Royally screwed, p.12
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       Royally Screwed, p.12
 

         Part #1 of Royally series by Emma Chase
Nicholas makes a disgusted sound. "Definitely a ruddy tool."

  After that, I notice that he keeps his head down, his chin tucked--trying to conceal his face.

  I lift his chin. "This hiding-in-plain-sight thing only works if you don't act like you're trying to hide something."

  He grins a little self-consciously--and the dimples show up. Mmm.

  "Most of the people here would never think that you'd be here--and the few that do are probably too chill to make a big deal about it. New Yorkers are cool about celebrity stuff."

  He looks at me like I'm nuts. "Not the ones I've seen."

  I shrug. "They're probably from Jersey."

  Nicholas laughs--a deep chuckle that makes me close my eyes in the hopes of hearing it even better.

  But then, a voice comes from behind us--kind of gravelly, probably a smoker, definitely from Staten Island. "Oh my gawd, do you know who you look like?"

  Nicholas's hand goes rigid in my mine, but I squeeze it because...I got this.

  "Prince Nicholas, right?" I tell the aviator-glasses-wearing blond, letting my New York accent come through.

  "Totally! You know, I heard he's in town--" she points to Nicholas "--and you could so be him!"

  "I know! I keep telling him we should move to Vegas--he could get work as an impersonator--but he doesn't listen to me." I jiggle Nicholas's hand. "Do the accent, baby."

  With a soft look in his eyes, he speaks in his normal voice.

  "I don't have an accent...baby."

  I laugh loudly and the woman behind us goes crazy.

  "Oh my gaaaawd, that's nuts!"

  "Right?" I sigh. "If I'm lucky, I'll find out he's some long lost relative."

  A register to the right opens up and I step toward it, telling the woman, "Take it easy."

  "Have a good one," she says back.

  Nicholas throws his strong arm around my shoulder and I lean in, pressing my nose against his shirt, smelling that awesome deliciousness that is him. Then I look up at him.

  "See, told you."

  He kisses my lips, nibbling in that way that makes me moan.

  "You're a bloody genius."

  "I have my moments."

  After we get our drinks--two beers each in red Solo cups--we walk on the grass until we find the perfect spot.

  "Now what?" my I-think-he-could-be-my-boyfriend asks.

  "Have you ever drunk cheap beer, listened to good music and made out on a blanket, surrounded by a couple hundred people in a field, under the warm sun all afternoon?"

  "Never had the pleasure."

  I lift one cup. "Today you will."

  Olivia and I stumble through the revolving door into the lobby of the Plaza holding hands, stealing quick kisses, giggling like two randy teenagers ditching class for a quickie in the broom closet. Lying with her on the blanket throughout the afternoon, kissing her long and slow, without a care who was watching--because no one was--has made me desperate for her.

  And hard. Christ, so hard.

  So if heads turn our way or camera phones come out, I don't give a single shit. All I care about is my cock pressing against the confines of my jeans, thick and hot and aching.

  Anticipation. Has there ever been a sweeter word? I've never had to wait--not really--not for this. I had no idea the buildup, hours of sizzling, teasing delayed gratification, could be such a heady aphrodisiac. My blood rushes and Olivia's eyes sparkle--with lust and playfulness and hunger. We make it into the lift and the moment the doors slide closed behind us, I pick her up into my arms, press her against the wall and ravage her mouth--tasting deeper than I was able to before. She moans around my tongue as I grind against her, relishing the pressure that won't bring any relief. But it's fine--thrilling even--because I know soon she'll be naked and spread out on my bed and I'll be able to drive into her tightness again and again, until we're both worn out.

  Or we break the damn bed--whichever comes first.

  As the lift rises, I lean back and look down, watching my denim-clad crotch thrust deliberately against her heated center. My cock slides exquisitely right there--against her soft, sweet flesh concealed beneath the thin fabric of her black cotton leggings. But I can feel it.

  And it feels sublime.

  With her fingernails biting into the back of my neck, Olivia pulls herself up, lips to my jaw, teeth scraping my stubble. "I want you to fuck me everywhere, Nicholas," she pants. "Come everywhere. Between my legs, on my chest, my mouth, down my throat...oh, oh it'll be so good. Everywhere, Nicholas."

