Royal Dad(2)

By: Leanne Banks


 “Welcome to Marceau, Mademoiselle Gillian. We’re pleased you’re here to help Maximillian,” Michel said.

   “Thank you,” Maggie shouted back at him. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t hear everything. I didn’t catch your name.”

 Michel shot a quick glance at Francois, who looked slightly ill. “You may call him Your Highness,”

 Francois enunciated so precisely that he nearly spit.

 Maggie blinked and gave a vague nod. “Nice to meet you,Your Highness,” she said, again too loudly.

 Francois winced.

 Michel cleared his throat. “Does she have a hearing problem?” he asked in a low voice.

 “It’s temporary, Your Highness. Apparently her ears were stopped up during the long flight.”

 Michel relaxed.“Very well. Show her to her quarters before you have to explain her to the guards.”

 “I’m trying,” Francois muttered under his voice,then added, “Your Highness.”

 Michel left for his office and felt a twist of humor as the sound of the woman’s loud voice echoed down the hallway.Poor Francois.

 Eight hours later Maggie awakened to a raging headache. Placing her hands on either side of her face to minimize the pain she was certain she would feel upon moving, she carefully slid from her bed, snatched the headache medicine from her cosmetic bag in the adjoining bathroom, and wrestled with the container.

 After she freed two pills, she tossed them into her mouth and gulped water directly from the faucet.

 She was definitely going to have a discussion with her supervisor Carla Winfree when she got near a phone. Burned out from her teaching job at an inner-city public school inWashington,D.C., Maggie had desperately needed a break. Carla Winfree had gotten wind of a secret cushy assignment in the Mediterraneanand put Maggie’s name in the hat. Maggie had been chosen, but she’d been given very little information about her pupil or the job.

 “Such as the fact that I’ll be living in a palace,” she said and dipped her head under the faucet for another gulp of water.“Such as I’ll be teaching a seven-year-old prince. No wayhe can’t be spoiled,” she muttered. She splashed her face and wiped it with the hand towel.“Such as I have to deal with a smug, know-it-all pipsqueak by the name of Francois.And a prince, for heaven’s sake.” A tall, dark, handsome prince who was so stiff he probably had a steel pipe for a backbone. In the short time she’d met Francois and HisHighness, she’d gotten the gist that these people were very big on appearances and decorum.

 Maggie was not. She took a deep breath and counted to ten. She could deal with attitude. Heaven knows, she’d dealt with attitude from most of the kids she’d taught. But she had a tough time dealing with anyone who put on airs. If there was one thing she didn’t like, it was smugness and superiority. Okay, they were two things, but they were related.

 “I may not be the right girl for this job.” She brushed her teeth and tried not to look at her reflection in the mirror. After a trip halfway round the world, she looked darn frightening.

 A knock sounded at her bedroom door, and she eyed it, wishing for a peephole. “Who’s there?” she asked.

 A brief silence followed, and Maggie could al most feel the exasperation simmering from the other side of the door. “Francois,” the irritating man said.

 Maggie opened the door and saw Francois with a tray of tea and sandwiches. Her irritation faded slightly. Maybe he wasn’t pompous after all. “Please come in,” she said.

 Relief flooded his face as he entered her room and set down the try. “Your ears are better?Oui?”

 “Yes, they are. Thank you for the antihistamine and the food. I was starving.”

 “Not unusual for a trans-Atlantic flight. Your sleep patterns should adjust over the next few days. If you need a sleeping pill, let me know. In the meantime I will brief you on your duties.”

 Maggie felt the scratchy irritation return. She’d never responded well to an autocratic delivery of orders.

 “I think I understand my duties. I am to tutor Max because he has dyslexia and he’s become so discouraged he no longer tries to learn.” She reached for a sandwich and took a bite.

 Francois tossed her a suspicious glance. “How did you know of his discouragement?”

 “Because I work with these kids every day,” she said, and mentally added, because I’ve been through the same thing. “These children bust their butts to keep up, but when they keep failing, they lose heart and hope. It’s my job to give a little of that back.” She paused. “It must have been tough for the family to come to grips with the fact that Prince Max wasn’t perfect.”

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