Barefoot Bay: Castle in the Sand (Kindle Worlds Novella)

BOOK: Barefoot Bay: Castle in the Sand (Kindle Worlds Novella)
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Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.

This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Roxanne St. Claire. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Barefoot Bay remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Roxanne St. Claire, or their affiliates or licensors.

For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds

 

 

From Roxanne St. Claire~

 

Welcome to Barefoot Bay Kindle World, a place for authors to write their own stories set in the tropical paradise that I created! For these books, I have only provided the setting of Mimosa Key and a cast of characters from my popular Barefoot Bay series. That’s it! I haven’t contributed to the plotting, writing, or editing of
Castle in the Sand
. This book is entirely the work of Jeannie Moon, a talented author I handpicked to help launch this new program.

 

Jeannie and I bonded over our shared love of
Outlander
, the time travel romance and deliciously addictive television series. It didn’t take long for me to hunt down her books and find they are deliciously addictive, too! I was thrilled when she joined the Barefoot Bay Kindle World launch and over the moon to learn her story brings something to the island we’ve never had before—royalty! Is there anything better than a sexy European prince? Yes! A sexy European prince who is reunited with the love of his life in Barefoot Bay.
Castle in the Sand
is a royal romp that promises non-stop fun and a charming prince who will steal your heart! Take off your crown, kick off your shoes…and fall in love!

 

Roxanne St. Claire

 

P.S. If you’re interested in the rest of the Barefoot Bay Kindle World novels, or would like to explore the possibility of writing your own book set in my world, stop by
www.roxannestclaire.com
for details!

 

 

Chapter One

 

“I can’t believe she got a million dollars for a picture of your ass.”

Tony Granville had been explaining to his friend, Nick DeMarco, how his old friend Astrid had turned his life into a shitshow. Since the story broke and photos of him in the shower had gone public, he hadn’t slept, he’d barely eaten, and his head was pounding. Tony wished he had an appetite so he could enjoy the stack of diner pancakes sitting in front of him, but the fifty phone calls he’d received from the palace over the past twelve hours had pretty much killed it.

It always amazed him how much outrage could fester in such a tiny country.

His father, King Edward, was livid. His mother was distraught. The Prime Minister had made a statement in the press that the situation was an embarrassment to the family and the country.

There was no doubt it was embarrassing. But it wasn’t the minister’s bare ass plastered on the front page of every tabloid in the western world. Only Tony could claim that dubious honor.

As Crown Prince Anton Edward of Marinbourg, he’d been forced to live his life in a fishbowl, and he’d gone to great lengths to manage the circus of being royal with the need for a normal existence. Tony had done pretty well for himself over his thirty-six years, serving his country in the military and building a successful career for himself as a trade representative.

Naturally, he’d been the target of the European paparazzi more than once. But this wasn’t paparazzi, this was someone he knew. And the fact that she’d betrayed his trust made it even harder to swallow.

The headlines—such as
ROYAL BOOTY
,
CROWN JEWELS
,
and
HIS ROYAL HOTNESS
—were almost as bad as the photos themselves, even if they weren’t very original. However, his wet, soaped-up body under the shower spray was heating up to be a fairly big scandal. The photos were garnering a lot of interest in Europe, and—for the first time—the United States.

That was probably because the lucky photographer was an old family friend who had a lot of contacts in American media. He’d thought he could trust her, which was stupid. Tony should have realized by now that his status made trust a dangerous indulgence. The woman in question, Lady Astrid, had been in his family circle for years, and at one point she had been on the short list for his potential bride. Neither he, nor Astrid, was receptive to the idea, but he’d still considered her a friend. After she moved to the States, he’d see her when he was in town, and a few days ago he’d welcomed her invitation for an afternoon run in Central Park and then dinner. What he hadn’t known was that it was a setup; she’d been disowned by her very wealthy parents, and needed money.

That made him, and his ass, a target.

He had no idea pictures of him naked were worth so much on the tabloid market.

“She had a number of different shots,” Tony finally replied. “Quick, that one. Her phone was in her purse and she was out the door before I could get a towel wrapped around my waist. There were five photos. She received a million for each one.”

Nick let out a long, low whistle. “Damn. That’s a lot of money. Should keep her in champagne for a few months.”

