Chapter Five: Steamy Showers And Awkward Questions
Day became night more quickly than Kensington hoped. After the cake was cut and the first dance filmed, it was time to head back to the honeymoon suite in the palace for their wedding night.
Nerves churned in her stomach.
She had declined the cake, for she felt sick enough already.
The idea of sex with Douglas was rather daunting already without the added pressure of knowing that the whole thing would be filmed.
Would they be able to see their faces? Or just their bodies? And would she ever know who it was reviewing this footage? And who was giving feedback?
Despite her reputation as a bit of a party animal, she was surprisingly inexperienced in the bedroom. This only added to her reservations.
Bawdy jokes and lewd laughter followed them as they walked the short distance back to the palace, flanked by burly security guards.
Were they there to protect the royal couple? Or to ensure Kensington didn’t try to get out of accompanying him back to the room?
She hoped it was the former.
Her heart was racing as they reached the thick wooden door to the apartment, and then to the bedroom, where the bodyguards left them.
She wished the pounding in her chest came from excitement, but she knew it did not.
She’d never experienced anything like this before—but then, she supposed, neither had Douglas.
She glanced at him briefly. He looked the same as he always did: staring straight ahead, his arms by his sides, his expression calm.
As she grappled with her nerves, she wondered how he could appear so calm. He seemed uncomfortable taking photographs even fully clothed. Surely this would be even more discomfiting for him?
For the first time, they were completely alone—no bodyguards, no staff, no chaperones.
The nerves welled up inside her, and she glanced around the room to avoid looking at him. She did not want her fear to be obvious.
She hated to look weak.
It had obviously been decorated for the evening, and she wondered who’d done it.
There were no visible cameras.
She couldn’t help but wonder if they’d been placed solely around the bed, or if they were over by the sofa too, where a bottle of champagne and two flutes awaited them.
Rose petals were strewn across the bed, and aromatic candles burnt around the room. It was a room designed for lust—but it did not dispel her fears.
“Perhaps, we could… talk, and have some champagne, before…” Douglas suggested.
“Yes, let’s,” Kensington said, sitting down and waiting for Douglas to pop the cork.
He filled the glasses, and Kensington watched the bubbles rise up and nearly fizz over, before they settled back down. She took a large gulp to try to settle her nerves.
“I realize this is… awkward,” he said, taking a sizable mouthful of his own drink.
“But we know what is going to happen… It would be a shame if it were all just mechanical, and dutiful, with no enjoyment.”
Kensington cringed, blushing bright red. She hoped these cameras did not record sound. How did he talk about such things without being embarrassed?
“Yes, I suppose…” Of course, if they could enjoy the sex, it would make this whole arrangement a lot more palatable.
But Kensington was not sure that enjoyment could be planned. A long discussion of how they wished it to be desirable would sap the desire right out of her.
“Did you have any thoughts of positions?”
“I’m sorry, what?” Kensington asked, almost snorting out the champagne in a very unladylike—and un-princess-like—way.
“Sexual positions. I wondered if you had any thoughts… or preferences.”
And then she could not hold it in. In shock and surprise, she burst out laughing. Her eyes widened, and she put a hand to cover her mouth, but she could not stop the giggles.
But it was then that the most surprising thing happened. Douglas’s face broke into a smile, and he began to laugh, too, so hard he could barely breathe.
“I’m sorry,” he said, between harsh breaths. “That was a ridiculous question. This is all so strange…” He topped up their glasses, which they had made quick work of emptying.
“Very strange,” she agreed, gratefully taking the drink and hoping it would relax her more.
The laughter seemed to have worked some magic already. She felt the mood lightening in the room and her own clenched muscles relaxing a little.
“I suppose, I just think we should try to make the best of it,” he said.
She nodded, downed the drink, and felt her skin flush red as it often did when she drank alcohol. Her face, her shoulders, even down to the low-cut neckline of her wedding gown.
She thought she saw his eyes flicker there momentarily, and she was relieved that perhaps he did not find her altogether repulsive.
“I… I don’t have much experience,” she said finally, and something in his eyes made her feel it was safe to say more.
“I’ve dated—as the newspapers have covered extensively, but... when it comes to being intimate…”
He sipped his drink, and his eyes met hers. “Yes?”
“I have only been with one man,” she admitted. “A one-night stand in a club in Rome. He’s signed an NDA, of course. My little error in judgment was swiftly covered up.” She rolled her eyes.
“But what I’m saying is… I am probably more nervous about this than you.”
Douglas did not look surprised or judgmental, and she appreciated that.
