Authors: Elizabeth Lennox
Escaping a Royal Wedding
The Royal Cordova Trilogy:
Escaping A Royal Wedding
Princess Anastasia and Prince Erik meet and fall in love, they just don’t realize it’s with each other!
The Man’s Outrageous Demands
Sam and Princess Marabeth meet and sparks fly, arguments flame up and disagreements are…
Mistress To The Prince
Tara’s a commoner, Max is a prince – how can the two worlds become one?
“I can’t believe you’re asking me to sell my body like this!” Princess Anastasia Elisia Marquenda said, almost in a whisper. She was trying to maintain a sense of dignity but was furious with her family all the same. The previously perfect start to her day was ruined. Pushing a frustrated hand through her thick, titian hair, she tried to remain calm, or at least present the image of serenity. It was extremely difficult under the circumstances though.
Anastasia tried to keep the panic out of her voice but she knew she was failing miserably. “Why, mother?”
Queen Natasha smiled gently at her furious daughter. “First of all, I’d like to mention how lovely you look in that color of green. It brings out your blue eyes and gives your skin a bit of color. As for the current topic, Ana, you’ve known about this
,” she said, stressing the word, “practically all your life. I don’t understand why your engagement party and wedding date being announced is such a shock to you,” Anastasia’s mother said calmly, the epitome of grace under fire. “You should have been expecting it after all these years.”
Her mother was right. She had known about her betrothal since she was five years old. But she’d always expected to be married as soon as she turned twenty one. So five years later, still being unmarried, she’d assumed her “fiancé” had forgotten about the arrangement. Sadly, the announcement of her wedding date only moments ago had taken her by surprise. She’d have to think quickly. Somehow, she’d have to gain more time. The wedding date was proposed for three weeks in the future.
“Why the sudden wedding? What happened to long engagements? Why does the wedding have to be so soon?” Ana said, forcing a calm, even tone to her voice, knowing that her parents would respond better to reason than panic.
Her mother nodded in understanding. “I agree. It does seem to be a bit of a rush. But that’s because King Alexander is in ailing health. Prince Erik will have to take over the crown sooner than expected.”
Her mother’s explanation terrified her even more because it made sense. Rumor’s of King Alexander’s health had been all over the news lately. Shaking her head in an effort to eliminate the reason, she said, “That shouldn’t impact me! I didn’t make the man sick. Why should I be punished?”
Ana wanted to scream and stomp her feet, but years of manners and training at controlling her temper kept her from showing her emotions. The only indications of her true feelings were her fists clenched at her sides, but the white linen table cloth hid them from view, as well as the anger showing in her blue eyes. “Mother, I’m twenty six years old. I was supposed to be married five years ago. I thought he’d forgotten about that silly betrothal contract. So yes, it is quite a shock to all of a sudden have my wedding date announced in the papers.” After a long moment of silence, she turned to face her mother, the anger now apparent on her gentle features. “I wasn’t even consulted!” she said, fighting back angry tears as she pushed her long red hair off her shoulder impatiently. “This is ridiculous. I can’t believe I’m the victim of an arranged marriage. It is too archaic.”
The queen again smiled, wishing her daughter wasn’t so upset about something that had been arranged at her birth. “Darling, that’s the way it is in most royal families. Even your younger sister was betrothed at birth.”
Anastasia kept from shuddering at the reminder of her sister’s fiancé, but only barely. “Yes, and Marabeth isn’t very satisfied with her future either, I can tell you that,” she said without thinking. Ana took a long, deep breath, trying to gain control of her emotions again. “Mother, you can’t really think I’d be happy with that man, can you?”
The queen hid a smile from her daughter, knowing it would only increase her fury. “I’m guessing you’re referring to Prince Erik?”
Ana clenched her fists tighter. “Has the subject spontaneously changed and I haven’t kept up? Of course I’m talking about him.”
Her mother nodded, unmoved by her daughter’s outburst. “I can’t imagine what you find so offensive about the man,” she said diplomatically. “He’s extremely handsome, tall, a wonderful dancer which I’ve experienced myself, a strong military man, which I haven’t experienced, thank goodness, and he’ll be a wonderful ruler over a beautiful country. Why can’t you say his name, dear?”
Ana drummed her manicured fingernails against the white linen tablecloth impatiently. “Because the sound of it is too annoying. I’ve read about his exploits in the gossip columns too often over the past several years. I don’t want to have to think about him,” she sniffed and took a delicate sip of the still hot coffee. “The situation is bad enough without saying his awful name out loud.”
The queen put a calming hand over Ana’s hand to stop the drumming. Looking her in the eye, she asked, “What are you angrier about? The fact that the man has had a few beautiful mistresses? Or that you’re going to be married to him next month?’
Ana pulled herself up regally in the chair and rubbed her forehead. “I don’t know. I resent the fact that he can go out and do just about anything he wants whereas I have so many restrictions placed on everything I do it is like being in a prison.”
Natasha’s face showed her shock. “But you went to college dear. That’s more than what was expected of you. Finishing school would have been perfectly acceptable.”
Ana’s crystal blue eyes looked into the green ones of her mother. “Thank you for educating me and letting me know what I can’t have. I don’t know if it is worse; knowing what’s out there and what I want to do, or not knowing what the possibilities are.”
“What would you like to do that you can’t do as a princess here at home, or as the Queen of Montbain?”
