Saturday, March 24, 2018

Except from NOT YOUR CINDERELLA

He’s a prince. She’s a barmaid. It’s never going to work. 

All Jamie wants to do is finish his PhD and live a life of quiet academic obscurity, but since he’s actually Prince Jamie of Wales, that’s not likely to happen. All his family wants is for him to find a suitable bride, but the local pub probably isn’t the place he should be looking.

Clodagh shouldn’t be falling for a prince. She’s worked too hard to improve her life and leave her shady past behind to get derailed by romance anyway, and all the press scrutiny that comes with royalty would be a nightmare with her background.

But the sparks won’t stop flying between them, and soon all Clodagh and Jamie can do is try to limit the fire.

A story about royalty, computer sciences, geeky t-shirts and cult musicals. And a pub.


Excerpt from NOT YOUR CINDERELLA, out now in paperback and 17th April in Ebook

Chapter One

Clickbait.com: Is Prince Jamie the world’s most eligible bachelor?

Yes, and here’s why:

1. His grandmother is the Queen of England, and his father, Prince Frederick, will be King some day.
2. Jamie is a man who knows how to serve his country: as a captain in the royal regiment of the Coldstream Guards he served two tours in Afghanistan.
3. The further away he gets from inheriting the throne, the more chilled out he is. Born fourth in line, after the birth of his niece and nephew he’s dropped to sixth, and does a lot of charity work.
4. He’s super smart: he graduated UCL with a First Class Honours degree in Computer Science ten years ago, and now he’s been accepted in the PhD program at the world-famous Cambridge University.
5. His hair. Come on, have you ever seen a man with hair that thick and wavy and totally run-your-hands-through-it-gorgeous? We want to know what products he uses!

Next article: 23 ways you’re eating avocado wrong!

“I dunno, you young people, always sexting and texting.”
  Clodagh looked up from her phone. One of the regulars stood at the bar, drink empty.
  “I wasn’t texting, and do you even know what sexting is?” She hurriedly shut down the animated gif of Prince Jamie’s hair blowing in the wind, and put her phone facedown behind the bar. “I was actually doing very important research. For… my… night school course.”
  His smile said he didn’t believe her for a second. “All right, love. Have it your way. Get yourself an education and a better job, don’t stay in this dive for the rest of your life. But while you are here,” he added, sliding his tankard onto the bar, and Clodagh rolled her eyes.
  “Another pint of Abbot?”
  “Please.”

Jamie’s sister was shouting silently at him. She was angry; he could tell by the pink spots on her cheeks. Victoria hated those pink spots. Hated her complexion being anything other than peaches and cream. She took a make-up artist quite literally everywhere with her. Jamie hadn’t seen his own sister bare-faced since she was about fourteen.
  “James William Frederick Henry,” he made that bit out by lip reading, “will you…”
  The rest was lost over the noise of his headphones, but Jamie could more or less figure out the gist.   Take off those bloody headphones before I…
  “…rip them off your bloody head!” she finished, as he paused his game and slipped the headphones down over his neck.
  “So sorry, Vicky. Didn’t hear you.”
  “Do not call me Vicky.” She smoothed down hair that didn’t need smoothing. “You used to prefer it.”
  “It’s common.” The greatest insult from Victoria. “Put down that…that bloody thing, will you?”
  Jamie looked at the controller in his hand. It was customised, given to him on a factory tour before they’d even gone on sale. “This bloody thing is a prototype and therefore wholly unique. I soldered a bit of circuitry on it, you know,” he added proudly.
  Victoria sighed as if he was the most tormenting creature in the universe. “Yes, we know. Most thrilling day of your life. It’s a bit of wire, Jamie. You’re sixth in line to the throne.”
  Yes, and I know which fascinates me more. Sighing, Jamie took his lovely noise-cancelling headphones off completely. Goodbye silence, my old friend.
  “Was there something you wanted, sister dearest, or do you just hate Lara Croft?”
  “You’re so lame. Vincent’s looking for you. Says it’s time to get ready.”
  Oh, bollocks. Jamie knew he ought to remember what he should be getting ready for, but he’d been so absorbed in the sidequest he’d been playing he’d forgotten the time. And now…oh yes. Bugger. Here was Vincent with the red tunic of the Coldstream, which paired with the blue riband of the Royal Victorian Order usually made him look like a macaw. Vincent’s assistant Graham was busy laying out the medals, badges and random bits of gold braiding so beloved of these occasions.
  “Her Highness requested it specially,” said Vincent before Jamie could speak.
  His gaze flew to his sister, who smoothed down her elegant and un-peacockish dress, which did not clash with her own blue riband, and said, “He means Isabella. She wants everyone in dress uniforms, especially the godparents,” she added pointedly, and Jamie tried to look like he totally remembered he was becoming a godparent for the fifteenth time today.
  “Nearly had to get Granny to invent something for Anthony until someone remembered he was in the TA for about five minutes.” She marched to the door. “Could be worse, remember Anthony wanted to be a Highlander,” was her parting shot.
  Great. Well, she was right, at least he wasn’t in tartan.
  “I’ll be infested with magpies,” he said, taking off his sweatshirt. His nice comfortable sweatshirt in its nice plain shade of blue with its nice picture of the Death Star on it.
  “No, sir, the falconers have been out,” said Vincent, who Jamie suspected as having had his sense of humour surgically removed some time ago.
  “Of course they have. All right.” Jamie stripped off his t-shirt and Vincent took it as if it was radioactive. Jamie gave him a bright grin, because annoying Vincent with his geek t-shirts was one of his favourite things. This one just said, ‘It’s not magic, it’s science!’ which was fairly tame compared with some of his collection.
  “Don’t lose that,” he warned as he kicked off his jeans. “Put it with the others.”
  “Sir, I have never lost your laundry,” Vincent said in wounded terms, handing Jamie his special seamless controlling underwear. No one wanted a visible reminder he was a human male under his impeccably tailored uniform trousers.
  Vincent and Graham gave every indication of not noticing their boss was naked, which always impressed the hell out of and annoyed Jamie in equal measure.
  “Yeah, but I can just imagine how many of them will end up in ‘storage’,” he said darkly.
  “If this is the case, sir, you can only blame your new bedder,” said Vincent with distaste, handing Jamie his undershirt.
  “She’s not going to be doing my laundry,” said Jamie. “I’ve got a washing machine.”
  Vincent and Graham stared at him, more shocked than they had been when they discovered the tattoo Jamie had got in Afghanistan.
  “Whatever for, sir?” said Vincent, recovering first.
  For mixing cocktails, what do you think? “Well, because washing by hand is a bit of a faff,” he said instead.
  The two men gaped at him. Jamie smiled at them and held out his arms. “Now remind me,” he said. “Trousers go on over my head, right?”

