Page 41

“For Christ’s sakes, it’s what’s best for the country,” I counter.

Lenora takes not an ounce of their shit.

“I will not have half my subjects under the thumb of the other. Not while I am Queen. This law will open up skill sets and opportunities to women that men have always exclusively enjoyed. It’s a step toward equality.”

She stares them down.

“That’s all for today. Vote well, my Lords. And remember these folders . . . I know I will.”

She turns and takes my arm, and together we walk out the door.

I escort the Queen to her office. Quickly. Wanting to toss her over my shoulder and carry her off like a Neanderthal back to his cave.

I slam the office door behind us and lock it—and then we attack each other, all twisting, grasping limbs, kneading hands, worshiping mouths and gasping breaths.

I lift her onto the desk and step between her pretty spread legs.

“You were amazing,” I say, and kiss her hard and long, thrusting into her mouth with my tongue.

Then I pull her pink dress over her head and toss it on the floor. Giving me an eyeful of her pristine tits, hidden only by a brassiere, and lace knickers and garters that I want to shred with my teeth.

“It felt amazing,” she pants, kissing my chest, my chin—anywhere she can reach.

“I’m so proud of you.” I dip my head, laving the globes of her breasts, sucking on her rosy nipples. “You didn’t even blush when you said cock to the Advising Council. Twice.”

Gripping her arms, I stand Lenny up and spin her around. Kissing her neck, her back, bracing her hands flat on her desk—bending her over just right.

I tug my trousers down and tear her lace knickers . . . and I groan when I drag my cock through her slit and feel how slick and hot she already is for me.

“I’m going to have to come up with filthier words to make you blush now.”

She giggles like a vixen, glancing over her shoulder—her silver eyes wide and curious.

“There are filthier words?”

Grinning, I hold her steady at her hip—and thrust into her tight, silken pussy that was made for me to fuck.

“Always,” I rasp against her hair. “There’s always filthier, love.”

Two months later

Palace of Wessco

While the Americans in the States have their Thanksgiving, here in Wessco, we have the Autumn Pass in mid-October. It’s part harvest festival, part patriotic celebration—to commemorate the feast after the final battle that earned Wessco her independence.

There are parties and fairs, the banks are closed and the palace gates are opened, and the monarch gives a rowdy speech from a platform in the front courtyard that’s televised live.

Last night, Lenora practiced her speech for me . . . while my head was buried between her thighs and my tongue did its best work to distract her. She moaned, gasped and screamed it—but she knew the speech inside and out.

But now, the courtyard’s packed with people and Lenny’s up on the platform, looking ghastly pale. One good gust of the brisk breeze might blow her right the fuck over.

I grab Winston by the arm. “Something’s wrong with her. I’m going to bring her inside—make sure the path is clear.”

He nods and I move up the stairs to the Queen’s side.

“And, we would like to . . .” She closes her eyes, and even her lashes seem ashen.

I lean over and speak into the microphone. “To thank each of you for coming out today, to enjoy the fall celebration! Happy Autumn Pass, everyone!”

There’s a swell of applause and Lenny rests her head against my arm. I turn us toward the side entrance to the palace and she whispers weakly, “Please get me inside.”

I keep my arm around her back, rubbing slow circles and guiding her toward the door. “Easy now, love. I’ve got you.”

And I do have her—my hold is firm and strong. But that doesn’t matter.

Because no sooner are we over the threshold than Lenora’s knees give out and her eyes roll back. I catch her before she falls, but she’s fainted away in my arms.


Fear is cold, and brutal. It stops your heart, freezes your blood and tells you you’ll never be warm again. It claws up from your stomach and lodges in your throat.

“Get the doctor, now! Lenora!”

I don’t know how long I sit outside the infirmary while the doctor is with her, but it feels like fucking days. The others are here—advisors and secretaries and that moron Prime Minister, Bumblewood.

I don’t talk to them—I don’t talk at all. I sit and I pace . . . and I pray.

Because I think about Thomas and how fast he got sick, how quickly he went. And in my mind, I keep seeing him, in his bed with that sheet lying still over his face. Not moving, or breathing. Just gone.

I grind my palms into my eye sockets, trying to push the picture from my brain. But it holds tight.

Finally, the doctor emerges . . . and heads straight toward the Prime Minister.

My long strides get to him first, blocking his way.

“Tell him one word about my wife’s condition before you tell me and I’ll rip your tongue out and strangle you with it.”

The doctor closes his mouth. And nods.

I guide him to the corner, away from the flock of vultures.

“What’s wrong with her? Is she ill? Will she recover? What does she need?”

His smile is infuriatingly fucking calm.

“Her Majesty is dehydrated.”

All right—water. Not so bad. Lenny needs to drink more water.

“And exhausted,” the doctor says.

Damn, that’s my fault. Of course she’s exhausted. She’s got an insatiable bastard of a husband who keeps her up all night, doing everything in bed but sleeping.

“And she’s slightly anemic,” the doctor adds.

Iron. She needs iron—red meat has iron.

“I’ve given her some supplements and orders to rest.”

I nod and nod—while looking out the window, searching for the best spot to graze the cattle I plan to buy immediately.

“Queen Lenora is expecting, Prince Edward.”

My brain stops short. And the whole world freezes in time. For a moment I don’t move; I’m not sure I even breathe.

“Expecting? You mean a baby? She’s having a baby?” I point to myself. “Our baby?”

The old man smiles broader, chuckling, and nods.

“Not today, but yes. Congratulations.”

Holy hell. It shouldn’t be a shock, not with the way I’ve been at her, but still it is. I laugh—stupidly giddy, and fucking cocksure proud.

“Thank you, Doctor.”

I grab his hand and smack his back, even though I’ve never liked the tosser. But I like him now because he’s given me the best news I’ve ever heard in my whole life.

I like everyone right now. But I like Lenny most of all.

So I run in to see her as fast as I can. And I scoop her up from the bed—set her in my lap—and kiss the daylights out of my pregnant wife.

I THOUGHT I UNDERSTOOD maternal instinct—that base, primal urge to protect your future, your legacy. It’s what I felt for the public the first day I wore the crown. I wanted to care for them, provide for them, watch them grow strong and become all I knew they could be.

I still feel that way. But those emotions are just a shadow of what I feel for this child growing within me. The first months were . . . sick and draining. Edward would rub my back as I vomited into a bag in the backseat of the car, and then I had to rinse my mouth and negotiate with some foreign leader. It was perfect misery.