Interview with a Dark Prince
“Honey, you missed April fool’s day by about a fortnight!”
I listened to the voice on the other end of the phone and wondered if she’d finally lost the plot. I mean writers do tend to have a vivid imagination but this...this was taking it too far.
“So you want me to interview Prince Corin?” I asked again just to be sure I hadn’t misunderstood. “The imaginary.” I said the word slowly to make sure she took it in. “Prince in your book?”
“Oh, come on, of course he's imaginary, you’re winding me up and you know it. Is there a hidden camera?” I sighed and shook my head. I knew Emma had a twisted sense of humour but this time she was really going too far. “Fine, fine, OK so I’m guessing you’ve employed some sort of actor to role play and you want me to go along with it? Look if that’s what you’re after I’m in but really I don’t see why we needed all the silliness.” I listened to her instructions on the other end of the phone, my eyes widening with each sentence.
“So why aren’t you talking to him if you arranged it all?”
There was a pause, and then a sigh.
“What do you mean? In what way is he hard work? Dangerous? Dangerous how?” I frowned. “Yes I’m still single but what’s...” I felt my eyebrows hit the ceiling and laughed out-loud. “Oh, don’t you worry; I’m more than capable of handling an actor, even a pretty one. God, some of the creeps I meet in this job! Yeah, yeah, OK, I get it, he’s very charming. When’s he coming? What?”
Half an hour later and myself and the small house I was renting for my holiday in the Dordogne were presentable. How on earth the bloody woman knew I was here I don’t know. Anyway, at least I was saved from a dull afternoon pretending I was relaxing and being bored out of my mind and apparently this was the only time 'the Prince' was available. Yeah right.
At two O’clock exactly there was a knock on the door and I hurried to answer it, curious in the extreme to discover what my devious writer friend was up to. I opened it hardly managing to cover a grin which I felt drop to the floor when I saw the man standing on the other side.
Holy mother of God.
He smiled at me and I swear my heart actually fluttered, I mean like really, like they say in all those silly romance novels. Damn. I swore a bit more and told my heart, in no uncertain terms, to bloody well behave itself. I stared back at the golden eyes and wondered hysterically if there really was a Hunks R Us in the vicinity.
“I believe you are expecting me?” he prompted gently and I closed my mouth with a snap and stepped out of the way, gesturing silently for him to come in as I seemed to have lost the ability to speak. He stepped inside, looking at me expectantly. “You are taking the interview?”
“Umm,yes,” was as intelligent a reply as I could muster. Frankly I was impressed.
Of course you are, I thought with a grin. His eyebrows raised a little. “And you are...?”
“Grace!” I said suddenly, snapping myself out of my stupor. “I’m Grace.”
I walked through to the living room, somehow very aware of his presence following me along the hallway. Pull yourself together you stupid woman, I muttered internally, you’re a professional journalist, this is nothing out of the ordinary. He’s just an out of work actor playing a part (though why out of work I couldn’t fathom, why hadn’t Hollywood snapped this guy up?) and I’m going to kill Emma if she’s set me up!
That decided, I plastered a cool and professional smile on my face and invited him to sit down. He looked around the room with interest as he made himself comfortable.
"Can I get you some tea?" I offered, thinking I should try and put him at ease, though to be fair he didn't seem to be having any trouble as I watched him lounge elegantly in the armchair, his eyes on me.
"No, thank you."
“Wow, the contacts are amazing!” I admitted, allowing myself to look at those eyes for a moment.
“Contacts?” he frowned.
“Oh, right, sorry I guess you’re in character. Okay, let’s get started then shall we?”
He gave me a slightly bewildered look but I guessed it was all part of the role; he must be a method actor or something.
“By all means,” he replied politely.
“Err, right, well.” I took a deep breath and looked at the list of questions. “Apparently the readers set the questions for you.” I added hoping he had at least read the book and was up to speed. I’d read it several times over so I would know if he hadn’t and yes, I admit it; I was #teamcorin. "Well then, just so we are clear, you are Prince Corin Albrecht of Alfheim, the only son of King Edard and Queen Audrianne."
