The Controversial Princess(6)

By: Jodi Ellen Malpas

“John and Helen,” I say over the rim of my glass. “The heir has not yet got himself an heir.”

“Adeline thinks he’s shooting blanks,” Eddie adds as he looks across to our brother, who’s looking super official in a mess jacket, trousers, cummerbund, and black bow tie.

“Adeline is wrong,” Matilda counters, pulling both Eddie’s and my attention her way. She grins. “I heard Mummy talking with the King. Seems you will have a niece or nephew very soon.”

“She’s pregnant?” I ask, my champagne flute lowering from my mouth. Matilda nods. “Nice of them to share the news. When were they planning on telling us?” Just as I say those very words, my father calls for the attention of everyone in the garden, and I know it’s not to wish me a happy birthday.

“Now?” Eddie quips, grinning at me.

“First you steal all the attention, and now this?” I scowl playfully as Eddie wraps an arm around my shoulders and kisses my temple. “When can we have some real fun?”

“Patience, little princess,” he soothes me. “Duty first.”

We listen as the King makes an award-worthy speech, expressing his gratitude for such a wonderful family to support him in his reign as King of England, the same old mumbo-jumbo, before he delivers the exciting news of a new addition to the Monarchy. John’s wife circles her stomach with her palm, smiling at my brother. She is power-hungry, always has been. This will thrill her, being impregnated with what will be the second in line to the throne, meaning Eddie and I have slipped down the line of succession. Well, damn.

“That throne is getting further from your reach, brother dearest,” I whisper in Eddie’s ear, making Matilda laugh hysterically, followed quickly by my brother. “What?” I ask innocently, pouting. “You don’t want to be king some day?”

“About as much as you want to be queen.” He chuckles to himself and puts his green beret back on as he wanders across the lawn to join our mother.

“You two are terrible.” Matilda knocks my shoulder with hers as someone catches my eye. Someone I actually do recognize, though what he’s doing here is a mystery. “Is that Josh Jameson?” I ask Matilda, nodding discreetly through the crowds.

“You mean the actor? The hot American actor?” Her neck cranes to see, and then there is a small gasp from my cousin. “Oh, golly, yes. What is he doing here?”

“I have not the faintest idea,” I say quietly, taking a few small steps to the right to get a better view. I breathe in controlled, but exhale a little shakily. By gosh, he’s even more striking in the flesh. One is a little speechless. Twinkly blue eyes that harbor mischief and pure sex, permanently roughed-up brown hair, and scruff to match. He’s perfectly rugged and dangerously handsome. Josh Jameson. I sigh, smiling to myself, enjoying my new delightful view. He was recently voted the World’s Sexiest Man Alive and has an Oscar under his belt to boot. He is the perfect male specimen, every woman’s fantasy. A Hollywood poster boy. A bloody god. But to me, he is prohibited. The World’s Sexist Man Alive is off limits. Typical. I pout to myself as I continue to admire his fine form, silently damning my royal bones to hell and back. But then he looks in my direction and our eyes meet. I quickly turn away from him, a little taken aback by the blaze in his stare. What is he doing here?

“It’s the London premiere of his new movie soon,” Matilda muses, popping a canapé in her mouth. “I read it in a magazine.”

“But why is he here? At my birthday party?”

She ignores my question, her eyes widening somewhat. “Oh, gosh. Adeline, he’s coming over.”

“He is?” I feel my body straighten out, all the stressed muscles unkinking. “Why ever would he do that?” Josh Jameson’s face and body is splashed on millions of billboards and magazines across the world, his playboy reputation renowned, and now he is here? In the flesh? In a suit, looking all handsome and ruggedly distinguished? At my birthday garden party?

A slow, lazy smile stretches my red lips through my increasing fluster. Josh Jameson.

My, oh my.

“Your Highness.” The rough American accent takes my simmering blood and directs it to my epicenter. And I don’t mean my heart, though it is certainly thrumming. The thrill is electrifying. Your Highness. Never before have those words turned me on. I always feel the inclination to shove them back down the throat of whoever has spoken them to me. Not today. I turn slowly and cock my head in question, suggesting he should prompt me on his name. Of course, I know exactly who he is, yet a deep desire in me does not want to let on that I am privy to his identity.