When international businessman Nik met sculptor Petey, it was a first for him. She’s smart, gorgeous…and she has no idea he’s Europe’s most eligible prince.
He knows he needs to tell her the truth. But for now, he’s enjoying spending time with a woman who sees him, not some title or inheritance.
Too bad the paparazzi beat him to the punch.
Here’s a snippet from CHASING ORDINARY.
The moment Petey closed the apartment door behind herself, she burst into hot tears. Jules, who had been relaxing in the living room with her Kindle, immediately jumped up and came over to her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, reaching for her hand.
“I’m just so…fucking stupid,” Petey growled through her tears.
“But what happened?” Jules frowned deeply. “Did Nik hurt you? Because I will kick his ass!”
Petey was crying too hard to answer, so Jules put an arm around her and led her to the kitchen counter. While Petey settled onto a stool and continued to sob, Jules poured them both a shot of Cuervo Silver. “Here,” she said, handing a glass to Petey, “suck this down and tell me exactly what happened.”
Sniffling, Petey tossed back the tequila and coughed as it hit her throat. Jules downed hers quickly and repoured for both of them. “So talk,” she urged her friend.
“H-he lied to me,” Petey stuttered, trying to calm her voice.
Jules gasped. “He’s married! That son of a bitch.”
Petey shook her head miserably. “No. That’s not it. He told me he was in international business.”
“And he’s not?” Jules asked.
“No! He’s the fucking prince of Beruvia!” Petey’s tears started anew.
Jules blinked. “He’s the prince of Beruvia? Nik?” She shook her head. “Pete, that doesn’t even make sense. The prince of Beruvia is Prince Stefan. He’s all over the tabloids all the time. Here, I’ll show you.”
Cueing up Google Images on her phone, she chose a headshot of a handsome blonde man with stormy blue eyes, and she held it up to Petey.
“Hon, this is Prince Stefan of Beruvia.”
Petey peered at the image and bawled anew. “I know! He lied to me!”
Realization began to dawn on Jules. “This? This is your Nik?” Her eyes widened. “You fucked the prince of Beruvia in my guest room?”
She watched as Petey crossed her arms on the counter and rested her head on them, her back shuddering with sobs. Jules rubbed her back soothingly. “Petey, seriously, how did you not know he was a prince? I mean, everybody knows who he is. He’s like, Europe’s most eligible divorcé.”
Petey raised up her head slightly to scowl at Jules. “Well, thanks, because I wasn’t feeling stupid enough already.”
Jules shook her head and gazed out over the living room. “Geez, Pete, he’s always in the tabloids and on the gossip shows.”
“I live on a sheep ranch. In my spare time, which is precious little, I work on my sculptures. I don’t have time or patience for stupid celebrity gossip.”
“So how did you find out?” Jules wondered.
Petey, calmer now, sat up and swiped at her face with her hands. “We were jumped by a bunch of photographers outside of Paddy’s. Nik’s—” She paused, scowling. “Whoever’s people, they pushed us into a car and drove us away.”
“Paparazzi?” Jules glanced at Petey. “You realize you’re probably online right now.”
“Stop it!” Petey gasped.
Pushing away from the kitchen counter, Jules padded into her bedroom and retrieved her laptop. She returned to the counter and fired up the device. “Let’s see,” she murmured.
Watching over her friend’s shoulder, Petey watched as Jules entered Prince Stefan into the search bar. Immediately images of the man who’d introduced himself as ‘Nik’ filled the screen. Jules refined the search to ‘most recent’ and there she was, Petey Cavanaugh, gaping wide-eyed as she and Nik were pushed into the back of a black Mercedes.
“Motherfucker,” Petey breathed.
From deep within her purse, her phone began to ring. Jules glanced at her. “Are you going to get that?”
Petey shook her head. “It’s probably him.”
The ringing continued. Jules pursed her lips. “I think you should get it.”
“I’m not answering,” Petey said, crossing her arms defiantly.
“Then I’m going to get it.” Grasping Petey’s bag from the floor where she’d dropped it, Jules rooted around until she found the device. She showed Nik’s image to Petey before swiping to unlock the phone. “Hello?”
“Oh, thank God, Petey, I’m so sorry. Please allow me to explain,” pleaded a deep voice with a British accent.
“No, this isn’t Petey, this is Jules. Petey’s very upset. She doesn’t feel up to talking right now.” Quietly, Jules pressed the button for ‘speaker’.
“I beg your pardon,” replied the voice. “I know she’s upset, and I know she feels that I deceived her, but I need to explain everything. Is there any way she’ll talk to me?”
Jules looked to Petey, who flashed double middle fingers and mouthed a silent, “Fuck you!”
She frowned into the phone, “Yeah, Nik, that’s not looking too good right now. Tell you what, give me a few minutes and I’ll see what I can do.”
Jules watched as Petey stalked to her bag, dug around, and produced a small notebook and a pencil. She couldn’t quite make out what she was sketching on the paper, but the pencil flew.
