Since you’re a stark raving bada$$ babe, you get this special sneak peak into my upcoming book, The Royal’s Baby, a not-so-sequel to The Royal’s Pet!
Enjoy Rory’s little secret and some lovely M/M action from our favorite wolf and lion…
Love ya, kittens.Adora Crooks
Chapter 1: Rory
I’m minding my own business at the bar, picking through a plate of a German egg pasta called spätzle, when the insults start flying.
My German is rusty at best, but I know enough to make out the sneered words: “Ack! Turn it off—I won’t listen to that sick freak!”
I turn my eyes up to the television hanging crookedly in the corner. The local news is playing an interview with Roland Pennington, Prince of England. Just the sight of him makes my pulse beat a little faster—it’s so strange, seeing him the way other people see him, on TV like this. The camera loves him and it’s not hard to see why—his dashing smile, his twinkling blue eyes, his golden mane of hair—my lion.
The interviewer loves him, England loves him, and I love him. But the two German men circling the pool table in this Berlin diver bar have a different opinion, and they aren’t afraid to show it.
“Shut that pervert up!”
“Where’s his American slut, eh?”
They spit and snarl, clearly having no idea that the American slut they’re referring to is sitting barely three feet away from them, with a meal that’s suddenly gone sour.
We knew we would get backlash, coming out like we did. It’s been over a year now since Roland announced to the world that he has not one, but two loves in his life—Ben, his best friend and loyal then-bodyguard, and me, the American tourist who stumbled into a love story as beautiful as it is bizarre. England was supposed to be just one more stop on my way to see the world for my brother who couldn’t; I’d go to new countries, take videos, and send them home to Oscar, who was stuck at home with a crippling illness. Instead of a good story, I met Roland and Ben, and the three of us fell in love. It shouldn’t work, but somehow, some way, it does.
I love my two men—Prince Roland, who has so much energy, compassion, and love in him that sometimes it overwhelms me. And Ben, our quiet, sometime surly lover whose loyalty knows no bounds and who can make my body hum just by putting his hands on my throat. We’ve overcome insane odds and grown together. In our world, in our little bubble, it’s perfect.
But as soon as I step outside Buckingham Palace (as I do, often—these travelling legs won’t sit still), I remember the cold truth: that the rest of the world is still struggling to understand our love.
And some—like the two men behind me—have turned their confusion to hate.
I pinch my bottom lip between my teeth. I know I should stay out of it. I’m the prince of England’s girlfriend now, which means certain things are expected of me. I’m no longer allowed to wear ripped jeans and Doc Martins 24/7. I have to watch my mouth and can no longer swear like a sailor on my (increasingly popular) travel vlog. And I’m definitely not supposed to engage with drunken, homophobic Germans who can’t wrap their small heads around love is love is love.
Your girl Rory March has never been incredibly good at following the rules.
I pay my bill, push away from the bar, and step over to the pool table. I can feel eyes on me—that would be Sam, my bodyguard, watching me from behind her Shirley Temple a couple seats over. Travelling on my own is one thing I would never—could never—give up, so I’ve since made concessions to appease my overly-protective boyfriends: Sam is one, and my multitude of disguises is another. Right now, for example, I’m wearing a black wig that stops short at my shoulders to conceal my trademark ginger hair. Between the wing and a black romper that is both comfortable, casual, and cute, and I can tell that the men at the pool table still don’t recognize me even when I’m right up next to them. I motion to the table and in my American-accented, bad German I ask sweetly: “Do you mind if I play too?”
They exchange looks, then one grins leeringly and passes me his cue. We establish that I’m stripes, his partner is solids. The man I’m playing against is a burly, built guy, and the muscles that flex in his arms when he arranges himself over the pool table briefly remind me of my Ben, my wolf, and the hard biceps that stretch when he pins my wrists effortlessly above my head. It’s been a while, too long, and I fidget with a present that remind me of my boys—a necklace that hugs my throat with a small cat figure on the end of it. Their kitten. It’s a pet name they gave me when we were first dating, and it stuck. And, boy, can my men make me purr…
My daydreams scatter as the pool balls click together. My opponent stands and turns to me, smugly, and says in stilted English: “Your turn, darling.”
