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Royally Screwed

By:Emma Chase

Royally Screwed
Emma Chase

Acknowledgments

It's not always easy coming up with a new story idea. Every author wants to write something epic-an entertaining, heartwarming book that will resonate with readers, with loveable, sexy, funny characters that will stay with them long after The End.

But sometimes, inspiration takes a holiday, leaving a writer to flounder with the question: What am I going to do next? The idea for Royally Screwed and the Royally Series was a few months in the making. I'd had some thoughts about a few potential stories-even some outlines-but none of them grabbed me by the throat and said, "This...this is the story you have to write." A phone call with my amazing agent, Amy Tannenbaum, changed that. I've often said that my first reading love was historical romance, but my favorite stories to write are contemporary romances. And I, like most of the public, am fascinated by the comings and goings of today's modern royals-it's such an elite, unique form of celebrity (and the babies are adorable!!). During my brainstorming session with Amy, those passions and interests created the perfect storm of inspiration . . . and Royally Screwed was born.

In the days that followed, I went on a writing bender. Frantically jotting down notes and outlines and little snippets of dialogue, not just for Royally Screwed-but for the books that will follow. That's not usually how I work. Typically, I'm consumed by one story-one couple's journey-and everything else fades to the background. But for this series, I fell completely in love with all the couples-every character-the entire world was a fantastic combination of realism and fictional. There was just so much to sink my writing teeth into.

First and foremost, there was the romance-the exciting, entertaining, exhilarating journey of two people finding each other, falling in love and overcoming every obstacle that gets in their way. But there were other themes too-the intrusive public thirst to know every detail of a public figure's life, the idea of family obligation and the sacrifices we make for the people we love. The captivating idea of modern day royalty- these attractive, wealthy but also typical twenty-something's who are bound by rules and traditions that are literally centuries old.

I'm thrilled with how Royally Screwed turned out. I can't wait for you to meet Nicholas and Olivia, and the group of friends and family that surround them. I can't wait to finish writing Royally Matched and Royally Endowed, so I can continue to share with you the world and characters that I've fallen head over heels in love with.

Inspiration can be tricky-but if you're lucky, you have people around who'll help you cultivate and re ne it. I'm very lucky.

And so, as always, I'm grateful to my agent, Amy Tannenbaum and everyone at the Jane Rotrosen Agency for your constant support and guidance and for working so hard to bring my books to fruition.

Thanks to my publicist, Danielle Sanchez and everyone at InkSlinger PR-it's been a joy working with you.

Thanks to my assistant Juliet Fowler who's always on the ball and is so good at everything she does.

Huge thanks to Gitte Doherty, of TotallyBooked, for always making me smile and for helping me make Nicholas a swoony, sexy, not-American sounding beast!

I'm sure I'm not alone in thanking Hang Le of By Hang Le designs for this absolutely gorgeous cover and for all her beautiful graphics. Much gratitude to Coreen Montagna for your terrific work.

All my thanks and hugs to Nina Bocci, Katy Evans, K. Bromberg, Marie Force, Lauren Blakely and all my fabulous, awesome author friends!! It's always reassuring to know I'm not crazy-but the life of a writer often is.

On that note, love and gratitude to my family-for your patience and understanding, encouragement and unending support. Thank you for putting up with me, I know it's not always easy.

And to my stupendous, wonderful readers-I love you guys!!! Your support and excitement is humbling and you make this writing business all the more joyful. Thank you for sticking with me from book to book, series to series.

Now . . . go dive in and get Royally Screwed! xoxo

MY VERY FIRST MEMORY isn't all that different from anyone else's. I was three years old and it was my first day of preschool. For some reason, my mother ignored the fact that I was actually a boy and dressed me in God-awful overalls, a frilly cuffed shirt and patent-leather brogues. I planned to smear finger paint on the outfit the first chance I got.

But that's not what stands out most in my mind.

By then, spotting a camera lens pointed my way was as common as seeing a bird in the sky. I should've been used to it-and I think I was. But that day was different.

///

Because there were hundreds of cameras.

Lining every inch of the sidewalk and the streets, and clustered together at the entrance of my school like a sea of one-eyed monsters, waiting to pounce. I remember my mother's voice, soothing and constant as I clung to her hand, but I couldn't make out her words. They were drowned out by the roar of snapping shutters and the shouts of photographers calling my name.

"Nicholas! Nicholas, this way, smile now! Look up, lad! Nicholas, over here!"

It was the first inkling I'd had that I was-that we were-different. In the years after, I'd learn just how different my family is. Internationally renowned, instantly recognizable, our everyday activities headlines in the making.

Fame is a strange thing. A powerful thing. Usually it ebbs and flows like a tide. People get swept up in it, swamped by it, but eventually the notoriety recedes, and the former object of its affection is reduced to someone who used to be someone, but isn't anymore.

That will never happen to me. I was known before I was born and my name will be blazoned in history long after I'm dust in the ground. Infamy is temporary, celebrity is fleeting, but royalty … royalty is forever.

ONE WOULD THINK, as accustomed as I am to being watched, that I wouldn't be effected by the sensation of someone staring at me while I sleep.

One would be wrong.

My eyes spring open, to see Fergus's scraggly, crinkled countenance just inches from my face. "Bloody hell!"

It's not a pleasant view.

His one good eye glares disapprovingly, while the other-the wandering one-that my brother and I always suspected wasn't lazy at all, but a freakish ability to see everything at once, gazes toward the opposite side of the room.

Every stereotype starts somewhere, with some vague but lingering grain of truth. I've long suspected the stereotype of the condescending, cantankerous servant began with Fergus.

God knows the wrinkled bastard is old enough.

He straightens up at my bedside, as much as his hunched, ancient spine will let him. "Took you long enough to wake up. You think I don't have better things to do? Was just about to kick you."

He's exaggerating. About having better things to do-not the plan to kick me.

I love my bed. It was an eighteenth birthday gift from the King of Genovia. It's a four-column, gleaming piece of art, hand-carved in the sixteenth century from one massive piece of Brazilian mahogany. My mattress is stuffed with the softest Hungarian goose feathers, my Egyptian cotton sheets have a thread count so high it's illegal in some parts of the world, and all I want to do is to roll over and bury myself under them like a child determined not to get up for school.

But Fergus's raspy warning grates like sandpaper on my eardrums.

"You're supposed to be in the green drawing room in twenty-five minutes."

And ducking under the covers is no longer an option. They won't save you from machete-wielding psychopaths … or a packed schedule.

Sometimes I think I'm schiz

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