"Excuse me for just a sec," Noah said, wagging his phone at Paula. He told himself he needed to have a closer look at that picture of him and Paula. It felt as if it was revealing a secret and not one that had anything to do with Christian IV's toilet room!
But once he had moved away, he wasn't sure he was ready to face the secret the photo might have captured. Instead, he looked at the attached newspaper page. The headlines blared conjecture. "Manda Ditches Mogul or Mogul Ditches Manda?"
Really, it was exactly what he had set out to do, and yet suddenly he was annoyed with himself for indulging in the drama. But, on the other hand, if he hadn't, he wouldn't be here with Paula right now. Still, he felt reluctant to share his success at playing make-believe last night with his partner in crime.
He didn't want Manda's world—ironically the real world of make-believe—encroaching on this one.
He suddenly didn't want anything to interfere with the rather charming game of let's get to know one another that he and Paula were playing right now.
Noah powered off his phone and rejoined Paula.
"Is everything okay?" she asked.
The question gave him pause. With each passing minute with her, he was becoming more and more aware of how sensitive she was.
Last night he had tasted sweetness on her lips. His eyes trailed to those lips, and suddenly he wasn't sure if everything was okay.
Because he found himself desperately hoping today's excursion was going to end the same way as last night's had.
But, despite the fact he now knew her name, Paula remained a mystery. A contradiction. Not, he decided, uneasily, the kind of woman a man kissed lightly.
For someone who was wearing no jewelry again today, Paula seemed enchanted by the Treasury, and very familiar with the pieces.
"If you could choose anything in here, what would it be?" he asked her when they had toured the contents of the room. "Asking for a prince who intends to negotiate the baubles into the deal."
"Oh!" she said, "I don't know."
"I bet you do. I bet you have a favorite."
As if she was revealing her deepest secret, Paula led him back to a set that consisted of a necklace, brooch and earrings. It was made of pearls, rubies and diamonds.
"You obviously have great taste," he said quietly, "and you love this room. Why don't you wear jewelry?"
It was a simple question. Why did Paula suddenly look like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight?
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