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I refused to acknowledge Maddox's existence as we strolled through the palace garden. It was the same garden we had walked through the night of the ball. It's also the same garden where he forced me to come here.

I looked around at the many fruit trees, and the blooming flowers. It was late spring, so the blossoms hasn't turned into fruits yet on many of the trees.

"It looks beautiful out here tonight," he commented, eyeing the scenery before looking at me mischievously.

I glared lightly, but I had to agree. The garden looked like something from a fairy tale, bathed in the moon light like this.

"Soon this garden will be alive with the smells of harvest. Then, the palace will come alive with guests. Then best Chiefs will make dishes with all the fruits and vegetables grown here.

Wines made from the grapes, deserts made from the fruits. It really is a wonderful event. This year, I expect you to be there. At my side," he said, looking at me intently.

I felt shock for a second, then anger.

"You cannot be serious. You've forced me to come here, Maddox! I don't wish to be here. Why would I want to be by your side, the side of my captor, at some silly festival where you gorge yourselves as people starve?" I blurted at him, then clamped my jaw shut.

Oh my god, what did I just say to the future king? He stared at me wordlessly, blue eyes swirling with emotion.

"Fine then. What if I said I would send a quarter of all the food we make to Laban Families in need, but in exchange, you have to come to the festival as my date," he negotiated.

I gaped at him. A quarter?! They make hundreds of dishes at this festival. I stared at him, contemplating the idea. Then I shook my head. This is for a good cause!

You might not like the guy, but this is for the less fortunate.

"Ok, fine. I will, but even if you kick me out before then, you have to send the food. If not, then no deal," I said, holding my chin high.

He grinned his signature, arrogant grin then nodded. I felt my heart skip a beat at the approval in his eyes.

"By the way," he started.
"You look beautiful."

My face heated as I turned away from him. What the heck? Why would he call me that?

"Flattery will get you no where. You have what you wanted, now I ask you kindly to leave me be," I said stiffly.

"But I do not have what I want," he corrected.

I turned, confusion swarming in my mind.

"Of course you do. I agreed to your demand."

"I don't have you, Rebecca," he replied huskily.

My heart stopped. What did he just say? I watched, shocked as he pulled me closed. I opened and closed my mouth, at a lose for words.

He bent his head downward toward mine, his soft lips nearning their destination. My mouth. A gust of hot air hit me, making me blink. It was like cold water in the face.

"Stop!" I shoved him.

He stumbled back a step from pure shock, if nothing else.

"Is that what this is? You lured me to this castle to get me in bed?! Well, I am no fool. I am not some silly servant girl bedazzled by your fancy parties and golden promises.

In fact, nothing bores me more. I have no interest in you, Your Highness. And if you want an easy lay, I'm sure half the maids here would surely oblige you," I shouted, indignant.

"You lie," he whispered.

I stopped, stilling.


"I said, you lie."

"About what exactly?"

"That you have no interest in me," he said, giving me his arrogant grin that made my stomach quiver.

"P-preposterous!" I cry, bewildered.

"No. I speak the truth. You have more than a little interest in me, Rebecca. I can feel it. The hum in the air when I'm around your person.

The way your chin tilts up when you see me and the way your eyes sparkle!" He rants, then grabs my arm, causing me to jolt.

"You feel that, Rebecca? The way your heart just sped up in your chest. That is interest!" He says desperately.

"Or hatred!" I shout, jerking away from him.

He watches me stunned.

"Did you ever think my heart sped up with panic? Or that the sparkle in my eye was hatred? I guess not. An arrogant Prince wouldn't think of those things," I mumble, turning away.

I almost thought he would stop me, but no. I was let go. For now.

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