I retract my previous thought—he looks nothing like Ben. Similar builds, maybe, but Ben’s dark eyes are full of aching love and compassion. This man’s face, though handsome at first glance, is ugly with lines of anger and superiority etched into his Jack-O-Lantern mouth and anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better eyes.
What he doesn’t know is that, during Prince Roland’s decade of isolation in the palace, he became very good at two-person games—darts, chess, and yes, pool. As a result, I went from not knowing which end of the stick to hit the balls with to becoming pretty damn good, if I do say so myself, after multiple games of what we called strip pool. We also left a couple unsightly stains on the pool table, which…sorry to the maid who had to clean up after us. Really. Sorry.
I bend over the pool table, relax my grip on the cue, and line up my shot. I can almost feel Roland’s hands teasing my hips, his breath on my neck, his cocky smile on my throat: sorry, am I distracting you?
Yeah, babe, you are.
I exhale a breath, steady my focus, and tap the ball. The cue hits with just the right force and I sink a ball in the hole. And another, and another. We go a few rounds back and forth—my opponent’s smile drops, he talks less, and when he does say something, it’s in a German mutter I don’t understand. The whole game doesn’t last ten minutes before I sink my final ball in.
“Well,” I say cheerily as I pass the cue over. “Not so bad for an American slut, am I?”
I linger just long enough to see the recognition dawn on their faces as their mouths fall open. On my way out the door, the second German—the bigger one—starts after me with a single, growled: “Hey!”
But my bodyguard, Sam—all five-foot-one of cucumber cool—is already between us, and she peels back her black blazer just enough, I know, to reveal the firearm holstered at her side. “I wouldn’t,” she warns him.
The threat is enough to stop him in his tracks. Meanwhile, Sam and I make a swift exit out into the street.
It’s late December and Berlin is freezing. The entire city is covered in a coat of white snow. I’ve got a parka with me and I pull it over my shoulders as the wind bites my cheeks. The chill or the dark of nighttime sobers me up, and we walk past buildings covered in surreal, post-war graffiti. I heave a sigh and see my breath in a puff of crystalize in front of me.
“I’m sorry,” I say to Sam. “I know I forced you to Hulk-out and I shouldn’t have—”
“You absolutely should have,” Sam insists. “Please—they were being complete pricks. Badass bitches like us have got to put little boys in their places sometimes.”
And this is why I love Sam. I thought it would suck not having Ben as my personal bodyguard—and there are late nights when it does—but then there are moments like this. I grew up with a brother and now I have not one, but two boyfriends; Sam is the female empowering attagirl that I need on my shoulder. My sister from a British mister. Ben handpicked her himself, which is all I need to know about the strength of her credentials, but I don’t think even he realized what a source of gal-pal comfort she’d be to me.
Or maybe he did. My boyfriends have a way of knowing what I need most—even when I don’t know it myself.
“I only wish he’d put up more of a fight,” Sam huffs. “Would’ve liked an excuse to break his nose.”
I hook my arm in hers. “Since I failed to provide you a good bar fight,” I tell her, “how about a mini-bar nightcap?”
“It won’t make up, but it’s a start.”
We laugh and Sam hails a car to our hotel.
I’m staying at Hotel Adlon Kempinski—another one of my concessions to Ben and Roland’s rampant paranoia. It’s hard to believe that, not so long ago, I was backpacking across the world, hopping from hostel to hostel and cataloging my experiences on my vlog: March On! (a play on our names—Oscar and Rory March). My adventures started after my older brother, Oscar, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a condition that left him wheelchair bound and made him incapable of leaving the house, let alone the country. So I travelled for him. I went from country to country, getting lost, making friends, and most importantly, documenting everything for my brother so he could see the world through my eyes.
