Chapter Two

'What took so long?' Maggie, Clara's mother questioned as she took the bag of groceries from her as soon as she walked into the kitchen. 'They will be here soon, and I still haven't made the salad.' She was running around the kitchen frantically. She came back over in front of Clara and went to grab the bottle of wine that she was still holding as she watched her mother rush around. Clara snapped back and waggled her finger at her.

'Ah ah ah that's mine, crazy lady.' She laughed when her mother rolled her eyes at her. Clara grabbed two glasses from the cabinet and poured them both a glass. 'I worked hard for this and I will enjoy it. I will however share a glass with you because I'm so generous.' She complained sarcastically, taking a sip. The wine tasted as good as she was praying it was going to. Her rolled her eye yet again, a regular occurance for the mother of two, before saluting her glass with her daughter and taking her own sip.

'Appreciate that, I fought royals for that.' Clara laughed, pointing at her mother with raised eyebrows. Another eye roll told her how unbelievable that sounded. Before she could tell her mum about her crazy afternoon, the doorbell rang. The Peters' were here. Maggie smirked knowingly at her daughter, causing Clara to stare her in the eyes as she chugged down every drop of her glass of wine, before pouring another one. Her mother laughed, swatting her shoulder.

'Don't be so dramatic, it's not that bad. He's just madly in love with you.' She disappeared down the hall to let them in.

'Oh yeah, just madly in love with you.' Clara mocked under her breath, taking a big sip.

'Who's madly in love with you?' The gruff voice of Theo, her father, asked from the bottom of the stairs. She turned to give him an innocent smile.

'No one, Daddy.' She sung, taking her glass to sit down on the couch.

It took all of two seconds for the patter of running feet to hit her ears and another two seconds for her to be jumped on by her favourite person, Kat.

'Clara.' Kat squealed, wrapping her tiny arms as far around her surrogate big sister as she could.

'Hey Kit Kat, how are you?' Clara asked, smiling fondly at her. She was dressed in a princess fairy outfit, topped with a wand and tiara. Katherine, or Kat as she was called, was the youngest Peters. She was completely unplanned, hence the age gap of eighteen years between her and her older brother Lance. Lance sauntered into the room, smiling charmingly at Clara.

'She's a little rat is what she is. Drew throughout my whole Law textbook, to the point I had to get another.' He commented, glaring at his little sister. Clara laughed, looking down at Kat, who huffed and shrugged her shoulders.

'It was a boring book!' She exclaimed, climbing off Clara's lap and leaving the room, following the voice of her parents to the kitchen, leaving the alone.

'Hey Lance.' Clara smiled politely.

Lance. What could be said. They had grown up together, side by side, due to the close friendship their mothers had continued since their own childhood. They had been through everything together, from baths, to school, to university. Growing up together had lots of perks. They knew each other back to front, grew up knowing all the ups and downs of each other's lives, from first kisses to broken bones. This meant at some point during their young adult awkward lives of course they'd want to experiment and experiment they did. They got drunk together for the first time, tried illegal substances together for the first time, and the cherry on the cake was when they popped each other's cherries in a desperate bid to not leave high school virgins. For Clara it was a strategic move that led to a small mutual arrangement between the two coming out of high school, purely for pleasure and learning, but had to be ended when his feelings grew too much and hers didn't. While they parted their agreement mutually and civilly, it didn't stop him from his ridiculous attempts to charm her into an actual relationship with her. Her mother thought it was hilarious, mocking her all the time about how in love he was with her, but his mother loved the idea of them being childhood sweethearts, egging him on. He was never inappropriate and always respected boundaries, but that didn't stop him acting like prince charming every time they saw each other.

'How was your week, love?' He asked, sitting down on the couch opposite Clara. She shrugged, sipping her wine.

'It was okay. Had some of my last round of lectures before exams and then done for the year. It's just so much workload at the moment. I can't wait to go into holidays and get to work a bit more and just relax.' She vented, knowing he could probably relate. He was currently in his third year of law and feeling the pressures too. He nodded and sighed.

'Yeah, I feel that.' He laughed, about to speak again when Kat burst back in.

