Recklessly Royal

By: Nichole Chase



ONE


THERE WOULDN’T BE more press outside of Rousseau Manor if Queen Elizabeth herself was planning to parade around in her panties while singing the British national anthem. I peeked out the curtain of the top floor when the doorbell chimed—another delivery of wedding gifts for the soon-to-be-married couple. I took a deep breath and let the curtain fall closed.

I wasn’t sure why I was feeling antsy as my brother’s wedding drew near. Turning back to the mirror in the guest bathroom, I traced the bags under my eyes with my fingers and sighed. I brushed the stray blond hair out of my face. The blue of my eyes looked pale, almost gray in the sterile bathroom light. I hadn’t slept much in the last week, trying to keep the wedding stress from landing on my brother’s or Samantha’s shoulders. They’d been tying up loose ends at the Future Bird Trust and attending to the immediate needs of their estates and royal duties. I knew they were worried about leaving too much for me and Max, my brother, to handle while they were away for their month-long honeymoon. It annoyed me, even though I knew they were doing it out of love, but it felt like they didn’t think I would be able to handle the responsibility.

It wasn’t just the lack of sleep that had me down, though. As people RSVP’d and sent in joint gifts I was constantly reminded that I had no date for the wedding; no one guaranteed to dance with me or to sneak away with me if we got bored. It bothered me. For the last few years I had all but ignored men, kept them at a distance. I hadn’t kissed anyone in so long I was beginning to doubt I ever had. My cousins were having babies and I still had my V card. It was getting to be ridiculous. And as I got older it felt more like a burden than something to be proud of—an embarrassing story to have to explain to a potential lover.

Laughter from down the hall derailed my pity party. I had things to do, and the last thing I wanted to have happen was for Sam to worry about me. Practicing a smile in the mirror, I washed my hands and brushed the hair out of my face. It wasn’t that I didn’t love Sam or that I minded setting everything up—in fact I loved doing it all—it was just that my loneliness had been brought into sharp relief as lovebirds and cartoon hearts circled my head.

I’d scheduled a spa day for me, Sam, and Jess. It was something to help get us ready for the wedding and, even more importantly, to keep Sam out of the public eye. The country was overbrimming with paparazzi, salivating for wedding pictures. Despite her increasing comfort level with being in the public eye, I didn’t want her to be stressed before the wedding. Getting married should be a happy occasion, not something burdened with strangers and roadblocks.

I made my way down the hall and peeked into the doorway and felt my smile become real. Samantha’s feet twitched and she muttered curses under her breath as the technician worked. I covered my mouth and tried to not laugh. Jess was silently filming the whole ordeal with her phone. Probably blackmail to counter the video Samantha took at Jess’s bachelorette party.

“Suck it up, cupcake!” I walked in and poked one of her flailing legs. “You don’t want to look like you have hairy caterpillars attached to your face on your wedding day.”

“This is torture!”

“Threading is the best way to go. You’re going to look amazing.” I patted her knee.

“I’m going to kill you both.” Sam turned her head to look at us. “Ouch!”

“My apologies, Duchess.” The technician moved to the other eyebrow. “Try to stay still and it will hurt less.”

I shook my head but took a couple of steps out of Sam’s reach. “Stop being a big baby.”

“Just think, after this you still have your bikini waxing!” Jess laughed.

A loud grunt of anger was our only answer.

When the technician finally finished, she left the room to go get the wax ready. I handed Sam a bottle of water and checked our schedule on my phone. I was debating switching the times for the massage and the bikini waxing. Maybe it would be best to do the bikini wax after the massage. That way Sam would be relaxed. Of course, if I did that, it would probably ruin that after-massage glow. Best to leave it the way it was.

“Cathy, when I said I didn’t want to go to the clubs or have male strippers, that didn’t mean I wanted to have my skin peeled off my body instead.” Sam narrowed her eyes at me.

“You said a spa day would be great.” I laughed when she threw a pillow at me. “Relax. We’re doing fun stuff tomorrow. We’re just getting the torture out of the way first.”

“Oh, what are we doing?” Jess leaned forward. “Tell me it’s something crazy and fun.”

“I’m not telling.” I shook my head. “Just get through today and it will all be worth it.”

“I’m not sure anything is worth what you’re putting me through today.” Sam mock-glared.

“Wah. Shut it and take it like a woman!” I stood up and clapped my hands together. “Ready to get waxed?”

“No. Definitely not and never will be.” Sam shook her head vehemently. “No one’s going to be seeing that anyway.” Sam looked at me with pleading eyes. She’d gotten really good at them.

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