I still travel, but things are different now. Instead of a hostel, I’m granted access to five-star hotels all across the world. It’s the kind of luxury I couldn’t care less about; I’ll take the community of hostel life over a high thread count any day. But I have to take certain security measures as the girlfriend of royalty. There are some perks to a pampered life…the hotel mini-bar, for example, is a nice touch. Even though I can’t touch it. I haven’t been able to for weeks. Still, someone should take advantage of it, so I tell Sam to help herself as I go to the bathroom to change into sweat pants and a loose shirt.
My black wig lays like a dead animal on the sink. As I’m taking the pins out of my hair, my phone starts to ring. It’s a video request and, when I see the caller ID, I grin and answer it.
“Bonjovi, Otter,” I say as I prop the phone up on the sink.
“Bonjovi,” my brother responds. Oscar—or “Otter” as I’ve affectionally nicknamed him—looks good, his ginger hair tamed and slicked back. He’s not wearing his nasal cannula—the at-home tube that attaches his nose and pumps oxygen through him—which is a good sign. The new drugs he’s taking have been working wonders, and each small improvement thrills me to no end. “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”
“Berlin, for now. But I’m leaving in the morning. What in the world is my brother wearing?”
“Oh, this?” He glances down at the ugly Christmas sweater, which features a Rudolf in the middle and red nose pom-poms scattered around him. “Francesca is taking me to her Christmas office party.”
“Oh! Is she there? Can I say hi?”
He shakes his head. “She’s swinging by in a few to pick me up.”
“She’s taking you to her office party, huh? As her boyfriend?” I stretch out the word. “Sounds serious.”
“You know what else is serious?” he says, trying to not-so-casually steer the conversation to a place I don’t want to go yet, “Pregnancy. Motherhood.”
I shrug. I knew he’d bring it up, but I don’t want to talk about it, not yet, because what can I say? I hiss: “Lower your voice. My bodyguard is right outside.”
He rolls his eyes. “Ror. You still haven’t told them yet, have you?”
“No…it’s not really an over-the-phone conversation. I want to tell them in person.”
“Have you thought about what you’re going to say?”
“I thought I’d just put a bow on my stomach and plant myself under the Christmas tree.”
“Seems legit. Don’t forget the gift tag. To: Whose Sperm It May Concern.”
I laugh. I have to laugh. If I don’t laugh, I’ll panic. I’ve been half-panicking since I missed my period over a week ago. Oscar is the only one who knows I’m pregnant right now…and that’s only because I held him hostage on the phone while waiting for the test results to show up on the little stick all while ranting we use protection and except for that one time and but why now, right now?
My stomach has been in knots since, and it’s more than morning sickness. I haven’t got the slightest idea how to break the news to Ben and Roland…or how they’re going to take it.
If tonight proved anything to me, it’s that the world is barely ready for a polyamorous prince, let alone one with a baby attached. So I’ve extended my Berlin trip, made up excuses for my delay in Germany, and procrastinated, procrastinated, procrastinated.
“Oscar…” I start, and I know he can hear the worried whine in my voice because he cuts me off.
“They love you,” he says. “No matter what. You’ll figure this out.”
I know he’s right…but that doesn’t quell the jitters.
I can hear the doorbell ring in the background. Oscar glances towards it once, his mouth pulled into a frown. “That’s Francesca.”
Oscar looks pained, and I know he would call off the office party just to spend the night calming me down. But I’m not about to let him do that. For the first time, Oscar is able to go on his own adventures—and there’s no way I’m letting him hold himself back for me. “Go,” I tell him. “Have fun. I’ll be okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“I promise. No way I’m letting you get out of public sweater humiliation.”
He grins. “You’re a freak, Ror.”
“Takes one to know one. Love you, Otter.”
“Love you too.”
