Book Blitz & Excerpt: Runaway Royal + Giveaway

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Runaway Royal by Wendi Zwaduk

Word Count: 50,742
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 198
Heat Rating: Sizzling
Sexometer: 2

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
ROYALS

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Book Description

Will this runaway royal ever find her place…and true love?

All Princess Catherine Zara of Lysianna wants to do is attend college like everyone else her age. So she’s a royal and requires a security guard to move about in public, but if she goes to university, she doesn’t have to marry the man chosen for her. He’s not her true love, so why torture herself? All she has to do to get her life started is to run away to the US…

And then she meets Luke.

Luke Cobb wants to survive college with a degree in studio art and guarantees that he can show his paintings in the local galleries. All he needs is the right break to get his work mainstream and the right woman to stoke his dormant muse. When he meets Zara, he’s smitten and his creativity sparks.

Except, she’s a princess and he’s a commoner, which could be a big problem…

Excerpt

“I can do this.” Princess Catherine shored up her courage. She was a royal. A princess. She could do anything she set her mind to—except stand up to the king and queen.

She stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her parents, the king and queen of Lysianna, wouldn’t allow her to head to another country on her own. They insisted she be an advisor to her brother, the future king. Charlie could handle himself and he’d be a great king—whenever the time came.

If she didn’t practice what she wanted to say, she’d flounder and this was not the time to lose her nerve. She tucked her hair behind her ears. “Mother, Father, I need to speak with you. I’ve completed two years of online schooling towards a degree in art history and I’m going to Kenton State College in the United States to finish it.” Did she sound convincing enough?

She’d already completed her application for acceptance on campus, chosen her classes for the first semester and landed a good apartment in a building just across from the main portion of the campus. Her plane ticket had been paid for and she’d packed most of her things. All she needed to do was tell her parents she’d be leaving.

She abandoned her image in the mirror and resumed packing the last of her things—her brushes, photos and stuffed rabbit in her bag. She’d come back, but she wasn’t sure when. Sadness filled her mind. Change would be hard—she’d only ever lived in the castle—but she needed to move forward with her life. She’d never be happy living as part of the court. Even if she did nothing more than teach an art class or run a portion of a museum back home, she’d be happy and doing something with her life.

Her lady-in-waiting, Corinne, hurried into the room. “I guess you’re ready to go.” She folded her arms. “Want me to go with you? I should.”

She had plans for her lady and wasn’t about to disclose them now. Corinne was terrible with secrets and would’ve told her parents before the point of no return. “It’s handled.”

Corinne sat on the bed. “What am I going to do with myself? I have nothing to do if you’re not here. They might let me go.”

“They won’t.” She closed her bag. “They like you. If my brother wasn’t gay, they’d have married you off to him by now.”

“But he is gay.” Corinne groaned. “Sucks.”

Her lady hadn’t been shy about her crush on Charlie. In the whole of their time together, Corinne had insisted to Catherine she wanted to marry Charlie. The problem? Besides Charlie being gay, he wasn’t going to marry Corinne simply to make an heir. He refused to change just for the royal line.

“Your parents would rather you marry Duke Elmore. He’s handsome,” Corinne said. “If you’re into older guys.”

Catherine shivered. “Older isn’t the half of it. He’s almost twenty years older than me, he’s not handsome at all and I don’t like him. I don’t want to be married to someone who sees me as a ticket to the good life. He wants a title beyond duke.” Her stepmother would never understand. She’d married the king, despite their ten-year age difference, just to have a title.

“So you’re going to America to avoid him?”

“No.” She simply refused to marry someone out of duty, not love. “I want to finish my degree. Art makes me happy. Him? Not so much.”

“Well, it’s time to talk to your parents.” Corinne walked with her to the corridor. “Need me to do anything?”

“Nope. I’ve got this handled.” Catherine gave her bag to the butler. “Thank you.” She shored herself up again and headed down to the throne room. The car was ready and once she reached the airport, the plane would be waiting to whisk her to the States. Even if her parents said no, she’d left nothing to chance.

“Catherine.” Her stepmother, Eloise, closed her book. “You look determined. Have you made a decision concerning the duke?”

“I have.” She clasped her hands together. “I refuse to marry him.” She stood tall. “I’ve made a choice about my future, too.”

