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His Princess Brat by Maren Smith and Rayanna Jamison – Sample

Chapter One


“Dude, I am not going to Africa,” I said, standing in front of the well-lit, full-length mirror of the dressing room in the back of Ezra’s dive of a strip club. I was next up on the stage.

“Yes, you are,” Mazi replied over the phone. “You miss me and you want to meet your godson.”

I did, too, on both counts. Not that I would ever admit as much out loud. “You come here, then.”

Holding the phone with my shoulder, I adjusted myself in my shorts. They were gold—shiny-ass metallic gold. My cock was absolutely bulging in them, which would be great for tips, but… damn. It looked like I’d stuffed a sock in the front. I turned, looking at my ass from the back. It was very… cheeky. Lisa was absolutely going to smack it.

I frowned at the affront that hadn’t happened yet. One of these days, she was going to get the surprise of her life when she did that only to have me haul her up onto the stage, turn her over my hip, and get her back for every unwanted swat she’d ever delivered to the dancers here at Ezra’s House of Sin. And then some.

“I’m a king. I can’t just pack up and leave whenever I want,” Mazi argued.

“Bullshit. You’re a king. Doing what you want comes with the territory.”

“Only if you’re a really bad king.”

I’d missed this. Not just talking to him, but the easy camaraderie with which we’d always bantered back and forth, ever since we were kids in high school.

“You can afford to travel,” I told him, trying not to let myself be tempted. I made good tips here at the House of Sin, but not that good. Most months, I figured I was doing well just to make my rent on time.

“I’ll send the jet,” he countered, cutting through my excuse like it wasn’t even there.

It wasn’t. Not where it mattered anyway. I’d really missed him, and that feeling only got stronger with every phone call we made back and forth. We’ve always been close as brothers. It was a long way from New York to Africa, and the tiny kingdom of Osei located just off its coast. It felt like he’d taken a piece of me with him when he’d left.

“All expenses paid,” Mazi teasingly sang.

I could hear the soft contented coos of a little baby somewhere close to the phone. It was hard to control the wistfulness creeping so insidiously through me. I could practically see him, with his phone pinned to his shoulder while he rocked his son in his arms, smiling and making silly faces.

Where was I? I was half naked in a strip club called the House of Sin, getting ready to go on stage and shake my booty for a bunch of women out looking for a good time.

“Hey!” Ezra called from the dressing room doorway. “You’re up. Get a hoof on.”

“I gotta go,” I said, but for a man who was normally quite anal when it came to showing up to work and doing his routines on time, I was oddly reluctant to hang up.

“You can ride an elephant,” Mazi sang again.

I almost laughed. “Ma, I’m not sixteen anymore. The end-all, be-all of my life’s aspirations no longer revolves around riding elephants.”

“Well,” Mazi said, and I could hear in his voice that he was reluctantly giving in. “The offer stands, no matter when you want it.”

I hung up and for a moment, just stood staring at the phone in my hand. I missed him. The brother I’d never had. But that was life, wasn’t it? People come and go, and the only thing anyone can do is just figure out how to go on.

For me, right now, I was figuring out how to go on the damn stage and I was late. I shrugged into my tear-away costume—I called it my cowboy daddy routine. The ladies loved it, all swagger, jeans and chaps, and a white shirt so tight it showed every one of my rippling abs. Donning my hat, I made my way to the stage entrance, ignoring the censuring look Ezra gave me as the lights dimmed low, the red bulbs came on, and music began to thump out The Outlaws’ rendition of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky.’ It was deep country rock, the pulse of the bass the perfect rhythm for me to shake my ass to.

I used to love this job. Who wouldn’t—women and beer all night long? But it wasn’t as much fun when your best friend wasn’t around to crack jokes and keep at bay the monotony of doing the same thing over and over every night.

The ladies erupted into cheers and catcalls when I walked out, thumbs tucked into my gun belt. I took center stage, right out front and tossed someone’s grandmother my first throwaway cowboy hat of the evening.

Then came that by now very familiar voice, “Hell, yeah, baby!”

It was Lisa, making her way to the stage at my right with a fresh drink in her hand.

She tips like a dream, I told myself, already fighting not to cringe. Whipping off my belt, I let it fall to the stage in front of her, giving her my best thoroughly practiced and smoldering hot smile. She grinned and, sipping her drink through the straw, began moving her hips in time with mine as I bumped and humped and stripped off my shirt so they could see what they were paying for.

Daddy needs to make his rent, I thought as I whipped the shirt down between my legs, flossing myself in a way I’m sure no cowboy on the range ever had. The bills hit the stage, a gentle rain that became a downpour when I dropped to the floor, an aggressive lover now, enthusiastically fucking a make-believe woman on the floor.

