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A Royal Entrapment: The Young Royals, #3

A Royal Entrapment: The Young Royals, #3

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A Royal Entrapment: The Young Royals, #3

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Länge:
329 Seiten
5 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 1, 2017
ISBN:
9781386679936
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

*Revised Edition*

The queen is getting married and Priscilla is required to work alongside the Lord Chancellor, Dominique, to ensure that the whole affair goes off without a hitch and that they don't, unwittingly, start World War III.  The only problem is that Priscilla finds Dominique insufferable and Dom isn't all that enamoured with Priscilla either.

When Priscilla's sister, Bianca, falls for Dominique's brother, Louis, the two young lovers hatch a plot to ensure that they can spend time together, but it means that Dom has to pretend to be interested in Priscilla and get her to date him.

The more time they spend together, the more Dom and Priscilla start to like each other, except that now Dom is caught in a difficult spot…should he tell Priscilla that he only asked her out because his brother wanted to date her sister, or should he keep quiet and hope she doesn't find out?

This is a Sweet Romance - These are romantic tales without the bedroom scenes and the swearing, but that doesn't mean they're boring

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 1, 2017
ISBN:
9781386679936
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

I am a business owner, artist, cook, mother and wife.  I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with my wonderful husband, two beautiful sons, a dog and a cat (both of which are female because, hey, we needed to balance all that testosterone!) I am a ferocious reader with eclectic tastes and have always wanted to write, but  never had the opportunity due to one reason or another (excuses, really) until finally taking the bullet between my teeth in 2014 and just making myself do it. I love to write stories with heart and a message and believe in strong female characters who do not necessarily have to be aggressive to show their strength.


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A Royal Entrapment - Emma Lea

judgement.

Chapter 1

Priscilla

Why am I here again? Bianca pouted as we waited in the outer office of Dominique Furore, Lord Chancellor, and kind of my boss… sort of.

We’re here because I need to see the Lord Chancellor and since you are supposed to be interning with me, you have to be here too.

I thought working in the Palace would be more exciting.

I sighed. It was bad enough that Bianca had to shadow me, but to have to meet with Dominique while she was glued to my side was worse. Unfortunately with the wedding barely six weeks away, I needed all the help I could get.

What did you expect? That we sat around drinking champagne, snacking on caviar, wearing the crown jewels and counting the Queen’s money all day long?

No, she huffed out and I wondered how much of that statement she had actually expected to be true. I just thought, you know, that there would be less sitting around and more—

But she didn’t get to finish her sentence because the doors opened and Dominique stood there, his raven-dark hair gleaming with the sunlight from the window and his green eyes flashing. I could tell by the set of his mouth that he was perturbed by something, but he quickly shuttered his expression as his eyes caught mine. I stood quickly and walked towards him, pushing down my anxiety at being in his presence with my sister in tow.

My Lord Chancellor—

What are you doing here Lady Beaumonde?

Really? He’d forgotten?

We had an appointment, I said, my displeasure apparent.

His eyes widened imperceptibly and if I hadn’t been watching for it, I wouldn’t have noticed. Dom never forgot anything, his mind was like a steel trap. Something must have happened to get him this flustered.

His eyes flicked to my sister and one of his thick, dark eyebrows lifted.

And who is this?

This is my sister Bianca, she is interning with me.

Dom— another voice came from behind me. Well, hello there ladies.

I watched Dom’s face redden slightly as he looked over my shoulder and then I turned slowly and caught my breath. They had to be related, that was the only explanation for how similar they looked, although the interloper was younger and not quite so serious.

This is Lady Priscilla Beaumonde and her sister Miss Bianca Beaumonde, Dom said and his voice dripped with displeasure.

The younger man stepped forward and took my hand bowing over it and brushing his lips on the back of my knuckles before letting go and taking my sister’s hand to do the same, only he took a little longer to complete the greeting.

It is such a pleasure to meet you both, he said, but his eyes didn’t leave Bianca’s.