“Oh?” Her father finally looked up from his paperwork. “What have you decided?”

She sucked in a ragged breath, then sighed. “Mother, Father, I’m attending college.”

Her father tipped his head and said nothing. Her stepmother gasped. “Why? You’re a royal. You don’t have to do schooling. Elmore will take care of you and you can play with your art all you want. Royals don’t dirty their hands with studies.”

Her stepmother spit the words out like sour candies. Catherine didn’t care. She had to focus. “I want a degree in art history. I’d like to learn about the art here in Lysianna and around the world—like my mother used to know.”

“Interesting,” her father said. He tapped his pen on the table. “Why do you want to follow in your mother’s footsteps?”

She’d prepared for this question. “I need to have something that’s mine. I love art and I’m dying to continue my studies.” She had to keep her explanation short and sweet. The more she talked, the greater the chance her parents would coerce her to change her mind. “I want something to hold on to that reminds me of my mother. I don’t remember her and this is my private link.”

“She’s gone,” her stepmother snapped.

“Let her have this, Queen. It’s her choice,” her father said. “She’ll get bored after a year or she’ll find this is the thing she wants to do. As for Elmore, he can wait. Or maybe he can’t and he’ll choose someone else. Doesn’t matter to me. He’s a pest.”

She wasn’t going to get bored, but if her father thought Elmore was a pest, then why try to palm her off on him?

“What about Charles?” her stepmother said. “He should be the one to go first. Yes, he deserves a degree.”

“He already has one.” Catherine gritted her teeth. Their parents didn’t know Charlie well. He hated being referred to as Charles and he wasn’t interested in going to college again. Charlie had attained a degree on his own and had his plan for making his own way without their parents to intervene. Now was her chance to do the same.

“Anyway, I’m leaving.” She turned on her heel and left the room. If she looked back, she risked changing her mind. Only forward now.

“You’re what?” Her stepmother chased after her. “You cannot. We need to arrange lodgings and security and everything else. You’ll need handlers and Elmore should accompany you for protection. Or he should set up a security detail so he can keep you safe, but stay here to run his businesses.”

God, no. Catherine headed through the foyer to the waiting car. “Goodbye, Mother.” The idea of calling her stepmother Mother annoyed her. She’d had a mother and the queen wasn’t a very good substitute.

“Catherine.” Her stepmother caught up to her. “We’ll summon Elmore. You cannot make the flight unprotected.”

She sighed. “He’s old enough to be my father and he’s not attractive, so no.” She tossed her bag onto the seat. “I’ll be fine. No one in the United States knows me, so I won’t need the huge protection you’re planning.” She’d have her roommate in her new apartment and a few transplanted palace security guards around, but out of sight.

“Take Corinne, please?” Her stepmother pushed Corinne at her. “You can’t go alone. And don’t forget, you need to have an approved consort by the time of your official portrait reveal.”

“Fine.” Catherine nodded to her lady-in-waiting. “Let’s go.” She ducked into the car without bothering for hugs or kisses from her stepmother. That wasn’t her stepmother’s style. Her father hadn’t left the throne room. Her stepmother glared at her, but didn’t otherwise show emotion. She wouldn’t dare. Any bit of cracking might show she was human and the people of Lysianna didn’t think she had emotions. She wanted to say goodbye to her brother, but he wasn’t even in the country.

Catherine settled on the seat and sighed. “That worked out exactly as I planned.”

“What about me?” Corinne asked. “You said I’d stay here.”

“I lied.” She winked. “I couldn’t go totally alone. They’re right. I do need someone with me that I can trust.” Well, mostly trust. “I packed you a bag and added your name to the charter. You’re flying with me.”

Corinne’s eyes widened. “My princess.” She grinned. “Naughty.”

She sighed again. “I’ve never been naughty a day in my life. Crafty, maybe, but never naughty.”

“You’ve lived in your brother’s shadow for too long.”

“He’ll be king and I won’t hold the throne. Even if something happens to him, they won’t let me be queen, so why not have something that’s mine?” Catherine asked. “I don’t mind.” She didn’t. “This way I’m out from under their thumb and can experience life.” She couldn’t wait for the next chapter to start. There was a great big world out there just waiting for her to explore it.

