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Royally Unexpected Book 3 (Alternate Cover): Cruel Prince

Royally Unexpected Book 3 (Alternate Cover): Cruel Prince

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Beauty and the Beast like you've never read before...

Jolie is under strict instructions to stay away from the Prince and his ailing daughter.

After all, she’s only at the castle to relieve her father of his gardening duties temporarily. She’ll care for the roses, keep her head down, and leave royalty to the royals.

Until she finds the library…and the Prince.

And he decides he likes what he sees.

Beating a hasty retreat, Jolie tries to ignore the sizzle of his touch and the hunger of his gaze. She’s supposed to stay away from him. She can't break the rules when her family is relying on her.

So what happens when Prince Gabriel decides 
he doesn’t want to stay away from her?

 

MAIN TROPES

👑 Royal Romance

👑 Accidental Pregnancy

👑 Single Dad, Broken Hero

👑 Fairy Tale Retelling (Beauty and the Beast)

👑 Steamy/Spicy

Chapter 1 Look Inside

The door slams, and my boyfriend of two years becomes my ex-boyfriend, as of right now.
I stand in the middle of my studio apartment, staring after Ryan. He’s gone. I’m not even sure how I feel about it. Offended? Relieved? Indifferent?

Glancing over at my laptop screen, I flinch. A grimace lingers on my lips as I read the form letter for the fourth time. It’s yet another rejection email from a publisher, and it stings. I’m more hurt about their rejection than Ryan’s—and that’s probably exactly why he left. Apparently, I care too much about my flagging writing career and not enough about his ego.

Should I care that he’s gone? Does the fact that I don’t make me a bad person?

I’m not heartless, I swear. Ryan was nice, I guess.

But he kept talking about marriage, babies, and me being a stay-at-home mom. Never once did he ask me if I really wanted that.

I stare at the door again and then back at the email. I scan my body and decide that I do, indeed, care more about the publisher’s rejection than I do about my ex.

My shoulders slump, and I sink down onto my desk chair.

Ryan’s and my relationship was probably over a long time ago, but I’d hung on in the vain hope that something would change. Our relationship was just like every other relationship that I’ve ever had—and like my short stint in college, or my current writing career: Another failure.

Just like this email. Rejection never gets easier—even if it’s the thirtieth refusal letter I’ve received this month.

Reading the email over and over again, my heart sinks. Every publisher’s snub is the same. It’s professional, yet it cuts deep into the fabric of my once unshakeable confidence.

My manuscript didn’t grip the editors, it says. The beginning wasn’t compelling enough.
How much of my book did they read before rejecting it, I wonder?

I rub my hands over my face, sighing. That was the last publisher on my list. My book is dead. I’m single, broke, and apparently, a big, old failure.

Look away while I wallow for a while, will you?

I push myself off my chair and stare around my apartment. My shifts at the restaurant aren’t covering all my expenses. My freelance work has dried up, and I’m not sure how I’ll make rent next month.

I came to New York City six years ago with big dreams and bigger expectations, and they haven’t quite come to fruition. By ‘haven’t quite’ I mean I should probably tattoo FLOP in big letters across my forehead. I’ve ended up with a big pile of rejection letters and a very small bank account.

Ryan was offering to help me out with my expenses until I got a book deal—but that’s obviously not going to happen now.

“That’s fine,” I say under my breath. “I didn’t want your money anyway.” I talk to the closed door, as if my ex-boyfriend can hear me.

Ryan used his money as a chain around my neck, always making me feel guilty for not having enough of my own. He’d make a big show of paying for things whenever I couldn’t—which was often. I hated it.

But not anymore. I won’t use him as a crutch. I’ll figure this out on my own. I press my lips together and widen my stance. Pushing up my sleeves, I swing my eyes from one end of the room to the other.

Is my sofa worth anything? I don’t even sit on it that much. Maybe I could get a hundred bucks for it. The TV can’t be worth much—it’s an old-style thing with knobs on the front and no remote—but maybe a hipster will want it in an ironic kind of way. My dining room table has three mismatched chairs and a lot of rings from coffee mugs on it. I doubt I’d be able to even give it away for free.