He inclined his head slightly. "I am."
I bit back a smile; well he played the part incredibly well, I'd give him that. He looked every inch the wealthy playboy, though...I frowned as I realised he was wearing blue jeans and a fitted black T-shirt. I mean, not that there was anything wrong with that.
Not a single thing.
However it wasn't how a fae Prince would dress surely? I opened my mouth but he beat me to it.
"When in Rome..." he said with a smile.
"Oh, yes, of course. That's what you said to Laen in The Dark Prince."
He nodded. "Yes, and of course everyone thinks the title refers to him," he said with a smirk.
“Well, it could, obviously,” he allowed. “He is Dark fae, and a Prince.”
“But you believe it refers to you?”
He shrugged. “I think it is interchangeable, Laen had his happy ever after, he wasn’t quite so dark as he made out... was he?”
I had to admit to a flicker of unease. Whoever this guy was he was doing a fantastic job, I could almost believe he really was a bloody Prince. “Yes, he lived happily ever after and you got friend zoned.” I chuckled.
There was a flash of anger in those tawny eyes that made me catch my breath. “I’m sorry,” I stuttered and then shook my head realising I was being ridiculous; he’s just an actor you fool! Albeit a good one. “Er, let’s start then...”
I watched as he reclined, the anger that had been so fierce apparently forgotten.
Well the first question was innocuous enough at any rate.
What's your favorite colour?
He sighed as though resigning himself to the inevitable and I saw humour in his eyes as he looked at me, considering, and pursed his lips. "Just at the moment, a light, hazel brown."
"Oh, why?" I asked, surprised.
"The colour of your eyes, my dear."
I snorted, good grief this guy was something else. “I see.”
I peered at the next question; well I hoped they were going to get more interesting.
What's your favorite animal?
Well, an interesting answer anyway.
In a story who do you most relate to the protagonist, the antagonist or the side characters?
He raised his eyebrows thoughtfully. "I can't possibly answer that without knowing the characters. I would say the most interesting though, the one that...holds my attention." The golden eyes looked at me unblinking. “Did you have a particular book in mind?”
“No, not really.”
He shrugged, looking bored.
“Ummm, Twillight?” Oh bloody hell, why did I say that?
He snorted and rolled his eyes. “In that case, Alice.”
“Because she can see the future, she’d know I was going to misbehave so she would not be able to get cross with me when I did.”
He said it with a perfectly straight face.
“Do people often get cross with you?”
A smile flickered across his mouth and I felt my eyes linger there a moment too long before snapping my attention back to his eyes. The smile deepened and I was horrified to feel a blush stain my cheeks; I hadn’t blushed since I was about fifteen.
Emma was a dead woman.
“No,” he said, sounding amused and it took me a moment to remember I’d asked him a question.
“No? What, people never get cross with you?”
“Oh, people...” He waved his hand dismissively. “Yes, of course; women...not so much.” He smirked and my fingers itched with the desire to slap him.
What was your favourite game to play as a child?
A slow smile curved over his mouth and I just knew the answer before he spoke. "Kiss chase," he said with a sly chuckle. "Want to play?"
"No," I replied firmly and ploughed on.
Have you ever visited anywhere else in the human realm other than France?
I sighed and looked at him impatiently and he just laughed. "Oh, you want more? Lots of places, my dear but I like France the best; however England is very charming too. The French have their priorities right I feel though, and such a romantic language, n'est pas?” He smiled at me. “Do you like it here?”
I smiled back at him. “Yes very much.”
“There is a charming restaurant in the village...perhaps we’ll eat there later?” he mused, regarding me thoughtfully.
Did you like being an only child?
