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Princess

After a traumatic year, Amy decides to move across the country and start over. But when she starts a new job, she could never have expected she’d be working alongside someone as handsome and charming as Ben. Their connection is immediate, but he has his share of demons too. Will they both be able to let go of the past and forge a new future?

Age Rating: 18+

 

Princess by Lilly Henderson is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

After a traumatic year, Amy decides to move across the country and start over. But when she starts a new job, she could never have expected she’d be working alongside someone as handsome and charming as Ben. Their connection is immediate, but he has his share of demons too. Will they both be able to let go of the past and forge a new future?

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Lilly Henderson

AMY

Damn Murphy and his stupid law.

How can so many things go wrong in a single morning? First, my hair straightener bails on me, then I burn my toast, and now I stub my toe on the dresser.

With a frustrated groan, I drop on my bed to assess the damage and massage my aching foot until the pain subsides. I wiggle my toes, and they all move as they should. Dodged that bullet.

Hobbling to the wardrobe, I finally change out of the blouse with the not-so-pretty coffee stain.

This Monday couldn’t have started out any worse. At least I didn’t oversleep because I lay awake most of the night. Other than that, this Murphy guy was right—whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Letting out a heavy sigh, I pick my second favorite blouse and examine my outfit in the floor-length mirror.

Great. Dull it is. Not even my long hair improves anything since I have to tie it back in a simple ponytail. Good thing it’s summer and too hot for tights—I’d spot a run or two in them for sure.

Another sigh passes my lips, turning into a groan. Maybe I’m too hard on myself with the dull part, but it’s no everyday occurrence that I start a new job; I have to look perfect.

Describing the circumstances as nerve-racking only scratches the surface when I consider the fact that my new workplace is one of New York’s most successful advertising agencies.

Wilson & Partners has been on the list of top companies for over three decades, and I will work as a personal assistant to one of the two partners.

So saying I’m nervous is the understatement of the year. Come to think of it, I could ascribe the coffee-spilling and the toe-stubbing to my anxious state.

I draw in a few calming breaths, smiling at myself in the mirror.

“You can do this, Amy,” I tell myself once more before I realize with a glance at my watch I must leave right this second if I don’t want to be late.

I snatch my purse on my way out, ignoring the thermal mug with the remains of my morning coffee—I won’t take any more risks—and head out of my apartment.

The subway ride to Manhattan goes smoothly, so when I arrive in front of the large glass doors of Wilson & Partners with a few minutes to spare, some tension leaves my body.

With a deep breath, I wipe my sweaty palms on my skirt and step into the spacious lobby.

Everything around me buzzes with activity; men in expensive suits and women in elegant dresses come and go, phones ring, and soft chatter fills the air.

My gaze settles on the reception desk, and the corners of my lips lift when I recognize the blonde woman standing next to it.

Lauren.

We met at this yoga class I checked out, and we clicked immediately. She’s in her mid-twenties, like me, and the first friend I found since I moved to New York two months ago.

I love her quirky and cheerful attitude—a welcome morale booster to my sometimes gloomy mood.

We also bonded over our jobs. We laughed at the coincidence that we’re both personal assistants. Lauren is PA to Greg Aberdeen, one of the two partners at this company.

When the other partner, Luke Smith, had to search for a new PA, Lauren informed me about the job opening. So I owe it to her that I'm here.

I straighten my clothes and clutch at my purse, slowly releasing my breath through my lips as I mentally repeat my mantra for today—you can do this—and walk up to Lauren.

The familiar face eases my nervousness, but my heart still pounds in my chest.

As soon as our eyes meet, she beams at me.

“Amy, hi.”

“Hey, Lauren. Thank you so much for meeting me here.”

She waves off my remark. “Not a problem. I’ll show you the way to Luke’s office. I thought you’d like a friend to come along.”

Her kindness overwhelms me—in a good way, though. She’s right, the knot in my stomach isn’t as tight anymore.

