Royals & Rogues

By: Heather Long



Bea left the podium.

He laughed to himself. Maybe he wasn’t so shabby at this fill-in-parent thing after all.



An hour later his nieces’ play ended.

Antony exited the stage as soon as was possible, tossed his tiara, and waited for the girls.

Miss Crumb walked through the back door.

“What are you doing here?”

“We’ve come for the girls.”

But he now had the money for the roof. “I can fix the roof.”

“The roof no longer matters, Sir Antony. The girls are coming with me.”

His heart sank. He couldn’t lose his nieces.

Estelle showed up, an RSF team following a close step behind.

“Stelle?”

“I’m so sorry, Antony. I had no idea what Boris and his aunt were up to.”

Miss Crumb was Boris’ aunt? “Why are you sorry for that bastard’s and his aunt’s doings?”

“I signed the forms for Miss Crumb.”

She couldn’t have. “But they’re my nieces. I’m all they have.”

“I know, Tony. And they’re not going anywhere. I promise.” Estelle stepped away and talked to the security team.

An officer arrested Miss Crumb and escorted her out of the building.

“Your nieces will never be taken away from you,” Estelle said, walking back to him. “I’ll personally see to it that they aren’t.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I had no idea you and the girls were Miss Crumb’s case.”

He didn’t know what to think at the moment.

“I’m so sorry, Tony.”

He had secrets of his own to tell. “Don’t ask me how I know, but I think Boris sold access to you this past year. I believe that is how you ended up with the wrong sort of donors.”

“I know,” Estelle said. “He pretty much confessed his crimes to me at the palace.”

He needed her to know about the phone calls. “Boris also intercepted my calls, Estelle. I came to Eastwood Hall and tried to speak with you.”

She reached for his face. “I want to put the past behind us, Antony. Forget about all that. And focus on the future. Can we do that?”

“Absolutely. But I don’t want the girls to know about Crumb. I don’t want them thinking they can lose me after they’ve lost so much already.”

She nodded, her dark brown eyes gazing up at him. “I told Marcus that you are the real winner of The King’s Favor. That you found the crown’s location first and that you were the first to set eyes on it.”

“You didn’t have to do that. I only needed to be a competitor so I could get the money for the roof. Second place took care of that. You need your reputation back.”

Estelle wrapped her arms around his waist. “Just tell me you’ll never leave me, again.”

He had no intentions of losing his princess a second time. “I’m all yours as long as you take my nieces, too. And Talbot. And Cook. And Biscuit the Cat and Tilly the Mouse. We’re a package.”

“I couldn’t think of a better deal.”

He had his princess back. And his girls were safe.

Life was finally looking up.

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