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. It was always the same, the men went gaga over my sister and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why, not that I wanted them to go gaga over me, not in the slightest. I just found it tiring and I knew that I would spend the next four hours listening to her babble on about whoever this man turned out to be.

Lady Beaumonde, Miss Beaumonde, this is my brother Louis.

Yes, well, I said, As I said earlier, we had an appointment. I looked at my wrist where I wore a classic timepiece, antique in fact, given to me by my mother. It probably wasn’t worth the amount I spent on it to keep it running, but I was yet to discover another watch that felt right on my arm.

I’m afraid I am going to have to reschedule, Dom said and my eyes snapped to his.

You couldn’t have told me this earlier before I made my way over here?

Dom’s jaw hardened and I watched, fascinated, as the muscles under his dark whiskers rippled. I had become adept at reading his moods and his body language for my own preservation. I tended to let my mouth run away from me at times, but I knew I could only push him so far before he would push back. That was not as much fun as it sounded.

It is a last minute situation that I need to deal with post-haste. I’ll let you know when I can reschedule. Come along Louis.

Dom took Louis’ arm roughly and stalked from the room leaving me to gape after him. I had never seen him so ruffled by anything and the look in his eye when he glared at his brother was enough for me to be thankful I was not in Louis’ shoes.

That’s him, Bianca whispered excitedly beside me.

What? I turned to look at her, not comprehending what she was blabbering about.

The guy from the garden party. You know the one that I told you about, the one who looked at me and we had a moment. She sighed dreamily and I tried really hard not to roll my eyes, but failed.

Dom or Louis?

Louis, of course, she said like I was a simpleton, Dom is far too old for me. He’s hot, but yeah, too old.

Louis is the guy that you are in love with? I asked to clarify.

Didn’t you feel it? she said, looking towards the door where the two men had exited, The sparks between us were off the charts.

The only sparks I saw were the ones between the two brothers. Louis has obviously done something that Dom didn’t like, there is no other explanation for him forgetting our appointment.

So he’s just as uptight as you are? Bianca mumbled.

I turned to her, wanting to rip shreds off her. The lazy little beggar did nothing all day long and had the nerve to call me uptight? Instead I counted to ten. It wasn’t worth getting into it with her, she was blithely unaware of her spoilt behaviour and nothing I said to her would ever get through to her.

Come on, I said, We’ve got work to do.


Dominique

I marched Louis out of my office and away from the two distracting women that had been waiting for me. How on earth could I have forgotten the appointment I had with Priscilla? I never forgot anything. But then again, I hadn’t had to deal with my younger brother in a long time either.

What were you thinking Louis? I growled as I frog-marched him towards the elevator that would take us down to the Majordomo.

Well, now, I’m not sure. Maybe if you give me a hint as to why you feel it necessary to manhandle me, I might be able to explain myself.

A 1984 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti? Really? Do you know how much that is worth?

It’s wine, red wine—

French red wine worth nearly six thousand American dollars. And you thought you could just help yourself to the Royal cellar?

The Queen said—

The Queen was being polite. When she told you to make yourself at home, she did not mean pilfering from her wine cellar. Seriously, what has gotten into you? You can not be this much of a lush. What happened to you?

Louis pulled his arm from my grasp and took a moment to straighten his cuffs before running a hand over his hair to smooth it back into place. This wasn’t the brother that I remembered, something was going on with him and I had no idea what it was. We had been close once upon a time, but living in two different countries tended to erode even the strongest of relationships.

I was entertaining, he replied, I asked the Sommelier for the wine and he served my guest and I.

Who was your guest?

That’s a private matter—

Fine, I said, cutting him off, really not caring who he had brought into the Palace. That was not my department and I’m sure Benjamin had eyes everywhere, the proof of which was his email this morning alerting me to my dear brother’s expensive tastes. Look, I said, trying to remain calm, You cannot avail yourself of the Queen’s cellars, especially not bottles of wine worth more than you’ve ever made in a real job.

He scoffed, Like this is a real job.

