Soldier Prince's Secret Baby Gift

By: Kate Hardy

One magical night...

...could ignite a royal scandal!

In this A Crown by Christmas story, six months ago Tia Phillips and Prince Antonio of Casavalle shared one passionate night. Now she’s on the palace doorstep—pregnant with his baby! Another royal scandal is all Casavalle needs, so Antonio whisks Tia away to a secret hideaway. Soon Antonio’s falling for her, but will Tia accept his hand in marriage when she thinks he’s asking only out of duty?







 Dear Reader,

Supposing you had a mad fling with a gorgeous man for just one night—a prince that you never expected to be your Prince Charming because your lives are so far apart. And then that night turned out to have consequences... That’s what Tia finds after she has an unforgettable night with her late brother’s best friend.

Or supposing you’re a prince who’s never really been able to connect with anyone—what happens when you find someone you can actually open up to? How can you convince her to take a chance and make a family with you, when your own background is so different to hers? That’s what Antonio is faced with when he discovers that Tia—his unlikely Cinderella—is six months pregnant with his baby.

Add the magic of snow and mistletoe, and a discovery of the true meaning of Christmas...and I hope you enjoy my hero and heroine’s journey to happiness.

With love,

Kate Hardy





PROLOGUE


May


TEN MINUTES UNTIL MIDNIGHT.

Ten minutes until the charity gala was over and the guests were due to leave, and then another three-quarters of an hour to finish clearing up.

And then Tia could go home to bed.

She was exhausted. She’d already done her usual full shift at the café that day, and Saturdays were always a rushed-off-your-feet day. When she’d got home, all she’d wanted to do was to have a long bath and then curl up on the sofa with her mum to watch a movie. But her old school friend Sadie was managing a charity gala tonight and Tia had promised that she’d help out, serving canapés and clearing glasses, and Tia never went back on her promises. Particularly as the cause—supporting children who’d been bereaved—was so close to her heart; she knew first-hand how it felt to lose a member of your family in the armed forces.

Twice.

Their neighbour, Becky, was keeping an eye out for her mum—as she always did on the few occasions that Grace Phillips managed to persuade her daughter to go out somewhere. In less than an hour, Tia could go home. And tomorrow was late opening, being Sunday, so her shift didn’t start until ten. It wasn’t so bad. She’d had tougher days.

Though she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was staring at her.

She turned round and caught the eye of a tall, dark-haired man across the room.

There was something very familiar about him. Then again, half the people at the charity gala were household names: everyone from musicians to movie stars to models. All the men were wearing tuxedos, and all the women were wearing the kind of posh frocks and designer shoes Tia would never have been able to afford in a million years. This was another world, one where she was supposed to be invisible—the anonymous waitress who smiled as she served canapés and cleared glasses quickly and efficiently. The guy across the room shouldn’t even be noticing her.

As she went out onto the hotel balcony to collect glasses from the abandoned tables, still thinking about him, she realised who he was.

Antonio Valenti.

Prince Antonio of Casavalle, to be precise.

The man who had been her older brother Nathan’s best friend, who’d served with him as his team commander in an alliance of international armed forces.

The man who’d broken her heart, and her mum’s, four months ago, when he’d brought the news that Nathan had been killed in action. Antonio had delivered the news coldly and calmly: a stoic man in a military uniform who didn’t even blink as he told them that Nathan’s vehicle had hit a land mine on his last mission and he’d been killed instantly. Tia had been too shocked to say anything, but her mother had collapsed at the news that she’d lost her son the same way as she’d lost her husband, so Tia had had to damp down her own grief to support her mother.

Prince Antonio had clearly cared so little about Nathan that he hadn’t even stuck around to comfort Grace Phillips or check that she was all right. He’d left almost as soon as he’d delivered the news. He hadn’t even stayed for a cup of tea, let alone turned up at the funeral; and, apart from a formal embossed condolence card which he’d scrawled his name across, he hadn’t been in contact with them since.

OK, sure, the man was a prince and he had important official duties as well as being in the army. Tia wasn’t stupid. She understood that. But would it have hurt him to spend a few minutes with Grace after delivering the news, just to share some memories of her beloved son with her? Or show his face at Nathan’s funeral? Or later, perhaps, he could’ve sent Grace a photograph or a private note via the Palace press office. It wasn’t as if her mother was going to rush to the media and try to get money for it, or sell it online. All Grace had needed was a little gesture to let her know that Nathan had mattered.

Top Books