Authors: Nicole Snow
Content copyright © Nicole Snow. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America.
First published in July, 2016.
The following ebook is a work of fiction. Any resemblance characters in this story may have to real people is only coincidental.
this author's hard work! No section of this book may be reproduced or copied without permission. Exception for brief quotations used in reviews or promotions. This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. Thanks!
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McGrath – Kevin Does Art. Photo by Allan Spiers Photography.
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This special edition includes the complete billionaire romance novel, Stepbrother Charming, as a special bonus. Prince With Benefits ends about halfway through. Enjoy!
E BOUGHT A WIFE
. I BOUGHT INTO MAKE BELIEVE...
Cinderella had it easy. I'm lying to millions of people, and it's all Silas' fault.
Silas. Billionaire. Prince. Scandals galore. Downright royal bastard.
Everything that screams run. If only it weren't for his rock hard edges and wild tattoos, tempting anything female on all seven continents.
But I don't care about his looks.
Our deal is simple. He needs a pretty little lie, a wife to cover up his dirty deeds. I need a fortune to buy the treatment that just might save my father's life.
Match made in hell? Totally, and I'm going to make it work.
No, I'm not stupid. I'm not getting played by this billionaire prince. Forget his banter, his charms, the rumors I've heard about his ridiculously over-sized...ego.
What's that phrase he teases me with - Prince with benefits? Not in a billion years.
Yes, I'll lie for him. But I swear, my panties are absolutely, positively
melting every time I imagine his kiss...
It's almost perfect. An engagement with an American girl, desperate as she is beautiful. Anything goes with Erin, except one rule.
Her body's off limits. She's joking, right?
Charming any girl I want into my bed doesn't mean a thing when there's only one on my mind.
I want Miss Make Believe. My fake, sassy, sexy fiancee. She, who says 'no,' and makes me so obsessed I'm about to trade in my designer suit for a straitjacket.
I convinced her to wear my ring, easy. I'll get her clothes off next. Show her what the world's most infamous player does when he's on fire. Then I'll move on.
No more playing castle. I'll have my Princess with benefits on her knees, treating me like royalty...
, I know American reporters, and their little interns. I've worked with plenty. You think you can get away with anything as soon as the cameras roll, but let me remind you again. We have rules. No flash, no interruptions, and absolutely
unauthorized social media. His Highness keeps a very strict media presence, and it's my privilege to enforce it.”
How I stopped myself from rolling my eyes at this pompous, self-absorbed bitch, I'll never know.
Serena Hastings flips her long blonde hair back, giving me the stink eye one last time, before she moves through the gaggle of media and finally takes her seat.
Eyeballing the stage, I'm wondering if I made a huge mistake taking my summer off campus to come to Saint Moore.
It's my father's crowning career achievement, though. An interview with Prince Silas Erik Bearington the Third.
It isn't hard to understand dad's excitement. It's taken his whole life to get here, and I'm just along for the ride. A very hellish, testing-my-patience-every-damned-day kind of ride.
From the brutal jet lag flying from LA across the Atlantic, to the correspondence dinners where I have to be on my best behavior to avoid embarrassing him, to the constant entourage around the palace who think they're sent by God...sweet Jesus.
Now, I'm sitting here in these stupid heels that are
too tight, wishing for a miracle. What comes next dwarfs
, dad said. He told me he'd show me how it's done. I wanted to follow in his footsteps, didn't I?
When the lighting adjusts and a hot, narrow beam shines on my face, pulling sweat from my pores, I really have to wonder what the hell I've gotten myself into.
Of course, dad isn't even sweating before his interview with Prince Playboy himself begins. Yes,
The twenty-something, six foot and then some giant who's scandalized several continents. The Prince who's brought the tabloids and dirty blogs more gossip than a hundred celebrity wardrobe malfunctions.
He, who my friends used to swoon over during late night truth-or-dare sessions in our freshmen year dorm, putting him at the top of most eligible celeb bachelors they'd love to have between the sheets. A man I've never been able to stand, much less crush on. A living argument against any country having kings and Queens in modern times, when all they're likely to get out of it are media scoundrels.
Prince Charming, Prince Skirt Chaser, Prince Hung, and a thousand other names.
The Prince, the bastard, the legend.
“One minute, Mister Warwick!” the camera man shouts to my father as he climbs up onto the stage, taking one of the two empty chairs beneath the halo.
The other, with the gold and burgundy back, is reserved for the devil himself. I wonder if he's going to walk into this interview late, and throw my dad one more complication.
That would be just like him, wouldn't it? It's not like he takes this Prince thing seriously. It's just the world's biggest license to be a dick, to drink and fuck himself stupid every chance he gets. That's what the blogs have told me, anyway.
