I remember the first time I heard of Diana Spencer. I was babysitting and flipping through a Newsweek magazine as one does when one is thirteen. In the Newsmakers section, there was a photo of a young British woman in a skirt, holding a toddler as the sun shone through that treacherous Liberty Print.
Not long after that, I was watching Good Morning, America and saw the engagement announcement. I don’t know exactly what it was–the fact that she was only six years older than me, or the idea that for the first time in my lifetime, the British royal family felt relatable to me. I’d read Robert Lacey’s Majesty some years before, and in the Queen, the serious and responsible older of two daughters, I’d felt a kinship. Now that she was getting new daughter-in-law in a huge, elaborate wedding, I was hooked.
By the time July 29th rolled around, I was a thoroughly devoted Diana-phile. I had clippings from newspapers and magazines, and early that morning, I was awake at three to watch wedding coverage. I don’t think I moved from in front of the television for the entire day.
When I went to eighth grade the following September, I was sporting a Lady Di hair style–the first time I’d ever cut my long, wavy hair. I imitated the Princess of Wales’ style of clothes, and if you see photos of me around that age? Just about every one has me giving the Shy Di under the bangs smile. I bought all of the photo books about the couple and devoured them .
Over the next few years as I navigated my time in high school, met my future husband and then went to college, I continued to celebrate the highs of Diana’s royal life. I loved the few interviews she and Prince Charles allowed, found their babies adorable and travled vicariously as they performed their royal duties.
My own marriage and babies definitely distracted me right around the time when it became glaringly apparent that the fairy tale was faltering. 1992, the Queen’s infamous annus horribillus, was the same year that my family and I moved from Hawaii, where we’d lived for five years. I had two little girls to keep me busy. Still, it made me so sad to hear that Diana and Charles had grown apart, that they were separating. Their divorce was such a depressing end to what was meant to be the perfect happily ever after.
By the summer of 1997, I had three little girls, and my husband and I were living back in our hometown in South Jersey. I awoke on the Sunday morning of Labor Day Weekend thinking about the coming school year; my oldest daughter was beginning third grade, and our second was going into kindergarten. I came downstairs to begin breakfast and turned on the television.
The first thing I heard was something I could not believe.
“Diana, the Princess of Wales, is dead.”
I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. No, it couldn’t be! Diana was only 36. She was young, vital, in the middle of recreating her life in the wake of her divorce. She had two small sons.
It couldn’t be.
And yet, it was. She had died horribly in a car accident in Paris, where she’d been chased by reporters and photographers. It was a wholly preventable death. So tragic. So unnecessary.
For days, I was inconsolable. I’ve heard that in recent years, Prince Harry noted that he’d been perplexed by the overwhelming grief of people who had never met his mother. I understand that it must felt odd. He’s right; none of us in the wider world knew Diana as he did, as her family and friends did.
She had a way of making all the world feel as though we were part of her royal adventure. We saw in her hope and possibility, grace and compassion, love for those who needed it most.
Perhaps we didn’t see the full picture; we seldom do, even with those closest to us. Maybe the real Diana could be petty or insecure or unhappy. I know that even now, I struggle when friends remember my parents in a way that it is at odds with what I knew about them in private. So I can understand a little.
In the twenty-five years since she was taken from the world, we’ve watched her sons grow up, marry and have children. We’ve seen the Royal Family grow and evolve. We’ve watched how her influence is felt even today.
When I write my royal romances, I am often thinking of Diana. I’ve alluded to her within the stories, not by name but by example. Since my books are set within the real British Royal Family (albeit with fictional characters), I think it’s important to note the tragedies along with the triumphs.
I didn’t think about what today was when I decided to release The Royal Nanny Undercover this week and put the box set on sale. But how strangely appropriate it is that I’m celebrating royal love stories twenty-five years after we lost our beautiful princess.