Like I would ever do that to a woman in real life, screw her on the floor like I couldn’t get enough of her or wait to get her to a bed. I honestly wouldn’t know. There weren’t a lot of women, in my experience, who stuck around long enough for sex once the initial get-to-know-you conversation reached the whole ‘yeah, I work, I’m a stripper’ part. Most seemed to have a problem reconciling the ‘faithful boyfriend’ that I would absolutely be with ‘he takes his clothes off for a living.’

I drew out that last pumping thrust to lustful shrieks. The audience was fanning themselves, laughing, groaning, reaching for their wallets. I ripped the chaps off, grabbed imaginary hips and feigned the rough hunger of me slamming home inside them. The wistfulness I could see in the eyes staring back at me said clearly most of these ladies would not have minded being held like this in my hands.

Getting down on all fours, I crawled toward this sweet, plump, librarian-looking girl, who stared at me coming—not like a submissive on his knees, but like a predator. Her eyes grew huge behind her dark-rimmed glasses, but she was cute. I could at least see myself fucking her as I got right up in her face, letting her see the hunger I might actually have if ever I was lucky enough to get a woman alone like this.

I tipped my head, noting the tightness of her throat as she swallowed hard when I leaned in close. Almost as if I were going to kiss her, though I didn’t. My mouth inches from her skin, I followed the curve of her cheek to her ear, and from her ear to the collar of her throat. I growled for her—

And that smack I had always known in the back of my mind would be coming bounced with a stinging crack off my jean-clad rump.

I reared back, shock devolving fast into fury as Lisa triumphantly crowed, “I’ll get up on that stage with you any day of the week!”

“God fucking damn it!” I snapped.

The poor librarian jumped back on her seat. Lisa only grinned, that smug ‘whatcha gonna do about it’ smirk she liked so much to flash widening on her face.

Don’t do it, that little voice in my head whispered. But too late, I was already seeing red and months past the point of caring.

The audience gasped and from the corner of my eye I saw Ezra jumping to get out from behind the bar. That he would be coming to this woman’s rescue when he should have banned her from this place ages ago pissed me off even more. To everyone’s shock, I grabbed Lisa around the waist and hauled her up onto the stage under the illuminating glow of the iridescent lights. There was one split second when the smugness vanished from her face and surprise took its place, when I could—should—have let her go. But all I could feel was the sting of that smack on my ass and the burning throb of outrage coursing molten through my veins, filling up my head and my chest.

I grabbed the leather gun belt off the stage, knocking the fake holster flying as I wrestled her down flat on the floor. Ripping her short skirt up I bared both her ass and the black lace thong she wore.

“Oh, shit!” someone swore, probably Ezra, as I whipped my arm up and brought the belt snapping down in a rain of spanks that had Lisa squirming, shouting, and then screeching within the first dozen strokes.

Someone—definitely Ezra—pulled me off her. But not before I lit a fire in Lisa’s ass that she wouldn’t soon forget.

She crab-crawled on all fours to get away from me.

“Don’t you ever—” I told her, my voice every bit as hard as the belt still dangling from my hand, “—do that to anyone ever again.”

She stared at me, her mouth hanging open, her face turning bright red. Snatching and shoving to get her skirt back down over what I hoped was a throbbing red ass, her shock dissolved into fury and she screamed back, “I’m going to have you arrested! I… I’m going to have you fired!”

Ezra snatched the belt out of my hand before I could go at her again. He needn’t have bothered. I was done. With both of them.

“No, you won’t, baby cakes. I fucking quit.”

Shaking off Ezra’s staying hand, I stormed off the stage. Every dancer backstage got the hell out of my way as I came stomping through to clean out my locker. The problem was, as I stood staring into that void of sparkling costumes, I couldn’t see a damn thing I wanted to take with me. Just the picture of Mazi and me, with his mom, back when we were teenagers. It had been my birthday back then, and even though she wasn’t my mom, she’d taken us to the zoo and then for burgers to celebrate.

She’d even baked me a cake. She couldn’t bake to save her life, but my own mother had been too busy bouncing back and forth between crack houses and rehab to care what day it was. Mazi’s mom had known I didn’t have anyone to wish me happy anything, so she had.

Patrice had been a hell of a woman.

I took the picture, left the rest, and walked out to my car. As I sat in the driver’s seat, wondering if cops were now being called and if I ought to wait for them, I saw Ezra step outside the door. He stared in my direction for a long time, but he didn’t start walking this way and I didn’t get out of the car. Eventually, he went back inside his club.

It took me a moment, lost in the quiet of my car, to process the events of the night, not to mention the repercussions, but eventually I decided to go on with my life. With a smile bigger than anyone who had just lost their job—and probably picked up an assault charge in the meantime—should have, I picked up my phone.

“I want my own elephant,” I said when Mazi picked up the call. “I’m naming it Pachysaurus Rex.”

If Mazi was curious as to what made me change my mind, he didn’t ask. He just sent the jet.

