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Authors: Rachel Hauck

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A March Bride

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ZONDERVAN

A March Bride

Copyright © 2014 by Rachel Hauck

This title is also available in a Zondervan audio edition. Visit www.zondervan.fm.

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Zondervan,
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

ePub Edition © February 2014: ISBN 9780310338680

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible,
New International Version®, NIV®
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by Zondervan, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Publisher

s Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author

s imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Interior design: James A. Phinney

To Susie May

Contents

Acknowledgments

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Discussion Questions

An Excerpt from a February Bride

About the Author

T
hank you to the HarperCollins Christian Fiction team for inviting me into the Year of Weddings novella collection. I had great fun writing Susanna and King Nathaniel

s wedding.

I appreciate the efforts of my editor, Becky Philpott, whose taste in story mirrors my own.

Thank you to Sandy Moffett for information on private jets. Any mistakes are mine.

A shout-out to Susan May Warren and Beth Vogt for sounding out my crazy story ideas. You keep me grounded with your friendship.

Much love to my husband who allows me all kinds of space to be who God

s called me to be. And who found a video game to play while I write on deadline. Way to take one for the team, babe!

To all the readers who take the time to read my stories. I really, really appreciate you all! Thank you!

K
ING
N
ATHANIEL
II
AND
A
MERICAN

S
USANNA
T
RUITT
E
NGAGED
!

K
ING
N
ATHANIEL:

I

M
M
ARRYING
THE
L
OVE OF
M
Y
L
IFE

B
RIGHTON
K
INGDOM

The Liberty Press

2 J
UNE

K
ing Nathaniel will achieve what few of his ancestors have been able to: the right to marry the love of his life, American Susanna Truitt.

Less than a day after he convinced Parliament to amend the Marriage Act of 1792 forbidding marriage between foreigners and royals in line to the throne, he winged his way to St. Simons Island, Georgia, and proposed.

Was it romantic?

According to Truitt,

Very. He strung white lights from this old, old oak tree, got down on one knee, and even produced fake snow.

Truitt blushed as she glanced at King Nathaniel.

I told him I wouldn

t fall in love again until it snowed in Georgia.


She never stipulated it must be real snow,

the king said, his arm around his bride-to-be as they sat in the Crown Room of the King

s Office, fielding questions from select reporters.

The king never intended to fall in love eighteen months ago while on holiday in southern Georgia. But

God,

he said,

had other things in mind.

Truitt, a landscape architect, designed the king

s American cottage garden. While she presented garden ideas, romance bloomed.


I

d just ended a long relationship where I thought marriage was the end game,

Truitt said.

But instead of proposing, my boyfriend broke up with me. That very same day, a year-and-a-half ago, I met Nathaniel under this ancient tree, Lovers

Oak.

The king proposed under the same tree. The newly engaged couple plan a March wedding.


Susanna needs time to adjust to Brighton as well as royal life.


It

s very different from slinging barbecue in my mama and daddy

s Rib Shack,

Truitt said, going on to say that joining the royal family is daunting and that the notion of being

a royal

has not completely sunk in.

From Stratton Palace, Dowager Queen Campbell declared she was

thrilled

for her son.

True love comes along so rarely these days.

Prince Stephen, the king

s younger brother, issued a statement from his rugby club.

Susanna is quite the sport. She

s good fun and a solid match for Nathaniel. I

m profoundly jealous. But happy for my brother.

Truitt will be the first foreigner to marry a Brighton ruler since Princess Paulette of Lorraine, the wife of Crown Prince Kenneth, nearly destroyed our military forces by urging her husband and father-in-law to aid her uncle, King Louis XVI, during the French Revolution.

What

s the word on the street of this

American invasion

?


I don

t care who he marries,

uttered a customer at a Cathedral City Starbucks.

Others exude more enthusiasm. One university student said,

My friends and I think it

s grand. She

s a lucky girl. We wish them joy.

Wedding plans are just beginning as Truitt transitions from America to Brighton Kingdom. Designers are frothing to be the Chosen One for the future queen

s wedding gown.

But who knows what this American will choose for her dress or her wedding venue? Traditionally, all Stratton House royals have married at Watchman Abbey, where the king

s coronation was held this past January.


We don

t know what Susanna will do,

said Penny Pitworth, a royal reporter for B-TV.

She may not want to marry in Brighton at all.

Hold your collective gasps. The king and future queen of Brighton may not marry on our sapphire isle at all but on her home isle of St. Simons in Georgia.


Either way,

Pitworth said,

we

ve a royal wedding upcoming and all of Brighton should rejoice.

And so we shall.

F
or the first time in her life, Susanna Truitt was uncomfortable in a garden. As a landscape architect, she viewed gardens as her sweet spot, her place of rest and peace, but standing among the esteemed guests of Lord and Lady Chadweth

s seventeenth-century ivy-covered stone and glass atrium, she felt the arrow of doubt spear her heart.

Three weeks before her wedding, and anxiety rumbled in her soul.

She cut a glance toward her fiancé, King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom, as he laughed with his old university mates.

What in the world was she doing here? Surely Nathaniel had changed his mind about marrying her.

Susanna breathed out, collected her fears, and shoved them aside as she tipped her face toward the bright rays of sun slicing through the glass pane ceiling. After a long Brighton winter, she was homesick for Georgia.


You know you did, mate . . . We were there, eyewitnesses . . .

Susanna tuned in to the conversation around her.


No, no, you

ve got it all wrong, Nigel.

Nathaniel

s protest launched a jovial debate among his friends, an aristocratic group of eight who seemed to look to Nigel as their leader.

Susanna smiled, rocking from one high-heeled foot to the other, exhaling. She had no idea what they were going on about, but lately Nathaniel seemed to have many things in his life that excluded her.

Which led to her feeling a bit like an outsider, even among her garden

friends

—the potted palms, hydrangeas, lilies, and royal maples.


So, Susanna, how is every little thing?

This from Winnie, Nigel

s girlfriend.


Every little thing is just fine.

It was the bigger things that concerned her.

He

s changed his mind.
Of course. It would be on par for her love life. Adam had changed his mind. Why not Nathaniel?


I can

t imagine all you

re going through for this wedding.

Winnie chortled.

It

s the wedding of the century.


So they say.

Susanna

s legs wobbled a bit as she pushed her smile wider.

First lesson in being a royal? Smile. Be cordial. And stand a lot. Who knew royal life included so much standing? And handshaking. Lots and lots of handshaking.

And pulling out the hand sanitizer was considered ill form.

Susanna had rallied the King

s Office to let her wear sneakers or flip-flops for long receiving lines, but the protocol officers flatly refused.


Tell me, are you nervous?

Winnie pressed her hand on Susanna

s arm. A move, she

d learned, that was acceptable for family and close friends, but not others.

I

d be a nervous wreck. The
Liberty Press
is reporting a telly audience of over a billion.

Susanna

s smile faltered as a fresh wave of nerves washed ashore.

Well, then, we

re going to need a bigger cake.

Winnie stared at her, then tee-hee

d.

You

re quite droll, Susanna. I like that in a woman.

With that, Winnie returned to reminiscing with the men and Susanna was back to feeling alone and aching for home. For warmth. For unobstructed sunlight.

Aching for her own folks with whom to reminisce. She

d not been to Georgia since her best friend Gracie

s wedding last October. She

d finally said yes to her boyfriend, Ethan.

But even then, it wasn

t really like being home. Nathaniel couldn

t get away, so Susanna traveled with a security officer and stayed in a hotel.

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