Authors: Mia Caldwell
© 2016 by Mia Caldwell
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
ia Caldwell has been fantasizing
about stories of "Happily-Ever-After" since she was a little girl, and now that she's all grown up her "Happily-Ever-After" stories have taken a steamier turn! After graduating from college Mia still wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do with her life. Bored with her day job as an Administrative Assistant for a non-profit, she started writing stories on the side and sharing them with her friends. They gave her the push she needed to share them with you! She lives in New York with two rascally cats named Link and Zelda, eats too much chocolate and Chinese take-out, and goes on way too many blind dates. She's still waiting for Mr. Right, but in the meantime she'll keep dreaming up the perfect man!
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, I couldn’t have done it without you. Looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store. Let’s aim high and shoot for the stars! Thanks for all your support, even at 2am!
When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
Thank you for your support, encouragement, and kind words this past year! It has meant the world to me.
I hope you enjoy this story! Don’t we all need a Prince Charming to sweep us off our feet?
This is a standalone story, but there will be a few other happy endings in store for some of the characters you meet in this book in some upcoming stories! Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you want to know more!
rown Prince Alexander Lennox
absent-mindedly drummed his fingers on the mahogany desk. He could already feel his mind drifting as the old man in front of him talked endlessly about things that didn't actually matter to anyone in the long run.
Diplomatic missions were always such a hassle—ceremonial meetings with stuffy and self-important people, all for optics, accomplishing very little. Days like these meant just another day spent envying his younger brothers, who despite sharing the royal Lennox name, were allowed to slack off and party away their teens and twenties.
It might have sounded conceited, but Prince Alexander spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that he’d never had much of a life. His royal duty—that’s what his life had always consisted of.
As the oldest son, he had been expected to join Dalvana's Royal Navy right out of University, quickly rise through the ranks to captain his own ship, and begin acting as a distinguished and proper diplomat when he wasn't in service, and that was precisely what he had done. Had he ever stopped to think about whether it was what he wanted? No, not really… but would it have mattered if he had? He asked himself the question, his brows furrowing, but he knew the answer the moment the thought entered his head.
His whole life had been planned out from the moment he was born, right down to the woman he would marry. His life was boring; privileged, extraordinary, newsworthy even… but
. He'd never quite been able to shake the sense that he'd been sleepwalking through his entire adulthood.
The French diplomat in front of Alexander cleared his throat, drawing his attention to the fact that he'd been staring off into the distance and out the window at the stunning Parisian views for far longer than was probably appropriate or could be chalked up to deep and thoughtful musings.
The elderly statesman pointed to the table where Alexander's phone was now buzzing its way across the table and was on the verge of falling to the floor. Alexander muttered a half-hearted apology and grabbed it before it tumbled over the edge.
Ahh, his “darling” fiancé Whitney's name on the caller ID; there was no suppressing an Olympic-level eye roll as he pressed the “ignore” button and stuffed the phone back into his suit-jacket pocket.
“My apologies, sir. Please continue.” Alexander gave the diplomat the charming smile that had helped land him on the cover of
magazine’s “Most Beautiful” issue. It was a smile that naturally won people over and helped him get his way.
As the man continued his soliloquy, Alexander felt his mind drifting once more, this time to the caller ID on his persistently ringing phone.
Whitney Bishop-St. Claire.
He couldn't even stand her name. They had been betrothed at birth by their parents in a handshake agreement that included increasing trade between the two tiny European nations of Dalvana and Estia.
When they had been kids, Whitney had bossed him around, demanding he give her all of his favorite toys. She had been spoiled and deceitful as a child, and as an adult her behavior had not improved. Starting at age ten, Alexander had begun begging his parents to break the engagement, but forested Estia supplied their coastal country of Dalvana with all of its lumber, and angering Whitney’s parents and causing a trade disruption between the countries was a non-starter. Calling off the engagement simply wasn't an option, or so he had been told over, and over, again.
In all these years, Whitney had never stopped being bossy, but what she had become was a drunk.
She believed it was her royal duty to be a cliché modern princess: drinking, smoking, attending all the most important gallery openings and fashion shows, while being seen tumbling out of limousines and stumbling up red carpets. While Alexander spent his days commanding an entire naval fleet, Whitney threw plates of food at unsuspecting waiters and slept until three in the afternoon.
Marrying her was the furthest thing from his mind, yet even as he sat here in this meeting with the French diplomat, their countries—Estia and Dalvana—were preparing for their royal nuptials.
