Noah Sheridan was gorgeous! He was dressed as casually as Paula herself was, but from working in a tea shop in the business district she knew good quality clothing. Plus, he held himself with that composure and confidence of a man who was extremely successful. Of course he was successful. Look at where he'd been sitting last night! He was an international businessman. She felt totally intimidated and out of her depth.
But as she approached him, Noah's smile was boyish and engaging.
"Mystery," he said, taking her hand and kissing her cheek, "You're here. I'd just about given up on you."
What was she going to say? Her buswas late? Didn't people who sat in the VIP section of concerts have cars? And possibly drivers? Still, she found she didn't want to deceive him completely about who she was.
"My name's not Mystery."
He tilted his head at her, interested.
"It's Paula," she said.
He considered that. And then he smiled. "Do you know what kind of name Paula is?"
Yes, she did. Boring. Plain. A sturdy kind of name, lacking in any kind of glamour.
"It's real. Wholesome. A girl next door kind of name."
Somehow, the way he said that, as if real was some kind of a delightful and rare concoction made her feel brave, though not quite brave enough to admit she had come on a bus. But brave enough to give him another detail.
"Hardly a girl," she said. "I'm thirty-four."
He laughed. "The girl next door doesn't have a single thing to do with age."
And then she found she wasn't brave enough to reveal how not girl next door she was: pregnant at seventeen, married to a foreign exchange student, whisked away from her home country with no education, divorced six years later, now a single mother to two teenage children.
"So," Noah said, turning and looking at Rosenborg. "You lost your slipper last night. Is this castle what every Cinderella dreams of?"
She slid him a look. He could easily fit the role of a prince.
"I told you last night, I don't believe in that. And as you saw, the shoe didn't fit."
"And yet here we are, looking at a castle," he pointed out.
"Well, not to buy!"
"I might consider purchasing it for the right princess." Noah laughed, and in the ease of his laughter, she found she was just brave enough to embrace whatever unexpected adventures the day held.
"Cinderella's castle—at least as Disney envisioned it—is based on Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria," Paula told him. "It's not for sale either."
"You aren't what you are saying. Something of an expert on castles, I see. You're sure you are not Cinderella?"
You aren't what you are saying. At some level, did he suspect he was being lied to? She should tell him the truth right now. But why? Paula realized she was being too serious. Noah was here for one day. What could it hurt to pretend to be someone she wasn't just for a little while longer? To live up to her outfit and be playful and fun and sure of herself?
Besides, she loved Rosenborg Castle. She took his hand in hers, and said, "Come on, Prince Charming, I'll show you a castle."
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