Jeffe Kennedy
Fantasy. Power. Passion

With a Prince

Read the Excerpt

Juliet – m4w (Chicago) I know I could be you’re Romeo, if you’ll just give me another chance. I’ve changed. Losing you was the wake-up call I needed. I’m willing to grovel. Just make that call. You know where to find me. Always as you wish. Your prince.

I allowed myself a little dreamy sigh over that one. The reference to The Princess Bride was a particularly nice touch, and mostly made up for the your/you’re confusion. And he was willing to grovel! At least he paid attention, and was at least trying to change. He got the wake-up call and still loved her. She should appreciate that. So many people didn’t appreciate what they had.

Look at all the people in this L car, so many frowning or sad. Of course, that could come from being crowded in with the evening commuter traffic. Or that the train car smelled bad, as they all do. Exhaust, dirty snow, the peculiar mix of plastic parkas and good leather, on top of that weird sour smell pervasive in all trains, no matter how clean, like vomit and spilled beer.

Reading between the lines of the ad, it seemed that she must have loved this guy at some point. Probably still did. Maybe they had been living together and something happened. He slept with another girl and—ugh. No infidelity. Never an excuse for that. He… was a workaholic. Yes, working so hard at his job, long hours, weekends, all to save up and buy that diamond ring for her, maybe put a down payment on a pretty townhouse in Oak Park. A nice place to raise the kids they’d have. But he forgot to pay attention to her and she thought, oh, she thought he didn’t love her anymore. Maybe she suspected him of screwing around with someone prettier, smarter, more fun.

So she threw him out. Maybe he came home late one night. Way too late, but with that ring in his pocket! He’d planned to make her breakfast in bed and propose, but she’d put all his stuff on the sidewalk, refused to speak to him. And he’d gone away, crushed, desperate to find a way to make her listen…

Some women were like that—refusing to just listen to the explanation. Or they pretended to listen, but then still stayed mad. Like my housemate, Charley, swearing revenge on me for the way I’d tricked her into dating Daniel, when I’d tried to explain that I did it for her happiness.

Okay, maybe for a bit of vicarious happiness on my part, but still…

The thing is, people don’t do things for no reason at all. Charley hadn’t been giving Daniel a chance and you have to do that. Like when Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice read Darcy’s letter and finally understood everything. What if he’d never written that letter? What if she’d been horrible and thrown it out or burned it without reading it? It all would have ended right there. Darcy would have married that sickly cousin. Lydia would have been abandoned by Wickham and likely become a prostitute.

(Austen never says so explicitly, of course, but a modern woman knows perfectly well what “ruined” meant back then.)

And Lizzie… well, she would have become an old maid, wouldn’t she? Alone in her virginal bed for the rest of her life. Not unlike Jane Austen herself, but let’s not go there.

Too close to home.

That’s why—if it ever happens for me—I would always listen to the explanation, always give a guy another chance. Even with Charley swearing a vengeance to fit the crime, I refused to close myself off to possibilities. Which meant I had to be vigilant and clever. She might act like a ditzy drama queen, but Charley had a super sharp brain and she’d absorbed all the dramatic arcs of the shows she played in and studied at school. Here she’d ended up—happily!—with Daniel Holt, catch of the century, but she couldn’t let go of it, that I’d gone behind her back. The whole mystery had all just been so romantic. And she’d fallen for it, the enigma, the clues. I would have eaten that up, if anyone cared enough about me to set me up with the guy who turned out to be the One. Daniel was totally her One.

My prince, my true love would find me, too. I knew it in my heart. He could be right around the corner, looking for me. There had to be a hundred people in this one car, so he could be here somewhere. Not that older man with the newspaper over his face. There was a younger guy in a hoodie, a few seats down on the opposite side, earbuds in and face bowed over his phone, thumbs working non-stop. He’d been there when I got on and I still hadn’t seen his face. Still, with those skinny jeans, fringed holes showing skin at his knees, he seemed more like a high school kid, so no go there. And obviously not that little boy across from me standing between his mom’s knees, though he was super cute.

He had his bright button eyes fixed on my tablet—or maybe on the pink sparkly skin I’d put on it. I waved my fingers at him and he didn’t even look at me. He reached for the tablet, though, his mom absently tightening her grip on his parka sleeve, though she never looked up from her book. Kind of sad, that she wasn’t paying more attention to her adorable kid.

She looked tired, though, like my mom had always been. Maybe she was a single mom, too.

Oh, Marcia, just play a little while with your dolls while mommy has a nap.

I’ll make supper in a minute. How about an Eggo waffle? You love those.

Mommy has a headache, so no TV, okay? Go draw or read a book.

My mom had been a good mom. Still was. We talked pretty much every day. She got lonely with me out of the house. And, of course, she hadn’t ever married. She’d have to date to do that. Frankly I couldn’t quite see how she’d even dated my dad long enough to conceive me, she’s that much of an introvert. From the little she’d ever said about him, he’d been a charming guy, also way too young, who romanced and seduced her and went on his way. A tale as old as time and a great cautionary one.

Don’t give up your virginity to the first cute boy who charms you. You get that diamond ring on your finger before you let him do anything. I mean anything at all.

I didn’t need a ring—necessarily—to give up my virginity. But I absolutely wanted to wait to be in love. That’s part of why the Rules work for me. Charley and Ice made them up to keep themselves from scraping the bottom of the barrel, sexually speaking, but I use them to remind myself to wait for the One. If I ever meet a man who is a five-pointer for me? Then I’ll know.