“I’m sure she’s having a grand time on the Italian coast. I hear she’s celebrating with friends.”

“Didn’t waste any time, did she?” Nick was laughing. His best friend was the only one who would be allowed to find the humor in the situation. “I had no idea your royal tush was worth that kind of cash. Haven’t you always said your family is minor in the royal hierarchy?”

“As families go, we certainly don’t have the clout, or the fortune, of some,” Tony explained. “I hate the idea of hiding, but right now my father and his advisors think the best thing for me to do is lay low until this all blows over.”

“Are you heading home?”

The thought made him shudder. “Hell no. I’ll figure something out, but the last thing I need is my father and his pompous
I-told-you-sos
.”

“I don’t think you should let that stop you, but whatever. Maybe you should remind
His Majesty
that he considered Astrid a suitable wife until a couple of days ago.”

Tony knew his friend was right. He shouldn’t let his father intimidate him, even if he was the King. But knowing that didn’t mean laying low for a few weeks was a bad idea. Going back to court wouldn’t solve anything until he had a clear plan. If he went back now, there’d just be a lot of finger-pointing and anger, and that solved nothing.

Focusing on the pancakes, Tony pondered his options. Normally he’d relish this time with an old friend; a man who was as close as a brother, without all the baggage.

But his situation made enjoying anything except breathing or a stiff drink almost impossible. All his life, he’d done everything possible to keep his nose clean and avoid embarrassing his family, and the people of his country. He respected his position, even if he didn’t always like it.

He respected it so much that a few years ago, he made a decision that hurt someone very special, and broke his own heart as well. It was the worst mistake of his life, and he’d never forgive himself for it.

Moving the maple syrup around his plate with the last piece of pancake, Tony Granville did revel in the quiet, though. The middle of the night was his favorite time, whether he was home, in a bustling city like New York, or in the middle of a war zone. The hours between midnight and four in the morning were the hours when he could think.

He loved that he spent so much time in the United States because he was anonymous here. For the most part, he could go to work, shows, clubs, or sports contests and no one would blink. Every once in a while he’d land on some socialite’s radar, but even then, he could go about his business without constant questions, without worrying that the gossip rags would cause a scandal.

Until now.

Now he had a target on his ass, and his family had stepped up their crowing about his need to find a wife and settle down into a life of royal obligations and a loveless marriage.

Official duties and getting married were at the top of Tony’s “
Over My Dead Body List”.
Of course, now that he was more than a minor government attaché in the eyes of the American press, he’d have to face both; unless he could stay out of sight until the gossip mongers moved on to their next victim.

He never imagined that an old family friend would betray him, especially Astrid, who’d had her own run-ins with the press and ought to be sympathetic. But he’d been wrong, and now he wanted to string her up. Not that it would do any good. The damage was done, and his bum had gotten worldwide attention.

The question hanging before him was, what did he do now? “Maybe I could head to an island. Someplace isolated.”

Nick raised an eyebrow and grinned, which meant he was about to say something Tony didn’t want to hear.

“You know, that’s not a bad idea. But I don’t think isolated is the answer.”

“I already don’t like the sound of this, mate.”

Waving him off, Nick continued. “My family has a little house in Florida. It’s on a small island near Naples, and to be honest, it’s a throwback. Same families have been there for generations, everyone knows everyone.”

“How will that solve my problem? If everyone knows everyone, I’m fairly sure I’ll stand out.” He figured the press would descend on him the minute they were tipped off to his presence, and from the sound of it, there was nowhere to hide.

“No, not really. I mean, there are plenty of nosy-bodies, but for the most part, you’d just be laying low at the beach. The back door of the house opens right onto the Gulf of Mexico. There are neighbors, but no one who’s going to bother you. Nice people.”

It did sound appealing, and his friend was an expert in hiding in plain sight. He wasn’t sure why exactly, but thinking about a little bungalow, a sandy beach, and some solitude, Tony found himself agreeing with the idea.

“All right then. Florida it is. Some time by myself certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

“Probably not,” Nick said. “But you won’t be alone. My sister lives there.”

Tony’s stomach lurched. “Your sister? Josephine?”

“Yeah. She works at the high school. I know she had a bit of a crush on you at one point, but Josie’s different now, serious. I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”

‘Happy’ wasn’t a word he’d use to describe how Josie would feel toward him. No, Tony was fairly sure that after the last time they’d seen each other, Nick’s younger sister would not be too keen on having him around at all.