'Clara, where is Jon?' She questioned, leaning on the back of the couch. Clara shrugged.

'He's not in his room?' She asked, to which Kat shook her head. While Clara was Kat's favourite person, Jon was number two. Lance and Clara looked at each other knowingly.

'Oh, I'm not sure honey. Why don't you ask Aunty Maggie?' Clara suggested, watching Kat go.

'Dick deep in his new flavour?' Lance asked, not looking away from where Kat disappeared too.

'I'll give him twenty minutes into dinner before he comes rushing home.' Clara retorted, also not taking her eyes away from where Kat ran off to. They looked at each before high fiving and following the five-year-old into the kitchen.

It was actually thirty minutes into the two families sitting down for dinner that Jon, the eldest of Maggie and Theo's two kids, came flying through the front door and down the hall to the dining room in jeans and tee.

'I'm so sorry, I got so caught up at my mates I lost track of time.' He blustered out, slamming into his chair, before leaning forward and piling some food onto his plate. Kat laughed loudly at him as a chunk of pasta missed his plate and hit the table. Lance and I smirked at each other from from either side of Jon's seat.

'Hey Jon, your shirts back the front.' I told him, flicking the tag that was both sticking out and coming from the front of his shirt.

'Fuck.' He cursed, stripping his shirt off at the table and fixing it on the spot.

'Language Jonathon.' Maggie scolded, looking intentionnaly at Kat and the Jon to make her point. He shrugged and muttered an apology. This all just fuelled Kat's laughter.

'So Jon, how is your mate?' Lance asked with a smirk, causing Clara to snort into her wine. Maggie gave her a disapproving look to which does nothing to help the situation.

'Yeah, he's good. Just… working.' Jon stuttered out, nonchalantly, but not fooling anyone.

'Which one was it again?' Clara questioned, Jon glaring at her.

'Okay enough you two.' Sally sighed from her spot, trying to hide her own smirk. Anytime her son and Clara showed any sign of getting along made her happy.

'I agree, leave him alone.' Maggie sighed, sipping her wine. 'If your brother wants to frolock around with any woman possible, he will suffer the eventual consequences when they all figure it out and turm on him.' She exclaimed like it was nothing, causing Lance and Clara to burst out laughing. 'And you know what, it'll teach him even more wnen he knocks someone up and then has to deal with those consequences for the next eighteen to twenty years of his life. More if it turns out anything like him.' Jon paled as Clara and Lance laughed so hard they couldn't breath at his embarrassment.

'Mum!' He hissed, causing her to shrug at the other occupents of the table. Kat sat up taller from where she was leaning on her knees on her chair.

'What's knocked up mean?' She asked Jon, who was miraculously saved by the phone land-line ringing.

'I'll get it.' He screamed, jumping up and running from the room. They watched him go with amusement.

'Why is he answering the land-line. No one uses those anymore.' Lance's father Mark asked, shaking his head. Jon popped back into the room and held the phone out towards Clara.

'It's for you.' Clara frowned at him.

'Jon the only people who call those these days is junk mail. Hang up I'm not talking to them.' She hissed, seriously questioning her brother sometimes. He shrugged and shoved it in her hand.

'They said its related to Med School.' She frowned and took it, putting it to her ear.

'Hello, this is Clara?' She asked, sipping her wine.

'Enjoying your bottle of wine Clara?' The deep voice of the Prince wafted over the line.

Clara choked and then spat her wine straight out, causing her mum to jump and question if she's okay, and Kat to start laughing. Laughter wafted over the phone too.

'I'm fine, I'm fine.' Clara reassured everyone, before excusing herself and walking into the kitchen.

'Are you okay?' The voice asked through the phone, still laughing at her reaction.

'Who is this?' She double checked, not believing that she was on the phone to the Prince.

'Seriously? It's Charlie!' The voice slurred back, and she realised that not only was it definitely the Prince, he was clearly intoxicated.

'Are you drunk?' She questioned, leaning againt the kitchen counter.

'Who is it, honey?' Her mum called from the other room.

'No one important.' She rushed back, stepping outside the house into the backyard, shutting the door behind her. There was an oomph from the other end of the line.

