Royal Pain in the Ass

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Chapter 11

You know that little whisper in the back of your mind that warns you this might be not be a good idea? Yeah, I don’t have one of those voices. And so I end up in situations like this.

“Tut, tut, Juliet. A bet is a bet.” Xavier warned as I opened my mouth to argue. I rolled my eyes and slumped back in my chair.

“This is stupid.”

“The entire day, you are not to argue or throw tantrums. You are just to be obedient, for once in your life. It’s just convenient that it just so happens to be the day of one of the largest charity events of the summer.

“Just know that I hate you right now.” I cooed. “And just you wait until tomorrow.”

“Are we being a poor sport?”

“Never.” I smiled up at him. “It’s not like I’m being a whiney, little baby sulking in a chair because a stable boy is teaching my advised how to waltz.”

“Juliet?” Xavier cooed right now.

“Yes?”

“Shut up.”

I rolled my eyes and sighed. Fair was fair. Betting Xavier was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had, then again, coming to England wasn’t either. So far, my decisions this year were not looking to be the best of my life. Oh well, I’ve made them, now I have to live with them.

So far today, Xavier had taken me out to breakfast, then took me somewhere to have my hair and nails professionally done. If not for the bet, there was no way I’d have gotten the fake nails that were now glued onto my hands.

“Juliet, behave.” Xavier warned as he looked up from his magazine. He was lounging in a chair with an amused expression on his face as he watched. I’m glad someone was having a good time.

Airbrushing is annoying and it takes forever. Xavier made sure the tattoo on my shoulder and foot were completely covered before he took me to a quaint little bistro. “You should try the - ”

“I already know what I want.” I cut him off.

“Too bad you have to listen today.”

I glared at Xavier as he ordered for us. He was making me get a salad. I wanted a freaking sandwich and he wouldn’t even hear me out. Son of a bitch. Just wait until tomorrow.

I made a spectacle of my meal, stabbing the salad as loudly and awkwardly as I could with every bite.

“You’re making a scene.” Xavier muttered quietly.

“I’m just eating.”

“Eat like a lady.”

“I am, see it’s a salad.”

“Honestly, woman.” Xavier sighed. “Would you have behaved if I’d let you get the sandwich?”

“Probably not.”

Xavier laughed. “I’m going to go insane.”

“Good, someone will join me.”

Xavier took me home and Gwen and Laurel helped me to get ready.

“Xavier’s having too much fun with this stupid bet.” I grumbled.

“What bet?” Gwen asked.

“He won a bet and now I have to listen to him today.”

“Why would you bet that?”

“Because it meant I’d get a day of doing whatever I wanted if I won.”

“Well, what was the wager?”

“I was supposed to make dinner last night.”

“What happened?”

“Food fight. Since I didn’t technically cook anything, I lost.”

“That’s why no one could find anything in the kitchens this morning!”

“Yeah, we trashed it, but we cleaned it up.”

“But you lost everything.” Gwen laughed. “Wait, you have to do whatever he says?”

“Yeah.” I replied

Gwen and Laurel exchanged glances.

“What am I missing?” I asked not liking that look.

“Nothing!” Gwen said too quickly then burst out into nervous laughter. Well that was a great sign.

“Gwen, what aren’t you telling me?”

“That boy fancies you. You’re in trouble.”

“What did I do? Wait, what?”

“Remember how bent out of shape he was over Ben dancing with you?”

“He was just mad Ben could do something he couldn’t.”

“Okay, if that’s what you say.” Gwen replied with a roll of her eyes.

“He’s my advisor. He can’t. He doesn’t. What?”

“Oh Gwen.” Laurel hit Gwen in the back of the head. “Look at what you’ve done.”

“What?” Gwen asked as she rubbed the back of her head.

“Juliet, pay her no mind. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You’re right, he’s your advisor. Fraternization isn’t even allowed. Don’t worry yourself over it. Gwen just has an active imagination.” Gwen rolled her eyes and Laurel hit her again.

“Subtle.” I laughed. “Very convincing.”

“Don’t worry about it right now.”

“I think I’m just not going to think about it.” I decided with a shrug. “I just can’t handle one more thing to worry about tonight.”

“That’s the way to do it.” Laurel soothed. “We can talk about it some other time.”

