Royally screwed, p.1
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       Royally Screwed, p.1
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         Part #1 of Royally series by Emma Chase
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Royally Screwed


  Also by Emma Chase

  THE LEGAL BRIEFS SERIES

  Sidebarred

  Appealed

  Sustained

  Overruled

  THE TANGLED SERIES

  It's a Wonderful Tangled Christmas Carol

  Tied

  Tamed

  Twisted

  Tangled

  Royally Screwed, Copyright (c) 2016 by Emma Chase All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Cover Design: By Hang Le

  Interior Book Design: Coreen Montagna

  To Billy & Molly:

  For every hilarious, sweet memory, every awesome, awful story, for the laughter and love and for being the best big brother and little sister in the whole world.

  Acknowledgments

  It's not always easy coming up with a new story idea. Every author wants to write something epic--an entertaining, heartwarming book that will resonate with readers, with loveable, sexy, funny characters that will stay with them long after The End.

  But sometimes, inspiration takes a holiday, leaving a writer to flounder with the question: What am I going to do next? The idea for Royally Screwed and the Royally Series was a few months in the making. I'd had some thoughts about a few potential stories--even some outlines--but none of them grabbed me by the throat and said, "This...this is the story you have to write." A phone call with my amazing agent, Amy Tannenbaum, changed that. I've often said that my first reading love was historical romance, but my favorite stories to write are contemporary romances. And I, like most of the public, am fascinated by the comings and goings of today's modern royals--it's such an elite, unique form of celebrity (and the babies are adorable!!). During my brainstorming session with Amy, those passions and interests created the perfect storm of inspiration . . . and Royally Screwed was born.

  In the days that followed, I went on a writing bender. Frantically jotting down notes and outlines and little snippets of dialogue, not just for Royally Screwed--but for the books that will follow. That's not usually how I work. Typically, I'm consumed by one story--one couple's journey--and everything else fades to the background. But for this series, I fell completely in love with all the couples--every character--the entire world was a fantastic combination of realism and fictional. There was just so much to sink my writing teeth into.

  First and foremost, there was the romance--the exciting, entertaining, exhilarating journey of two people finding each other, falling in love and overcoming every obstacle that gets in their way. But there were other themes too--the intrusive public thirst to know every detail of a public figure's life, the idea of family obligation and the sacrifices we make for the people we love. The captivating idea of modern day royalty-- these attractive, wealthy but also typical twenty-something's who are bound by rules and traditions that are literally centuries old.

  I'm thrilled with how Royally Screwed turned out. I can't wait for you to meet Nicholas and Olivia, and the group of friends and family that surround them. I can't wait to finish writing Royally Matched and Royally Endowed, so I can continue to share with you the world and characters that I've fallen head over heels in love with.

  Inspiration can be tricky--but if you're lucky, you have people around who'll help you cultivate and re ne it. I'm very lucky.

  And so, as always, I'm grateful to my agent, Amy Tannenbaum and everyone at the Jane Rotrosen Agency for your constant support and guidance and for working so hard to bring my books to fruition.

  Thanks to my publicist, Danielle Sanchez and everyone at InkSlinger PR--it's been a joy working with you.

  Thanks to my assistant Juliet Fowler who's always on the ball and is so good at everything she does.

  Huge thanks to Gitte Doherty, of TotallyBooked, for always making me smile and for helping me make Nicholas a swoony, sexy, not-American sounding beast!

  I'm sure I'm not alone in thanking Hang Le of By Hang Le designs for this absolutely gorgeous cover and for all her beautiful graphics. Much gratitude to Coreen Montagna for your terrific work.

  All my thanks and hugs to Nina Bocci, Katy Evans, K. Bromberg, Marie Force, Lauren Blakely and all my fabulous, awesome author friends!! It's always reassuring to know I'm not crazy--but the life of a writer often is.

  On that note, love and gratitude to my family--for your patience and understanding, encouragement and unending support. Thank you for putting up with me, I know it's not always easy.

  And to my stupendous, wonderful readers--I love you guys!!! Your support and excitement is humbling and you make this writing business all the more joyful. Thank you for sticking with me from book to book, series to series.

  Now . . . go dive in and get Royally Screwed! xoxo

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Six

  Epilogue

  Coming Soon

  MY VERY FIRST MEMORY isn't all that different from anyone else's. I was three years old and it was my first day of preschool. For some reason, my mother ignored the fact that I was actually a boy and dressed me in God-awful overalls, a frilly cuffed shirt and patent-leather brogues. I planned to smear finger paint on the outfit the first chance I got.

  But that's not what stands out most in my mind.

  By then, spotting a camera lens pointed my way was as common as seeing a bird in the sky. I should've been used to it--and I think I was. But that day was different.

  Because there were hundreds of cameras.

  Lining every inch of the sidewalk and the streets, and clustered together at the entrance of my school like a sea of one-eyed monsters, waiting to pounce. I remember my mother's voice, soothing and constant as I clung to her hand, but I couldn't make out her words. They were drowned out by the roar of snapping shutters and the shouts of photographers calling my name.

