The Controversial Princess(7)

By: Jodi Ellen Malpas


“Josh Jameson.” He smiles, all bright and dazzling, with a hint of cheek, but it is one hundred percent knowing. Who doesn’t know who this man is?

I don’t try to conceal my demure grin. “What a pleasure, Mr. Jameson. Please, there is no need for formalities. You may call me Adeline.” I’m lying. There is every need for formalities, as expressed in Matilda’s shocked look when I catch her eye. But the truth is, I want to hear him say my name. Softly. In that gorgeous, rough American drawl.

“Adeline,” he muses delicately, taking my charging blood to boiling point. I am far from disappointed. On the love of the King, holy bloody hell. “Happy birthday.”

I inhale deeply, allowing my eyes the pleasure of journeying his long, svelte body to his feet. His three-piece screams bespoke, and his shoes are without doubt handmade. But he looks effortlessly well turned out, the pale pink hanky poking out of his breast pocket not neatly folded, but more stuffed inside as if it could have been a last-minute addition to his attire. He does perfectly roughed-up so well, a mix of neat in his clothes and messy on his face. Goodness, he is edible.

A nudge in my elbow knocks me out of my silent admiring, and I turn to find Matilda staring at me with too many questions in her eyes. I quickly gather myself and shoot my gaze up, immediately finding Josh Jameson regarding me closely, no doubt relishing the scrutiny he’s under. Clearing my throat, I raise my glass to my cousin. “Mr. Jameson, this is Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent.”

“Pleasure, Mr. Jameson,” Matilda purrs. “You may call me Matilda.” Her sarcasm has me peeking out the corner of my eye to her.

“The pleasure is all mine.” Josh smiles, another knowing smile. It is almost too much.

“So how did you come to be at my birthday celebrations?” I ask flippantly, trying not to express too much interest.

“My father met the King during his time in the military many years ago.”

“But you are American.”

“No shit,” he retorts quickly, reining in a cheeky smile. I’m both outraged and in awe. “You Brits and us Yanks are allies, ma’am.”

“I know that.” I roll my eyes dramatically, buzzing with something wild and electric. He cursed at me. It’s unheard of to use such vulgar language in the presence of a royal.

“My father is now a senator.” He points across to the King, who is talking to a rather round man in a black tux. “He was in town, and the King thought we might like to join him and his wonderful family today.”

“How lovely,” I muse. “So you are gatecrashing, for a lack of a better term?”

“Well”—he shrugs—“no man in his right mind would turn down the opportunity to meet the beautiful and illustrious Princess Adeline of England. And I must say, Your Highness, your pictures do you no justice.”

I force my eyes not to widen, gathering myself. “Touché.” My murmured reply is loaded with lust and suggestion. I toast the air, smiling around my pout. “I hope you are having a splendid time.”

“Oh, I am. And you?”

“Things are looking up.” I take a measured sip of my champagne, mesmerized by the sparkle in Josh’s blue eyes.

On a smile, he looks around the grounds. “I’ve often thought how alike we are.”

“Oh? How so?”

“You seem very passionate.”

“I do?”

“Yes.” His smile is now suggestive. “As am I.”

“Interesting.”

“And you seem to know what you want.”

“Indeed.”

“I like to have fun.”

“As do I, Mr. Jameson. As … do … I.”

“So we’re a match made in heaven.”

I laugh lightly, feeling Matilda’s despair as she endures this outrageous flirting match. I plan on winning. “In your dreams, Mr. Jameson.”

“Or maybe, Your Highness, in yours.” Josh flashes another one of those dashing smiles, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am struggling to maintain my composure. So I do what is best and free myself from the suffocating intensity of Mr. Jameson’s presence before I make a fool of myself and start dribbling. “Excuse me.” Putting one foot in front of the other is far more difficult than it should be. “Delightful to meet you, Mr. Jameson.” I silently scorn myself for such a poor choice of word as I walk away. Delightful?

“Wasn’t it just?” he muses, his body turning as I pass him. A quick glimpse back has our eyes meeting again, his face almost cocky.

Bugger it. I curse myself all the way over to my mother.