Romance

Princess

Lilly Henderson

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+

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Princess - Book cover
Romance

Princess

Lilly Henderson

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+

1: Chapter 1

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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