Home > The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(2)

The Rebel Prince (Royal Billionaires of Mondragón #5)(2)
Author: Jewel Allen

I sat in a chair across from my editor’s desk, trying not to drum my fingers in impatience. Ed Zwick was taking his time reading my most recent submission, his lips moving under his thin mustache. He was a small man, smaller than my five-foot-seven frame in stockinged feet, and deceptively weak-looking. He made a mark with his pencil on the first page of my story, licked his finger, and turned the page.

Beyond his shoulder, the afternoon beckoned like a promise. It looked like a nice day, perfect for a little stroll or taking the dog for a walk. Not that I had a dog. Someday, maybe, when things settled down. Mama had offered for me to still get a dog, and she said palace staff could watch it whenever I was busy or traveling, but I wasn’t about to delegate a living thing to employees.

I had been in my office for too long, hunched over my computer, which would no doubt horrify my finishing school teacher, Madame Volaire. She’d have said having a deadline didn’t justify it.

I was sore, sleep-deprived, a little punchy, truth to tell, but ridiculously happy. I had just finished my story—one I had wrangled with for over a week just to get the sources right, and here it was, in my editor’s hands. I was sure I had some corrections, but I would survive them. Always had.

Ed ran his tongue over his overbite. “Well,” he said. “Well.”

“Is that a good well or a bad well?”

He raised his eyes to mine. “I need you to start over.”

I froze, my fingers clutching at the chair arm. “St-start over?” I stammered.

“Yes, my dear. This isn’t the story I asked you to do. I wanted a profile, and this has too much…bite. I mean,” he made quotes with his fingers, “‘extortion practices’? ‘Corrupt procedures’?”

“I was quoting their detractors.”

“Precisely. Maybe you shouldn’t quote detractors and instead soften the blow a little. We want the truth, but we don’t want to alienate prominent…advertisers.”

“Is that what this is about?” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. “Appeasing the advertisers?”

Ed tapped his pencil on his desk. It made a dull, hollow sound. “You know I’m all for journalistic integrity. But if we blow off our funding mechanism, that’s no good either. If I were you, I’d get cracking.”

I snatched my draft with as much grace as I could muster and left his office. Along the way, I passed Quill’s desk. A junior reporter, she was typing furiously on her laptop. She raised her head, her dark fringe of bangs obscuring an eye.

“Did he love it?” she asked.

I clutched the papers in my hand. “He wants me to rewrite the whole thing.”

“Whaaaat?” She twitched her nose and shoved her glasses onto the bridge. “But it was good.”

“Apparently, too good,” I quipped. “Anyway, I better get finished. I have—” I gasped as I looked at my Fitbit. I looked back at Quill, who was watching me curiously. “I’m leaving for that Cuban assignment tonight. I haven’t even packed.”

“Can’t you just ask your royal personal assistant?”

“If I had one. You know I don’t roll that way.”

She smiled. “That’s why I liked you so much from day one.”

“I still need to finish my story, though. Ugh. I’ll worry about it later.”

Blowing at her bangs, Quill cocked her head. “Tell you what,” she said. “I wanna give you an early Christmas present. I can run to your place and pack your bag.”

“You would?” I may have squealed a bit. “I would really, really appreciate that. Thank you, Quill. I owe you.”

“Just one of your little cakes sometime.”

She was meaning my latest passion project on Sundays, when I lazed around in my jammies and baked four little cakes, decorating them differently each time and posting them on my Instagram feed.

“Deal. Ta-ta!” I darted to my office and shut the door. For the next two hours, I combed through my notes and rewrote the whole thing, even changing the lead, which I almost wept over. It had been so beautiful. I highlighted and cut the paragraph and took a deep breath. Soon, I’d cobbled together a story I was sure Ed would love. And if he didn’t? Well, too bad.

Just as I was checking for last-minute typos, there was a tap on the glass window of my door. Quill held up a suitcase.

I jumped to my feet and opened the door, giving Quill a little hug. “I decided to give you two cakes.”

Quill beamed.

“Okay,” I said, mostly to myself. “I’m almost done. Just one last pass-through.”

“By the way,” Quill waggled her eyebrows, “I think your new security detail is hot.”

“My what?”

She gave me a sideways glance. “Your bodyguard? I’ve never seen this one before. He’s waiting in the lobby.”

A new bodyguard?

Still confused, I walked over to the main door to the newsroom floor, poking my head out into the lobby. I had explicit instructions for my bodyguards to stay in the periphery of the area, in the hallways. A compromise I had made with the Royal Protocol Office. My gaze swept over the sitting area, but it was empty.

Odd, but Quill said…

I shook my head, telling myself I didn’t have time to check on the bodyguard. When I returned to my office door, I stopped in my tracks. Sitting in one of my chairs was a guy with brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, his broad shoulders encased in a sports jacket.

Entering my office warily, I said, “Can I help you?”

He stood, unhurried, like a tree unfurling. I was close enough to see that the back of his hair wasn’t one color but streaked with lighter strands. And then he turned, pinning me with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. He had a chiseled jaw and a full beard. Drop-dead gorgeous. Everything that turned me leery about a guy.

Something sparked in his eyes. Like he was finding something amusing. I blinked. There was something familiar about him.

“Princess,” he said.

I racked my brain, but his deep voice didn’t jog my memory. “And you are?”

“Mat. Your head security detail for the next five days.”

The way he said that, “next five days,” filled me with jitters. This ripped guy was going to be in close quarters with me? He gave off a confident air, to the point of arrogance. Like he knew his effect on women. Heat prickled the back of my neck, and I pushed that sensation aside as I walked past him and sat at my desk.

My eyes narrowed. “How’d you get past me and into my office?”

Again, that amused glint. “I’m good at sneaking past people.”

“Apparently.”

“Nice to meet you.” I nodded coolly. I would chat more, but time was of the essence. “If you promise to be quiet, you can stay in my office. I’ll only be a few minutes, and then we can go.”

“All right,” he drawled, settling into a chair.

Of course, writing with someone watching my every move was easier said than done. I kept my eyes focused on the screen, but somehow, I felt like he and I were still in some conversation.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

Mateo

 

Good. She didn’t remember me.

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