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Guard Our Girls

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"Uh, excuse me, miss, are you Marianne?"

They'd been emailing for several months, but Iolanthe was still yet to send a photo. "Yes! I'm glad you're here, I've heard a lot about you."

"Um —" Chloe swallowed her nerves and struggled to speak. She'd been thrown in the deep end, and was now expected to swim. "I think you've got the wrong —"

"It's fine, let's just talk. Please, sit."

"Marianne, my name is Chloe," she forced the words out, "I think you have the wrong idea. I work for Her Royal Highness. She sent you the wrong time for your meeting, so I came in her stead and —"

She swallowed her laugh and tried to suppress her amusement at the irony of it all. "You don't know what Iolanthe's been doing?"

"Beg your pardon?"

"She set us up on a blind date."

"No, this is a meeting about Captain —"

"It's both. She sent you to get yourself a girlfriend. You haven't been wondering why she's always on her phone now?"

"I think you've got the wrong idea, I'm not —" No one but Iolanthe knew, not even Lily. "I'm —"

"You're in the closet, I understand . . . so am I."

"You are?"

"Do you want some coffee?"

God, yes. Coffee would help her focus, and keep her awake long enough to sock Iolanthe one in the jaw for this. Chloe had told her repeatedly she wasn't ready, but as ever, consideration and human decency were not in Her Highness's skill set.

"Coffee sounds great."