None of it fazes dad, ever the professional. He sits up there in his finest suit, his silver hair slicked back, the same prim smile on his lips that I've seen him use in a hundred interviews growing up.
It's the look that makes me wonder if I'm really cut out to follow in his footsteps. He's wearing the calm, measured, controlled mask I've tried to don before, and failed every time.
I don't have to wonder long because there's new commotion surging through the room. The door off to the side opens, and in walks four strong men in designer suits, the Bearington family crest pinned to their lapels in royal purple and gold. It's a double-headed eagle holding a crown.
A taller, younger, stronger man steps out between them. They part like water, making way for His Highness.
My heart skips a beat. It's him. For real.
Prince Silas, arriving in all his smug, unwavering, damnably sexy glory.
Okay, so maybe the SOB really is what they say in the looks department. If I had any doubt, it's blown to pieces, now that he's quickly stepping toward the stage, taking the five stairs up in two big strides.
My father stands respectfully, extending a hand. The Prince takes it, towering over him by nearly a whole foot, and dad isn't a short guy.
“Charmed, Mister Warwick.” The Prince has that foreign, not-quite-English accent everybody in the kingdom does, except his is somehow thicker, more refined.
“It's my honor, Your Highness. I've been looking forward to this for a long time,” dad says, nodding.
“Twenty seconds!” Another cameraman roars out, flinching for a second in the hopes that his interruption hasn't upset the Prince.
Based on what I've read, I don't think that's even possible. Nothing upsets him. He basks in every scandal and fresh jab the media takes at him like they're triumphs.
They both take their seats across from each other. I can't believe they look so casual, like it's the most natural thing in the world, when there's so much on the line.
If dad pulls this off, he's going to be seen by billions over the next week. Serena, bitch that she is, has reminded us since day one that the Royal Press Corps is looking for a new American correspondent. And with rumors swirling about how much longer Queen Marina will continue to rule before passing the crown to her grandson, my father could be front and center at the Bearington's wild court for a very long time to come.
As for the Prince, it's his time to shine with something besides his dick. It's no secret the world's been holding its breath, waiting for him to shape up, and act like a statesman for one of the wealthiest countries in the world. A future King.
Saint Moore is virtually the last monarchy in Europe where the ruler is more than just a figurehead. For fifty years, Queen Marina has rallied her country to good causes and swayed more than a few votes in their parliament, even if she's been very respectful of democracy.
As for Prince Hung – who knows? He's taken his pleasure demonstrating all the things he'll do with modern day concubines throwing themselves at him. Not politics.
Cameras roll. Dad looks into the closest one confidently, and begins to speak.
“Welcome to this special edition of the Warwick Report, ladies and gentleman. Today, I'm coming to you from the Kingdom of Saint Moore, where I'm sitting down with a man who needs no introduction.” He pauses, three seconds, just long enough to let everybody tuning in remember the insanity that surrounds everything Silas. “Prince Silas Erik Bearington, heir to the island's throne, one of the most powerful, scandalized, and adventurous men in the world.”
“Tom, you flatter me too much,” Silas says, that wicked smirk above his chiseled jaw pointing up like pitchfork ends. “Let's get it on, shall we?”
“Absolutely, Your Highness,” dad says. If he's rattled at all by the Prince's need to control the conversation, he doesn't show it. “You're recently back in the kingdom after completing your duty in the Royal Marines, serving in Afghanistan. Tell me, sir, how has that experience changed you? I think everyone was surprised to hear about a Bearington Prince flying into an active combat zone. Thankfully, on our side, this time.”
The Prince smiles. Smug as ever, but a little darkly.
“Yes, we always did like to play both sides, up until the Second World War. It's been good for me, Tom. Reminds me why I'm really here, next in line to the crown, how fortunate I am to be born into this royal lineage. There's pride in serving a man's kingdom, and beyond. I'd never imagined Afghanistan until I stepped foot there. Some truly awful circumstances, just beyond our borders. Life and death. War. Poverty. Terrorism. A lot more exciting than who's wearing last year's style at the next big charity ball, I'm sure you can imagine. Also, a much bigger challenge for me, and I
“Oh, yes,” dad says, returning the Prince's smile. “They called you a hero in the press after Kandahar. Said you single-handedly thwarted a terrorist attack on an allied base, saving your own troops and dozens more from several different countries, including the United States. What really happened?”
