Authors: Mia Carson
COPYRIGHT © 2016
All Rights Reserved
Married? To a king? When did I get dropped into a fairytale?
When her mom said she was going on vacation to the Caribbean for a few weeks, Olivia thought she would come back with a tan and a few good stories to share. Normal vacation stuff like a normal person.
Instead she returned with a hunk of a diamond on her finger, engaged to a king.
“Can we go over this again?” Olivia yelled out her bedroom door.
She heard her mom’s heels click on the hardwood floor before she popped her head inside, all smiles and shining eyes. “I went to a tropical paradise, met the king by accident, and after a month of dating, we fell madly in love with each other.”
“And now you’re just going to marry him?”
Melinda sat down on her daughter’s bed, helped fold some shirts, and tucked them away in her opened suitcase. “I’m not just going to marry him. We love each other.”
“But you said he’s a king, Mom. How does that even work?”
“Like any other marriage. Except the entire country will be there, and pretty soon afterwards, I’ll become their queen and you, my darling daughter, will be their new princess.”
Olivia rolled her eyes. “You’re crazy, you know that, right? We can’t just pick up and move to some tropical island kingdom that I’ve never even heard of.” She sat down beside her mom and stared at their reflections in the mirror. Their sea-blue eyes were the exact same shade and their long hair almost matched, except that Olivia had paid for highlights mixed in with the brown. “Are we going to move there forever?”
“You don’t have to, I guess. You are twenty-two, but officially, you will become their princess.” She took her daughter’s hand and held it tightly. “I know things haven’t been easy the last ten years or so.”
“They’ve been just fine, Mom. We survived when Dad left.”
“I know we did, sweetie,” she said and pushed Olivia’s hair behind her ear. “I just hope you understand that now that you’re older, I’m ready to move on.”
Olivia laughed and leaned against her. “You could’ve moved on a long time ago.”
“Yeah, well, there wasn’t a man like King Lamont.” She sighed, waggling her eyebrows. “I love him, Olivia, I really do, and his son is just a few years older than you. You’ll get along just fine.”
“So I’m gaining an entire family… and a country,” she mused. That was her mother. She could never do anything like everyone else. Not that Olivia minded. Her life was interesting with her mom always trying to be both parents. “I’ll be fine, Mom. Just another one of your crazy adventures, right?”
Melinda kissed her forehead and said she had to finish packing her stuff, too. Olivia smiled as she watched her head back down the hall, humming as she went. She was happy to see her mom like this. Melinda had always been a happy person, but now, Olivia could tell she’d found someone who really cared about her again. She just hoped she knew what she was getting into. Marrying a king wasn’t exactly an easy thing to do. And a princess? Olivia didn’t know the first thing about being royalty—or having a brother, for that matter.
For now, it was only over the summer. Her spring classes had just ended, and there wasn’t much for her to do in their small town in the middle of Nebraska. Her mom had been thrilled to go on that tropical trip with her girlfriends and had saved up money for years.
Olivia tried to picture her mom acting like a queen and laughed. She wasn’t exactly the most graceful person in the world—or tactful. Olivia had inherited her big mouth from her mother.
The reality of what was going to happen finally settled on her. She took a long look around her room—the soft-blue walls, the posters that had been on the wall since middle school. Was this one of the last times she’d see her room? For all Olivia knew, her mom was going to sell the house after the wedding. The royal wedding.
She still had one year of classes to go, so it wasn’t like she was officially moving in with the family. But when winter break hit and she graduated, she’d move to some tropical paradise instead of staying home. It wasn’t all bad. At least she’d have a nice tan when she visited the US.
“Well, here’s to becoming a princess,” she whispered, words she never thought she’d hear herself say.
Melinda had told her what would happen when they arrived, but Olivia had already forgotten most of it. There were a ton of servants, apparently, and when she became a princess, money would no longer be an issue. They’d been struggling to pay for school, and Olivia had pretty much given up on going to grad school. Now the option was back on the table.
The doorbell rang, and she called out that she’d get it. Her friend Helen was supposed to stop by before she and her mom flew out that afternoon. She charged down the steps and flung the door open.
“What is that?” she asked Helen as her friend held out a gift bag.
“What do you think? It’s from a lingerie boutique. I mean, seriously,” Helen said and gave Olivia a hug. “I still can’t believe you’re leaving me.”
“Just for the summer, and why the hell did you buy me lingerie?”
“All the hotties you’re going to see down there. Did you brush up on your French?”
Olivia led the way back inside and led Helen upstairs. Her mom poked her head out to wave but told them she’d be on the phone. They headed to Olivia’s room, and Helen stopped when she saw the suitcase.
“It’s real. I’m still trying to believe this.”
“You and me both.” She rummaged through the obnoxiously bright pink tissue paper in the bag and pulled out a black lace set of bra, panties, and a teddy she wasn’t even sure how she’d put on. “When am I going to wear this?”
