“Sam, I need your help,” Prince Marcos said, breathless with urgency.
“How can I be of assistance, Your Highness?” Sam shifted his phone to his other ear. “Oh, and sorry to hear about your brother.”
“Thank you, he will be missed.” His answer was a little too dismissive for a relative in mourning. Marcos hurried on with the reason for his call. “I need you to locate Lyla Donovan. She’s a guest at your resort.”
“Is she the woman who fell in the pool after Nick’s wedding?” Sam didn’t immediately hop up from where he was having dinner with his older brother, Liam, in the Sushi restaurant at the resort. With Nicholas on his honeymoon and Lyle dealing with his wife on bed rest with a difficult pregnancy, Sam found himself often stuck alone with Liam.
“Yes, I’m going to marry her,” Marcos answered.
“Really? Does she know of your plans?” Sam pushed a little piece of salmon around with his chopsticks, dipping it in soy sauce and a tiny pile of wasabi.
“I told her, but she hung up on me.”
Sam couldn’t help laughing loudly. “Just hung up on you for no reason?”
“Well, I may have offended her,” Marcos said. “But I’m coming to beg her forgiveness.”
“Oh, this I gotta see. What do you need my help for?” Sam lifted the perfectly garnished raw fish into his mouth along with clump of basmati rice.
“I don’t want to have to search the whole resort for her. I don’t have time.”
“What’s the urgency?” Sam asked, setting aside his chopsticks and dabbing at his mouth with a cloth napkin. He rose from his seat and pulled a money clip from his pocket. He tossed a hundred dirham note onto the table, glancing over at his server to make sure she saw him pay for their meal along with a generous tip. He kicked his brother, who was completely distracted by his phone, probably texting Rachel again. “Come on. We gotta go help Prince Marcos.”
“My father’s making me get married and produce an heir as soon as possible.”
“And you’re going to ask Lyla to marry you?” Sam asked. “Couldn’t you snap your fingers and find some princess somewhere to be the lucky egg donor?”
“I want Lyla,” Marcos said, so matter of fact.
“Well, I want Leanne, but a guy doesn’t always get what he wants,” Sam said. “I suppose if you’re a prince you can get anything you want.”
“You’d think,” Marcos said. “But it’s not that simple. Lyla hates me.”
“If she hates you, why do you want her so bad?” Sam wondered if he was asking himself or Prince Marcos.
“Because… because I just do,” Marcos stammered with an answer. “She’s Lyla.”
“I actually understand better than you realize.” Sam thought about his own answer to the same question. Why does he want Leanne? Because she’s Leanne. “I’ll go find Lyla right now. How soon will you be here?”
“The limo is pulling out of the airport, so in about twenty minutes.”
“On it.” Sam hung up the phone as he strode from the restaurant, Liam in tow, and headed for the lobby.
Sam was almost creeped out by how quickly the front desk staff were able to locate one of their guests, almost as if they kept tabs on everyone in the resort. He wondered how closely they kept tabs on him, and if they would give up personal information to anyone or just because he was the owner’s son. Something to investigate. For now, he was just glad to locate Lyla Donovan.
He didn’t have to wait in the lobby for long before a small but distinguished limousine pulled up and Prince Marcos emerged along with his advisor, Collins. They didn’t even wait for the driver to come around and open the door for them.
Without preamble, Marcos asked, “Did you find her?”
“Yeah, she’s out back at the tiki bar having drinks with a couple of girlfriends.”
“Perfect.” Like the confident prince he was, Marcos strode through the lobby without asking any of them to follow. They all did. Collins hurried to stay at his right shoulder.
Sam and Liam—who had finally pocketed his phone—hung back and waited near the entrance to the back patio as Marcos and Collins approached the table where Lyla and her friends sat.
Marcos swung an empty chair around from the next table and straddled it, leaning against the back directly across from Lyla. Collins also pulled up a chair but sat in a more conventional manner.
The shocked expression on Lyla’s face was a combination of anger and wonder. Sam wished he were close enough to hear their conversation but didn’t want to eavesdrop or intrude.
Collins lifted his hand to wave over a waitress just as Marcos left his chair and circled the table to take Lyla’s hand. With very little coaxing, she slipped her hand in his and allowed him to help her to her feet. He backed away from the table, the entranced girl practically in his arms already.
“Dang, he’s good. What the heck?” Liam said.
“He says he’s gonna marry her,” Sam told his brother. “Come on, let’s go see what he does.”
Sam and Liam approached the table where Collins now sat alone with Lyla’s two friends. None of them even glanced their way.
All eyes in the poolside tiki bar were trained on the prince and his new girlfriend walking in the garden. Some guests in the bar even had cell phones raised, no doubt taking photos and videos that would go live on social media.
Within a few minutes Marcos stopped Lyla and lifted her hand to his lips then pulled her close. She didn’t seem to resist. Marcos pulled back just slightly and cocked his head to the side, asking her a question none of them could hear.
Marcos pulled her closer and Sam expected him to kiss Lyla. Instead, he leaned down and kissed her neck, just below her earlobe and then moved to the other side and kissed her there as well.
One of Lyla’s friends at the table whimpered and whispered, “Swoon.”
“Gee, is that all it takes?” Sam muttered. “Gonna have to remember that.”
Marcos whispered something to Lyla, his lips close to hers again and waited, a feather’s width apart, allowing her the choice to complete the kiss… or not.
Suddenly Lyla reached into Marcos’s hair, and she pulled him to her, kissing him with wild passion and abandon. He forgot, or ignored, all the people watching, and kissed her solidly, holding nothing back.
Several patrons at the outdoor bar whistled or catcalled, cheering on the prince for his conquest. People applauded and cheered.
When they finally came up for air, Marcos closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to hers, breathing heavy enough for Sam to see from twenty feet away.
Lyla whispered something to him, and Marcos pumped his fist into the air calling out, “Yes!” Lyla placed her hand on his chest and spoke to him again too quiet for any of them to hear. They spoke to each other for a few more minutes before Lyla leaned her head back and laughed.
Marcos picked up both her hands in his and kissed them before lowering himself to the ground and speaking passionately up to her. Sam didn’t need to read lips or have hypersensitive ears to know Marcos was asking Lyla to marry him
“Yes! You silly man!” Lyla called out. “Get up here and give me another kiss!”
Marcos stood and lifted her into his arms, swinging her around as they both smiled and laughed and the people in the bar clapped and cheered. He stopped spinning, rested her back on her feet, and they spoke quietly to one another again.
Marcos eventually cradled her face and Lyla closed her eyes, surrendering to one more sweet, soft kiss. He pulled away after just a few short seconds, and they both opened their eyes, staring into one another’s souls.
“I’m taking notes,” Sam said. “I gotta get me some of those skills.”
“I think every guy in this bar is taking notes,” Liam acknowledged.
Eventually Lyla slipped from Marcos’s arms and held his hand in hers until the last possible second as she backed away from him, leaving him standing alone in the garden as she glided back to her friends.
Sam watched as they gathered their purses and phones and beach towels and sweatshirts and other belongings and started toward the elevator to head back up to their suites.
Before entering the elevator, Lyla turned one more time and waved lightly to Marcos. His answering expression was that of cheesy, blissful happiness as she stepped into the elevator and disappeared.
“Lucky son of a prince,” Sam grumbled. If only convincing Leanne would be that easy. Sam had serious doubts. Instead of dwelling on his own pain, Sam headed over to congratulate Marcos on his engagement.