I stumble after her to the elevator, and once we step inside, Lauren presses the button for the tenth floor. I lean against the wall with a deep sigh.

“Gosh, I’m nervous.” I rub my stomach, grimacing.

“Don’t worry.”

Lauren gives me a reassuring smile. “I told you everyone is welcoming. I know this is easier said than done. Remember, I work on the seventh floor, and I’m always just a phone call away if you need anything.”

“Thank you.” A pleasant warmth spreads through my body. There’s something genuine about Lauren that makes me feel at ease in her presence.

“You’re very welcome.” She checks her watch. “You still have time; how about we sit down for a calming cup of tea?” she offers.

With a nod, I place my palm on my chest, keeping in another “thank you”. Lauren knows how grateful I am.

The elevator doors open on the tenth floor, and Lauren steps forward, pointing to the right. “The open-plan office is over there, as is Luke’s.” She turns to the left. “The break room is this way.”

My interview last week took place in a conference room on the fourth floor, so I haven’t seen my actual workplace yet. As far as my new colleagues are concerned, I’ve only met Luke.

A few minutes into my interview, I learned everyone is on a first-name basis—a fact that made it an even easier decision to accept this job. A relaxed ambiance is exactly what I need.

No one is around when Lauren and I enter the break room. She orders me to sit down while she prepares herbal tea for me.

“There you go, hun.” She places the mug in front of me and takes a seat. After eyeing me up and down, she gives me a thumbs up. “I love your outfit.”

I snort. “Are you serious? I had such a frustrating morning.” While I recount what happened, I warm my palms on the cup.

Even though it’s the beginning of August and a typical hot summer’s day, my hands are icy.

“Oh, no.” Lauren chuckles at my misfortunes. She leans forward, tapping my forearm. “Stop worrying. You look fabulous.”

Her lips stretch in an amused smile. “I’m not saying that because I’ve only seen you in workout wear.”

We burst out laughing, and a new wave of tranquility washes over me. I sip my tea while Lauren gives me more information about her boss.

“Greg is the second partner; he joined the company soon after Luke did. He’s a lawyer, so our department handles the legal side of the business. Luke comes from marketing; he has the graphic designers working for him.”

I nod, having heard some of that already. My job as Luke’s PA involves coordinating the work the graphic designers do, so I hope I’ll get along with my colleagues.

While we chat, the tension in my muscles eases.

The quiver in my stomach sticks around, though; I better accept it as my companion for the day. At least, the worst-case scenarios dissipate, and my leg stops bouncing.

It’s time to quit overthinking and just do this.

As if on cue, Lauren glances at her watch. “Shall we?”

I straighten up, squaring my shoulders. “Yes.” I rise from my chair and toss the remnants of the hot tea into the kitchenette sink.

I’m ready.

Lauren leads the way to the open-plan office. I take in my surroundings as we pass desk after desk with people engrossed in their work.

I like the fact that the interior designer decided against cubicles, giving the space an even brighter and friendlier atmosphere.

The level of noise doesn’t feel above average, considering how many people are working in one huge room.

So this department is in charge of graphic design—a field I’m not too familiar with since my last job was at a real estate firm. But Luke told me that shouldn’t be an issue.

My gaze falls on a door with a nameplate next to it, stating our destination. My heart beats faster with every step I take, and I tighten my grip on my purse.

I almost forget my earlier resolution—along with breathing. I force air into my lungs, reminding myself to stop worrying.

Deep in thought, I nearly bump into Lauren when she slows down, calling, “Hey, Ben.”

I follow her gaze to the desk we’re passing. The person who I assume to be Ben lifts his head. “Hey, Lauren,” he responds.

Then our eyes meet.

I always doubt people whenever they claim time stands still at a specific moment, but it does. My heart rate picks up, but for entirely different reasons than before.

I’m not aware of anything around me anymore. The world could disintegrate—I wouldn’t care. I only want to stare into those dark-brown eyes.

