“Good news, Your Highness. We have located the great-great-granddaughter of Princess Elizabeth Amalia.” Raymond DeBow’s words echoed in the silence of the stately office decorated in rich mahogany and cognac colored woodwork.
“Ah.” The hardly audible rasp worried the Chief of Security as much as the sluggish pose of his sovereign. Slumped into his majestic leather chair, Prince Edward absently stared at the coats of arms adorning the wall, a lion with a crown, between a sword and a cross, and above it the motto of his family encrusted in golden leaves. My Duty Before My Right.
Illness had ravaged the dashing Edward III, Prince of Rensy Island, and reduced him to a pale and gaunt image of himself, coughing and talking with difficulty. Today, no vases of flowers added coziness to the prince’s favorite dwelling. Per order of his doctor, all fragrances had been banished from around the prince to avoid exacerbating his labored breathing. Heavy draperies decorating the tall arched windows added to the gloom of a rainy day on Rensy Island.
Anxious to no end, DeBow leaned over the imposing cherry wood desk for once uncluttered by official papers and lowered his voice to a softer tone. “Her name is Amy. Dr. Amy Elizabeth Tyrone.”
“Fantastic.” Edward pulled himself up and a trembling smile lit his face. “Same name as her ancestor. Good omen.”
“Her father, the descendant of our Rensian princess, died three years ago. The mother, Heather Tyrone, is an American nurse.”
Prince Edward nodded. “Tell me more.”
“There are a few problems. The young woman is a hard-working pediatrician dedicated to her patients and determined to build a career. And she has a boyfriend.”
“Bad.” Irritation crisscrossed Edward’s forehead with deep furrows. “Are they engaged?” Like his grandson Paul, the ruling prince detested being contradicted.
“No engagement. But the hospital staff considers them to be a serious couple.”
“Pfft.” The scowl smoothed and a hint of a smile appeared on his emaciated face. “Wait till she meets our Paul. His charm can go a long way.” The old prince jerked his fingers as if to flick away a speck of dust. “Any other difficulties?”
“Yes. She planned a two week vacation in Paris and—”
“Perfect.” Edward rubbed his hands, his energy returning in spades. “We will allow her a week in Paris, then she should come to Charlesburg. DeBow, contact her mother. Inform her that Amy must claim her inheritance before the hundred-year defect rule applies.”
“What inheritance?” For once taken aback, Raymond arched his eyebrows.
Prince Edward shrugged. “Find something between Charlesburg and the shore, a nice mansion we can use to lure them here.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” Raymond bowed to the prince.
“For the sake of Rensy Island, Paul must marry the descendant of Princess Elizabeth Amalia. The sooner, the better.” The old man slapped the arm of his chair and shoved it back.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Raymond repeated. “I will do everything in my power to fulfill your wishes. We will send the young person an invitation to visit Charlesburg and claim her mansion. Or... or estate?”
“Whatever. Do that, my friend. And do it fast. My days are numbered. We have to secure the future of our beloved country before I meet my maker.”
“We will, Your Highness.” Raymond exhaled loudly. He didn’t need to be reminded that according to the constitution, if the ruling prince died without a direct married heir, England or France could claim the little Channel island. Their country would face a chaotic situation and the residents would lose their exceptional no-tax status and generous healthcare benefits.
“I hope Prince Paul won’t give me hell for interfering in his personal affairs,” Raymond grunted under his breath. He scratched his earlobe, already hearing the young prince’s expletives at his grandfather’s meddling.
“Summon him now,” Prince Edward ordered.
Three hours later, Paul Maxim Devereux, Duke of Clareburn, strode into his grandfather’s office and stopped in front of the huge desk, squinting. “Good God, what happened to you?” His expression fractured with concern at the sight of the frail man half-lying in his chair. “Your Highness, Grandpa.” Paul circled the desk to lower himself on one knee next to the old man. “Why did they hide your worsening condition from me?” He tossed a glare at DeBow. He and his grandfather’s right hand man had never seen eye to eye.
Paul had been traveling in France, Switzerland and Scandinavia for over a month to promote his business and enlist new contracts for his multimillion-dollar/Euro financial investment company. Had he known his dear grandfather’s health was deteriorating so fast, he would have cut short the trip to rush to his side.