“Please. The media embellishes everything. ” Silas shakes his head, waving it all away, pushing his stern hand through the air. The perfectly tailored gray suit he's wearing fits him like a glove, exposing more of that powerful body each time he moves, even subtly. “I gave the orders, sure, as soon as I saw them creeping up on our base. Still took everyone in uniform that day to stop the attack, to swarm out and hit them at the right moment, before the suicide bomber could plow through the main gate and do God knows what.”
Dad straightens in his seat. I can tell by the look on his face that things are about to get serious. The tension in the palace room thickens, and even the ornate ceilings soaring into the air can't hold it.
God, I wish I'd picked different shoes. These heels are totally
“That's a very modest account for those who know you, Your Highness,” dad says. “Some might say unnaturally modest. More like the kind of attitude a future King should have, rather than the playboy Prince.”
“Look, Tom, we all know what's bound to happen one day. Truth is, any talk about it now is shoveling Her Majesty in her grave while she's still very much alive and kicking ass.” Prince Silas pauses, the dimples in his cheeks deepening. He knows he's about to blow his carefully crafted tact.
Several people behind me suppress snickers. A woman coughs. I'm trying to pay attention to the interview, read dad's body language, to see how he's going to handle things if they take a nasty turn.
But damn, I can't take my eyes off Silas' face. Those deep blue eyes of his betray nothing, perfect royal compliments to his dark black hair, and a day's worth of shadowy stubble on his chin that probably makes every woman in the room wonder what it feels like against their skin.
“Certainly, Your Highness. We all hope Queen Marina will be around for another hundred years, but you and I both know what's realistic.” Dad pauses, the confident smile on his face disappearing.
He swallows something hard in his throat. “Frankly, you have people in your own kingdom saying you may be the last Prince, and your grandmother could well be its final Queen. They want a referendum once she's gone. That could mean trouble in a time when royals are an endangered species all over Europe, and indeed, the world. Let me just come out and ask – are you trying to
“Really, Tom? You think my bloodline needs saving from a joke protest movement like Republic First?” Silas' dark blue eyes storm angry, full of disbelief. “The Bearingtons have ruled this island for over a thousand years. We'll do it again for a thousand more, when we can all drive across bridges to Scotland and Iceland. We've kept our people safe in war and guided them into the modern age with wealth, class, and good sense. I know that might be difficult for someone like you to understand, when your own government has barely been around for three hundred years.”
Dad's chest swells as he quietly inhales a big breath. He sinks back in his chair, his hands tightly folded in his lap, staring at the Prince.
What's going on? He isn't...offended? No, too unprofessional.
But I've never seen him shaken in an interview like this. I can't believe it's happening because he's face-to-face with this Royal Prick.
Prince Silas senses it, too. The tension in his face softens, and he looks at my father, cocking his head ever-so-slightly. “Tom, you're just asking the tough questions, and I appreciate it. That's why I agreed to this interview personally. Let's move on, shall we? You've got plenty of ammo left, I'm sure. Ask me about the latest supermodel I'm bedding, or the hot new custom sports car I've added to my stable. I just broke in one of those things yesterday. We both know how history and politics gets damned boring.”
Silas has a huge grin on his face. I can't tell if he's joking, trying to ease the tension, or if he's just in a mad rush to deflect more questions about the kingdom's future.
Dad doesn't give up that easily, even when his subject is getting pissed. I wonder if he'll press on with the same questions, or circle back to them later, after he's probed the bastard Prince a little more.
For the first time in my life, I'm not sure who'll crack first.
He doesn't do either. Instead, he grabs the sides of his chair, his hands visibly shaking.
Jesus. Something's wrong.
Stiffening in my seat, I watch him lean forward, reaching for something that isn't there. The shadows shift around him, changing the bright light.
For the first time, I notice he's completely drenched in sweat, the collar around his jacket stained wet.
Time to panic. Several murmurs run through the crowd.
The Prince stands up at the same time I do, and he sees me, several rows behind the other journalists. Our eyes lock for one intense second. We share our confusion, dismay, and utter shock before dad rolls out of his chair and goes crashing down on the podium.
Everybody jumps out of their seat, searching for a better view, chattering away. Cameras snap, hyenas feasting on daddy's suffering. Several swarms of guards flood the stage, surrounding my father and the Prince, one carrying a small white box with a red cross on its side.
I can't see what's happening. My heart races, and I try to push forward, shuffling through the purple rope separating the media from the interview stage.
The kingdom's official cameras have got to be off by now. Even if they aren't, it's too late to worry about embarrassing myself or my dad any further, when he's up there seizing up, sick or dying or maybe both.
I don't bother with the tiny staircase. I move right past it before anybody can notice and haul me away. My hands clench the edge of the podium, and I pull myself up, cursing the skirt I'm wearing for tangling up when my leg finally gets enough leverage.