  "Fuck, yes," I hiss, feeling crazier with each word.

  Note to self--cheap beer makes Olivia wild. Stock up on the stuff.

  With a ding, the lift opens to the penthouse. Home sweet home.

  Olivia locks her ankles at my lower back and I carry her, palming and kneading that luscious arse, across the foyer, heading for the bedroom. My journey is halted in the living room--by the head of my security team, waiting on the couch, stiff as an angry board and frowning.

  And suddenly I don't just feel like a teenager--I feel like a teenager who's been caught sneaking in past curfew, stinking of sex and smokes and liquor.

  "So...you're back, then?" Logan stands.

  "Uh...yes. It was a grand show," I tell him. "No incidences occurred; no one seemed to recognize me."

  He throws his arms out--imitating a fed-up mum now. He sounds like one, too.

  "You could've called! I've been here all afternoon--goin' half out my mind with worry."

  And I know it's rude, but the amazing day and the certainty that I'll be balls-deep in Olivia quite soon makes me too happy to care.

  I chuckle. "Sorry, Mum."

  Logan is not amused. His teeth grind so hard I think I hear it.

  "This isn't funny, My Lord. It's dangerous." His eyes shoot to Olivia for an instant, then back my way. "We need to talk. Alone."

  "All right, settle down, now. My hands happen to be exquisitely filled at the moment." I give Olivia's arse a squeeze, making her giggle and hide her face against my neck. "We'll talk in the morning, first thing--I promise."

  His gaze darts between us, still looking unhappy. But he nods.

  "Have a...pleasant evening," he grinds out, then marches toward the elevator.

  Once he's gone, Olivia peeks out from her hiding spot. "I don't think he likes me anymore."

  I kiss the tip of her pert little nose. "I like you." Then I push my hips forward while pulling her closer--letting her feel every hard inch. "Do you want me to show you how much?"

  Heat rises in her cheeks. "Yes, please." Then she bites her lip and adds with a meek accent. "My Lord."

  Hearing that from Olivia's lips does things to me. Makes me want to do filthy, dirty things to her. Without further delay, I carry her to the bedroom to get to it.

  Most of the time Bosco sleeps in Ellie's room. She brings him in with her and shuts the door--just to make sure our dad doesn't trip over him when he staggers in...or Bosco doesn't find a way to actually open the refrigerator door and eat until his stomach bursts.

  But sometimes, Ellie gets up in the middle of the night to pee and forgets to close the door behind her. And on those nights, Bosco usually ends up in my room. If I'm lucky, he curls up quietly on the foot of my bed or burrows in close to me for warmth like a furry, ugly baby bird.

  Usually, I'm not lucky. Because usually, Bosco is hungry when he finds his way into my room, and I'm the feeder. So he wants to wake me up. But he doesn't lick my face or bark to wake me up.

  He stares at me.

  With those black, beady little eyes he stares hard and long--and though it sounds weird, loudly.

  And that's the exact same sensation I get later that night while I'm asleep next to Nicholas. Like someone or something is staring at us so intently, it's deafening.

  I feel it before I open my eyes. But when I do, I see a woman in white standing at the foot of the bed, gazing down at us.

  My lungs scrape to inhale shocked, terrified air. It's more than a g
asp--it's a prelude to a scream.

  But then I feel Nicholas's hand on my chest, under the covers. Steady, strong--pressing just enough to be meaningful. To tell me he sees her too and that I need to hold it in, hold it together.

  The moonlight from the window casts the huge room in a bluish light, making the woman's skin shimmer in a milky glow. Her hair is dark, chopped in a bob to her shoulders, her face bony, with points at her chin and nose, but not unpretty. Her eyes are fixed on Nicholas, dark and shiny--and fucking loony-tunes crazy.

  "You're awake." She sighs. "I've been waiting for you to wake up."

  Nicholas's throat works reflexively, but his voice--that captivating voice--is smooth and reassuring. "Have you?"

  "Yes. It's so good to see you again."

  His fingers move just slightly against my sternum, saying it's okay--everything's okay.

  "It's good to see you as well," Nicholas replies. "How did you get in, again?"

  She smiles, and goose bumps rise all over my skin.

