Home > His Forbidden Princess (Dirty Royals #3)

His Forbidden Princess (Dirty Royals #3)
Author: Vivian Wood

1

 

 

Erik

 

 

“For fuck’s sake,” I grumble to myself. “Tonight will never end.”

My eyes travel over the crowd and to the ceiling of the event space; for the King’s engagement announcement party, the ballroom has been decorated lavishly. The walls are adorned with trailing ivy and beautiful cascades of white blooms. Every table has a cluster of white flowers as the centerpiece. Waiters swish by me with trays of colorful cocktails named after Stellan and Margot. And overhead, a thousand glass orbs hang, each flickering with a white candle.

Everyone Stellan has ever known is packed into the large space, milling about and talking in little clumps. I notice a few waiters discreetly pulling discarded plates off tables. The time for eating has long since come and gone; soon Stellan and Margot will leave the party and then I can depart too.

Running a finger underneath my bowtie, I sigh. I can’t wait for this royal party to be over so I can be anywhere but here.

I keep my eyes on Stellan’s dark head, trying to gauge how much longer he will remain here. This party is to celebrate the announcement of his engagement to his beautiful pink-haired fiancée Margot. Right now, they stand in the middle of an adoring crowd looking like nothing so much as a wedding cake topper. Even now, I can see Stellan and Margot as they move through the crowd.

He’s tall, dark, and handsome in his tuxedo. She’s a tiny fairy of a person, pink-haired and wearing a pink dress. Her hand rests on his arm, his hand curls protectively around her waist. They keep looking at each other with these sneaky little grins. They are the center of their own blissful little universe.

And the way they gaze at each other and smile as they trade touches…

It makes me sort of wistful and a little bit jealous. I want someone to look at me the way that Margot looks at Stellan. I see hope and excitement and jubilance on her face.

It would be disgusting if it weren’t so damn wholesome.

I’m over it. And this party… Everyone who is anyone here in Denmark turned out dressed to the nines, all to kiss the rings of the King and his future Queen.

Standing in the corner of the ballroom, I lean against the wall and clutch a tumbler of scotch. The expansive room is packed, everyone milling around, waiting for a chance to shake the new King Stellan’s hand. Everywhere I look, symbols of opulent wealth are practically shoved down my throat.

The swish of expensive fabric. Men in their bespoke tuxedos, women in glittering ballgowns. Towering high heels, glittering jewelry, the floral scent of incredibly expensive perfume. The flush of young women when their randy husbands lean in to tell them just what’s planned for their private afterparties.

There is unimaginable privilege is in this room tonight. Almost everyone present was just born into the lap of luxury. They’ve never had to struggle for a damn thing.

After so many years, it still makes me silently seethe.

I wasn’t born to this life. I’ve lived it secondhand, mostly because King Stellan needed a confidante and I was deemed good enough.

As the newly crowned King’s best friend and private secretary, I’m watching the crowd as they mix and mingle. Stellan has had his head in the clouds lately, living in an alternate reality from the rest of the world. One where his new fiancée Margot is his sun and stars… and everything else is just not worthy of his attention.

Stellan looks back at Margot, his expression enraptured. He isn’t worried about anything else going on around him. But just because Stellan is on semi-permanent vacation from being the new king doesn’t mean I get to slack off.

I drain the last of my glass and try not to look as bored as I feel.

Lars Løve comes ambling over to me, looking like a crooked photocopy of Stellan. He’s Stellan’s brother, one of the five Løve siblings. His dark hair is messy and a little too long. The collar of his tux is open at the throat, his bowtie nowhere to be seen. “There you are. We missed you at dinner.”

Leaning over to a table, I set down my empty glass. “We?”

He squints. “You know. Me, Pippa… other people.”

Pippa is his beautiful, elegant will-they-or-won’t-they girl. It’s always been that way, ever since he and the gorgeous redhead met in eighth grade.

I cast an eye over him. “I was in here, being lectured by Sarah from the royal press office. She didn’t like it when I told her that Stellan was going to have to cut down his daily engagements.”

Lars makes a face. “That sounds wretched.”

I nod. “It was, mostly.” Glancing around, my brow furrows. “Where’s Pippa?”

He grunts. “Damned if I know. The last time I saw her, she was flirting with some loser in an overpriced tux.”

I narrow my eyes at his comment. “Are you talking about yourself? Because you wear easily twenty thousand pounds more than anybody else in the room. You and all your siblings have that in common, my friend.”

“Shut up. You act like you’re not wearing a bespoke tux yourself.” Lars snags a glass of champagne off a tray, sipping it coolly. He nods across the room to a group of people surrounding Stellan and Margot. “They seem very happy.”

I look at Stellan, who keeps grinning at Margot like a total fool. It makes me happy for him, even as it turns my stomach.

That kind of love is not for me, just like so many aspects of Stellan’s life. I’m the dutiful best friend, not actual royalty. That has been made crystal clear to me time and time again, ever since we were children.

“They do look happy,” I say.

Lars’s lips twitch. “So, do you think they will last?”

I look at him with a surprised expression. “Why would it not?”

He shrugs, pursing his lips. “It’s just fast, that’s all.”

I roll my eyes. “Says the man that met the perfect girl before he was even in high school.”

Lars frowns. “Pippa and I are friends. Nothing more than that.”

I chuckle. “Ja, okay. Whatever you have to tell yourself. I’ve seen you two together, Lars.”

He shoots me a glare. “My love life is private. I don’t see you parading any new relationships around either, my friend.”

My lips curve up. “No. I’m not Stellan. I’m the stable hand’s son. I can’t break the rules about class and date whoever I want. I can’t just think that everything will be fine. I’m not royalty.” My lips curl. “But I spend all my time with you lot, so I don’t meet a ton of girls that are actually attainable.”

His brows rise as he looks at me. “What does class have to do with anything? You’re practically one of the royal family. I bet there are a dozen girls here tonight that would kill to get into your bed.”

I press my lips together to avoid frowning. Instead of responding to that, I just look away. His comment was well-meant… but it was also naive. It just goes to show that he is definitely privileged in a way that few others could ever be.

A flash of movement catches my eye. A beautiful young blonde in an extravagant red ballgown storms into the room, her light blue eyes fixed on something out of my line of sight.

Annika.

I stare at her for a second, taking in her haughty posture and bright red lips. She’s obscenely beautiful, with her waif-like figure and her elegantly pinned up hair.

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