I stared at him, startled. Did he actually think that I broke up with him to be with someone else?
He must have, because he returned my stare with one of his own.
“No.” I wished with all of my heart that he would believe me without an explanation, I didn’t want to lie to
But I knew him. So I knew it wouldn’t be enough.
“Then, why?” he asked, voice soft in the quiet room.
I couldn’t tell him the truth. He would hate me worse than he already did.
“Please don’t ask me that.”
His expression hardened. “I can only hope you learned from your mistake. Obviously the man you left me
for wasn’t worthy, if he abandoned you and Elva.”
He had it all wrong. I would have never left Nicholas for anyone else. Who else could compare? Nicholas
had my full heart from the start. Even now, I was still peeling parts of it away from him.
“You were short–sighted, chasing after selfish pleasures.” Looking away from me, Nicholas returned to aggressively scrubbing an already–clean dish. “You left your studies and your boyfriend behind, and for
Gently, I reached over and removed the dish from him before he could break it. He froze, hands halfway
into the sink.
I had suspected he’d hated me for my supposed betrayal, but I hadn’t realized before just how deeply I
had hurt him
I never thought I deserved him, even before I knew he was a prince. At the time, I had reasoned he
would move on quickly, as jealous as that made me.
I had never expected the hurt would stay with him, even three years later. Unless, of course, this hurt
was only the result of having his ego bruised.
Your hands are calloused,” Nicholas said.
I’d only touched him for a moment just now. How had he noticed?
work hard for what litle I have. I do my best to care for Elva.”
She s fond of you. You’re…
It was rare receiving such a compliment from Nicholas, so I eagerly accepted it.
“Thank you, but I feel like I never get to see her enough. I work long hours, and being here has kept me
almost as busy. It’s worth it though, to see her happy. She had such a great time at the First Ball.”
“And what about you? Were you happy at the ball?”
I gave a small shrug. “At times. But it was tiring too. The political mind games in the palace are
something else. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be Luna.”
He looked at me. “Most women would want the power.”
I shook my head, “All I want is good medical care for Elva. I wish I could afford it on my own.”
“Things haven’t been easy for you since you left the Academy.”
“To put it mildly,” I said, with a small laugh.
He didn’t as much as smile. If anything, he only looked sterner.
“Someday, perhaps, you will explain to me the reasoning behind the choices you made.”
“It was a long time ago,” I said.
He returned to the dishes, scrubbing more gently this time. Under his breath, he said, “Not to me.”
Nicholas’s dire expression remained throughout our morning together, yet when it came time to serve
lunch to the children, his demeanor visibly brightened.
He could never manage the same vibrant, boisterous personality as Julian, but a smiling Nicholas was
no less bright in his own way. Actually, he was even more stunning
He spoke to the children with kindness, and listened carefully as each one talked to him. He nodded
along at key points, even if the child was only babbling
When one child took more than her fair share of rolls, Nicholas lightly corrected her with a few stern
words. Yet when that same child’s eyes went wet with tears, he secretly sneaked an extra roll onto her
plate when no one but me was watching
The tears vanished into a look of amazement
I shook my head at Nicholas’s soft heart, but inwardly, I found it endearing. He would make a great father. He’d likely have to depend on his partner to help with the disciplining though