With that, he ends the video message. Now that the room is silent again, my anxiety starts sinking into my bones again. My heart pounds in my chest and my head swims. I curl my fingers around the sink and stare at myself in the mirror. I don’t look so much like a badass princess anymore. My fuzzy red hair poofs out, the remains of my makeup make my eyes look sleepless, and my t-shirt swallows me whole. It’s one of Roland’s, a Manchester United shirt, and I bunch it up to my face and inhale the smell of home—tea leaves, mint, and sandalwood. It makes my heart ache.
We’ve been through so much together…but what if this breaks the camel’s back? It’s a fear so real it knots in my throat.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see the pregnancy test sticking up like a flag pole in the bathroom trash bin. A spike of fear hits my heart—what is Sam sees it? Or housekeeping? I shove it down to the bottom and pile up tissues for good measure.
What’ve you gotten yourself into, Rory?
Chapter 2: Ben
Something is wrong.
There is no transition from asleep to awake; I open my eyes and I’m immediately on high alert. I check my senses. The bedroom is quiet, save for Roland’s deep breaths beside me. His bare skin is hot against mine and when I sit up, dried sweat makes the sheet cling briefly to my back. We’re alone, but I can’t shake the spine-tickling sensation of being watched.
My pistol sleeps in its holster on the bedside table. Roland doesn’t budge—not even when I kiss the top of his head, pull the blankets over his shoulders, and slip out of bed. My clothes are on the floor (we made a mess of them last night) and it takes me a second to pick mine from his and redress in the dark. I slip my holster over my shoulders and exit the bedroom, closing the door as softly as I can on my way out.
The hallways of the Buckingham Palace are bright and I squint as my eyes readjust. The palace never sleeps. Two guards stand outside the prince’s room—Thom and Lincoln—and I haven’t checked the time but if Thom is still here, it must be four or five in the morning. I nod to them and ask: “How’s it?”
To which Thom responds: “All clear, boss.”
Doesn’t quell the discomfort rushing through my blood, however.
I know I must be a sight—hair askew, jaw unshaven—but the only person who could fire me for my unprofessionalism is me, and I decide to let myself off the hook this time. I walk barefoot down the hall and follow a familiar path through the kitchen (smells of tomorrow morning’s scones and biscuits already baking), through door disguised as a walk-in freezer, and down a staircase that leads into the basement security.
Back when I was Prince Roland’s personal bodyguard, I used to practically live in here. So much so that he called it “my lair.” Now that our relationship is less professional, more personal, I’ve been promoted to Head of Security, where I can keep an eye on the palace without actually being on the front lines anymore.
Which means I have less and less reason to be down here. I have my own office upstairs—complete with a view of the palace gardens. Still, I find myself returning to my lair on nights like this, when the whispers won’t quit.
The lair is a small, closet-sized space, filled with television screens that show a live feed of every possible angle in the Buckingham Palace. It’s also not empty. My replacement sits in the swivel chair, eyes on the screen, large cup of coffee in front of him. He’s a twenty-six-year-old pup whose name—much to Roland’s amusement—is also Benjamin. But our name and loyalty to queen and country are all we share; we couldn’t be more unalike.
“Boss!” Benjamin unfurls his legs from the desk and beams at me. “Top of the morning to you!”
“Benjamin,” I mumble. Hate, Rory reminds me constantly, is a strong word. “How is it looking?”
“Just the usual, sir. There were a couple of stray cats that got into it on the South Lawn—a real doozy of a fight, you want me to play the tape back for you? Kept me on edge the whole time—I think everyone’s alright, though.”
“Any word from Rory?”
“Miss March got on her flight and is on schedule to touch down at 06:15. Do you think they serve pretzels on the plane? I was thinking the other day—why do they hand out peanuts? Allergies are so rampant these days, you never know what will set someone off.”
My back molars grind. He’s like a too-curious child tugging at my trousers and it’s far too early for this. “Go relieve Thom,” I tell him. “I’ll watch the monitors for a bit. Report back when Rory’s touched down.”
“Easy, peasy, lemon-no-problem, boss,” Benjamin says in a voice so cheery, I want to easy, peasy squeeze lemon juice in his eyes.
