Also by this author: Connectivity, Waiting For Prince Harry, Chronicles of a Lincoln Park Fashionista, Survivng the Rachel, The Definition of Icing
Series: Modern Royals #1
Also in this series: A Royal Shade of Blue
Published by Self-Published on 16th May 2018
Genres: Chicklit, Humour, Love & Romance
Source: for a Blog Tour
Amazon UK, Amazon US
When art history student Clementine Jones receives a message complimenting her latest internship project, she doesn’t hesitate to answer it.
She never dreamed that this decision would not only change her life but the future of the British monarchy as well.
Her response leads Clementine to the mysterious CP Chadwick, a British man studying history at Cambridge. Clementine finds CP charming, smart, and unlike any man she’s ever met. Most of all, when she confides her medical past to CP, his perception of her doesn’t change. He doesn’t treat her as fragile like her parents do. CP sees her as normal, which is something she cherishes.
Clementine, however, has no idea that CP is actually Prince Christian of Wales, who has never had a “normal” life. Christian is at a crossroad. His destiny is to be a working royal, but he is desperate to fill that role in his own way. Wary of others, he’s kept himself closed off from the world—until he lets Clementine in.
A royal romance is never a fairy tale, but Clementine and Christian are determined to write their own version. Can they overcome their own fears—as well as the constraints of a royal life—to reach their own happily ever after?
THE MESSAGE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
I pop open my umbrella, trying to shield myself from the unrelenting rain that is cascading down on Palo Alto. I move around to the back of my Ford SUV, which is nearly as old as the sun, and open the hatch to find my dog waiting impatiently.
“Come here, Bear,” I say, stifling a yawn as I wait for my Airedale rescue to come to me. I juggle the umbrella, sticking the handle under my arm, and grab Bear’s collar. Bear begins to lick my face, and despite the fact that I’ve just left work, and it’s three o’clock in the morning, and I’m standing in the cold rain, I smile. “You’re such a good boy. I’m lucky I can take you to work with me, you know that?”
I help Bear down and slam the hatch shut. I re-adjust the umbrella, and l walk through the parking lot, shivering as the rain pelts my face. Northern California is chilly this January night, the temperature below forty now. I see my breath escape in puffs in the damp air, and even though it’s late, and I have class at nine tomorrow—er, today, actually—I want a cup of hot chocolate before bed.
I grin despite the weather and the hour. My beverage selection hasn’t changed since I was five. You can keep your fancy coffees and exotic teas. I’ll take a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream for the win every time. Besides, when you walk down the street with a cup full of hot chocolate from a coffee shop, nobody is the wiser that it’s not some fancy latte.
I take a minute to let Bear do his business before directing him toward my building. I close my umbrella as soon as we’re under shelter, and Bear leads me up the stairs, pulling me along because he doesn’t like the rain. I glance up at the fourplex where we live, built in the 1940s and not far from the Stanford campus where I’m in my last semester of school. I love living here. I share a two-bedroom corner unit with my best friends at Stanford, Bryn Ryan and Chelsea Beckwith. Since Bryn has a steady boyfriend, she has a room to herself. At least that is what Chelsea and I told her. The fact that she talks in her sleep all night long and never shuts up is the real reason, however.
Sometimes a little white lie is a super handy tool.
I put my key in the lock and turn it gently. I’ve become a pro at making a quiet entry since I started my internship at the Fashion Mall of San Jose. The upscale shopping center has a curated art collection that rotates museum-level art throughout the mall, giving the public free access to incredible pieces. I assist the art coordinator with the exhibits and community art outreach programs. Even if I have to do sculpture installations in the middle of the night and go to classes half-dead the next day, it’s been a great learning experience.
My dream job, however, is working with antiques in either an auction house or a museum. I love the stories objects can tell, and how they can be used to pass down history from generation to generation. It’s fascinating to me, and that is the focus I want to pursue after graduation this June.
I open the door and step inside, grabbing a towel out of the basket next to the door. I take a moment to wipe his paws and belly before letting Bear off his leash. As soon as I shut the door behind us, I hear the squeaking of a bed and the sound of it banging against the living room wall.
“OH, GRAHAM! YES!” Bryn screams. “RIGHT THERE! RIGHT THERE!”
Before I’m even out of my coat, I’m fumbling for my phone and earbuds. Please let me get them in before she reaches the height of orgasm.
“GRAHAM! YOU ARE SO G—”
Bryn’s cries are cut off by the sounds of Harry Styles singing “Sign of the Times” in my ears. Whew! That was a close call, I think, as I slip out of my trench coat and kick off my wet Converse kicks.
But now I’ll never know if Graham is:
So … Godly?
Sometimes it’s best for things to remain shrouded in mystery.
I head into the kitchen, grab a hot chocolate cup for the Keurig, and place my favorite mug underneath it—my Disney mug with Princess Ariel on it. My older sister, Paisley, got it for me because she said I reminded her of Ariel, with my long, flaming-red hair and love of the water. Mom missed her opportunity to name me after a Disney princess, choosing Clementine instead. She said the first time she saw my little head with its patch of red hair I reminded her of a sweet orange. Hmm. Maybe it says something that she thought not of princesses but of food when she first laid eyes on me. I probably should be offended, but glancing down at my ripped jeans and favorite charcoal V-neck sweater, I’m definitely closer to a citrus fruit than a princess.
If I were to be a princess, though, I’d be more like Fiona from Shrek. I love her. Fiona is spirited. Independent. Strong. She can save herself, which makes her fabulous.
