A Royal Without Rules

By: Caitlin Crews


HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS Prince Patricio, the most debauched creature in the kingdom of Kitzinia—if not the entire world—and the bane of Adriana Righetti’s existence, lay sprawled across his sumptuous, princely bed in his vast apartments in the Kitzinia Royal Palace, sound asleep despite the fact it was three minutes past noon.

And he was not, Adriana saw as she strode into the room, alone.

According to legend and the European tabloids, Pato, without the pressure of his older brother’s responsibilities as heir apparent, and lacking the slightest shred of conscience or propriety, had not slept alone since puberty. Adriana had expected to find him wrapped around the trollop du jour—no doubt the same redhead he’d made such a spectacle of himself with at his brother’s engagement celebration the night before.


But as she stared at the great bed before her, the frustration that had propelled her all the way through the palace shifted. She hadn’t expected to find the redhead and a brunette, both women naked and draped over what was known as Kitzinia’s royal treasure: Prince Pato’s lean and golden torso, all smooth muscle and sculpted male beauty, cut off by a sheet riding scandalously low on his narrow hips.

Although “scandalous” in this context was, clearly, relative.

“No need to be so shy.” Somehow, Adriana didn’t react to the mocking gleam in Prince Pato’s gaze when she looked up to find him watching her, his eyes sleepy and a crook to his wicked mouth. “There’s always room for one more.”

“I’m tempted.” Her crisp tone was anything but. “But I’m afraid I must decline.”

“This isn’t a spectator sport.”

Pato shifted the brunette off his chest with a consummate skill that spoke of long practice, and propped himself up on one elbow, not noticing or not caring that the sheet slipped lower as he moved. Adriana held her breath, but the sheet just preserved what little remained of his modesty. The redhead rolled away from him as Pato shoved his thick, too-long tawny hair back from his forehead, amusement gleaming in eyes Adriana knew perfectly well were hazel, yet looked like polished gold.

And then he smiled with challenge and command. “Climb in or get out.”

Adriana eyed him in all his unapologetic, glorious flesh. Prince Pato, international manwhore and noted black sheep of the Kitzinia royal family, was the biggest waste of space alive. He stood for nothing save his own hedonism and selfishness, and she wanted to be anywhere in all the world but here.


She’d spent the last three years as Crown Prince Lenz’s personal assistant, a job she adored despite the fact it had often involved handling Pato’s inevitable messes. This paternity suit, that jilted lover’s vindictive appearance on television, this crashed sports car worth untold millions, that reckless and/or thoughtless act making embarrassing headlines... He was the thorn in his responsible older brother’s side, and therefore dug deep and hard in hers.

And thanks to his inability to behave for one single day—even at his only brother’s engagement party!—Pato was now her problem to handle in the two months leading up to Kitzinia’s first royal wedding in a generation.

Adriana couldn’t believe this was happening. She’d been demoted from working at the right hand of the future king to taking out the royal family’s trash. After her years of loyalty, her hard work. Just when she’d started to kid herself that she really could begin to wash away the historic stain on the once proud Righetti name.

“Pato needs a keeper,” Prince Lenz had said earlier this morning, having called Adriana into his private study upon her arrival at the palace. Adriana had ached for him and the burdens he had to shoulder. She would do anything he asked, anything at all; she only wished he’d asked for something else. Pato was the one part of palace life she couldn’t abide. “There are only two months until the wedding and I can’t have the papers filled with his usual exploits. Not when there’s so much at stake.”

What was at stake, Adriana knew full well, was Lenz’s storybook marriage to the lovely Princess Lissette, which the world viewed as a fairy tale come to life—or would, if Pato could be contained for five minutes. Kitzinia was a tiny little country nestled high in the Alps, rich in world-renowned ski resorts and stunning mountain lakes bristling with castles and villas and all kinds of holiday-making splendor. Tourist economies like theirs thrived on fairy tales, not dissipated princes hell-bent on self-destruction in the glare of as many cameras as possible.

Two months in this hell, she thought now, still holding Pato’s amused gaze. Two months knee-deep in interchangeable women, sexual innuendo and his callous disregard for anything but his own pleasure.

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