Her long, blond hair billowed in the wind as she walked down the sidewalk. Every head turned, male and female, as she passed. No eye missed a single step her long legs took, and no heart failed to be disappointed when she set down at the table of a very handsome and. presumably, very rich young man.
“You do know how to make an entrance,” he said as he helped her with her chair.
“Well, you invited me to breakfast and this is what I normally wear to breakfast … when I wear anything at all.” She smiled and took a sip of the water waiting for her.
“I trust you slept well,” he said, taking the seat across from her. By contrast, his tan slacks, starched shirt and navy blue blazer seemed over dressed for the occasion.
“Sufficient considering the amount of noise from outside. I forgot my noise filter and every little cricket kept waking me up.” She looked at the menu briefly then set it to the side. “I assume the fruit here is fresh.”
“The only way to get it fresher is pick it yourself,” he said, smiling. “I was very happy you chose to accept my invitation to join us at the club last night. I do hope you had a good time.”
“It was something to do,” she said, managing to sound as though the day were already boring her. “You were certainly more accommodating than the Neanderthals in the regular VIP.”
“They were drinking the house champagne, I take it?” he asked with a wry grin.
“Worse. The house red. One sip was nearly enough to cause me to vomit,” she said.
The waiter showed up at that moment to take their order. She requested fresh fruit with yogurt, then visibly winced when he ordered a soft boiled egg and sausage.
She waited politely until the waiter was well out of ear-shot, then put her hands on the table and leaned forward. “Look, let’s dump this pretentious bull shit. My name is really Stephanie Burkhalter. I’m a secretary from Iowa who apparently happens to look enough like someone important that people have been treating me special from the moment I got here. I’m not looking for a script, a set-up or a boyfriend. Tell me who you are and what you really want, or I’m dumping water in your lap and walking away.”
He took a sip of coffee and then leaned forward to match her posture. “My name is Edward Robert Louis Carlos Vives i Sicilia, second in line to the throne of Andorra, and I can assure you, Ms. Burkhalter, that my only intention is enjoying the company of the most beautiful woman in the hotel for as long as she will tolerate me.”
“Prove it,” she said, flatly. “I can’t say I’ve ever been around royalty at all, so I don’t think I am in a position to accept your claim when I’m not even sure where this Andorra place is.”
The prince laughed. “Andorra is a beautiful country in Southwest Europe, nicely positioned between France and Spain, neat nestled in the Pyrenees mountains. But here,” he reached inside his blazer and pulled out his passport and diplomatic credentials, “perhaps these will help calm the skeptical Iowa mind.”
Stephanie looked through the various papers, half of which was in French, and suddenly felt chilled. “So, I’m having breakfast with a real Prince Charming and I’m sitting here in my underwear,” she said as she handed the documents back.
“I must say, I think I would have been sad had you worn anything else,” Prince Edward said. “For a young woman from Iowa you play the role of an heiress quite well.”
Stephanie blushed. “The only thing I’m likely to inherit is my parent’s mortgage. I’ve been scrimping and saving for seven years to make this trip. That’s why I’m making the most of it while I can. Two days from now I’m back in Iowa answering phones, taking memos and earning a whopping $8.50 an hour.”
“Or, you could return to Andorra with me,” the prince offered, smiling.
Stephanie leaned over the table again. “Now you just hold on, your highness, or whatever you’re supposed to be called. Just because I can play the part doesn’t mean I’m as easy as some jet-setting Hilton brat. I actually have people depending on me back home.” She set back and took a sip of water. “Besides, I don’t even have a passport.”
Prince Edward reached across the table and took her hand in his. “Passports and Visas can be had rather quickly when the right people are requesting them. Just say the word and I can have them ready for you by tomorrow evening.”
Stephanie paused for a moment. His hand was soft, softer than hers, his nails well-manicured, everything about him breathing wealth. Slowly, she pulled her hand back. “I don’t understand why. You just met me in a club last night and thought I was a some famous snarky bitch. Why would you want some little girl from Iowa?”
“Because, Ms. Burkhalter, it would be quite refreshing, amidst all the ‘snarky bitches’ as you called them, to enjoy the company of someone who knows how to be real,” the Prince seemed to almost purr. ”
The waiter chose that moment to deliver their food. Each sat in quiet as they both delicately ate the small portions before them. When Stephanie set her spoon down, Prince Edward took the occasion to ask, “So, have you had a moment to think it over.”
Stephanie dipped her head. “I … I want to go, but … I’m not sure what to tell everyone back home.”
“Tell them you have a job interview in Andorra,” Edward said. “I promise to not keep you more than two weeks, less if you desire to return sooner.”
“What kind of job am I interviewing for?” Stephanie asked.
“Why, Princess, of course,” Edward replied.
Stephanie choked on the water she had been swallowing.
Edward took her hand again. “You are under no obligation, but every romance has to start somewhere, doesn’t it?”
Still not able to catch her breath, Stephanie took her hand back to reach for her water, but in doing so knocked the glass over into Edward’s lap instead. She caught her breath only to gasp in horror. Once again, she had the attention of every eye. Quickly, she went into her act, throwing her napkin onto the table as well. She leaned across the table looking as angry as possible. “I’m so very sorry,” she whispered. “Meet me in my room later?”
Prince Edward stood and met her gaze with one as equally fierce. “It will be my pleasure,” he whispered back. “Now, you must slap me and storm off, just to maintain appearances.”
Stephanie winked and then slapped the prince hard enough for the sound to echo. Quickly, she strode back to her room, with everyone watching.
After Stephanie disappeared, attention returned to Prince Edward, who was still rubbing his cheek. “You have to admit,” he said to no one in particular, “The girl is most definitely stirring.”
MODEL: [Olivia Ogden]