A Royal Mistake
Pippa lifted her chin and squared her shoulders. The last place she wanted to be was at Heinrich von der Recke’s door, but here she was, fist raised, courage gathered. Sometimes you had to take the shite with the sunshine.
Today it was her turn to roll in the muck.
She knocked three quick raps, her nerves stretched taught. Maybe he’d be out and she could just slip a note under his door. She’d written one just in case. Another of Miss Cartwright’s lessons; always be prepared.
She glanced up and down the empty hall. There wasn’t a soul in sight, save Sarah, her constant shadow. She’d give Heinrich to the count of thirty—no, twenty—and she’d slide her card under the door. After all, a written apology was still an apology.
Pippa quickly counted to twenty and pulled the handwritten note from her pocket. Just as she knelt down, the door swung open. Heinrich stood over her, looking even taller and more handsome than she remembered. Like before, he wore a trim summer suit that showcased his broad shoulders, slim waist, and a rather impressive package.
Not that she was looking at his package, but it was right there.
God, what was wrong with her? Miss Cartwright would have a conniption fit if she could see her now.
She jerked her eyes up to his face. Though it was barely noon, dark stubble covered his jawline. Didn’t the man own a razor? Not that she was complaining. The look suited him. She wanted to run her fingers along his jaw to find out for herself if it was scratchy or soft or something in between.
Which should’ve been her first clue he wasn’t a suitor. Because no way would her body betray her by getting hot for one of the toffs.
Heinrich lowered his gaze, and his dark eyes sharpened when they locked on her own. Then that insufferable smirk spread across his lips and she forgot all about stroking his… beard.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked, voice as smooth and rich as a Richart truffle. “It’s not every day I open my door to find a beautiful woman on her knees.”
He thought she was beautiful?
So not the point. Get off the damn floor!
“I’m not— It’s not—” Flames heated her cheeks as she scrambled to her feet and shoved the parchment envelope in the pocket of her sundress. His gaze slid over her, slow and deliberate, as if he were memorizing every inch of exposed skin.
Pippa shivered in anticipation. She’d never felt a true lover’s caress, but she imagined it might feel like this, her skin hot and tight everywhere his gaze lingered. She sucked in a steadying breath, combing her memory for her carefully practiced speech, which seemed to have evacuated her brain.
Bloody hell. This was not how she’d imagined their meeting. At. All.
“Careful, Your Highness.” He folded his arms over his chest and leaned casually against the doorjamb, ankles crossed. “A lesser man might get the wrong idea. Me? I figure we should get the introductions out of the way before we get to know one another intimately.”