He’s lanky and has to bend his tall frame to exit the room. Finally, I’m alone. I take my old seat in front of the monitors. I’m taller than most, but no one is taller than Benjamin, and I have to adjust the seat so it fits me again.
The television monitors glow. This room hums. Didn’t notice that until I started spending time away from it—it was all white noise before. But I hear it now. It drowns out the crackle in my brain. I slowly examine each monitor, letting my eyes prove to my nerves what I logically already know—everything is in its right place.
Benjamin left his mug. It says “Keep Calm And Hodor,” whatever that means. It’s leaving a coffee-colored ring on the desk, so I grab a tissue and wipe it down. While doing that, I notice the dust behind the monitor. The cleaning staff doesn’t come in here—they don’t have the clearance. I used to clean it, because unlike some Bens, I take fucking pride in my workplace. I pluck a couple more napkins out of the box and start wiping behind the monitors, and on the monitors.
I see him coming on the screens, so I’m not surprised when the door clicks open. Nor do I turn around; I’m too busy hunting a dust bunny.
“How did I know I’d find you here?” Roland asks. I can hear the smirk on his lips.
“Just doing a little spring cleaning,” I mutter.
“I’m getting an early start.”
I’m bent on the desk to reach behind monitor four, and I nearly jump when he slips his hand up my backside and snakes it underneath my shirt. “We ought to get you a uniform to clean in,” Roland says. “French maid, I’m thinking.”
The noise that leaves me is a sigh—half exasperated, half distracted by the tickle of his fingertips on my bare skin, and not at all amused by his interruption. I pull away from under the monitors, drop the dusty tissue in the bin, and twist around to face him. There’s not a lot of room in here—it’s barely closet-sized—and Roland certainly isn’t giving me any space, so I find myself wedged between him and my desk.
No—not my desk anymore. Benjamin’s now. I frown at Roland. “You should go back to bed.”
“My thoughts exactly,” he says. “But only if you come back with me.”
The offer is, admittedly, tempting. I love him like this—he hasn’t made himself up for the public just yet. He’s not the prince of England right now—he’s just Roland. His blonde locks are standing up in all directions like an electrocuted cat, his eyes are bleary, and he’s wearing jeans and an open button-up that hangs uselessly around his shoulders, baring his svelte form. He looks unbearably handsome like this, and I wouldn’t mind kissing the daylight out of him and laying down beside him.
But something pulls me back, anchoring me here. “I can’t.”
His eyebrows furrow. “You have work to do?”
“Something like that.” The real answer—that I can’t sleep, that the well of anxiety is rising in me and I can’t stop it—stays glued to the roof of my mouth.
His frown softens. He leans in now so that our lips are almost touching. “Well,” he murmurs thoughtfully. “If I can’t move the mountain.”
His hands slip up my thighs, closing in on my groin. I’m practically sitting on the desk now and my arms lock at my sides, fingers tightening around the edge of the desk.
“Roland,” I plead. I want him to go. I want him to leave me to my demons and my lair.
But my protests are only half-hearted…and my prick is already half-hard. We both know that my declaration of his name isn’t a no, and my meager dissent falls away as his lips find my throat. He kisses—purposeful, insistent kisses—all the way down my neck. When I feel his teeth graze my skin, I can’t help the shudder that ripples through me.
I can’t deny him. I can never deny him. I spoil him, I know that—what Prince Roland wants, Prince Roland gets. But he’s my weakness—always has been—and all it takes is a couple kisses and his hand cupping my crotch over my trousers and my resolve melts like butter.
There was a day when I’d only dream of us here. Before Rory pushed me to admit my feelings for Roland, I kept them caged inside. For six long, painful years, I was nothing more than his bodyguard and, at times, his trusted friend. His mate (that loathsome bloody word). And—when the pressure got to be too much, when I needed an outlet for the frustration mounting inside of me, I’d come to this very room. I’d watch him on the monitors, feeling like a bloody pervert, hating myself, hating that I couldn’t shake these feelings. All the while, I’d play out fantasies in my head.
