Royal Dad

By: Leanne Banks
Prologue





 He needed a wife.

 The assignment was long overdue. Michel had put it off as long as possible. Leaning against his balcony rail, he looked at the private courtyard shimmering in moonlight. He knew the requirements for the position: discretion, grace, understanding and respect for his position. According to his advisors, a woman who provided a politically beneficial association would be a plus.

 Michel’s wife had passed away years ago, leaving him to parent his son by himself. With a dull pang, he remembered fragile Charisse. She had been aconscientious wife and loving mother. Although Charisse had been chosen for him, or perhaps because she had been chosen for him, Michel had never felt more than a gentle fondness and protectiveness for his late wife. His son had suffered most from her death.

 Even now, Michel’s advisors had one list of requirements for the type of woman he should marry.

 Michel had another. He was older now and not as inclined to accept his advisors’ choice as the final word for him. Whoever he married would love his son as if he wereher own child.

 If he were to place an order for a wife, he would say he preferred a woman with silky, long black hair and a body with well-proportioned curves. He preferred a woman with a quiet voice and a soft laugh and, most important, a biddable nature.

 He moved his hand, and the moonlight reflected the gold ring on his finger that bore the royal crest of the House of Dumont. The ring was merely a symbol of a truth that had been with him since the womb. He was Prince Michel Charles Philippe, heir to the throne of Marceau. His father had passed away years ago, and Michel still missed him. Although his mother Queen Anna Catherine had given birth to seven children, she had always been more ruler than mother.

 He knew he was envied for his wealth and power. He knew men dreamed of being in his position; of having the final say on any matter in his country.

 Michel, however, had experienced the flip side of power, and he was humbled by the scope of his responsibility. For all his power, he couldn’t stop the devastation a hurricane had wreaked on Marceau several years ago. Though he held the second-highest position in his country, he couldn’t eliminate overnight long-standing social prejudice or ignorance. He couldn’t solve all his country’s problems in one day.

 He might be the wealthiest man in Marceau, and he might be the highest-ranking male in his country, and he might have been trained from an early age to hold himself apart, but he was still just a man.





 One



 Early in the morning, Prince Michel walked through the hallway toward his office. His mind was divided between the myriad tasks and decisions waiting to greet him and the remnants of his thoughts from last night. He would need to marry soon. A quiet woman of breeding and grace, he thought.A woman who would bring peace and tranquility to the Royal House of Dumont. He continued down the hail, and the click of his heels on the gleaming marble floor did nothing to diminish the volume of loud voices.

 “This way, mademoiselle,” a man said in a loud, overly enunciated voice. “I will lead you to your quarters.”

 “Excuse me,” a woman nearly shouted. “I’m sorry. What did you say?”

 Francois, his son’s assistant, was the man.And the woman? Michel took a detour and rounded the corner.

 “Mademoiselle Gillian, do you require medication?” Francois asked in exasperation.

 “I might,” she replied. “I feel like I’m only hearing every other word you’re saying.”

 Michel rounded another corner and caught sight of Francois and a young woman with a mane of curly, wild, red hair. She was dressed in jeans anda T -shirt advertising an American baseball team. Neither garment gave any indication of the shape of her body. Not that he was interested. This woman wouldn’t know the meaning of quiet if it banged her on the head.

 Francois glanced up and met Michel’s gaze.

 Michel watched panic slice through the man’s eyes.

 Francois immediately gave a quick bow. “YourHighness.”

 Distracted by the curious but bleary, green-eyed gaze of the woman, Michel gave an absent nod. “Who is our guest?”

 “Prince Michel Charles Philipe, may I present Mademoiselle Maggie Gillian? She is here from theUnited Statesto tutor Prince Maximillian.”

 Michel felt an immediate twinge. His son had dyslexia, and learning had become such a chore for him that he avoided all books. Intervention was necessary, so Michel had arranged to import a highly recommended specialist. Mademoiselle Gillian faced the challenge of helping Max overcome his disability.

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