  "Nicholas! Nicholas, this way, smile now! Look up, lad! Nicholas, over here!"

  It was the first inkling I'd had that I was--that we were--different. In the years after, I'd learn just how different my family is. Internationally renowned, instantly recognizable, our everyday activities headlines in the making.

  Fame is a strange thing. A powerful thing. Usually it ebbs and flows like a tide. People get swept up in it, swamped by it, but eventually the notoriety recedes, and the former object of its affection is reduced to someone who used to be someone, but isn't anymore.

  That will never happen to me. I was known before I was born and my name will be blazoned in history long after I'm dust in the ground. Infamy is temporary, celebrity is fleeting, but royal
ty...royalty is forever.

  ONE WOULD THINK, as accustomed as I am to being watched, that I wouldn't be effected by the sensation of someone staring at me while I sleep.

  One would be wrong.

  My eyes spring open, to see Fergus's scraggly, crinkled countenance just inches from my face. "Bloody hell!"

  It's not a pleasant view.

  His one good eye glares disapprovingly, while the other--the wandering one--that my brother and I always suspected wasn't lazy at all, but a freakish ability to see everything at once, gazes toward the opposite side of the room.

  Every stereotype starts somewhere, with some vague but lingering grain of truth. I've long suspected the stereotype of the condescending, cantankerous servant began with Fergus.

  God knows the wrinkled bastard is old enough.

  He straightens up at my bedside, as much as his hunched, ancient spine will let him. "Took you long enough to wake up. You think I don't have better things to do? Was just about to kick you."

  He's exaggerating. About having better things to do--not the plan to kick me.

  I love my bed. It was an eighteenth birthday gift from the King of Genovia. It's a four-column, gleaming piece of art, hand-carved in the sixteenth century from one massive piece of Brazilian mahogany. My mattress is stuffed with the softest Hungarian goose feathers, my Egyptian cotton sheets have a thread count so high it's illegal in some parts of the world, and all I want to do is to roll over and bury myself under them like a child determined not to get up for school.

  But Fergus's raspy warning grates like sandpaper on my eardrums.

  "You're supposed to be in the green drawing room in twenty-five minutes."

  And ducking under the covers is no longer an option. They won't save you from machete-wielding psychopaths...or a packed schedule.

  Sometimes I think I'm schizophrenic. Dissociative. Possibly a split personality. It wouldn't be unheard of. All sorts of disorders show up in ancient family trees--hemophiliacs, insomniacs, lunatics...gingers. Guess I should feel lucky not to be any of those.

  My problem is voices. Not those kinds of voices--more like reactions in my head. Answers to questions that don't match what actually ends up coming out of my mouth.

  I almost never say what I really think. Sometimes I'm so full of shit my eyes could turn brown. And, it might be for the best.

  Because I happen to think most people are fucking idiots.

  "And we're back, chatting with His Royal Highness, Prince Nicholas."

  Speaking of idiots...

  The light-haired, thin-boned, bespeckled man sitting across from me conducting this captivating televised interview? His name is Teddy Littlecock. No, really, that's his actual name--and from what I hear, it's not an oxymoron. Can you appreciate what it must've been like for him in school with a name like that? It's almost enough to make me feel bad for him. But not quite.

  Because Littlecock is a journalist--and I have a special kind of disgust for them. The media's mission has always been to bend the mighty over a barrel and ram their transgressions up their aristocratic arses. Which, in a way, is fine--most aristocrats are first-class pricks; everybody knows that. What bothers me is when it's not deserved. When it's not even true. If there's no dirty laundry around, the media will drag a freshly starched shirt through the shit and create their own. Here's an oxymoron for you: journalistic integrity.

  Old Teddy isn't just any reporter--he's Palace Approved. Which means unlike his bribing, blackmailing, lying brethren, Littlecock gets direct access--like this interview--in exchange for asking the stupidest bloody questions ever. It's mind-numbing.

  Choosing between dull and dishonest is like being asked whether you want to be shot or stabbed.

  "What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?"

  See what I mean? It's like those Playboy centerfold interviews--"I like bubble baths, pillow fights, and long, naked walks on the beach." No she doesn't. But the point of the questions isn't to inform, it's to reinforce the fantasies of the blokes jerking off to her.

  It's the same way for me.

  I grin, flashing a hint of dimple--women fall all over themselves for dimples.

  "Well, most nights I like to read."

  I like to fuck.

  Which is probably the answer my fans would rather hear. The Palace, however, would lose their ever-loving minds if I said that.

  Anyway, where was I? That's right--the fucking. I like it long, hard, and frequent. With my hands on a firm, round arse--pulling some lovely little piece back against me, hearing her sweet moans bouncing off the walls as she comes around my cock. These century-old rooms have fantastic acoustics.

