Read Gamble on Engagement Online

Authors: Rachel Astor

Tags: #mcmaster the disaster, #celebrity, #engagement, #paparazzi, #bridesmaid, #diary, #movie star, #wedding, #london, #scandal, #disaster diary

Gamble on Engagement (3 page)

BOOK: Gamble on Engagement
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The driver just chuckled, allowing me to
keep at least a tiny shred of my dignity.

The gravel crunched under the tires as we
pulled up to the front door, which could hardly even be called a
door since you could probably fit a semi through it.

As the driver got out and moved to open my
door for me, I did my best to close my gaping mouth and step out of
the car gracefully. So obviously, I stumbled over the loose gravel,
sinking in with my new wedge sandals, which, though perfect for
traveling, were apparently not so great for gravel driveways.

I grabbed my carry on and followed the
driver to the door, who, thankfully had the rest of my luggage and
was having no trouble whatsoever with the stinking gravel. I
however was struggling a bit with what had to have been six inches
of deep, dusty, rock. So not shoe-friendly.

The driver rang the bell and less than a
second later, the door was opening. Seriously, the woman had to
have been standing with her hand on the doorknob, which also meant
she had probably witnessed my ungraceful trek through the dastardly
gravel of doom. Ugh.

“Miss McMaster,” the woman said, with a curt
smile.

I pasted on my very best smile and held my
hand out to her. “Nice to meet you,” I said, beaming as brightly as
I possibly could without looking possessed.

The lady seemed to jump back slightly before
finally taking my hand.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t really succeed with
the whole non-possessed thing.

She was dressed all in black like she was in
mourning or something, but perhaps even more startling than that
was her extreme haircut, the most perfectly straight black hair I
had ever seen, including the most perfectly straight bangs in the
history of mankind. It did show off her eyes though, which were the
lightest grey, almost like a wolf’s. I couldn’t figure out why she
would dress so severely when she was around the same age as me, and
could have totally been way prettier in something else, anything
else, but I guess she just wasn’t into fashion or something.

“I am Miranda Steeves, the Prince’s
Executive Assistant.”

“Very nice to meet you,” I said, wondering
if you could actually have an Executive Assistant if you weren’t
actually an Executive.

I thought it best not to bring that up with
Miranda though. She did not look like the kind of person who might
find my random thoughts on life at all interesting or amusing. In
fact, I had to admit, I was becoming more and more afraid that this
woman would rather feed me to the dogs than show me to my room.
Then that, of course, got me wondering whether or not there
actually were any dogs. You know, the “unleash the hounds!” kind of
dogs.

I glanced behind me, but I saw no sign of
dogs of any kind, or even a fence for that matter, though I suppose
if you were a Prince you could afford those special zapping collar
thingies where you didn’t need fences at all.

Fortunately, Miranda led me into the house
before I could think too much about it.

I expected the inside of the castle to be
dark and dank, you know, like you always see castles in movies, but
this was bright and cheery and modern and pretty much the most
perfect house on Earth. The large foyer opened up to a huge grand
staircase, which led up to a hallway branching out to the left and
the right at the top of the stairs. On either side of the foyer,
large arched doorways led into rooms that seemed to go on
endlessly. To the right was what looked like an entertainment room
of some sort with a large space cleared out for mingling, and a
baby grand at the far end. To the left was the biggest home library
I’d ever seen. No, scratch that. The biggest library I’d ever seen,
period.

Sadly, I didn’t get much time for gazing—or
more accurately, gaping—before Miranda began to lead me up the
stairs.

“This way please,” she said, all business,
her heels clicking pointedly on the marble floor.

So much for cozying up to the assistant to
get the real scoop on the prince, I thought. Here I’d been
daydreaming of becoming fast friends with the staff, getting the
good gossip because of my real-world charm, which was something, I
assumed, might be lacking in the house. Of course, I hadn’t thought
of the fact that the staff might include secretary she-bots.