There was the tricky thing about her needing a consort, but she had plenty of time. The portrait reveal wasn’t for another year. The world wouldn’t wait a year—not when her consort might be out there somewhere.

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About the Author

Wendi Zwaduk

Wendi Zwaduk is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to BDSM and LGBTQ themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com and the former AllRomance Ebooks. She also writes under the name of Megan Slayer.

When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

You can find out more about Wendi on her website or on her blog. You can also find her on Instagram, Bookbub and Amazon.

Giveaway

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Runaway Royal by Wendi Zwaduk

WENDI ZWADUK IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 13TH April 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Billionaire and the Princess + Giveaway

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The Billionaire and the Princess
by
Katherine E. Hunt

Book 1 in the Sag Harbor series

Word Count: 60,151
Pages: 238
Book Length: Super Novel
Heat Rating: Sizzling
Sexometer: 2

Genres:

BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
ROYALS

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When a British journalist gets her dream job in The Hamptons, she doesn’t expect to find her dream man too.

All Caitlyn has to do is catch a plane, move to Sag Harbor and start her new job as editor of a brand-new society magazine. That’s what she’s promised herself. No more Mr. Wrong, no more pandering to everybody else’s needs. New life, new Caitlyn.

So when she meets a handsome gentleman on the plane, after a couple of drinks, she’s going to walk away, right? She’s certainly not going to try to join the mile-high club with him.

If it turns out he’s her new boss, Hank Baresi, the youngest son of one of the biggest media moguls in America, but no matter, he doesn’t appear to remember her, anyway.

She’s just going to do her job. No serenading him. No succumbing to his sweet charms and absolutely no falling in love with him.

And, well, if he happens to fall in love with her, she’s just going to say no, right?

Excerpt

There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. I’ve promised, sworn and vowed never to fall for a bad guy again. Take some time out, I told myself, learn the real Caitlyn, love yourself before you love others. Why, oh why, then, am I half-naked in an airplane bathroom with a frickin’ drunken, horny cowboy? Why indeed? He’s hot, there’s that, like six-foot-two hot. You know what I’m talking about. The type of guy that makes you catch your breath when he brushes past you, hair a little unkempt, jaw a little too sharp.

In my defense, I’ve had a very strange year and, frankly, life’s gotten really, really complicated. Then there’s the free alcohol, first time in Business Class… It’s all gone to my head. I might be forgiven for getting carried away. But still, no excuse, Caitlyn, no excuse.

He traces a solitary finger down the outside of my thigh—my leggings hang off one ankle, dragging on the floor. My other foot, placed firmly on the closed toilet seat, is the only thing holding me up.

I lift my hair, curl it up on my head with my hands, soft lips brush against my neck. “You’re so freaking hot,” he slurs.

At first, I’d thought he had a Texan drawl until he’d confessed, giggling as the words came out, that he’d stolen the cowboy hat from the guy in the next seat down.

He’s not Southern—he’s just drunk off his head.

He brushes his fingers up my spine, circling the crux of my neck before gliding over my breasts, past the tips of my nipples, until they stop at the slick gusset of my undies. Fuck. For a man who smells like a brewery and has lost the capacity for coherent speech, he’s pretty deft with his hands.

Pressing tightly onto my pussy, like it’s the only thing holding us up, he fumbles with his trousers, pulling at his belt.

“Do you have a condom?” I ask.

“Uh…shi-it. Maybe?” He tries to grab his wallet with his one free hand and we rock back and forth as he tugs at his pocket.

Is this really happening? It was all going smoothly. Steamy, unexpected, drunken smooch in the corridor, unilateral decision to glide into the bathroom. Semi-naked foreplay.

It’s all so serious, all of a sudden. Sex with a stranger. That’s a sobering thought. Is this how I want to start my new life? It isn’t part of the plan, that’s for sure.

I’ve never done anything like this. I’m not an angel, but I’ve always been the wait a few days, get to know the guy kind of girl. Admittedly, they’d all turned out to be Mr. Emotionally Unavailable, Mr. Terrified of Commitment or Mr. Sleeps with Your Friends Plural Behind Your Back, but hey, I’d always kept my side of the bargain.

His fumbles prove fruitless. He takes his hand off me to grab his wallet, falls backward, slams hard into the door and slides to the ground. Turns out I was holding him up after all.

