Not Fit for a King

By: Jane Porter

PROLOGUE


Palm Beach, Florida


“YOU do look like me.” Princess Emmeline d’Arcy’s voice was hushed as she slowly circled Hannah, her arched eyebrows pulling over deep blue eyes. “Same face, same height, same age … if our hair color was the same … we could pass for twins. Incredible.”

“Not exactly twins. You’re half my size, Your Highness,” Hannah said, suddenly self-conscious next to the very slim Princess Emmeline. “Itty-bitty, as we say in America.”

Princess Emmeline didn’t appear to hear her, too busy examining Hannah from head to toe. “Do you color your hair? Or is that natural? Either way, it’s gorgeous—such a rich, warm shade of brown.”

“It’s from a box. It’s several shades darker than my natural color, and I do it myself,” Hannah stammered.

“Can you buy your color here in Palm Beach?”

Hannah couldn’t believe that the stunning golden-blond princess would be interested in her shade of brown hair dye. “I’m sure you can—it’s sold everywhere.”

“I meant, could you buy it for me?”

Hannah hesitated. “I could. But why would you want it, Your Highness? You’re stunning, so beautiful as you are.”

Princess Emmeline’s full lips curved and yet her expression looked bleak. “I thought maybe for a day I could be you.”

“What?”

The princess walked away from Hannah, moving to stand at one of the tall windows of her lavish hotel suite where she gazed out over the hotel’s elegant, tropical Florida garden.

“I’ve made a terrible mess of things,” Princess Emmeline said softly, hands lifting to press against the glass as if she were a captive instead of the world’s most celebrated young royal. “But I can’t even leave here to sort things out. I’m followed wherever I go—and it’s not just the paparazzi—but my bodyguards, my secretary, my ladies-in-waiting.” Her slim shoulders shifted and her fingers curled until her hands were fists against the glass. “For just one day I want to be normal. Ordinary. Maybe then I could take care of something, make this nightmare I’m in go away.”

The anguish in Emmeline’s voice made Hannah’s chest squeeze tight. “What’s happened, Your Highness?”

Princess Emmeline gave her head the slightest shake. “I can’t talk about it,” she said, her voice breaking. “But it’s bad … It’ll ruin everything …”

“Ruin what, Your Highness? You can tell me. You can trust me. I’m very good at keeping secrets and would never break your confidence.”

The regal princess lifted a hand to her face and swiftly wiped away tears before turning from the window to look at Hannah. “I know I can trust you. That’s why I’m asking for your help.”

The princess took a deep breath. “Tomorrow, switch places with me for the afternoon. Be me and stay here in the suite and I’ll be you. I won’t be gone long—a couple of hours, four or five at the most—and then I’ll return and we’ll switch back again.”

Hannah sat down in the chair next to her. “I want to help you, but I have to work tomorrow. Sheikh Al-Koury doesn’t give time off, and even if he did, I don’t know the first thing about being a princess.”

Emmeline crossed the rich crimson carpet to take a seat opposite Hannah’s. “Sheikh Al-Koury can’t make you work if you’re ill. Not even he would drag a sick woman from her bed. And you wouldn’t have to leave the hotel. I could book some spa treatments for you tomorrow and you could be pampered all afternoon—”

“But I sound like an American, not a Brabant royal!”

“I heard you introduce your sheikh boss in French yesterday at the polo tournament. You speak French perfectly, without even an accent.”

“That’s because I lived with a family in France one year during high school.”

“So speak French tomorrow. It always throws Americans.” Emmeline suddenly grinned. “We can do this. Bring hair color with you in the morning, a blond color for you and your chestnut color for me, and we’ll do our hair and change clothes and think what an adventure it’ll be!”

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