As I remember her today, even through misty eyes of remembered grief, I like to think of that nineteen year old nanny with the ashy blonde hair and the Sloan Ranger style. I like to recall her sitting on the beds of AIDS patients, holding their hands, weeping with them, making them laugh. I want to remember her consoling the victims of land mines and speaking out with courage and anger about the ongoing issue.
And just as I did when my own mother died, I hope that at the end, she realized how much she was loved–not for a title, but for what she meant to a world that needed her particular brand of truth and love.
When an old friend calls in a favor that sends me to the UK to pose as a nanny, I’m not thrilled. Kids and me? Not a great mix. But Prince Nicholas and his wife, Kyra, turn out to be the most relaxed royal parents ever, and their little girl is actually a sweetheart. Protecting their family turns into something I want to do. Maybe this undercover nanny job will be easier than I thought.
The only problem? The prince’s cousin Milo, the Earl of Ross, is living here, too, and this guy is a huge complication. He’s arrogant, elitist, and haughty. Oh, and he’s also handsome, sexy, and super hot.
I don’t want to feel this attraction to him, but it seems I can’t help it. How can I do my job if I’m more worried about protecting my heart from falling for him?
Tawdra Kandle is the author of over 100 romances that span genres from contemporary through paranormal. Her engaging and realistic characters bring readers back again and again to devour the steamy love stories she spins. Fan favorites include The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles and the Career Soldier series.
Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband, who is an Anglican priest, a sweet pup, and too many cats. Assorted grown children and two perfect granddaughters live nearby. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.
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How to celebrate a 99-cent sale on a super romantic royal box set? How about a never-before-seen prequel scene??
“This was the best idea ever, Ky.”
My grandmother lifted the bottle of wine toward me just before she took a long swig. Next to me, my best friend Shelby giggled.
“Go, Honey! I’m impressed.”
Honey grinned at her. “Sweetie, never go up against this old hippie in a drinking contest. You’ll always lose.” She passed the bottle to me. “But I’m serious, Kyra. Having a girls’ night to christen your new digs here in Maine was inspired. And I appreciate that you two young ones included this old broad.”
“If you’re an old broad, Honey, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” I took a less-ambitious sip of the bottle.
“Genetics tells us you have a pretty good shot.” My grandmother winked and nudged me. “But you know that old saw about how you’re only as old as you feel? It’s true. I know that to you girls, I probably seem ancient, but in my mind, I’m a spring chicken. Young and spry. Just had my first kiss last night.” She sighed with a reminiscent smile.
“Ooooh, tell us about it!” Shelby leaned forward, her eyes sparkling. “I want to hear all the dirty details. Who did you kiss? Where did it happen?”
“Oh, darlings.” Honey held out her hand for the wine. “Well, it will sound tame and boring to you two, but for me, it was pure magic. ” Her smile broadened. “It was a sock hop, of all things. I went to a private school, but my best friend and I had learned that the local public high school was having a dance one Friday night. I’d been mooning after a boy who was a student there–we’d met at the library, and even though we’d barely spoken more than a word or two, I was positive that it was love at first sight.”
“And was it?” I tilted my head.
“Perhaps,” Honey allowed. “Maybe it was first love, that tender, precious bud that rarely weathers the storms of life. At any rate, Louisa–my best friend–convinced me that we should show up at the dance. So we played that old trick of telling our parents that we were each at the other’s house for the night, and then we snuck off to the dance.”
“You were such bad girls,” I teased. “And was your crush there?”
“Oh, yes, he was. Surrounded by girls, which made me want to turn around and leave. But then he saw me, and it was just like a storybook. He pushed through his crowd of admirers and came to me. He asked me to dance.”
“And you said yes, of course,” Shelby said.
“I don’t remember saying yes, but the next thing I knew, we were holding each other close on the dance floor while the band played Earth Angel.”
“So romantic,” I groaned. “Then what?”
