Shock Heir for the Crown Prince(61)

By: Kelly Hunter

‘Perfect.’ She really was here and he really was real. Because sometimes she could have sworn she was living a fairy tale. ‘All good.’

‘Are we ready?’ asked Casimir.

Sophia eyed him narrowly. ‘Do you have your dragon stone?’

‘Right here.’ He patted the general direction of his heart.

‘What’s keeping it there?’ Claudia asked with the lift of an elegant eyebrow, and Ana could really grow to like this woman.

‘Duct tape.’

‘I love you,’ Ana said, because he should be told this often. The more she told him the more he lit up like Christmas morning. It was a good look on him.

‘You two go ahead,’ Claudia said. ‘I’ll stay with Sophia while you greet your guests and then I’ll make my big entrance a little later in the evening, when everybody’s there to appreciate it.’

‘But I need back-up,’ Ana protested.

‘He’s right there,’ Claudia said. ‘Indulge me. Please. I want to read to my niece and then show her the secret room that overlooks the ballroom. I want to stand her on a chair and slide the viewing panel open so we can watch you two dance.’

Casimir smiled.

‘You are putty in their hands,’ Ana told him.

‘I’m putty in your hands as well,’ he said. ‘And you’re wearing my ring.’ He’d left it by her bedside table earlier that evening. There was a question in his eyes.

‘I am.’ And she intended to keep wearing it. ‘What are your thoughts on a spring wedding?’

His smile widened. ‘I’m all for it.’

‘Gloves,’ said Claudia, and Ana clicked her fingers. She’d forgotten about the gloves. They were snowy white and slid up past her elbows. ‘But if I wear the gloves, people won’t be able to see the ring.’

‘Does it matter?’ he murmured. ‘I’ll know it’s there.’

‘Now your tiara,’ said Sophia.

‘I don’t have a tiara. Lor says—Oh!’ Because suddenly there was a tiara dangling from Casimir’s fingertips and it was delicate and whimsical and made from the finest of silver wire, diamonds and pearls.

‘Wear it,’ said Casimir. ‘It’s my gift to you. It’s not from the vault.’

‘Pinch me again,’ said Ana when the tiara was in place and she stood facing the mirror.

‘It’s real. You’re real,’ said Claudia. ‘And the king’s waiting.’

Ana took his hand and walked with him to the ballroom, where Casimir began to introduce her to his guests. He never missed a person and Ana’s smile never dimmed and she never missed a name.

‘Do you think Claudia and Sophia are watching us yet?’ she asked some time later as the musicians tuned their instruments and Casimir led her to the centre of the dance floor and swept her into his arms.


Music filled the room and Casimir’s smile softened. ‘I love you.’ This time he said it in Latin. ‘I’m planning on saying it in every language that exists, including all of the non-verbal ones.’

‘You’re my fairy tale,’ she said. ‘And I’m not talking about all the trappings. Being with you is the fairy tale. Here at your side.’

She put one hand on his shoulder and her other hand in his.

And they danced.