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And then I realize I’ve been staring at him for several beats, and when I lift my gaze back to his face, he’s watching me, and I realize that he may not have understood that I was mentally composing a text message to my best friend about how disappointing he is.

In fact, he might think—

I can’t even finish the thought before Seb is letting go of the bedpost and moving toward me with the same grace I’d admired earlier. There’s no time to admire now, however, as he immediately swoops down on me, his lips meeting mine.

Chapter 11

He must take my gasp of surprise for an invitation because he is full-on kissing me immediately. No lead-up, no questioning, just a royal tongue in my mouth, and oh my god.

I place both hands on his chest and shove hard.

Seb lets me go immediately, stumbling back a few steps, his brow furrowed. “What?” he asks, and I stand there, gaping, the taste of whiskey—which, turns out, I really don’t like—still stinging in my mouth.

“You kissed me,” I tell him, and he nods, even as he keeps looking at me like I’m speaking another language.

“I did . . . yeah,” he says slowly. “Because you were looking at me in such a way that seemed to indicate you’d be amenable to such a thing.”

I am shocked and still a little jet-lagged, so it takes me a second to work out that sentence, and when I do, my face heats up.

“I was not amenable,” I assure him, wrapping my little blanket cape more tightly around myself. “I was looking at you and thinking you weren’t really what I expected.”

That seems to take some of the wind out of his sails. Backing up a few more steps, he sits heavily on the edge of the bed, the whiskey bottle still dangling from one hand. He hadn’t even put it down to kiss me.

“Not. What you. Expected,” he says, shoulders slumping, and for a second, I feel kind of bad. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

“You’re still really good-looking if it’s any consolation,” I offer up, and he raises his head, smiling a little.

“It is, thanks.” Then he sighs again before bringing the bottle back to his lips.

“Sorry,” he says once he’s finished, and wow, that bottle is a lot emptier than it was a few minutes ago. His eyes are starting to look hazy, too, not quite as bright as they struggle to focus on my face. “I only . . . that interview. With your sodding boyfriend.”

I stare at him. “Michael?” I squeak. Somehow, it never occurred to me that someone like Seb would actually read that. I understood people who worked for the royal family, people whose job it was to keep an eye on that kind of thing, knowing about it, but the actual prince?

“He said you dumped him to shag me,” Seb goes on, and I would throw my hands up if I wasn’t clutching the blanket so tightly.

“He was lying,” I said, but Seb isn’t really listening.

“Besides,” he adds, “it’s what everyone expects.”

He gestures between the two of us, the bottle wobbling in his hand. “You and me. Alex’s brother, Ellie’s sister. And people bloody love Ellie, so now they bloody love Alex.”

His blue eyes move up and down my body again, and I’m pulling the blanket so tightly around me, it’s a wonder I still have circulation in my arms.

“So maybe people will love you, and if I loved you—well, not loved, exactly, but you get the idea—that would mean they love me.”

He frowns, a trio of creases appearing between his auburn brows. “I said love too many times, I think.”

“People totally love you,” I say. “Maybe not random farmers your friends try to duel, but back home, you’re pretty freaking popular, dude.”

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