“As the song ended, he drew me even closer, lifted my chin with one finger, and he kissed me right there, in front of all of his friends and classmates.”
“God, I can’t stand it!” Shelby shimmied a little in her chair. “What happened next?”
Honey screwed up her face. “Then suddenly my father was there. He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and yanked him away from me before he took me by the arm and dragged me–and Louisa–from the gym. All the way home, we got the tongue lashing of our lives.”
“What about your crush? Did you ever see him again?” I demanded.
“No.” Honey shook her head. “That night was the beginning of a new restlessness in me, a growing resentment of my parents’ restrictiveness and their expectations that I would follow in their footsteps. Six months later, I ran away from home and ended up in San Francisco, where eventually, I met a man who showed me what real love looked like.”
“I hope you’re talking about Handsome.” Shelby raised her eyebrows.
“Of course I am. Once I caught sight of him, he was it for me. No one else existed. I still feel the same way.” Honey sighed. “But I still never forgot that first kiss at the sock hop.”
“That’s so sweet.” I took my turn at the wine and reached for a handful of popcorn. “It’s your turn, Shelby. Tell us about your first kiss.”
“It wasn’t nearly as romantic as Honey’s story,” my friend retorted. “I was with a bunch of friends at the bowling alley, and a guy at the next lane suddenly came over to chat me up . . . and when I got a strike on my next turn, he kissed me.” Shelby rolled her eyes. “I found out later that his friends had bet him he couldn’t get a kiss before our games ended. I was super pissed off.”
“Ugh, that sucks.” I patted her arm. “But you’ve more than made up for it in the years since.”
“It’s true,” she agreed smugly. “I’ve had my share of kisses. But I’m still irritated that the jerk stole my first one.”
“Karma will get him,” Honey assured us. “And doesn’t your sister still write that column about having to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, Shelby? You just happen to have hit an especially slimy frog first thing.” My grandmother’s gaze slid to me. “Speaking of princes . . . I think it’s your turn to tell us a story, Ky.”
My face heated. The tale of my own first kiss was still a somewhat sensitive memory, and I rarely shared it. But now Shelby was watching me with anticipation and interest, and a small, knowing smile played around Honey’s lips.
“Oh, mine’s . . . it’s actually kind of boring. We used to spend the summers at Honey and Handsome’s house down in Florida when we were growing up. Honey’s best friend Louisa–the one from the sock hop–had a house right next door, and her grandchildren used to come for about a month every summer. One of them was a boy around my age, and one summer night . . .well, he kissed me.” I shrugged. “And that was my first kiss.”
Honey was watching me with an inscrutable eye, and I knew she must have been thinking about what I’d left out of the story–and why. But she didn’t say anything.
“C’mon, Kyra, there’s got to be more to it than that. Give me the deets, babe. You always tell the best stories, and this one was like the Reader’s Digest version. I need more.”
“There isn’t any more,” I replied, my words clipped. “I was fifteen. He was sixteen. We were on the beach, and he was leaving the next day. He kissed me, then he went into his grandmother’s house, and the next morning, he was gone. I never saw him again.”
“Did you have feelings for him?” Shelby pressed.
“I–I mean, I guess–” I tossed up both hands. “I was fifteen, Shel. Any feelings I had would have been shallow and . . . inconsequential.” Grimacing, I added, “And clearly he didn’t feel anything for me since he left without a backward glance and didn’t bother to ever write or call or anything.” All these years later, that pain still twinged just a little.
“But—” Shelby looked from me to Honey, obviously waiting for one of us to break. I caught my grandmother’s eye and telegraphed a plea for rescue.
“Shelby.” Honey snagged the wine and shook the bottle a little. “I think we need to crack open a new bottle. And once we do, I’ll tell you what it was like to be in Haight-Ashbury in the summer of 1969 . . .”
As my grandmother and my best friend disappeared into the kitchen to open another bottle, I breathed a silent sigh of relief. There wasn’t much I hid from Shelby; she’d been my best friend since we’d met in college, and now she was also my housemate.
