Filthy Ever After
Mailing List Sneak Peek
There’s a line I once heard from an old sailor — a saying the men of the sea have should they ever become stranded out there. “Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”
I glanced around at the ball going on around me that night, and that’s the only thing I could think of: water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
To the sailors, it meant being lost out on the ocean, surrounded by water that you didn’t want to drink, since you can’t live off salt water. To me though, at that ball at my palace? Well, I felt their pain. There I was, a King of a whole country, young and in my prime, and surrounded by princesses and duchesses and ladies of all stations who were implicitly there to seek my attention. Men dreamed of a scenario like this their whole lives.
And yet? Water water everywhere, and not a fucking drop to drink.
I didn’t want a single one of them. I didn’t want their batted eyes, or coy smiles. I didn’t want them draping over me, as they had been all night. I didn’t want the lingered touches, the hugs that went too long, or in some especially bold cases so far, the whispered promises of what would come if I kept them in my bed that night.
I wanted none of it.
Running a kingdom is hard, and it takes a lot of damn time to do so. I had zero time for frivolities, or for the frivolous. And the women around me that night were the gilded definitions of frivolous. Fuck, the whole damn ball was frivolity, which was pissing me off. I sat there on my throne, up on the low stage that looked out over the whole ballroom, and stewed. I sipped my scotch, scowling to myself.
Somehow, I’d let Tomilson, my advisor, talk me into all of this. My friends had been no help at all either — encouraging the idea as well. I still wasn’t sure if they’d gotten behind it in order to really help me find a bride or just to mess with me and watch me sit there and sulk during a whole to-do I wanted no part of.
It was probably both.
But, that was the reason for the ball, and for the hordes of single women from my own kingdom of Badiff and abroad: to find a wife. I needed a bride. Or more importantly to the stability of my kingdom and its place in the world, I needed a queen.
But this whole “tradition” of throwing some big social event like the world’s shittiest speed-dating was hell to me. None of these women interested me. Yes, they were beautiful, and primped, and gilded, and from rich, connected families that I’d do well to incorporate into my line.
But, seriously, fuck that.
It was the modern world, not the fucking dark ages. I wasn’t King Arthur. I definitely didn’t have a round table. And my personal royal guards carried assault weapons, not spears and swords.
…So why the hell was I “finding a queen” like we still lived back then?
“Careful, you’re starting to look like you might be having too much fun.”
I turned and glared at Prince Adam, my friend from the kingdom of Nessa.
“Hilarious,” I muttered. Adam just grinned.
“No, really though, if you keep smiling like that, your face might stick.”
I turned my scowl on Prince Shane, Adam’s brother, and gave him the same glare. The both of them snickered and sipped their drinks. Adam and Shane had been friends of mine since way back when we’d gone to boarding school together. If you wanted to get technical, Adam was the birth son of King Francis. Shane was just as much an heir though — the son of a lord of Nessa that Adam’s family had taken in and adopted after his had been killed in a car accident. He and Adam were the same age. The same build. The same snarky pricks when they wanted to get under my skin like they currently were.
“You know this whole thing is ridiculous.”
“Maybe,” Adam shrugged. “But for real, you do need a queen.”
"I do not.”
Shane snorted. “Yeah you do. If anything, you at least need to get laid.”
“I can get laid whenever I want,” I growled. “I’m King after all.”
“And yet…” Adam grinned. “You don’t.”
I waved my hand dismissively, and the both of them snorted this time.
“Ah yes, frivolous, right? That’s your word of the day at the moment isn’t it?”
“I could change it to ‘go fuck yourself’ if you wanted.”
Shane chuckled as he went back to his drink. “See? That’s repression, man. You gotta let that out.”
“Hey, you know you could just skip this whole ball thing and call up whatshername instead.”
Sadly, I knew exactly who Adam was talking about, since he and Shane hadn’t let up about her since the incident. A man of my means and my position — well, we attracted a certain type of person sometimes. Or rather, a certain type of woman, specifically. The one my friends were still giving me a hard time about had somehow gained access to my hotel rooms while I was abroad for business, while I wasn’t there, and decorated the entire place with her underwear. I’m talking walls, pillowcases, the bathtub, fucking all of it. That’d be weird enough as it was, maybe even a little humorous. But after that, the same woman had lit fires outside on the castle grounds — fires that spelled things like “we were meant 2 B,” or “urs always <3.”