'No one important? No one important?' He questioned, making Clara smirk.

'How did you even get this number? You didn't even get my name.'

'Well, I am the Prince and so I just contacted my buddy whose in the secret service and told him to go through the video footage at the vestibule today and then they face recognised you and linked it up to your medical school account, cause you know all that has to be official, and then I got your details from there.' He got harder to understand by the end of the paragraph due to his slurring, but she heard and Clara's jaw dropped before she gathered herself.

'Do you know how much of a major breach of privacy that is?' She screeched, before remembering that she was trying to not be too loud. 'And I'm sorry, facial recognition? Secret Service? What the fuck?' There was silence before a snickering came through.

'It's okay they can't just do that, only because I asked.' He claimed.

'Yeah, that doesn't make me feel any better.' She hummed, running her fingers through her hair. 'Is there a point to this drunk dial?' She asked, still not quite believing this was happening.

'Yeah, hang on, it'll come back to me.' He snorted then was quiet for a second, before blurting out. 'You called me handsome today, and I didn't tell you you were handsome so, you're handsome.'

There was silence.

'Clara?' He checked.

'Mmmhmm still here just trying to process this phone call. Okay well, thank you for letting me know I'm handsome, Your Highness, uh is that all?' She turned around and saw her brother watching her through the back door, frowing with suspicion. She stuck her tongue out at him.

'It's Charlie. C-H-A-R-L-I-E.' He corrected, making her roll her eyes even though he couldn't see her.

'Fantastic. Look as much as this has been a very interesting day and not one I'll forget anytime soon. I was in the middle of dinner, so I'm going to go. Thank you for the phone call, Your – Charlie.'

'Nope, all my pleasure, Clara.' He slurred back. 'You know, we should hang out soon.' He suggested. Before Clara would respond he hung up. She took the phone from her ear and stared at it for a second before shaking her head and heading back inside. Jon had gone back to the table when she came through, so he joined the others as they all looked up at her questioningly.

'It was nothing, just someone from the board needing an update of information.' She bluffed, sitting back down and taking a large gulp of wine, and ignoring the doubtful stares of everyone at the table.

The following morning was one of the rare days of the week that Clara had work. She worked for a small boutique dress shop in the main shopping mall of their town. She worked there casually on weekends, earning enough money to supply herself a night out every now and then and to cover whatever costs university shoved at her throughout the semester. She was always grateful for the small role she had there, and how kind and understanding the owners were when it came to her medical school schedule. She was also grateful for its location. Being stuck inside a classroom most of the week for the past almost three years meant two things. One, she was seriously lacking in vitamin D, and two, she felt so claustrophobic half the time that she needed some fresh air to remind her of the world outside study. The little dress shop provided this for her, with its prime location in the outside mall, and with its gorgeous view of the royal botanical gardens that surrounded the royal palace across the street from it.

She spent the morning of her all-day shift folding new stock for the front table, enjoying the light breeze and watching the kids enjoy their weekends in the grassy knoll across the road. Her peace was short lived however when she could hear the bustle of her best friend approaching before she even saw her. Clara shook her head as she looked up to find Sarah lagging multiple shopping bags in her hands and not caring who she wacked with them on the way to her destination.

'Clara!' She squealed, dropping her bags in the doorway and latching herself onto Clara. 'I've missed you so much!'

Clara and Sarah had been friends as long as the two could remember. Meeting in the elite kindergarten their parents had them enrolled in at a young age. They were, while complete opposites, the best of friends. The kind that lives through any hardship, can last any distance apart, and would probably never end. They were lucky like that.

'You're so dramatic, Sarah. I saw you two weeks ago. I've been studying you know that.' Clara rolled her eyes, placing her friend's bags that she had collected from the floor behind the counter before someone stole them.

'I know!' Sarah whined, picking up a sweater from the rack and holding it against her. 'When are you done with that? We need to go out.' Clara laughed at her friend.

'I'm trying to be an emergency room doctor, babe, it's going to be a while before I'm done studying.' She took the sweater from Sarah and put it back on the rack, shaking her head in a negatory to her friend purchasing it. 'We can still go out, just wait for my Christmas break. Only a few more weeks!'