But even so, I wasn’t ready to tell her that the boy who’d given me my first kiss was Nicholas Windsor . . . a prince of the United Kingdom and a grandson of the Queen.
After all, it wasn’t like I was ever going to see Nicky again.
Falling in love with a prince wasn’t something I planned . . .
When I reconnected with the first guy I ever kissed, I never dreamed I’d end up moving to England to be closer to him. But Nicky and I are in love, and living together was the next logical step.
If I thought dating royalty was a tough gig when I was living in the USA, I’m learning that it’s even more challenging now that I’m in London. Every move I make, every word I say, is under the microscope. Becoming part of Nicky’s family while staying true to who I am isn’t easy.
Nicky makes everything worthwhile. The hours when we’re alone together are paradise. And if the press and the pressure are the price I have to pay for him . . . I’ll choose Nicky, every single time.
After all, London’s just another town. Right?
Read the first chapter here!
“Heading home, Kyra?” Serena Kessel turned a bright smile toward me as I passed her desk. Although it was only mid-afternoon, I was on my way out of the brand-new London offices of Honey Bee Juices.
“Actually, I am. I know it’s early, but I’ve found that it’s—ah, easier to avoid—well, it’s better if I vary the time of day that I come and go.” I hated being so vague, but I’d learned the hard way that discretion was the better part of valor—or wisdom, in this case. Being my normal chatty self could potentially put an innocent person into a bad position if she was cornered by the press.
“Of all people, Kyra, you certainly don’t need to explain to anyone why you’re leaving before five. No one would ever question you.” Serena didn’t sound anything but respectful and cheery, but her words struck a nerve.
“Do you mean because my grandparents own the company? Is that why it’s okay for me to cut out early? Or is it because of who I’m . . .” I stopped abruptly. I heard the almost-shrill tone in my own voice, and I hated it. “Serena, I’m sorry. I know you didn’t—well. I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.”
“I understand.” The woman was completely unflappable. Here I’d just insulted her, and she didn’t even lose her smile. “I only meant that you work so hard and put in so much more time than the rest of us that no one doubts your dedication.”
“Thank you. I appreciate your understanding.” I was certain my cheeks were red with embarrassment. “That’s very kind of you.”
“Not at all.” Serena inclined her head. “Have a lovely weekend. I’ll see you Monday?” It was more of a question than a statement.
“Yes, of course.” I hiked the strap of my handbag more firmly onto my shoulder. “See you then.”
My heels clicked on the gleaming tile floors as I walked out of the suite of our offices and down the hallway to the elevator. I passed a few people, some of whom greeted me with a nod and smile, and others of whom glanced at me with open curiosity. I worked hard to keep a blank but pleasant expression on my face. The hardest thing, I was finding, was not reacting to anything or anyone around me. I thought I’d perfected that ability back in Maine, when the press had first begun following me, but it turned out to be much more challenging here in London.
The elevator was blessedly empty, and I sagged against the wall, closing my eyes with a long sigh. But once the doors slid open, I was alert and ready again.
“Heading out, Ms. Duncan?” Alfred, our tall and elegant doorman, smiled at me. “Anything I can do for you?”
Alfred asked me the same question each day as I left, as if he might be able to suddenly wave a magic wand and make all of the reporters and photographers waiting for me beyond the frosted glass doors disappear. I only wished he could.
“Thanks, Alfred. I’ll be fine.” I paused to offer him a genuine smile. “I hope you have a nice weekend.”
“You too, Ms. Duncan.” He paused. “Keep your chin up, if you don’t mind me saying it. Everyone here thinks the world of you.”
“Thank you.” I wished I could say something more—I could tell that Alfred, like so many of the people with whom I worked, hoped that I might relax and share a little with him. But I liked him too much to put the dear man into that position.