Prince Edward patted his grandson’s hand. “There was no need to worry you yet. I still have all my wits about me and can lead our country, but we need your cooperation now.”
“Prince Paul.” DeBow cleared his throat. “I will soon introduce you to the descendant of Princess Elizabeth Amalia. You should date and—”
“Mr. DeBow,” Paul bellowed. “You forget yourself. Whom I date is none of your d… hmm, business.”
“Quiet, Paul,” Edward snapped and closed his eyes, his breath wheezing out. “Don’t take your anger out on DeBow. He is following my orders. As you should, too.” His voice rose and his ruddy cheeks assumed a dangerous purple tinge. “It is time for you to settle down with a respectable bride. A Rensian princess who will help you keep our island safe.” Exhausted by his long tirade, the prince had a fit of coughing.
“Easy, Grandpa. Don’t aggravate your condition.”
“I count on you to do your duty.” The old prince squeezed Paul’s arm. “My Duty Before My Right,” his grandfather recited.
“As if I could ever forget it.” His autocratic grandfather had insisted they drill the family motto into his brain before teaching him to talk. Nothing had changed...although Paul was almost thirty years old. Bitterness invaded his soul. Now Prince Edward wanted to impose his own choice of a bride on Paul.
“I am fed up with seeing tabloid gossip featuring your picture with unsuitable women. Understood?” The sick prince spat the last word at the top of his voice then grasped his chest and collapsed back on his chair.
“Grandpa? Grandpa?” Instantly on alert, Paul scolded himself. He shouldn’t resent his grandfather for trying to shield their country from problems. Prince Edward might not have long to live. “DeBow, call his doctor.”
“I just did,” the Chief of Security answered.
“Will you make an effort and meet her?” Edward groaned when his coughing subsided.
Suppressing his irritation, Paul stared at the old man who had always treated him with love and kindness, if not understanding, and mentally cursed his grandfather’s insistence. “Yes, I will meet the descendant of that princess. Just to please you, Grandpa.” Rensy Island needed him. And his grandfather had the right to die peacefully.
My Duty Before My Right. There was a long way between meeting a prospective bride and marrying her.
My Duty And My Right, Paul amended with a fierce look at the coats of arms.
His duty to protect the future of Rensy Island. His right to fall in love and marry a woman who loved him.
Would it be possible to reconcile the two?
The doorbell chime prompted a happy smile on Amy Tyrone’s face. For a change, her boyfriend was five minutes early, rather than his usual ten minutes late. A last glance at the small round table adorned with a vase of three red roses and white baby’s breath reassured her of a fun evening and a happy turning point in her life and Scott’s.
Oh God the candles. Amy had almost forgotten them. She cracked the lighter and touched the flame to the two wicks. Satisfied by the cozy ambiance and the flowery scent floating in her living room, she strode to the door, and on her way tossed a look at the hallway mirror. All was perfect, hair, lipstick, dress, and of course the dinner and wine.
Amy opened the door wide, ready to throw herself into Scott’s arms.
Her smile fell. “Mom?” Rooted in place, she almost blocked the entrance. “How come...?”
“Hi sweetie. Incredible news.” Puffing with excitement, Heather Tyrone kissed Amy’s cheek and eased inside the living room. “I just couldn’t break it to you on the phone. Listen to this—”
“Can we talk later?” Amy had trouble keeping her feet from stomping the floor.
“Just let me tell you about—”
“Not now. Scott will be here any time.”
“Ah.” Her mother glanced at the table decked out with a red tablecloth and new fancy blue and yellow plates, and she arched a dubious eyebrow. “Your super-duper Dr. Scott Pratt?”
“Mom, stop. Scott loves me and I love him.”
“If you say so. I hope he deserves this romantic dinner. Is he going to propose tonight?”
“He may.” I hope. “Anyway, tonight we’ll be celebrating the end of my residency in Pediatrics and his new appointment to attending surgeon. For your information, he’s agreed to come to Paris with me for a two-week vacation.”