Helen shrugged, a mischievous glint to her eyes. “You have to lose it sometime, you know. Being a princess, the men will be lining up to… ah, court you and all.”
“I’m not taking this. I’m supposed to make a good impression.”
“It’s not like I’m asking you to tell anyone what you do behind closed doors.” Helen took the bag of lingerie and shoved it inside her suitcase. “There, now you’re all packed and ready to go. You have to call me as much as you can. I need to live vicariously through you.”
Olivia’s lips thinned. Helen was a bit overdramatic. “Don’t you have an internship this summer?”
“Sure, we can call it that. Dad’s having me work beneath him at the factory. Sounds like great times.”
“Just another year and you can get a decent job,” Olivia reminded her.
Helen shrugged and had a look on her face that Olivia had seen enough times in the mirror. The feeling that she was never going to get out of this town. She hated leaving her friend behind, had even gone so far as to beg her mother to let her tag along, but it was out of the question. There was going to be too much going on for Olivia to do anything with a friend, even if she brought one.
“You’ll get out of here,” she said quietly and squeezed her friend’s arm. “Promise.”
“Not before you. You know, I won’t blame you if you don’t come back, but come kidnap me eventually.”
She hugged Helen again, holding her tightly. It was going to be hard going through this without Helen around. They’d been friends ever since Olivia and her mother had landed in Nebraska, almost ten years ago. She’d been in nearly every middle school, high school, and college class with Helen until they went separate ways for their degrees. Helen wanted to eventually go to culinary school and open a restaurant, but at the moment, it was out of the question—too much money and not what her parents wanted.
And Olivia… Well, she was an art major, paint mostly. She had a natural talent that many of her art professors were jealous of, but there wasn’t much she could do as an artist unless she made something of herself. Or had a nice stash of money to live off until she did.
“Alright, girls,” Melinda said, knocking on the doorframe. “Helen, you tell your folks ‘hey’ from me.”
Helen let go of Olivia and gave Melinda a tight hug. “I will. Let me know if Olivia fails at being a princess.”
“Oh, I will, maybe even get some good videos of her trying to curtsy.”
Olivia’s eyes went wide. “I have to curtsy? Dresses and heels, too?”
“Afraid so, sweetie. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”
Helen laughed as she gave one last goodbye and let herself out. Melinda told her daughter to grab her suitcase and help get the rest of the luggage downstairs.
“The cab will be here soon, then it’s off to paradise,” her mom said, shooting her hand up and dancing a bit as she said it. “The scenery is breathtaking. You’ll have an endless amount of inspiration for your art.”
“Will I even have time for that?”
This summer was supposed to be for getting her final portfolio sketched out and created. There was a ton of work she’d have to catch up on, especially now that she might be going to grad school.
“You will, don’t worry.”
Olivia took her suitcase downstairs and hurried back up and into her mom’s room. “Jesus, Mom, you taking your entire wardrobe?”
There were four large suitcases and two duffels stuffed full. Her mom laughed as she tried to pick one up. “I have to. I won’t be coming back here for a while. A very long while.” She glanced around her room, and Olivia saw a hint of sadness. “But don’t worry. The house will stay here for a while longer. No need to sell it until I know you’ll be alright.”
“I’ll be fine as long as I don’t die falling down the stairs,” she muttered as she dragged one of the suitcases out the door. As she straightened, she took one last long look at the house. Olivia reached out and touched the nearest wall. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back soon enough.”
She wished she believed the words she uttered, but something told her this was not going to be the summer vacation she’d always dreamed of.
The flight had one layover in Texas before they continued to the Caribbean. The island kingdom was wedged somewhere between Bermuda and the Bahamas. On the map, it looked tiny, but it did have its own private airport so it couldn’t be that small. The closer they got, the more nervous Olivia became until she gripped the seat so hard her knuckles hurt.
She had never met a king before, and according to her mother, King Lamont would be there to greet them, and he wasn’t the only one. His son, Prince Quincy, would be attending, too. Olivia didn’t know much about him. Her mother had only met him once on her trip down there but said he’d been the perfect gentleman. He was around twenty-three years old. Olivia knew at least that and was thankful he wasn’t any younger. Or older. She wasn’t sure which would be worse.
They made their descent, and she watched her mother’s face light up with glee as the island appeared below them out of the cloud cover. “There it is!” Melinda squealed. “Welcome to the Isle of Bijoux.”
Olivia leaned over so she could see past her mother and out the window. The island was a drop of green in a vast ocean of blue and turquoise. From this height, she could see the white, sandy beaches that surrounded it and told herself she was overreacting. It wasn’t going to be that bad at all.
The small plane touched down gently and glided to a stop. “Well now, are you ready to meet your future family?”
She took a deep breath and nodded. “Do I have a choice?”
“Oh, come on, it’s going to be wonderful, you’ll see.”