Royal's Arranged LoveBy: Sophia Lynn, Ana Adams
“Staying near the champagne.” He nodded toward the platter of flutes being replaced at her side. “Not a bad game plan for events like these.”
She laughed curtly, gaze traveling to the champagne flutes as a way to test the reality of this moment. When she turned to reply, he was still there. Not a hallucination after all. “You come to a lot of these?”
“Too many. I’m Adrien.” His name came out in the full flourish of perfected French. “What’s your name?”
“Clara.” She bit back a grin, questions sparking about this man. Most of all, where was he from, and why was he so damn sexy? “You say your name like you passed all your French classes in school.”
“I should hope so. I’m from Luxembourg, after all.”
The information thrummed through her. Wasn’t that a tiny country in Central Europe somewhere? Heat prickled the back of her neck. It had been a long time since she’d reviewed European geography, and even longer since she’d been around a good-looking man. Adrien was the ultimate test. Something in his energy made her want to tear her dress off and drag him to the nearest utility closet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone from that country.”
“We tend to be forgotten between Belgium and Germany.” Adrien sipped at his champagne. “Nobody cares about our beer and waffles when those guys are our neighbors.”
She giggled. “If your waffle can compete on the Belgian level, I think it’s worth a try.”
“You want to try?” He sized her up, his eyes intense. “Don’t kid around. I win waffle-making competitions.”
“Now this I have to see. Do you have a special recipe, or is the art form more in the shaping of the waffle?”
He grinned, sipping at his drink. “A little of both. But the ratios I can never share. A man doesn’t give up his waffle secrets.”
Laughter burst out of her. Those words coming from that man…a combination she’d never dreamt possible. “That is the best thing I’ve ever heard.”
He nodded again, a grin spreading across his face. “But enough about that. So are you here for the charity chatter, or some secret political aspirations?”
His question made her freeze, reminding her of the big event beyond the narrow scope of her mission. Admitting the truth—that she was stalking the headmaster of her dream job—sounded suddenly ridiculous. “A little of both.”
Adrien nodded tersely. “Well played. The best way to trudge through.”
Clara snuck a glance at the refined man at her side. He was all cut lines and sternness, a profile that inspired adoration as much as fear. “So what do you do?”
“Technology.” He took a sip at the flute, jaw flexing. “And you?”
“That’s certainly vague,” she said, narrowing her eyes playfully. “Technology like the telephone, or technology like futuristic stuff used to spy on other countries?”
“I think that would be intel,” he said, a dimple flashing. “And neither, actually. I’m less of an inventor and more of a manager.”
He didn’t look like any sort of middle-management guy, that was for sure. Curiosity licked through her veins. But time was ticking away. She had thirty minutes to schmooze Ging and land a job, not investigate a peripheral guest. Even though he looked like secret royalty.
“You haven’t told me what you do.” He lifted his brows.
“Ah. Sorry.” She laughed, sipping at her champagne to buy time. The truth would make him cough and slink away. In this dress, with this flute in her hand, boldness coursed through her. “I work in…television.”
“Goodness.” His eyes widened. “A celebrity.”
Her rational mind scrambled to figure out what the hell she was doing. Lying was not her strong suit—but then again, neither was courting mysterious sex gods in the middle of swanky soirées.
“Hardly,” she said, batting her hand at him. Her heart thrummed behind her rib cage, but she wasn’t sure if it was from the stress of wooing Ging, or the dizziness of beholding Adrien. It was probably both. “I’m not even sure why they invited me.”
“Then why did you come?” His smile glittered.
Because catering is my only source of income right now. She swallowed a knot in her throat. “I thought I might run into you.”
Adrien’s eyes flashed. He seemed both taken aback and deeply intrigued. She couldn’t even say where that smooth comment had some from; it had just sidled out, unbidden, like a snake emerging from grass.
“So you’ve heard of me?”