'Well, I'm glad I chose not to study again after school. I hate study.' Sarah moaned. When the two had graduated high school, while Clara dove straight into her studies to achieve her lifelong dream of being an ER doctor, Sarah had chosen to spend a year abroad living off her parents money, before coming back and getting a job in her father's marketing firm as a receptionist, and running her Instagram account that had some ridiculous number of followers and technically made her a lifestyle influencer. Not that she really did anything with the money she earned from either of those roles, still being covered by her apparently never-ending trust fund that her parents gave her access to at the age of sixteen.

Sarah leaned across the counter as soon as the customer who had been quietly shopping instore left. 'Can we go to lunch now?'

Clara rolled her eyes, before popping out the back to collect her wallet and inform her colleague that she was heading for her lunch. 'Let's go.' She summoned Sarah, who smiled and bounded out the door after her. 'The usual?' She asked.

'The usual.' Sarah confirmed.

The two made their way across the road and headed into the park to where their favourite café was located. It was a tiny building that stuck in the middle of the park, about a hundred metres from the back fence that surrounded the palace. They approached and automatically went to their usual seat, a two-seater table underneath one of the parks many oak trees, with a direct view of the palace. Sarah insisted they sit there every time as it was an 'insta-worthy' spot. As soon as they were seated, the manager, who they knew quite well by now, came over and took their order straight away.

'Thanks Sam!' Sarah laughed as she walked away, before turning to Clara. 'So, how was dinner last night? Was lover boy there?' She questioned, winking at Clara, causing her to shake her head. Sarah found the whole ordeal just as hilarious as her mother did.

'Hilarious as usual.' She sneered, before changing the subject. 'I actually met Prince Charles yesterday.' Clara dished, smiing at the look of disbelief on her friends face. 'Seriously, I was getting groceries for mum, had parked in the normal spot, and as I was heading back to the car literally ran into him and knocked him flat. Smashed his bottle of alcohol and everything.' She explained, sipping at her coke that had just been delivered to her table. Sarah laughed out loud.

'Bullshit. As if he was at your local shops buying a bottle of alcohol.' She shook her head in disappointment at her friend. 'Don't change the subject from Sir Lancelot.'

'Oh my Lord, stop calling him that.' Clara begged, looking around at her surroundings. She smirked, realising the irony behind that considering she had literally met an actual Sir the day before. 'It was like it was every week you dork.' She laughed as her Sarah pulled out her phone to take a photo of her coffee, apparently forgetting the subject already.

By the time Clara left work that night, it was later than normal. They'd had an unusually busy evening, which then led to extra work being put into recovering the store for the next day. So, by the time she made her way back to her car and pulled out onto the road that travelled past the rear of the gardens, she was in her own little world. Out of the corner of her eye, a shadow caught her attention walking past her favourite café, causing her to slow down and look it over. It was late enough at night that cars on the road were a rarity, but not too late that people could be out and about, but the likeliness of it just being a jogger running through the park was not high. Clara slowed her car right down, crawling along the road while checking it, her mind automatically worried that maybe someone was breaking into their favourite café. She however couldn't see anything abnormal, so turned her attention back to the road to continue home, just in time to watch a figure step out onto the crossing she was near, hit her car and get knocked off their feet. She slammed her breaks on as soon as the impact occurred, screaming out loud and squeezing her eyes shut.

'Fucking shit.' She screamed, opening her eyes to look out the front window. 'Please don't be dead, please don't be dead.' She muttered to herself as she opened her door and climbed out, hurrying around to the front of her car. She found the figure moaning and laying on their stomach, a bottle held up high, clearly to be protected from smashing into the ground. From the shape of figure and the shoes he wore, she deducted her victim to be a male.

'I'm so sorry. Sir, are you okay?' Clara questioned; border line begged. The guy groaned and pushed to his hands and knees, before taking a swig of his drink. That was always a good sign. 'I'm sorry, I didn't even see you, I thought someone was robbing that place.' She tried to explain, reaching her hands out to steady him if needed as he pulled himself up. She couldn't tell if he was swaying from concussion or alcohol. He took another swig as he turned around pulled his hood down, which resulted in both of them gasping.