Somehow I managed to catch myself before I
started giggling over the she-bot images flashing through my head.
Goodness knows I didn’t want Miranda thinking I was disrespecting
her in any way—something told me I would come to regret it if she
thought I was.

Actually, I felt kind of like I was back in
grade school and Miranda was the principal or something.

She led the way down the long hallway,
turning corners a few times, effectively making me panic about how
I was ever going to find my way around the giant maze of a
castle.

Eventually, she stopped in front of a door.
One of several doors in the wing that looked exactly the same, and
I had absolutely no idea how I would ever find my way back. Maybe
this was her way of not so subtly letting me know I was not to
leave or something. Or maybe she was just enjoying watching me
panic.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “You’ll figure out
the layout of the castle in no time.” But the look on her face was
more like she thought it would be a cold day in hell before my
American butt would ever find my way around.

Sadly, I was starting to think the same
thing.

 

 

 

 

~ 3 ~

 

Miranda swept open the door to the room,
which was more like a suite really, and things began to look
up.

Way up.

There was a living room, complete with TV,
stereo, and office space—which would come in handy for the book—a
separate bedroom with king bed, full walk-in closet and a bathroom
the size of my entire apartment back home.

Oh yeah, did I mention the Jacuzzi tub?

The driver, who was still following us, set
my luggage on the large bench in the closet and left without saying
a word. I was guessing he was probably scared of Miranda too.
Goodness knows I probably wouldn’t be saying anything more than was
absolutely necessary to the woman.

“Thank you!” I yelled out at him, mad at
myself that I didn’t even catch his name.

I turned back around to find Miranda giving
me the dirtiest look. Apparently she wasn’t much for common
courtesy. “Um, and thank you too Miranda, for showing me to my
room.” I was thinking maybe she just felt left out or
something.

But the coolness in the next look she gave
me was even more startling than the first. Sheesh, you just
couldn’t win with some people.

“I’ve been instructed to give you full
access to the house and the grounds,” she said, looking like the
words tasted bitter.

“Great,” I said as sweetly as possible.
“I’ll take all the access I can get to the Prince. I really want to
get a feel for who he is as a person, deep down, not just a
Prince.” I smiled.

Miranda did not. She just stood there
looking like something smelled funny. And really, it could have
been me, since, you know, I’d been in the Economy section of the
plane for so long and Missy had practically choked out our section
with her ample perfume. Still, you’d think the woman could hide her
distaste a little better than she was.

But really, I had to thank her since it gave
me the idea to have a nice long soak in that swimming pool sized
Jacuzzi tub, and wash a little of that Missy-ness off me. And the
moment she finally walked out of my room, instructing me that
dinner wouldn’t be for three hours (and even though I was starving
I didn’t dare ask for a snack), that’s exactly what I did. The
counter was practically a bath supply store with every color and
scent of bath salts, bubbles, and soaps you could imagine. I
settled on a nice vanilla, cherry blossom combo and settled in.

It was magical.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt
so pampered. Sure, the VanHorn wedding had only been a few weeks
ago, and we’d all been treated to a spa day then, but that day was
about as far as you could get from relaxing.

Lying there, finally with a moment to
myself, I thought about Jake, wondering what he was up to,
wondering when I would get to talk to him again.

Being on different continents wasn’t going
to make things any easier, but I was willing to do whatever it took
to make sure everything stayed solid in our relationship.

I was surprised at how quickly I started to
get bored in the tub—I would have thought I’d have months’ worth of
thoughts to catch up on—but it turned out I really didn’t. Of
course, then I couldn’t help but wonder what that said about me,
that I didn’t even have enough material to mull over for the length
of a bath for goodness sake. Oh well, it wasn’t like there would be
a shortage of things to do at the castle. There was still almost
the whole place to explore, plus the grounds, not to mention
finding out where the nearest town was and if I had access to a car
to even get there if I wanted to.