He shook his head very definitely. "No, I hated it. I longed for brothers and sisters. I had very few friends as a child. Mother is not the easiest person and you would be amazed how people will use their children to further their own agendas. There were few who my parents trusted and I was not supposed to play with the servant’s children, though of course I did." He paused, looking thoughtful and for the first time the playboy exterior seemed to fall away. He looked wistful. "I was very lonely until Laen turned up and even then, he would stay as often as he could but he didn't live with us, sometimes it would be a few weeks before he turned up again. I used to wish he was my brother, we often pretended he was." He looked up and smiled at me and unwillingly I felt my breath catch. Oh boy, now I understood why this guy was so devastating.
If you did have a sibling would you rather a brother or sister/older or younger?
"I wouldn't have cared either way; just to have a companion would have been enough." I looked away from him and viciously stamped on my heart before it took the opportunity to turn to mush. I glanced down at the next question and smiled. This one I wanted to hear the answer to.
Do you feel remorseful over breaking so many hearts?
He leaned back in the armchair looking totally at ease. "I am always very open about my intentions, I never make false promises but it is true that many women believe they can change me, despite the fact I have no wish to be changed. I do try very hard not to make anyone unhappy but sometimes...it is hard to avoid."
I shook my head, incredulous. "You could just... Oh, I don't know, stick with one woman and have a grown up relationship."
He chuckled, a deep rich sound that did NOT make my blood run faster. "Why on earth would I want to do that?"
It was pointless so I returned to the question sheet.
Do you think you have it in you to be faithful?
He sighed and shook his head. "No."
"Why?" I demanded. "Are you really so shallow?"
He smiled apparently unperturbed. "No, I do not think I am shallow, I certainly hope not at least but to want to be faithful to someone I would have to be totally and utterly in love with them. I do not like the idea of being so much in another's power.
"Do you find it hard to trust people?"
He shrugged. "I am a Prince, for better or worse people will want to know you for that reason alone, it is hard to know who is sincere, though I believe I am now a very good judge of character. It has taken many years and many disappointments to attain that judgment however."
"Is there anyone you do trust, unconditionally?"
"Yes; my father and Laen."
"Is that all?"
"Not your mother?"
A snort of amusement. "Certainly not!"
"If you had to give someone advice on having confidence, what would you tell them?
“That would depend entirely on the person. However, I usually find good advice is to imagine the person who you want to appear confident before, is naked." He looked at me gravely and I returned hurriedly to the question sheet, wanting to carry on quickly, not because I was blushing again. No.
Where does your confidence come from?
"I imagine being raised as a Prince and my every whim indulged since I was born has something to do with it,” he replied with a wry smile.
Sadly I read the next question out loud before I read it in my head.
How many inches are you?
The elegant eyebrows raised a little. "I beg your pardon? I mean, not that I'm unwilling to answer the question..."
"How tall!" I practically screamed. "How tall are you?"
"Oh," he sighed, eyes twinkling merrily. "How terribly disappointing." He pursed his lips. "Tall enough," he said, very deliberately and I rolled my eyes in return and returned to the questions once more.
"Oh good Lord."
"Ah," he chuckled. "I feel the questions may be getting more interesting after all."
I sighed. "Just remember, the readers asked the questions, I'm just reading them out."
"And doing so most eloquently if I may say so."
"You may not." I snapped. “I really can’t fathom why but apparently many of the questions were proposals of marriage!”
“Really?” He grinned. “How sweet.”
I shook my head. “God it would be like being married to a tomcat.”
“Harsh.” He chuckled and I took a breath before launching into the next question.
How do you feel about bondage?
His mouth twitched, very slightly. "How do you feel about it?"
I folded my arms and glared at him. "I am asking the questions, you are answering them."
"How very conventional," he sighed. "Is there anything to drink? If I must divulge my innermost secrets I do think you might at least give me a drink."
"I offered you tea, you refused." I reminded him.
He grimaced and looked disgusted. "A proper drink, if you would be so kind."
I got to my feet and went to pour him a glass of whisky, thankfully I always had some. I could feel his eyes on me, even though my back was to him. I poured a measure and caught his eye; one eyebrow raised. I put the glass back down and doubled the measure. His fingers brushed mine as he took the glass from me and to my horror I nearly dropped it as the sensation sent shivers along my arm, settling somewhere low in my belly. Shit.
