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He chuckled. "If you insist, though I'm a little disappointed that I don't get the pleasure of having you snuggled up against me all night, bare-assed."
"Boxers," she said again, primly.
A moment later, more soft material touched her hand, and she realized he'd had them all along. "You are shamelessly wicked, Griffin Verdi," she chided him as she wriggled into his boxers. They were a little tight in the ass, as she had more junk in her trunk than he did.
Once that was taken care of, she lay back in the bed and adjusted her pillow. What did they do now? Kiss goodnight and roll over onto their separate sides?
Griffin solved that problem for her. As soon as she lay back, he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her against him, his h*ps curving against hers. Aha. He was a spooner. Griffin nuzzled her neck as he settled her against him. "This is much better than the pillow fort, don't you think?"
His words tickled her ear. "It's definitely more intimate. I hope you don't snore tonight."
"I never snore," he said in that haughty voice. "You, on the other hand, could put a train to shame."
She snorted. "Now I know you're lying. I'm a Southern girl. We don't snore, and we don't cuss."
"Mmmhmm. Southern girls are clearly out of touch with reality."
She tickled his sides before he grabbed her hands and tucked them into his grasp. Then she cuddled against his chest, his mouth teasing her neck, Maylee somehow drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Griffin woke up with a raging hard-on, wild white-blonde curls tickling his nose, and an urge to spend the day in bed.
He sat up and reached over the woman clinging to his front to flick off his alarm, and noticed with amusement that Maylee didn't even stir. Well, actually, all she did was burrow deeper against his chest, increasing his morning wood problem.
Damn, but he'd liked last night.
He stroked a hand over her out-of-control curls, admiring the way they fluffed and made her look thoroughly, adorably f**ked. So they'd had a pajama barrier. He couldn't deny that fooling around with Maylee had been the best thing to happen to him in a long time. And for the first time, he was rather grateful for the royal wedding and Kip's inconvenient chicken pox.
Leaning down, he kissed her cheekbone. "Maylee, darling, wake up."
She mumbled something about feeding the hounds and flicked a hand at her cheek as if brushing away a mosquito.
That was . . . charming. With a grin to himself, Griffin reluctantly released her and made his way to the bathroom. He'd shower and then wake her up when he got back.
He undressed and examined himself in the mirror. He was smiling like a loon. No, he realized, like Reese did whenever someone mentioned Audrey. He normally just rolled his eyes at that dopey, lovesick smile on Reese's face and figured Audrey could do amazing stunts in bed.
But Maylee hadn't done amazing stunts. She'd simply been herself-excited, breathless, and wild with need-and he'd thought it was the most erotic thing ever.
Just thinking about her made his dick twitch, and he took himself in hand as he got into the shower, turning the water on. There were small red scratches on his shoulders from her nails, and that made his c**k ache all the more. He poured a bit of conditioner on his hand, flattened a palm against the tile, and jerked off, imagining her kneeling before him and burying his hands in those wild blonde curls as he f**ked her mouth.
When he finally got out of the shower some time later, Griffin wrapped a towel around his h*ps and emerged from the bathroom to see Maylee sitting on the end of the bed, blinking sleepily, her hair nearly standing on end.
"You didn't wake me up," she murmured, rubbing her eyes.
He moved to her side and leaned down to kiss those crazy, springy curls he was coming to love. "You seemed tired. I thought I'd let you sleep a few minutes more."
Her cheeks flushed red at that, and she jumped up from the bed. "I should go get dressed so we're not late for breakfast."
As she hurried away, he admired the way her ass filled out his boxers. He was going to hide those godawful camouflage pajamas so she'd have no choice but to sleep in his clothing. He liked the look of that quite a bit. She looked like she completely belonged to him.
As she should, he decided.
Griffin dressed, throwing down a few ties to let her pick out one for him. She returned to his room a short time later, those delicious curls tamped down into a tight bun and her even more delicious body encased in a shapeless, demure skirted suit that he was pretty sure he'd seen the princess's mother wear once. It made her look at least ten years older than she was. He frowned. He'd turned his delicious, tousled Maylee into this frumpy creature.
But she sailed over to him with a beaming smile, plucked a tie from the pile he left for her, and crooked her finger, and he forgot all about anything except that sexy little gesture.
"One of these days," she teased as she looped the tie around his neck, "I'm going to show you how to tie your own tie. They have tutorials on YouTube, you know. Very informative. And they go real slow so you can follow along."
"Lovely," he murmured.
"And just think of how independent you'll be."
"Independence is overrated if it means I lose out on your putting your hands on me," he said boldly, and was rewarded with her blush and a happy giggle.
"There," she said with a final tug on his tie. "All done. Now come on. We have to eat a quick breakfast today because your schedule is full."
He sighed. "I don't see how it can possibly be full. The wedding is in two days and I swear I've visited every dignitary, museum, and charity group in all of Bellissime at this point."
She laughed and gave him a saucy look. "I didn't make your schedule, Griff. I just manage it."
