Prince Liam, the King of Ireland's teenage son, has breached royal security by dressing down and venturing into Dublin's vibrant Temple Bar area with his hungry cousin Kevin.
Flowers cascaded from windows and terraces. Fanciful murals adorned several walls. Traditional music oozed from brightly painted pubs and flew from the fingers of street musicians.
"There's at least six guards in the crowd," Kevin said.
Liam had already spotted the yellow jackets and visored black hats of the Dublin police. If anyone recognized him, the sharp-eyed gardaí would. Seeking to avoid them, the cousins crossed the street that led to the square.
They stopped at the corner near the ice cream shop. Before them, in the center of the bustling square, scores of bibliomaniacs rummaged though boxes of books set on tables. Liam couldn't wait to join them. "Which way is the Mexican restaurant, Kev?"
Kevin tilted his head to the left. "Over there. I've been craving their nachos all morning." He raised his eyes in ecstasy. "And they have the best chicken chili! Let's go."
Liam hopped over a puddle and turned—straight into a warm, solid object.
The crash knocked the breath from him. He didn't see who'd clobbered him. He only knew his royal arse was on the cobblestones.
"Li!" Kevin dropped beside him, inspecting him like a fussing mother hen. "Li, are you all right?"
Thankful he hadn't landed in the puddle, Liam heaved himself up on his elbows. He wanted to get away before a crowd gathered. "I'm fine," he said, raising his arm. "Give us a hand, Kev."
As Kevin pulled him to his feet, he noticed a girl his age sprawled on the ground nearby. Blond. Ponytail. Extremely good-looking, with high round cheeks that tapered to a charming chin. Before he could help her to her feet, a dark-haired miss did just that.
The second girl was clearly a friend. Pretty enough. A tad overweight. Glasses. Backpack. "Nice going, Jan," she said. "You did it again."
"I'm so sorry!" the blonde named Jan blurted out. "Are you okay?"
Yanks, for sure. The brunette seemed amused, but the blonde sounded desperate. Terrified. In need of immediate consolation.
Liam hatched his best smile.