Especially since Josie was the girl he’d left broken hearted three years ago.

 

Josie DeMarco had been itching to get home ever since Nick called from the airport telling her he was in Florida for a quick visit. It was a welcome surprise, since she hadn’t seen her jet-setting, mystery-man of a brother since Christmas, but she couldn’t help wondering what had brought Nick to her neck of the woods.

She hoped he could stay a while. As she pulled the door of her office closed for the summer, Josie let out a deep sigh. She had about a week between the last day of school and her first day teaching swimming to the youngest citizens of Mimosa Key. Spending that time with Nick would be exactly the kind of vacation she needed.

Josie loved her job as a guidance counselor at Mimosa High School, but after a trying year, the summer break was welcome. Working with the little guys would be a nice change of pace from the bigger problems owned by bigger kids.

Boy, would that change be welcome.

She never understood why a kid who was doing well would go off track and sabotage his future. But that’s exactly what was happening with a few of the students in her caseload. One of her boys barely graduated after coasting into senior year with almost straight A’s. She and his parents had tried to reach him, but he kept defying all authority. She’d seen it before, particularly in boys. They wanted to show they were men, but they didn’t realize stupid choices only proved they were still kids. He was heading to a good community college next year; the next step was his.

She still worried about him. She worried about all of them.

The drive from school to the little house on the beach was only fifteen minutes, but her excitement built with each mile. She’d missed her big brother. No one understood her like he did.

Pulling in the driveway of the pretty yellow ranch home, Josie’s heart picked up when she saw the rental car parked by the path. Hot pink Bougainvillea popped in the garden beds and a large Mimosa tree shaded part of the front lawn. Josie had plenty of friends, but a visit from her brother, from family, was special. It made her feel like she hadn’t lost her connection to the people most important to her, even though she’d moved far away.

Fingering one of the wispy pink blooms as she walked by, Josie remembered how her grandparents lovingly tended to their front yard, making sure it was awash with color all year round.

Having lost both of them a few years ago, the memories were still heartbreaking. Moving to Mimosa and making her life here made it feel like her grandparents were still with her. She wanted what they had. A love built on a long friendship, ties to a community, and lifelong friends. This house represented all those things.

“Nick?” she yelled as she walked in the front door. “Where the hell are you?”

“Back here by the pool,” he called. But she didn’t make it to the lanai. Nick charged out and met her in the kitchen, sweeping her into a warm hug. “There she is!”

“You have been away too long, super sleuth. How many times did you get shot at this time?”

“JoJo, you know I can’t tell you that.”

“That many?” He was always eager to tell that nothing had happened, that he was fine, when his missions had been quiet. Did this mean there’d been danger? Stepping away, she took in the strong face, the wide smile just like her dad’s. “So what brings you here?”

Nick hesitated, leaning back against the counter. He scrubbed a hand along his chin. “I need a favor.”

Why was he nervous? It wasn’t like she’d ever said no when he asked for help. “Name it.”

“A friend of mine needs a place to stay for a few weeks. He’s trying to lay low.”

“Lay low? Why? Is he being chased by secret agents?”

Josie dropped her bag in the chair and her brother stepped closer. “No, the press.”

“The press? What…” Turning her head, she caught sight of a man sitting in a chair by the pool. His back was to her, but there was no mistaking who it was. The broad shoulders, the blond hair. The straight plane of his back. “
Tony
. You want Tony Granville to stay here?”

“Yeah. I know you two didn’t know each other well, but…”

She could feel the flush rise in her face. It amazed her that her brother the spy didn’t know about her failed romance with his best friend.

“It’s not often I forget a prince.” Josie’s hands grasped the counter. “Why is he here?”

She hadn’t heard him move, but suddenly Tony was standing beside her, too close for comfort.

“Some unfortunate photographs of me have made their way into the media.” Tony, or more accurately, Prince Anton, was standing in her kitchen in all his gorgeous glory. It seemed impossible, but he was better looking than when she saw him a few years ago. “I was hoping I could stay here until the gossip blows over.”

BOOK: Barefoot Bay: Castle in the Sand (Kindle Worlds Novella)
6.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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