First Chapter Friday: The Anti-Cinderella Conquers the World

The royal wedding was only the beginning of my happy ending . . .

I’m now a full-fledged member of the royal family. That means all my problems are over, doesn’t it?

Apparently not.

Even though I’m now a princess-by-marriage and a duchess-by-title, I’m still the same Kyra who’s prone to putting her sneaker-clad foot into her mouth.

It’s a good thing Nicky loves me. Our work is thriving and our marriage is strong. Together, we can tackle any challenge. But it’s not until our peaceful existence is threatened that I realize how precious it is.

And they lived happily ever after . . . right?


Read the First Chapter Here!

There was a soft click, rousing me from the deep slumber of an afternoon nap. I stirred in the soft sheets and reached blindly toward the spot where my husband should have been lying next to me. 

It was empty, and my eyes still closed, I frowned. 

“Nicky?” I murmured. “Are you all right”

His hand brushed over my hair. “How could I be anything else?” The mattress dipped as he slid under the covers with me. “I’m here in this paradise with the most beautiful, fascinating, sexiest woman in the world, who just happens to be my wife. There’s nothing in the universe that could make me anything less than perfectly blissful.” 

Still more than half asleep, I smiled. “Prove it.”

Nicky chuckled softly. “Again?”

“Always.” I rolled toward him, opening my arms and snuggling against his solid strength. “Love me, Nicky.” 

He bent his head to kiss me. “Forever.”

* * *

“Do we really have to go back?” I trailed my toes along the rushing surf, one hand still clinging to Nicky’s as we meandered along the shore. “I mean . . . would anyone miss us? Between the two of us, I think we’d have enough money to hide away here for a couple of years, at least.”

“As if you’re remotely cut out for a life of hedonistic pleasure,” Nicky snorted. “In moderation, you handle it quite well. But if we stayed here forever, within a week, you’d have the locals organizing gardens and farm co-ops, and then you’d set up some experimental fields, just to test the regional produce markets.” 

I narrowed my eyes. “I think I could very easily get used to being a lady of leisure, thanks very much. Don’t forget, I’m not Kyra Duncan anymore. Now I’m Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Kendal. I could do all kinds of shit I couldn’t before.” 

My husband began to laugh. “All right, then, Your Royal Highness. Let’s stay here for another two weeks and see how it goes.” There was a note in his voice that dared me to call his bluff. 

“Fine. Two weeks will be amazing. I’ll work on my tan, and I’ll read another of those mysteries I’m enjoying so much, and—oh! I almost forgot. I have the company-wide meeting five days after we’re due to be back in London. And there’s the kickoff for the new gardens in Tottenham—the St. Joseph of Cupertino fields are opening early next month.” 

Nicky’s grin stretched over his face. “Uh-huh. And this was the woman who thought she could live the idle life here indefinitely?” 

I shot him a withering glare. “That was a mean trick.” Swinging my foot, I sent a little bit of sand in his direction, spraying his legs with the fine white powder. “You know I meant it more as in the spirit of our honeymoon. I know we can’t stay here for the rest of our lives. You, for one, would be letting down the family, and I’d never be responsible for that. Second, I’d feel horrible about not stepping up to do my duty as Her Majesty has asked.”

“And that’s why you’re the perfect wife.” Nicky spun me until I had no choice but to fall against his chest. “Because you can dream about running away, but you’d never actually do it.” 

“Probably not,” I decided. “I’m not tremendously excited about going back and having to deal with the Palace people and the reporters when we’re in England, but I know it’s my life now, and I’m very okay with that. As long as I’m with you, I can handle anything.”

“That’s good because you’re not going anywhere.” He pressed a hard kiss to the top of my head. “I’ve gotten too accustomed to having you at my beck and call.” 

“I’ll always be your beck and call girl.” I snuggled against Nicky’s chest. “And meanwhile, we have another week here. I plan to take full advantage of every opportunity for—what did you call it? Hedonistic pleasures.” Pressing my breasts into the hard planes of his body, I looped my arms around his neck. “You know, like making out in the surf with my husband . . . or laying in the water, kissing passionately like they did in South Pacific.” 

We’d enjoyed a screening of the classic film a few nights before, and the love scenes had made an impression on me. 

“Hey, when I suggested that sort of thing, you told me that—uh, ‘beach lovin’ was out of the question. You said that the risk of sand in sensitive spots would make it—I believe you referred to it as ‘unpleasant.’” He smirked, remembering. 

“That’s true, I did. And then you said we could have the best of both worlds if we made love on the lounge chair, but you got so involved in demonstrating what we might do out there that we never actually made it to the beach itself.” 

“We didn’t, did we?” Nicky rubbed one gentle hand down my back until his fingers teased the edge of my bathing suit bottoms. “Then maybe we need to test out my theory. There’s a lounge chair in the secluded part of the beach, you know. The section where no one’s allowed to go except the two of us.” 

Desire buzzed through my veins and pulsed in some very specific places—namely, between my legs. “I might know the spot you’re talking about.” 

His fingers dipped lower to pinch my bottom. “Race you there. If you get to the chair before me, you get the first orgasm.” 

I frowned. “That’s not fair. Your legs are longer than mine, and you’re a faster runner.” 

“I’ll give you a head start, darling.” His voice was deep with want. “Believe me, I have a vested interest in letting you win.” 

“But maybe I don’t want you to let me win.” I pretended to sulk for a moment, just long enough to disentangle myself from his arms. Once I was free of his embrace, I took off, racing at top speed toward the cottage that had been our hideaway and love shack for the past three weeks, sending sand flying in my wake.

“You little vixen!” I heard Nicky’s laugh-filled accusation behind me, but I didn’t stop running. It was marvelous, this freedom to be myself, to be crazy and wild and stupid in love with the man I’d just married. 

And when that man caught me and swung me up into his arms, I knew that I’d never been happier in all of my life. 

Wasn’t that the point of the fairy tale? We were living happily ever after, and nothing in the world would ever change that.


Apple Books




Peace, love and romance~

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