Royally Seduced

1

LILY ADAMS STOOD in front of her New Jersey apartment building shivering in the predawn morning skies. Although it was July, the air was still damp and chilly at four in the morning. Her cousin Sarah and her cousin’s husband Curt should be here any minute to take her and Sarah to the airport. She and Sarah were less than a year apart in age. Sarah’s dad was the brother of Lily’s late father, and he had done his best to act as a stand-in dad. Although Lily and Sarah had grown up in different suburbs of Philadelphia and gone to different schools and colleges, they had gone to summer camp together and shared major milestones.

And now they were sharing a fabulous trip together. Lily shivered again, this time in anticipation. Her first time in Europe! Sarah had studied in France and was a high-school French teacher, but Lily was a total newbie. A European newbie, so to speak.

After graduating from college with a somewhat-less-than-lucrative journalism degree with an even-less-lucrative English-literature minor, Lily had decided to remedy a childhood of never going anywhere by starting a modest career as a travel writer. So far, she had done several articles on her native city of Philly and had branched out to New Jersey and New York.

But writing articles for the local parenting magazine on top ten historic sites for kids in Philly was shooting fish in a barrel. Adventure lay outside the Tri-State area, so she’d scraped together enough money for a trip to France. Just her and Sarah for the next few weeks.

She craned her neck. Yes, that was their car, a dark sedan that glided smoothly to the curb. Sarah hopped out…in her pajamas? Comfort was important for flying, but, well, okay. Lily didn’t much care what their fellow passengers thought of her cousin’s baggy pink T-shirt and red flannel pants, complete with monkeys dangling off palm trees. It was all good, as long as Sarah could pass through security without being tagged for crazy.

But Sarah also looked like death warmed over, her short brown bob scraped back by a linty black headband that looked like an Alice in Wonderland reject. Her face was pale even in the dim light, and her lips were dry and cracked.

“Um, are you okay?” Stomach flu on an international flight would be kind of dicey.

Sarah’s mouth spread into a wide grin and then she burst into tears of all things, clutching Lily as she sobbed. Curt hopped out of his side of the car and hurried to them. “What the heck is going on, Curt?”

“No!” Sarah jerked her head up, her expression alarmingly close to a snarl. “Don’t you dare say a word!”

Curt and Lily cringed. “Of course not, darling. It’s yours to tell, precious.” He wrapped his arm around his wife’s shoulder and kissed the top of her limp hair.

Darling? Precious? Curt was usually about as romantic as a rock.

“Sarah?” Lily said cautiously. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she had a nonrefundable ticket to Paris leaving in about four hours.

Her cousin’s face smoothed out until it was almost beatific. “Lily, I’m pregnant!”

Lily shrieked loud enough to wake the neighbors, who wouldn’t bother calling the cops even if it were some mad strangler coming into her apartment. “Pregnant!” She started to jump up and down but quickly stopped when she saw the queasy look on Sarah’s face.

“I know, I know! After all these years, all those times when it didn’t work out…”

Lily gave her a quick kiss, remembering Sarah’s several miscarriages until the damn doctors had figured out she’d had a