Paper Princess Page 42

“Good, you boys are up,” he tells the twins. “Where are the others? I told them to be downstairs at seven-fifteen.” He turns to me. “You look lovely, but you might want to change into more proper sailing attire.”

I stare at him blankly. “Sailing?”

“Didn’t I tell you last night? We’re all going sailing this morning.”

What? No, he hadn’t told me, and if I’d known this, I would have snuck right out of the house with Sawyer’s girlfriend and stowed myself in the trunk of her car.

“You’re going to love the Maria,” Callum tells me, sounding excited. “There’s not much of a breeze out so I don’t think we’ll use the sails, but it’ll still be a fun time.”

Me and the Royals on a boat? In open water? I don’t think Callum understands what the word fun means.

Easton staggers into the kitchen then, decked out in wrinkled cargo shorts and a wife-beater, with a baseball cap hanging low on his forehead. He’s no doubt hung-over from last night, and I suddenly have visions of the boat bouncing on the waves while Easton pukes over the side all morning.

“Reed!” Callum yells in the direction of the doorway. “Get a move on! Ella, get changed. And wear the deck shoes Brooke bought you—she got you deck shoes, right?”

I have no idea because “deck shoes” aren’t a part of my vocabulary. I make a stab at getting out of this nightmare-scape he’s just painted for me. “Callum, I have a lot of homework—”

“Bring it with you.” He waves a hand and shouts “Reed!” again.

Dammit. I guess I’m going sailing.

* * *

The Maria is everything you’d expect from a gazillionaire’s boat. Boat. Ha. It’s a yacht, of course, and I feel like I’m starring in a rap video as I stand at the railing and sip on the flute of Cristal that Brooke slipped into my hand when Callum wasn’t looking. She winked as she did it, whispering that I should say it’s ginger ale if Callum asks, which he never does.

Callum was right—it’s gorgeous out on the water, and the Atlantic stretches out all around us, calm and beautiful.

I drove to the marina with Callum and Brooke, while the boys took Reed’s SUV. Which was a relief, because the thought of sitting in Reed’s car after seeing it rocking in the parking lot last night made me sick to my stomach.

I wonder who he was with. His sweet, pure Abby, I bet. I’m not sure it satisfied him, though. I’ve heard sex is supposed to leave you all loose and relaxed, but Reed’s entire body has been coiled with tension since we boarded the yacht.

He stands on the other side of the railing, as far as humanly possible from me and Callum without falling overboard. On the upper deck—which houses a dining area and a hot tub—Brooke is sunbathing in the nude, her golden hair gleaming in the sunshine. The weather’s not warm enough for bathing suits, let alone birthday suits, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

“So what do you think?” Callum gestures to the water. “Peaceful, huh?”

Not really. There’s no such thing as peace when Reed Royal is staring at you. No, glaring at you, and he’s been doing it for the past hour.

Easton is still downstairs doing God knows what, and the twins are fast asleep in a pair of nearby loungers, so Callum’s the only company I’ve got, and Reed clearly isn’t happy about it.

“Darling!” Brooke calls from the sundeck. “Come rub lotion on my back!”

Callum avoids my gaze, probably because he doesn’t want me to see his sex eyes. “You okay down here alone for a bit?” he asks.

“It’s fine. Go ahead.”

I’m relieved to be left alone, but the relief doesn’t last. The tension rises all over again when Reed moves toward me with predatory strides. He rests his forearms on the railing and keeps his gaze straight ahead.


I can’t tell if it’s a greeting or a question. I roll my eyes. “Reed.”

He doesn’t continue. Just keeps staring at the water.

I sneak a peek at him, and my heart does that irritating flip it always does when Reed is around. He’s masculinity personified. Tall and broad, his gorgeous features chiseled to perfection. My mouth grows dry as I admire his arms, sleek with muscle, rippling with power.

He’s a good foot taller than me, so when he finally turns to look at me, I have to tilt my head to meet his gaze.

Those blue eyes flick over me, resting briefly on my tiny denim shorts and tight halter top that ties at the neck. They focus on my navy-blue-and-white deck shoes, and the corner of his mouth quirks slightly.

I wonder if he’s about to make fun of my shoes, but his almost-smile fades when a husky moan echoes from above us.

“Yes.” Brooke’s throaty voice makes Reed and me cringe.

A male growl follows the request. Callum apparently has no problem getting busy when his sons are close by. I find that disgusting, yet at the same time, I can’t bring myself to hate him, not after his confession that he’s still grieving for his wife. Loss makes us do crazy things.

Reed bites out a curse. “Let’s go.”

His steel grip captures my arm, making it impossible to do anything but follow him toward the stairs that lead below deck.

“Where are we going?”

He doesn’t answer. He pushes open the door and marches into the luxurious main room, which is furnished with leather couches and glass tables. Reed bulldozes past the full kitchen and dining area toward the cabins in the back.

He knocks on an oak door. “East. Wake the fuck up.”

There’s a loud groan. “Go away. My head is pounding.”

Reed walks into the cabin without knocking. I peek behind his broad shoulders and see Easton sprawled on a massive bed, holding a pillow over his head.

“Get up,” Reed orders.


“Need you to keep Dad occupied.” Reed laughs sardonically. “Well, he’s occupied enough at the moment, but I want you up there in case that changes.”

Easton pushes the pillow off his face and sits up with a groan. “You know I’ve always got your back, but listening to that woman is my idea of a nightmare. Those squeaky noises she makes when Dad—” He stops midsentence when he notices me behind Reed.

I can’t see Reed’s face, but whatever his eyes are conveying causes Easton to heave himself out of bed. “Gotcha.”

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