Page 13


  Miles Montgomery. Interestingly enough, Miles is the lowest on our list in terms of title and wealth. He’s the son of a baronet, Sir Peregrine Montgomery, and rumor has it that the family has fallen on hard times. Not a manor home to be found in this family’s portfolio these days. But in spite of that (or maybe because of it), Miles is Prince Sebastian’s closest friend, and frequently found at the ne’er-do-well prince’s side. Most intriguingly, there were rumors he was briefly involved with Sebastian’s twin sister, Flora. Was that weird for the Gregorstoun chums? We’d have to think it’s just the slightest bit awkward.
(Prattle, “The Royal Wreckers,” September Issue)
Chapter 8
One thing I’ve learned from being around Ellie these past couple of years is that no one is actually as pretty or handsome as they look in magazines. Even El, who is awfully pretty in real life, is like ten times more glamorous in the pages of magazines.
The boy stepping out of the farmhouse now?
I’ve seen him in magazines and on websites and acknowledged that he was good-looking, sure. I like boys, I have eyes, there’s no doubt he’s an attractive example of his sex.
But that does not prepare me in any way at all for seeing Prince Sebastian in the flesh.
He’s tall, his entire upper body is so perfectly v-shaped that I think geese probably study him to get their flight formation just right, and he’s wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt and jeans that were clearly crafted just for him, possibly by nuns who’ve devoted themselves to the cause of making boys look as sinful as possible so the rest of us will know just how dangerous they are, and he’s . . .
Just a dude, oh my actual god, get ahold of yourself.
Ellie glances over at me, her eyebrows drawn together, and to my horror, I realize I just whispered that last sentence out loud to myself.
Luckily, Prince Sebastian didn’t overhear me because the pipers have started up again, the real ones this time. Just a handful, so it’s not as overwhelming as it was when we drove up, and this time they’re playing “Isn’t She Lovely?”
Seb comes to a stop in front of us, clasping his hands together, and as the last note dies away, I swear to god, the clouds part and a sunbeam shines down on his head, making the red glints in his dark hair shimmer.
“Ellie,” he says, stepping forward to give my sister a quick hug.
And then he turns his blue eyes to me. “And you must be Daisy.”
I get a handshake instead of a hug, which is probably for the best as I think a hug with this boy might count as sexual contact. Still, his hand is warm and strong, and yeah, this is the same as third base with a regular boy.
“Surprise!” he says to all of us once he’s dropped my hand and stepped back. He spreads his arms wide, grinning at us, and Alex gives him a tight smile.
“Still not really sure what this is, mate,” he says, and Seb reaches out, punching his brother on the shoulder.
“An engagement present, you prat,” he says. “And since it was on the way to Sherbourne, I wanted to show it off to you first!”
Ellie and Alex look at each other, Alex’s arms going around my sister’s waist as Seb begins to walk back to the house. “An engagement present?” Alex calls after him, and Seb jogs up the stairs, turning to glance over his shoulder.
“Your very own farmhouse in the Scottish lowlands,” he says proudly. “Wait until you see the view.”
“You bought us a house?” Ellie asks, breaking away from Alex to trail after Seb, and I pick up the rear, the two boys in kilts—Stephen and Donald—suddenly coming around to flank me.
“That is the reddest hair I’ve ever seen,” says Stephen. Wait, maybe Donald? I didn’t get it straight earlier.
“Thank you?” I say, even though I’m not sure it’s a compliment.
“Oi, you two! Don’t monopolize her!” someone cries from the doorway, and I look up to see yet another ridiculously handsome boy. This one is dressed in jeans, a plaid button-down, and a sweater vest that should really take his hot points down by at least a hundred, but he’s also got particularly swoopy brown hair, lovely eyes, and a charming smile, so not even a sweater vest can compete against that.
“Sherbourne,” he says, coming down to shake my hand, and I blink for a second.
Isn’t that the name of the castle we’re going to? So why is he—
Oh, right. Sherbourne is not his first name—it’s his title. The Marquess of Sherbourne. The castle we’re supposed to be going to later is his.
Crap, how do you greet a marquess? Your Grace? No, that’s for dukes. God, I really should’ve read Glynnis’s stupid folder. I promise myself that I’ll study it religiously once we actually get to the castle.
But before I have to say anything in reply, another guy appears in the farmhouse doorway, a bottle in his hand, his golden hair tousled in a way that seems too perfect not to be on purpose. “We call him Sherbet,” this new blond boy says, winking at me in a way that immediately has my face feeling hot. Seriously, what sort of pheromones do these guys exude?
Sherbourne—Sherbet, I guess—elbows the blond guy, then inclines his head toward me. “Forgive Gilly here, he was raised in a barn and therefore has no manners.”
“Gilly?” I repeat, and the blond guy shakes my hand as well.
“Andrew McGillivray,” he says, and then he gestures for us to all go inside.
The farmhouse has stone floors and truly massive furniture, plus a fireplace so big that I can only assume people once roasted elephants in it. There’s a fire crackling happily there now, and the back of the room is basically one giant window looking out into the valley.
I go to the window now, staring down at all those green rolling hills, shadows moving, the light constantly shifting. There are sheep down there in the valley, little white puffballs milling around. As far as wedding presents go, this one is pretty nice, I have to admit, and I’m smiling when I turn away from the window.
Aaaand nearly smack right into another guy. Seriously, how many cute boys can one farmhouse hold?
This one puts out his hands to steady me. He’s got dark blond hair, almost brown, and the best set of cheekbones I’ve ever seen on anyone who wasn’t a statue. Like all these dudes, he looks kind of like a romantic poet who decided to join a boy band, his eyes very green as they look down at me.
With . . . dislike?
Seriously, his upper lip is nearly curling, which is such a weird reaction that I step back.
He’s taller than Sherbet and Gilly, but not that much taller than me. Not that that’s stopping him from looking down his nose at me as he drops his hands from my arms. “All right, then?” he asks, his voice lower than the other boys’, but every bit as posh. Those syllables are clipped and crisp as he looks past me toward the window.
And then, suddenly, I realize why he looks familiar.
“Monaco!” I blurt out, and he blinks in confusion.
“No, Monters,” Gilly says, coming up to us and smacking a hand on the other guy’s shoulder. “Miles Montgomery, professional prat,” he says, but he’s grinning, and Miles doesn’t seem all that offended.
“She means that incident with Sebastian,” he says, and I am so embarrassed I feel like I have to be the same color as my hair.
“I did some research,” I say, which really only makes the whole thing worse, and Gilly snorts with amusement.