I also wanted to get started on the research
I wasn’t able to do on the plane, since, you know, Missy was all
over my business and I hadn’t even known who my subject was yet. I
dressed in a cute sundress, which felt completely perfect for the
country setting, and went to the office area of my suite to check
on the Wi-Fi situation. Of course, as I should have known, the
space was fully equipped with everything I was ever going to need
including internet connection, fax machine, phone line, and one of
those coffee makers with the little pods where you can make
whatever kind of coffee or tea drink you like. I settled on a
Cappuccino and plugged my laptop into the Wi-Fi.

It was really rather maddening though, how
little information was available on Prince Leo. There were
countless appearances and photos, but there really didn’t seem to
be that much substance about him in all of cyberspace. It was then
that I realized how important this book could really be. All of
England was probably dying to know the scoop on Prince Leo, and I
was the one who was charged with giving it to them.

Even in my somewhat skimpy attire, I began
to sweat. Good God, what had I gotten myself into?

There was still a good hour and a half
before dinner would be served, and the Cappuccino had temporarily
filled the void in my stomach, so, not wanting to think about how
in over my head I could be, I decided to go exploring. Maybe I
could get a handle on the Prince by discovering what he loved to
surround himself with.

First of all, it was interesting that he
chose to live in the country at all, since he was famous for taking
in London’s nightlife on a regular basis, but maybe he was in a
similar situation to Jake and just needed to get away from it all,
live a private life most of the time.

Lord knew I could certainly relate after my
crazy temporary fame as a bridesmaid for the celebrity wedding of
the year back home.

I was about to head out of my suite to check
out the castle when I realized if I didn’t do something to
distinguish my room from all the rest of the doors that looked
exactly the same in this hall, I would really be screwed. But it
had to be something that would be kind of permanent—I could just
see a cleaning person taking off a ribbon I’d so carefully put
there, or something—no, I needed something with more staying
power.

It hit me, and I couldn’t believe how
ingenious it was. My black light nail polish. In most light, it
looked almost clear, but as soon as a black light hit it, it
glowed. And since I had a little black light flashlight on my
keychain, it would be perfect. I fished the polish and light out of
my suitcase and went to work with a smiley face on the doorknob.
I’d have to just simply take it off with polish remover before I
left in three months, and no one would ever know the difference.
And they’d think I was oh so smart, never having to ask my way
around the castle. As long as I could find the right hallway, I’d
be set.

Of course, that in itself was a big if.

The castle was even more amazing once I
really got looking. I gaped at the sheer size of it of course, but
also at all the stuff in it. I couldn’t imagine how one would even
go about decorating a place so big, let alone filling every room,
but filled they were. Bedroom after bedroom of immaculately made
beds, each one more charming than the last. I knew because I
started opening all the doors, listening first, to make sure no one
was inside, but Miranda did tell me I had full access to the house,
so I figured why not? It was, after all, the best way to get to
know the Prince. Although, when I walked into a bedroom that had an
older gentleman taking a nap on top of a delicate yellow flowered
bedspread, I quickly decided to abandon that idea. Thank God I
hadn’t woken him. Now that would have been embarrassing.

It didn’t take as long as I thought to get
through the section of the house where my room was, and since I was
afraid I might get lost if I explored too much further to the other
wings, I thought I might head outside to see what kind of cars the
Prince might have in the garage. You can always tell a man by his
toys, right? Not that I knew the slightest thing about cars, but at
least I could see if he preferred sports cars or off-roading.

I could not have been more shocked at what I
found out in the seven car garage. Inside, it looked almost more
like a stable than a garage, and I half expected a horse to come
strolling alongside me. It didn’t smell like a stable though, and
in each of the “stalls” a car was parked. Most of them were just
regular cars you would see on the street anywhere, with two
exceptions. A black Hummer, the original kind, like the army uses,
and a little silver Aston Martin. I know, I know, I wouldn’t
normally know an Aston Martin if it came up and bit me on the butt,
but I could read what the insignia said. At least I knew enough to
know that an Aston Martin is a very nice, very expensive car.

BOOK: Gamble on Engagement
10.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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