Gwen was doing my make up for tonight, much to my step-mother’s protests. She had a professional hired for me. Too bad I don’t trust Millie. I wouldn’t put it past her to pay someone to make me look like a clown or something. James, Millie, and Angelica were arriving together. For some reason, I was to arrive separate, not that I was complaining. If I didn’t have to spend an hour and a half being glared at by Millie, it was a good day. She loved trying to make me miserable. I was too nervous to eat dinner. Xavier assured me it would be fine and if I got hungry, there would be refreshments. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a limo with four inch heels, Xavier across from me. I was worrying my bottom lip when Xavier grabbed my hand.

“It will be fine.” Xavier assured me for the millionth time.

“Yeah…”

“Juliet, you look positively breathtaking. You’re graceful, lovely, and honest. A bit blunt at times, but you will be refreshing. You’re going to do just fine.”

“Right.”

“As long as you listen to me, which you have to today anyway. A bet’s a bet after all.” Xavier smiled. I felt myself smile at that.

“Just until midnight, then I’m free.”

“Don’t go all crazy Cinderella on me, okay?”

“Don’t you ever tell me to get a salad again.” I warned him.

Xavier laughed. “I told you to get a salad because it was light and would be less likely to make you feel ill later. I only did that to try to help you feel better.”

“Sure you did. I think you were just abusing the bet.”

“That too.” Xavier nodded. “I don’t imagine I’ll ever get this opportunity again.”

“Nope.”

“Are you ready?”

“Not in the slightest.” I shook my head.

“You will be fine.” Xavier assured me again as we pulled up.

“What if I trip?”

“Then I will fall right beside you and we’ll be on the front page of the tabloids.” Xavier smiled. “As soon as that door opens, the paparazzi are going to flash the cameras. Be braced for it. I’ll get out first and lead you through.” I nodded and continued to worry on my bottom lip. “Are you ready?” I nodded and swallowed back my fear. “Then smile.”

I placed a pleasant smile on my face and took a deep breath. Xavier tapped on the window and the door opened. Xavier stepped out and all I saw was his hand. I took it and the next thing I knew I was blinded by lights. “Keep close, keep your mouth shut, and smile.” Xavier whispered into my ear as he led me by the waist down a carpet into a beautiful ballroom. There were at least a few hundred people milling about around the room, mingling mostly. Most of them had either a wine glass or champagne flute.

“Champagne?” A server asked as she walked by with a silver platter.

“That would be fantastic. Thank you.” I smiled as I grabbed one for me and one for Xavier. “Cheers, we made it inside.” I laughed as I handed him one. He chimed his with mine and we both took a sip. I looked around and downed the rest of mine.

“Come on, let me show you to our seats.”

James, Millie, and Angelica were seated at one table and I was at the same table. There were also two other men seated there. Xavier led me to one of the seats and I saw a name card with my name and Xavier’s next to it. The boy next to Angelica had a possessive arm draped around her shoulders that he quickly removed as we approached. He had to be her date. As Xavier pulled the chair out for me, all the men stood. Xavier helped me in and I felt awkward with all the eyes on me.

“Juliet, you look lovely.” James beamed.

“Thanks, you look sharp. Angelica, that dress looked great on a hanger, but on you, it’s positively banging!”

“Thanks.” Angelica looked uncomfortable. “You too.” She took the hand of the boy next to her.

“Who’s your friend.”

“This is Ethan, my fiancé.” She smiled up at him like he was the only good thing in the world. I knew that look. Angelica was in love with that boy, probably completely and head over heels in love. “Ethan this is my…” Angelica coughed and cleared her throat. “, sister.” She managed quietly. The word caught in her throat. I wasn’t that bad. If I had a sister like me, well I’d enjoy that, but then again, I wasn’t like Angelica.

“Hi. It’s a pleasure.” I offered my hand.

“The pleasure is all mine.” Ethan took my hand and laid a kiss on the back of my gloved hand. His friend nudged him. “And this is my friend, Raleigh Lockwood. Raleigh, this Juliet apparently.”

Raleigh smiled as he took my hand from Ethan and kissed it. This was weird. His eyes never left mine. They were a smoldering shade of grey, like winter skies. He had blonde hair cropped short, very businesslike, but flattering.

I felt awkward and the look he gave me was too intimate for someone who’d just met me. Xavier took the seat to my right. I just looked around and took it all in. There was a live quartet and I threw them a longing gaze. I missed my cello. It had been way too long since I’d played. I have played it pretty much every day since I picked it up in fifth grade. Before I left I usually played at least a few hours a day.

“Would you like to dance?” Raleigh asked as he gave me a knowing smile. He did not know me well enough to have that look on his face.

“I would love to. Xavier, would you like to dance?”

