James sat at the table and regarded his reflection in the frankly overly polished mahogany. Short brown hair, green eyes that wouldn’t be out of place in a forest framed by dark lashes and positioned under dark sweeps of brown that formed his eyebrows. He was a handsome young man, if he did say so himself.
He blanked out, letting his father's stern words wash over him.
Why was it that parents never understood? He evidently wasn’t a bad person for going into a night club. He was just being normal - living the life a young man should. And for some minutes during the interview with the press, his dad had seemed to show a sense of empathy. Yet now his father was lecturing him about the responsibilities of a prince and how a prince was a role model for other men and how bad he was making the Royal Family look for being in a nightclub. He spoke of nightclubs almost with disdain, as if James should be above them, as if half the British population should be above them. Seriously, where was the harm in going out and having a bit of fun? Nightclubs were a part of life - of learning how to associate with people, of learning how to let yourself go. There was nothing negative in that. Perhaps he thought he was one of those guys who was really reckless and got drunk, and that hurt James. He respected his father, even if he could give him a few too many restrictions sometimes.
“Don’t let yourself get caught in one again,” the king warned. James nodded absently, not really intending to listen to his father on this occasion.
The king sighed heavily and left the room. As he walked out, he called, “I expected better from you, James.”
That night James snuck out in a hooded jumper, tracksuit bottoms and trainers borrowed from one of the servants who he was particularly good friends with. He went to a nightclub called ‘Vortex’ in West London.
‘Vortex’ was the best nightclub in Chelsea; perhaps this was because it had the loudest music, the most hypnotising lights and the most selective bouncers. Or maybe it was the well-dressed women and the longest bar in London, James didn’t know why he liked it so much but he was a regular customer. Soon he was in his comfort zone, sitting at the bar, chatting up a woman.
“I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you have the most beautiful eyes,” he told her.
“Aw,” she murmured blushing and looking down into her cocktail.
“Can I get you another one of those?” he asked smoothly; she looked back at him and slowly raised her hand to his hood; she pushed it back gently to reveal his face.
“Oh God,” she murmured, “So it’s true?”
“What is true?” he asked,
“The Prince really does come here…”
“What? The Prince is here? Where is he?” he asked, looking around - he was getting better at acting.
“You’re not Prince James?” she asked.
James looked back to the beautiful woman.
“Me? No,” he laughed throatily. “It’s alright I get it all the time; I should probably turn into one of his lookalikes.”
“You do? That’s a relief,” she smiled,.
“Sorry I didn’t catch your name at the beginning,” James said, smiling at her.
“Elizabeth, but my friends call me Lizzy.”
“My Grandmother was called Elizabeth,” James smiled.
“You are Prince James!” she accused.
“Alright, alright, guilty as charged,” he held up his hands, “but for the record, it’s not everyday that I run into a woman as beautiful as you, and I’m pleased I risked my reputation because it meant I could meet you.”
“Thank you,” she said blushing, “Your Highness.”
Unfortunately, James had to get back to the palace before eleven thirty, so that he didn’t miss the gate closing. He finally knew that his plan for sneaking out had succeeded when he got to bed without being stopped by his father or a servant who had the grim job of informing him he had been caught, but as he lay there that night he wondered whether all this sneaking around was worth it. True, he got to meet beautiful girls but it never went further than that, he always had to be home before the party even started and most likely Lizzy would have gone home with another man.