Ana bit her lip, wondering if she could tell her mother what she really wanted to do. Her mother was understanding and seemed to have the ability to influence her father the way no one else could. Did she dare? Looking into her mother’s concerned face, she decided to express her desires. Perhaps it would delay the wedding for a few more years. Maybe completely? “I’d like to go to law school and become a lawyer. I know it isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but I like the intricacies of law.”
Natasha smiled and put her jeweled hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Ana, you have an incredible mind and I’m sure if you started using it, you’d understand that your dreams don’t have to be forgotten.”
With that, her mother stood up gracefully and glided across the room. “Don’t forget that we leave for Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning. Rose is already packing your bags but you’ll need to supervise. There will be engagements and obligations, not to mention a meeting with your future husband tomorrow night. You have been avoiding that for years. Tomorrow night you will be expected to join him at dinner regardless of whatever ailments suddenly fall upon your shoulders, young lady,” her mother admonished before stepping out of the room.
Ana watched her mother cross the room and wished she could be as graceful and confident. Once she was alone, she stood up and walked to the window, staring out into the bright morning sunshine. The gardens outside her suite of rooms were just starting to blossom with the early spring flowers and she wished she could just climb out of her window and lay down in the fragrant earth, forgetting about her problems and the urgency of her upcoming nuptials. But the windows were bullet proof and sealed against intruders.
She was so wrapped up in her own misery, she didn’t hear the door to her suite open and close. “Annie, which do you think would be better? The orange or the pink?” Marabeth, Ana’s younger sister by two years, asked as she walked into Ana’s room.
Ana turned and almost grimaced at the two dresses her sister was holding up. Marabeth had red hair, just as Ana did and both colors would clash violently with her hair. “I’m guessing George will be there tomorrow night?” Ana asked, referring to Marabeth’s fiancé.
Marabeth smiled broadly. “You betcha. I have to look my best, mother said. So which do you think would do the trick?” she asked, holding both dresses up to her face in turn.
Ana laughed. The pink made Marabeth look like she was going to throw up and the orange brought out every possible freckle on the young woman’s face. “I think both will work out wonderfully for your purpose, Mara.” Marabeth tried hard to look her worst whenever she was around her betrothed.
Marabeth chuckled. “What’s your plan?” she asked, laying the two dresses over the back of a chair and then flopping down onto it herself, not caring that the dresses would become wrinkled underneath her.
Ana shook her head. “I don’t have one. I’d thought he’d forgotten me.”
Marabeth moved over to stand directly behind her older sister, understanding Ana’s anger and frustration but unable to help diffuse it. “That wasn’t very forward thinking of you, Annie,” she said quietly.
“I know,” she said and walked across the room, touching the beautiful pink silk of the dress. It really was a pretty dress, just not intended for a redhead. “How did you even get this dress inside the palace? It wasn’t made by Lizzy, was it?” Ana said, referring to the royal dress designer who made all the clothes for Ana and Marabeth. Lizzy made sure the royal family was always dressed in the finest clothes which were at the height of fashion.
“No. I bought it in London last week when I was there visiting George. He was ogling the waitress during lunch. You know what a stickler the man is for fashion. I thought the dress would be the perfect punishment.”
Ana laughed. “That’s a good idea.”
“You won’t mind me being in something this hideous for your engagement pictures?”
Ana shook her head. “No. I don’t want the pictures, so why would I care what they look like?”
“Good point,” she replied, smilingly brightly. “Okay, I have to finish assembling my wardrobe for the next week,” she said and stood up, grabbing the two dresses in one hand. She glanced through the windows at the pretty gardens and sighed. “At least we’ll get out of the palace. I’m not looking forward to another hotel room but maybe the walls will be a different color.”
Prince Erik Marcus Phillips the Third walked quickly down the hallway, nodding to his father’s cabinet members as he passed but not really paying much attention to them. The guards opened the doors before he even had to slow down and Erik walked into his father’s private office.
“The results of the study aren’t adequate, father,” he said without preamble. “We need more evidence before making a decision of this kind,” he continued and placed the papers in the middle of the large, polished desk.
Erik observed his father as he picked up the papers. He looked older but wasn’t sure he noticed the ailing health his father had been using as the excuse to move up Erik’s wedding.
It was no matter, Erik thought. If his father wanted him to marry, he’d do it. He loved and respected his father and he’d been given several extra years of freedom, for which he’d always be grateful.
“What do you recommend?” King Alexander Phillips asked, leaning back in his chair and crossing his hands over his still firm stomach.
“We should hold off. There’s definitely enough evidence to suggest alternatives to that plan of action and we should explore the possibilities. Forming an alliance with that branch will only cause several problems later on and I think we can avoid those if we’re careful.”
King Alexander nodded his head and silently agreed with his son. He was proud of the man sitting in front of his desk. He was strong and opinionated, smart and had a genuine love of his country. He would make a good king but he had to be married. The public would demand it. And basically, Alexander wanted grandkids. If he didn’t push things along, Erik would continue with his mistresses and be content with the arrangement. The man was thirty six and was driving himself at both ends. He worked hard and was brilliant with the national representatives, knowing how to put both party’s issues into the mix and come out with wonderful compromises. The man was a born leader with a decisive personality and the intelligence to absorb a huge amount of data and process it into a solution. But Alexander knew he didn’t spare himself with the ladies.