Home > The Billionaire Prince's Single Mother

The Billionaire Prince's Single Mother
Author: Leslie North

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Prince Aldon pulled his Jag through the gates of Thistledown Castle. It felt good to be alone behind the wheel of his luxury sports car, listening to his playlist as loud as he wanted, where nobody—not his family, not reporters—could bother him with a barrage of questions about his runaway bride. As he wound down the cobblestone drive, the countryside castle that was his inheritance loomed into view. Its stained-glass window reflected shards of sunlight, and its gray-green stone stood out against the endless blue of the summer sky. The grounds were impeccably kept, boasting colorful flowers and shrubbery.

Judging from the exterior, whoever was taking care of the place was doing a bang-up job.

Being that the castle was his and that he’d planned to make it their forever home once he and his could-have-been wife were ready to settle down, he should have felt pleased.

But he didn’t.

He grimaced as he put the car into park.

As lovely as the countryside and castle were, he just wasn’t in the mood to feel pleased about anything. None of this—not the unexpected jaunt to Thistledown Valley and especially not the ruin of his two-year relationship with Carrie—had been part of his plans.

He had to admit that his engagement to socialite Carrie Simmons had been a gamble. She was used to a jet-set lifestyle, filled with travel and excitement, where he had always preferred a quieter vibe. Being raised as one of the social elite, Carrie’s upbringing had taken her all over the world. She was used to visiting island resorts in Bali and frequenting the hottest Parisian clubs, staying in luxury hotels, enjoying spa packages and the most exclusive suites. Because of all the travel she expected, Aldon had given up his hopes for an academic career in economics. Once their relationship had begun in earnest, his father had appointed both himself and Carrie global ambassadors of Sovalon, so they traveled together and developed relationships with leaders worldwide.

It all had made him very tired. While he couldn’t claim he was exactly pleased to be here, part of him thought that this retreat was long overdue. And if he had to hide out anywhere, he could do much worse than here. As much as he was broken-hearted to have found out about Carrie’s affair with a famous actor, ten years her junior, at least he had somewhere to hide out for a while. He planned on spending his time here at Thistledown Valley with his head in a few finance and budgeting texts. Perhaps now that Carrie had decided to pursue her destiny as a cougar, he would jump back into his first love—economics—and get back to work on his post-graduate degree.

His ex-fiancée could take the few days she’d requested to box up her things and move them out of his plush city-center condo, while he immersed himself in the quiet of the countryside. A taste of regret filled his mouth at the thought of Carrie, professionally done blond hair—augmented with hundreds of dollars-worth of extensions—movie-star sunglasses, and chemically whitened teeth, giving orders to his staff about what to pack and where to put it, texting her new beau while being carted around in his limo.

Damn her for cheating. How selfish of her! Anger bubbled inside his veins.

She’d ruined everything.

He wished he could make himself believe that they were never a good match, that he was better off without her. He could tell himself that she was self-centered, vain. It was at least partially true. She’d been spoiled, no doubt. She’d had a lifetime of always getting exactly what she wanted, and it had blinded her to the idea that there were some things she couldn’t have, or at least some things she couldn’t do. But underneath the decadence, she still had all the qualities that had made her such an ideal match. She was beautiful and charming, clever and poised. He’d always been proud to have her on his arm, in his life. He’d believed they fit well together. It hadn’t been a love match for the ages, but so what? She’d been a partner he could rely on, and that was better than what most people had. The destruction of that trust had been the toughest blow when he’d learned about her affair.

At least the press hadn’t caught wind of the details of the break-up. They’d certainly published pics of Carrie and her new man having brunch and doing other innocuous things, but an affair was only speculation at this point. There was no proof yet. His father had done a quick sweep of all the juicy bits and had made sure his team put a lockdown on the real reason the wedding was being “postponed,” as the public version of the story went. So when Carrie needed the penthouse to herself for a few days, he couldn’t stay anywhere in the capital. Not when everyone there would expect him to continue playing the role of the happy bridegroom. Thistledown Valley was the only place he could think of where he could go and brood in private, away from the public eye.

He killed the engine and exited the car, taking a deep breath of the country air into his lungs. This respite would be good for him. He hadn’t visited Thistledown Valley in years, and the sprawling estate was the perfect place to hunker down and nurse his wounds before making his way back into the spotlight of royal life.

Aldon popped the trunk and eyed his bags. It had been a long time since he’d unloaded his luggage on his own. Again, a splinter of annoyance stabbed at him, as he thought of his staff, aiding Carrie with her move.

“Might be nice to do things for myself for a change,” he muttered under his breath and dug the bags out of the car, struck by the intense quiet of his surroundings. Other than the occasional birdsong or buzz of a bee, it was silent here. An air of peace fell over him.

Also quite nice for a change.

Just then his cell phone buzzed.

“Aldon here,” he said into the phone.

“Prince Aldon, it’s Laila.”

Why was the aide to his personal assistant calling? She sounded rather flustered.

“Yes, Laila?”

“Prince Aldon, I am so, so sorry!”

“Sorry?”

“Yes, on behalf of the entire staff, I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For not thinking to send staff out ahead of you, sir.” The young woman was out-of-breath. “You’re out there in Thistlytown—”

“Um, it’s Thistledown, Laila.”

“Yes, yes, Thistledown, sorry, it’s just I’ve never actually even heard of the place, you know?”

Aldon’s patience was waning. What was the purpose of Laila’s rambling call?

“We all feel just awful that you’re there all alone, having to worry about your bags and the bedding and the meals… oh, dear! The meals!”

Aldon rolled his eyes.

“Laila, please, it’s really fine,” he reassured the twittering young aide. “I’m completely able to take care of myself out here, and if I need anything, I’m sure the caretaker will get me squared away. In fact, I think I’ll quite enjoy the time alone.”

“Nevertheless, sir, a temporary valet is being vetted and will hopefully arrive soon for you,” she said. “Oh, sir, I’m so, so terribly sorry for your troubles. We’ll have the valet there as soon as possible.”

Was the woman crying? She sounded like it.

“No hurry, really,” Aldon continued. “My biggest concern is that my staff put their best effort into getting Carrie… situated in her new living space.” In other words, get her out of the condo ASAP.

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