“Great. I can’t wait to congratulate you.” Her mother’s plain tone belied her words. Still in her early fifties, Heather Tyrone radiated self-confidence and was not easy to brush aside.
“Can you leave now? I’ll call you right away with my big news and you’ll tell me about yours.”
Heather shrugged with an unconvinced look at the table and walked to the door. “If you have big news,” she muttered but stopped short when Amy’s phone chimed.
“Scott, where are you? Downstairs?”
“No, still at Mass General. I have great news.”
Amy’s heart hammered against her ribs. Great news? Why was he still lingering at the hospital? Maybe because Scott never refused to volunteer for difficult cases and always put his work ahead of everything. Not that she blamed him when she herself had worked day and night to fulfill her dream and obtain a highly coveted fellowship in Pediatric Urgent Care at Harvard Medical Center.
Yet tonight of all nights, he should have been here on time. They hadn’t seen each other for two weeks and she’d sacrificed three precious hours to prepare a special dinner.
“What news, Scott?” She braced herself for an explanation she might not like.
Two pieces of great news in ten minutes sounded like too much to swallow for Amy.
“Dr. Leinshteen who’ll be my new boss at RIUH, I mean Rhode Island University Hospital, twisted his ankle. He can’t go to the American Surgeons Association cruise conference in the Bahamas. So he asked me to replace him and present his talk.”
“When?” The laconic question painfully squeezed past the lump in her throat.
“I’m leaving tomorrow for a week. I’ll meet him at his house tonight to receive his papers and discuss the details.”
“What about our dinner? What about our vacation in Paris?”
“Amy, I’m talking about the ASA cruise conference. A once-in-a-lifetime chance for a new attending surgeon. I hope you understand this is way more important than a dinner or a trip to Paris.”
“Yes, but...” A rush of anger erupted in her chest. “You promised you’d come with me and now—”
“No big deal. We’ll do it later.” His flat tone stabbed her more sharply than a surgical knife. “You should be proud of me and support my career.”
“I do, Scott. But we’ve been together for four years. We can’t keep on putting our careers ahead of our lives, of...” She swallowed a surge of tears and inhaled. “Of our happiness.”
“Chill out, Amy, you know I love you. I’ll ask Dr. Leinshteen to find you a fellowship at RIUH. And we’ll get married as soon as you move to my new hospital.”
“Do you expect me to trade Harvard for Rhode Island?” Her voice rose a notch or two.
“To be with me, yes.”
Pain pinched her insides. Yes, she would have followed him if he’d offered a promise and a ring. But he never seemed in a rush to be with her. Would she have to spend her life understanding and putting his career ahead of her life?
“So your priorities are your conference and then...”
“My new position of course.”
“And exactly when will we get married?”
“First you have to move to Rhode Island. We’ll get engaged and plan accordingly.”
“How romantic.” She fisted her fingers and took a deep breath to control her frustration. “We’ve talked about this trip to Paris for three years. When can we go?”
“I don’t know, Amy. It’s not a priority. In a year or two. When we are settled in our new positions.”
“I see.” What she clearly saw was her future as Mrs. Pratt—a docile wife expected to understand her mighty surgeon husband and his selfish ambition. No sir, she was Dr. Amy Tyrone, a pediatrician in her own right, with ambitious goals to achieve too. “Well, I have news for you. I’ve studied as hard as you and passed the same exams. From now on, I’ll focus on my career, not on yours. Besides, I’m going to Paris as planned in a week.”
“Amy, stop acting like an immature child.”
“Goodbye, Scott.” She tapped her phone off and closed her eyes, trying to recover her composure. A few seconds later, she turned toward her beautiful table and caught a glimpse of her mother near the door, watching her with concern.
“I’m sorry, Amy.” Her mother didn’t add anything else, but came to hug her.
“Would you like to have dinner with me? I cooked a delicious roast and green beans. And I have a great wine.”
“I’d love to. Pour the wine, sweetheart. I’ll bring the roast.”
Amy’s phone rang. She glanced at the screen. Scott again. “What is it now?”
“I’m sorry, Amy. The last thing I want to do is upset you. I love you.”
Typical Scott. “I know. I love you too.”
Unfortunately, he loved his career more.