Soon my hot cocoa is ready, and I take it over to the sofa and sink down into the cushions. Harry continues to sing to me as I reach for the remote and flip on the TV.
Another great mystery of the universe that remains unsolved to me is how I can have hundreds of TV channels at my disposal and still find absolutely nothing to watch. I skim over horror movies—no thank you; adult cinema, which I have playing in the room next door if I care to hear a live version; TV shopping; old sitcoms I don’t like; and news. Meh.
I stop on some wildlife hunter trying to capture a dangerous rattlesnake and leave it there as background light. It’s now ten after three. I’m going to give myself until four to unwind, drink my hot chocolate, and climb into bed. I take a sip of my steaming drink, closing my eyes as the warm liquid sides down my throat, and feeling the much-needed warmth. Ah. Bear jumps up on the sofa and drops his big head into my lap, and all feels right in my world.
I put my thumb on my phone to unlock it and see I have some notifications. Some are for Facebook, and there’s a text from Paisley, and a slew of emails from companies that I signed up for to get a discount and now get bombarded daily as a reminder to never again give out my email for ten percent off. I have some Instagram likes and a direct message in my inbox from someone I don’t know.
Curiosity gets the better of me, and I decide to read it. The profile pic from the stranger is of a beautiful setter-type dog. Inside is my picture from last month’s The Ritual of Tea exhibit, when we installed a piece that represented the bamboo tea whisks that are used to make matcha tea. The message reads: Ms. Jones,
I was scrolling through Instagram recommendations—yes, I realise I don’t have a life if this is what I’m doing at night instead of going to a pub quiz, so let’s get that out of the way upfront—and came across your account. The idea of tea whisks two stories tall inside of a shopping centre is quite fascinating, more so because I prefer matcha to English Breakfast or Earl Grey. You had me with the tea whisks, and I confess to spending the rest of the night checking out the art installations on your Insta. I don’t know why I’m writing to you; you probably think I’m a stalker. Well, I guess if I spend the night going through your Insta account I am, but I assure you it’s not in a creepy way but rather in a “this-is-interesting way.” Regardless, it looks like you have a job you love, and for that, you are one incredibly lucky woman.
I stare at the message in shock. This is the first one I’ve ever received about my work. And this CP—whoever he or she is—has a sense of humor. I click on CP’s account and read the profile: Student of History and Politics at the University of Cambridge. Lover of dogs and odd-flavoured M&M’s. Appreciates a good pint with his mates and beating them soundly on pub quiz nights.
Hmm. The account is set to private. He’s a male. At least that is what he says. I mean, who knows if any of this is real? CP could be an elderly woman in a retirement home for all I know. But CP does have fifteen followers. Fifteen? Wow. This person is very picky about who they allow to follow them. I elect to allow the message and decide to test this “CP” and message him back: CP,
Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to know someone appreciates the work we do to bring art to the public in an easy, free, accessible way. We hope to expose people to art who never might have gone out of their way to look for it. I feel like a kind of commando in that regard.
I crept on your page, but I can’t see much since it’s private. You say that you study at Cambridge. First, I would like to see proof that this is true. You might be in a retirement village in Boca for all I know, or some woman named Mildred chatting with me and laughing with her friends around the four o’clock early bird dinner. Or you could be a cheating husband from Houston looking for a piece on the side. I need verification that you are indeed a student of history and politics at Cambridge, or the jig is up, CP.
P.S. What is a pub quiz? You mentioned it in your message, and it’s in your profile. Obviously, you have some kind of thing for it.
Then I hit send.
I take another sip of my hot chocolate, getting some whipped cream on my nose. I rub Bear’s head affectionately and feel the vibrating on the other side of the wall has stopped. Yay, I won’t have to sleep with earplugs in tonight. Victory is mine!
I glance down at my phone. CP has sent me another direct message on Instagram.
I set my mug on our circa 1991 end table, swiped from my mom’s storage unit, and eagerly open the message.
It’s one picture.
A sign above a glass door reads the “Alison Richard Building,” and the landscape is dusted with snow. In fact, falling snowflakes dot the picture. There’s a hand extending forward, the left hand, holding up a textbook of a political nature. A silver Rolex watch adorns his wrist, peeking out from underneath what looks like a black cashmere overcoat.
I eagerly read his message:
As you can see, I am standing outside of the Alison Richard Building at Cambridge. Google should provide validation that this is not a retirement village. You can also see I’m holding my textbook for part of my year three studies and, according to my watch, it’s twenty past eleven my time. Now my hands are about to go numb, as I had to take off my gloves to type this, so my other validation pictures will come after my lecture.
P.S. I will answer the pub quiz question later, if you are inclined to send me a follow request. As you did admit to creeping on my account, you know I have fifteen followers. We’ll see if you make that sixteen, if you are curious about a bloke in Cambridge who likes dogs and mysterious pub quizzes.
My heart flutters. CP is sharp. He’s British and at Cambridge, and he has to be near my age, right? He loves dogs, and he’s not wearing a parka but an overcoat.
With epic watch porn.
It takes me less than one second to make my decision.
I click follow on his profile.
As soon as he accepts my request, I’ll be CP’s sixteenth follower.
A weird sensation fills me, one I’ve never felt before.
I think this decision, to follow the mysterious CP, will change my life.
I don’t know why, but something in the stars must be aligned for a guy from Cambridge to randomly stumble on my Instagram feed and begin a conversation that already has my heart fluttering.
How it will change things remains unseen.
But I’m curious to see where it goes.