“Sleeping arrangements…” Ethan stood in the living area of the luxury motorhome, a travel bag slung over his shoulder. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“I have,” Natalie said from behind him, shoving him all the way in the door so she could join him. “You get the back bedroom, one, because you’re sick and will need to be extra comfortable, two, you’ll probably go to bed much earlier than me and I don’t want my late night television habit to keep you up, and three, I’m smaller and can fit in the smaller bunk.”
“I can’t argue with any of your reasoning,” Ethan said, turning down the hall past the kitchenette, past the bathroom, and into a larger bedroom than he thought would fit in a motorhome. Not that he’d ever stayed in a motorhome before, but he was impressed. He turned in a full circle, taking it all in. “Natalie, this is beautiful.”
“You sound surprised.” Her voice was soft, but she quickly shifted from endearing compassion to flirty salesperson, telling him all the exciting things he could expect from their rolling home away from home. “This is the elite Esteem 29V Class C Motorhome, complete with leather seating, stainless steel kitchen appliances, a queen-sized bed, and full shower. Roomy and comfortable, you and your family will travel the country wrapped in luxury.”
“Well, considering you are my family for the next few weeks,” Ethan said, just as playfully, “As long as you are happy, I’m happy.”
“I’m happy,” Natalie said, her voice soft again.
Ethan was captivated by her sparkling green eyes and momentarily forgot what he had planned to say. They stood there awkwardly for a moment and then he remembered where he was and the importance of maintaining a professional relationship. He cleared his throat and pulled his focus away. “Well, we’ll see if you’re still happy after spending a few weeks with a spoiled prince who’s used to being waited on hand and foot, has a strange obsession with his own mortality, and sometimes snores.”
“I’ve slept down the hall from my dad my whole life.” She put her hands on her hips and raised her chin defiantly. “I think I can handle a little snoring.”
As if on cue, her father, Miles opened the flimsy outer door to the motorhome and stepped inside. “What do you think, Ethan? Does she meet your approval?”
“It’s gonna be tough, Mr. Dolan.” Ethan rubbed his chin playfully. “She’s already getting a little feisty and we haven’t even left yet.” Ethan knew Miles was referring to the motorhome, but he couldn’t help poking fun at his daughter.
“You jerk.” Natalie pushed his shoulder playfully. “He was talking about the motorhome.”
“Oh! The motorhome!” Ethan winked at Miles. “Yes, it’s very nice. The finest motorhome I’ve ever stood in.”
“Is this the only motorhome you’ve ever stood in?” Natalie looked at him skeptically.
“Yes, ma’am, it is.” Ethan nodded.
“I have a prediction to make.” Miles cocked an eyebrow and had a thoughtful, suspicious demeanor. “You two are going to fall in love by the time you’re done with this trip.”
They both guffawed like they’d done the other day at lunch and shook their heads.
“I highly doubt that,” Natalie mumbled.
“I’m not exactly in a good position to fall in love right now,” Ethan said, taking a deep breath. “Besides, do you really want your daughter falling in love with a man who’s going to die before the honeymoon’s over?”
They were all quiet for a moment. “I didn’t say I want you to fall in love." Miles creased his brow. "I just predict you’re going to.”
“Sir, I’ll do my best not to let that happen.” Ethan felt his throat tighten. “If I have to I’ll eat chili every night or something and stink up this motorhome to the point that she’ll come running home screaming that she wished she’d never met His Highness, Prince Ethan Sayid of Madain Saleh.”
That broke the tension as all three of them laughed. Natalie even snorted from holding in a laugh, then cocked her head to the side. “Is that your full title?”
“Yeah.” Ethan cleared his throat.
“That’s pretty cool,” she said, sounding impressed.
Ethan turned to Miles. “So, were you going to teach us how to handle this beautiful vehicle?”
“Yes, of course.” Miles snapped out of his inner contemplation and walked around the motorhome showing Ethan and Natalie all the ins and outs of the water system controls and how to maneuver the pop-outs and awnings, and the gears and gadgets.
They spent most of the morning getting acquainted with the vehicle and packing and organizing until Bonnie called them in for a nice, hearty lunch of ham sandwiches with lettuce and tomato on toasted bread.
After lunch they said lots of goodbyes, hugs, and a few tears, and then Ethan climbed into the driver’s seat with Natalie beside him.
“You sure you’re up for this?” Ethan asked with a grin before putting the truck in gear.
“I’m sure… Your Highness.” She bit her lower lip with a teasing grin.
“Very funny,” he said, shifting out of park and pulling away from the curb.
“I thought so.” Natalie threw her head back and laughed, then rolled her window down and called out the side. “Bye mom and dad! Don’t wait up!”
“Drive safely!” Miles said.
“Have fun in Vegas!” Bonnie called out. Natalie giggled as she pushed the button to close the window.
“She was just kidding,” Natalie said.
“Of course, I knew that.” Ethan gulped as they increased speed to leave town. Vegas. He tried to hide a smile.
A stand alone novella in the All's Fair in Love and Sports Series by Julie L. Spencer.