  "It was just like we agreed. Work at the hotel, pretend to be a maid until you give me the signal. You always have those boys with you, so I knew, when you started sending them away at night, that was my sign."

  Crap.

  Her eyes jump to me, as if I said it out loud--but I didn't.

  "Who is she?" she asks, sounding the same level of insane but not nearly as happy.

  "No one," Nicholas says.

  So coldly. So sure. It stops my heartbeat for half a second.

  "She's no one."

  Nicholas reaches down, grabbing his pants from the floor then slides into them as he stands up. "I want to hear about you. Let's go out to the living room and chat."

  "But I want to stay here." She pouts. "In the bedroom."

  "There's a bottle of Krug Vintage Brut chilling. And this occasion definitely calls for Champagne." Nicholas smiles easily.

  He's really good. If the prince thing doesn't work out, he could totally be an actor.

  "All right." The woman giggles, mesmerized.

  Once they leave the room, I throw on the first thing my hands touch--Nicholas's button-down shirt--and dive for the phone on the nightstand to call for help.

  But then there's a shattered scream from the living room--piercing and heartbroken.

  "What are you doing? Let me go!"

  I've never run so fast, or been so afraid.

  In the living room, Nicholas has the woman pinned on her stomach on the couch, her hands behind her back.

  When he sees me he says, "My mobile's on the bedside table. Dial seven--it'll put you through to security."

  The woman cries and screeches like a wraith. "You're ruining it! You're ruining everything!"

  And when she pulls against his hold on her hands, Nicholas tries to calm her. "There now, shhh. Don't do that--you'll hurt yourself. It's going to be all right."

  I don't know why I don't move. It's like my brain's been disconnected from my feet.

  "Olivia." The sharpness in his tone makes me blink. "Mobile."

  "Right. Right." And then I sprint down the hall and do exactly as he says.

  What seems like hours later, the woman is taken away and in addition to the regular security guys, there are policemen and hotel staff in the suite. Nicholas, dressed in a soft gray T-shirt and running pants, talks to them in the living room.

  I, feeling more put-together in my own clothes--jeans and an old peasant top--wait in the bedroom. With Logan.

  Logan St. James, the head of Nicholas's personal security team, is the strong, silent type. But in this moment he doesn't really need to say anything--his eyes do all the talking for him.

  They're deep brown, almost black, and they glare at me with the withering heat of a thousand dark suns.

  I swallow nervously. Where's a trapdoor in the floor when you need one?

  "This is my fault, isn't it?" I find the nerve to ask.

  "You can't put ideas in his head about not needing security."

  Well, that answers that.

  "He's an important man, Olivia."

  "I know."

  "He has to have his wits about him. If anything happened..."

  "I know that--"

  "You don't know! You never would've pulled the shit you did today if you knew." Logan closes his eyes, breathing quick--like he's trying to rein in what I suspect is an explosive temper. "He can't afford to be screwed stupid by some New York gash."

  Before the nasty words have time to register, Logan is hauled back by his collar and slammed up against the wall--hard enough to make the light fixtures rattle.

  Because suddenly Nicholas is there, pressing his forearm right against Logan's throat.

  "Speak to her like that again and you'll be picking your teeth up off the floor. Do you understand me?" When the answer doesn't come fast enough, he slams him again--making Logan's head bounce against the sheetrock. "Do you?!"

  Logan stares him down, his proud jaw tense and stubborn. Then he gives a jerk of a nod.

  Nicholas takes a step back, holding his hands open at his sides. "We both know the fault here is mine, so if you want to rail at someone, have at me. Get it off your chest."

  Logan straightens the collar of his suit with a tight, resentful tug.

  "Putting on a helmet doesn't change who you are--you can't walk about and pretend it does."

  "Yes, I realize that."

  Logan's lips purse and his thumb taps his thigh with agitation. "I wanna switch hotels. Quietly."

  "All right."

  "And I want more men here. I want someone at the coffee shop--it's insane that you come and go to an unsecured location so often."

  Nicholas agrees, and Logan goes on.

  "I want a tail on Miss Hammond and her sister. It's pure, dumb luck the press hasn't gotten a photo of them yet--and I want them covered when that happens."