"Thank you so much," he said softly and I had to force myself to look away from those eyes. "Now what was the question again?"
I went back to my chair and sat down, crossing my legs and smoothing my skirt down self-consciously and trying hard to ignore the fluttering feeling that had begun to stir inside me. “You remember it perfectly, I'm sure."
That laugh again. "Ah yes, bondage. Yes, definitely I approve, it can be very...stimulating but then there is little I do not approve of.” He leaned towards me, head tilted to one side. “Have you ever tried it?”
Not blushing. Not blushing. “I am asking the questions - remember?”
He leaned back again. “I’ll take that as a no.”
“Take it however you want!” I tried to remind myself that I was a professional and that he was deliberately trying to rile me but I was beginning to feel more than a little flustered. Damn him.
“Would you like to?” he persisted. “I’ll let you tie me down first...if you prefer?”
I tried to read the next question but I couldn’t seem to focus on it as the image of him tied to a bed seemed to burn behind my eyelids. I swallowed.
“You have to trust someone to let them have that kind of power over you.” His voice was low and I was finding hard to breath. He’s just a bloody actor, Evie, for crying out loud, I scolded myself. He wasn’t really the fae Prince I had fallen for in The Dark Prince. It wasn’t real. Emma had been playing games and so was he.
“I thought you didn’t trust anyone, so why would you let me do that to you?” My voice sounded shaky even to my ears, much to my dismay.
“I would trust you with this.”
“Next question.” I refused to meet his eyes but I knew he was laughing at me even though he didn't make a sound.
What makes you blush?
"Very little, as you are discovering." He chuckled. "Would you like to test me?"
"Pity," he said softly, taking a sip of his drink. “Laen says I have no shame.”
“Laen’s clearly got your number,” I muttered. "Next question.
"What characteristics (of the opposite sex.) do you find striking?
He looked over the glass at me and I noticed his eyes were the same colour as the whiskey, a deep, rich gold. "It depends; sometimes it is their eyes, the turn of their neck," he tilted his head considering and his eyes drifted down to my lips. "Mouths can be very...alluring," he said and I looked away, fiddling with the pen in my hand. "Hands too; long, elegant fingers... Wondering what it would feel like to have those fingers touch your skin..." He stopped speaking but his words seemed to hang on the air. I cleared my throat and considered getting up to open a window as the room suddenly seemed dreadfully hot.
Have you ever been even remotely attracted to a male?
One eyebrow rose a little but other than that he showed no sign of being disturbed by the inquiry. "The readers posed the questions?" he asked thoughtfully.
"When I agreed for her to write my...history, I had no idea things would go so far. I really must negotiate harder next time." He seemed to be talking to himself and then looked up, smiling. "Curious little devils, her readers, aren't they?"
"Yes, and you love it, I suspect."
That smile flickered again and I tamped down the answering tug in my stomach. "So?"
"What is the answer?" I said, trying not to sound impatient and failing.
He pursed his lips. "Generally speaking I believe I am what you humans would call, heterosexual, though why you must go round labelling everything I have never understood."
I bit back a smile. "And what if we are not being general but...specific?"
The golden eyes narrowed. "Why should I answer such personal questions?"
"Why not?" I asked, in return. "You agreed to the interview."
"I did, and I will be having words about it. She could have at least asked me herself!”
He frowned and really did seem a bit annoyed.
“Would you have told her?”
He smirked. “I already did.”
"So there has been something... someone?”
He was silent.
“Are you going to answer then?"
He pouted a little and appeared to be thinking and I tried hard not to stare at his mouth.
“I will answer you truthfully if you will answer me...truthfully,” he said slowly.
Uh oh. Alarm bells began ringing in my ears but... I really did want to know the answer to the question.
"OK,” I replied cautiously.
He smiled a knowing smile that had my heart pounding and looked into his glass, swirling the whisky casually. "Have you decided if you are going to go to bed with me?"
I felt my mouth drop open and my cheeks burn.
"So... Next question."