Xavier stifled a laugh with a cough but stood and offered his hand. “As my lady commands.” Xavier led me to the dance floor. “Amusing as this is, this wasn’t what he had in mind.” Xavier murmured as he took my waist and we started gliding around the dance floor.

“I know, but he was expecting a very different reaction. I didn’t want to give him what he wanted.” I laughed.

Xavier shook his head and chuckled. “You are something else.”

It wasn’t long before Raleigh was standing beside us. “May I cut in?”

“Of course.” Xavier bowed out and Raleigh took my hand.

“Perhaps my intention wasn’t clear before.”

“Oh no, it was clear. I didn’t want to dance with you, so I asked Xavier.”

“Your advisor?”

“And friend.”

“Interesting. Are you spoken for?”

“Meaning?”

“Are you with someone? Does someone already own your heart?”

I shook my head as Chase crept through my mind. That’s a big hell no. “No. My heart is my own.”

“Good.” Raleigh smiled. As much as I hated to admit it, I liked dancing with Raleigh. Maybe it was just that I loved waltzing, but it made me feel like I was floating. Then I saw some familiar faces, Ian, Christine, Amelia, Lana, and a gorgeous blonde god on her arm.

“If you’ll excuse me…” I managed as I pulled away.

“Where are you off to?” Raleigh asked as he caught my hand.

“A few friend just arrive, I’m going to say hello.”

“I’ll go with you.”

I sighed. “Fine.” I went over and grinned at them. “You all look amazing!” I nudged Lana. “That color looks great on you! And I must say, he’s very pretty, good job.” I whispered the last part to her and laughed as I saw the color in her cheeks. I gave her a wink and went to hug Christine. Christine looked amazing in her pink gown. “You are gorgeous girl!”

“So are you! You look fantastic. Raleigh, how are you?”

We exchanged pleasantries and I pulled Lana aside. “That boy looks like he’s straight out of GQ. I approve.” I winked at her and gave her a thumbs up.

“Um, thanks…” Lana looked confused.

“What? Did I say something wrong?”

“No, you didn’t say something wrong.” Lana laughed. “Just shocking.”

“Ian! I missed you!” I grinned. “Not going pond hopping without me, I hope.”

Ian gave me a weary smile. “Let’s not do that again. It wasn’t a good idea.”

“But at least it was fun, right?”

Ian sighed. “Yes, Juliet, I had fun, but now I’m back to being Prince Ian, the heir to the throne.”

“Okay.”

“Ehem!” Amelia coughed as she elbowed Ian in the side.

“Yes, dear?” Ian grumbled through clenched teeth.

“Introduce me.”

“We’ve met.” I snapped. “Remember shopping? Ian and Lana? Lots of trouble?”

“So you’re the reason I couldn’t see my Ian then?”

“Technically, I think that was more the king, but basically.”

“I’ve changed my mind, Ian. I don’t want to be introduced.”

“We’ve already been introduced, you idiot. Does that hairspray keep your head in that shape along with your hair? Because you don’t seem to have a brain in there.”

Xavier grabbed my arm. “Please, excuse her. She’s had too much to drink.” Xavier gave my elbow a swift tug and shot me a warning look.

“I’m not drunk.” I whispered to Xavier.

“I know. Just shut up and listen.”

“But - ”

“The bet.” Xavier warned and I rolled my eyes. “It’s great to see you all. You all look great. Ladies, quite stunning. Lana, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so dressed up. Treat her well.” Xavier warned Chad. “That girl is one of a kind.”

I noticed Ian’s expression more than Chad’s at that statement. Interesting.

“Well, we’ll let you get back too your evening.” Xavier bowed and led me away.

“Why did you say that I was drunk?” I hissed.

“Because you just insulted the prince’s girlfriend.”

“What? She’s a bitch.”

“True as that may be, you cannot speak to people that way.”

“So I can’t be honest?”

“Exactly. Well, sort of. If you can honestly say something nice, go ahead. If you cannot, tell a polite lie.”

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Sure.”

“She’s a snobby, stuck up bitch and I hope she falls down the stairs and flashes everyone. And I hope the paparazzi get it all on tape.”

Xavier laughed and led me back to the dance floor. “You are really something else.”

From then on, I was dancing through most of the night. Many nobles danced with me. I even got the chance to dance with Lana’s dreamboat, who I found out is Chad.

“Lana told me you think I’m pretty.” Chad teased.

“You are pretty. Come on, look at you.”

Chad let out a soft laugh. “I don’t know about that.”