The relief in his voice was palpable. “Jules, I’d so appreciate your help. I know she may not forgive me, but I have to at least have the chance to explain.”
“I’m not making any promises, but I’ll try to talk to her. I’ll call you back soon,” Jules promised, before disconnecting.
While Jules was finishing her conversation with Nik, Petey put down her paper and pencil, and busied herself searching the internet for more on the enigmatic Nik/Prince Stefan. Clicking a link, she waited for a news item to pop up. When it did seconds later, she gasped, clapping a hand over her mouth.
Filling the screen was one of the series of images snapped between the back door of the pub and Nik’s car. She wondered how many frames could be snapped in the span of half a second. She stared, absorbing the photo. In the still frame, Nik was in profile, facing her as he held onto her hand. Her own face was turned full into the camera, her expression, stunned.
But it was the headline over the photograph that stopped her heart.
Prince Stefan’s New Bimbo!
“Oh, my God!” She turned to Jules. “My family is going to see this.”
Jules took a look and whistled softly. “Wow. That’s…harsh.”
Petey buried her face in her hands. “What am I going to do, Julesy?”
“I don’t know, sweetie,” Jules murmured, wrapping her arms around her friend. “I mean, maybe you should give him a chance.”
Petey whipped up her head. “Are you kidding? He lied to me. He made a fool out of me.” She chewed her lip pensively. “He’s probably laughing at me right now, him and all his…entourage.”
“He didn’t sound like he was laughing, Pete. He sounded miserable,” Jules pointed out. “Let’s look at something.” Turning the laptop towards herself, Jules tapped a few keys.
“Now, let’s see what we find…” She’d pulled up the Wikipedia page for Prince Stefan of Beruvia. “It says here that his full name is Nikolai Stefan Torbjorn von Bahr.” She laughed lightly. “That’s a mouthful. But see, his first name is Nikolai. Nik is his real name.”
Reluctantly, Petey peered over Jules’ shoulder.
“It says that he’s the second son of the King and Queen of Beruvia. He has an older brother…” She paused, reading silently. “Here it is, Eirik Magnus Otto von Bahr, known as Prince Magnus…” She skimmed further. “Oh, who died seven years ago in a boating accident.”
“He told me about that,” Petey murmured.
“Petey, I’ve got to be honest with you. Everything he told you seems to be true. He just neglected to tell you about the whole prince thing. You need to at least give the man the chance to explain.”
“He made a fool out of me, Jules.” Petey shook her head adamantly. “Besides,” she said reasonably, “You know me. I spend my days up to here in sheep shit. What the hell would I do with a prince?”
“You were okay with him when you thought he was a rich businessman,” Jules pointed out.
“Well, I wasn’t comfortable with it. With his fancy dinners and his helicopters. Which is why, for today, I planned all sorts of normal things.”
“What did you guys do today? Before all hell broke loose?”
Petey sighed deeply. “We went to the park and had a little picnic. We watched a Little League game. We got dinner from a food truck. Then we were having pints at Paddy’s when we had to leave.”
“And you had a good time.”
“We had a great time.”
“And you planned to spend the night with him.” Jules folded her arms across her chest.
“Well, yeah, before,” Petey admitted.
“So, when Nik was just a businessman, you were okay with him, but now that he’s a prince, you don’t want anything to do with him.”
“Of course not. The whole…prince thing. It’s too ridiculous for words.”
“Then you, my friend, are a snob.”
Petey gasped. “I am not a snob. You take that back!”
“I won’t take it back,” Jules shrugged. “If you won’t go out with a guy, based on what he does for a living, that makes you a snob.”
“That’s just…absurd,” Petey sputtered. “There is no way I am a snob.”
“Then prove it. Give Nik a chance to tell you his side of this thing.”
Petey nodded angrily. “You don’t think I will, do you? You think I’m a snob. That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard. I’m a snob.” She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Please!”
“So just give him a call then,” Jules dared her, pushing Petey’s phone across the kitchen counter.
“Just give him a call,” Petey muttered. “Okay, I’ll do it, if only to prove to you that I am not,” she jabbed her finger at Jules, “a snob.”
Snatching the device from the counter, she swiped it open and stabbed in Nik’s number.
It rang exactly once before he picked up. “Hello, Jules?” he answered anxiously.
“No, it’s me,” Petey replied flatly.
“Oh, thank God, Petey, I need to tell you—”
“Shut up!” she snapped. “I agreed to call you just to prove to my good friend,” she glared at Jules, “that I am not a snob.”
“I’m glad to hear your voice under any circumstance. Please, I need to talk to you in person. I have to make things right.” His voice was desperate. Earnest. “Can you come over? I’ll send a car right away.”
“I’m not going anywhere tonight,” she said defiantly. “It’s late, and I’m about to get shitfaced until I pass out. When I’m conscious tomorrow, I’ll give you a call.”CHASING ORDINARY by Pandora Spocks