"This next room," Paula said lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "was previously called The Secret, but I'm going to let you in on what it is, since most modern princes appreciate this feature in their castle. Maybe even demand it."
Noah laughed when he saw the secret was a toilet room. Paula was, hands down, the best tour guide he had ever experienced. She had obviously been to the four-hundred-year-old castle many times.
"You'll be happy to know the drain leads directly to the moat. We've had a wet spring which keeps the worst of the unpleasant odors under control."
Noah looked around like a hard-to-please prospective buyer. "I don't know," he said. "It looks like it needs a major renovation."
"What?" she said with mock and snobby horror, her green eyes dancing with laughter, "Those blue-and-white tiles date back to the most recent refurbishment."
"How recent?" he asked, enjoying playing discerning client to her salesperson.
"1705," she said.
"Throne room needs renovation," he said, taking out his phone and pretending to make a note. They both snickered with enjoyment.
"And now, Prince Charming, we have the grand finale on today's castle tour. We'll head to the Treasury, where you may inspect the Danish Crown Jewels."
"Do they come with?"
"Currently, I don't think they are included in the asking price, but you know, anything can be negotiated."
"Anything?" he asked, his voice low. His eyes slid to the plumpness of her bottom lip. She actually blushed, just as she had last night, and just like last night, he was charmed by it.
But her voice was low, too, when she responded, "Anything."
Noah thought of the taste of Paula's lips last night as the fireworks had gone off around them. He thought, oddly, of how her foot had felt in his hand, dainty and fragile. He felt a sudden need, white-hot, to taste her lips again.
He leaned toward her. She leaned toward him.
His phone picked that moment to jangle noisily.
"I thought I had turned that off," he said.
"You'd better take that," she replied, and he could not help but notice the relief, mingled with disappointment, in her eyes, that the moment had been interrupted.
Manda had texted a photo of a British tabloid's front page.
The article included the very same picture that Manda had sent him, plus a few cozier ones of her and Brad, so he had no doubt the tabloid's source was the publicity-hungry Manda, herself.
But he had played his hand rather well, because they had, just as he had foreseen, published a sidebar. With a picture of Noah and Paula, obviously having way too much fun at the concert.
In fact, that photo might have been taken right after they had kissed, the fireworks going off in the background, both of them with slightly dazed looks of pure and wondrous discovery on their faces.
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