“Seriously? Adonis is jealous. But seriously, you make a cute couple. The contrast is perfect.”

“Thanks.” Chad laughed. “You look like a proper princess tonight.”

“I’m not a princess, that’s Christine.”

Chad let out a dreamy laugh. “Oh, you remind me of someone.”

“Who?”

“Oh, you an dFiore must be quite the pair when you’re together.”

“Is she here?”

“Of course. Who do you think arranges all of these?”

“Really?”

“Yes, it’s all Fiore and her father.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Well, now you do.”

Chad was a lovely dancer. That’s when Ethan cut in, and that was the start of everything going to hell in a hand basket.

“May I cut in?” Ethan asked, a charming smile on his face.

Chad looked at me, a silent question of permission on his face. I nodded and he bowed out. “Of course, I owe Lana a dance anyway.” Chad gave me a kiss on the back of my hand and went off to find Lana.

“You look much nicer than I imagined.” Ethan teased as we started dancing.

“Meaning?”

“The way Angelica talked about you, I was kind of expecting a gorgon or something. Maybe an extra limb or something else.”

“She thinks that highly of me?” I sighed. Ethan led me over to a hallway. I crossed my arms and looked away.

“You’re just a new idea to her. It frightens her.”

“I know.”

“You don’t frighten me.”

“Great, that’s always good to know.”

Ethan gave me a sly smile. “Would you like to go out to the gardens?”

“No, not really.” I shook my head.

“Why not? They’re lovely. Almost as lovely as you.”

“That’s why not.” I warned him. He wasn’t seriously saying this. I must be misinterpreting it.

“Why? Because I complimented you?”

“Where are you going with this compliments?”

“Where do you want them to go?” He asked as he cornered me against a wall. He used his arms to cage me in and I glared at him.

“How dare you?” I snarled. “Here was my sister’s fiancé propositioning me. Knowing full well how my sister feels about him. “You disgust me.”

“Why?”

“You are my sister’s fiancé.”

“Betrothed.” He corrected.

“Same thing.”

“It’s not though. I never asked her to marry me. Our parents decided we’d be a great match.”

“She loves you.”

“She’s boring.”

“Don’t talk that way about her!” I snipped. “She’s still your girl, and you shouldn’t ever talk that way about her.”

“What’s the big deal?”

“You’ve been going with my sister for how long? And you’re going to try and pull this crap with me? Who the hell do you think you are?”

“What are you getting at?” Ethan asked as he rolled his eyes.

“There are only two reasons why you would approach me like. The first is you’re a whore and the second is you think I am. Neither of those answers please me. Angelica is completely and totally in love with you.”

“So? I don’t love her. Besides, tonight, it’s you I want.”

I slapped him hard across the face. Ethan’s hands went to his face where my handprint was bright red. “You don’t deserve her.” I turned on my heel and started off. I only got about three steps before he grabbed my arm. “Let go of me.” I snarled as I glared at the offending hand wrapped around my wrist.

Ethan matched my glare with one of his own. “You just made a big mistake.”

“Yeah? So did you.”

“I thought you hated her.”

“Yeah? Maybe I do. So what?”

“Then why?”

“Because you’re a conniving, scheming, slimy son of a bitch for one. More importantly, no matter now much of a bitch she may be, that girl is still my sister. No matter what, you don’t turn your back on family.” I wrenched my wrist free of his grasp and stormed away from Ethan. I only got about three steps before Angelica standing in front of me.

“What just happened?” Angelica sneered.

“Angie, baby, your sister is crazy!” Ethan cooed as he pulled Angelica against him. “Look what she did! She pulled me off to the side and then wanted to go out to the gardens. When I told her no, she slapped me. Can you believe it?”

“Juliet?” Angelica stared at me, disbelief on her face. “How could you?”

We’d attracted an audience and everyone was murmuring and staring. I looked around. I was a stranger here and now I was a scandal. Again. “If you really believe that’s the kind of person I am, go ahead and believe it.” I stormed off and managed to get outside before I felt the tears burning in my eyes. No. I wasn’t going to cry. I stared at the sky as I calmed myself as best I could. Once again I was reminded why coming here was a bad idea. As I looked around I realized I’d managed my way out into the gardens after all.

“Juliet?” Xavier’s voice was soft behind me.

“What?” I demanded, my back still to him. He wasn’t going to see me cry. I hated when people saw me cry.

“What just happened?”

“Go ask Ethan. I’m sure he has a great story to tell you.” I sniffled.

