A Prince's Ransom: Kidnapped by the Billionaire (4 page)

Eric pulled her panties back into place; she hadn’t even realized he’d pulled out of her. “Go get cleaned up,” he murmured into her ear.

Katherine immediately sat up, staring at him. “You aren’t going to be here when I get back, are you?”

His head tilted at her slightly. “You’ll just have to see, ma chérie, but I assure you that you need to get cleaned up.” Her throat tightened, and she shifted, glancing down; she’d left a stain on his pant leg. Yes, she needed to get cleaned up.

And yet, as she slid out of his lap, her legs wobbling, and headed downstairs to the main floor where the restrooms were, she was already fishing her coat ticket out of her bra and heading outside to get the rest of her stuff. Screw the fact that she’d only been gone a goddamn hour. Screw letting him get the last word and still managing to leave her wanting.

It took all of Katherine’s control not to slam the door to her hotel room when she finally made it back. She was mildly woozy, which she imagined was more from the fact that she had just been publicly made to come by a prince than the fact that she’d only had half a drink. She kicked off her shoes just inside the door, leaving them sprawled haphazardly. She really didn’t give a damn right now if they were in the way.

“Katherine? What the hell…” Tara’s voice, groggy, started in the darkness. The sheets of her bed rustled while she fumbled for the light on her bedside table. “Could you seriously be any louder?”

“Sorry,” she muttered in answer, forcing herself to take a deep, calming breath. “I just… it wasn’t a great club.” No way could she tell Tara what had happened.

Tara sat up and peered at her cellphone. “Geez, it must not have been if you’re back already… wait, you okay?” The expression on the other girl’s face was growing more concerned as she woke up a bit more, and Katherine forced herself to smile a little. Her panties were still soaked and she wanted to get cleaned up and go to bed.

“Yeah, I’m fine, just… you know how some guys are. One just went a little too far.”

Tara looked at her suspiciously. “Really? You never mind
guys as much as every other sane woman on the planet, Kat.”

“This one I did. So I’m just gonna go take a shower and go to bed. Go back to sleep… where are we going tomorrow, anyway?”

“The National Museum of Art and History—or, more accurately,
le Musée national d'art et d'histoire
…” Tara mumbled, rolling over and burying her face back into her pillows. A few seconds later, she was back asleep, and Katherine sighed a little, going to turn off her light with her dress unzipped. This wasn’t how she’d expected this night go to in the slightest, and now she was left thinking about that damn prince who had… seriously, screw him. Screw any guy who would do that.

She barely managed not to stomp across the floor as she went to the bathroom and turned on the shower, discarding her clothes and pretending that she didn’t want to touch herself while she thought about him, with the hot water running over her.



Chapter Three

Katherine wouldn’t have made it this far without the large cup of coffee in her hands, spiked with pumps of chocolate and caramel. She hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before, even after cleaning herself off and sinking into the ultra-plush bed in the hotel room. While Tara had been sound asleep, absolutely unaware of her plight, she had seen those icy blue eyes staring back at her every time she drifted off. It was a frustrating, maddening thing, and she sulked as she looked at one of the landscape paintings in the museum. She didn’t know who had painted it, and she didn’t care. At least it was pretty and she could pretend she was paying attention to the tour.

Tara wasn’t fooled, however, and lightly poked her shoulder. “You look like hell,” she told her softly, tilting her head curiously. “Which is surprising, considering you weren’t out that late… Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it? You know, more specifically?”

“I am quite sure,” she grumped in answer, and then craned her head around, looking for some sort of clock. “What time is lunch?”

“We already ate lunch.”

“Then what time is dinner?”

“Not for like four more hours. Do you need more coffee or something? I mean, not that you should really be having any more, that’s your third super-sized cup, but if it would make you less grumpy…” Tara frowned at her with all the concern of an older sister, but Katherine almost grimaced at her.

“I’m gonna run out of euros if I keep spending it on coffee, and I’ll need what I have left for tonight.”

The other girl’s brow furrowed. “You’re still going out tonight? Oh, c’mon, Katherine, you’re exhausted and in a bad mood already, and you want to try your hand at another club? What if it isn’t any better than the last one was?”