“I have to leave tomorrow. But I’ll see you next week. I promise. Love you, babe.” He ended the call, probably sure he’d convinced her to passively wait for him to return from his cruise conference.
A moment later, Amy joined her mother at the table and filled their glasses with the white Chablis. Heather raised her glass. “To your Paris trip.”
“So you think I should go?” She tortured her lip, hardly able to imagine herself ambling through Paris without Scott. Would she jeopardize a four-year relationship with a handsome successful doctor she loved for a two-week trip to Paris?
“Absolutely.” Mom sipped her wine and smiled. “I’ll come with you.”
“Seriously? I’d love to have you with me.” She plastered a smile on her lips but averted her gaze. Twenty-eight years old and going on a dream vacation to Paris with her mother because her almost-fiancé had dumped her for a conference. How exciting.
Her mom gulped a big sip and slowly lowered her glass to the table. “Amy.” Heather’s eyes roved over her. “Remember how Grandma Tyrone used to tell you stories about her grandmother’s island?”
“Yes, the fairytales about being a princess from a European island.” She shrugged. As if she had time to reminisce about the anecdotes issued from her grandmother’s fertile imagination. “Dad often told me not to believe those crazy stories.”
“Because Dad wanted you to have a career and count on yourself. And you did. But it was true, Amy. Every word is true.” Heather’s voice cracked with emotion. “Rensy Island exists, off the shores of England and France, in the English Channel. Your father’s ancestor was a real princess who refused to marry the old groom chosen by her father and ran away with her handsome lover. He became a pirate and they ended up in America.”
“Oh Mom.” Amy snorted. How like Heather to try to cheer her up by diverting the conversation. “You’re as good as Grandmother Tyrone at weaving fabulous tales.”
Heather tented her fingers on the edge of the table. “Sweetheart, two days ago, the Chief of Security of Rensy Island, Mr. DeBow, came to visit me.”
“He informed me that you need to go to his country to claim your inheritance before their hundred-year defect rule applies.” Heather’s serious tone of voice contradicted the craziness of her allegations.
“What inheritance?” Amy pinned her mother with a challenging look.
“A mansion and the estate around it.”
“Mom, have you been drinking?” Amy asked sullenly.
Heather flipped her hand in dismissal and opened her purse. “Look what he gave me.” She dug out the photo of a splendid mansion surrounded by green acres against the backdrop of the ocean.
Amy studied the picture and shook her head. “Amazing... Incredible... So that was your big news?”
Heather nodded. “Turn the card.”
Amy did and read the elegant script.
Dear Dr. Amy Tyrone,
We are expecting you in Charlesburg and hope you will honor us with your presence in the near future.
Edward III, Prince of Rensy Island.
“Oh. My. God.” She blinked a few times and re-read the short missive.
“Isn’t it fabulous?” Her mother’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “I’ll go to Paris with you, and then we’ll continue to Rensy Island to claim your inheritance. Think of it as a well-deserved vacation after all your hard work.”
“Absolutely crazy but...” Still dazed, Amy chuckled with derision. “What have I got to lose?” Scott would be in the Bahamas, enjoying himself. She might as well do the same.
Anyway, she needed space and a change of scenery to evaluate her relationship with her elusive boyfriend. A man who expected her to ignore her career and dreams for the sake of his own ambitions. Was he the right man for her?
His phone in hand, Paul paced the crowded greeting area at Charles de Gaulle Airport and paused every few minutes to peer at the arriving travelers, ready to mentally dissect the woman his grandfather and his Chief of Security were trying to shove down his throat.
Some fifty yards away, Raymond DeBow stood in the first row of the crowd waiting to welcome the international passengers. His eyes never wavered from the door that would soon open to admit his American guests while he fanned his sweating forehead with a sign reading Dr. Amy Tyrone. To think the snake had refused to show Paul a picture of his intended.
After combing every Internet site, from Facebook to Twitter and Instagram, and Googling her name a dozen times in vain, Paul had concluded that the woman was terrified of displaying her face on social networks. Not the best reference in the eyes of a man quite accustomed to dating gorgeous women.