  While some men choose women because of their talent at keeping their legs open, I prefer the ones who are good at keeping their mouths shut. Discretion and an ironclad NDA keep most of the real stories out of the papers.

  "I enjoy horseback riding, polo, an afternoon of clay pigeon shooting with the Queen."

  I enjoy rock climbing, driving as fast as I can without crashing, flying, good scotch, B-movies, and a scathingly passive-aggressive verbal exchange with the Queen.

  It's that last one that keeps the Old Bird on her toes--my wit is her fountain of youth. Plus it's good practice for us both. Wessco is an active constitutional monarchy so unlike our ceremonial neighbors, the Queen is an equal ruling branch of government, along with Parliament. That essentially makes the royal family politicians. Top of the food chain, sure, but politicians all the same. And politics is a quick, dirty, brawling business. Every brawler knows that if you're going to bring a knife to a fistfight, that knife had better be sharp.

  I cross my arms over my chest, displaying the tan, bare forearms beneath the sleeves of my rolled-up pale-blue oxford. I'm told they have a rabid Twitter following--along with a few other parts of my body. I then tell the story of my first shoot. It's a fandom favorite--I could recite it in my sleep--and it almost feels like I am. Teddy chuckles at the ending--when my brat of a little brother loaded the launcher with a cow patty instead of a pigeon.

  Then he sobers, adjusting his glasses, signaling that the sad portion of our program will now begin.

  "It will be thirteen years this May since the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the Prince and Princess of Pembrook."

  Called it.

  I nod silently.

  "Do you think of them often?"

  The carved teak bracelet weighs heavily on my wrist. "I have many happy memories of my parents. But what's most important to me is that they live on through the causes they championed, the charities they supported, the endowments that carry their name. That's their legacy. By building up the foundations they advocated for, I'll ensure they'll always be remembered."

  Words, words, words, talk, talk, talk. I'm good at that. Saying a lot without really answering a thing.

  I think of them every single day.

  It's not our way to be overly emotional--stiff upper lip, onward and upward, the King is dead--long live the King. But while to the world they were a pair of HRHs, to me and Henry they were just plain old Mum and Dad. They were good and fun and real. They hugged us often, and smacked us about when we deserved it--which was pretty often too. They were wise and kind and loved us fiercely--and that's a rarity in my social circle.

  I wonder what they'd have to say about everything and how different things would be if they'd lived.

  Teddy's talking again. I'm not listening, but I don't have to--the last few words are all I need to hear. "...Lady Esmerelda last weekend?"

  I've known Ezzy since our school days at Briar House. She's a good egg--loud and rowdy. "Lady Esmerelda and I are old friends."

  "Just friends?"

  She's also a committed lesbian. A fact her family wants to keep out of the press. I'm her favorite beard. Our mutually beneficial dates are organized through the Palace secretary.

  I smile charmingly. "I make it a rule not to kiss and tell."

  Teddy leans forward, catc
hing a whiff of story. The story.

  "So there is the possibility that something deeper could be developing between you? The country took so much joy in watching your parents' courtship. The people are on tenterhooks waiting for you, 'His Royal Hotness' as they call you on social media, to find your own ladylove and settle down."

  I shrug. "Anything's possible."

  Except for that. I won't be settling down anytime soon. He can bet his Littlecock on it.

  As soon as the hot beam of front lighting is extinguished and the red recording signal on the camera blips off, I stand up from my chair, removing the microphone clipped to my collar.

  Teddy stands as well. "Thank you for your time, Your Grace."

  He bows slightly at the neck--the proper protocol.

  I nod. "Always a pleasure, Littlecock."

  That's not what she said. Ever.

  Bridget, my personal secretary--a stout, middle-aged, well-ordered woman, appears at my side with a bottle of water.

  "Thank you." I twist the cap. "Who's next?"

  The Dark Suits thought it was a good time for a PR boost--which means days of interviews, tours, and photo shoots. My own personal fourth, fifth, and sixth circles of hell.

  "He's the last for today."

  "Hallelujah."

  She falls in step beside me as I walk down the long, carpeted hallway that will eventually lead to Guthrie House--my private apartments at the Palace of Wessco.

  "Lord Ellington is arriving shortly, and arrangements for dinner at Bon Repas are confirmed."

  Being friends with me is harder than you'd think. I mean, I'm a great friend; my life, on the other hand, is a pain in the arse. I can't just drop by a pub last minute or hit up a new club on a random Friday night. These things have to preplanned, organized. Spontaneity is the only luxury I don't get to enjoy.

  "Good."

  With that, Bridget heads toward the palace offices and I enter my private quarters. Three floors, a full modernized kitchen, a morning room, a library, two guest rooms, servants' quarters, two master suites with balconies that open up to the most breathtaking views on the grounds. All fully restored and updated--the colors, tapestries, stonework, and moldings maintaining their historic integrity. Guthrie House is the official residence of the Prince or Princess of Pembrook--the heir apparent--whomever that may be. It was my father's before it was mine, my grandmother's before her coronation.

 
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