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Royally Unexpected Book 7 (Alternate Cover): Lone Prince

Royally Unexpected Book 7 (Alternate Cover): Lone Prince

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I’m stranded in a snowed-in castle with a big, bad prince…

The plan was to visit my grandmother at the Arctic palace in the Kingdom of Nord.
I was supposed to get the information I needed for work, give Grandma a big hug, then get out.

Things...aren’t going according to plan.

For one, the castle is being battered by the biggest storm it’s seen in centuries.
I’m stuck, and Grandma isn’t even here.
In her place is a prince with honey-colored eyes and a body that was made for war.

He’s big and burly and...oof, my poor panties.
They don’t stand a chance when Prince Wolfe looks at me like he wants to eat me.

I’m pretending I don’t like the fire in the prince’s eyes, which, to be honest, is also not going great.
He can see right through my fake hostility.

How am I supposed to work when he’s walking around like some wild, Nordic god with a chip on his shoulder and a very big—

Never mind.

Listen, it’s temporary. As soon as this storm lets up, I’ll be out of here. All I have to do is keep it professional for a few short days.

Easy, right?

Ha. Yeah. Right.

 

MAIN TROPES 

👑 Royal Romance

👑 Accidental Pregnancy

👑 Isolated Castle

👑 Fairy Tale Retelling (The Little Riding Hood)

👑 Steamy/Spicy

👑 Bonus Chapter Included!

Chapter 1 Look Inside

My grandmother should be here. She said she’d meet me at the train station, but as I glance around the tiny lobby for the thousandth time, she’s nowhere to be seen.

My phone isn’t any help. No cell reception. No pay phone either, although there are two little cubby holes where pay phones used to be.

Helpful.

Not.

Grandma did warn me this place was isolated, but as wind howls against the shuttered windows, and a gust of cold air rushes under the doorway, I already know this corner of the Kingdom of Nord is wilder than I expected.

I grew up in Farcliff, a small kingdom nestled between the United States and Canada. It’s no tropical paradise, but compared to the subarctic Kingdom of Nord, Farcliff is positively balmy.

Grandma is from Nord. Born and raised. My mother, too, until she had me. Fell in love with a man from Farcliff and followed him south, only to find out he had a whole other family and wanted nothing to do with us. Mom still stayed in Farcliff, though, so that’s where I grew up. Technically, I have Nordish blood running in my veins. I should feel at home here, on some level. Right now, though? I feel very much like an outsider. Like the weather itself is trying to tell me to leave.

And this particular train station? The last stop on the line?

Well, let’s just say I should have brought warmer clothes. The Summer Palace rests on the edge of the Arctic Circle, and even at the end of September, it’s freezing up here. Apparently, they call it the Summer Palace because the land is almost uninhabitable in the winter, but for two or three months in the summer, it’s the most beautiful place on the planet.

I thought I’d be safe at the end of September. The plan was to get in, get the pictures and information I need for work, spend some time with my grandmother, and get out before the winter sets in.

You could say things aren’t exactly going to plan.

Nord is currently in the midst of the coldest, stormiest autumn in recorded history. The biggest storm the locals have ever seen is on the way, if I’m to believe what I overheard from other passengers. Even luckier for me, it seems my grandmother has completely forgotten about me.

It’s not like her. I chew the inside of my lip, trying not to let worry consume me.

It’ll be fine. She’ll show up and bring me to the palace. Grandma and I will have the place mostly to ourselves, except for a few staff. I won’t have to deal with the rigamarole of a royal prince or princess with all the pomp and ceremony that surround them. Just some quality Rowan-Grandma time, as well as the peace and quiet I need to do my work.

That is, if I actually make it to the palace. So far, my journey seems to have hit a dead end at the last stop on a long train line.

I rub my hands over my arms, sucking in a breath of air. No matter how long I stare at the train station entrance, Grandma isn’t walking through it.

Not exactly the welcome party I thought I’d get. I’m Nord’s new lead architect on the redesign of the Summer Palace. I’ve spent the past year working on this project, dedicating every resource at my own architecture firm to it, and this is my first site visit to put the finishing touches on my design. I wasn’t expecting a red carpet, but they could have at least sent a taxi.

