Excerpt Royal Wager by Renna Peak & Ember Casey

Feb 092020
 

Royal Wager by Renna Peak & Ember Casey

He’ll win the title he’s always wanted…if only he can resist his carnal desires.

Benedict has a life most men would kill for—money, leisure, and any women he wants.

Cousins of the royal family of Montovia, Benedict and his two older brothers are well-known for their wild antics, playboy escapades, and fierce brotherly competitions.

There’s only one thing Benedict doesn’t have: a claim to a title of his own.

Until now.

Benedict and his brothers are about to enter the fiercest competition of their lives.

The prize? A prestigious estate and a title to match.

The game? Whoever can hold out on sex the longest wins.

Benedict is certain he has what it takes to win—until he meets Quinn Hartley, the American tourist who just might become his greatest weakness…

This book is part one of a three-part series and ends with a cliffhanger.

Excerpt Royal Wager by Renna Peak & Ember Casey

The orchards are, as promised, quite beautiful. The branches of the trees are heavy with apples, and Albert dutifully points out each variety as we walk down one of the rows.

He’s just started talking about the fall harvest when the whinny of a horse catches my attention. I glance over my shoulder.

You know how in historical romantic movies the hero always comes riding into the scene in a flowy white shirt? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.

From among the trees trots a horse carrying the most attractive man I’ve ever seen. Seriously, my breath stops for a moment. He has dark auburn hair and a jawline that could cut glass. He’s wearing—you guessed it—a white shirt that makes it all-too-obvious that he’s got a pair of broad shoulders and well-muscled arms underneath. I’m pretty sure I start drooling.

But I’m not the only one who’s noticed. My mom jabs me in the side with her elbow. “Look at him.”

Albert, of course, hears her. “Ah, yes. That’s young Lord Benedict.”

‘Young Lord Benedict’ appears to spot us at that very moment, because he suddenly turns his horse and rides straight for us.

Mom begins brushing nonexistent wrinkles out of my dress.

“Stand up straight, honey,” she whispers to me. “This is your chance!”

I’d laugh at her if I could breathe properly. The man is beautiful, yes, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have a chance at anything.

When he gets closer, Lord Benedict reins in his horse. At this distance, I can see that his eyes are a shining sapphire blue. And his smile… I almost swoon. Or I would, if people actually swooned in real life.

“Good morning, Albert,” Lord Benedict says cheerfully, swinging down from his horse. When his feet are on the ground, he turns his attention to my mom and me. “Who are our visitors?”

“These lovely young ladies are visiting from America,” Albert says. “They wanted a tour of the gardens.”

It’s hard not to get dizzy looking up at him. Am I supposed to say something? How exactly do you talk to a lord of Montovia?

Thankfully, my mom takes over.

“Nice to meet you, my lord,” she says. “I’m Candice. And this beautiful woman here is my daughter, Quinn.” She nudges me forward.

“Nice to meet you,” I manage.

Benedict keeps smiling at us. “Nice to meet you, too, Candice. Quinn.” His eyes catch mine for a moment, and the world falls away. My whole face is suddenly blazing hot, and I should break his gaze, but I can’t find the strength. I’ve lost the ability to move. To speak. To think.

“You have such wonderful gardens, my lord,” my mom is saying, breaking through my stupor. “Don’t you think so, Quinn?”

She’s obviously trying to keep me from looking like a complete imbecile, but I can only manage a nod. I’m trying to get my tongue to work when suddenly there’s a shout from somewhere behind us.

“Watch out!”

We turn around in time to see a horse come barreling down the row of trees, its reins swaying wildly behind it. There may have once been someone on its back, but now there’s only a man running behind, falling farther back every minute, and shouting to us.

The horse is heading straight toward us. Grabbing my mother’s arm, I yank her out of the way. But as I do, her scarf goes flying off her head. She lunges back toward it, reaching for it as the horse careens right at us.

I don’t think. I push her out of the way, then grab for the scarf myself. I’ve managed to grip the gauzy fabric when something slams into me. Hard.

The breath whooshes out of me as I hit the ground. I’m not sure which part of me hurts more—the half of my body that got struck from behind or the half that connected with the ground. Everything is pain.

This is how I die. Trampled by a horse while the most handsome man I’ve ever seen looks on. How humiliating.

And then there’s a deep voice in my ear. “Were you trying to kill yourself?”

All my pain goes ice cold. It wasn’t the horse that slammed into me—it was Lord Benedict. And now he’s lying on top of me, his breath against my ear, and I’m suddenly wishing I’d taken the time to shave the two-day-old stubble on my legs.

“I…was trying to save my mom,” I say when I finally find my voice. I don’t open my eyes.

“Your mother appears to be all right. You, on the other hand…” His shifts his weight off me, and I let out an involuntary—and embarrassingly unladylike—grunt of pain. After a moment, I build up the courage to open my eyes.

He’s leaning over me, his blue-eyed gaze moving down my body. I pray that he hasn’t caught sight of the stubble on my legs as I try to push myself up onto my elbows.

“Quinn! Oh, Quinn, honey, are you okay?” My mom is suddenly on her knees beside me. “We need to get you to a doctor. Did you hit your head? Do you feel woozy?”

“We actually have a physician staying with us,” Lord Benedict says. “My mother’s joints have been bothering her. I’m sure he can take a look at you.”

I sit up fully, making sure my dress hasn’t ridden up awkwardly or something. “I’m fine, I need—”

“Yes, we should have him look at her,” my mom says. “Just to
be safe.”

“Of course.” Lord Benedict has already risen to his feet. “Albert, run ahead and tell him we’re coming.”

“Yes, my lord.” Our tour guide runs off through the orchard.
Meanwhile, I’ve started to climb to my feet with a grimace. I’m definitely going to be feeling this one tomorrow. Before I can stand, though, Lord Benedict has scooped me up in his arms.

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