Home > Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(10)

Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(10)
Author: Erin Watt

Blanching, Hartley picks up her water bottle and takes a nervous sip. “Seriously, this is dumb. Why are they staring?”

I shrug. “I’m a Royal.”

“Lucky you.”

“Is that sarcasm I detect?”

“Absolutely,” she says cheerfully.

Rolling my eyes, I swipe her water from her hand and take a long swig. I hear an audible gasp from Claire’s direction. Okay, my ex needs to chill. Like really.

“Sounds like you’re the one with the bad breakup,” Hartley murmurs, still pretending to read her book.

“It wasn’t at the time. We both agreed we weren’t interested.”

“So why is she offended you’re drinking out of my water bottle?”

“I guess she forgot that she was tired of my shit?”

This generates a choked laugh from Hartley. “What’d you do? Sleep around?”

“Nah. I think I didn’t pay much attention to her. She mentioned something about me being a bad boyfriend.”

“Nothing that comes out of your mouth convinces me you’d be a good one.”

“Ouch.” I pass the bottle back to Hartley. “I probably just need more practice.”

“Pass.”

“You ever have a boyfriend?” I ask, genuinely curious. Hartley’s more tight-lipped about her past than a clam out of water.

“Yes, I’ve had a boyfriend.” She lays her book down and takes a swig of water.

“What happened? He dick you over? You got tired of him? Got too busy? What?”

She leans forward, her eyes narrow. “What does it matter?”

“I’m curious.”

A voice clears behind me. I ignore it. “You’re interesting, and I’d like to know more about you.”

The throat clearing gets louder. Hartley’s eyes widen, and the corner of her mouth tips up. “I think someone wants your attention.”

“I’m having a conversation with you.”

“Easton.” Footsteps close in on me, and then Claire’s fingers curve over my shoulder. “Didn’t you hear me?”

I swallow a sigh. Manners, I remind myself. “Yeah, but I’m having a conversation—”

“I’m done. You can have my seat.” Hartley stands up and waves at her chair.

Claire beams. “Thank you.”

“Wait a sec.” I grab for Hartley’s wrist, but she steps out of reach. Annoyed, I turn to Claire. “Hartley and I need a moment.”

“We really don’t,” Hartley says. A second later, she skips away.

“We aren’t done.” I hop up and hurry after Hartley.

Behind me, Claire calls out my name again. I keep walking. I ignore the amused glances of Ella and the others. I’m focused solely on Hartley, who I manage to catch at the entrance to the dining hall.

“It’s cruel of you to leave me alone with Claire,” I joke. “Don’t you have a heart?”

Hartley rubs a finger along her forehead, and I notice a thin white line on her left wrist. It looks like a surgical scar. Must’ve been a real bad break if she needed surgery for it.

“Here’s the deal, Easton. I don’t like being the center of attention and clearly you do.” She gestures toward the crowd of faces turned in our direction. “I’m trying to lay low this year. I don’t want—and can’t afford—to have all this attention pointed at me.”

The cryptic statement summons a frown. “Why not?”

“Because,” is all she says.

But she doesn’t move away.

I edge closer.

Still, she doesn’t move. It’s as if her feet are stuck to the floor.

I lower my head until my nose is inches from the top of her adorable ear.

I’m so close that I can feel the heat of her skin right through the starchy material of her skirt. My fingers find her wrist. Her pulse is beating wildly. Or maybe it’s me.

She smells fantastic, fruity and fresh. I want to shove my nose against her neck and breathe her in. And then maybe lick my way up her jaw until I reach her pouty lips. Then I’d lick those, too, before sliding my tongue in her mouth.

And now I have a hard-on in the middle of the cafeteria.

Hartley’s gaze lowers to where my hand is touching hers. “Royal,” she warns.

“Mmm?” I’m too distracted by how dark her hair is, how it curls so neatly around her ear. The image of Hartley’s hair hanging like a curtain around my face flashes through my head, and I almost groan out loud.

“There’s no way you don’t feel this,” I say, my voice sounding low and husky to my ears.

Her eyes widen slightly. “Feel what?”

The heat. The I-want-you-so-bad rush that’s jolting through me right now.

“This,” I mutter, and before I can stop myself, I move even closer.

My mouth zeroes in on hers.

I hear several gasps this time. A flurry of whispers. I ignore them. I’m fixated on Hartley. Two more inches and our lips will touch. One more inch and my tongue will be in her mouth. Half an inch and—

Something cold and wet soaks my face.

I jerk back in surprise, one hand reaching up to touch my cheek. Water?

For chrissake, she just dumped the entire contents of her water bottle over my head.

“What the hell!” I say in outrage.

Hartley looks as mad as I feel. “You’re such an asshole,” she hisses.

My jaw falls open. “Me? You’re the one who threw water at me!”

“I just told you I don’t want the attention and you tried to kiss me in front of the whole school! But you don’t care what anyone else wants, right, Easton? Only what you want matters, because you’re a Royal, remember?”

She slaps my hand away, and I watch in dismay as she storms off.

“Easton?” a plaintive voice says.

I drop my head against the doorframe. Fucking great. I can’t get rid of my ex, and I keep alienating the girl I want. My senior year isn’t going the way I thought it would.

Not at all.

Chapter 6

“Do you think I’m an asshole?” I ask later that night. Glum, I poke one of the apples on the counter as I watch Ella slice one up for me.

“What kind of question is that?” She drops the slices into a bowl and slides it down the counter.

“So the answer is yes?”

“Of course not.” She pushes on her tiptoes and pats me on the head, like I’m a little puppy. I don’t like that feeling—the one that makes me wonder if Ella thinks I’m five years old.

“Why do you treat me like I’m a kid when I’m three months older than you?”

“Because you act like one.”

“I do not.”

“Yes, you do. You totally act like a little kid.”

I bristle. “Is that why you never saw me like you saw Reed? Because I’m a little kid?” I might’ve been Ella’s first Royal, but Reed has always been first in her heart. And that bugs me.

Everyone’s always loved me best. Mom, girls at school. Hell, old ladies get stars in their eyes any time I come into their orbit. Reed’s face wears a perpetual scowl and Gideon never had the time of day for anyone but Savannah Montgomery. I’m the golden child, yet lately I keep losing.

I catch a reflection of myself in the glass cupboard. I’m still as good-looking as ever. I’m charming and hilarious. My body could be on the cover of a magazine, partly thanks to good genes, but I work on it, too—lifting and football. Claire can’t stop chasing after me and it’s been ages since we went out.

Nah, I haven’t lost it. Ella got hooked by Reed early on for some inexplicable reason, and Hartley Wright just has a rod up her ass. She’s antisocial.

“I’m not a kid,” I mutter.

Ella sighs. “Okay, what’s really going on here? Is everything all right?”

I avoid her concerned gaze. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Are you sure? Because you’ve looked bummed ever since that girl dumped water on your head at lunch—what’s her name again?”

I manage a half-hearted grin. “Hartley, and I’m not bummed about that. I’m Easton Royal and the world’s my oyster. Besides, she’ll come around eventually.” I pinch her cheek. “Gotta go, little sis. Don’t wait up for me tonight.”

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