“I seriously doubt it will be anywhere near as bad as that one.” Largely because, if Eric was there, she was going to accuse him of stalking her, and then throw a drink in his face. Maybe several. Yeah, that was a satisfying thought. “But I have to find something to make up for last night, don’t I?”

“Not really, no. Come on, the tour is moving on.”

Katherine sighed and turned to trudge along behind Tara. She had worn more practical, more comfortable shoes today, but she still didn’t really want to be here. Not that the art and history weren’t beautiful and even a touch interesting, but it was just… couldn’t they have gone to France, instead? Where there weren’t stuck up princes who would do the things a certain prince had already done?

She raked her free hand through her hair as they approached the next exhibit. The tour guide’s accent was a lot thicker than the guide’s at the palace had been, so she didn’t understand much; something about artifacts recovered during a war in which they’d aided France. He also sounded very bored while having to explain this to a bunch of American college students. Well, he wasn’t the only one who was bored, that much was for certain.

turned away to inspect an intricate vase in one of the glass displays nearby; it looked pretty old, chipped and worn in a few places, but the delicate paintings of flowers and gold filigree were lovely
. She wrinkled her nose at the plaque on the display, though, struggling to read it in French.

She turned away and meandered further away from the group, examining the things everyone else had been crowded around and she had been too short to see herself. Glancing around her for a moment, she reached out and delicately ran her fingers across the elegant carving on top of what was either a jewelry box or a music box. It seemed odd to her that there was no glass ceiling to this display…

Even as she thought the words, there was a sudden siren blaring overhead and she jerked back her arm in alarm. Oh shit, she’d just tripped something because she had touched the damn thing. The rest of her group covered their ears, and the tour guide tried to shove his way through to see what was going on. He’d switched entirely to French, though, so pretty much no one in the group understood him.

Katherine gulped, and then quickly scurried away from the display and down one of the nearby halls. She hadn’t actually done anything wrong, but she was not about to stick around and get in trouble in front of everyone. There had to be a restroom around here somewhere that she could hide out in for a few minutes. She would worry about finding the rest of her group after.

She hurried to follow the signs to the restrooms, wincing as a little bit of her coffee sloshed onto her hand. Her breath was quick when she ducked into the ladies’ room, glancing for a moment back out into the museum. It didn’t seem like anyone was following her… that was a very good thing. She would have expected Tara to notice at the very least, but the siren had probably startled them all too much.

Taking a deep, relaxing breath, Katherine retreated properly into the restroom, looking around; no one was in here—also a good thing—and after a few more seconds, the alarm finally stopped blaring. If that
been her fault, then they would see that nothing had been taken and she wouldn’t be in any real trouble.

Seriously, if they didn’t want people touching it, they should put a lid on the display
, she told herself weakly.
And maybe a sign
. She didn’t think she’d seen a sign.

Standing there for a moment, her bladder gave a little tug of need and she decided that it was actually fairly good timing. She’d had too much coffee. Setting her cup by one of the sinks, she headed to the stall at the very end, aware that the door to the restroom opened as she locked the stall door. Grabbing the top of her capris, she undid them and lowered herself onto the toilet seat, shutting her eyes and rubbing her temples. She was too tired for this shit. She wanted to go back to the hotel and collapse. Maybe she would tell Dr. Walker that she wasn’t feeling well. It was better than wandering around a museum with a tour guide she couldn’t even understand.

Without opening her eyes, Katherine’s brow furrowed. She had heard footsteps come in, but she hadn’t paid attention to them until she realized she hadn’t heard one of the other stalls close or the sink turn on. Maybe Tara had followed her? She opened her hazel eyes and tilted her head to see if she could see someone’s shoes. She could, but they weren’t female shoes. That was definitely not Tara.

“Ah… occupied?” she tried hesitantly, squirming and reaching for the toilet paper. The person outside didn’t move or say anything in return. “Look, I’ll be out in a minute if you could, uh, back off a sec…” He still didn’t move. Fantastic. Anxiously, she finished up and pulled her capris back up, chewing on her lip as she reached for the door lock. “I really didn’t know I was doing anything wrong—I swear to God I didn’t take anything, I just touched the jewelry box or whatever it was. You couldn’t have waited for me to come out of the bathroom? I mean, seriously, there’s nowhere for me to go in here.”