True. He could blame Kip for that.
They put the emeralds back in their velvet box, stopped downstairs to lock them up in a secure safe in the manager's office, and then continued on to breakfast. They'd barely sat down before Maylee opened the computer and began to type, a look of concentration on her face. "We should ask the kitchen for a couple of sandwiches before we go," she told him absently. "It's going to be one of those days."
He crossed his arms as a waiter put a cup of coffee in front of him, frowning. Damn it. The last thing he wanted was "one of those days." He wanted a day of relaxation. A day of spending time with Maylee and seeing that beaming smile of hers again. He wanted to see her face light up like it had when she'd bought those ugly, ridiculous souvenirs. He most certainly did not want to spend it listening to a charity or three describing how his money would be best spent by them.
Griffin looked over at Maylee. There were hints of smudges under her eyes. She looked tired, and it wasn't just from last night. He suspected his grueling schedule would exhaust anyone. He knew he was certainly tired of it. He drummed his fingers on the table, thinking. "Have you had a chance to see much of Bellissime, Maylee?"
She was reading emails and her lips moved, as if she were committing the information to memory. He had to repeat the question again before she looked over at him. "What? Oh, no. We've been much too busy for that."
Even as she spoke, she put her hands on the keyboard and began to type again. Then, she pulled out that ridiculous Post-it stack and began to make notes. He constantly found them stuck in the back of the sedan. He'd even found one stuck to the bottom of a shoe once. Just like him, she was running herself ragged.
And for one day, he'd had enough. He thought of her excitement at the paltry souvenir stand they'd visited. How would she react when he showed her Bellissime by the light of day instead of a quick walk at night?
Griffin picked up his coffee cup. "I think I shall be sick today."
It took a moment for Maylee to stop typing, and when she did, she looked over at him. "Huh?"
"I'm sick," he enunciated, and took a sip of coffee. "Cancel my appointments."
"Oh, but . . ." She looked at the computer, then back at him, frowning. "What about-"
"It's either appointments with my mother, other titled people who want a visit from a royal, or people who want money. Tell the charities that they can send me a bill and I'll give them what they want. Tell everyone else to sod off."
She chuckled. "Shall I write it just like that? Lord Montagne Verdi wishes for you to sod off."
"You can word it much nicer, of course. And then we're going to go sight-seeing."
Her eyes lit up, which was all that he needed to know he'd made the right decision.
After breakfast, they retreated back to their rooms to change. Griffin figured that if they didn't want to be followed, they'd need disguises. Maylee had picked up a few touristy shirts and baseball caps for family back at home, and so they'd separated to change into jeans and the ugly silkscreened T-shirts. Griffin shoved a baseball cap over his head and frowned at his reflection. "Appalling."
Of course, when Maylee returned a few minutes later, baseball cap over her curls and a tight T-shirt and jeans outlining her curves, he had to change his mind on their choice of clothing. Her delectable ass filled out her jeans remarkably well.
This, he decided, was a good plan.
"I brought you some sunglasses, too," she told him, and produced a pair of plastic monstrosities with the lenses printed with the Bellissime flag.
"I have prescription glasses."
"Yes, and everyone recognizes you in them. Can you see good without them?"
"Can you see well," he corrected.
"I can see just fine. It's you I'm worried about."
He sighed. "Never mind. I can see without them, yes."
"Then put them on. It's all part of your disguise."
He did, and turned to give her an unhappy glare.
She choked on a laugh at the sight of him. "Very nice," Maylee told him, unable to keep a straight face.
"The first place we are going is a sunglasses store," he admonished her, trying to scowl and unable to in the presence of her happiness.
"Come on," she told him, and extended her hand for him to take. "I know the back way out of the hotel. No one will see us."
Griffin put his hand in hers and was surprised at how pleasant it was. Hers was warm and soft and reminded him of her touches last night. This was definitely getting more enjoyable by the minute.
They went through the maze of the hotel and then through the back loading dock, and escaped down a narrow alleyway, walking two blocks before coming out into the midst of the Bellissime streets. They were full of tourists, the streets garlanded with the royal family's colors.
"Where to first?" Maylee asked him with a squeeze of his hand.
He tapped his sunglasses. "We're getting rid of these."
She laughed again, and they went off into the shopping district.
Griffin decided he rather liked spending time with Maylee. She was fascinated by everything, from the street vendors with wooden puppets in the shape of both the crown princess and Luke Houston, to the chocolate cakes sold on the corners. They passed plenty of stores, but Maylee was more interested in buying things to send to family than for trinkets of her own.
He got a far less embarrassing pair of sunglasses, and he let her lead the way after that. To his surprise, she was just as interested in the older buildings of Bellissime as she was with the touristy stops. Every plaque they passed by, she stopped to read and then would ask him questions. It was a pleasure walking the streets with her and telling her about his homeland, and she soaked up every word. He especially liked her intake of breath when they passed the Saine-Anne de la Vallée Cathedral, the tiny, ancient church that Alex and Luke would be married at a few days hence.
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