The charm they radiate sucks me right in. Heat creeps up my cheeks, and an intense tingle spreads through my whole body. The strangest sensations surge through me.

Before I can make sense of what’s going on, Lauren’s voice forces me to return to reality. “Here we are.”

She knocks on the door and ushers me into the office in front of her. “Luke, Amy Franklin is here.”

“Thank you, Lauren. I’ll take it from here.”

I flinch when my new boss speaks, reminding me of what I should focus on. Lauren squeezes my arm, and a moment later, the door closes behind her with a quiet click, which I hardly register.

My mind is still outside, trying to process what just happened. I snap out of my daydream, though, when Luke stands in front of me.

“Welcome to my department.” The smile on his face widens when he shakes my hand. “I’m sure you’ll love it here, Amy.”

Still lost for sensible words, I blink at him and nod.

“Okay, Amy. Please, sit down.” Pointing to the chairs next to his desk, he walks back to his seat.

As I follow his request, my gaze wanders through the large office with the high windows. The soft morning light floods the room, adding to the comfortable atmosphere.

I roll back my shoulders to ease the tension that has a hold on me again.

Luke flicks through a folder. “Let’s go over some last details.”

While we discuss my tasks and a typical workday at Wilson & Partners, I study my new boss more closely. I have yet to figure him out.

He’s probably in his forties, with slightly graying black hair, high cheekbones, and full lips.

His features are attractive, and he is, without a doubt, a charming man—an excellent trait to possess for someone who works in advertising.

“I will introduce you to him once he returns from his business trip,” Luke explains, referring to the company’s CEO, Patrick Wilson.

“Sure.” I wipe my palms on my skirt for the umpteenth time. As my thoughts revolve around what’ll happen next, I struggle to maintain eye contact.

“Excellent. If you have no more questions, I’ll accompany you to your desk,” he says, with another wide smile.

“Uh, no, no questions…Luke.” I still have to get used to calling my boss by his first name.

When we rise from our seats, the encounter from a moment ago retreats to the back of my mind. I must concentrate on the important matters.

Outside Luke’s office, we stop at a large desk. My breath hitches in my throat when I realize this will be my workspace.

At the desk across from mine sits the guy responsible for my flustered state.

 

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2

BEN

What a crappy way to start the week.

After a shit weekend where I had yet another fight with my dad over his health because he’s careless with his medication, I almost didn’t hear my alarm this morning.

On my way to work the masses of people on the subway annoyed me so much that by the time I reached the building of Wilson & Partners, one look at my face was enough to scare anyone off.

Unfortunately, some people aren’t scared off easily. So instead of letting me do my job, a colleague asks for help.

That’s why I have to fix some diagrams for a presentation someone else screwed up rather than finishing the graphics for another ad campaign.

I was glaring at the screen of my tablet when someone called my name.

“Hey, Ben.”

I recognize Lauren’s voice, and my lips stretch in a tentative smile. “Hey, Lauren.” Our gazes meet when I lift my head, and I need a second to realize she’s not alone.

Then I see her.

She walks behind Lauren, fixing her big, beautiful eyes on me, causing my breath to hitch.

When a slight blush suffuses her cheeks, something funny happens to my entire body—but especially to my groin.

Wow, I can’t remember the last time eye contact had such a strong effect on me. As she walks by, a hint of her sweet scent fills my nose and does even funnier things to my body.

What the hell is happening?

Before I can even begin to grasp what this woman causes in me, Lauren’s voice snaps me out of my haze.

“There we are.”

Then she’s gone.

With my mouth agape, I stare at the office she disappears into. She was real, wasn’t she?

Something in her eyes evoked sensations I thought lost, and I wonder if this is a dream. At the same time, though, I feel like I’ve woken up from the nightmare that has been this Monday morning.

Leaning back in my chair, I close my eyes and draw in a slow breath. Calm your damn hormones, Ben.

