Authors: MaryJanice Davidson
rince David, intent on his late-morning observations of the residents of Allen Hall, never saw the arm that snaked around the doorway, effectively clotheslining him. In a flash he was on his back, and being dragged into a small, dark sitting room. He got a whiff of wildflowers and decided not to resist.
“The thing is,” his fiancée told him, straddling his chest, “I appreciate you buying the cow and all, but I think you ought to get some milk for free.”
“Are you feeling all right?” he gasped. One minute he’d been wandering the halls, minding his own business, the next—attacked!
“Oh, sure, it’s just—I’d be crazy to plan on spending—what?—fifty, sixty years with you? Without…you know. Sampling the merchandise.”
“If I understand you,” he said carefully, “and I’m not at all sure I do, you’re proposing we—may I have my shorts back, please?”
“In a minute,” she said, and then she was nimbly unbuttoning his shirt and spreading it open.
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
For my mother, who would have made an excellent queen; and my father, who was the inspiration for His Majesty King Alexander II.
And for Scott Gottlieb, who was left out last time, but not on purpose.
I took several liberties with this book, chief of which, Alaska is not a country. Once I made so bold as to twist reality to suit my needs, I changed a few other things as well. I hope the reader has as much fun exploring this new world as I did.
As always, thanks to my wonderfully supportive family for their…well, wonderful support. Particularly my sister, Yvonne, who has listened to all my dull story ideas without yawning even once. That’s true of my husband, as well. Special thanks to Karen Thompson, who reads my rough drafts without complaint; and Giselle McKenzie, who complains heartily about my rough drafts.
Extra-special thanks to my editor, Kate Duffy, and the generous and kind Lori Foster; they have been unfailingly supportive.
Also, many thanks to two women I’ve never met: Martha Stewart and Judith Martin. I usually finish a book when my hero and heroine decide to say “I do” and never get to think up a wedding.
Martha Stewart Weddings
Miss Manners on Weddings
The Queen of the Edge of the World,
by Edmund Dante III, © 2089, Harper Zebra and Schuster Publications.
Even today, with all the comforts of a peaceful twenty-first century, Alaskans are a hardy group, and none more so than the royal family. There’s a saying in this part of the world: Alaskan royals wrestle bears, but only after tea.
This hardiness was vital for a young, vast country. Alaskans had to be tough, not only to break from Mother Russia in 1863, but to then go on and form their own government. It could not have been easy, but the royal family rose to the occasion.
It’s precisely this hardiness that occasionally causes trouble. Queen Christina’s father-in-law, King Alexander II, was no exception.
Historical records confirm King Alexander adored his daughter-in-law from the moment he set eyes on her. With characteristic impulsiveness, he decided this tough, uncompromising commoner would be perfect for his son, the Crown Prince David.
Of course, convincing His Highness the Prince, not to mention the woman who would eventually become the mother of kings, was no simple matter….
Nobody really knows me, and I don’t really know anybody. But that’s okay.
touch me again, I’ll pull off your ears and stuff them up your nose.”
Christina Krabbe explained this fact of life to her supervisor, who was at the moment rolling around on the deck, cradling his mashed privates.
Never should have gotten out of bed. Should have tossed the clock on the floor and gone back to sleep.
But she’d never been late for work a day in her life, and if she didn’t crack eight hundred eggs for Friday’s rosemary scrambled eggs, who would?
Christina had known there would be trouble, almost from the moment she came on board. Ed had “accidentally” brushed her butt or a breast a million times. Never enough to be called on his behavior, always enough to make her dread the next time she ran into him. She was just surprised her boss had taken this long—almost three weeks—to make his move.
But today…coming up behind her and grabbing her boobs like she was a cow to be milked…she’d back-kicked and elbow-struck, and then he was on the floor and it was done and couldn’t be taken back. Not that she would.
His lips were moving. She bent closer to hear.
“…fired. You’re fired.”
“Uh-huh. What’s the phrase? You can’t fire me, I quit? Is that it? I ought to sue your ass, Ed, you lecherous piece of shit. But frankly, you’re not worth the time, the trouble, or the aggravation.”
Also, I have no money for a lawyer. But never mind.
She threw her belongings into a duffel bag while he recovered, climbed painfully to his feet, and shuffled out the door. She didn’t watch him go. She’d worry about a reference later.
She marched down the gangplank, flashed her employee badge to the guy counting noses, then promptly dropped it into the garbage can at the end of the dock and fell in line behind the geese.
At least they were in port. If Ed had tried his crap while they were at sea, she’d have had a long swim ahead of her.
One of the tour guides—the line employed several dozen, and she could never keep them straight—was doing Alaska 101 for the geese. Christina eased her way past the throng, half-listening to the spiel.
“—Russia did actually offer Alaska to the United States for sale. As you know, America had the Civil War to contend with, and thus wasn’t interested in the purchase at that time, but can you imagine if they had? Alaska would have been the forty-ninth state!”
And since gold and oil were discovered here, we’ve been kicking ourselves about that ever since,
Christina thought, smothering a chuckle.
The tour guide droned on while Chris put the gangplank, the ship, Ed, and French Toast Tuesday behind her.
—an exquisitely stupid name for a cruise ship—was leaving port tonight. She had no plans to be on it. She wasn’t going near Ed again—he might get the idea in his head that a little payback would be balm to his battered ego. Some men were weird that way. Knock them around defending yourself, and they decide the only way to fix it is to hurt you back twice as bad.
When the ship sailed, she’d still be in port. Marooned in Juneau, Alaska, over a thousand miles from her birthplace. Marooned at the edge of the world, in a place with a famously nutty royal family and more bears than cars.