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Royal Date

By´╝ÜSariah Wilson




“A little light reading?” His accent was faint, and I couldn’t quite place it. Italian-ish. But I didn’t care enough to ask. I felt him standing next to my stuffed armchair, hovering, and sighed. What was it with European men? American guys didn’t give me the time of day. But over here I was like some kind of dude catnip.

I didn’t take my eyes off of my book. “Sorry, not interested.”

He moved away from me, sitting in an armchair next to mine. Well, I suppose this was what I got for hanging out in the lodge’s lobby. I should have stayed in my room until my best friend, Lemon, was ready to leave.

“You’re not interested in Shakespeare?” he asked. I could hear the amusement in his voice.

“I’m not interested in you.”

“Why not?” This guy just could not take a hint. I turned to look at him, ready to tell him off, and nearly choked.

Gorgeous was an understatement. Tall, athletic, high cheekbones, black hair, and blue eyes. Like Superman’s hotter Italian cousin. He was dressed for a day of skiing—a black turtleneck with an unzipped royal-blue winter coat. And he topped it off with a smile, a blinding, unbelievable smile that nearly did me in.

He leaned in conspiratorially, and I got a whiff of his cologne. He smelled as good as he looked. His glacier-blue eyes were full of intensity and fun, and I wanted to sit and stare into them all day. “I’ve been told I’m very charming.”

I didn’t doubt it. I would never have admitted it out loud, but I was very charmed. Like I was the snake and he was playing a hypnotizing tune that only I could hear.

And I didn’t like the way that made me feel.

Plus, I had to consider reality in this situation. No way could this guy really be hitting on me. He probably dated supermodels and I . . . didn’t date at all. Like, ever. He was so out of my league.

I’d never been so tongue-tied before. I was typically handy with the quips and comebacks. But I couldn’t respond. I had to look away from him and back at my book. The words on the page swam around in front of me, and I was unable to focus on a single one. I needed him to leave so I could regain my equilibrium. “Nothing personal. Italian men don’t do it for me.”

I was the lyingest liar who ever lied.

“How fortunate for me then that I am Monterran.” He had a deep, rumbly, smooth voice that felt like honey and laughter mixed together. I wasn’t immune, and he hadn’t been kidding. He really was disgustingly charming.

My mouth twitched, wanting to smile. I turned a page, pretending to be entranced. I was on Christmas break, I reminded myself. I was here in Monterra to ski with Lemon. It was the last time we would be together before getting our master’s degrees in a few months. I had priorities and plans, and SuperHottie was not on the list.

And if I were being truly honest—he kind of scared me. A guy like that would have expectations, and I wasn’t like other girls.

“I’m Nico, by the way.”

“That’s nice for you.”

But he again failed to parse out the subtext here (and I wasn’t being very subtextual). Short of blatantly telling him to get lost, what else could I do? Would I have to be rude? Because instead of realizing that I was a lost cause, he laughed. He laughed and it did funny things to my insides. I wanted to laugh with him. And crawl into his lap and beg him to be mine.

“And you are?” he prompted.

“Still not interested.” It was becoming a bigger lie as time passed. If some other guy had pursued me this way, I would have thought it was creepy and called for security to have him escorted off the mountain. Instead, I secretly hoped he would keep talking to me.

I thought he’d finally gotten the message as an entire minute of silence passed between us before he reached over to look at my book’s spine to see the title. I gulped in response—his hands were large and masculine, and I wondered how his long fingers would feel interlaced with mine.

I shook my head and let out a shaky breath. I had gone seriously crazy. Like jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch crazy.

“Macbeth? I would have guessed Romeo and Juliet.”

I couldn’t help myself. I had to look at him. “Two fifteen-year-olds who kill themselves in the name of love after only knowing each other for three days? No thanks.”

That smile. He was killing me. “You don’t find it romantic?”

“I don’t find anything romantic about suicide.”

“You don’t think love at first sight is romantic?” he persisted.

I’d never believed such a thing possible before this moment, but now I was sort of getting where Romeo had been coming from. Nico was literally the most handsome man I’d ever met in real life. If anyone could convince me to believe in love at first sight, he was the guy.

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