At the sound of Luke’s door, my eyes snap open. Lauren waves as she strides past my desk but doesn’t stay for a chat like she usually does.

“Lauren, wait,” I call after her.

She stops in her tracks, raising her eyebrows. “Yes?”

“Who was that?” I jut my chin toward Luke’s office.

She squints at the door as if to make sure she understands what I’m talking about.

“Luke’s new PA.” She turns back to me, eyebrows still raised. “Her name’s Amy. She’s the girl I met at my yoga class, remember?”

Oh, damn. The mental image of that woman in tight yoga pants is the last thing I need. I’m a grown man, for goodness’ sake, and not some horny teenager.

I shift in my seat. “Yeah, I do. I just didn’t expect…that.” I point my finger at the office door, doing a shit job at pretending to seem unfazed.

“What did you expect?” She raises her eyebrows a little higher.

“She doesn’t resemble the ones he usually preys on,” I explain with a shrug.

Lauren laughs. “What are you talking about?”

“Come on.” I roll my eyes, huffing. “We both know he didn’t hire his last assistant based on her skills.”

I know this isn’t only my personal opinion of my boss as he supposedly had his hands on every willing female in this company, including his last PA.

I shudder at the memory. “No one was worse than that blondie. Sorry, no offense,” I add, giving Lauren a half-smile.

Waving off my remark, she sits on the edge of my desk. “None taken. I know what you mean.” She runs her fingers through her long blonde hair with a chuckle. “Give the new girl a chance. She’s nice.”

She thinks the new girl is nice? Damn, I might be in trouble.

I’ve known Lauren for a few years, and she’s an expert at reading people. Her first impressions are never wrong, so if Luke’s new PA is nice, it might be a deadly combination.

“What’s that look on your face?” Lauren tears me out of my thoughts.

I direct my attention back to her, grimacing. “What look? It’s nothing. Just the usual Monday morning,” I murmur.

Lauren laughs. “If your weekend had been anything like mine, you wouldn’t glare and grumble like that.”

“Please, spare me the details.” I groan. I know exactly what she’s referring to. Lauren and her flings, an endless story.

She smirks at me. “Oh, sweetie, I think your mood would improve a lot if you got some.”

“Lauren, stop.”

“No, I’m serious.” She leans closer to whisper for my ears only, “You need to get laid. How long has it been?”

Leaning away from her, I shake my head. I’m not having this conversation, especially not where our colleagues could overhear. “You’re hopeless, Lauren.”

“Yes, and I must be on my way.” She hops off the desk and straightens her skirt. “See ya.” With a wave, she takes off toward the elevators.

Once Lauren is out of sight, I glance at the desk across from mine. Her desk.

I tap my fingers on my knees, anticipating the new girl’s return. It’s unlike me to overthink situations, but our first encounter threw me off.

Finally, Luke’s door opens, preventing my thoughts from going places where I don’t want them. My boss ushers Amy out, and her gaze wanders through the room.

She bites her lips and rubs her arm when they stop at her desk. Our eyes meet for a second before Luke clears his throat to grab our attention—not enough time to check if I’ve gone crazy or not.

“Ben, let me introduce you to your new colleague.”

I rise from my chair and move around my desk, stretching out my hand. “Uh, yes, hi. I’m Ben.” My large, warm hand envelops her smaller, cold one.

Her eyes linger on our hands a moment longer before she lifts her gaze.

Yup, I have my answer. I’ve gone crazy. Standing in front of her, I feel things I haven’t felt in a very long time.

I take in her appearance—her simple, yet elegant outfit, her light-brown hair tied back in a perfect ponytail, her cheeks, which still have that tinge of pink, her rosy lips.

And of course, her eyes. They are a captivating greenish color, and they radiate warmth and kindness, even in the apparent nervous state she’s in.

She blinks at me before she says, “Hey, um, I’m Amy.”