Brothers are good that way.

Chapter Two


“No.” I, Pita Okoro, Princess of Bahar, stared down my mother, Queen Amara of Bahar with a scowl I had spent half my life perfecting, and only used on my parents, and only in times like this, when they were being painfully, utterly royal.

Royal pains in the ass.

“You can’t say no, darling,” my mother coolly replied. “It wasn’t a question. I wasn’t giving you an option. On the contrary, I was simply telling you what is going to happen.”

Panic built in my chest as I scrambled to find a way out of this new fresh hell my mother had designed for me.

“I don’t want to,” I insisted further, bereft that I was incapable in this particular moment to come up with a better argument.

By some small miracle, my mother seemed to soften. She frowned, then sighed, and finally crossed the room to sit on the end of my obnoxiously large four-poster, fit-for-a-princess bed. “Sometimes, darling,” she began, patting a spot on the comforter next to her, and motioning for me to sit, “sometimes, as royalty, we have to put aside our wants for the good of the country. This is one of those times.”

Still scowling, I continued to stand as far across the room as I could get. “Please explain to me how traveling hundreds of miles away, putting on a fancy dress, and parading myself in front of a room full of misogynistic, arrogant, and dubiously gentrified old men is for the good of our country.”

Somehow my mother managed to make even an eye roll look regal and elegant, a talent I, myself, certainly did not possess. If I rolled my eyes, I ended up looking more like a deranged hyena, which is why I stuck to my perfected scowl. “First of all, you won’t be circulating yourself in a court of old men. Old-fashioned and well bred, perhaps, but certainly not old in a geriatric sense.”

“That’s not the point,” I huffed, preparing myself to go head to head with her until I eventually got my way. The way I saw it, one of us had to back down at some point and it certainly wouldn’t be me. Not on this.

“I know, darling, the point is that you were raised sheltered, spoiled, and carefree, always able to do whatever you wanted without regard to how it affected anyone else.”

“So? What’s wrong with that? And if I am that way, it’s your doing. Yours and Father’s.”

“I never said it wasn’t.” Realizing that I wasn’t about to come sit on the bed with her for some sweet Hallmark-movie-worthy mother-daughter chat, my queenly mother rose and crossed the room until there was only five feet between us. “The lifestyle you are describing is exactly what we wanted for you. It is how we intended you to be raised, to be only responsible for your own self and your actions and the consequences thereof. And you got to live that way for twenty-four, nearly twenty-five years now. But things have changed, and it’s time for you to grow up and become a proper young princess. Do what is best for your country, Pita, and this kingdom.”

“It’s not fair!” I argued, still unable to come up with something better, and knowing deep down that no matter what I said, it still wouldn’t matter anyway.

Mother was holding on tight to her ace card. And spoiled though I might be, even I could see it was a good one. “Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair for any of us. Do you think this is what I wanted for you after all these years? Do you think I wanted to lose my firstborn son, and be forced to replace his spot in line for the throne?”

And there it was. Her ace in the hole. My older brother, Jabari, had died in a hunting accident over a year ago, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been expecting this from the moment we received the news.

Of course I’d known it was coming and, like my parents, I had hoped that I would have, in time, gotten used to the idea.

I hadn’t. Well, maybe I had, in some ways, accepted my inevitable fate as heir to the throne, but I hadn’t expected this. I hadn’t foreseen being shipped off to stay with a distant cousin that I’d only briefly met at his wedding last year. I hadn’t foreseen being forced to participate in the antiquated tradition of a bridal marriage market. I hadn’t foreseen being told that I wasn’t proper or ladylike enough for the position that was being forced upon me, and being expected to rectify that issue under the guidance of some distant relative, whose own royal roots were either laughable or laudable, depending on which side of the issue one chose to pitch their diplomatic tent.

“I’m the second born,” I shouted, giving my foot an unladylike stomp for good measure. “I’m not supposed to have to worry about this. And it’s not fair. Jabari wasn’t just your son, or just heir to the throne. He was my brother and I miss him.” I bit my tongue to keep my voice from cracking on those last three words.

“I know you miss him,” my mother responded with her quiet coolness, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye. “Jabari never wanted to leave this earth, and I’m certain that he would have never chosen to put any of us in this position. But Jabari also loved his country, and loved the people of Bahar, and would have wanted our family’s reign to continue unchallenged. For that reason, I am certain this is the best way for you, and for all of us, to honor his memory.”

Ugh. Her speech was true, heartfelt, and gut-punching all at the same time, making it hard for me to not give in. I knew that eventually I would have to, but I wasn’t ready, not yet.

“I’m not your only remaining heir, Mother,” I reminded her. “Tradition dictates that the line for the throne goes first to the men, and then the ladies. So I’m not next in line, Talib is. Ask him.”