I spin around. “You okay?” He doesn’t have any visible injuries, but he’s a tall man in a small space and his knees are around his ears. He still looks cute though. God, I need to get laid. My horny is showing.

“Oh shit!” He says it way too loud. Fuck, he’s going to get us caught. I’m not sure what the punishment is for kinky stuff in airplane bathrooms, but I know I don’t want to start my brand-new life in America in an orange jumpsuit.

“Shh,” I whisper, placing my finger over my lips.

“Shh. Hee-hee.” That giggle again. He’s wasted–like, actually out of it. This is rapidly turning into a very bad idea, not that at any point sneaking around with a man I’ve just met had been a solid choice. Kissing him? That had been fun, but now it feels a little like taking advantage.

He flicks through his wallet, still sat, half on the floor, legs splayed either side of me. “Shit. I got nothing.”

I lean down and put my arms around him. He nuzzles into my neck. God, he smells delicious. Whoever he is when he isn’t half-naked and hammered, he has incredible taste in aftershave. “Let’s get you up.”

“Wheeee!” With one hefty yank, he’s on his feet. The effort sends my back crashing against the toilet roll dispenser. It’s like getting a devastatingly handsome, six-foot-two, curly haired, horny octopus to stand to attention. Impossible.

Stepping back to steady myself, I hear a crack. Shit. Hopefully, his phone isn’t super important because it has just smashed into a million pieces under my foot. I kick it out of sight, sit him down on the toilet seat and pull my leggings back up. My libido is fading. Fast.

I pull up my leggings and put my top back on. “You don’t wanna do it anymore?” he drawls, his face downcast.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea, do you?” He can’t even stand up for a start. God knows whether he can get anything else up.

“You’re hot.” He snakes his hands up my sweatshirt.

“Thank you. You’re very, very drunk.” I fasten his belt for him, inciting more giggles, and hand him his wallet, which had flown into the sink. “I think I’m going to go back to my seat. It was very nice meeting you, cowboy. Maybe we’ll meet again someday in better circumstances.” I might sound like I’m fobbing him off, but some part of me sort of wishes it’s true. I most definitely shouldn’t. The type of guy who allows himself to get in this much of a state is not boyfriend material. Not for me, anyway. But he’s a sweetie, and he’s cute when he giggles.

Oh, Caitlyn, you’re such a damn pushover.

* * * *

The old lady in the seat next to mine looks very concerned. “Did you hear all that noise in the toilet?”

“Yes. Apparently, some drunk guy fell over.”

“Oh dear.” She cringes. “Some people do get carried away with the free drinks on these flights. I hope he’s all right.” She’s been reading a guidebook on New York for the last four hours and hasn’t even acknowledged my presence, but now that I’ve got gossip, she’s all ears.

“I’m sure he’s fine. So where are you flying to today?”

She closes her book and looks at me. “New York.” Her eyes widen with excitement. Bless her. She has to be at the very least in her seventies. I see a little of myself in her, always excited by new experiences, no matter how old I get. That’s the only way to live.

“Well, yes. I meant for business or pleasure.”

“I’m going to see my son. He’s got a fancy job in Manhattan, going to show me the sights.” She curls her lips into the biggest grin.

“Oh, that’s lovely.”

Something loud crashes behind us. “Oh dear,” she mutters. “What now?”

A flash of white comes racing past our seats. A butt. A very naked butt attached to a very handsome, drunken, giggly cowboy.

“Shit,” I whisper under my breath. Maybe I shouldn’t have left him to his own devices after all. He turns and waves his not-insignificant appendage at a room full of dozing passengers before a hand reaches through the curtain behind him and pulls his drunken, naked butt into First Class.

“Good lord,” she says, raising an eyebrow. “I haven’t seen one like that since my Henry was alive.”

I turn to her and smile, hiding my deep regret at my rash decision not to get cowboy’s number before I’d left him. “Lucky you,” I reply.

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About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

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Katherine E. Hunt’s The Billionaire and the Princess Giveaway

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Reluctant Royal + Giveaway

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The Reluctant Royal
Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 93,492
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 352
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, GAY, GLBTQI, ROYALS, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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As an unseen enemy draws near, a royal bodyguard must choose between duty and love.