My eyes flick around the tiny studio apartment, cataloguing all my belongings. Only my two most precious possessions aren’t for sale. My laptop and the little leather-bound notebook where I stuff all my ideas. Those two items will stay with me until I croak.

When my eyes land on my dresser, I pause. Maybe I could sell my dirty panties on the Internet or something. Don’t people pay a lot for those?

Shaking my head, I try to build myself back up again.

I’m not a screw-up. It’s not failing until you stop picking yourself back up. Isn’t that on a motivational poster somewhere?

Things will work out—they always do. I’ll pick up a couple of extra shifts at the restaurant. I’ll put my groceries on my credit card. I’ll hustle harder for some freelance writing work. I’ll sell my panties, if need be.

I’ll make it work. I can do it.

I stretch my neck from side to side and try to build myself back up. Maybe if I rewrite the book—revise it for the millionth time and make the beginning more gripping—maybe then a publisher will pick it up. I’ll get a nice advance cheque, and my problems will be solved.

It’ll happen. I have faith.

Confidence starts to creep into my heart. A sense of calm washes over me, and a smile drifts over my lips.

I haven’t been rejected by my ex-boyfriend—I’ve been freed. I can do anything. I can be anything! I’m not Jolie, failed writer and tired waitress. Not anymore. No, I’m Jolie, the independent and successful boss-lady! Watch me blossom!

My smile grows wider as my belief in myself grows. I slam my laptop screen down with a thud as a giggle bubbles up inside me.

Laughter tastes sweet, even if I’m alone in my apartment. I throw my head back and let out a big belly laugh, leaning into the feeling.

Freedom.

It feels good. Great, even! I build myself higher, and higher, and higher…
…and then reality brings me crashing all the way back down when the lights in my apartment flicker off.

I hear the refrigerator shut down too, as the power to my entire apartment is cut.
“Shit, shit, shit.” I rush to the switch on the wall. I flick the lights on and off, but nothing happens. Using the flashlight on my phone, I find the electrical panel and turn the breakers on and off again, but nothing works. I try it again, and again, and again…
…nothing.

Groaning, I sink down to the floor. I drop my head in my hands and I admit to myself what I’ve known since the lights went off.

It’s not the breaker. It’s the bill.

To be precise, it’s the red-marked bill currently sitting on my kitchen table, unopened and unpaid.

Tears sting my eyes as an overwhelming sense of failure creeps into my heart. How did I think I could do this? When I moved away from Farcliff, I truly believed I could make it in the world. I had eight hundred dollars, half of an English Lit college degree, and an ego the size of Farcliff Kingdom. I was invincible.

I got myself a work visa to the United States and I moved to New York, full of hope and dreams and naivety.

Bright-eyed, I fell in love with the lights and noise of the city.

Now, the lights are off and it’s deathly quiet.

I’ve failed. Professionally, personally, and philosophically flopped.

My lower lip trembles as I squeeze my hands into fists. I dig my fingernails into my palms to try and get a grip on myself. I’m working the closing shift at the restaurant tonight, and the last thing I need to do is show up with puffy, bloodshot eyes and a red nose from crying.

I shut my eyes and try to pull myself together.

It feels like I’m teetering on the brink of a breakdown. A strong gust of wind would knock me into meltdown mode. I keep swinging between highs and lows every few minutes, and it’s making my head spin. So, I just stay huddled on the floor, with my hands balled into fists and my eyes squeezed shut.

I count to a hundred. The lights still haven’t miraculously come back on, and I’m still single and broke—but at least I don’t feel like I’m going to break down and cry anymore.

Picking myself up off the floor, I stand up and find my work uniform. I’ll work my shift tonight and scrape together enough money for the bill. The power will be back on in no time.

I repeat the words to myself over and over until I almost believe them. I take extra time to do my makeup and hair like I’m putting on war paint. I stare at myself in the mirror, fake-smiling at my reflection. I wonder if I look as miserable as I feel.

My phone rings, interrupting my pity-party. It’s my mother.

“Hey, Mom.”

“Jolie, don’t panic...”

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