Katherine unlocked the door nervously—only for her eyes to widen and for her to stumble back, slamming into the toilet and very narrowly avoiding falling into it. “H-holy shit, what the hell are you doing here?”

Of course it was Eric standing there. Why would the universe be nice to her? What the hell was he doing?

He was holding her coffee, lightly tapping his finger against the rim on the opposite side of the mouth hole. “You left last night,” Eric responded nonchalantly, even though there was something burning in his eyes.

She stared at him without comprehension for the longest of moments, then finally managed to blurt out, “You were going to leave if I didn’t. Is that only okay when you do it, Mr. High and Mighty Prince?”

His blue eyes narrowed and he stopped tapping on the coffee cup. “You did not know I was going to leave last night.”

“Yes, I did!” she replied, a bubbling laugh of disbelief in her voice. “It was obvious the moment you told me to go clean myself up!”

Katherine knew she had no reason to shout, and bathrooms echoed very loudly. She certainly didn’t want anyone overhearing this.

“Seriously, what the hell are you doing here? Not just, you know, in here, but here, in the museum. I kinda doubt that you just happened to be here today of all days. How did you even find out where I was going to be?”

“Your teacher is required to register an itinerary with the government for large groups,” he told her, and she inwardly grimaced. “So it wasn’t that hard to find your class.”

“And that doesn’t change the fact that you were stalking me… of all the things you could possibly do to get my attention.”

“With how swiftly you took refuge here, it did not seem like you would be coming out any time soon.” Great, that probably meant he had actually seen her touch the box at the same time the alarm started. Just fantastic.

“You couldn’t wait outside? Where the hell am I gonna go? I’d have to leave the bathroom at some point!” Katherine made herself take a deep breath, and then pushed herself off from where she had nearly fallen into the cold porcelain bowl, cautiously moving closer to him and eyeing her coffee. “You haven’t answered my question yet.”

“Which question was that, again? You seemed mildly hysterical.”

She glowered at him. “Yeah, well, let’s see someone ambush you in a public restroom and see how you like it, shall we? And I want to know what you’re doing here—why you’re following me, and what the hell you want?”

“You curse far too much,” he mused. “It isn’t particularly dignified or ladylike.”

Her hazel eyes burned. “Neither is kneeing you in the balls, but I’m getting more and more inclined to do that. I am well within my rights to ask for an explanation.”

Eric sighed, and then held out her coffee cup for her. She snatched it away moodily, even as she put a hand on her hip and waited. “I thought it was perhaps appropriate to apologize for what occurred last night,” he explained reluctantly. “I realized that while you were simply hoping to enjoy yourself last night and you merely stumbled across me, I was purposefully…”

“Out to humiliate me in front of a bunch of people?” she completed for him darkly.

“Yes. Although you must admit that the way you broached the subject did not exactly lead one to imagine discretion or modesty were traits you sought.”

“Yet, you abandoned me after that.”

“I did not abandon you.”

“Only because I left before you had the chance. Seriously, whatever American stereotype you’re pinning on me, I’m not a goddamn idiot, alright?”

“Fair enough.”

An awkward silence stretched out between them. Katherine pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “So, you stalked me and followed me into the girls’ room to apologize for last night?” she repeated, and he nodded slightly in confirmation. “I sorta doubt that that’s normal behavior for you.”

Eric shrugged. “My behavior last night isn’t what I would call normal. This seemed like an appropriate way to remedy it.” She still wasn’t buying it, but she was calmer now, taking a long drink of her coffee. “Regardless, you do not seem terribly interested in your tour of the museum. Perhaps I could entice you in something a bit more engaging?”

“I didn’t get much sleep last night so I’m not really interested in anything except for collapsing in a bed somewhere,” she replied grumpily, only to frown and look up at him again. “Also if your idea of ‘engaging’ is having sex with me in this bathroom, I’m a bit—”

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