Royal Dad(6)

By: Leanne Banks

 She paused a moment. “Your Highness, in your lifetime, how many times have you used a sword to settle your differences or solve a problem?”

 “Never,” he admitted. “But the sport builds confidence.” He held up his hand when she opened her mouth to speak. “I understand what you’re saying. Maximillian will use words as a weapon and a bridge far more often than he’ll use a sword.”

 She nodded slowly, and he felt an odd under standing pass between them. He saw a faint glimmer of respect in her eyes at the same time he felt a kick of challenge in his gut. The tutor from America was turning out to be more than he had bargained for.


 He wasn’t exactly what she’d expected, Maggie thought when the image of Prince Michel skimmed through her mind the next morning. If he had one iota of a sense of humor, he wouldn’t be half-bad.

 She’d found the intelligence and banked emotion in his startling light-blue eyes distracting. His gaze gave hints that there were layers to this man. The notion made her curious. She wondered if he ever let down his guard. She wondered if he could.

 He seemed like a man set apart, and something about that bothered her, which was silly, because Prince Michel was none of her concern. Max was. Although she’d struggled with a sliver of intimidation, she’d been determined to treat him just like she treated the parents of her other students.

 His sense of honor emanated from him like the heat from the sun. The strength of his character was so rare to Maggie that she was fascinated.

 But his confidence had emanated with the same strength as his honor. He seemed almost perfect.

 Heaven knows, she’d had to put up with enough of that quality from her father and brother. Lifting her hair in a ponytail, she pushed the complex Prince Michel from her thoughts. He was a puzzle best left in someone else’s toy box.

 She put a map to the palace grounds, a few cue cards and a mirror in a bucket and carried it with her as she headed for Max’s personal classroom.

 Dressed in perfectly creased slacks, a shirt with the shirttail once again hanging out and a lopsided tie, Max watched the television. Maggie made a mental note for her next conversation with Francois. Max’s television time needed to be drastically reduced.

 Max glanced up at her, noting her casual shorts and T-shirt with a confused expression.

 Spotting the remote, Maggie turned off the TV. “Do you have something special on your schedule today that I don’t know about?” she asked.

 Max shook his head. “Just school with you,” he said, unable to hide his lack of enthusiasm.

 “Why are you dressed that way?”

 “I always dress this way,” he said with just a hint of the same imperial attitude she’d glimpsed in his father.

 She smiled. “Well you need to lose the shirt and tie, and change into shorts and tennis shoes, Your Highness.”

 He glanced at her with a combination of curiosity and suspicion. “What are we going to do?”

 She pulled out the map and pointed to an area she’d circled with a red pen. “We’re going on a quest to this pond,” she told him. “We’re going to try to find a frog.”

 Max’s eyes lit up. “A frog?” he echoed with excitement. “I thought we were going to read and write.”

 “At the right time,” she said.

 “Bonjour, mademoiselle,” Francois said from the doorway. He lifted his eyebrows in disapproval at her attire.

 “Good morning, Francois. I was just telling Max to change his clothes. We’re going outside today.”

 Francois immediately stiffened. “Where?”

 “Here,” she said, pointing to the map.

 Francois shook his head. “No.”

 “Why not? I was told I could use the palace grounds at my discretion,” she said.

 “That is too far,” he said.

 “Says who?”

 “The palace policy is that Prince Maximillian is not to wander more than a half mile from the palace itself without an escort.”

 She shrugged. “So I’m the escort.”

 “An official palace escort,” he said in a snooty voice that grated on her.

 Maggie counted to ten, then bared her teeth in a smile. “Okay. I’ll share my sandwich with you. You’re welcome to come along.”

 “Me!” Francois exclaimed. “I am not security. I—“

 “But you’re official, aren’t you?”

 “Yes, but—”

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