Risking his life to save a princess is all in a day’s work for Sergeant Joe Wenlock, a Close Protection Officer detailed to protect the royal family. After months of recovery following his brush with death, Joe’s ready to return to duties. But Alejandro Fuente-Sastre, as infuriating as he is fabulous, is the last royal Joe wants to be assigned to.

Alejandro isn’t quite the sort of queen that the British royal family is used to, but when Joe learns that Her Majesty’s step-grandson is also drag bombshell Paloma Picante, it makes his job a whole lot tougher. But is there more to Alejo than sulking and sequins?

When Alejandro’s life is threatened by an unseen tormentor who progresses from internet trolling to arson and violence, Joe must keep his charge safe from harm.

Living in close quarters with the man he shouldn’t be falling for, Joe begins to discover his true self. But as Alejandro’s enemy prowls ever nearer, Joe must make the impossible choice between duty and love.

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of homophobia and homophobic language, cyberbullying and threats, harassment, terrorism, drug use and abuse, Islamophobia and suicide. There are mentions of domestic abuse, including physical, emotional and gaslighting.

Excerpt

Joe took another sip of tonic water. He wished it contained gin, because being the only sober person at the table was hardly his idea of fun, but as he watched the bottle of champagne being passed around, he knew he didn’t really want any alcohol anyway. He couldn’t go back to work the worse for wear. Not after months of sick leave. Best foot forward, as his dad would say.

And it wasn’t only his decision not to drink that made Joe an oddity at the table. These were all Wendy’s friends, out for her birthday. Solicitors, legal types, who’d spent most of the evening already talking shop. Joe looked on, his mind on other things. Would he cope on his first day back? Would they trust him to ever do a good job again?

“So, Joe, we’re taking bets on who you’re going to be coddling next week!” Wendy put her second bottle of Prosecco on the table and settled into her seat. Her leg brushed Joe’s momentarily and she shifted, putting air between them again. “Izzy thinks one of the Fergie duo. Barnaby’s bet his bonus on Wills and Kate. I think it’s going to be the queen. The top job for a top bobby!”

“I don’t know yet.” Joe shrugged. “Maybe one of the corgis?”

“I bet you do know, and you’re teasing us!” Wendy’s friend Jemima brayed. “Have you signed the Official Secrets Act?”

Joe turned the plastic stirrer through his fizzing drink, rattling the ice cubes against the glass. He didn’t pester Wendy’s friends about confidential matters, so why did they think he was fair game? “As you know, if I had, I wouldn’t be allowed to say.”

“Whoever it is,” Wendy told them, “let’s hope they don’t put my poor old hubby in hospital again! He’s getting too old to play the action hero!”

Wendy’s friends laughed, and Joe tried to look happy, but he really didn’t want to be reminded of the accident. The headlamps coming straight for him in the evening darkness—and after he’d pushed the Duchess of Albany out of the way, there had been no time for Joe to leap aside. Just that crushing pain as the car slammed into him. Joe had slumped over the bonnet and found himself eye to eye with the idiot who’d just tried to deliberately run down the duchess.

“He’s not that old!” Verity giggled. She patted Joe’s leg and he tried not to flinch. “And still in fine form, too, Wendy, you lucky thing!”

“Lucky old me!” Wendy’s smile looked like a grimace. How would she know what form her husband was in when it had been over six months since they’d so much as kissed, let alone more? She refilled her glass and whispered to Joe, “For God’s sake, have a real drink.”

“Come on, you know I can’t,” Joe replied. “I can’t risk it. First day back and all that.”

“It’s my birthday.” Her pink lips grew thin and she drew in a deep, sharp breath, as sharp as her fresh blonde bob. Then she put her lips to his ear and hissed, “Stop showing me up, Joe, have a drink.”

“I’m drinking a stunt gin and tonic. That’s enough.” Joe held up the glass. It had the brand name of a well-known gin printed down its side. “They do tests, you know. I want to be nice and clean when they poke through my bodily fluids, thank you very much.”

“Barnaby!” Wendy subtly turned away from her husband, the centre of attention all over again. He was dismissed, just as he had been so many times over the five years of their miserable married life. “So, we’re all dying to know how your Tokyo merger’s going. It’s all everyone’s talking about. Tell us all the latest from the front line of big money!”