Oh, right, and then she’d started sending me little vials in the mail with drops of blood, or a strand of hair, or a fingernail clipping in them, “so I could keep her close.”
Adam and Shane thought it was comical. I did not.
“Hey, is she here tonight?”
I shook my head, sighing. “As your date, Shane. Have fun.”
He snorted and drained the last of his drink. No, my stalker fan was most certainly not at the palace that night. Hell, her face was on the “arrest on sight” board at every police station and guard outpost in the kingdom.
“Didn’t I invite other friends to this shitshow?”
Adam laughed. “Xavier and Hayden?”
Xavier Banes was a Duke of Bandiff, and Hayden the King of Rince. Both men were also old, good friends of mine.
“Yeah, they’re here, but they’re both dancing with their wives.”
Shane sighed dramatically. “Which is why you’re at the cool table with your single friends.”
I was about to respond, when Tomilson, my advisor, approached the throne.
“Highness, this is Princess Jin of—”
And suddenly, everything in the room faded away. My friends, Tomilson, the Princess Jin in the purple dress who’d come over to try and woo me over, the ball, all of it.
Because right there, a figure stepped into the room, and everything else just didn’t matter.
She had long, dark hair. That’s what I saw first. But after that, it was the lips. Soft, full, red, and fucking tempting as hell even from clear over here. She was wearing the same gold and gilded mask as the rest of the guests in attendance — as was the tradition, everyone but me wore one for a ball like that one — but even with that, when she turned, her eyes pierced right across the room.
Emerald green. Fiery green. A green that captivated me, and took my damn breath away.
Her dress was the same color too, and it fell around her like the damn thing had been painted onto her perfect body. It pulled tight in all the right places, and fell in waves in others. And when she stepped through the door to the ballroom and looked around the room, it was like this breath of fresh air came rushing in to knock me on my ass.
I was barely aware of standing, and passing my drink to Adam, and nodding formally at the Princess Jin and Tomilson before I was off. I moved right for her — the mystery girl in chartreuse standing in the doorway. She looked around the huge, gilded-ceiling room with this sense of wonder, her mouth half-open. She was so entranced, in fact, that she didn’t see me coming until I’d stormed halfway towards her.
But suddenly, her gaze dropped, and her eyes locked right on mine — hers full of shock and surprise, mine full of determination, and raw need.
And suddenly, in the blink of an eye, she — well, she blinked, actually. She blinked, her cheeks flushed, she whirled, and she ran.
And I chased.
I followed the trail of her emerald green dress down a side hall, watching it disappear around a dark corner like chartreuse smoke. My blood ran hot, and my pulse thundered in my ears as I ran after her, rounding the corner just in time to see her come up against a locked door.
I could hear her soft gasp, and I watched her bare shoulders stiffen at the sound of my deep voice in the quiet of that dark hallway.
“You,” I said, quieter this time, trying to slow the roaring of my pulse.
Slowly, she turned, and when those green eyes hit me again, I fucking melted.
“Me?” she said softly, her voice like honey and silk.
“You,” I growled lowly, the beast inside of me roaring to break free as I stalked towards her. Her eyes went wide, and her soft pink tongue darted out to wet her perfect lips.
I moved even closer, taking in the details I hadn’t caught before. The blush on her cheeks. The curve of her jawline The swell of her breast under that perfect dress.
The whole world stopped: this girl was everything. My instant obsession. My instantaneous addiction.
“What’s your name, beautiful?” I said softly, coming to a stop right in front of her.
“Why?” she whispered back, a touch of defiance in that tone that got my blood boiling.
I smiled. “Why?” the growl caught in my throat as I leaned into her, pinning her back to the door behind her.
“Because I want to know how it sounds with the word Queen in front of it.”
Arriving Monday, July 23rd!