At His Majesty's Request

By: Maisey Yates

“You presented me with unacceptable candidates.”


“You really are being ridiculous. They weren’t unacceptable. What’s the problem? You didn’t find them attractive?”

“They were attractive. But I was not attracted to any of them.”

“You say that like it’s my fault.”

“It is,” Stavros said, whirling around to face her. His dark gaze slid down to her breasts and her own followed.

Jessica looked back up at him. “Elaborate,” she said, teeth gritted.

“You expect that you can show up in that dress and I can focus on other women?”

“What’s wrong with my dress?” She gripped the full tulle skirt reflexively.

“Other than the fact that you’re showing off much more of your breasts than any man could be expected to ignore? It also shows your legs.”

What he was saying felt far too good. She wanted to turn it over in her mind, to savor it. To pretend that it was for her and that it mattered. To bask in being seen as pretty instead of broken.





CHAPTER ONE


“THERE is a science to matching people.” Jessica Carter tucked a lock of blond hair behind her ear and lifted her computer, a flat, all-in-one device shaped like a clipboard, so that it obscured her figure. Pity, Stavros was enjoying the look of her. Even if she was starch and pearls, rather than spandex and diamonds.

She continued, her eyes never leaving the screen. “A matching of social status, values, education and life experience is very important to creating a successful, enduring marriage. I think most match services realize that.” She paused and took a breath, pink lips parting slightly, her green eyes locking with his just for a moment before dropping back down. “However, I have taken things a step further. Matching is not just a science. It’s an art. The art is in the attraction, and it’s not to be underestimated.”

Prince Stavros Drakos, second son of the Kyonosian royal family, and named heir to the throne, leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head. “I am not so much concerned about the art, Ms. Carter. The essentials are general compatibility and suitability for my country. Childbearing hips would help.”

Her pale cheeks flushed crimson, her lush mouth tightening. “Isn’t that what all men want?”

“I’m not sure. And frankly, I don’t care. Most men don’t have to consider the entire populace of their country when they go about selecting a wife.”

But it didn’t matter what most men did. He wasn’t most men. Ever since he’d been forced to step into the place of his older brother, he had been different. It didn’t matter what normal was, it didn’t matter what he wanted. All that mattered was that he be the best king possible for Kyonos.

His methods might be unorthodox, and they might grieve his father, but what he did, he did for the good of his people. It just wasn’t in his nature to be too traditional.

She blew out a breath. “Of course.” She smiled, bright and pristine, like a toothpaste commercial. She was so clean and polished she hardly seemed like a real woman, more like a throwback from a 1950s television show. In Technicolor. “I … Not that I’m complaining of course, but why exactly have you hired me to find you a wife? I’ve read the newspaper articles written about you and you seem perfectly able to attract women on all your own.”

“When I want to find a suit for an event, I hire I stylist. When I need to organize a party, I hire an events coordinator. Why should this be any different?”

She tilted her head to the side. Her hair was in a low, neat bun, her dress high-collared, buttoned up and belted at the waist. A place for everything and everything in its place. She all but begged to be disheveled.

Any other time, he might have done so.

“I see you have a … practical outlook on things,” she said.

“I have a country to run, I don’t have time to deal with peripherals.”

“I’ve compiled a list of candidates, to be refined, of course …”

He took the monitor from her hand and hit the home button, tapping a few icons and not managing to find a list. “What is this?”

She took the device back from him. “It’s a tablet computer. Shall I put that technologically savvy women need not apply?”

“Not necessary, but you can put down that women with smart mouths need not apply.”

Her full lips curved slightly. “Someone has to keep you in line.”

“No one has to keep me in line. I’m going to be king.” That hadn’t kept Xander in line. In fact, he’d pulled himself straight out of line and put Stavros in front. But Stavros wouldn’t falter. He wouldn’t quit.

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