Joe sat his glass down on the table. The last thing he cared about was Barnaby and his bloody merger, which he’d heard snippets of for weeks as Wendy had made business calls at home. Barnaby this, Barnaby that, ‘Barnaby’s going places.’

So am I.

Joe nudged his seat back and stood to leave. Verity glanced at him, as if she was surprised he was going, but her attention turned to Wendy and Barnaby. Joe wasn’t sure where he’d go, but he needed fresh air. He wanted to be away from loud drinkers, away from Wendy’s carping. His head was pounding and as he stepped outside the pub, a car drove by close to the kerb. He instinctively jumped back, pressing himself against the wall behind him.

Calm down, Sergeant Wenlock, he told himself.

The night was cold, as cold as the pub had been hot, and Joe took a deep breath of autumn air. London tonight seemed even more surreal than ever, the streets a curious mix of the same well-dressed professionals who filled Wendy’s group and those who had embraced Halloween, escaping the real world in the form of cats and devils, vampires and aliens, some already stumbling, others only just starting out. And there in the middle of them was Joe, who would rather be anywhere else but there.

Maybe Joe should’ve thrown aside his tweed jacket and sensible open-necked shirt for a costume. He’d have made quite a good Frankenstein’s monster, maybe, though that said, when he’d first been taken to hospital and had plaster casts and bandages in places he hadn’t thought possible, he’d have been a brilliant cursed mummy.

Joe decided to go for a wander. Once he was working again, he’d have little time to call his own. He’d take his freedom when and where he could. Music blared from pubs and bars, people laughed, taxis pulled up and disgorged their passengers. And up ahead, someone was shouting.

Bloody people, can’t hold their drinks.

“Don’t you ever, ever bloody do that again! Do you hear?”

It was a man’s voice up ahead. Joe could see two figures, one in a black suit with a skeleton painted on it in white. He was wagging his finger—jabbing it—at the red-headed woman walking beside him in heels so high Joe wondered how she didn’t fall flat on her face.

“It’s so important to me, so fucking important, and all you have to do is just nod, and instead, you’re pissing about, making a fucking joke of yourself!”

“I’m sorry!” Her voice sounded almost desperate and she recoiled from her companion’s stabbing finger, jerking away as though it were the blade of a knife. She hurried after the skeleton when he stalked onwards, scooping up the silken hem of her shimmering red evening gown to follow. “Don’t be angry, I’m sorry!”

“I’m sorry!” he mimicked. Joe could almost see him in profile. The man’s face was disguised by makeup that turned his face into a skull.

Seemed a bit rich for him to be accusing someone of making a joke of themselves.

“The man’s an investor in my film, and I wanted him to know that I’m serious about my art, and then you’re there hanging over my shoulder, interrupting and gobbing on about God knows what!” The man clenched his hands. Even they were tricked out in skeleton makeup. “Why do you wind me up like this? You do it on purpose, for fuck’s sake, then it’s all I’m sorry! Well, you bloody well will be!”

“He was laughing too,” the woman said, a fresh note of desperation in her sing-song voice. No, not desperation. Fear. “He was having a good time, you’re not thinking straight! Just—please, don’t be like this!”

“My thinking’s perfectly clear!” The man gave a long sniff then, and Joe knew exactly what was going on.

The drugs are talking.

The man stopped where he was and raised his hand at the woman. The way she flinched back told Joe that this wasn’t the first time it had happened. As she drew away, he saw her makeup clearly, a glamourous sugar skull in a rainbow of colours that nearly took his breath away.

“Please don’t,” was all she said.

Joe increased his pace. The man’s raised hand trembled but in a split second he slapped the woman across her painted face.

Joe ran.

He was on the couple in only a few steps, and interposed himself between them. He didn’t look back at the woman, but could hear her frightened breathing just behind him. “That’s enough. Time for you to go.”

“And who the fuck are you, James Bond?” the man sneered.

“I’m not going to stand around and watch a bully like you slap a woman.” Joe clenched his fists, resisting the temptation to give Skeletor a taste of his own medicine.

“A woman? That’s a fucking joke. She’s a drag queen—a bloke!”

Joe turned to look at the woman.

A bloke?

Was she?

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the

Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter.

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a FREE Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead romance book!

Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead Giveaway

ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A FREE CATHERINE CURZON & ELEANOR HARKSTEAD ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 2nd February 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.