I’ve got a new book on the way! Double Dirty Royals is releasing next week.
If you’re interested in getting a free copy for review, the signup link is at the bottom of the post 🙂
And for now, I’ve got a sneak preview… hope you like your men dominating, filthy, and princely!
I stand in front of the massive doors to the throne room and swallow, nervously staring up at the ornate, carved wood. They’re from the 12th century, and they show the legendary King Torgud slaying a dragon.
At least I’m not a dragon, I think.
“His Majesty said you’re to enter at your leisure, princess,” the guard standing by the door says.
“Thank you, Lorenzo,” I say, but it doesn’t make me less nervous.
My father, King Edward IV of Tomassia, isn’t in the habit of asking to speak with me privately in the throne room unless he’s got something big to tell me. Or, worse, unless I’ve done something he’s unhappy about.
I take a deep breath and push the door open with a long, slow creak that echoes through the huge chamber. At the far end, up on the dais, are my mother and father, both seated on their thrones. Behind them are three smaller thrones — one each for me and my two younger sisters.
My parents aren’t wearing their crowns, but they’re both decked in their royal finest, as am I: my mother in a deep blue silk dress that skims her still-regal shoulders, my father in a military jacket with buttons down the front.
I’m wearing a floor length emerald-green dress, also silk, my red hair pulled back into a complicated knot at the nape of my neck. It’s not what I usually wear, but today’s not just any day.
“Katarina,” my father booms as I walk the length of the throne room.
“Good morning, father, mother,” I answer. Our relationship isn’t necessarily always this formal, but being in full regalia in the throne room tends to bring out the formality.
When I stop in front of them, I curtsy. My mother smiles.
My father sighs.
“Kat, I’m sorry for asking you here without telling you what this is all about,” he says, leaning over the arm of his throne. “But, frankly, this is very important and I didn’t want to have this discussion over breakfast.”
Outside, the clouds suddenly break, and sunlight streams through the stained glass windows positioned along the ceiling, lighting the whole throne room.
“What is it?” I ask, though I have a feeling I already know.
My parents look at each other, then back at me.
“It’s time you were married,” he says.
My stomach clenches, and I swallow hard. I had a feeling that’s what this was going to be about, but now that he’s said it, suddenly my palms are sweaty and my heart’s beating faster.
“Tomassia needs an heir,” he says. “And since I decreed last year that the crown passes to the eldest child, regardless of gender, it’s high time that we thought about the future of this country.”
The future meaning my children.
I don’t mind that part. I like kids, and I’ve always wanted them — which is good, since having them is part of my royal duties. But there’s one huge, major problem.
I’m not married. I’ve never even had a boyfriend.
I’ve never even had sex.
Hard to give the kingdom heirs without that particular ingredient. I look up at my father, hands clasped in front of me, and wonder how to word my next question.
My mother looks at him, then leans down herself.
“Part of the reason that the Inter-Continental Council of Kingdoms is having its summit meeting in Tomassia this year is because you’ll be entertaining a number of suitors,” she says. “Your father and I have quietly put it out that you’re ready to be married, and of course, sweetheart, that’s attracted some interest.”
I look at the floor. Someday I’ll be queen of the tiny-but-insanely-wealthy Tomassia. Of course I’ve attracted interest.
“In particular, it’s attracted the interest of Prince Sven of Norograv,” my father says. “I know he’s a bit older than you, but he’s very wealthy, Norograv is powerful and a strong ally, he has a fantastic lineage, and most importantly, he’s willing to be the Prince Consort of Tomassia.”
My heart stops.
I don’t know Sven in person, but I know about him. He’s the younger brother of the King of Norograv, Mikael. He’s almost forty, balding, pudgy, and makes the gossip press constantly.
It’s bad enough when a handsome, wealthy young man is an international playboy.
But it’s worse when an unattractive, gross jerk thinks he’s an international playboy.
“Sven?” I ask, my mouth going dry.