” his mother liked to remind him,
“Will bring over 3 billion dollars in tourist and advertising revenue this year alone!”
The cameras of the world would be trained on their little monarchy, and it would be their chance to sell the kingdom as the next hot vacation spot for jet-setters and starlets.
Every meeting regarding the wedding seemed to lead to one unmistakable conclusion:
there was no getting out of it.
Alexander could feel his stomach rolling at the mere thought of being tied for life to Whitney, and it was making him nauseous, so it was time to go back to pretending to listen to the man drone on about an exchange of priceless art. He hoped the diplomat wouldn’t notice how green he looked around the gills.
The phone continued to buzz persistently in his chest pocket.
As the plane touched down on the tarmac at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris Martell felt a distinct buzz of panic in her chest. She reminded herself that statistically she was far likelier to die in a car crash on the highway than in an airplane.
Her traitorous brain
reminded her that the most likely time for a plane to crash was on take-off or landing.
she muttered to herself. “Today is
a good day to die.”
The elderly woman who was her seatmate shot her a suspicious and terrified look. “Don’t worry!” Paris said with forced cheerfulness. “Just talking to myself!”
The woman did
Now would not be a good time to be tackled by an air marshal, Paris!
She chided herself.
Paris in Paris.
It was a life-long dream.
As a kid, she used to travel all over the United States with her mom, so generally, travel was second-nature. Her mom was a nightclub singer, sometimes getting a headline gig, but mostly a few opening acts, and she made her living driving from state to state, chasing the next job, and hauling her three kids along with her. But not once in her whole life had anyone in her family ever travelled outside of the US, let alone left the continent.
As a kid, every time she had to start at a new school (17 schools in 12 years, by her last count) she always hung her head whenever she had to be introduced to the class.
“Paris! What an unusual name!” The new teacher would inevitably exclaim. “Were your parents fans of Greek mythology?”
By fifth grade Paris had learned to answer “yes” to that question. It was better than telling everyone that her mom had thought it cute to name her kids after the town they’d been conceived in.
Worst of all
, thought Paris,
I wasn’t even conceived in Paris, France—I was conceived in Paris, Texas.
Still, it could have been worse, she supposed. She could have been conceived in Milwaukee or Albuquerque. Her sister, Atlanta, and brother, Orlando, had gotten off relatively easy too. Thank goodness her mom had stopped there.
Though after all the teasing she’d had as a kid about being conceived in the “City of Lights,” Paris—the city—had taken on almost mythical proportions. She had sworn that someday—
she’d get there.
Someday was here.
As a first year medical student, and the first person in her family to go to college, Paris had been elated when she’d been chosen—out of all 200 students in her cohort—to attend the prestigious
Salon de la Formation Médicale
conference in Paris, France.
Sure, she'd have to attend a few lectures, but she'd actually get to sight-see the rest of the time! Once she finished medical school and started her residency, she knew that chances to travel would be few and far between.
Paris didn't know any of the other students that been chosen to come on this trip, but that didn't really matter. All she was interested in was checking out the city, practicing her rusty French, and maybe learning a little bit about the history of European medicine while she was in Paris. Realistically, she knew that this trip was going to be a whirlwind mostly focused on classes, but there was always the chance that she would get to climb up the Eiffel Tower, or perhaps even wander the Louvre for a few hours after a glass of wine at a cafe.
. Paris opened her eyes as the plane landed with a jolt, shaking her out of her reverie. She muttered a little prayer to thank God for the safe landing, finally loosening her grip on the arm rests.
Struggling with her oversize suitcase, Paris had barely even made it off the plane before she was being jostled in the massive crowds at France’s busiest airport. The student group she was with was nice enough to make sure she didn't get lost initially, but there was nothing romantic about the City of Lights when you are being herded like cattle onto a smelly bus bound for a discount motel in a very questionable corner of the city. Some of the sights from her tour book flew by her via the tiny window in the back of the bus, but she didn't have time to register anything, as she was mostly too busy trying to not throw up from nervousness and motion-sickness.
What were obviously the posh areas of Paris quickly disappeared, leading to a far more seedy side of the city that Paris could have lived her entire life without seeing. However, she reminded herself,
free was free
, and as long as she could keep herself from puking all over the nice blonde girl sitting next to her, she was determined to have the time of her life.
If she ever got off the damn bus, that was…