You don’t think I work hard? You don’t think that this job is demanding?

Well it’s not like you’re digging ditches in the midday sun now is it? You live and work in a Palace, not exactly a hardship.

And what exactly would you know about hard work? You grew up in an estate that was not exactly a poor house. You’ve had every advantage afforded to you and yet still you flounder. What is it going to take for you to settle down, to start taking life seriously?

What, like you? I think you take life seriously enough for the both of us.

I squeezed the bridge of my nose, desperately trying to rein in my temper. Louis knew how to push my buttons and he was a master at evasion. Attacking me was just his way of sidetracking me so that I didn’t follow through. Well, it wouldn’t work this time.

"So, do you have the six thousand dollars to replace the bottle of wine you and your guest drank?"

Louis rolled his eyes. As you so helpfully pointed out, I have no money of my own. Papa might be willing to send me some from my trust fund though—

No, I said, not even contemplating getting their father involved. Dear old Papa is not going to bail you out this time. You are going to work off your debt and since you are so fond of wine and expensive delicacies, you will be assisting the Majordomo and his staff for the week.

I’m to be a servant? he said, horrified.

Yes and if you don’t complete the tasks assigned to you, I will hand you over to Benjamin and Von Bartham. They have a particular way of dealing with thieves in the Palace.

I’m not a thief—

Oh no? Then what would you call it?

I’m a guest—

"No, you were sent to me to work, not to entertain at the Queen’s expense. We stopped outside a thick mahogany door. I rapped my knuckles and waited for permission to enter. Sergé, my brother Louis."

Ah, Master Furore. Thank you Lord Chancellor for the use of your brother at this busy time. We are in desperate need of an extra pair of hands.

Glad to be of assistance, I said, smiling tightly. I turned to leave…

Wait, Dom, come on. You’re not really leaving me here are you? This was just a scare tactic right?

I turned back to my brother, faintly amused by the look of panic on his face. I most certainly am leaving you here. I have given you more chances than you deserve and each time you disappoint me. I am not bailing you out this time so maybe you’ll think twice next time. The world is not your playground, Louis, and the time to pay the piper has come.

Come on, Dom. You can’t be serious. Can’t I just work off my debt by working for you?

Oh you will be working for me, I said with a smirk, But that was our original agreement, the entire reason you came to Merveille. This work you’ll be doing for Sergé is to make amends for the bottle of wine, the caviar, the brie and the water crackers that you used to entertain your guest, unless of course you’d like to pay the bill with cash?

Louis’ shoulders slumped and the grin from Sergé was almost feral. The man was an even bigger ogre than I was rumoured to be. I didn’t mind having a tough reputation, but Sergé actively cultivated his.

I clapped my brother on the shoulder and gave him a wide grin. Good luck, I said before walking out of the room, feeling a whole lot better than I had half an hour ago.

Chapter 2

Priscilla

No. Absolutely not.

But why? Bianca’s whine skittered down my back like nails on a chalkboard.

Because you are here to work, not date.

It’s just lunch, she whined again.

I don’t care, I said, reaching the end of my tether. You are supposed to be working for me, Bianca, not gallivanting around the Palace with every Tom, Dick and Harry you meet.

Prince Harry’s here? Her eyes got big and I had to bite my tongue not to yell at her for being such an imbecile. Seriously, how could the two of us even be sisters?

No, he is not, I was able to say calmly.

But he will be, right? All the big Royal Families are going to be at the wedding?

I growled under my breath. Why did I even suggest to Father that he send Bianca here? He hadn’t wanted her to come, he hadn’t wanted me to come and work at the Palace, but I hadn't given him much choice. I thought it would be good for her to get some real world experience, I never dreamed that it would end up giving me an ulcer.

My tablet dinged with an incoming message and I scanned it, an idea lighting up my brain.

Bianca, I said, I have a special job for you.

She turned to me and her eyes narrowed. What kind of job?

Oh, maybe not, I said, dismissively, Maybe you’re not up to it.

