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 (8 page)

BOOK: Gamble on Engagement
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“Still, they had to have been better than
Miranda.”

“In a lot of ways, yes. But at least the
Prince’s life is organized now. Having grown up fairly sheltered,
he is not the best at organization himself. And it would seem a
firm hand suits him. I believe his nanny was quite strict with him
when he was growing up and that’s what he seems to respond best
to.”

It was all I could do not to go fishing in
my purse for a pen and paper, or better yet, a recorder.

I nodded and hoped he would continue, but
the car fell into silence for the rest of the way while Reginald
must have been mulling over his words in silence, and I kept
repeating them over and over in my head so I wouldn’t forget. The
nanny was definitely someone I wanted to look into deeper.

Back at Gatesbury, I was more than a little
relieved that Miranda did not appear to be around. I quickly
dropped my stuff in my room. Reginald had wanted to carry it for
me, but honestly, all the fuss was getting on my nerves a bit. I
mean, if I couldn’t carry a bag a few steps to my room, things were
seriously dire. I knew it was his job and all, but it was a little
insulting.

I headed out back, grabbing my iTouch to
record my thoughts on the conversation I’d had with Reginald. It
was my first true gem and I felt like it might be the start of
something really great.

I wandered around to find a quiet place to
sit and discovered a huge courtyard, complete with a hidden pool on
the south side of the house that I hadn’t even known was there. It
was like a tiny tropical oasis right there on the premises. I could
not believe no one had mentioned it to me. If I’d known it was
there, I might not have taken off so quickly to Spain.

Although I really had wanted to see
Spain.

I settled into a lounge chair and began
reciting my thoughts.

But it didn’t take long for me to lay my
head back and fall into a bit of a catnap, what with the sun
beating down on me and the relaxing, trickling sounds of the
manmade waterfall, I didn’t have a chance.

It was pure heaven.

Until the rude awakening a way-too-short
while later.

“Miss McMaster!” the sternest voice in the
world came crashing into my dream.

My face squinched up at the sheer anger in
the voice, and I dreaded opening my eyes. But I knew I could not
avoid it forever.

Although I really wished I had.

Because there stood Miranda, which was bad
enough, but the real tragedy was that in her hands she held the
books I’d loaned from London, and worse, the tabloid featuring me
on the cover, which I distinctly remember putting in my bag for
safe keeping.

 

 

 

 

~ 7 ~

 

“This is extremely unprofessional.”

“You went through my stuff?” I asked.

Miranda straightened up and sniffed. “Of
course I wouldn’t normally go through your stuff, but there was a
random bag in one of the guest rooms and I looked inside to see who
it belonged to. Unfortunately, it was all too clear.”

My mind was reeling, both at the shame of
being caught in a lie, and at the fact that I couldn’t understand
what she was talking about. I had definitely put my bag in my room.
Except… what if it was the wrong hallway again? Surely all the
rooms couldn’t possibly look that much alike.

“It wasn’t my room?”

“It would appear not,” she said, raising her
nose even higher.

I buried my head in my hands.
Stupid,
giant castles.

I sighed. “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you
about Spain. I honestly didn’t know I was doing anything wrong
until you called. Then I just tried to make the best of a bad
situation and get back here as soon as I could.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, if you really
don’t think you did anything wrong, then I sincerely doubt even
more that you are the right person for this job. And these would
seem to plead my case.” She actually tossed the books into my
hands. “I knew the Prince was being ridiculous when he insisted
upon hiring you, what with your limited experience.” She looked
right at me. “And by limited, I mean none. You aren’t even a real
writer.”

My mouth dropped open. I mean, I knew I was
no biographer, at least not yet, but it was a slap in the face to
say I was not a real writer. I’d been writing copy my entire adult
life. I had degree in creative writing for Pete’s sake. “Miss
Steeves, I understand that this doesn’t look very good on my part,”
I said, gesturing to the books, “but I think they at least prove
that I’m trying to do the best job possible.”

She scoffed.

But I had no choice but to keep fighting.
“The Prince knew my background when he hired me, he knew I wasn’t
an experienced biographer, but he still thought I would be the best
person for the job based on my other experience.”