Hidden behind a pillar, Paul glanced at his watch once more. By now, Dr. Tyrone and her mother had had ample time to clear customs and collect their luggage. The huge door swung wide, admitting a throng of travelers dragging carry-ons. Among them, a young woman with a backpack on her shoulders stopped to exchange words with another passenger.
Dressed in blue jeans and a black turtleneck, her face free of makeup, and a childish golden ponytail swaying as she laughed, the lovely visitor caught Paul’s interest. Too bad she had a male escort. Paul would have loved to meet her.
His attention returned to DeBow and his eyebrows arched with curiosity. The Chief of Security was conversing with a stunning middle-aged woman. Paul strode around a group and craned his neck to get a better glimpse of her face. Probably the mother. Hoping her daughter might look like her, he scanned the surroundings. Where was she? A few minutes later, the young woman he had previously admired approached DeBow.
Could the attractive blonde who looked like a teenager starting college be the serious Dr. Tyrone who had no time to spare for social media?
To verify this pleasant assumption, Paul pulled out his phone and called DeBow. “Are these women our expected guests?”
“Take them to the George V Hotel. I will catch up with you in the lobby.”
Their gazes met over the crowd. DeBow gave a curt nod and turned to his visitors.
Relief and delight mingled in Paul’s heart and he flashed a satisfied grin at the thought his duty to his country offered an enjoyable fringe benefit.
Rubbing his neck to relieve a nervous itch, he called Prince Edward. “Grandpa, rest assured I will do everything in my power to comply with your wishes and serve our principality. I am ready to meet Dr. Amy Tyrone.” And date her.
Anticipation raced through his blood. For the first time in his life, he had felt a spark of attraction at first sight.
Paul threw a last glance at the Chief of Security and caught sight of the two men in blue jeans and T-shirts following the little group. DeBow had already assigned secret service protection to the young woman destined to be a spouse to the heir of Rensy Island. Not wasting time, Paul rushed to the garage, with his own bodyguards, Greg and Brad, right behind him.
Too many unwanted observers to witness his meeting with the pretty Dr. Amy. Talk about a romance killer. Paul exhaled in annoyance, knowing it would not be easy to get rid of his watchdogs.
As they approached the black Bentley that had arrived on the ferry with them, Greg opened the back door for Paul and settled in the front next to Brad who drove away.
“Where to, Your Highness?”
“Straight to the Prince de Galles Hotel where we will check in.”
Later, Brad dropped him in front of the hotel he frequented when visiting Paris. His black glasses concealing part of his face, he nodded at the concierge who recognized him and bowed with a toothy grin. While waiting for Greg to handle the room reservations and Brad to park the car, Paul paced the sidewalk in front of the hotel and surveyed the long avenue, checking his phone for any messages.
“Your room keys, sir,” Greg said. “Please call us when you decide to go out and need the car.”
“You go rest. I may see you in a couple of hours,” Paul replied evasively and then strolled the few yards separating him from the nearby George V Hotel where his American guests would stay. With a glance over his shoulder, he sighed in frustration. Far from resting, Greg and Brad followed at a decent distance. As he drew near the revolving door of the sumptuous hotel, he noticed a black Bentley similar to his car approaching the curb.
A text message from the Chief of Security blinked on Paul’s cell.
Problems. Dr. Amy said she can’t accept our prince’s hospitality. And she can’t afford to pay for it. Advise.
Paul texted: Just get them out for a drink. I’ll take over. Introduce me as their tour guide.
Their what!!!!! Too many exclamation points punctuated DeBow’s answer.
Paul chuckled, but didn’t bother explaining the reasons for his charade in a text message.
Soon the Chief of Security would understand and remember too many beauties had fallen into the arms of Prince Paul, heir to a prosperous principality. Eager to become a princess, every woman he had taken out had immediately responded to his amorous attentions, or even initiated them. If he was going to marry, Paul wanted to be sure his future wife was in love with him—not with the crown of Rensy Island.
To keep his promise to Prince Edward, Paul concentrated on his new plan of action and focused an eagle eye on the American guests. The mother stepped out first, turned her head right and left, and smiled ear-to-ear. Dr. Amy slid to the edge of the back seat and lowered her feet to the ground, but remained in place. Paul came forward to better look inside the car and observe her reaction. And what a reaction. Her jaw sagged, her eyes rounded. She shook her head and brought her legs back inside the car.