“Look at me.” Xavier soothed, closer now.

“I’m fine, Xavier. Just go.” I covered my face with my hands.

Xavier’s arms went around my shoulders. “I heard with Ethan is telling everyone. That just doesn’t sound like you. In fact, I think it sounds like a load of rubbish.” I was shaking from fighting the tears as I bit my lip. I really needed him to leave. Xavier pulled me against him. That did it. The last thing I wanted was to be held. It just made it easier to cry. “And it sounds like rubbish because it’s not as he said at, is it?”

“It doesn’t matter. You saw them. They’ve already made up their mind. No one is going to believe me either way. They’ve painted a picture of me. But he doesn’t deserve her. I just wish I could warn Angelica…”

Xavier turned me, so I was facing him. His chin rested on the top of my head and I wrapped my arms around him. I wasn’t going to be able to fight much longer if he kept comforting me. “They all hate me.”

I felt Xavier shake his head. “They don’t hate you.” He promised as he rubbed soothing circles on my back. “They just don’t understand you.”

“Now they not only think I’m stupid, immature, ignorant, and an utter failure, but thanks to Ethan, now they’re also going to think I’m a whore.”

“You’re not a whore.”

“I know that, but no one wants the truth. They want to gossip, even if it’s just lies.”

“Here’s the funny thing about lies, the truth always comes out eventually.”

That was it. I couldn’t fight it anymore. I felt the tears start to fall. Xavier pulled away slightly and I let him. His hand went to my chin and I looked away. “Juliet, look at me.”

“What’s the point?”

“Juliet, look at me.”

“Just go, Xavier.” I tried to pull away, but one of Xavier’s strong arms was still locked behind my back.

“Juliet, it’s not midnight yet. Remember the bet?”

I felt a sudden rage towards Xavier. “You son of a bitch!” I snapped, but in the process my eyes met him. A cute little smirk was playing across his lips. Now that I was angry, I was starting to feel myself again. I hate feeling weak, but anger, anger I could use. “You’re a jerk.”

“Ah, there’s my Juliet. You are a strong, confident, fiery woman. You have as much regality as any royal I’ve ever met. It’s in your blood. It’s who you are. You are also the outsider at the moment. Some people will be foolish enough to believe gossip, but those people cannot think for themselves. Those that know you will know it’s not true.”

I felt a small smile on my lips. “Yeah, I feel so much better. Only stupid people will believe it, great.”

“Juliet,” Xavier coaxed.

“What?” I snapped. I was losing the anger and I wanted to hold onto it. I could think angry, but when I was upset it was just bad. I’d be a mess.

“You are truly…” Xavier’s eyes shifted from my eyes down lower. “Truly…” he started again as his eyes came back up to mine. I looked into his deep brown eyes and saw him lick his half-parted lips. He then stepped away and turned away from me and let out a sigh. “You’re truly extraordinary.” He finished as he turned away from me.

I shook my head. “Even you can’t stand to look at me. I want to go home.”

Xavier turned back to me. “You think I can’t stand to look at you?” he snapped.

Xavier turned back to me. “You think I can’t stand to look at you?” he snapped.

“That’s what it looks like to me!”

“You’re a foolish little girl!”

“Oh yeah? Well, what is it then?”

Xavier did something then that surprised me more than anything else. “This.” He whispered before his lips were against mine. There was a contained ferocity to it, a longing, a need. After a long moment, he pulled away and I was in too much shock to do anything. “That,” Xavier started breathless. “That is what I was trying very hard not to do.” Xavier looked away from me. “That was very unprofessional of me, and you obviously were feeling nothing of the sort. If you prefer, I will turn in my notice -”

“Don’t you dare.” I cut him off.

“What?”

“Xavier, since you’ve been here, things are starting to look up.”

“What are you saying?”

“Xavier, I’ve been here for weeks and I’ve done nothing but screw things up. I don’t understand this world. I still need an advisor. You and I are working. Besides, if you just suddenly quit, questions will be asked. Do you really want to tell my father why you want to quit?”

“Not exactly.”

“Then it’s settled.”

Xavier sighed and smiled at me. “Truly extraordinary.” Xavier pulled out a handkerchief. “Come here.” Xavier dabbed at my cheeks and under my eyes. “Your make up is a bit of a mess. Wait here, I’ll go fetch Lana.”

I sat on one of the gardens benches and stared up at the sky. The sky was clear and the stars were beautiful, unfortunately with all the light pollution, I could only see a handful of them.

“I thought I might find you here.”

