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Royal Chase

By´╝ÜSariah Wilson

Prologue



I’m in the middle of finals, so I decided to ask you this in a way more familiar to me.



Do you:



A. Miss me.



B. Really miss me.



C. Really, really miss me.



D. All of the above.



(P.S. My answer is D. Can’t wait to see you again.)





“Lemon, there’s something I want to ask you.”

I put down my fork, folding my hands on my lap. I ran my tongue across the top of my teeth, making sure there was no food stuck there. I squared my shoulders and tilted my head slightly to the right as if listening intently, hoping I wasn’t giving anything away with my expression. So that he would think I was surprised.

The restaurant was dark and romantic, the music soft, the food exquisite. It was the perfect setting for a proposal.

And I knew he was fixing to propose. He’d asked for my daddy’s blessing, and my father couldn’t keep a secret from me if his life depended on it. I was just a teeny bit shocked when Daddy called to give me a heads-up. I couldn’t remember even saying anything in response. I sat on the edge of my bed, phone cradled in my hand, stunned. It had been the last thing I expected.

I’d been there when my best friend, Kat, got engaged, and I’d never seen her happier. I should feel excited like that. Happy. Giddy. I didn’t. I decided the shock was blocking my ability to react appropriately.

“I know this seems fast . . .” he said. No kidding. It was fast. Maybe that would explain why I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as I’d hoped to be. To be honest, we’d really only dated for a couple of weeks over spring break.

“But we’ve known each other for so long.” That was true. I’d known him for forever.

Maybe the reaction I expected would come when he actually proposed. He’d flash a diamond, ask me to marry him, and then it would happen. Then I would feel the way I was supposed to feel.

He hesitated, just looking at me.

“Yes?” I prompted. Still waiting. Still nothing.

“I think this is right. I think we’re right.”

He gestured to our waitress, who brought over two flutes of champagne on a tray. She set them down on the table, and my heart sank a little. This seemed so clichéd, so done-a-million-times. I’d wanted something special, and this was about as stereotypical as you could get.

But as I looked inside the glass, I didn’t see a ring.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Daddy had misunderstood. Maybe it was all just . . .

Then he was down on one knee, looking at me. The restaurant went quiet, and I heard the other patrons whispering. Everyone stared at us.

No excitement. No happiness. Just . . . nothing.

“Lemon Isabel Beauchamp, would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”

I looked at this handsome man whom I had known my entire life. He had been my first love. The first boy I ever kissed. My parents adored him. He was ambitious and worked harder than any man I’d ever met. He would be a partner in his father’s law firm by the time he was thirty. He enjoyed all the things my grandmother despaired of me ever liking—opera, art museums, country clubs—and by marrying him I would finally be the woman my family had always wanted me to be.

He was stable. Safe. Comfortable. Familiar. And part of me had always loved him. We could have a good life together. Tomorrow I would graduate with my master’s degree in marketing and branding, I would find a job in Atlanta, and then we would settle down and everything would be just as I’d always pictured.

The only problem was that I had imagined I’d feel happier than a tick on a fat dog when I got engaged.

Instead I only felt empty.

To make things worse, thoughts of Dante crept in. The last time we were together, what had happened between us, and how embarrassed I’d been. I thought of how much I wanted to change, to not be the person I was. The woman who always made the wrong choice.

This man was the right choice. He would give me the future I wanted. I knew he would never hurt me.

“Yes, Sterling,” I said. “I will marry you.”





Chapter 1



I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to say it. It will change everything between us. But I can’t keep this secret from you any longer. I’m . . . Batman.





Loud sobs erupted from the stall behind me. I dropped my Great Lash mascara and turned. “Hey, are you okay?”

Whoever was in there tried to stop crying and catch her breath. There was another blubbering whimper, and then the sound of a nose being blown. The toilet flushed and a girl walked out in an evening gown, eyes red, looking embarrassed.

“Sorry,” she said, her breath still ragged. “This is all stressing me out.”

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