She had not expected to feel comfortable sharing anything with him, but considering what they were about to share, it didn’t seem a bad thing that they were confiding a little in each other now.
“It’s not easy, living life in the public eye. Growing up in the public eye. Is it?” he said, as though he understood.
“Always wondering if a partner is going to go to the press, publish some sordid kiss-and-tell, make up a load of lies…”
“Exactly!” Kensington said.
He was describing every man she ever dated; it always came to an end, eventually, because she was concerned about privacy.
Because they were caught on a long-lens camera kissing, or perhaps a little more, and the press turned against her.
It was a lot for anyone to handle, but Douglas understood.
“I’ve had my fair share of fake stories in the press,” he said. “There was one woman who claimed she was pregnant with my child—the future heir to the throne. I hadn’t even had sex with her.”
Kensington rolled her eyes. “Some people can be like that.”
“And then another woman who left me because she hated the press interfering in everything.”
This, too, was a familiar story. Kensington finally felt as though she understood Douglas a little.
“You dated my brother, didn’t you?” Douglas asked, and Kensington felt a flash of awkwardness.
“Briefly. When we were at boarding school.”
“Ugh, boarding school,” Douglas said.
“Not a fan?” Kensington said.
“No! Hated sharing a dormitory, the food was terrible, the lessons uninspired. Did you like it?”
She shrugged. “I missed home, but I made good friends there, and I was the star of the lacrosse team—so that was fun.”
“I can imagine,” he said, and she struggled to read his meaning. This conversation, at least, was distracting her from what lay ahead.
“Did you stay in boarding school?” she asked.
He shook his head. “I was homeschooled, in the end. Mother and Father hired tutors.”
“And you preferred that? You weren’t… lonely?”
He shrugged now, and filled their glasses with the last of the champagne.
“I liked the lessons. It was a little lonely, but it was necessary, after…”
He paused. “You know my older brother died when I was a teenager?”
“Oh,” Kensington said, feeling like a fool. “Yes, sorry, I did know that.”
“Well, after that, when I became the heir… things changed. Father needed to control my education, and so it made sense for me to be homeschooled. I certainly learned more!”
Such an important fact in the Nielsen history, and yet somehow she’d forgotten it.
She wondered what Douglas would have been like if he’d remained second in line to the throne and not been held to such high standards.
Would he have found it easier to socialize, she wondered?
At least she felt she understood him a little better—was intrigued by him, even. Perhaps this would not be the disaster she had been imagining.
The heady scent of the candles and the rose petals seemed to have become stronger, and she took in a deep breath of the scent.
Time was ticking, and she knew the deed must be done before midnight, in order to ensure the marriage was deemed legal.
“Should we take a shower?” Kensington asked. “I am desperate to get this wedding dress off.”
He nodded. “That’s a good plan. There’s two showers, I think…”
“What a well-planned room,” she said, trying not to think of the other… amenities the room had for this night. “Can you… help undo my dress?”
“Of course,” he said. She turned then felt his fingertips on her back as he undid the fiddly little buttons that kept the creation in place.
Once it was loose enough that she could remove it alone, she thanked him, and held the dress in place as she walked in the opposite direction.
No effort had been spared in the shower room Kensington entered, and she presumed the same was true of the one Douglas currently occupied.
More rose petals, more scented candles, and an amazing rainfall showerhead that was as loud as a waterfall in the rainforest—once she figured out how to turn it on.
With the dress finally off, she undid the restrictive underwear she had spent the day in and stepped into the hot water.
As she reached for the lavender soap, she noticed the tight bra had left lines across her body, and she smoothed her fingers across them.
The alcohol made her skin more sensitive, she noticed as she ran the sponge over her body.
The hot water, combined with the champagne, did a lot to relax her body, although nerves about what was to come still bubbled up inside her.
She was beginning to think the evening might not be as terrible as she envisaged. As she rinsed the shampoo from her hair, she pictured Douglas, across the hall, in a shower the same as hers.
His muscles under the running water, the smattering of hair leading down his abs…
She shut off the water and stepped out of the glass cubicle, letting the water drip from her body onto the bath mat. She then grabbed a towel to rub her hair dry and pat the water from her body.
Thankful for the provisions in the room, she brushed her hair and put it into a quick braid to keep it out of the way.
With the towel wrapped around her body, she ventured from the shower room.
As she opened the door, the one opposite swung open too, and she was shocked—and quite impressed—to see Douglas standing there, completely naked, droplets of water still clinging to his body.
Her eyes wandered up his muscular frame until they met his, and she saw no hesitation there.
And so, with a deep breath, she undid her towel and let it drop to the floor.
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