“Yes,” she sneered, “your other experience.
Ridiculous, in my opinion. Hiring someone because they know what
it’s like to be in the tabloids.” She seemed to suddenly remember
she was holding one in her hand. “Which, I see, has not ceased to
follow you around. Yet another reason we really shouldn’t have you
around.”

“What? Why?” I asked.

“Why? Because the press is still after you,
that’s why. I mean, we can’t very well have the paparazzi staking
out the castle wondering what the most famous Bridesmaid in the
world is doing running around here, now can we?”

“No one knows I’m here,” I said,
quietly.

“Oh really? And did you know when these were
being taken?” She waved the tabloid in the air.

“No,” I said, even quieter now.

I could see I was in a losing battle. I knew
I should just walk away and start packing. “Am I fired then?” I
asked, not able to take much more. Tears were stinging the back of
my eyes and the last thing I wanted to do was cry in front of this
robot of a woman.

She dropped her arm to her side, my magazine
face slapping her in the thigh. “I would certainly think so, but
the Prince will have the final say. Though you most certainly can
be assured that he will hear about all of this.”

I couldn’t help but notice she deflated a
little with her last outburst. She obviously wanted me out of there
badly, and it seemed to be killing her that she didn’t have the
sole authority to get rid of me. No matter what, it seemed, the
Prince would always have the last word.

Not that it mattered, I was sure.

Once Leo heard about my trip, and the stupid
books, he’d probably fly back just so he could boot me out himself.
I probably would. Okay, I wouldn’t be that mean, but I probably
wouldn’t be that happy about an employee doing something like this
either. Although, seriously, no one told me I had to stay there
24/7. I mean, was I a prisoner or what?

Not that I should complain. The place
was
practically a paradise. God, what was I thinking even
leaving? I couldn’t have had a more perfect situation than living
in a lavish castle with all the amenities in the world, including,
apparently, a natural oasis pool area, and I went and blew it just
because I decided I wanted to see the world.

I mean seriously, what was wrong with
me?

“I’ll go start packing,” I said, picking up
the books and walking back toward the castle.

As soon as I rounded the corner and was out
of eyesight of Miranda—she’d apparently stayed back to either cool
down or give me some space—Lance practically jumped right in front
of me, the perfectly twisted ends of his moustache bouncing a
little.

It was all I could do not to let out a
scream.

“Don’t let her get you down, Miss McMaster.
She’s always got her knickers in a bunch.”

Despite the situation, I couldn’t help but
smile. I’d only been there for a little while, but I was going to
miss this place.

“Yeah, well, it’s looking like I won’t have
to deal with her much longer.” I tried to smile, but I’m sure it
came out rather pathetic looking.

Lance patted me on the shoulder. “Don’t
worry Miss Josie, the Prince won’t let you go that easily.” He
smiled and walked away.

But… what the heck was that supposed to
mean? Not let me go? It’s not like I was his in the first place.
Well, except as a ghostwriter. Oh, that’s what he meant. He
wouldn’t let me go as his ghostwriter. Sheesh Josie, you really do
have a vivid imagination. I figured I’d better go straight for the
Disaster Diary.

 

Dear Disaster Diary,

 

Remember that first date with the cute law
clerk that worked downstairs? And how long we’d had that flirtation
going? Man I put a lot of time into that guy, ‘accidentally’
getting into the elevator at the same time as him, except I was
actually just standing outside the elevator door for hours, just
waiting to see if he would be in there? And just ‘happening’ to go
for a drink at the coffee cart at the same time as him, only
really, I was standing at the window, waiting for him to appear?
Then finally, that fateful day when he actually said hi? Eeee!

So, after all those months of, you know, not
exactly stalking the guy, but not exactly not stalking him either,
he finally asked me out? What a marvelous day! Really, it was a
miracle I was able to spit out the word yes, I’d built the whole
thing up so big in my head.

And then we went out for dinner. To that
sports bar with the patio. And he was totally outdoorsy and wanted
to sit outside.