So I simply gave him a wave and another smile before I braced myself for the onslaught and pushed open the door.
The late-afternoon sun in London in November was anemic at best, but it was shining directly into my eyes, making me blink madly. And it was then the clicking began.
“Kyra! Kyra! Look here. Kyra!”
“Are you joining Prince Nicholas in Africa this weekend? A little pre-engagement honeymoon?”
“Has the Queen given her approval? Have you met Her Majesty, Kyra?”
“Give us a smile, love! One good picture, Kyra!”
They all shouted at once, and the flashes went off, and they crowded around me. The same panic I felt every single time this happened roared to life, making me long to push them out of my way and run. Run far away and escape from their relentless questions, particularly when they were asking about matters that were tender spots just now.
My car was parked just a few yards down the block, and with as much purpose as I could manage, I waded through the hoard of press, my lips pressed together and my jaw clenched. I didn’t make eye-contact with any of them, and I tried not to react when they shouted out my name . . . over and over again.
Once I was finally safe in the driver’s seat, I wasted no time before I started the engine and carefully eased away from the curb. I’d learned my lesson during my first week at Honey Bee London, when, in an effort to make a fast getaway, I’d peeled out without looking over my shoulder and nearly side-swiped a passing car. That had made the newspaper and the internet rounds, with the less-charitable publications christening me ‘Krashpad Kyra’.
Today I managed to get into my lane without any issue. By now, I could make the drive from my office to Kensington Palace with my eyes closed, and it didn’t take long before I was pulling in through the gates at a special residents-only entrance, restricted from public view. The guard waved to me, and I waved back with a quick grin.
I always experienced an odd mix of feelings when I was back here at the Palace. There was relief, of course, because this was one place where I didn’t have to worry about photographers or reporters, provided I stuck to the more secluded sections of the grounds. But at the same time, I felt a pang of sadness, a sense of being stifled, because in all of the small island nation, this was the only place where I could relax. It felt rather like living in a zoo, I thought as I made my way slowly to the cottage that Nicky and I shared. A beautiful, historic zoo with tons of security and lots of benefits—but a zoo, nonetheless.
Since it was Friday, there weren’t many people around the palace grounds. Most of the residents had decamped for the country either yesterday or earlier in the day; Nicky’s cousins, all of whom were ahead of him in the line of succession, owned estates outside of London, where they could indulge in fun things like hunting and riding horses. One of his sisters lived here with her husband, but they too were away now, representing the Queen on a trip to Spain.
I let myself into the cottage and glanced around. We didn’t have a housekeeping staff, although Nicky had had a weekly housekeeper before I’d moved in, and she still came by to dust and sweep every Friday morning. But I knew that with Nicky in Africa, I could stay here in the cottage all weekend and never see another soul.
I wasn’t sure if that idea was appealing or appalling.
But first things first. I glanced at the clock on the wall and gave a happy little hum as I kicked off my heels and settled onto the plush loveseat, retrieving my laptop from the leather bag I’d been carrying. It was just after four here, which meant that in New Mexico, it was . . . I frowned, doing the mental math. Eight in the morning. The perfect time to call a friend.
Within moments, I had the FaceTime app open and was waiting expectantly as the line buzzed. It stopped abruptly, and the screen was suddenly with the sleepy face of my best friend, Shelby.
“Hey,” she croaked. “If it isn’t my favorite princess-to-be.”
A wave of unease slid over me. “Don’t say that. Someone might hear you and think there really are plans in the works.” I paused. “As of right now, I’m still just the girl living at Kensington Palace with Prince Nicholas. His shack-up lady. The cow who’s giving him the milk for free.”
“Oh, for God’s sake.” Shelby cleared her throat and rolled her eyes at the same time. The woman had talent. “First of all, you know you’re more than just a fling for Nicky. You’re living with him because you both decided you didn’t want to have an ocean between you—and if I remember correctly, darling friend, you’re the one who told Nicky you didn’t want to rush into anything official since you’d never lived in the same time zone. Second, what’s this business about the cow giving away the milk? Are we living in 1955? You aren’t giving anything away—you’re having loads of hot and heavy consensual sex with the man you love.”
