Home > The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(9)

The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(9)
Author: Jewel Allen

“Seriously?” I swung around to confront him. “What are you talking about? Could you please leave?”

He swiveled his head and took two strides toward me, looming. But I wasn’t about to be intimidated.

Wait, why was he looking at me and my mouth that way?

“Do I need to—”

“Listen,” he said. “I don’t have time to explain, and I’m sure I will deserve to be slapped, but I might need to kiss you.”

“What?” My eyes involuntarily went to his lips.

“Miss?” the salesgirl said from outside the dressing room. “Are you all right?”

Mat nodded. Not that she was asking him.

“No, I’m not,” I bit out.

Mat’s eyes darkened, like he had any right to be annoyed. I should be the one angry; he was invading my space. The air in the dressing room was stifling all of a sudden.

The curtain parted, and I wrenched my gaze from his, grateful for the store clerk.

Mat’s brawny arms encircled my body and pulled me close as his mouth descended upon mine.

I gasped into his kiss. And it wasn’t just a peck either. It was a full-on, honest-to-goodness kiss. Facial hair brushed against my chin, heightening the sensation. His beard was softer than I imagined.

He kissed me until I was dizzy, my arms winding around his muscular torso, eager to hold him close. He froze for a moment, as though surprised, and then he tightened his hold on me, deepening the kiss.

I vaguely heard the curtains close again and conversation just outside. I was upside down and inside out, lost in the haze of his embrace. His hand caressed the side of my neck, coaxing my head closer.

Until I remembered he was my bodyguard.

Surfacing like a swimmer out of the water, I shoved him away on the chest. We stared at each other, our breathing ragged. He looked stunned.

Mat was insane. Why else would he do something so stupid? Worse, why didn’t I push him off sooner?

“If you ever kiss me a-again…” I stammered.

His mouth twitched. “What then?”

I refused to finish my sentence because, honestly, I didn’t know what to say, and instead, I led the way out of the dressing room in the blouse with the stubborn button. The sales clerk glanced at both of us, her knowing smile fake and brittle as she rang up my purchases. In the mirror behind her, I caught a glimpse of Mat, who seemed preoccupied. I shouldn’t care, but why was I so bothered by the fact that his kiss hadn’t unsettled him as it had me?

It had been earth-shattering, in fact, and I was still wobbly on my legs as I tried to put the whole incident in the back of my head. As I walked out of the store with my head held high, one of the hotel clerks approached me.

“Will madam be staying here?” he asked in English.

“No, thank you. But may I use your washroom?”

“Washroom?”

Mat chimed in with the translation.

“Ah.” He pointed down the hallway for me.

I was sure Mat was watching me this whole time. It wasn’t like I needed his permission. But I made eye contact with him anyway. “I’ll be right out.”

“Take your time.”

The bathroom could have been minted in gold; it was so fancy. The most interesting feature was the sink, where several mirrors were dangling from the ceiling. I glanced at my reflection, startled. My eyes were overbright, and my cheeks bloomed pink.

Irritated by my traitorous body, I dried my hands off under the ultra-sleek dryer and went out to join the cause of my unsettled emotions.

Mat was waiting in the lobby, his profile turned to me. I paused mid-step to watch him. It was one of those rare times when he was serious for a change. He looked almost sad. Worried. What was he thinking of?

He turned, and like a switch, his expression lightened.

What do you worry about, Mat?

He met me at the door, which he opened for me. I tried to ignore my heart racing at his nearness and was glad to get back into the car with Hector as our chaperone. Back to safety.

Mat turned in the passenger seat. “I have a question for you.”

I glanced at him, non-committal.

“Why would a princess like you, who obviously can afford this hotel, not stay there?”

“Just because I can doesn’t mean I should,” I snapped. I didn’t like how I sounded, shrewish and tough. I softened my voice a little. “Besides, I want to experience the real Cuba.”

His eyes roved over my face with appreciation. “Fair enough.”

Hector drove us through the sparse Havana traffic, past a wide boulevard along the sea. Soft salsa music played on the radio, and I found myself smiling. This was a nice break. I was looking forward to getting a taste of Cuba for an early Christmas present to myself.

Mat said something to Hector in Spanish, and they both laughed.

Then I remembered I had to spend it with this guy.

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

 

Mateo

 

I knew the princess hated my guts, and that was fine. But that kiss, man.

Crisan had come into the store, which forced me to sneak into Adele’s changing room. Once there, I had to figure out an excuse that would seem plausible to the saleswoman.

Ergo, the kiss.

When I wasn’t on the lookout for Crisan, I was still reliving holding Adele in my arms in that dressing room. That kiss burned through my consciousness. Too bad she was so hung up on my brother, or I’d…

Yes, and what would you do, Mateo?

I would woo her and court her like no other girl. Yes, that would be nice.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about stealing a girl from under my brother’s nose, especially since I’d heard the stories ad nauseam. They were practically engaged to unite the two kingdoms. Bavaria would complement Mondragón’s industries. It was a natural pairing. I was a lot older than Diego, so our parents hadn’t even considered me for the groom’s part. Diego would be the prince to cement that alliance.

But now.

I could win Adele’s heart right here in Cuba. No one from our family would know. Until she went back to reality and decided that a soccer star with fans around the world led a more glamorous life.

No. It wasn’t worth that heartbreak of playing second fiddle.

I turned to Adele. “I’m sorry about the kiss, by the way.”

Surprise filled her eyes. She averted her gaze and then turned back to me, her words clipped. “You better be. What was that all about?”

Other than that I’m attracted to you?

“On a former assignment,” I explained, “I was pitted against a criminal named Crisan. He’s now out of prison and has found me in Cuba. He was outside the boutique. So the only thing I could think of was to go in and pretend that you and I…”

Adele blinked. “You mean on top of watching out for my stalker, you have one too?”

“Precisely. Makes life interesting, I suppose.”

She leaned back with an air of despair. “It’s terrible.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll keep you safe.”

I wanted to pat her hand, but I just gave her a reassuring smile. She still looked skeptical, her frown deepening, but her demeanor calmed.

Hector pulled up along an old house turned paladar, or a bed and breakfast, on a quiet thoroughfare. This wasn’t a nice part of Havana. No surprise there, with this class-conscious princess. A middle-aged lady with a cheery smile and her hair gathered in a bun was waiting for us at the front wrought-iron gate.

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