He laughed out loud, that deep rich sound that made me want to please him, to make him do it again. “You didn’t say no,” he observed.
“I didn’t say yes, either,” I snapped, irritated. Bloody hell he thought he was God’s gift to women! Sadly I had an annoying feeling he may well be right.
“Well do let me know when you have made up your mind; I would like to kiss you.”
My mouth was suddenly dry but I was cross too. “You didn’t say no to your question either!” I retaliated, sounding more waspish than I intended.
“No,” he said mildly. “I didn’t.”
“So if it isn’t a no, it’s a yes then?”
“You tell me.” He smirked at me and I gritted my teeth realising what I’d just implied. “So who was he?”
“I don’t remember admitting to anything and in any case...a gentleman never kisses and tells.”
I sat forward in my seat, heart pounding. “I’ll... I’ll kiss you, if you tell me.”
His eyes twinkled, a smile tugging at his mouth. He nodded, so slightly I hardly saw it.
“It began as something entirely innocent and...surprised me.”
“Who?” I asked breathlessly.
He shook his head.
“Please tell me.” I pressed, the curiosity was killing me. “It was Laen wasn’t it?”
He said nothing just looked back at me. "Did it happen more than once?"
"Who said anything happened?" he asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Oh come on, you really don't do coy well you know."
"Nope."I grinned. "Spill the beans."
He frowned. "Spill the...oh, you mean tell all. No. I won't."
I sat back and crossed my arms triumphantly. "Must have happened more than once or you'd have said it was a one off."
"Would I?" he murmured. "Perhaps."
"Oh come on. Tell me what happened. Please, please, inquiring minds want to know."
He laughed out loud, the sound warming me to my toes. "Gods, you women! I wish, above all things that I had known before Océane turned up what the thought of the two of us together does to you. When I think..." He sighed, shaking his head sadly. “Anyway, that aside, I told you, that is not something I’m going to share.” There was amusement in those golden eyes and I wondered what the hell I was playing at. It really felt like I was talking to the real deal, like he meant every word but he wasn’t really Corin. He was an actor.
Damn he was good.
“Aren’t you going to take your kiss then?” I tried to sound sarcastic but somehow it came out rather too breathy for that.
Those eyes never left mine. “Of course, but I am going to save it for later, after the questions. It will give me something to look forward too.” He sipped his drink. “Anticipation sweetens most things, I find.”
There was a rumble of thunder outside as a summer storm began to roll over. I looked out of the window to see the sky darken.
“Not me.” He grinned. “Not my realm.”
I rolled my eyes at him and tried to focus.
Do you like Romantic poetry? If so what is your favourite poem?
“Of course I do, what kind of romantic would I be if I didn’t have the words to seduce my lady?”
“Oh, God.” I put my head in my hands. “You are so full of it.” I looked up to see his shoulders shaking with silent laughter. “You are very annoying,” I grumbled. I looked away from him, irritated, only to look back again as he began to speak. His words were soft, his lyrical voice raising the hairs on the back of my neck.
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
He stopped and I fought the desire to launch myself at him. I’d never heard poetry spoken like that before.
He gave me a smile, clearly well aware of the effect he'd had on me.“It goes on rather longer of course but that is a favourite.”
I silently thanked God that he had stopped when he had, before I had become a puddle at his feet, only slightly before mind. “What was it?” I asked.
“Ode upon a Grecian Urn, by Keats. You see it goes back to what I was saying about anticipation of the moment. Keats knew what he was about, the figures on the urn are frozen in time, the lover will never kiss his lady but Keats instructs him not to mourn. For you see he is frozen in that perfect moment before their lips touch. 'For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, forever panting, and forever young, all breathing human passion far above,' he paused his eyes on mine, unblinking. “Next question?” he suggested gently.
I dragged my eyes from his unwillingly and back to the question sheet.
What is your favourite human invention?
“That is actually rather tricky. Hmmmm, well, I should not admit it as they do such damage to the world but I do rather enjoy driving, so cars perhaps but then I like films and television too and music, your music is far better than ours, which I find very dull.”