I jumped and turned to see Raleigh. “What are you doing here?”

“I heard Ethan making a fuss and figured since you weren’t in the ballroom and no one could find you, you’d either come out here or gone home.” He strolled over and sat beside me. “I must say, I’m relieved it was the former.” Raleigh’s eyes shifted up to the stars. “It really is a beautiful night.”

“What do you want?” I asked, my guard up.

“To see if you were alright.”

“Mhmm…” I muttered. I didn’t trust him.

He sighed. “I heard the ruckus Ethan made.”

“Yeah? And?”

“And you turned him down, didn’t you?”

“Oh? Is that what he’s saying?”

“No.” Raleigh laughed. “He’s still claiming you’re after his chastity. But I’ve known him since nursery and I know when he’s lying. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of my best mates, but I know his habits.”

“Well, isn’t that just, what’s your word, smashing?” I snipped as I crossed my arms.

“Look, Ethan always makes girls who turn him down sound like that. Like he’s some poor, innocent, little saint being molested. If you had in anyway molested him, no one would be able to find either of you right now.”

“Look, Raleigh, it’s been lovely chatting, but I really need to get going.”

As I got up, Raleigh grabbed my hand. “Why don’t you stay? Just a little while. I’d like to get to know you.”

I tried to pull my hand free, but his grip tightened. “That’s something you’d have to earn.”

“How do I do that?”

“You can start by letting go.”

“If I let go, you’ll be gone.”

“Raleigh, I don’t want to be here with you. Tonight is so not a good night.”

“Then give me another night.”

I shook my head. “You entitled prick.”

“Easy there.”

“You’re not going to let go until I agree, are you?”

“Not a chance.” He grinned. That smug son of a bitch thought he was being charming.

“I don’t know my schedule, but Xavier does. I’ll tell him to schedule you in, he’ll get in touch with you.”

“When?”

“I don’t know.”

“Within a week.”

“Pushy, aren’t you?”

Raleigh shrugged. “I have to be with you. You don’t go for just charming.”

“Well, I haven’t really seen charming.” I snipped back.

“Have Xavier schedule me on your next free night.”

“You go talk to him. Go get the details from him. Now let go of me.”

Raleigh pulled on my wrist and I lost my balance. I fell back onto the bench, nearly in his lap. He smiled down at me. “I can’t wait.”

I got up in a huff and elbowed him as I sat up. “Don’t do that again.” I growled as I stormed off, only to nearly take Christine down as I ran smack into her. “I’m sorry.”

“What happened?” Christine asked as she steadied us.

“What do you mean?”

“Ethan is running his mouth. Everyone knows it’s a load of bull, but he’s still sporting your handprint.”

“What do you think happened?”

“I think he probably did something foul. Xavier was looking for Lana and we can’t find her, so I said I’d come to help.” I glared as Raleigh slunk past us, a smile on his face.

Christine watched us both intently. “Okay, now you have to tell me. What happened between you two?”

“He forced me into a date with him.”

“Awww, he’s a really sweet guy.”

“I don’t like being forced into anything. He’s going to regret it. It’s going to be the worst date of his life.”

“Don’t be like that, Juliet. So tell me, what happened with Ethan?”

“He made a smart comment about my sister that wasn’t as clever as he thought. Oh and he did it while trying to make a pass at me.” I looked at Christine for a long moment as an idea rose in my mind. “She won’t listen to me, but she might just listen to you. If you get the chance, can you warn Angelica about the kind of guy Ethan is? Not tonight or anything, that would be too obvious. But maybe later or if you were to talk to one of her friends or something. She might listen to you or to them.”

“Why don’t you say something? It’s obvious you care about her.”

“Did you not see what happened? She hates me. If I say something, I’m sabotaging her relationship. It’s the last thing she wants to hear.”

Christine nodded with a small smile. “Well, let’s fix that mascara.” Christine opened her clutch purse and went to work.

Xavier joined us a few minutes later. “Thank you, Christine. I don’t know what I would have done.”

Christine let out her bubbly little laugh. “Do you want to go back in now?”

I shrugged. “I think I’d rather go home.”

“Juliet, you can go home, but the way I see it you have two options. You can go home and let Ethan see just how much he got to you. Or you can brave them and make a night of it. Somehow, I think you’d rather get under Ethan’s skin by acting like nothing he said mattered.” Xavier coaxed. “But it’s up to you.”

I felt a small smile on my lips. “Alright.” I nodded. “Christine, let’s go back.”

Christine took my hand and led me up the stairs.

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