Time for him to interfere. He removed his dark glasses, sidled by the Chief of Security and approached the car. “Dr. Tyrone, welcome to Paris.”
“Paul Maxim at your service, Dr. Amy.” Determined to convince her not to complicate his already complicated life, he bent down through the open door. “I will be your tour guide for a week.” A charming smile plastered on his mouth, he captured her bewildered gaze and held it.
Her lovely baby blues caressed his face with a look full of surprise, and her full lips pouted in a “You?”
“Yes, Dr. Amy. I am an excellent driver with a good safety record. No accidents or fines.” He nodded several times and took pleasure in admiring her delicate features. “I would love to show you Paris. I hope you don’t mind because my prince would fire me if I don’t do my job.”
“Oh no. No, no. Of course, I wouldn’t want to have you fired. It’s just that this hotel is too...too much for me. I’m not used to all this luxury.” The flexing and twiddling of her fingers attested to her nervousness. “And I don’t know how to repay him for all...this.” Her chin tilted in the direction of the hotel.
“Relax.” He squeezed in next to her and she scurried to the other end. Throwing his arm on the back of the seat, he leaned forward and inched toward her personal space. When she suddenly spun her head and her ponytail brushed his face, a subtle scent of vanilla and jasmine swirled around him—discreet yet more intoxicating than his favorite whiskey.
“Luxury is a normal way of living for our prince and his family. Prince Edward wouldn’t have offered this hotel and vacation if he couldn’t afford it. I suggest you accept it graciously and send him a thank you note.”
Still hesitating, she bit her lip.
He raised his hand in protest and almost begged her to stop torturing that adorable lip he was suddenly eager to taste. Narrowing his eyes, he decided not to give her more time to ponder the pros and cons of lodging at the fabulous George V Hotel. “People are waiting for us.” He lowered his hand from the back of the seat to her arm. “Please let’s go, Dr. Amy. Remember, I need my job and my head,” he added for good measure.
“Your head?” She sounded so confused.
“Yes, the prince may chop it if he found me at fault.”
She chuckled at his joke. “If you insist I should accept the prince’s hospitality, I won’t be difficult.”
“Thank you.” And thank God for Amy being so reasonable.
He climbed out of the car and offered his hand. She took it and slid out but lifted a surprised eyebrow at him when he bowed over her hand and straightened too suddenly.
Damn it, he’d forgotten his role. A tour guide would never brush a client’s fingers with a kiss in a European baise-main. Which reminded him he should release the warm hand he was still holding.
“Since we’re staying in this high-class hotel, I’d better make myself more presentable.” With a swift pull, she removed the elastic ribbon holding her ponytail and shook her hair over her shoulders, combing the long strands with her fingers, and then dug out of her bag a lipstick tube and a small mirror to apply her makeup. “Am I okay now, Paul?”
No woman had ever asked him such an innocent and beguiling question. Usually his dates arrived dressed and coiffed to the hilt when meeting him. His gaze danced over her blond curls and then trailed down her gorgeous figure. And his blood raced in all directions and tightened his muscles. He inhaled and almost forgot to exhale.
Good Lord, she was more than okay. “Perfect,” he grunted with a husky voice that grated his throat. She would make a perfect Princess of Rensy, if…
But he was far from being okay, especially with the tour guide charade he had started. Now she considered him an employee paid by the Chief of Security to perform a job. What if she resented his compliments and accused him of harassment?
“Oh Mom, look at the view. The famous Eiffel Tower. Is this a dream or what?” Framed by the French doors of the balcony, Amy stretched her arms high and worked the kinks in her neck. Seven hours of confinement in a plane seat had taken their toll on her aching back.
Linking her fingers behind her nape, she slumped down onto a golden velvet Louis XVI armchair. Still frustrated by Scott’s defection, she shifted her gaze from the balcony draperies to the opulent bed decked with a matching gold and beige satin bedspread, and the off-white nightstands, armoire and credenza trimmed with gold appliqués.