You always do this, she huffed, crossing her arms, You never think I can do anything.

I had to hide my smile as I looked back down at my tablet. It’s just, well, it’s an important job. A request from the Queen.

Her eyes popped and her arms dropped to her side, The Queen wants me to do a special job?

I nodded slowly. There is a VIP reception tonight, I said, It’s small and intimate and the Queen wants everything to be perfect.

Bianca nodded enthusiastically. Is it something to do with her hair or gown—

I shook my head. There was no way I would let Bianca anywhere near the Queen’s hair or clothes, that would just be asking for trouble. No, but it is something very dear to her heart.

Tell me, she said and I knew I had her hooked.

Table settings, I said dramatically. The Queen wants you to help with the table settings.

Bianca screwed up her face, Table settings?

You know how good you are with arranging flowers and making things look pretty, I said, encouragingly. Papa’s table always looked perfect whenever you set it, not to mention the way you rearranged the furniture in the sitting room at home.

She nodded, thinking. I do have a knack for decor, she said.

Exactly, I said, And tonight is so important for the Queen. She just wants everything to be perfect for her guests and I think you would be perfect for the job.

I was laying it on a bit thick, but if I could get her out of the room for a few hours then maybe I could get some work done. And she really couldn’t do any damage with the job I was giving her, polishing the silver flatware would keep her busy with very little chance of screwing up.

Okay, I’ll do it, she said like she was bestowing a great favour on me.

I shot off a quick reply to the message and walked towards the door, turning back to her when I realised she hadn’t followed me.

Well, come on, I said.

She turned on her heel and met me at the door. We walked side by side down the corridor to the elevator and then took it to the lower levels of the Palace. This was the engine room, where all the magic happened. Maids in pristine uniforms scurried past us as I led Bianca towards the Undercroft where we stored the many and varied cutlery, crockery and other serving ware, essentially a dish room.

It was a long hall with a vaulted ceiling, the sides of which were lined with cabinetry. There were different dinner sets for different functions, some for everyday use, some with the crest for formal occasions and enough plates, bowls and the like to serve a banquet of two hundred. Each dinner set had a matching set of flatware - knives, forks, spoons, teaspoons, dessertspoons, soup spoons, pate knives, cake forks… and the list went on. There were also crystal wine glasses by the pallet, not to mention water glasses, tumblers, highballs, martini glasses etc. Down the centre of the room was a long table and before every formal dinner, the relevant dinner set, flatware and glasses were laid out to be hand polished to a high shine.

Tonight’s dinner was relatively small with just fifty people in attendance, but that meant that there were fifty complete place settings to get ready - and not just a dinner plate, a bowl and a side plate. The menu tonight was eight courses and each course had a plate and a set of flatware, times fifty.

There were normally more than enough staff to cover the duties that went into a formal dinner, but with the wedding so close, many of those staff had been appropriated to other duties, leaving the serving staff short handed. Hence the message I had received requesting additional hands. I led Bianca over to Sergé, the Majordomo and introduced her.

Sergé, this is my sister Bianca. She has very graciously offered her services to you.

Sergé grinned and Bianca’s eyes widened in fear. He was a short man, bald, thin and with perfect posture. His uniform was spotless and pressed to perfection and he expected nothing less of those who worked under him. He also had a reputation for being somewhat tough, especially on staff who liked to slacken off.

Welcome Bianca, he said, his strong French accent pronouncing her name lyrically, completely at odds with his demeanour and reputation. Ms Montague will get you set up and give you your assignment.

I left Bianca in their capable hands, finally allowing the smile to break across my face as I waved to her over my shoulder. Peace at last.

I rounded the corner and ran smack into a large, solid man. The smile still on my face and apology on my lips, I looked up, straight into the fiery green eyes of Dominique.


Dominique

I had been distracted by the smile on her face. In the nearly eleven months that we had been working together, I don’t think I had ever seen Priscilla smile. It transformed her. I could acknowledge that she was striking with her thick red hair and fair complexion, pretty even when she wasn’t scowling, but seeing her smile, a real, genuine smile, not one for a photograph or politeness’ sake, elevated her to stunning and it had caught me off-guard.