  "I agree."

  "And no more nights in the suite, or afternoons at concerts or wherever the fuck without security. You want to get yourself killed, it won't be on my watch. You let me do my job the right way or you find someone else to do it."

  Nicholas's eyes dim--the way an animal's do when it's locked back up in its pen.

  "I shouldn't have put you or myself in that position. It was foolish and it won't happen again."

  After a moment, Logan nods and then bows to Nicholas. He walks toward the door, but then stops and turns to me.

  "I'm sorry. I should'na spoke to you that way. I don't lose my temper often but when I do, stupid shit comes out of my mouth that I don't mean. None of this is your doin'. Can you forgive me, lass?"

  I nod my head slowly, still stunned by all of this. "Of course. It's all right, Logan. I...I understand."

  He nods, gives me a quick smile and leaves, closing the door behind him.

  With a weary exhale, Nicholas sits in the chair by the desk. He digs his palms into his eyes, rubbing. Then he lowers his hands--and opens his arm.

  "Come here, love."

  Greedily, I fly to him. Sitting in his lap, wrapping my arms around him, feeling pure relief when he returns the favor. I tremble against him--shaken to the core.

  "Are you all right?" he asks, his breath warm against my neck.

  "I think so. It's all just so weird." I straighten up in his lap, needing to sort my thoughts. "I can't believe that woman...the way she acted...like she was so sure she knew you. Has this ever happened before?"

  "A long time ago, a man snuck into the palace, into my grandmother's private dining room."

  My heart tightens with concern for a woman I've never met. But I realize that because she means so much to Nicholas, she already means a lot to me.

  "He didn't intend any harm--it was similar to the lass tonight. Delusional."

  I hold his strong, handsome face in my hands. "I think I'm only just really starting to get it. It's like Logan said--you're important. And I knew that, but...I don't think of you as Prince of Pembrook, heir to blah-blah-blah..." My eyes touch every in
ch of his face. "To me, you're just Nicholas. This amazing, sexy, sweet, funny guy...who I really care about."

  His thumb brushes my bottom lip. "I like that you look at me that way."

  Then he clears his throat and glances away. "And I know it's been a hell of a night, but...there's something I have to tell you, Olivia, before this goes any further. Something...we have to talk about."

  Well, that doesn't sound good.

  But after this, how bad could it be?

  Stupid, stupid, stupid last words.

  I play with the hair at the back of Nicholas's neck, combing my fingers through the thick, dark strands.

  "What is it?"

  Nicholas's arms tighten like two bands of iron--holding on like he doesn't want me to get away. And a second later, I know why.

  "I'm getting married."

  I PROBABLY COULD'VE PHRASED that better. Damn.

  Olivia stiffens in my arms, looking at me with big, dark eyes in a gray face. "You're engaged?"

  "No. Not yet." She tries to rise, but I hold her close.

  "Do you have a girlfriend?"

  "Let me explain."

  She struggles harder. "Let me up and then you can explain."

  I squeeze her tighter. "I like you where you are."

  Her voice turns to stone--the kind that's been sharpened into a shank.

  "I don't give a flying fuck what you like right now--I want to get up. Let me up, Nicholas!"

  My arms drop and she springs away from me, breathing fast, staring like she doesn't know who I am. Like she never did.

  And it's as if a civil war wages across her face--half of her wanting to bolt, the other half wanting to hear what I have to say. After a few moments of indecision, the latter has won.

  She crosses her arms and sits down on the edge of the bed, slowly. "Okay. Explain."

  I tell her the whole story. About my grandmother, the list--about all the birds that need to be killed and how I'm the stone that gets to do the deed.

  "Wow," she murmurs afterward. "And I thought I was the one with baggage." She rocks a bit, shaking her head. "That's...crazy. I mean, it's the twenty-first century and you have to do the arranged marriage thing?"

  I try to shrug. "It's not as arranged as it used to be. The first time my grandparents were alone in a room together was their wedding night."

  "Wow," Olivia says again. "Awkward."

  "I at least have the chance to get to know the woman I'll marry. I get to decide--but there are certain requirements that have to be met."

  She leans forward, elbows to knees, her silky hair falling over her shoulder. "What kind of requirements?"

 
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