My lips lift in a warm smile as I let go of her hand. The smile she gives me in return is slow and soft—and damn sexy. My lips stretch even wider.

Shit, this weird urge to grin at her worries me. I feel like a damn teenager, not being able to act like a normal person in front of a cute girl. And cute she is. Gorgeous even.

We only shook hands, and all I can think about is how touching her felt fucking amazing. I’d love to touch her again.

Of course, Luke has to ruin the moment when he speaks. “Ben will be your go-to guy for everything concerning the graphic design parts of our ad campaigns. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.”

He stares at Amy a bit too intently, and I wonder if she’s on his list yet. I cringe at the smile he gives her, suppressing the strong desire to grind my teeth; I’d love to wipe that smirk off his face.

“Okay, I’ll leave you to it.” Luke squeezes her shoulder before he turns around and disappears into his office.

With narrow eyes, I watch him leave until Amy sighs. I direct my gaze at her while she takes another look around. My lips do that crazy thing again, lifting in a silly smile.

“Okay, Amy,” I tell her. “Sit down and feel at home.”

She does, and with a short, sweet laugh, she runs her palms over the desk.

“So much space. My last desk was half this size.” She scans my desk and smiles. “When I see yours, that also means more room for chaos.”

I inspect my mess and laugh. “Oh, um… yes, right. But I’ve got it all under control. I can find everything I need.”

“So genius controls chaos?”

I grin at her. “Exactly. I just hope you’re not a neat freak?” I raise my eyebrows, and she grimaces. Oh no.

“I wouldn’t put it like that, but I do need a certain order to do my work properly.”

“I’ve made a striking first impression then.” I run my hand through my messy hair, ignoring the slight nervousness that hangs in the air.

Amy laughs softly at my remark. Damn, I’ve never heard a happier sound. Lauren was right, she seems nice and genuine, the total opposite of her Barbie-like predecessor.

“That’s fine.” She waves off my comment. “I’m all for second chances.”

Her words make my stupid heart skip a few beats. They tug at something deep inside me. She utters them so casually that I wonder if she realizes the impact they have.

“That’s good,” I respond, after moments of staring at her. The corners of my lips lift in a subtle smile. “As Luke said, if you have any questions, let me know. And later, I’ll show you around.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

***

Over the next few hours, Amy works her way into her tasks.

We engage in light small talk, and I answer her questions, telling her the most important things she needs to know about her new workplace and some of our colleagues.

Luckily, the nervous tension eases, but I still wonder what it is about her that drew me in so quickly. I keep stealing glances at her.

When she catches me staring, her lips stretch in a sweet and sexy smile, making me question my sanity with the way it causes a lightness in my chest.

Around noon, Lauren shows up at our desks.

“Hey, you two.” Tilting her head to the side and pointing her thumb at me, Lauren offers Amy a thoughtful expression. “So, Amy, what’s it like to work with this good-for-nothing?”

I chuckle. “Charming as usual.”

“You know me, love.” Lauren narrows her eyes at me. “At least you look more cheerful than this morning.”

Resuming her earlier place on the edge of my desk, she looks back and forth between us. “Do you guys have plans for lunch?”

I nod, checking the time. “Yes. Paul is meeting me downstairs. We’re checking out that new Chinese place down the street.”

Lauren grimaces. “Ugh, Chinese. Amy, what about you?”

She shrugs. “I don’t have plans.”

“Do you want to join me?” Lauren leans closer to Amy. “There’s this cute sandwich place around the corner. I could tell you everything you need to know about your new colleague.”

I huff out a breath. “Don’t believe a single word she says.”

With a chuckle, Lauren turns her gaze to me, and she starts one of her silly staring contests, which I am so going to win. I always do.

Sure enough, Lauren is the first to avert her eyes after a few seconds. She turns to Amy, who watches us with her eyebrows squished together.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Lauren says. “Just ignore that. Will you still have lunch with me? You know I’m a nice person.”

I couldn’t suppress a hearty laugh, which Lauren ignores.