So much luxury to enjoy and no special man to share it with. Damn you, Scott. He’d disappointed her again and again, and never loved her the way she wanted to be loved, with passion and generosity.
Tough. She wouldn’t wallow in regret. With a deep breath, she swallowed her irritation and pledged to make the best of her week in Paris.
“Look at the crystal chandelier. I never saw one so big, so intricate,” Heather said, interrupting Amy’s unpleasant musing.
“Except in Downton Abbey.” Brushing away her bad mood, Amy chuckled. “Maybe we’re living a Downton Abbey fantasy.”
“My dear, this is no fantasy, no dream. They are treating us like princesses. More precisely, Prince Edward is determined to spoil you because you are the descendant of a blood princess.” Heather pirouetted with excitement and then stopped short, her mouth drooping sadly. “If only your father were with us. As the great-grandson of Elizabeth Amalia, he should have inherited the mansion years ago.”
“Poor Dad, we’re going to his old country without him. Although he was American through and through and never cared to cross the Atlantic.”
“Anyway, we better rest for a couple of hours. The tour guide said he’d meet us at five p.m. for drinks in the second floor lounge and then take us out for dinner.” Heather opened her suitcase and strolled to the bathroom with her PJs in hand.
“The tour guide...” Amy whispered dreamily. Were all the tour guides from Rensy Island trained to be so courteous? Or only the most handsome ones? Paul Maxim had almost kissed her hand. Almost made her swoon while peering at her with so much fire in his gorgeous green eyes.
Maybe his polite speech was only meant to guarantee him a good review on his evaluation. “Yuck.” Her ecstatic smile morphed into a grimace. The man must have played his well-rehearsed act on every tourist he drove around town—especially on gullible women traveling without male companions. She hadn’t noticed a wedding band, but one could never be sure.
Yet there was something genuine about the way he had looked at her, as though he sincerely liked her.
Forget it. You just met him. On the other hand, he’d been assigned to their service by the Chief of Security himself—proof that Paul was a reliable guide who’d never harass his female clients and would execute his tasks conscientiously.
Still, she’d have to ask Paul a few questions about his background. Not that she cared. Just curious.
“Amy, you’re still in that chair.” Heather tousled her half-dried hair and yawned. “The jetlag is killing me. Don’t you want to lie down? I’ll set the alarm and try to sleep.”
“I’ll do the same.” Amy peeled off her clothes and slipped on a short nighty. She’d shower after her nap.
“Amy, wake up. It’s four o’clock.” Heather gently shook Amy’s shoulder.
“Hu... Why now?” He was kissing her hand and she was gazing into his green eyes. “Nice.”
“What a smile. It looks like you had wonderful dreams,” Heather said with a chuckle.
Amy jolted up from her slumber and bolted to a sitting position. “This bed is way too comfortable. I’ll shower and get dressed,” she said, not ready to talk about the scorching kiss she’d received during her inappropriate but so pleasant dream. She emptied her suitcase and organized her clothes in the closet adjacent to the bathroom—what a bathroom.
The shower cubicle with a double shower-head prompted an erotic picture of her and... Rooted at the door, her cheek aflame, she realized the partner in her fantasy was not Scott, but the gorgeous tour guide.
“Are you crazy?” she scolded herself and turned on the dual high-pressure shower-heads that delivered four different spray patterns. Invigorated by the fantastic massage that soothed her aching muscles, she stepped out and wrapped herself in a towel to dry her hair and apply her makeup. A few minutes later, she returned to the bedroom, dressed and perfumed.
“I’ll put on my shoes and I’m ready to go.”
Heather examined Amy’s black pants and white silk shirt with a quizzical eye.
“Why didn’t you wear a dress?”
“What for? We’re going for a drink and dinner. Not a date.”
“This is Paris, sweetie.” Her mother had donned an adorable dark-blue silk suit and fluffed up her short crop of blond hair. “At least wear high heels,” Heather suggested.
“Nope. I plan to walk Paris by night. Heels are hard on your feet.”
“Can’t you stop thinking as a doctor and start dressing up like a pretty girl?”
“Mom, I’m a doctor through and through. Now and forever. Nothing will change that, but I plan to make the best out of my two-week vacation.”