Where that ‘friendlier than you’d ever want’
bird kept hovering around our heads?

Yeah, I guess I didn’t come off too great
after it decided to poop right there on my head.

I still wonder if it was the poop itself, or
all my panicked screaming that turned that very hard-won first date
into our last.

At least I learned that stalking someone is
hardly worth it.

 

Since I probably only had a tiny bit of time
left on the premises, I decided I was going to make the best of it.
Well, as best of it as I could without leaving my room, that is. I
was not about to risk running into Miranda again. I could only
imagine what she’d rip into me for next time.

So I poured another shot of aromatherapy
into the tub and eased in for a soak.

A little while later a frantic pounding
sounded at the door.

Great, she’s sent some kind of security thug
to evict me from the premises or something, I thought. “I’ll be
there in a minute,” I yelled as I reluctantly stepped out of the
tub, searching for a robe. Prancing across the room, shivering like
nobody’s business, I finally grabbed a towel and wrapped it around
me, completely forgetting about the flowered bath cap I’d put on to
keep my hair dry. And it might not have been so bad if it hadn’t
have been one of those ones that looked like old fashioned swim
caps with flowers pasted all over it like it belonged in the
fifties.

And it really might not have been so bad if
I hadn’t opened the door to find…

…the Prince.

“Oh hi! Um… wow, you’re… back!” I said, as
cheerily as I could, considering my arms were covered in goose
bumps and my head was enveloped in colorful rubber flowers.

I’m not sure if Prince Leo jumped back
because of my appearance, or the frighteningly loud way I was
shouting. You know, since I was all freaking out, apparently
destined to always make an ass of myself while in his company.

“Um, yes,” he said, finding his cool as a
cucumber-ness again.

“So….” I had absolutely no idea what to
say.

“Please say you’re not leaving,” he said
quickly, cutting me off.

“Well, not dressed like this, I’m not,” I
said, smiling sheepishly, hoping to make him at least smile.

Wait, did he just say not to leave?

“Well, tell me you’re not leaving after you
get dressed either.”

“Um, okay? But… what about…”

He waved away my words, shaking his head.
“Don’t worry about Miranda, she doesn’t decide everything around
here. She’s a life saver of course, but no matter what she thinks,
she doesn’t always know what’s in my best interests.”

“Um… okay, so I’ll keep writing then?”

“Yes, of course, please do. No one else will
ever be able to capture what it really feels like to be hounded by
the press the way you do.”

I nodded. “Okay.” I wanted to say so much
more, like apologize for being so unprofessional, and for not
knowing what the hell I was even doing, but I was slightly
terrified of him changing his mind. I figured it was best just to
keep my mouth shut for once. “And thank you again for the
opportunity.” I smiled, tugging my towel tighter.

I really was not comfortable having a
business conversation in my bath wear. Especially with a guy who
looked like Leo.

“And really, don’t let Miranda get under
your skin. She really is very nice once you get to know her.”

I smiled. “Sure, yeah.”

Of course, I had a sinking feeling that she
might really be out for blood now—I certainly wouldn’t be too happy
if someone put me in my place like that.

But I was not about to let that stop me. I
was going to write the best darn ghostwritten autobiography that
the world had ever seen.

 

~~~

 

I started on the book right away. I mean, I
meant to, but…

… there was something else I just couldn’t
get out of my head.

Spain.

The guy that I thought was Leo for a
second.

The whole whirlwind of ideas swirling in my
head, not letting me think clearly.

I told myself I’d just jot down a few notes,
you know, to get all the craziness out of my head.

But, me being me, I couldn’t stop myself
from typing out the whole sordid tale (as pictured in my head, that
is) of Leo and his Spanish mistress, complete with love child named
Sergio. Before I knew it, I had over 35 pages written. I mean, I
knew it was totally wasted time, and I couldn’t use it for
anything, but it was nice to at least get something down on paper…
well, on computer, anyway. If only the Prince’s life was more
exciting, a Prince and his mistress, hiding their love child in
secrecy for years so as not to sully the Royal family’s name.

BOOK: Gamble on Engagement
5.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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