“Someone will get that for you.”
“I’m perfectly capable—”
“It’s their job, Nina. Honest. They’re being paid well to carry your bags.”
I shrug. “If you say so.”
Once we’re downstairs, we’re quickly bustled into the waiting car. As we drive down my driveway, my eyes feel as if they’re going to bug out of my face.
“There must be hundreds of them.”
Sebastian takes my hand. I’m grateful that the glass is tinted, and the cameras can’t take photos of us as we crawl past. The driver is careful not to hit anyone.
“They all appeared overnight.”
“They came around two in the morning,” Sebastian says.
“How do you know? You were with me.”
“Charles briefed me this morning,” he says.
“I need to let Christian know.”
I pull out my phone, but Sebastian shakes his head.
“I already spoke with him, as well. He knows what’s going on, and Brad has extra security watching their house. I’m so sorry this happened, Nina.”
“It’s not your fault.” I sit back, relieved when the car is able to pick up the pace, driving faster to the airport.
“Charles is leaving four men behind to watch your house,” Sebastian says. “They’ll be staying there. I’m sorry, it can’t be avoided. You just don’t have enough security to leave it unoccupied.”
“I figured that would happen. I’ll work on building a better security plan later.”
“No need, miss,” Charles says from the front seat. “We will take care of it for you.”
I glance at Sebastian in surprise. He just smiles.
“THAT WAS THE fastest flight of my life,” Nina murmurs beside me and then takes a deep breath.
“It was actually a short flight, compared to commercial flights to Europe,” I reply and smile when she looks up at me. Her eyes are a bit glassy—from exhaustion or fear, I’m not sure which.
“No one even asked for my passport.”
“No, darling.” I kiss her fingers and rest our hands on my thigh. Charles is sitting up with the driver, and it’s important that we look like a couple in love.
Not to mention, I quite enjoy touching her.
“I’ve read all of the articles,” she mutters as if to herself. “It’s going to be fine.”
It’s going to be fine.
But these first few days will be rough. I wish I could protect her from the scrutiny of my family’s gaze. The staff. The public.
They won’t like that Nina’s American. And they certainly won’t like that I’m marrying her. If it were my youngest brother, Callum, it wouldn’t matter as much. He’s third in line for the throne, so he can marry pretty much anyone he chooses.
As for the heir? Well, there are different rules.
And I’m about to upset the entire applecart.
“Have you been to London before?” I ask Nina, hoping to get her to relax a bit.
“Sure,” she says. “I’ve been several times with Christian, mostly for movie premieres. I haven’t had a chance to really explore much, though. It’s a beautiful city.”
“I’ll show it to you,” I reply. “I can get some behind-the-scenes tours.”
“I should hope so,” she says with a laugh. “What’s the point in reigning over everything the eye can see if there aren’t some perks?”
She’s about to discover that I have more perks than just being able to roam around the Tower of London whenever I please.
We arrive at the palace, and the gates open to allow the cars through. There is a vehicle ahead of us and behind us, both full of security.
Tourists line the thirty-foot-tall fence, taking photos and hoping to get a glimpse of a member of the royal family.
The king’s flag flies on top of the palace, signaling that he’s in residence. If he’s gone, either traveling or at one of the other palaces, the country’s flag flies instead.
“We’ll go to my flat to freshen up,” I inform Charles, who nods silently. Charles has always been a stern man, but he seems especially angry with me now. I know he feels like I’m putting myself at risk. He doesn’t just take his job seriously, he cares about my entire family and me.
When the car stops behind a rock wall, keeping us hidden from prying eyes, I lead Nina into the palace and down the long hallway to my home.
“There are five flats in the palace,” I inform her. “One for me and each of my siblings and another for my parents. Then there are public areas, open to tours when we’re not in residence. We also host parties here, entertain heads of state, that sort of thing.”
“It’s enormous,” she says, her eyes roaming over paintings of ancestors long dead, tapestries, and rugs.
Each piece has a story, of course.
“We’re in here.” I open the door to my quarters and glance back at Charles. “We’re fine. I’ll meet with you later.”
“Sir.” He bows his head and then marches off, speaking into a device as he goes.
“This is your apartment?”