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Hunting Beauty (Possessing Beauty #4)
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This is no fairytale, and I’m no prince. And there are much more dangerous things in these woods than big bad wolves or poisoned apples. Things like me.
They’ll say she’s too young for me – that she’s too untouched.
They’ll say a sweet and innocent princess like her has no business being anywhere near a roughneck soldier like me.
But poisoned apple or not, I’ve had a taste of her forbidden fruit, and I’ll be damned if I’m not after another bite.
She should run away. She should say no. But she seems to be having a problem saying anything but yes to the things I want to show her.
Very, very bad things.
Her father, my King, wants to send her to suitor’s ball to find a husband. Royal or not, I’ll show these fancy, frilly princes what a real man is, and I’ll show her how a real man claims his woman.
Princess Adele might not’ve been looking for trouble when she stepped into my woods, but she’s about to find it.
Every inch of it.
*Please note that each of the Possessing Beauty books are completely standalone stories centered around one couple, with no cliffhangers.
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I shivered as the icy chill of the water engulfed me. I came up sputtering, laughing and shrieking as the freezing cold water of the pool took the air from my lungs.
“Holy fuck that’s cold!”
Anya raised a brow. “Hardly appropriate talk for a princess.”
I giggled, rolling my eyes and splashing her, making her shriek.
“Yeah neither is skinny dipping with the help.”
Anya’s jaw dropped as she splashed me right back. “Oh you are dead,” she laughed.
I loved pushing my best friend’s buttons like this. Technically, yes, Anya was my “personal head of royal affairs.” In the olden days, I would have called her my “head lady in waiting” or some other nonsense. But seeing as this was the modern world, she was more than just someone who laid out clothes for me and gossiped with me about royal affairs. Okay, we did all that too I guess, but she was sort of more like a personal assistant, meets secretary, meets personal trainer, meets fashion help, with a big dose of best friend.
She wasn’t directly royalty, not by blood — and yes, people still kept track of that stuff even in this day and age. But with her mother being on my father’s royal council and her father being a judge, her official title was “lady.”
I could vouch there there were many unladylike things about Anya, but a best friend never squeals.
We were the same age, but she was much more worldly than me, having not been raised in the proverbial glass tower I’d been. She’d been to parties, she’d traveled, had boyfriends, had sex.
You know, unlike me.
Not for lack of wanting it, I can tell you, but it’d just never happened. For one, because — again, as if this were the ancient world — I was supposed to be “waiting” until I was married off to some prince or something. The problem there was that most, if not all, princes sucked. They were primped, and pretty, and smelled like perfume. And sure, they were usually good looking, but it was always in this store-bought sort of “fake” way. I’d thought plenty of times about running off and just “getting it over with” — just having sex and being done with it. But then, the problem was that any of the ready and available princes who were more than happy to deflower a virgin princess were all that — princes. Polished, primped, arrogant, and snobby.
Basically nothing that ever turned me on. My problem was, the kind of men who gave me shivers or kept me up at night thinking bad thoughts about were not the prince-ly type. I dreamt of hardened, gruff, manly men. Men with chest hair, maybe older — men who worked with their hands.
Basically the kind of man I could never be with, being a princess.
I was always jealous of Anya for having the freedom she had not being true royalty, and I ended up living vicariously through her when she’d go to parties or on dates with the kind of guy I secretly lusted over.
In another world, she’d be my bad influence — sneaking me out and helping me get to parties. But no, Anya was actually almost like a big sister at times despite being the same age. She was protective, and honestly saw it as her job as both my head of affairs and best friend to keep me out of trouble, not bring me to it.
Something like today was a nice compromise. It wasn’t parties with drinking and guys, but an escape from the castle life anyways. We’d been coming here to the spring pools in Withering Wood since we were kids. These days, people seemed to have mostly forgot about the pools and waterfall out here. The hiking paths had all but disappeared, and coming out here felt like a true adventure. Plus, it was hot as hell outside, and a cold dip felt awesome.
“Okay, first of all.” Anya sighed. “This is not skinny dipping. Skinny dipping is nude — underwear is basically like wearing a swimsuit.”
I rolled my eyes. “Details details. I can strip if you really want the full skinny dipping with royalty experience.”
She laughed. “Hey you do you. This water is fucking cold enough without getting totally nude. Besides, with skin like yours? Keep that shit covered if you can or you’ll burn.”
“Yes mother,” I drawled.
She stuck her tongue out at me as she crawled up onto one of the big flat rocks by the water.
“I’m just saying, you’re like, beyond pale.”
“Yeah, which is why I should get a freaking tan for once.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Nah, don’t. I think tans are overrated. Besides, you look great. With your skin tone with that hair? Please.”
“I look like a shut in.”
“No way! Honestly, you’ve got great skin. When the rest of us are all wrinkly when we get older, you’ll be a knockout.”