Home > The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(6)

The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(6)
Author: Jewel Allen

He startled at my question, like I’d roused him from deep thought. “Yes, yes,” he said, sounding absent-minded and uncertain.

It was almost time to get off the plane. I repacked my stuff, still shaking my head at Quill’s handiwork, and let Mat take the luggage to the front of the plane. He was preoccupied; I could tell. His thoughts were elsewhere. It occurred to me that maybe he had a girlfriend, or maybe even a wife somewhere, but, of course, I didn’t dare ask.

How could bodyguards have relationships? It seemed like it would be hard to be away from your significant other for long periods of time. But, of course, in this case, he was just assigned to me for five days. A bodyguard familiar with Cuba—a quirky clause in the agreement Megalo bound me to before he would agree to an interview.

Megalo was the scoop of the year, and I was willing to do anything within moral and legal limits to snag this one.

As we waited for the plane to be cleared for docking, I opened my laptop to my email and connected to the mobile network. Soon, the app spooled me into my inbox. I scrolled past a few spammy emails and a couple I could take care of later. Then I came to a series of emails, all from the same address, that I didn’t recognize.

I clicked one open and started reading. “Dear Adele, Why won’t you open your Facebook inbox? Are you scared of me?”

I frowned. Looking at the name, user123, I didn’t recognize it. All the other emails, some half-dozen of them, had the same variation of message. I went to my social media feed next. I had twenty notifications. I clicked on one, my throat tightening. It was someone named Aristotle who was using expletives to say my last article had wrecked his business.

After checking the rest of it, I eventually stopped clicking and just sat there, shaken. Each message escalated in viciousness. I was glad it wasn’t on some public site for people to read, but at the same time, the private nature of the threats made them feel even more threatening.

I checked on a few more emails and put the laptop on sleep. I had an extreme need to tell someone about it.

Mat. He would know what to do.

My phone buzzed. It was a text message from Quill. Actually, a series of text messages. Without looking at them, I called her.

She answered in her soft-spoken voice.

“Hi, Quill.”

“Oh, hi. You got there okay?”

“Yes.” I thought about telling her about my clothes, but I decided I would just stay quiet about it.

“Great. Well, I had been wondering if I should tell someone where you are…”

“Wait. What?”

“Yes. A man by the name of George said he was returning your call but had lost your number. He said you’d called him for a story and asked that he call you right back because of the deadline. He said it was for your next story.”

“I don’t know of any Georges,” I said, my palms perspiring as I held my phone. “Are you sure it wasn’t Aristotle?”

“No. He specifically said George. And I told him he’d just missed you. That you’d gone to Havana.”

“Oh, Quill. You didn’t.”

Quill sounded stricken. “Sorry! Was I not supposed to help a source?”

“That’s the thing. I don’t think he’s a source. It’s okay.” But my heart pounded erratically in my chest. It was like the clothes-packing—Quill meant well. “Do me a favor, though—could you please not tell anyone where I am the next little bit? Or give just anyone my number?”

“Of course! They’ll have to tell me the password.”

“What’s the password?”

“That’s the thing. I don’t know, so I won’t feel obligated to give out any information.”

I could picture Quill smiling her impish smile. Personally, I didn’t feel much like smiling.

The plane stopped moving, and Mat appeared in the hallway with a questioning glance. “I have to go,” I told Quill.

I wanted to say something to Mat about the threats, but there wasn’t time. We needed to get off the plane and check in with customs.

Then I remembered I needed something suitable for the interview with Megalo, not to mention day-to-day wear. I pulled up short, and Mat clutched my arm tightly.

I was aware of his palm, warm on my skin, and a masculine, soapy scent that filled my senses. I watched as his lips formed the words, “This way, Princess.”

I glanced out at the aging airport hub. My heart sank. “Do you think they’ll have a clothes shop along the way?

His glance followed mine. “Probably not the same standards as the ones in Bavaria, no. Can you live with non-designer clothes?”

What did I do to deserve this kind of treatment? This bodyguard needed to go. “You know,” I said coolly. “I have it in my mind to fire you.”

“Go ahead,” he said, shrugging. “Good luck finding someone here who you can trust to provide security.”

I gritted my teeth. “I can promote one of the other guards. It’s not like you’re indispensable.”

He raised an eyebrow. “My contract says it’s me or nothing.”

“You or nothing,” I echoed. “Are you serious?”

“Yup. So just because I have to remind Her Royal Highness that we’re in Cuba now doesn’t mean you have to throw a royal fit.”

Tears stung my eyes. Why was he being so mean? I blinked rapidly and turned away from him.

Don’t show weakness.

That was one of the lessons I had to learn early on as a brand-new journalist at the paper. Whatever I did, I could never get it right. My colleagues expected me to get preferential treatment, so they made my life difficult. Veiled insults. Unreasonable demands. Whispers behind my back.

When I banished my bodyguards from the office, people still snickered. I got an anonymous email saying they hoped I watched my back because other people wanted me to fail, and no amount of bodyguards could help me.

There was just no way to win.

And now, this…this Neanderthal with an intense, unsettling gaze was taking on the role of bully. I was so tired of it. I wanted to push him far, far away.

“I might not be able to get rid of you,” I said in an even voice, “but I can make your life hard.”

“Oh?” He smirked. “For your information, Princess,” he said the last word dripping with sarcasm, “as I said, this is my last job. After this, I am retiring, remember?”

“Is that why you can’t deliver a good job? It’s no wonder. You’re in lame-duck mode.”

He took a step closer to me, his eyes burning mine. His gaze dropped to my mouth, and my body went through all sorts of silly reactions. Just because the guy was good-looking in a dangerous way. Big deal.

His skin smelled of musk and a full beard covered his jaw.

“Quack quack,” he said softly before flashing a smug smile.

I refused to smile back. He was just being immature. I pushed past him toward the airport, trying to outmarch him. But the guy kept abreast of me, even opening the door to the building. As if that was going to make him look like a hero in my eyes.

Inside, the airport itself was a throwback to an older time. I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone told me there was a bowling alley somewhere in the dingy building. With pins still being positioned manually by an employee.

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