And then she’d run into me.

I could smell her shampoo, her head coming to just above my chin, the top of her head brushing under the end of my nose. It was something floral and delicate and subtle. Her body was soft where it touched mine, although she didn’t carry an ounce of extra weight. She was just… feminine in a way I’d never noticed before. Natural curves, delicate skin and big blue eyes, the colour of well-worn denim. Eyes that held a hint of mischief, another thing I would never have associated with the Lady Priscilla Beaumonde that I had come to know.

Her crimson painted lips dropped open in a delicate ‘o’ as she raised her head and realised it was me. Our eyes caught and held and for the briefest moment there was an awareness, something beyond our normal day-to-day interactions. But it was fleeting and she stepped back, struggling to keep her face a blank mask, but not quite succeeding. She was still standing close to me, despite the step back. We were no longer touching but it wouldn’t take much—

Lord Chancellor, she said, her voice a touch lower and huskier than normal. That was intriguing.

Lady Priscilla, I replied, holding her gaze, wanting to see, again, that look that had been there just a moment ago.

She dropped her eyes and took a breath and I could see her steeling herself against me. It was a disappointment.

I was just— she looked up at me again and her composure slipped, just slightly. No one else would probably have noticed, but I had become an expert at reading her. Offering the services of my sister to the Majordomo.

I raised an eyebrow, liking the way she was a little off-kilter. Normally the woman was as ice cold as the skating pond on the Palace grounds in the middle of winter, but for the first time I was witnessing a crack in the ice.

I didn’t say anything, content to see where this would go. We had been working closely together, but she always held herself so aloof and apart. Not that I wanted to get cosy with her, we were colleagues after all. But it would be nice to perhaps have a less hostile working environment, one where I didn’t get frostbite from spending too much time in her vicinity.

They’re a little short staffed, she said, softer, almost a whisper.

My mind raced as to how I could prolong this interaction. I was actually coming to find you, I said. I hadn’t been, but it seemed like a good excuse.

Oh? she asked and I saw the fluttering of her pulse at the side of her throat. Was it going faster now?

I nodded, fascinated with this completely unexpected woman standing before me. I thought maybe we could have that meeting—

Damn. I said the wrong thing. She took another step back, rearranging her features into the familiar displeased-school-ma’am that I usually saw. The moment had passed and we were back to our regularly scheduled programming. Enter the Ice Queen.

I have some time now, she said, Should we go to your office.

I nodded. Too disappointed in the turn of events to speak. We walked together, silently, back to the elevator and up to the floor where my office was. I held the door for her as she stepped off the elevator and walked in front of me down the hall. She was wearing a skirt suit - a straight, dark skirt that finished just below her knees with a small kick split in the back that gave just a glimpse of the skin behind her knee and the beginning of her thigh. I jerked my eyes higher, noticing the ram-rod straight posture clothed in a matching tailored suit coat. Her hair was in one of it’s customary chignons without a hair out of place. I don’t know how she did it, how she tamed that red hair so that it looked almost conservative. It was darker than her sister’s, but no less subdued. Richer, if I had to put a finer point on it. Her sister’s colour was eye-catching in a flashy sort of way - attention seeking and in your face - but Priscilla’s hair colour was all class like a 1950’s glamour starlet.

She paused at my closed door, turning to wait for me. Those red lips called to me and I dropped my eyes, noticing the red high-heeled pumps that she wore. Seriously. I had never noticed anything about her fashion choices before today and I desperately hoped that it was an anomaly.

I stepped up beside her and input the four digit security code on the lock of my door, pushing it open. She had to duck under my arm to enter as I held the door for her and her body brushed mine as she passed. I gritted my teeth and took a deep breath, which was entirely the wrong thing to do because now my nostrils were filled with her floral scent. I took a moment before following her into the outer office, striding across the

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