'You!' He yelled loudly, pointing an accusing finger at her.

'Oh fuck.' Clara's head started to spin, and she leant on the hood of her car. Her whole life flashed in front of her eyes in a matter of, probably over-reacting, seconds. She had now not only knocked him over and smashed his whiskey, but now she had hit the Crown Prince, heir to the throne, with her car. She was convinced she was going to die in jail. Her hands flew to her head as she started to panic, anxiety seeping into her chest and tightening it.

'Woah, hey, I'm the one who got hit with a car, shouldn't you be looking after me?' He laughed, as he leant down to see her face, pulling at her wrist until she let go of her face. She stared into his blue eyes in disbelief.

'I'm sorry.' She squeaked out. Charlie laughed at her, his breath wafting towards her smelling like whiskey and smoke.

'I'm starting to think you knocking me over today wasn't so accidental. Are you trying to kill me?' He joked, bopping her on the nose with his finger before stepping back to have another drink. He held it out to her after, thinking she probably needed it more. She shook her head before looking up at him.

'Today, don't you mean yesterday?' She asked, distracted from her panic attack momentarily. He couldn't be that drunk could he. He looked thoughtfully for a minute before shrugging.

'Eh, today, yesterday, same thing.'

Before she could respond, a bright light that came from the palace gardens flicked on, flooding them with such a brightness they both squinted and looked in its direction.

'Fuck.' He cursed as they heard the sound of car engines start in the distance. He dashed around the side of the car and jumped into the passenger seat of Clara's car. It was her turn to curse as she watched him beckon for her to come and get in from the safety of her car. She jumped in and shut the door, slipping her seat belt on.

'What are you doing?' She questioned in a whisper, watching him casually drink straight from his bottle in her car.

'Drive now or they'll catch me.' He answered in an over dramatic whisper that she just knew was mocking her. She ground her teeth.

'Where?' She demanded, starting the car and looking at him in absolute astonishment as he looked at her like this was normal.

'Just go, now.' He ordered roughly, banging his hand on the dashboard of her car, making her jump. She floored it and followed the road, watching him out of the corner of her eye as he swayed on the spot, clearly very intoxicated. She opened her mouth to ask something multiple times, but nothing left it, probably for the first time in her life absolutely speechless. She watched as he opened her glove box and starting rifling through.

'What are you doing?' She finally got out, reaching over and slamming it shut, but not before he got a pair of sunglasses onto his head. He looked at her like she'd insulted him by stopping his snooping. She also snatched the bottle of alcohol from him as he was about to take another swig.

'Hey!' He cried out as she shoved it between her legs.

'What. Are. You. Doing?' She questioned again, pulling over into the emergency lane and stopping. 'I have kidnapped a Prince.' She whined, her head falling her to hands again, thumping lightly on the steering wheel.

'It's not kidnapping if I condone it!' He swung at her, reaching for his bottle but snatching his hand back when she slapped it hard. 'Fine.' He huffed, crossing his arms and looking out the window like a scolded child. 'I just wanted to go to a party without the constant swarm of guards that would one hundred percent cock block me yet again.' He rolled his head to give her puppy eyes. 'Sneaking out is the only way to get laid these days.' He complained, causing her to scoff in disbelief and mutters curses to herself.

'Maybe if you'd had your bodyguards with you, I wouldn't have hit you with my car.' She really tried not to scream, but she couldn't help the frustration that came rolling out. She took a deep breath. 'Okay, I'm just going to take you back.' She started to look over her shoulder to go back onto the road. He literally jumped, clasping his hands together and turning to her, begging.

'Please no, just drop me to the party and then I'm out of your hands and my mate's problem then.' She frowned at this, unsure. 'Come on, I promise I won't turn you in if I get caught.'

Clara turned to look at him as she stopped at a red light, instantly getting drawn into his blue eyes. He smirked and licked his lips, and it was in that moment she realised he knew he was drop dead gorgeous and could flash those baby blues and would get anything he wanted. That knowledge still didn't help her resist giving in.

'Fine.' She huffed, looking straight ahead as the light turned green. 'Which way.'

He clapped his hands in victory and directed her ahead.