“I know you’re right.” I dropped my head to the back cushion of the couch. “It’s just been a long day. A long week, actually. And all of those things I just said are shouted at me daily by the reporters who follow me around. So it’s hard not to internalize some of them.”
“Hmmmm.” Shelby shifted her phone slightly, and I could see that she was still in bed.
“Hey, shouldn’t you be getting ready for work?” After we’d finished our graduate program in Maine, Shelby had received and accepted an offer for an internship at a center for experimental farming in New Mexico. It was quite an honor, since each year, hundreds of applicants vied for those positions.
“Nah, I don’t go in until noon today. I worked a late shift last night.” A shadow passed over her eyes, and I wondered if everything was as great as she’d been claiming. Before I could ask, she spoke again. “So you’re just finishing your workday, right? What do you and Prince Charming have planned for this weekend?”
I blew out a long sigh. “Nicky’s in Africa at a conference for No Hungry Child. He won’t be back until Tuesday.”
“And you didn’t go with him? Why not?”
“Because he’s there in an official capacity.” I lifted one shoulder. “I can only travel with him when we’re going someplace for leisure. Like a vacation or a holiday trip. Because as I’ve been reminded more than once, I don’t have any official standing now.”
“That’s bullshit. You’re the prince’s girlfriend. Can’t he tell them he wants to take you with him?” Shelby was bristling, ready to jump to my defense as always.
“No. I mean, he could, I guess, but it wouldn’t make any difference. There are ways of doing things in this family, and they don’t change on a dime. We’re talking centuries of tradition.” I hesitated. “It’s not easy, though, for either of us. I spend a lot of time here at the cottage by myself.”
“That sucks.” Shelby was still indignant, tradition be damned. “What about Nicky’s sisters? His family? Can’t you do things with them?”
It was all so complicated, a situation mired in potential pitfalls for me, and since I barely understood all the whys and wherefores, I knew it would be difficult to explain to Shelby. “If we’re invited to dinner by his parents or Alex and Jake, his sister and brother-in-law, I can go, as long it’s just a family meal. But they don’t do that very often. Everyone’s busy with their own lives and commitments. And if it’s the larger family, with the Queen and all the aunts and uncles and cousins—then I’m not included. I can’t go with Nicky if he’s going to a party or a movie premiere or a charity benefit if he’s there in his official capacity.”
“But if he’s going as a board member for his charities—the hungry child one and Waste Not—those you can go to with him, right?” Shelby persisted.
“As long as it’s deemed a quiet event, like a lunch or a tea or something at a private home. It’s just the way they do things here, Shel. I’m not mad or anything—I understand it. Only, sometimes I’m a little lonely.”
“Of course, you are.” She was quiet for a few seconds. “Have you made any friends of your own there, so you have people to hang with when Nicky’s occupied?”
I shook my head. “No. I have a working relationship with the people at Honey Bee, but I can’t socialize with them really—not in any genuine way, because I’m constantly worried that one of them might go to the press and share something. I can’t just go to a pub and make friends, either. If I’m not here at the cottage, I’m at the Honey Bee offices. That’s my life.” To my horror, a sob caught in my throat. I backed away a little, hoping Shelby hadn’t heard it.
But no such luck. “Kyra, that’s no way to live. You sound miserable.” Her forehead drew together. “Isn’t there anything you can do to make things better? I mean, the Royal Family can’t make you stay home alone, right? If you’re not official enough to go to public events with Nicky, then they shouldn’t have the power to force you into anything.”
