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Her shoulders sagged in relief at his comprehension. “Good. I’ll let the staff know.”

He nodded solemnly. “I’d appreciate it. If someone arrives at my door every time Drucille wants to use my name, I’ll never get any peace.”

Chapter Three

To the surprise of no one, especially Lily, all of the late edition papers carried a mention of Brittany Oliver and Prince Conrad the next afternoon. There were photos as well, but none clear enough to identify the hotel. Lily had decided not to point it out to Gerard, but it didn’t matter, he saw it himself.

“It would have been nice,” he said, closing the paper and setting it aside. He sighed and raked a hand through his thick gray hair. “I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be in business if things don’t get better soon.”

Lily’s heart ached to see this man she cared for feeling so down. Gerard Von Mises had worked hard all his life. In all the years Lily had known him, he had never missed a day at work. Yet now it was beginning to feel as if it was all for nothing, and she hated to see how despondent he looked.

“Things will pick up,” she said, as she’d said hundreds of times before. But she, like Gerard, was losing faith.

It wasn’t for herself that she was concerned. She could get a job almost anywhere, and had often toyed with the idea of living overseas, in Europe or Japan.

But this was Gerard’s life, and he’d put his whole heart into it. Every detail of the hotel had his fingerprint on it, and Lily couldn’t bear the idea of that disappearing.

“I’m sure they will,” Gerard said, effectively closing the book on the conversation. “It will be all right. It always has in the past.”

Lily glanced at the register, and at the number of empty rooms, and simply said, “Yes.”

The phone at the concierge desk rang and Lily said, “Excuse me. Duty calls.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Gerard said.

She smiled and picked up the receiver. It was Stephan, Prince Conrad’s bodyguard, calling to inquire about security on the perimeters of the property. Lily detailed property boundaries for him, and explained the law as far as trespassing on private property versus standing on public property. With a little prodding, Lily learned that it was not Prince Conrad who was concerned so much as Stephan himself, as he was head of the prince’s security.

The prince, it turned out, did not like to have any security at all, but it was in deference to his late father’s wishes that he brought the token team of two along with him. But Stephan had worked for Prince Frederick as well, and agreed with the late prince that there should be much stronger security around a royal.

After trying to reassure him that the hotel itself was quite secure, Lily ended up giving him the name of a local security company, where he could hire additional guards if he saw fit. Personally, she didn’t like the idea of a whole lot of security personnel stationed about the hotel, but it was not her place to tell a guest that their security wasn’t important enough to mar the environment.

When she’d finished with that call, there were three more in rapid succession; Lady Ann, who had a list of snack foods she wanted picked up from the local market; Kiki Von Elsborn, who needed the name of the general manager of Melborn’s department store because a salesman there had “unfairly” accused her of shoplifting when she “accidentally” wore two pashmina shawls out of the store; and Portia Miletto, a wealthy young Italian who had left her PDA—and all of her private information—in a cab and needed Lily to track it down.

That took most of the afternoon.

When Lily finally got back from the tailor shop of the man who had found the PDA, she was fifty reward dollars lighter and several hours more exhausted.

Yet when the call came from Prince Conrad’s suite that he wanted to have a moment with her, her adrenaline surged and reanimated her.

She went upstairs and knocked on his door.

He opened it after a few moments and said, “Lily. Thank you for coming.”

“It’s not a problem. What can I do for you?”

He looked at her for a moment, his handsome face still. Then he frowned slightly and said, “Could you come in for a moment and join me for a drink?”

Lily was taken aback. She was used to delicately avoiding the advances of male guests at the hotel…but then again, she was used to those male guests being a lot older and a lot less attractive than Prince Conrad.

He must have sensed her hesitation because he added, “I require your help with something.”

“All right,” she said. “Anything I can do to help.”

“Please. Come in.” He led her into the sitting room, which of course she knew as well as the back of her hand. “Have a seat.”

She sat on the sofa.

He poured a glass of champagne and held it up to offer it to her, but she shook her head. “On duty,” she explained.

“Ah.” He smiled and set the glass down, instead taking out two of the pricey mineral waters Princess Drucille had ordered. He opened one for Lily and handed it to her. “Most women don’t turn down champagne.”

“I’m sure there are a lot of things women don’t turn down when you offer it to them.”

He smiled and studied her for a moment, before he said, “You don’t have any undue respect for my position, do you Ms. Tilden?”

“I respect all of our guests equally.”

He laughed out loud. “Good answer. Your candor is quite refreshing.”

Despite herself, she flushed under his praise. “So what was it you needed my help with?”

He sobered immediately. “It’s a little…awkward,” he began. “We spoke of discretion last night and this is a matter that needs a great deal of it.”

Lily shifted her weight in her seat, suddenly fearing the worst. Had he killed someone? Did he need help disposing of the body? Just how far did her job loyalty extend? “What is it?”

“Brittany Oliver.”

There it was. He hadn’t killed someone. She almost wished he had—it would have been easier than dealing with Brittany Oliver. “Yes?”

“Well, she’s…I believe she may be—” he paused “—determined when it comes to seeing me again. In other words, I think she may come back to the hotel.”

Lily wasn’t quite sure what to say. On the one hand, she was quite sure he was right and, moreover, she was quite sure Brittany Oliver could become a huge pain in her backside over the next week. But on the other hand, Lily was a little put off by the fact that Prince Conrad, who had spent quite a bit of time with Brittany in his private suite doing heaven-knew-what last night, was now evidently trying to scrape her off completely.

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