  “Arms up,” said Clodagh, patiently holding out the little jumper.
  “No!”
  “Hollee. Put your arms up.”
  “No!” Hollee thrust her arms out instead.
  “Christ’s sake, it’s like dressing an octopus.”
  Hollee slapped her hand over her mouth. “Umm! Naughty word!”
  Clodagh took the opportunity to ram the jumper down over her niece’s head and reach through the sleeve for her hand.
  “Mummy! Auntie Sharday said a naughty word!”
  “Shar, don’t fucking swear,” said her sister, and turned back to her phone.
  The coffee shop was overcrowded with buggies and playing a different music from the mall outside. The clash was not helping Clodagh’s temper.
  “I’ll think about it if you stop calling me Sharday.”
  “It’s the name Mum gave you.”
  Clodagh opened her mouth to repeat the argument she’d been having for years, then held her tongue. What the hell was the point? She gave Hollee a grimace of a smile and yanked on her hand. Hollee screamed as if Clodagh had dislocated her shoulder.
  “Should’ve put your arms up then, shouldn’t you,” she said.
  Hollee started shrieking and slamming her hands on the table. Clodagh felt the eyes of everyone else in the overheated coffee shop turn on them.
  “Jesus, Shar, I just asked you to put her jumper on,” said Kylie, grabbing her bawling daughter, who kicked and flailed and knocked over her white mocha latte. “Why is that so difficult?”
  Because your child is the spawn of Satan, thought Clodagh, but she’d come to blows with her sister often enough over her choice of babydaddy. “When’s Mum getting here?”
  “Dunno. She had to go pick up Tyler, but you know that’s just because Whitney don’t wanna talk to that bitch teacher about his ADHD.”
  “Tyler has ADHD?” asked Clodagh.
  “Yeah, well she says he has but you know he’s just been a little shit since Jayden left. Fuck’s sake, Hollee, I am trying to Instagram. Shar, can you get me another coffee? And some stuff to wipe this up with? Cheers babe.”
  Clodagh, glad of the excuse to escape the screaming toddler her sister was ignoring, got up to queue at the counter and promptly got stuck there for twenty minutes when her mother whirled in with an indiscriminate number of her progeny. As Clodagh tried to collate a sensible order, which was impossible since at least two of the children refused to drink anything but Red Bull which the cafe thankfully didn’t sell, her mother started up the litany of complaints that never ceased.
  “…so I just turned around and said, well, it’s not my fault you can’t give a proper diagnosis, so she turned around and said, I don’t give the diagnosis, you have to get the Head Psycho to do it—”
  “Ed Psych,” murmured Clodagh, who had dealt with a few in her time.
  “Yeah, like Nevaeh saw that time, so I said so when are you going to do that and she just gave me this, like, smug look and turned around and said she didn’t ‘believe there was a case for referral’, so I just turned around and said—”
  “Don’t you get dizzy?” Clodagh said.
  “What?”
  “All that turning around.”
  Her mother stared at her blankly, then launched into, “No, only when I’ve got one of my headaches. Did I tell you about my headaches, babes? Like, oh my God. This new doctor, right, he doesn’t even speak English, I don’t think he understands what a migraine is. Like yesterday he just turned around and said…”
  Clodagh nodded and smiled, and thought about the library book on Mary Seacole she had sitting in her shoulderbag, and ordered another white chocolate bloody latte.

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NOT YOUR CINDERELLA can be ordered in paperback and in ebook from Amazon.

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