Un’beta’d, subject to change, and different from the one I’m sending in review replies. I know I’m behind in updating the story on my website. I’m hoping to get to it tonight.

As angry as I am with him, I don’t fight when he pulls me into his arms. For a while, he rocks me back and forth, whispering an occasional “sh” as he strokes my hair. It isn’t until I stop crying that he speaks.

“I hate what I’ve done to you. I know the media attention you’re getting is all my fault, that the press is especially brutal to you. I wish you’d realize it has nothing to do with you. To them, you’re an extension of me, and I’m fair game. The crazy thing is that they’re actually monarchists.  It’s why you almost never see controversial photos of my dad or Carlisle—or even your sister, for that matter. Those pictures of me that surfaced this morning? They also had shots of my brother’s penis, along with your sister’s breasts. Those were returned to Masen Palace out of respect. As they told my secretary, ‘It’s hard to take a Head of State seriously once you’ve seen him naked.’

“But the tabloid press still wants to make money, so I’m the obvious choice. After all, the chances of me ever being king are slim to none. I’m the insurance policy, the spare to the heir. As far as they’re concerned, I have all of the privilege and none of the duty. They think I earn my keep by being their fodder.” His arms tighten around me as he sighs. “If they only knew.”

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