I grinned at him, amused. What do you like to watch?
He pursed his lips, thinking. "I enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy." He grinned at me, those eyes twinkling with mischief. "Grossly inaccurate of course but fun to watch. I like old films very much, Casablanca, Bringing up Baby, I'm rather a fan of Clark Gable." He gave me a stern look. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
I looked at him for a moment before roaring with laughter. "That was terrible!"
He gave me wounded expression in return. "Truly? I thought it was rather good." He pouted at me and I wiped away tears of laughter. He really was quite wonderful. I stopped in my tracks as I realised the truth of this. Looking up at him I saw his eyes were serious now and felt my heart start to thud in earnest.
Outside the rain had begun to hammer down and the room was growing dark as the clouds stole the light away. I shivered as the rain cooled the temperature and he noticed as I ran my hands over my bare arms to sooth the goose bumps away.
He waved his hand negligently and the table lamp beside me lit as a blaze erupted in the fire place.
I screamed and leaped out of my seat, backing away from him and looking at the flames in horror.
"What the...!" How did you do that?" I demanded.
He looked up at me quizzically and pointed at himself. "Fae Prince...remember?"
I gasped as the truth came home to me. Oh shit.
He frowned, watching my face intently and then smiled as he realised my mistake. "You didn't believe I was real." He got his feet and I took a step back. "What did you think...I was an actor, playing a part?" He chuckled. "Of course, the contact lenses, now I see. I am afraid they are quite real, my dear; as am I."
"No buts." He took a step closer as I took another back. "There is no need to be afraid, Evie, I promise you I won't bite...unless you want me to," he added with a sly smile.
Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.
He kept moving forward as I moved back and seeing as it was quite a small room I quickly found myself backed into a corner; literally.
"I think I will have that kiss now," he said, softly.
"Ummmm." I searched around for a good reason why I should renege on our agreement and then wondered why the hell I would do something quite so idiotic. "Errr, right you are then..." I murmured, feeling a bit lightheaded suddenly.
He moved closer, one hand slipping around my waist, the other dropping to my hip and I was pulled hard up against him. Completely breathless, I looked up at those golden eyes, they really were quite extraordinary. Close up I could make out flecks of amber, copper and bronze, they seemed to blaze; as though he was on fire on the inside. He lowered his head and I felt warm lips trace the curve of my neck. Putting my arms around him I sank one hand into that thick long hair, tangling in the soft warmth. I turned my face towards him, breathing in his scent, fresh and clean, like cut grass and apples and...spring. He smelt like life.
He raised his head and my eyes met his once more and I finally understood. I knew I would never see him again but...but...
He kissed me and nothing else mattered.
There was a phone ringing. I raised my head lazily and saw the mobile beside the bed buzzing like a deranged wasp. Who on earth was calling on a Sunday afternoon I thought as my dreamy lay in was rudely interrupted. I reached over and picked it up, checking the caller ID. Damn. Well, I guess I had to speak to her sooner or later.
"Hello." I said cautiously and listened to the voice on the other end of the phone. "Well of course he's gone. The interview was yesterday."
I pouted as the next question was put to me with a clearly sarcastic tone. "Ummmm." I sighed heavily, may as well fess up now. "Oh OK, he left about an hour ago." I held the phone away from my ear as yelling came from the other end. "No, no! Don't do that. Honestly, I'm fine...better than fine." I flopped back against the pillows grinning madly. "Oh bloody hell, so much better." I sighed and the yelling began again. "No! Don't be cross with him...he...well he really can't help himself."
There was a heavy sigh from the other end of the phone as the speaker was clearly pouting and finally admitted defeat.
I chuckled contentedly remembering the events of the previous, day, night and err morning. "Huh? What? Yes of course I'm listening to you." I lied. "Yes I did get the interview before... Err, yeah, I got the interview. OK. I'll email you. Yeah, OK speak soon... Oh, Em, hang on. You err, you aren't planning on interviewing Laen any time soon are