stan said, his vowels overly soft and voice obnoxiously nasal.

Libby tossed her long caramel-brown hair over one shoulder. At least the increased humidity was doing wonders for her natural curls. She’d never spent much time on her appearance—a leftover of being raised by hippies who didn’t follow fashion trends—but since moving to Durham a week ago, she’d spent even less. Yet another reason to be glad she was thousands of miles from Oregon.

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