Royal Catch

By: Kylie Gilmore


Gabriel

I am the crown prince of Villroy, heir to a kingdom, bound by duty to marry and produce an heir.

I expected a quiet arrangement through royal channels; instead I got a palace full of women vying for my hand. And how do they “win” this barbaric game set up by my crafty mother? By figuring out how to save the kingdom’s faltering economy through a series of challenges. This undignified circus is beneath a man of my stature! Proof being that a saucy, ill-mannered woman wearing body-hugging clothes is in the lead. I could never love someone like that, let alone marry her.



Anna

The plan sounded simple.

I pose as my friend, pick up her inheritance, and return with the cash to keep her out of jail. (Apparently, being a princess in hiding is no excuse for identity theft.) So, yeah, I’m not exactly royal. I’m an orphan, a self-made woman, and proud of it. Suddenly I’m in a battle royale with a bunch of crazy competitive women for “riches beyond our dreams.” I’m in a time crunch, which means I need to win this competition fast. Only, that means winning over the judge, the smoldering hot grim-faced Gabriel. And now I find myself wanting to compete for more than just the money. But could a royal prince ever fall for a commoner like me?



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Chapter One


Gabriel

And don’t let the door hit your furry ass on the way out!

I pinch the bridge of my nose. I cannot believe my life has come to this. Me, Gabriel Rourke, the crown prince of Villroy, heir to a kingdom, kicking a furry menagerie out the palace doors. Yes, furries, people who enjoy wearing stuffed-animal suits. The kangaroo bride, koala groom, wombat minister, and way too many dingoes to count (I swear, they were multiplying) were here for a furry wedding. This is all my brother Phillip’s fault. He was determined to turn the palace into a destination-wedding venue in a misguided attempt to save our faltering economy. And what happens? Furries.

Worse, every furry detail was captured by reporters from two prestigious bridal magazines, who were here to cover the inaugural non-furry wedding (that was completely botched due to the double-booking with the furries). I shudder to think what those reporters will say. This whole wedding business is an abomination to the royal tradition, and I knew all along it was a mistake.

I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours—still in my tux from the horrendous wedding travesty of last night—so when Phillip strolls into the marble entrance hall on this hellish morning, looking bright-eyed after a good night’s sleep, I bark, “Where’s Bonnie?”

Phillip holds up his palms. “Relax, the guards are taking care of her.” I can’t relax until that grossly incompetent wedding planner is gone. Clearly, Phillip can. That is the difference between being the heir and the spare. He’s one year younger—the friendly, easygoing version of me—same dark brown hair and blue-green eyes, same sharp cheekbones and build.

I blow out an exasperated breath. “The woman is unhinged. You’re the one who hired her. See to it she’s on the next ferry.” Last night I banished her from Villroy Island and ordered her to be on the first ferry out this morning.

Phillip leans in, his voice low. “Do you think there’s any truth to Bonnie’s story that she has royal blood? Her great-grandmother had the bastard of our great-grandfather?”

“No!” I don’t want to rehash the sordid twisted story with him. Bonnie is clearly not right in the head. “I want her gone.”

He lifts a hand in greeting at the non-furry bridal couple, who’ve just arrived in the entrance hall with their luggage, about to leave on their honeymoon. He speaks under his breath. “I need to go apologize to the happy couple for their imperfect wedding.” That’s putting it mildly.

I clench my jaw. Apparently, I have to do every frigging thing around here. What is taking the guards so long with Bonnie?

I stalk upstairs to the east wing, where Bonnie spent the night in a guest room with two guards posted outside her room. At this rate she’s going to miss the ferry. Only one guard is waiting.

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