I spend the day with Livvy and Sarah getting beautified, a perk of living at the royal residence where the glamor squad makes palace calls. Our hair is washed and blown out, our nails are filed and painted, we’re waxed and plucked within an inch of our lives. And then, at seven sharp, we meet at the grand palace staircase for pictures.

Sarah wears a red strapless ball gown, stunning, with her hair pinned up in countless shiny curls. Henry, looking strikingly handsome in a formal tuxedo with tails, can’t take his eyes off her.

Olivia, with her big, round, beautiful belly, looks gorgeous in an emerald green, one shoulder chiffon gown paired with simple—and cushiony—nude flats. Nicholas insisted, because he didn’t want her feet to hurt.

The palace has commissioned famed photographer, Jillian Sabal, to take posed and candid shots of the royal family. Logan’s late, so I try to call, but the call goes to voicemail. I send him texts but he doesn’t answer. My anxiety grows as pictures are taken at the staircase without him. My disappointment is devastating. While he wouldn’t have been included in the portrait shots, I thought we’d get to take one or two pictures of just me and him—and they would’ve been so amazing.

Where is he?

Then it’s time for the receiving line, and the ball is starting without him.

And I get this horrible, sick sinking feeling in my stomach. Because he’s been so on edge lately, strained and unhappy. There’s a tiny whisper of worry that maybe something happened to him, an accident or an injury—but deep down I know that’s not true.

I text him again. I call five more times. I don’t worry about looking desperate because this is Logan—we don’t play games. At least, I didn’t think we did.

I watch the ballroom entrance, hoping he’ll appear, because I’m a hopeful person.

And it’s only after an hour of dancing, when the white-gloved waiters serve the perfect, elegantly plated dinner, that my hope disintegrates and my disappointment starts to heat, boil—turn to anger.

Because Logan isn’t coming.

When we pull up to the house, it seems deserted, quiet and dark, even though he has electricity now. There’s a black SUV in the driveway that belongs to the security guards, and two guys I don’t recognize sit inside the vehicle. They nod to James as he closes the car door behind me. When he moves to lead me up the path, I stop him, because I don’t want an audience for this.

I find him in the kitchen, sitting in the dark, at the table we found at a flea market two days ago. His shirt is open, unbuttoned, and a black tuxedo tie hangs loose around his neck.

And I don’t know what I feel, because it’s like I feel everything at once. For the first time since I met him, my hero looks lost, my guardian angel has a broken wing. And I want to mend him, save him the way he’s always saved me. I want to love him until he feels found.

But there are other emotions too—the stab of hurt, the sting of humiliation, the sharp slap of anger.

“What’s going on, Logan?”

He doesn’t look at me, but just continues to stare hard at the half-empty bottle of liquor in front of him.

“I’m a fool. I look like a fool.”

I move closer, close enough to smell the aroma of whiskey floating around him. “That’s not true. That could never be true.”

He lifts his finger, correcting me. “I would’ve felt like a fool if I’d shown up to the fancy ball with you tonight.”


He raises his hand toward the door. “It’s in all the papers. I’m the fucking East Amboy bodyguard who’s pounding the princess’s sister to become a pampered royal. I have guards around my house because I’m incapable of protecting myself. Or you.”

“I don’t care what they say, and neither should you. They lie. They lie all the time about Nicholas and Olivia and Henry. They’ve lied about me too—you know that.”

He shakes his head. “It feels different to be the person they’re lying about. All I ever wanted was to be a part of something bigger than me—and I’m not a part of anything now.”

I try not to flinch. Because he doesn’t see that he’s a part of me, a part of us.

“You said you were all right with it,” I remind him.

“I know what I said!”

“You said you knew what you signed up for when you came to my room that night.”

I hate how my voice sounds—whiney and immature.

“It’s not just about that. It’s also about you. The Queen was right, Ellie.”

“Right about what?”

“About all you’re giving up.”

“Giving up?”

“Castles and carriages. The fairy tale your sister has. I’ll never be able to give you that—you’ll be settling for less. It’s important that you understand that now, not five years down the road when you resent me for it.”

I stare at the wall, because if I look at his face, I’ll cry. And I want to be strong. Angry. I’ve never been any good at angry, but I give it my best shot.

“Fuck you, Logan. Is that who you think I am? Is that what you think is important to me?”

“I’m just trying to look at it from all angles. Prepare. It’s easier for you. Being related to the royal family is a good thing; no one looks down on you for it.”

“It could be a good thing for both of us.”

His face tightens, anger pierces the soulful eyes that I love so much.

“I make my own way. I look out for myself and everyone around me; I always have. To think people will look at me like some pussy gold digger, like some fucking twat who’s using you, makes me sick. Makes me want to kill someone—I can’t stand it.”

The vehemence in his voice shocks me. Logan’s only ever spoken to me carefully, kindly. To hear him talk with so much . . . disgust . . . well . . . it fucking hurts.

“Were you even going to show up tonight? Or call? Or were you planning to leave me hanging without a word?”

Unbearable silence follows my question. And answers it.

“That’s a dick move, Logan.”

He stares at the bottle on the table. “I’m sorry. I meant to go and then I was getting dressed and looked at myself in the mirror and just . . . couldn’t.” He exhales. “I need time to figure out what my life looks like now. Where I go from here.”

“We can figure it out together,” I try.

But he says nothing. And it feels like my chest is caving in.

Because he needs “time.” And we all know what that means.

“Are you . . . are you breaking up with me?”

There’s the slightest pause—and in that half-a-second my sorrow is so immense I can’t breathe. It like I’m drowning.

Then Logan throws me a lifeline.

“No, Ellie.” He gets up from the chair, swaying a bit, and moves closer to me. “No, I’m not. I just—”

I remember, from all those years with my dad, the stinging sensation of not being wanted. The echo of that rejection seeps into my bones and makes my insides curdle. I remember how it feels to love someone who wishes he didn’t have to look at you, or talk to you.

It feels just like this.

“Okay, Batman—you brood it out on your own in the Bat Cave. I’m gonna go.”

“That’s not—”

But I’m already rushing for the door.

When I pull it open, he’s there behind me—his hand pushing it closed.

“That’s not what this is.” I feel his other hand on my shoulder, his warm, hard chest against my back, his voice in my ear—scraping and sorry. “You are everything a man could want, Ellie—everything I want. This is on me. I just . . . I have to work it out in my head.”

I nod sharply. “Yeah, so you said. You let me know when you’ve done that.”

I pull on the door again, but it doesn’t budge. Because he’s so fucking strong and it pisses me off too.

“Ellie, I’m—”

“Let me out! I should be able to go if I want.” My voice rises. “You don’t get to keep me here just because you can!”

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