Home > Princess and the Cowboy(5)

Princess and the Cowboy(5)
Author: Ella Goode

I’ve been kept in this pretty box for so long and protected. My father shielded me from so much of the world that I know I might be ignorant to some things, but I do know one thing: you don’t have to be rude to people. I suppose I shouldn’t tell other people how to speak either.

I huff out a breath, and my stomach lets out another growl. I’d been lying when I said I wasn’t hungry. I wanted to get away from Sterling as fast as possible. He sent me on an emotional rollercoaster the second I landed that ended with me wanting to cry.

At first, I thought he might be sweet and charming, but it took a turn for the worse rather quickly. He clearly doesn't want me here. His dislike for me is evident. Too bad for him because I’m staying. I’d rather be here than back home cooped up and getting married off soon. This place is giant. It will be easy enough for me to avoid him. I’ll start with his little party. If he doesn’t like me, surely none of his friends will either. Best if I keep to myself.

“Maria?” Cam calls through the door before she knocks.

I jump up, rushing over to the mirror to make sure my face isn’t blotchy from crying. I force a grateful smile onto my lips before I open the door.

“This place is wonderful.” I beam at her. Her eyes trace over my face, and I can tell she’s not buying it. She doesn’t ask me about it, which I’m grateful for.

“You missed dinner, but I saved you a plate.” She grabs my hand, pulling me from the room. “I’m having some things brought over for you.”

“Things?”

“Clothes and such. I’m going to get you all worked out so you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“Oh, thank you. You’re being so kind.”

“It’s the least I can do, Maria. Don’t think I don’t know about your philanthropist ways.” I snort a laugh.

“You make that sound dirty.” I shake my head. “I’m no philanthropist. I’m doing what I’m supposed to.” When I turned sixteen I’d been informed of my mother’s wishes and the inheritance I’d been left by her.

I knew my mama came from money. But I had no idea how wealthy she actually was. I'd almost choked when they said I’d been left with 500 million dollars. Half of which I had to divide out to charities of my own choosing.

There weren’t many more stipulations. I could even start a charity on my own in the future if I wanted to and fund it. At times it’s been rather overwhelming thinking about it all. Truthfully, it’s been my only saving grace with being locked away. It can keep me rather busy at times.

“You and I know it’s more than that.”

“I’m only trying to make my mama proud. She wanted me to do something good, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

I know that money will make a difference in other people’s lives. My eyes mist over again. What is wrong with me? It’s days like these I miss her more than ever. I often think about what advice she would have given me. Then again, if she were here, I wouldn’t be standing on the Justice Ranch. Glorianna would never have been my sister at all.

“I know you are because you already have been. Now let’s feed you.” We enter into the massive kitchen that looks like it was built to feed a small army. “What would you like to drink?”

“Water is fine.” She motions for me to sit at one of the chairs at the giant kitchen island. She grabs my plate and puts it in front of me.

“Thank you.” I stare down at the steak, my stomach turning. It smells good, but it could also kill me.

“The princess doesn’t eat cows. They're bad for the environment.” I jerk my head to the left to see Sterling standing there. Where the heck did he come from? I swallow. Why are the handsome ones always jerks?

“Are you a vegetarian?” Cam asks. I shake my head no.

“She’s too fancy for us. Our food isn’t good enough for her,” Sterling keeps going. I know they shouldn’t, but his words hurt me “I reckon you’re too fancy to join the bonfire too?”

“What the hell is wrong with you, Sterling? Maria is a guest here,” Cam hisses. I push the plate away from me. Any appetite I had has now faded.

“I have AGS. I should have said something.” They both turn back my way from glaring at each other.

“What?”

“AGS?”

They both speak at the same time.

“Alpha-GAL syndrome.” I push back from my chair. “I can’t eat beef, pork, lamb, or any other mammal. It will make me really sick.” Sterling’s eyes widen. I’m sure he’s thinking it’s another reason to get me out of here.

It took the doctors forever to figure out what was wrong with me when I was younger. I kept having these allergic reactions that no one could explain. Finally they narrowed it down, and I haven’t had an episode in a really long time.

“I can get you something else.” Cam walks over, grabbing the plate.

“I’m really not that hungry.” It’s not a lie. My stomach is in knots with Sterling staring my way. “I’m a bit drained. I need to sleep, and I need to talk to my father.”

“Are you sure?” Cam pushes.

“Yes, you’re so kind.” I reach out and squeeze her hand. “Sorry, Sterling. I don’t think I’ll make it this evening, but thank you kindly for the invitation. I hope you have a good time with your friends.”

He doesn’t respond but keeps on staring at me. I quickly release Cam’s hand and make my escape back to my haunted room.

I’d rather be in there with the dead than be around Sterling at this point. Maybe going back home isn’t such a terrible idea.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

 

STERLING

 

 

It’s almost ten, well after dinnertime has passed, when I knock on Maria’s door. Predictably, she doesn’t answer right away. I rub my hand over my hair. After Maria left the room, Cam lit into me, telling me how just because I was a Justice didn’t mean I could treat people like shit. I knew that. I’m not the type of person who thinks just because my wallet is thick that I’m better than anyone despite what some of my former classmates think, although canceling the bonfire at the last minute because the princess is in town isn’t going to go over well.

I’ll make it up to everyone, but first, I gotta start here.

I knock again. “It’s the dickhead from earlier. I’ve got something for you, and if you don’t open the door, I think it’s going to explode in my face.”

The lie works, and the door pops open immediately. Maria’s pretty eyes are narrowed suspiciously. “I see nothing explosive.”

“It was a lie,” I admit cheerfully and kick the door open. “But I do have something in my hands.” I walk over to the writing desk in the room and set down the tray with the glass of water, milk, silverware, and dome-covered plate. She hasn’t lost her wariness and stays about five feet away. With a flourish, I pull off the dome and then wave the silver piece over the food, trying to send waves of good smells in Marie’s direction. It must work because she creeps closer.

“What is that?”

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