The Firstborn Prince

By: Virginia Nelson

Chapter One

From Natalie’s rules for Foster Boyd, v2

Rule #2: Don’t try to be sneaky. Bad things happen when you try to be sneaky. To be blunt, you suck at it. You’re better off just going into a situation and pretending confidence than trying to pretend you’re a ninja. You’re over six feet tall, a bazillionaire, and everyone has watched you grow up via television and magazine spreads. We even know where that one birthmark is on your left ass cheek. It’s kinda cute, looks like a heart, but you see my point here. This does not a ninja make, understood?

Natalie Stolen checked the battery life on her cell phone for probably the hundredth time. Some sick little part of her still hoped it wasn’t ringing because it was dead or…something. Any reason would work, at least for her denial. She didn’t want to admit to herself that the silence screamed a death knell for her career.

Upon seeing it was at 78 percent, she lay it on the charger atop her beautiful glass desk. When she first bought the desk, she’d been so full of confidence. She’d made it in the big city, proving her skills were useful and real and that she’d never worry about bills again. At the time, she paid to have it set up facing the door to her office, so she could swivel away from her floor-to-ceiling windows and look at whichever client entered.

The desk was symbolic of the life she thought she’d secured. She was going to be the biggest spin doctor in the history of spin. But now the office, with its glorious view of her future, was gone, as was her sense of security, leaving her with a big desk that hardly fit into the space she’d managed to rent. She still had the desk, with or without the symbolism, so could it possibly be that her dreams were that easily squashed? Annihilated? Destroyed?

She’d guess that the biggest mistake she made was that she’d believed her own hype. Her job, as an image consultant, was to ensure the public thought the very best of her clients.

If the client was, for instance, America’s sweetheart, they had to maintain the bubbly, perfect façade that an all-American girl-next-door stereotype required.

Which, to be honest, was where everything went swirly and she went wrong. Margo Welles—the red-haired beauty who went from model, to actress, to movie star in countless rom-coms—had a private life she kept private. This in and of itself wasn’t particularly unique. A lot of stars and important people liked to keep their public persona separate from their private life. Natalie wasn’t one to pry, especially not with a huge client like Welles. Hell, she’d recognized very early on in their working relationship that she was lucky to have Margo choose her out of the countless options available to a woman like her. She’d even bragged about scoring the new client—a notch in her professional belt, and proof that her methodology worked.

Lucky. Ha.

But when the world learned America’s sweetheart kept a kid secret—for a decade—then it became a problem. Especially when said child was the daughter of a press darling, the notable and notorious Irish Prince, as the media dubbed him. Oh, and Welles hadn’t told the billionaire daddy about his secret baby…supposedly. Natalie still wasn’t sure if she bought that particular story, although it fed headlines like crack. Tabloid news. People couldn’t get enough of it.

But, well, not darling or fitting for America’s sweetheart. Not like the one time when Natalie leaked to the press about Margo loving sloths. That was adorable. They’d “caught” footage of Margo in tears as she gently touched a single, delicate fingertip to the back of the slow-moving creature. The public loved that kind of thing. Gorgeous woman plus animal for the win. But there wasn’t a sloth in the world cute enough or genuine tears sweet enough to cleanse the salt of the public response to a woman who’d hidden a man’s baby away for ten whole years.

Speaking of the press, Natalie thought in irritation as she stood to pace her much smaller office, they dropped the ball on this one. Was it Natalie’s fault they didn’t notice a kid for ten freakin’ years? No, not even a little. But it was her job, as a spin doctor, to find a positive way to turn the situation around for her client. She’d failed, because Margo took a hit. Which resulted in all of her clients losing faith in her ability.