Read Online Books/Novels:
Author/Writer of Book/Novel:
Here comes the bride?
The clock is ticking. I’m about to lose my fortune, my titles, my kingdom, my everything.
|Books by Author:|
“You realize it’s technically within my rights as monarch to have your head chopped off for fucking with me like this?”
Carlo looks at me gravely with those basset-hound eyes, and my stomach drops to the floor. He can’t be serious. He has to be joking. Granted, he’s never done it before, but there’s a first time for everything.
Jesus Christ, he has got to be fucking with me.
“Your Highness,” he says. “In the twenty-nine years you’ve known me, have I ever – ahem – fucked with you?”
It’s just the two of us in my office, a spectacularly cavernous space in a castle on an island in Lake Orta in Northern Italy. It’s straight out of Game of Thrones. Just like my life.
And with the news he’s just brought, I feel even more isolated from the rest of humanity than I usually do. The least he can do is talk to me like I’m a normal human being.
“For the millionth time, Carlo, you can call me Dante when we’re alone.”
He flashes me a strained grin that highlights the deep creases in his aging face. Carlo Ferrare has been my chief counsel and lawyer since my sister died ten years ago, and he served my parents for twenty years before that. He’s as smart and as loyal as they come.
“And for the millionth time, no,” he says. “My family has served yours for five generations. I’m not about to be the one who gets familiar with my royal charges.”
I sigh and run my hands down my face. This is surreal. I feel like I’m on Punk’d or some other “gotcha” show. I pray that Ashton Kutcher is going to jump out from behind on of the suits of armor that line the window wall. But I know that’s not going to happen.
“I want to make sure I’ve got this completely straight,” I say, as if doing so will make the universe wake up to how crazy this is and somehow cancel if for me. “I have to be married by my 30th birthday, which means I have two weeks to find a woman, get engaged and plan a state wedding?”
“I’m afraid so, sir.”
This is ridiculous. It’s the 21st century, not the Middle Ages, or the Napoleonic Wars. I have 300-megabits-per-second wi-fi in this medieval tomb of an office, for fuck’s sake. And I’m being held hostage and my life turned upside-down because of some obscure decree that a grad student found hidden in the handle of my family sword.
“And it’s absolutely not fake?”
“It’s been verified – discreetly – by four royal historians, sir. It’s authentic, and if it was to end up in court, it’s my opinion that it would eventually prove legally binding. Napoleon himself created the decree specifically for Morova, because he understood the wealth and power inherent in its banking interests. It was incredibly powerful as a principality – far more so than Monaco, Malta or the others – and he wanted a loophole that would allow him to claim that wealth to fund his European conquest.
“By adding such an obscure decree, he could either control the monarchy, or he could get rid of it altogether. Fortunately, Napoleon died before he ever used it, at least as far as we’ve been able to discern. But since the law was never repealed, it could very well still be in effect.”
Why can’t I have a normal family history like everyone else? Grandpa was a farmer, Uncle Joe stormed the beach at Normandy. No, I have to have a three-thousand-word fucking Wikipedia entry for a family tree.
“Why didn’t you know about this?” I snap. “If this applies to all Morovan monarchs, it must have applied to my ancestors!”
“I can’t say what circumstances led to it being hidden in the sword’s handle, sir. But the fact remains it was, and we must follow the edict or face dire consequences.”
I snap my fingers. “We just hide it,” I say. “Bribe the grad student and go about our business as if no one found anything. I go back to being a playboy and we all get on with our lives.”
I know I’m clutching at straws, but I’ll do anything to make sure this doesn’t happen. I can’t be roped into this. I won’t be roped into this.
But what’s the alternative? Lose the monarchy? I can’t let that happen.
Carlo sighs deeply. His tall, lanky frame looks like a broken rake inside his tailored charcoal suit, his white hair swept back in a pompadour from another era.
“Sir, you’re already on rocky ground with the Crown Council,” he says. “They disapprove of your lifestyle, and Chancellor Huber would like nothing more than an opportunity to oust you and eliminate the monarchy.”
“And steal the family fortune,” I snarl. “Yes, I know.”
“In this day and age, secrets rarely remain secrets for long. If it were to become public that we deliberately hid the decree, it would undoubtedly lead to the fall of the house of Trentini.”