Chapter 6 you will never fall in love with me
I couldn’t help it.
I kept thinking about that night in the cave. The shockwaves of pleasure the stranger sent through me. The primal sounds he made.
It was hard to reconcile that memory with the man I saw before me now.
I remembered the feeling of his strong arms wrapped around me. His big hands on my hips. His hot breath on my neck.
And his big d*ck.
He seemed to have a good idea how to use it.
“Wait…” I said, snapping myself back to reality. “Were you really a virgin before that night?”
“Yes,” he replied flatly.
“Seemed like… you knew what you were doing.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Are you complimenting me?”
His mouth twitched, resisting a smug smile.
I hadn’t really meant to do that.
“Alright,” he said, “If that’s the case, then what’s the problem? I would guess that this” — he gestured to the laurel crown, which he’d set aside, having missed the opportunity to put it on my head during the ceremony — “is the best offer you may ever receive.”
I cleared my throat and said, “Wait. Let me make sure I’m hearing this right.”
I stepped over to the crown and reached out to touch it.
The gold was hard, cold, and heavy. The edges of the leaves were sharp and delicate. It was gorgeous.
“Because I’m a big girl,” I said, “I’ll never find another handsome man to marry? I’m supposed to just let you sweep me off to the palace where you can f***k me when you feel like it, and I’m supposed to be happy with that even though you’ll never love me?”
His eyes widened.
I coughed out an airy laugh, shrugged, and smiled.
“I don’t need that,” I said. “I don’t need to be Luna.”
Nolan opened his mouth to speak, but I kept going before he could interrupt me.
“You said you were grateful for I saved you. Well, I enjoyed myself that night, and that’s enough for me. You don’t owe me anything else.”
Nolan narrowed his eyes at me. There was that little spark of danger in them.
It was awful how badly I wanted him, especially when he locked eyes with me like that, and let a little of his darkness show through.
I reminded myself of what he’d said.
What he said I should really learn right away: that he will never fall in love with me.
There was no good reason to let myself give in to him.
My stomach felt hollow. I was aching to get home, to eat a hot meal, lie in bed, just be done with this whole awful night.
“Do you really need to marry for love?” Nolan asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, realizing as I said it that this wasn’t actually something I’d given much thought before.
“It’s a nice idea,” he said, “but people fall out of love just as quickly as they fall into it. Marriage is a choice. Love isn’t necessary.”
He stepped closer to me and leaned in so close I could feel the heat of his breath.
He reached his hand out toward my face.
And touched my double chin.
It felt like he wanted me to swat his hand away. Or get angry or insecure.
“Marrying for love is just as good a reason as any other,” I said. “And I can find someone I’m more compatible with anyway. A commoner, maybe even a fat man who cooks for me and doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with my body.”
“Oh,” Nolan said, “so you can keep yourself in as low a position in life as possible?”
He ran his fingertips under my chin, scratching my soft flesh with his rough skin and reminding me of the mix of pleasure and pain his touch could bring.
I have a round face and used to be self-conscious about it. Back in high school the girls called me Pizza Face, especially since when I got embarrassed, my cheeks turned bright red.
Tina says my face is like a sweet red apple. That one’s supposed to be affectionate.
“You’re taunting me,” I said c**lly, meeting the prince’s stare. “My mother once told me I shouldn’t waste my time with anyone who doesn’t make me happy.”
I could tell that he understood me.
His eyes were still hard and impenetrable, like the surface of a frozen lake.
But his heart was pounding.
I watched his pulse thrumming away in the big artery in his neck.
“Now, if you don’t mind,” I said, clearing my throat, “I’m late for dinner with my family. Am I free to go, Your Royal Highness?”
He was pretty good at hiding his emotions. But I was on to him.
Mom had been right, of course. I wasn’t using her as an excuse. She knew what she was talking about.
I couldn’t sell out for the cash. Or whatever other reason a girl might have for deciding to throw away everything to run off with a prince.
I needed to wait for the real thing.
Real love with someone who’d let me know him, and who wanted to know me. Real love wouldn’t be like a fairy tale, either. It would be work, and passion, and heartache, and bliss.
Sometimes worth it, and sometimes maybe not.
But I wasn’t ready to sign on for a life that promised no love at all.
Nolan and I had something electric between us. Maybe it was just sexual chemistry and a trauma bond formed the night we both almost died.
But he was cold. Uncaring.
And emotionally unavailable.
A long, tense silence passed between us.
Finally he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Alright,” he said, with the haste of a person trying not to expose their feelings. “I’ll take you home.”
“Thank you, Your Highness,” I replied politely. “You’re too kind.”
He took me home in a Rolls-Royce limousine.
We sat in the very back with what felt like a football field’s length of red leather couches between us and the chauffeur up front. The G*mma warriors surrounded the limo in a protective motorcade, leading and following us to Tina’s house.
I was beyond tired.
Nolan got on his phone and started talking to some business associate within seconds of getting into the limo. He was arranging a payment for something.
He had paperwork on his lap that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
I rested my head on the seat back and let myself doze off.
I woke to the sound of chaos. Car doors slamming. Voices shouting.
We’d come to a stop.
Dozens of people were buzzing around outside the limo. Knocking on the windows. Waiting on the sidewalk outside my house, with cameras pointed at the front door.
As I roused, I realized I was no longer leaning my head on the seat, but instead on the prince’s shoulder. He was still on the phone, but just listening to some voice chattering on the other end.
In my drowsiness and surprise, I jumped back.
My head thunked into the roof of the limousine.
It hurt a little. But worse was my embarrassment.
Nolan, still listening to his call, just looked at me and made a shape with his mouth that looked both amused and embarrassed.
“I’ve got to go,” he told the person on the phone, and hung up.
He opened the door and went out first. He held the door open for me, turning his broad back to the crowd to create a sort of human shield, so I could step out with a little privacy.
The G*mma warriors kept the media at a short distance while Nolan walked me up to the house. Again, I became very aware of the disturbing ease with which he slipped into this charade in public. Pretending to have affection for me.
He kissed me on the forehead when we reached the door.
“You better behave,” he whispered in my ear.