Nick attended more parties that week than ever in his life. Each time more dignitaries arrived, the champagne flowed, and Nick relished the opportunity to have Adele by his side. He was almost distracted enough to forget about Landon’s murder. Almost.
Thankfully, Prince Marcos was often pulled away for diplomatic appearances and side meetings. That meant he didn’t have time to flirt with Adele. At the moment he was surrounded by two businessmen and one of the Saudi princes. Neither of them wore any adornments setting them apart as royalty and yet even at a party as large as this gathering, they stood out.
“I don’t envy him.” Adele spoke so casually that Nick was taken aback. They’d been standing together all week, and she’d barely acknowledged him, yet she now commented on Nick’s old friend as if Nick were her confidant.
He hadn’t realized they’d both been observing the young prince from across the room until that moment. Nick didn’t want to question her sudden change, so he just as casually responded. “Why’s that?”
“His life is not his own. He doesn’t get to choose who to talk to, where to stand, what to do. He goes and does what he’s told.”
“What? Not interested in accompanying him?” Nick shifted his gaze to the beautiful woman by his side. “I’m sure you could liven up the party for him if he had you on his arm.”
“Please.” Adele rolled her eyes. “I was only flirting with him to make you jealous.”
“Really?” Hope swelled in Nick’s chest.
“Did it work?”
Nick guffawed. “Uh, yeah.”
“Don’t you know?” Adele asked in a low voice. “There’s never been anyone but you.”
“There’s never been anyone but you either,” Nick whispered.
“I wish we could go back in time and pretend the past four years never happened.” Adele met Nick’s gaze, with longing.
“We could start over.” Nick turned to face her and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.
“No, I’m afraid we can’t,” Adele said. “You ignored me for four years, then insulted and offended me. I’m only here because my parents forced me to come.”
“I’m truly sorry about everything. Please, let me make it up to you.”
“It’s too late, Nick. But thank you.” She turned but stopped before walking away. “I’ll see you at the wedding tomorrow.”