The Heart of the King - Carol Moncado

1

There was a first time for everything.

And Jasmine Roberts suspected this was her first hangover.

A groan from the other side of the room made her wonder if Tessa’s head hurt as bad as hers did.

Except the groan didn’t sound like Tessa.

It was too deep.

Too... male.

That’s when she realized the sound wasn’t coming from the other side of the room, but rather the other side of her bed.

Mortification roiled through her. What had she done?

“You’ll have to sign a nondisclosure agreement before you leave.” The voice matched the groan.

The bed shifted, and Jazz froze. Did he know she was awake? And nondisclosure agreement? What was he talking about?

She cracked an eye and saw the top of a bare back below medium brown hair.

The sinking feeling inside quickly morphed into hot tears that leaked out of her right eye, across the bridge of her nose, and into her left eye, causing it to overflow down her temple and onto the pillow.

What had she done?

It wasn’t the first time she’d woken up with someone else sharing her bed, but that had been her husband.

No one else had known she and Leo eloped.

For ten whole days, she’d been Mrs. Leonard Fowler, and then...

Jazz couldn’t even let herself think about the events that left her a widow three months earlier.

“Did you hear me?” His voice now sounded annoyed. “I can see the tears. They won’t work on me.”

She couldn’t hold back a sniffle.

He barked with laughter. “I can guarantee you that game won’t work on me.”

“I don’t play games,” she whispered. “I’m just trying to figure out what happened and why I’m here.”

“We had a night. That’s all. I have to leave for the airport soon, so you’ll need to leave as soon as you sign the agreement.”

With her eyes squeezed shut, Jazz tried to remember what happened the night before.

She was in Las Vegas with Wendy Milligan and about fifteen of their friends from Trumanville and Serenity Landing for Wendy’s girls’ weekend before her wedding. They’d all been at dinner. Laughing. Joking. And someone said something about...

Jazz couldn’t quite remember.

But she did remember excusing herself to go the restroom, all the while knowing she wasn’t coming back.

On a depressed whim, she’d gone into a bar and...

She remembered meeting a guy.

Claimed he was a prince.

And they talked to someone he knew.

Then went somewhere else. She remembered flowers. Kissing.

And... nothing else.

She hugged the covers more tightly around her. “I don’t remember much,” she admitted. “I rarely drink, except maybe a glass of wine at dinner. I’m pretty sure I had a lot more than that last night.”

“You did,” he confirmed.

“You, too. You tried to convince me you were a prince.”

“Prince Charles, but not that Prince Charles,” he mocked.

“If you say so. I don’t remember the whole thing but sounds right.”

He gave a heavy sigh. “I am Prince Charles. I am not that Prince Charles. In less than a week, I’ll be King Charles, unless I decided to use one of my other names. I can’t make up my mind about that.”

Jazz finally opened her eyes and saw his back still faced her. She rolled carefully to the other side, saw a t-shirt, sat part way and pulled it over her head. Better at least.

“You’re trying to tell me you’re a real prince? From where? San Majoria? Because I’m good friends with a San Majorian princess.” By marriage. But that wasn’t the point.

“No. Auverignon. It’s one of two northern countries in the Quad Countries Compact. San Majoria is one of the southern ones.” He reached down to pick something up off the floor.

Jazz averted her eyes as he stood and pulled on a pair of pajama pants. “You’re being serious?” she asked.

“I am. Look it up.”

She found her phone on the side table. Turned off. Holding the button down didn’t do anything. “My phone is dead.”

He tossed one onto the plush white comforter. “Use mine. It’s unlocked.”

It gave her a chance to glance around the room. Definitely much nicer than the one she’d been sharing with Tessa Beach. The double doors opposite the bed almost certainly led to a full-fledged suite.

Using her thumbs, she typed in the keywords Auverignon and Charles.

A picture of a man not much older than her popped up, along with a Wikipedia article and a slew of news stories about how his coronation was in a few days - after his father would finally be deposed.

She studied the picture through her raging headache. He was cute. He had that going for him.

Some women would