“Nobody is forcing me to do anything.” I pressed my fingers to my temples, where suddenly a headache pounded. “But would you want to go sightseeing if a throng of reporters were following you everywhere? Or if you couldn’t even run to the corner shop without being recognized and having people stare and point?” I shuddered. “Trust me. Staying here is far preferable to that.”
“Oh, Ky.” Shelby bit her lip, her eyes worried. “This isn’t good.” She studied me through the camera. “When’s the next time you’re coming home for a visit?”
“Two weeks.” I was so looking forward to the trip—and dreading it at the same time. “I’m spending Thanksgiving in Florida with the entire family.”
“Florida? Don’t the Duncans usually do Thanksgiving in Maine?” Shelby had been my best friend long enough to know our traditions. “And is Nicky coming with you?
I shook my head. “No. It’s not a holiday for him, you know, and he already had engagements for that week, so it’s just going to be me.” I swallowed over the lump of worry that had risen in my throat at the thought of leaving him behind. It was far too reminiscent of what had happened between us last year, when we’d broken up for six months. Giving myself a little shake, I went on.
“And you’re right about Maine. Usually we do celebrate there, but this year, Honey’s been sick. She was in the hospital with pneumonia for a week in October, and the doctor advised against her traveling this winter.”
“Wait a minute—Honey was sick—in the hospital—and you didn’t tell me?” Shelby scowled at me through the camera. “Is she okay?” Shelby adored my grandparents, who were known as Handsome and Honey by both family and friends. I’d given them those names when I was a toddler, and to their delight, the nicknames had stuck.
“From what I hear, yes, she’s going to be fine.” I crossed my legs and shifted on the cushion of the sofa. “Believe me, I wasn’t any too happy about being all the way over here when she was sick. But my dad promised he’d keep me informed. He was concerned that if I flew to Florida, the press circus might be too disrupting for the family while they were trying to take care of her.”
“I understand.” Shelby tilted her head, sympathy in her eyes. “Not being there must’ve been killing you. But here’s some good news—if you’re going to be in Florida for Thanksgiving, I can come see you. I’m flying home for that week, too.”
I sat up straighter, giving a little squeal of delight. “Oh, my God! That’s awesome. If you can come over to the beach, we can have a girls’ night. Movies and wine and ice cream.” I paused. “Maybe not in that order.”
Shelby laughed. “I’m in. I’m spending the first three days with Vivian and Charlie and the baby, and then I need to fit in a visit with the parentals and Aunt Gail. But by the weekend, I’m sure I’m going to be more than ready for some best friend time.”
“Okay. It’s a date.” I’d been looking forward to going home for the holiday anyway, but now I was even more excited.
“It definitely is.” She glanced at something off-camera and wrinkled her nose. “But right now, I need to get my ass in gear. I want to grab some breakfast before I go to work. So . . . we’ll text about the details, but otherwise, I’ll see you in two weeks.”
“I can’t wait.” I frowned a little. “But Shel, is everything all right there? I feel like we talked about all my problems and you didn’t tell me how things are in New Mexico.”
That same shadow passed over her eyes again. “It’s all good, Ky. Maybe slightly complicated, but—well, I love the work, and the people are mostly nice. I’m learning so much. I just wish . . .” Her voice trailed off. “We’ll talk at Thanksgiving, babe, and I promise, I’ll spill my guts then. You can give me wise counsel over wine.”
“Okay. You know I’m here for you no matter what, right, Shelby?” I had a feeling that she was evading my questions. “Best friends trump everything, even Royal Family orders. That’s not going to change.”
“Of course, it isn’t,” she returned. “I know that. Ciao for now, sweetie. And hang in there. Everything is going to work out for you and Nicky. I just know it.”
I ended the call with a smile, but once I’d shut the computer, the silence of the cottage weighed on me even heavier, and the empty hours of the weekend stretched out before me.
“Well, I guess it’s just me and Netflix once again,” I sighed, reaching for the television remote. “Another glamorous weekend in the life of Prince Nicky’s girlfriend.”