Sighing, I do another lap of the room.

Still no Grandma.

I should have stayed in Farcliff. My architecture practice is well-respected and multi-award-winning. It’s steady, comfortable work, and there’s lots of it. I mostly design houses for the Farcliff elite—of which there are many. My office building also has central heating, a fact that I never quite appreciated as much as I do now.

But I became an architect to create beautiful, important buildings, and I couldn’t turn this project down. How many architects get to work on a royal palace in a foreign kingdom? How many architects get to make a name for themselves so early in their career?

The wind bangs against the door, mocking me. My teeth rattle. Does this rickety old station not have any insulation?

The few passengers that disembarked with me at the station have long since disappeared, tucking their chins in their chests and braving the bitter weather outside. I watched them leave, one by one, waiting for my grandmother to toddle through the door. I kept a thin thread of hope alive, picturing her rosy cheeks and happy smile.

As my shoulders drop two hours later, I finally resign myself to the fact that she’s not coming.

It’s out of character for her. Something isn’t right.

Trying to stifle the panic that threatens to well up inside me, I hug my favorite red peacoat tighter around my body. It won’t be enough to keep out the cold, but it’s all I have.

Balmy Farcliff, remember? They don’t sell arctic-proof jackets down there. Plus, I was told the weather wasn’t that cold this time of year up here. Google told me a peacoat would be fine.

Um, yeah. Wrong.

It’s not even October. I can only imagine how much worse it’ll get once the real winter hits.

Dragging my small suitcase over to the ticket office window, I bite my lip. A steel roller door has been padlocked over the opening and I haven’t seen anyone come in or out of the office behind it.

Still, I knock. I’ve done it a dozen times already, but maybe someone’s in there. Maybe they were asleep. Or busy. Or deaf.

Who am I kidding? It’s hopeless, but I do it anyway.

Surprise surprise, no one answers.

A few steps down a dingy hallway, I find a door marked ‘Office’. I pound my fist on it as panic rears higher inside me.

Nothing.

I’m alone.

Sucking in a breath, I squeeze my eyes shut.

Stay calm, Rowan. There’s an explanation for this. Maybe she forgot I was arriving today?

I shake my head. I spoke to her this morning. Grandma wouldn’t forget. She has a better memory than I do, and she’s been managing the Summer Palace for over thirty years. Her mind is sharp. She would’ve sent someone to get me if she couldn’t make it to the station herself.

Something is wrong. I can feel it in my bones—although that might just be the cold making my skeleton tremble.

Walking back out to the main station lobby, I take a deep breath. The place looks like it’s about two hundred years old. Thick, stained glass windows are set high in the walls, and crumbling mortar is sandwiched between discolored bricks. The tiled floor has a worn-out strip through the center of the lobby, where passengers have walked from the front door to the platform.

And most importantly, there’s not another soul in here.

Just me and my inadequate jacket.

I could sleep in the train station and wait for the staff to arrive tomorrow morning. That’s probably the safest thing to do, isn’t it? Wait here, where there’s shelter?

Maybe Grandma just got delayed. Maybe she’s on her way, but the storm outside held her up.

I should stay.

But what if she’s just outside? There could be a taxi waiting for me, or a royal vehicle ready to take me to the palace. Or maybe someone outside will be able to help. One of the locals. They could point me in the direction of the palace. Give me a ride. Call a taxi for me. Anything.

A cold draft snakes around my legs, and I curse myself for wearing a dress. My tights may be thick, but they’re no match for the cold. I thought I’d be in a warm train, then a warm car, then a warm castle. This is my first time in Nord since I was an infant, and my only chance to make a good first impression. Dress to impress, they say.

Ha.

Dress to freeze to death, more likely.

If I stay in the lobby, will I even survive the night? I lift my chin and exhale, watching my breath dissipate in a white puff before me.

It’s frigid in here.

I need to find some help. Looking at the door, I make a decision. I’m braving the storm.

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