Even my filthiest fantasies, however, had nothing on the real Roland. I could’ve never imagined how he could be—all with one kiss—playful and dominating, loving and teasing, boyish and arrogant and mine. He knocks the breath out of me with every kiss until, finally, he lowers himself to his knees and unzips my trousers.
His hands are soft, his touch so unlike my own—where mine are rough and calloused, his palms are warm and smooth. He wraps his fingers around my prick and I feel the blood rush, swelling to my full length at his touch. I know it delights him how quickly my body responds to his touch—he’s like Tinkerbell, he needs applause to live—and those violet eyes of his practically sparkle when they meet mine. “Is this what you want?”
“Yes.” My voice is so husky, so thick with lust already. I’m memorized as he begins to stroke me, slowly at first, taking his time working me up. Then his lips come into play, wrapping around the swollen, needy head of me. His tongue swirls, tasting the salt of me, and a groan rumbles deep in my throat.
“Quiet,” he murmurs, his breath beating against my prick as his fist pumps my shaft, “don’t want anyone bursting in here, do we?”
The prince loves a challenge—these are the little games we play, pushing one another’s limits. And I must be a sucker, because I trap my bottom lip between my teeth so hard that I taste blood.
Roland licks me, pumping the parts of me he can’t fit in his mouth, and I white-knuckle the edge of the desk as I struggle hard to keep my hips in place, even as everything is screaming in me just to grab his thick, blonde hair and rut against his chin. But I let him set the pace, drawing me out, and it doesn’t take long before he has me right where he wants me—sucking in tight breaths of air, pulse pounding, muscles taut on the brink of release.
I’m about to explode down the prince’s throat when I hear the last voice I want to hear crackle on the radio. “Er, boss?” Benjamin says, his voice coming from the small handheld on the desk, “are you monitoring this line?”
“Fuck,” I bark. Roland’s lips pop off and leave me throbbing. “Don’t answer it,” I warn.
Too late—he grabs the handheld radio before I can. “Copy that,” Roland says, over-pronouncing his vowels in the worst Cockney accent I’ve ever heard.
“I don’t sound like bloody Oliver Twist.”
He winks at me. Meanwhile, on the radio, Benjamin says: “Miss March’s plane has just landed. She’s on her way now.”
“Jolly good, Benjamin. Over and out.” Roland sets the radio aside and comes between my legs again. His palm slides up my tortured organ.
“You’re a prat,” I growl.
“So…you don’t want me to finish you?” His fingertips ghost across my cock, keeping me on the painful edge. He nuzzles me; his warm breath hits my face, his lips trace my jaw, and he purrs: “Say it.”
“Please, sir, I want some more.”
I’m annoyed, pent up, and I want to cum, I don’t want to laugh, but he’s being such an impossible arse right now that I can’t help the chuckle that leaves my throat. “You fuck—”
Suddenly, his fingers curl around my erection, his thumb circles the slickened tip of my prick, and the jolt of pleasure pulls a sharp gasp from me. I’ll do anything, say anything to feel his lips, so I choke out: “Please, sir—”
That’s all he needs before he’s on his knees again, swallowing me whole. The moan I make is barely human and my toes curl on the cold floor as I shoot down his throat. Roland lets out a soft, approving noise as he sucks my sanity from me, swallowing thick spurts of me until I don’t have anything left to give. He cleans me with his tongue, making me shudder with the fucking bliss of it all, and finally releases me from his mouth, tucking me back into my pants.
“Feel better?” he murmurs. He’s kissing me sweetly now—my throat, under my ear—as I catch my breath.
“Mm.” I can’t form words. I’ve cum too hard to be a functional human for the next thirty to sixty seconds.
“Good.” His lips press against mine now; gentle and loving and tasting like me. “Because you have to get dressed and I have to brush my teeth. We can’t keep our princess waiting.”
…Stay tuned for updates, or join my newsletter to be the first to get your copy of The Royal’s Baby, coming out at the end of April!