My father fixes me with a hard look, his mouth forming a straight line across his face. I’ve gotten the lecture about how my duty is first to my country and then to myself about a thousand times, so I know exactly what he’s thinking.
He’s thinking that I owe it to Tomassia to marry Sven and have a couple of strong Tomassian babies with good strong genes, and he’s not going to listen to any arguments about it.
“Yes, Prince Sven of Norograv will likely be an excellent match,” he says.
I duck my head, stomach clenching.
“Yes, father,” I say, just as the big doors open behind me again.
“There you are, girls,” my mother says. It must be my younger sisters, Princesses Alexandra and Florentina. “I’m glad you came early. It’s a big day today.”
I think I might throw up, but that would be very un-royal.
* * *
The Council is endless, and more, it’s really uncomfortable. Sitting in a throne, holding a scepter and wearing a crown for a couple of hours are a surefire ticket to a wicked headache and backache.
Sure, as the Crown Princess I attend plenty of state events, but this is the twenty-first century. I’m much more likely to be wear a business suit than a formal dress, and I’m more likely to have a blow-out than a crown.
To top it all off, the Norogravian delegation still hasn’t presented itself. I think they’re going last, which is the worst, because I’ve already been dreading it all day.
“Thank you, your highness,” the current delegation leader — I think he’s a one of those city-state leaders who styles himself a viscount? — says, and my father nods. The man steps away, but I’m barely paying attention.
“Good afternoon, your highness,” the next voice says, and a jolt of recognition snaps through me. I jerk to attention, because that voice sounds incredibly familiar, but I can’t place why.
“We’re honored to be part of the Council,” says another, equally familiar voice.
Then the voices owners step forward to where I can see them, and my jaw nearly drops.
Standing in front of my father, dressed in military dress uniforms, are the two most perfect-looking men I’ve ever seen in my life. They look totally different — one is dark-haired and light-eyed, his facial hair just hinting at sideburns, his chiseled face serious and handsome, the other light-haired and gray-eyed, a hint of a smile around his mouth — but they’re both incredibly, world-shatteringly, earth-shakingly gorgeous.
At the same time, they both bow to my father in unison, but as they stand up straight, they both glance my way for just a moment.
I think my heart tries to escape through my mouth, because despite being here, in this throne room, behind my father, it’s the sexiest, filthiest, most wicked look I’ve ever gotten.
And I got it from two men at the same time.
“I’m pleased that San Javier and Materbourg could join us this year,” my father says smoothly. “I’m honored by your attendance, Princes Dominic and Bruno.”
I nearly gasp out loud.
Oh my gosh, that’s who they are.
I can’t believe it. The last time I saw the respective princes of San Javier and Materbourg, I was thirteen and at the royal wedding of a distant cousin. They were sixteen, and though I didn’t say more than three words to them the entire weekend, I nursed crushes on both of them for years afterwards.
And now they’ve grown up… very well.
“Thank you, your highness,” Dominic says smoothly.
Just like that, they step aside and sit, leaving me just about breathless with surprise.
But there’s one more delegation, of course. The big doors swing open a final time, and in stride four guards in military uniforms, all staring straight ahead, not looking at anything. Behind them are three men in very expensive suits — two of them flanking the one in the middle, clearly his assistants.
The man in the middle takes off his sunglasses, folds them into his pocket, and holds both hands out toward my father.
“Your highness,” he says. “The pleasure is entirely mine.”
It’s Sven, and just standing there he looks greasy. Maybe it’s his slicked-back hair, maybe it’s the thing with the sunglasses, or maybe it’s the way that his suit buttons are pulling the tiniest bit, like he’s a little too fat for the suit, but he’s just kind of gross.
“Tomassia is honored to host Norograv’s delegation yet again,” my father says smoothly.
I tune out the rest of their conversation — it’s all diplomatic niceties anyway — and look over Sven with something like stomach-churning horror.
They can’t be serious, I think. Him?
Despite myself, I look back at where Dom and Bruno are sitting, listening politely to the conversation, and my heart skips a beat.
Why couldn’t they pick one of them for me? I wonder.