Home > oyally Endowed (Royally #3)(12)

oyally Endowed (Royally #3)(12)
Author: Emma Chase

To keep myself from committing a capital offense, I volunteer, “I’ll watch her, Your Highness. I’m on shift all night, and Prince Nicholas wanted to make sure I looked after Ellie.”

His eyes dart to me then back to Ellie.

“I don’t know . . .”

Ellie raises her head, her crying jag finished for now, then stumbles up next to me and wraps herself around my arm—sighing against it, smelling it, practically humping it.

“You can leave me with Logan, Henry. He’s my hero.”

Henry cocks his head suspiciously. “Is that so?”

“Totally.” Ellie sighs, petting my arm. “My pretty, pissed-off guardian angel.”

Jesus Christ.

The blond prince holds my eyes—judging my worth—the way men do. I don’t look away; I don’t blink. After a moment, Henry nods, smacks his palms on the arm of the sofa and hoists himself up.

“Well, that’s good enough for me.”

Ellie claps her hands.

“Yay!”

And almost falls into the fireplace.

I guide her into an antique chair.

Henry makes a show of bowing to Ellie, picking up her hand and kissing the back.

She giggles. “Thank you for tonight.”

He drops down to his knee. “Did you have fun—the best time of your whole life? I have a reputation to uphold, you know.”

Ellie nods, all giddy and loose-limbed.

“It was the very best! I love it here and you’re going to be an awesome king.”

And a strange look falls over Henry’s face. Sad, wistful. “You’re a good-hearted girl, Ellie. You should leave this place as soon as you can.”

The next time he blinks, that jester’s smile is back in place. Henry holds out his fist. “Welcome to the family, sweets.”

Ellie tries to fist-bump back . . . but misses and almost pops Henry right in the nose.

Laughing, Henry holds Ellie’s wrist and taps their fists together.

Then he stands, nods in my direction, loops his arm around the lady and strides out of the room.

“Hey Logan?”

“Yes?”

“When’s your birthday?”

“June seventh.”

“Oh.”

“Hey Logan?”

“Mmm?”

“How old are you?”

I answer without thinking. “Twenty-three.”

“Huh.”

It’s been going this way for half an hour. Ellie sits on the paisley antique sofa, staring into the empty fireplace, with me beside her. I took her shoes off a while ago but she’s made no move towards the bed. It’s better for her to sit upright anyway.

“Hey Logan?”

“Aye?”

“What’s your favorite color?”

“I don’t have one.”

“Everyone has one.”

“Blue.”

“Light or dark blue?”

Again, I answer without thought. “Light blue.”

Blearily, Ellie turns her head to me, her long lashes blinking slowly.

“My eyes are light blue.”

My mind stutters for just a moment.

“So they are.”

In the time I’ve known Ellie Hammond, been near her, I’ve tended to look everywhere but at her—that’s the job. But at this moment, just a few inches away, there’s nothing to see except her.

And so, I look.

Her neck is elegant, her shoulders straight and small-boned. Her skin is smooth and creamy, with a natural rosy flush to her cheeks. Her brows are fair and arched, her eyes round and deep-set—intelligent with a touch of mischievousness. And she has freckles . . . an adorable dusting of light freckles kissing the bridge of her dainty nose.

“Hey Logan?”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t feel so good.”

And there it is. I’ve been expecting this.

“Yeah. Don’t worry. As soon as you puke your stomach inside out, you’ll be feeling loads better.”

Her petite features scrunch. “That doesn’t sound like fun.”

“No.”

For a few moments, the only sound in the room is Ellie’s quick, harsh breaths.

And then, “Hey Logan?”

“Yes?”

“Where’s the bathroom?”

She covers her mouth and her whole body convulses in a heave. Quickly, I lift under her arms, helping her stand, and guide her to the loo. As she steps over the threshold, she lurches towards the open toilet, hands braced on the seat, and a deluge of rejected alcohol spews from her stomach.

I gather the strands of her hair and hold them back, rubbing gentle circles between her shoulder blades and murmuring reassuring words. Though I don’t make a habit of it, I’ve been where she is—more than once—and it’s god-awful.

After another few rounds, it seems her stomach is finally empty. I pass Ellie a ball of tissues and she coughs, wiping her mouth and resting back against the wall.

I reach over to flush the toilet and Ellie groans.

“Don’t—it’s so gross. I’m so gross.”

“Stop,” I chide—because she’s ridiculous.

After a time, she leans her head my way, still covering her mouth with the tissues. “Can you hand me my toothbrush and toothpaste, please? And a glass of water.”

I nod, doing as she asks. Ellie’s toothbrush is light pink—the same color as the paint on her toes and fingernails. After she brushes and rinses her mouth, I put the items next to the sink.

“Can you manage the walk to the bed or do you want me to carry you?”

She closes her eyes with a grimace.

“I can do it.”

I help her off the floor, holding her steady as she teeters across the room. “It’s hot.” She moans. “I’m so hot.”

Then she steps back and wiggles out of the snug silk gown, letting it pool around her feet, standing in nothing but tiny cream knickers and a matching lace bra. I avert my eyes, but not before the image of smooth legs, flat stomach, a snug heart-shaped arse and perky perfect breasts are branded permanently onto my brain.

Ellie’s nipples are dusky pink—an exquisite deep mauve—and part of me feels like a filthy bastard for knowing that.

Another part . . . feels something different entirely.

My throat convulses in a swallow because for the first time, Ellie Hammond doesn’t seem like a girl to me at all.

She crawls onto the large bed, her fine arse in the air, and collapses in the center. I grasp the edge of the blanket sitting at the foot of the bed and fold it over, covering her—for both our sakes.

“Hey Logan?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you lie down with me?”

Lie down with a half-naked woman who’s looked at me more than once like I’m an ice-cream cone she can’t wait to lick up and down? What could go wrong?

Henry’s damning eyes glare at me from inside my mind. “I don’t think . . .”

“Please—just hold my hand,” she begs, and her voice is so small. “If you’re holding onto me, you’ll stop the spinning.”

And it’s like I’m being wrenched in two—pulled in two different directions. The numb, hardened, calloused side tells me to say no, that this is a dangerous, fucking pointless move. But the other, more youthful side—that’s tender and impractical—wants to give this girl anything she wants.

Ellie moans softly and she looks so pretty and miserable, I can’t deny her.

I slide onto the bed and lie on my back, staring at the golden swirls in the fabric canopy above us, counting sheep and reciting the steps to assembling a rifle—anything to distract me from the tempting forbidden fruit beside me.

Ellie tugs her arm out from under the cover, reaching for me, and I don’t hesitate to engulf her small, soft hand with my rough one.

“Thank you.” She sighs, her closed eyelids relaxing just a bit.

She shifts closer, resting our joined hands on my stomach, pressing her soft, supple little body against mine. My cock stiffens, stirs.

Down, boy, I tell the savage beast.

“Go to sleep now,” I say quietly. “I’m right here.”

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