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Secrets and the Bride
Author: Alexa Riley

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

Glenda

 

 

As I watch my brother, Prince Felipe of Andora, with his bride Amelia, it gives me a trace of hope that one day I too can find a love like theirs. Growing up with parents like ours, it’s hard to believe that we could be matched with someone we could actually love.

Mom and Dad can’t stand to be in the same room with each other for more than a few hours. That’s about as long as they can pretend to be a happy couple. Sometimes I wonder how they had three kids. I can’t even recall a time when they ever liked each other, so they never gave me romantic ideas of marriage.

With them as my only example, I was sure that’s how all arranged marriages went. That I’d have to learn to live with whoever my chosen spouse was. When I was old enough to understand what marriage truly was and how it worked in our world, I dreaded the idea.

Now, seeing my brother dance around the ballroom with his bride, it gives me a hint of hope for something else. Then again, he had a hand in picking his bride. He’d known for years that Amelia would be his wife one day. In fact, he’d even planned and mapped out his life for it. I didn’t know my brother could be such a sweetheart when it came to romance, but I guess love can make you do crazy things.

For me, it won’t be the same. I’m actually not sure who will have a say in my marriage; it might be my father or my brother. I hope it’s Felipe, because he sees marriage differently and he’s very protective of me. My father might love me, but he sees things in black and white. It’s why Felipe took the path he did, choosing to make a name for himself. He didn’t need my father’s money, and he couldn't be bought. Father had no control over him, and I can see how angry that made him.

“Princess Glenda, would you care to dance?” Steven asks, placing his hand on the back of my chair.

He’s been watching me most of the night. I think he’s been waiting to get me by myself, but I’ve kept making sure I was never alone. Even now, people are within hearing distance, and I’m sure some are listening. People in these circles are always looking for gossip.

“I have a bit of a headache. Maybe next time?” I lie, and Steven's smile falters. There is only one person I was hoping would ask me to dance, but he’s been very scarce, even with this being his sister’s wedding.

Irritation flashes across Steven’s face, but he quickly masks it. He’s not used to being told no. The only reason he was even giving me attention is because I was one of the only women here not falling all over myself to dance with him. If I shared even one dance with him, people would talk. But honestly, that wasn’t the reason I didn’t want to. Steven is everything I don’t want in a man. He’s too poised and put together, and I find his charm to be annoying.

If I ended up on the dance floor with him, it would be a reminder to everyone that I existed. I’ve only been back from prep school for a little over a month, and I know it’s only a matter of time until offers for my hand in marriage start to come in. I’d hoped hiding in the shadows would give me a bit more time, but my brother getting married has now thrust me into the spotlight. I’m sure even now my father is chatting with someone about how it’s my turn next. For Cillian, I would dance if he asked. He’d be the only one that could get me to stop hiding in the shadows this evening.

“That one didn’t interest you?”

“Felipe.” I smile as I stand up from my seat to give my brother a hug. He’s glaring toward the direction Steven left in. “Where’s your wife?” I ask, steering his attention back to me. He’s not going to get into a fight at his own wedding. Especially over Steven.

“Saying her goodbyes to her family.” He leans down and presses a kiss to my cheek. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“I’m not dancing with anyone.” I shrug.

“You danced the other night,” he points out with a smug smile.

A rush of heat fills my body thinking back to that night. I had danced with a man that night. A man that has ruled all my thoughts since. He’s even in my dreams. There was a darkness around him that drew me toward him, and no matter how hard I tried, I can’t seem to forget him. It wasn’t until we were halfway through our dance that I put together who he was. Cillian Flores. The brother of the woman Felipe is marrying.

“I had a mask on. No one knew it was me. I can’t go dancing with random men. I’ll end up with a reputation like yours,” I tease, knowing that one will hit the mark. Then maybe he’ll leave me alone about my mystery man. We both need to forget about him because he’s clearly forgotten about me.

“Don’t be a brat,” he grumbles, annoyed by my remark.

Felipe had a reputation of being a playboy because he was often seen out at clubs and bars all over the city at night. It was bullshit because that’s not who my brother is. He actually owned all those clubs at the time, but the story of Prince Felipe being a playboy was far juicier. He hadn’t cared about the label until he found out the woman he loved believed those rumors to be true. He had to convince her otherwise. Clearly it worked because she walked down the aisle and said, “I do.”

“I won’t be a brat if you go and enjoy yourself. Have fun on your honeymoon,” I encourage him. Felipe has worked hard his whole life for what he has. It’s time he enjoyed himself.

“I plan to.” He drops another kiss on my cheek before whispering into my ear so only I can hear him. “Father has been talking with a lot of suitors tonight.” I stiffen, and my heart drops. “You don’t agree to anything until I’m back.”

“I didn’t know I had a choice.” I try to keep the emotion out of my voice because this isn’t the time or place to get into this.

“Until I get back,” he repeats, and I nod. “Be good,” he says before he’s off to find his bride so they can make their escape. Knowing that they’re leaving, I see no reason why I can’t do the same. Besides, I don’t think Cillian is here either. He must have snuck off a while ago. There really is no point staying now.

I slip off to the side to try to make a discreet exit. My slippers and Kindle are calling my name. Just when I think I’ve made it without being noticed, a hand wraps around my wrist and stops me from getting away.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Cillian

 

 

“If you go through that door, an alarm will sound.”

When Glenda looks back at me, I immediately drop her hand and take a step back. She probably can’t stand the thought of me touching her. She’s just so perfect I couldn’t help myself.

“Oh, well then I guess that wouldn’t have been useful for a quiet getaway.”

“Why are you leaving?” God, I should walk away now, but everything about her calls to me. Just like the night at the monarch benefit.

“Felipe said he and Amelia are leaving, so I didn’t see the point in staying any longer.” She shrugs her shoulders and then looks back toward the reception. “I don’t think this party has a chance of slowing down anytime soon.”

“How are you getting home?” I’m surprised I said the words out loud, but when it comes to Glenda, my control is always close to snapping.

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