She did it. In the most civilized coup in history, Sofia took the crown from her twin and became the queen of Vallia overnight. Her dethroned brother made statements of support and regret for his scandal and disappeared.
Sofia made her first proclamation as queen, setting a tone of calm and order and a new, bright future for Vallia.
Laszlo was so filled with pride for her, he was sick with it. He was also anguished by the way they’d parted, tortured by the things he had said and the things he hadn’t. Did she think he blamed her for choosing her destiny over what he offered? Because it belatedly struck him that he hadn’t offered her anything.
He was in such a foul mood, Igor only came to him with the most pressing of matters. As he presented a handful of reports one afternoon, Igor quietly asked, “The Queen’s Foundation gala in Vallia, sir? You’d asked me to make room in your schedule and prepare for your attendance. It’s this weekend.”
Laszlo had texted Igor about the event while he’d been abed with Sofia that night in Madrid. In their sex-drunk midnight naivety, they had thought it would be the perfect venue to step out as a romantic couple. Her brother’s exposure had ruined that. Aside from signing a letter on presidential letterhead that pledged his country’s recognition of her new standing, Laszlo hadn’t been in touch with her.
There was nothing to be gained by seeing her, he reminded himself, except to appease this monster of a craving that was eating him alive.
He tried to think of someone he could take as a date and was immediately repulsed by the idea. Eventually he settled on a woman who worked with a mental health organization here in Presovia, since the foundation, which had been started by Sofia’s mother, benefited mental health causes.
Laszlo made it clear this would be a networking opportunity for her and a cause he wished to support. His mother had had depression after his father’s death and had never quite recovered.
Aside from his security detail, he paid for the trip out of pocket so he couldn’t be accused of misusing government funds, not that he had unlimited disposable cash. What money he’d earned and invested during his previous life as a lawyer was held in trust until his political career was over.
That difference of wealth between him and Sofia was another reason they had no future and why he knew this trip was a mistake. But he hadn’t appreciated how painful it would be to see her. Or how agonizing it would be to see her see him with another woman.
“Mr. President.” Sofia was magnificent in a gown her mother had made famous shortly after becoming queen. Its color was a rich wine red with silver embroidery. A tiara sparkled in the complex arrangement of her hair. Matching diamonds dangled from her ears and encircled her throat.
There Laszlo saw the shock and pain he caused her. The tendons in her neck flexed as though she had taken a mortal blow.
“Please introduce me to your date.”
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