My mother’s jaw hardened and her eyes glazed over, her face taking on a demeanor that could only be described as ‘ice queen.’ “Talib can’t inherit the throne. You know that as well as I do, and you very well know why. This discussion is over. Delu will be up shortly to help you pack your things. Your plane departs Monday morning.”

Monday morning? I inwardly balked. It was Saturday night, and my plane was already booked?

“Y-you can’t be serious.”

“This discussion is over,” she said again and started walking toward the door.

Desperate, I ran to throw myself up against it, blocking her from exiting. My mind was reeling. I searched for arguments, any argument I could use to stall the inevitable.

“You can’t send me off to Cousin Mazi. How could he possibly teach me how to be proper and princess-like, he takes his clothes off for money!”

“Not anymore,” she said drily.

“This reeks of one of Father’s half-baked ideas. You can’t possibly have thought this through.” I loved my father dearly, and he was a beloved king with a heart for his people, but his heart was often bigger than his head, and my mother was vastly better equipped to be the brains of the operation.

Of course, insulting my father wasn’t likely to soften her or make her listen, but this scheme was particularly hare-brained. “Mazi was a stripper who became king only when his father was dying, and decided to search out his bastard son, and lure him to Osei to take the throne in his absence. A stripper, Mother! What could a stripper from the States possibly teach me about being a proper princess?”

“Mazi,” my mother snarled, “is the king of Osei, and he’s currently doing a better job of running the kingdom than his father did in years. Their economy has stabilized. He has an heir already. Despite Mazi’s questionable upbringing and the fact that he certainly never intended to be king, he has made the best of his situation and that alone makes him the perfect person to relate to your unique circumstances.”

Dammit. She had a point, several of them, in fact, and I couldn’t find a thing to argue with.

I had one last argument, one last bargaining chip, one last hope with which to convince her that this wasn’t the fabulous idea she was making it out to be. I hoped that somewhere deep down, my mother still had a romantic side, buried beneath all her icy layers.

Her hand was poised on the doorknob, and she looked ready to exit, regardless of the fact that I was still blocking the way.

“You promised I could marry for love,” I reminded her, my voice lowering to a plaintive whisper. This was it, my final argument, my one glimmer of hope at a reprieve from my sentenced fate, and shouting it would clearly get me nowhere.

As I had hoped, this gave her a moment’s pause. It had been a promise, made not only to me but both of my siblings as well. There would be no arranged marriages in our family’s quest to hold on to the throne. My parents, though both of royal lineage, had indeed married for love, and had sworn that we would be able to do the same.

At my desperate outcry, my mother paused, looked me up and down, and cocked an eyebrow. “You can, my darling, most certainly marry for love, but the problem with your argument is that you are nearly twenty-five and no closer to finding a suitable mate than you are to suddenly sprouting hooves and becoming one of your beloved horses. You spend all your time in the barn and fields and arenas with your precious stallion and last I checked, horses are the only thing outside your family that you love. You haven’t even attempted to meet someone, and how would you meet them anyway? You smell like a stable half the time.”

She delivered the insult as coolly and matter-of-factly as one would state the weather, paying no heed to the fact that it was quite a hurtful thing to say to anyone, much less one’s own daughter.

“Better a horse than the inside of a brothel,” I argued half-heartedly, returning to the question of Mazi’s roots.

My mother said nothing. Quelling me with her ice queen stare, she pushed the door open, indicating that this discussion really was over. The window for negotiations had closed.

I had to try anyway. Despite her icy demeanor, my mother was still my mother, a woman who loved each of her children and only wanted their happiness.

“Wait!” I stalled her, grabbing her wrist. “I’ll do it,” I acquiesced, “but if I do, then I think I deserve something special. Especially considering what I’m giving up my life for.”

“You mean, your country?” she retorted, and I wilted. She couldn’t have helped but notice, and surprisingly it softened her. “All right,” she sighed. “What do you want?”

“Sanaa,” I said, naming a mare I had had my eyes on now for months. My dream prior to Jabari’s passing had been to start my own line of champion horses. I’d searched for years, and I knew that Sanaa was the mare I needed to make that dream a reality. “If I do this, buy me Sanaa so I can at least keep one of my dreams.”

My mother threw up her hands. “This is what I’ve been saying! You smell like a—” She stopped herself with another sigh, but too late. That stung twice as hard the second time hearing it. “Pita, Pita.” Turning back to me with a calculating stare, she said, “Darling, first, your negotiating skills shall be the first thing we work on when you return. And second, you should have opened with that.”

Carefully detaching herself from my grasp, she shot down my dreams with one harsh sentence. “Ask your husband for her. After you find one, that is.”

Before I could pick my jaw up off the floor, she departed, her heels clicking against the hard marble floor.

Point. Set. Match. I had tried everything in my arsenal to no avail, and my mother had won. I was going to Osei.

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