Royally Matched (Royally Series)

By: Emma Chase

“BALLS.”

I sliced it.

At least I think that’s the correct term. Spliced? Diced? Minced? I’m not sure. I was never a fan of golf. It’s too slow. Too quiet. Too bloody boring. I like my sports the way I like to fuck—wild, loud and dirty.

Football is more my game. Or rugby. Full body contact. Polo is all right too.

Hell, at this point, I’d settle for an energetic Quidditch match.

“What was that, Your Highness?” Sir Aloysius inquires.

I pass the club to Miles, my caddie, and turn briskly to face the men responsible for my afternoon of torture.

“I said, balls.”

Lord Bellicksbub, pronounced fittingly similarly to Beelzebub, Earl of Pennington, covers his gray beard with his aged hand and coughs, his eyes darting away uncomfortably. Because I’m not supposed to say things like that anymore. It’s inappropriate. Crass. Beneath the station of the Crown Prince, heir to the throne of Wessco. Which is the title I’m now saddled with, thanks to my older brother falling in love—the bastard—abdicating the throne, and marrying his wonderful American girl.

In the last year, if I’ve been told once, I’ve been told a thousand times—the heir apparent must act properly.

But I’ve never been very good at doing what I’m told.

It’s a problem.

Or a reflex. If they say left, I go right. If they say sit, I jump. If they say behave, I get drunk and spend the weekend screwing all three of the Archbishop’s triplet nieces.

They were nice girls. I wonder what they’re doing this Friday?

No—I take that back. I’m not wondering that. Because that was the old Henry. The fun, carefree Henry that everyone wanted to be around.

Now I have to be the Henry no one wants to hang around with. Serious. Scholarly. Upstanding, even if it kills me—and it definitely might. Decorum is what my grandmother, the Queen, demands. It’s what Parliament—members like Aloysius and Beelzebub—expect. It’s what my people need. They’re all counting on me. Depending on me. To lead them into the future. To be good.

To be . . . King.

Christ, my stomach rolls every time I think the word. When someone says it aloud I gag. If I’m supposed to be the Great Royal Hope for my country, we’re all well and truly fucked.

“Point well made, Prince Henry,” Sir Aloysius says. “The brand of balls makes all the difference.”

He’s full of it. He knows exactly what I meant. But this is how politics is played. With fakery and false smiles and butcher knives to the back.

I hate politicking even more than I hate golf.

But this is my life now.

Aloysius narrows his eyes at his caddie. “We’d best have decent balls on the next outing or I’ll personally ensure you never work the links again. Apologize to the Prince for your incompetence.”

The young, now pale-faced boy bows low. “I’m terribly sorry, Your Highness.”

And my stomach rolls again.

How did Nicholas put up with this for all those years? I used to think he was a drama king. A downer and a whiner.

Now I understand. I’ve walked a mile in his shoes—and they’re filled with shit.

You would think having your arse constantly kissed would be enjoyable, even just a little. But when it’s a nest of snakes trying to latch on—offering a rim job with their flicking, forked tongues—it’s revolting.

“No worries,” I tell the lad, because I have a feeling if I make an issue out of it, Aloysius will take it out on him.

The caddies fall behind as we walk toward the green.

“What are your thoughts on the repatriation legislation, Your Highness?” Beelzebub asks casually.

“Reparti-what?” I reply without thinking.

“Repatriation,” Aloysius says. “Allowing corporations that have been sanctioned for frivolous labor violations to bring back overseas funds to Wessco, without penalty. It will allow them to create thousands of working-class jobs. The legislation has been stalled in Parliament for weeks. I’m surprised Her Majesty hasn’t mentioned it to you.”

She probably did. Along with ten thousand other facts and figures and bits and pieces of legislation, information, and legalities that I need to know yesterday. I’m not an idiot—I can actually be rather brilliant when I feel like it. I always did well in school.

It’s just difficult to be interested in things I have no interest in.

At first my grandmother sent me information via emails—memos. But after we crashed the Palace’s server, she began having them printed out for me. Probably a whole forest worth of paper is sitting in my room right now, waiting for me.

Sorry, environment.

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