Royal Line (Tattered Royals #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan



ROYAL LINE





A princess on the run finds her version of a prince in this epic beginning to the Tattered Royals stand-alone series.

I never asked for my tiara.

My dreams were always bigger than a palace. They’re as big as the world.

Being fourth in line for the throne should have guaranteed me freedom.

I thought I was one step from walking away forever, but a long-forgotten rule forces me to run instead.

I refuse to marry a Duke and bear an heir to save our titles.

I trust my brothers to find a way to save my future, but first I need to save myself.

Only I never expected to meet danger…and Kannon Adams along the way.

I never asked for her.

My security business has secured all the clueless princess types I can handle.

Princess London Waterford of Alden is a whole other level of trouble.

Not to mention gorgeous and tempting as royal sin. Too bad she’s also in danger.

When the bullets fly, I trust no one else to protect her, even if she pushes me away.

Together, we must find who’s behind the threat to her life and try not to get caught in the crossfire.

One night together might never be enough, but if those who want her dead have a say, it’ll be our last.





Chapter 1





London





Heavy is the head that wears the tiara.





In the dark, with only the moonlight to guide me, my shoes made barely a sound on the cobblestones. The slight chill in the spring air sent a cascade of goosebumps over my skin even as I hustled out of the palace.

My heart rate increased as I forced my breath to even out. If I got caught, it would be bad. Very bad. As in, find out if Alden had dungeons bad.

It’s not a mistake. You know what you’re doing. You know why you’re doing it. You just need to make it to the car.

Behind me there is the echo of footsteps, the clip-clop sound echoing against the walls of the palace and the exterior buildings. With each staccato step, they drew nearer, and my heart threatened to race right out of my chest.

I whirled on the shadow chasing me. “I swear to God, Kate, you have to be quieter.”

My childhood friend blinked dark eyes at me. “You can’t be serious. When you said you had something important to do and you needed my help, I didn’t think you meant tonight.”

I’d needed help since I knew there was no way I’d be able to get all my equipment out of my room, down the passageways and tunnels, and all the way to the parking lot by myself…unseen. And now it seemed like I might not have asked the right person.

I sighed and took my rolling suitcase from her. “Look, I get it. This makes you really uncomfortable. Have I mentioned what a great friend you are? You’re a star. And if you start having second thoughts, just remember, this job is important. There are people counting on me to get to Brazil. It’s an amazing opportunity. And on top of that, I actually get to do some good.”

I hitched a thumb back toward the palace ballroom. “In there, yes, there’s duty and tradition, but I’m not doing any good. Not any real good anyway. I’m bound by my place in the hierarchy. In Brazil it’s hands-on. And it’s important. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. So please try and understand.”

She sighed. Her thick auburn hair was coiled into a smooth chignon, and her dark eyes softened as she spoke. “I understand. You’ve been obsessed with being a photographer since you were little and your mom would take you out on photo excursions. I get that since she died, you’ve been obsessed with picking up her mantle. Taking on the dream that she had to give up by marrying a prince. But honestly, London. Your brother forbade this.”

“And,” I whispered as I lugged my bag past the stables, down toward the north parking lot right by the visitor’s gates, “when he forbade it, he didn’t give me a good reason. It’s not like I’m needed here. Between Roman, Breck, and Wilder, they have duty and honor handled. My only role here is to sit around and look pretty if Aunt Rebecca is to be believed. And I can do so much more than that. Have so much more impact than that.”

Kate’s dark eyes met mine. They were filled with worry and exasperation. We’d grown up together. Our mothers had been close. We’d gone to all the same boarding schools. Had all the same friends.

I’d leaned on her a lot after Mom died. And in turn had held her hand when her father passed away two years ago. I’d also threatened to maim and dismember Jamison Croft, the financier who had broken her heart. Or rather their engagement. But I knew her heart had always belonged to my brother, Wilder.