Poor Amy; she must think we’re crazy. This playful banter between Lauren and me has become a habit I much appreciate on sometimes dull and aggravating workdays.

“Um, yeah.” Amy crinkles her nose. “You two seem kinda weird, but I’ll give you a chance.”

Lauren and I burst out laughing, and when Amy joins in, that lightness from earlier is back.

“Thank you, Amy.” Lauren hops off my desk, her expression turning serious. “Now, are you guys ready? I’m starving.”

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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Monsters in the Dark Series

From New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author Pepper Winters comes the Monsters in the Dark series

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility. For their two year anniversary, her boyfriend Brax surprises her with a romantic trip to Mexico, but their little bit of paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter, but that alone can’t save her from the horror of being sold. Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Pepper Winters

This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

Leap Before You Look

It’s the summer after high school and everyone is getting ready to leave for college. But not Kari Montgomery—she’s stuck in Eugene, Oregon, because culinary schools are expensive. Then her forever crush, Holt Bennett, suddenly asks her to make a big, life-altering decision—a decision that could make or break her future. Will Kari seize her chance to grow up, too?

Age Rating: 18+

Strictly Baby Business

Peyton Hart is working two dead-end jobs, broke, and hungry when wealthy Sebastian Coleman walks into her crappy apartment and offers her a deal: have his baby and marry him. A year after the wedding, he’ll give her a divorce and a million dollars. Desperate, Peyton agrees, expecting nothing more than a business relationship—but they find themselves falling reluctantly in love. Can they trust each other with the pain and guilt of their own tragic pasts and make a new life together?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Assault, Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Drug Use/Overdose, Eating Disorders, Kidnapping, Miscarriage, Rape, Self-Harm, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Violence Against Women, Violent Death, Child Death)

Journey’s End

For Stella, loving Nate Miller is as obvious and necessary as breathing. She’s been madly in love with him since she was twelve, but as he was five years older and the high-school football star, he never saw her as anything other than a little sister. Now they’re both grown up and Stella still feels the same way, but this time Nate feels something too… Only problem is he’s using her to be on a TV show!

Age Rating: 18+

Twelve Years

Shelby Richardson is on top of the world. She’s finally graduated from high school—with a full scholarship to Columbia University—and she’s so ready to leave her poverty-stricken life behind. There’s just one last thing to do before she goes off to start her new life: summer break! Unfortunately she has to work at a water park. But fortunately the hottest guy ever is working with her. Sure, she says she doesn’t want anything to do with him, but even she knows that’s a lie.

Age Rating: 18+

Snap

Rae Olson was so looking forward to becoming Rae Dupont…until she caught her fiance, Jake, making out with another woman. Heartbroken and seeking solace in her passion for photography, she doesn’t expect to find love again…until she meets the handsome, charming, workaholic Logan Quincy. But when jealous exes and family politics threaten to tear them apart, Rae and Logan must rely on their connection and inner strength to keep their love alive.

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Rape, Self-Harm, Suicide, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Assault)

The Tech Billionaire’s Assistant

Octavia Wilde knows exactly the kind of person her boss is: a ruthless billionaire who only notices other people when they fail him. Raemon Kentworth has never hid that—why would he bother? He’s one of the hottest guys on the planet and on his way to owning it all. Things like caring about his employees are beneath him…that is, until he meets Octavia. Now all bets are off.

Age Rating: 18+ (Trigger Warning: Kidnapping, Violence.)

His Nerd

Ava Darling may be a nerd, but she can’t wait to leave high school. On a good day, her fellow students ignore her; usually, they tease her. It’s just one more year though. Then she can move on to university and a fresh start. Unfortunately, a cruel prank puts Ava dead in the sights of school bad boy Hunter Black, who comes to her with a bizarre proposal. The two couldn’t be more different, but if they team up, they might find that secretly—very secretly—they have more in common than they think!

Age Rating: 16+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

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