Here lies Reece Ellis: Dumbass.
“I’m sorry,” Dante tells me quickly, reaching for me. I kick away from him, still furious.
“I’m really sorry,” he tells me again, swimming toward me.
Even soaking wet, he is gorgeous. Maybe even more so than when he is dry, if that is even possible. The water runs over his defined muscles, the sun catches the highlights in his hair. His blue eyes are contrite, his expression apologetic. His jawline chiseled, his chest rock hard. Wait. I don’t want to notice those things right now.
I’m pissed, I remind myself. Seriously pissed.
He reaches out for my arm and this time, his long fingers wrap around my wrist and pull me to him. He folds me into a hug, a sincere hug, and holds me tight.
And I’m not pissed anymore.
Dante’s body is long and lean, his arms strong and bulging and wrapped around me right now. He’s wet and slippery and so am I and I’m going to internally combust. He smells like soap and salt and sun and I can’t breathe.
Sweet baby monkeys.
We tread water and Dante tells me again how sorry he is. He’s cold and I’m cold and my lip starts to quiver because I’m freezing. And also nervous because the most beautiful boy in the world has his arms around me.
Dante looks down into my eyes, his arms still wrapped around my shoulders, pulling me tightly to his chest. I feel every inch of him pressed against me- every inch- and I might die. Seriously die.
“I’m stupid,” he tells me with his super-sexy accent. “Reece, I didn’t realize how afraid you are of sharks. That was a stupid prank and I will make it up to you, okay?”
He looks seriously into my eyes, his face so sweet and gorgeous and sincere. How can I stay mad at him when he is so unbelievably sweet and gorgeous and sincere?
I nod instead.
“It’s okay,” I whisper. He tightens his hold on me as we kick to tread water and I enjoy the hardness of his body and how every plane of his chest ripples when he moves.
He bends his head and I think… I’m pretty sure… I know… he’s going to kiss me.
But he flicks his fingers out and adjusts the strap of my mask instead, straightening it up from where it was crooked from leaning against him.
I exhale shakily and swim away from him a little ways, like a normal person, like I’m not someone whose wits were just addled from being so close to Dante Giliberti.
“Why aren’t you wearing a mask?” I ask.
My voice sounds a little nasally from my stupid face mask. I decide that I don’t want to look like Darth Vader and pull it off. I’m not going to be snorkeling anymore, anyway.
Dante smiles. “I’m not here to snorkel,” he tells me. “I came to find you.”
“How did you know where to look?” I ask.
He looks amused. “Really?” he asks wryly. “It’s one of the few perks of my dad’s job. I know everything that happens in Caberra.”
I narrow my eyes. “Do you have someone watching me?”
He looks guilty. “Um. I may have assigned one of my security guards to you. Just while you’re here, of course. I mean, you’re my responsibility and I can’t let anything happen to you.”
“Because the crime rate here in paradise is so high?” I ask, sarcasm dripping from my voice. Dante looks properly chastised and I have to admit, in a weird stalker way, it was a sweet thing that he did. I feel protected, anyway.
“It’s alright,” I add. “I’m not mad. But can you not do it again? I don’t want to be followed around.”
He smiles lazily, as he flips onto his back to float. “Then in order for you to stay safe, you’ll have to stay with me constantly,” he tells me. “I mean, in the interest of keeping you safe.”
And there it was again, the electricity in the air between us. It practically crackles and my heart flutters.
“Do you agree to my terms?” Dante asks, jokingly, but not. “If you don’t want a security guard, you’ll have to allow me to escort you. Everywhere. At all times.”
There are definitely worse things in the world. I’m not sure if he is exaggerating or kidding but I nod anyway and fight the urge to launch myself into his arms.
But I resist the impulse and instead, we start joking about sharks and he does the JAWS theme song and chases me through the water with his stupid fin made from his hands. This time it is funny.
Mia finally reappears and after a proper lecture on leaving me alone, the three of us float in a lazy circle and I decide that I am in love with Caberra. And I am rather fond of its ‘prince.’
And I definitely doubt the sanity of the crazy old lady who sold us the chocolates now.
Because I am seriously doubting my ability to protect my heart.
I am not strong enough.
Dante’s father is home.
I know this because the royal flags with the ancient royal crest are flying outside of the Old Palace. Heaven told me this morning that when the Prime Minister isn’t home, the normal country flag flies. I hadn’t even noticed.
Caberra is weird. It voted out a royal family hundreds of years ago, but everyone still acts like the Prime Minister and his family are royals and they still have a palace and they still have a palace guard. It’s very, very odd. It’s like they want all of the old traditions, but they want modern government.
Another way that I know Dimitri Giliberti is home is because a hush has fallen over the Old Palace. The servants are quieter than normal, everyone creeps around and even Dante is subdued. I dread meeting the man who instills so much reverence and anxiety.
Besides educating me on some of the Caberran traditions, Heaven had also brought me a laptop earlier from the Old Palace library and had given me the wireless password.
And now I’m truly in heaven, courtesy of Heaven. Yes, I’m just corny enough to think of such a goofy phrase.
I cruise the internet and browse through all of the social sites that I’ve missed over the past week. But honestly, I find that I haven’t really missed them, particularly after I see Becca’s many, many status updates that involve me.
Best friends forever?? More like Best Friends Never Again.