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Chapter 8

"I know for sure that love saves me and that it is here to save us all."
~Maya Angelou


I continued to stare at Will with my mouth agape. He hurriedly put his wig back on to avoid people recognizing him.

"I want you to know I haven't been coming here because you work here. I promised you I wouldn't harass you outside the palace, and I intended to keep that promise. I came for the food, especially the pie, if you haven't been able to tell by how much I eat. I didn't mean to start coming habitually, but then you started talking to me, and you treated me so normally. I don't get that when I go out; everyone gives me special treatment." He scowled at the thought. "Even at the palace, it's like you don't want to be around me for the mere fact I'm the prince. Please don't kill me for saying that…

"You did save my life just now, so I'll let it slide," I said.

William shoved his hands into his pockets. "I thoroughly enjoyed talking to you that first night I came, and not just because you're drop-dead gorgeous. Don't kill me for that either. I guess I felt the only way you'd ever treat me normally is if you didn't know it was me. In fact, I think that's the most normal someone's ever treated me, which only made me want to experience that feeling some more. So I became Smith."

"What's your alias first name?" It sort of just blurted out of my mouth.

"I decided to keep it Will."

"So you'd be Will… Smith?" Laughter involuntarily burst from my mouth. "Smooth. Okay, yeah, it's a little weird you've come to Donaldson's every night, but if you hadn't been here, I don't know if I would. So I'll forgive you for the disguise and all. And thank you, William. Really."

"You're welcome. Um, may I walk you back to Donaldson's?" he asked shyly. "You should get an ice pack for that bruise forming on your cheek. Then I'll leave once you're safe there. Will one of the workers walk you home?"

"Yeah, Mark. Thank you, again… for walking me back this time."

The two of us headed back to Donaldson's, falling into an awkward silence I felt I needed to break. After everything he told me, and after realizing what I said about the prince to the prince, I started feeling guilty. I mean, I flat out told him that I didn't like him, save for the fact I didn't know it was him at the time, but still…

"Hey, uh, about what I was saying earlier, about Will- I mean you, I'm sorry. If I hurt your feelings, I didn't mean to. In regards to my behavior towards you at the palace, I guess I was trying so hard to act like you didn't mean anything to me that it appeared as if I did. I'm not saying you don't mean anything to me. You're the future King of Verona, so you do matter- to the future of the country, and that means the future of its people, and I'm one of its people. I'm rambling now, uh, just in general, I'm sorry."

"You don't have to apologize, Annie. I don't blame you for saying those things. For one because they're all true. I'm a partier and a drunk."

"Don't call me Annie. Maybe you're right, too, though. Maybe you're hiding from something," I offered.

He looked down at me, a small smile on his face. "You're really nice when you want to be, you know that?"

I chuckled. "I can be."

"Anna! What the hell happened?" Mr. Wallace's voice demanded. Will and I turned to Frank. He and his wife stood in front of us with their coats on, staring at us in mortification.

"Someone tried to rob me," I said. Pointing to Will, I added, "He saved me. I was coming back to get an ice pack."

"Come back in, come back in. You too, Sir," Mr. Wallace insisted.

"Oh, that's okay, Sir. I should really get back home," Will insisted.

"Nonsense. Not until we get you a cup of milk and a slice of pie." Will raised his eyebrows in surprise, causing Mrs. Wallace to add, "Oh yes, we know your order."

Without giving the prince time to refuse, the Wallaces got us inside. The Stewarts were still there. Mark and his father were play-fighting behind the bar but stopped immediately when they saw the four of us, demanding to know what happened. I gave them an explanation while Mrs. Wallace ran to make an ice pack for me.

"You know, for an old man, you look really young in the face," Mark observed.

"Mark!" I chastised.

"What? He does!"

"I'm not an old man. I'm sort of only eighteen," Will explained sheepishly, taking off the wig. The Stewarts and Mr. Wallace stared wide-eyed for a few moments before Mark interrupted the silence by saying, "Holy blonde cheerleader batman!"

"What is everyone- oh my," Mrs. Stewart gasped, dropping my ice pack. I picked it up and placed it on my cheek.

"I'm guessing you're a Supernatural fan," Will said casually.

"Hell yeah. Supernatural rocks. Did you find Anna Milton hot?"

"I gotta say I did. I tend to like the blondes, but Anna had it going on."

"Oh my god, you two," I laughed. "Seriously?"

"Annalise, you are just as bad. You fangirl over Dean and practically every other guy on the show," Mark pointed out.

"Shut up."

"Well, I should probably head back home. Will you make sure she doesn't get into any more trouble?" Will asked, slipping his hat and hair back on.

"Of course. Do you need a ride back?" Mr. Stewart replied.

"I'm good, Sir. With this wig, no one will notice me. It was nice meeting you, and I'll be back one day for more pie and milk. Goodbye," Will said, starting to leave.

"Wait, I'm not letting you leave without repaying you for saving me," I objected.

The prince turned to face me. "Honestly, I don't need anything. I'm just glad you're okay."

"And I'm honestly not letting you out that door without some form of repayment."

He looked at me, trying to hide… amusement? "Has she always been this stubborn?"

"Since she was born," Mark said. I slapped him on the arm.

Will pondered my offer. "Anything I want?"

I hesitated, wondering what he was thinking. "Anything…"

"Just let me call you Annie. That's your repayment."

"Of all things you could've chosen, you chose that?"

"Yes. Now I will see you tomorrow, Annie. Goodnight, everyone." Will bowed and left. We stood, stupefied, as we watched him go.

Mark bumped his shoulder into mine. "And you say he doesn't like you."

I hit him with my ice pack.


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