The Temporary Duchess

By: Gina Robinson

A Jet City Billionaire Romance

The Billionaire Duke Series Book 3

Chapter 1

Seattle, Washington

Haley Hamilton

Sometimes dreams come true. But would mine? Would I become duchess and save my sister? Find true love with the handsome duke? Live happily ever after? Or would Lady Rose snatch my duke away from me?

The beds in Wareswood Castle were sumptuous and comfortable. Deep and fluffy. Made for sinking in and reveling in complete luxury. Even so, I woke early on Sunday morning after tossing and turning most of the night. Bruised by my dreams as if there had been the proverbial pea beneath my mattress.

My sleep had been haunted by nightmarish images of Riggins proposing to Rose. This might be my last taste of the good life. Worse—it could very well be the end of my hopes for a relationship with Riggins. It sounded melodramatic to say, but my heart would be crushed. For so many reasons.

Riggins. Even his name dancing in my mind made me smile. I had it bad for him. Today was the day. I had to win his favor.

I allowed myself the comfort of lounging in bed, snuggling in beneath the covers, daydreaming about him.

A knock on my bedroom door interrupted the rare and lazy pleasure of lying in bed later than dawn. Sid was still asleep in her adjoining room. Which meant I had to answer it.

I got up groggily. My pajama pants were wrinkled and pushed up around my knees. My hair stood on end. My teeth were unbrushed. I ran my fingers through the tangles of my hair, threw on a fluffy robe that came with the room, and paused just before automatically throwing the door open. I had a second of panic, and delight, an awkward combination, that it might be Riggins. Or maybe the highly proper Mr. Thorne.

I was about to ask, Who's there? when the knocking started again.

"Haley? Haley, it's Rose. Are you there?"

There was no point in hiding out and ignoring her. She'd find me. She'd already interrupted my thoughts of Riggins. What more damage could she do?

I sighed, heavily, and mentally hissed Rose's name, before gently cracking the door and peeking out at her. She was immaculately turned out—hair flowing in dark waves, makeup done, lightly perfumed, and wearing skintight jeans and a sweater. She even had false eyelashes on. Who wears false eyelashes on the weekend? Or any day at this early hour? Personally, if I ever became duchess, or came into those several hundred million, I was going to get lash extensions and not worry about false lashes again. Rose looked ready for a photo shoot or the latest batch of paparazzi to pop out of the bushes and snap her picture.

She was unreal. I half thought she must be made of wax or something, her skin was so perfect. Maybe she was enchanted and a real woman lurked beneath if the spell was ever broken. In the meantime, my chin itched, which meant I was getting a pimple.

"There you are!" She let out a whoosh of breath. "You're in, thank goodness. May I come in? This is an emergency, I'm afraid." For being in supposed crisis mode, she sounded way too cool and collected.

If this was how she handled dire circumstances, I wanted to be her. There was nothing I could do. This was an emergency, after all. Exaggerator. I swung the door open and let her in, closing the door behind us and wondering what kind of emergency she could possibly be having.

She looked around the room, taking everything in. "Isn't your room quaint? You must have a view of the garden. There's not a bad view in the house. I can see the lake from mine."

Yes, and I wished she'd go jump in it, but was too polite to say so aloud. She was clearly hinting that she was Riggins' favorite, since he'd assigned the rooms. And she had a lake view while I had to make do with the garden. At least he hadn't given her an adjoining one to his.

I forced myself to smile. "There are only two adjoining suites in the castle and this is the best of them." Why was I defending our room assignment to her? "Our rooms were Helen's. At least, that's what Beth told us yesterday.

"How lucky for you. Unfortunately, my room is the American-themed one. All the red, white, and blue, and Americana." She shuddered. "I had to get out of there before I went crackers."

Ha! I almost laughed aloud. Riggins did have a sense of humor.

"Did you have any luck tracking down Helen's mom's ghost last night? Lazer came well equipped for the hunt." I put a small amount of innuendo in my voice, hinting that Lazer had been on the hunt for more than ghosts.

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