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Authors: Angel Payne,Victoria Blue

No Perfect Princess

No Perfect Princess

Secrets of Stone, Book 3

By Angel Payne
and Victoria Blue

No Perfect Princess

Secrets of Stone, Book 3

Copyright © 2015 by Fin Mint Publishing, LLP

All Rights Reserved

Kindle Edition

If you have purchased a copy of this eBook, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book. This purchase allows you one legal copy for your own personal reading enjoyment on your personal computer or device. You do not have the rights to resell, distribute, print, or transfer this book, in whole or in part, to anyone, in any format, via methods either currently known or yet to be invented, or upload to a file-sharing peer to peer program. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. Such action is illegal and in violation of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. If you no longer want this book, you may not give your copy to someone else. Delete it from your computer. Thank you for respecting the hard work of these authors.

Edited By:

Melisande Scott

Tracy Roelle

Cover Art:

Parajunkee Designs

www.parajunkee.net

Formatting:

BB eBooks

www.bbebooksthailand.com

Marketing/Appearance Inquiries:

Shannon Hunt, Once Upon an Alpha

www.onceuponanalpha.com

READERS AND REVIEWERS ACROSS THE GLOBE ARE HOT FOR THE SECRETS OF STONE!
About
NO PRINCE CHARMING:

“Not a cookie-cutter hero…I found Killian to be a combination of smexy and sweet. Blue and Payne have a style that is like smooth whiskey…goes down hot and lingers for a while.”

The Jeep Diva

“Completely sigh-worthy…the heat they generated could have caused fissures to erupt in the earth’s core. An enjoyable read that makes us believe fairy tales very well could come true.”

The Romance Reviews

“It’s romantic, it’s beautiful, and Mr. Stone is incredibly swoon-worthy. I devoured this book in one night.”

Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads

“A whopper of a read. There’s everything in this book to keep the reader hooked, And the description of THAT kiss…ohh, la la!”

Noble Book Reviews

About
NO MORE MASQUERADE:

“I absolutely loved this book. Suspenseful, nerve-wracking, and had me pulling my hair out! An excellent follow-up to a really great love story.”

The Romance Reviews

“An OMG page-turner that will blow your mind. I loved every minute!”

Paranormaly Yours Reviews

“Payne and Blue have taken the traditional fairy tale romance and made it perfect for our generation to dream and strive for. Thank you for a Cinderella we can all be proud of and a prince to rival all princes!”

The Book Fairy

“WOW. This book. Part of me doesn’t have words. Claire is a strong heroine with undying love. Killian is the tortured man we all swoon for. I really enjoyed this.”

Twin Opinions Reviews

Dedications
Angel:

It takes an amazing family to live with, love, and support a neurotic writer.

I cannot thank my beautiful husband and daughter enough. You are both the world to me.

Victoria, you are more than my partner. You are the awesome, OCD other half of me, and I have
no
idea what I’d do without you. Love you, amazing woman!

For the girls who put up with my drama when I need it the most: Shannon Hunt, Zoey Derrick, Dani Wade, Rachel Harper. Mwah!

John and Sue:

Writing sibling love is easy when one’s experienced it firsthand. I love you both so much.

Now go find my avocado, dammit.

Victoria:

My dedications this time around need to be split into three categories:

At home: My amazing, handsome, sexy, supportive, loving, superhero husband David, and his protégé (our son) Kadin. I love you both so very much, and I can’t thank you enough for all the hours you spent listening to my ideas, my complaining, my weariness and fears, and the list goes on. You two are amazing and I couldn’t be your namesake without you. I love you dearly.

Of course, I can’t leave out the Queen. Her love and happiness drive me to be a better human being. What’s better than that?

At work: Miss Angel Payne, the most talented, driven, supportive, inspiring writing partner a girl could dream of having. Even on the days I can’t imagine sitting down in front of the computer, you’re there to cheer me on. You lift me up when I need it, and you’ve taught me so much about this craft, and about this “game” we play. You’ve given me an invaluable gift I’ll never be able to thank you enough for. I love you with all of my heart.

On the playground: Elisa, Anna, and Kim, my own personal cheering section. Who knew I’d deserve you? Each one of you brings such unique, beautiful, generous, loving and inspiring gifts into my daily life. You call me on my shit, and you hold me to the standard I set for myself. That, my friends, is exactly what true love is all about. I will
always
be here to return that favor for you. XOXOXO

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Praise for Secrets of Stone

Dedications

Acknowledgements

One:
Margaux

Two:
Michael

Three:
Margaux

Four:
Michael

Five:
Margaux

Six:
Michael

Seven:
Margaux

Eight:
Michael

Nine:
Margaux

Ten:
Michael

Eleven:
Margaux

Twelve:
Michael

Thirteen:
Margaux

Fourteen:
Michael

Fifteen:
Margaux

Sixteen:
Michael

Seventeen:
Margaux

Eighteen:
Michael

Nineteen:
Margaux

Twenty:
Michael

Thank You

Other Book in The Secrets of Stone Series

Other Works by Angel Payne

About the Authors

Acknowledgements

To all of YOU, our readers, who have found this series and support it so much: THANK YOU!

Thanks to all the amazing folks on the Angel Payne Readers page on Facebook.

Your thoughts, ideas, and jokes keep us going on the toughest days!

To our alpha readers, Carey Sabala and Lisa Simo-Kinzer: this one was a doozie, and we are so grateful for your guidance in its infancy!

To all the amazing goddesses on the TOGA Team: we are so grateful for your support, love, and willingness to go the extra mile for us. THANK YOU.

To the gals on the Skype Sprint Group (yeah, we
really
need a name), who support and encourage on a daily basis: Shayla Black, Carrie-Ann Ryan, Carly Philips, Kennedy Layne, Jenna Jacob, Stacey Kennedy, and Lexi Blake.

To the fine folks of Julian, California—for letting us borrow your beautiful town for so many fun scenes!

Chapter One

Margaux

F
ashion icon. It
was a dirty job, but someone had to do it.

Even if all I saw outside the window of San Diego’s most exclusive couture bridal shop was a parade of last year’s jeans and ugly Christmas sweaters.

Ugh.
The humanity.

I turned away from the horror show, sighing as I stopped in front of a mirror to readjust my trendy beanie. It was a bold choice of accessory, running the risk of tumbling from gawd-she’s-fabulous to oh-no-she-didn’t inside five seconds. The trick was the backside dangle. If that fell right, you were golden.

Perfect
.

That was, after all, the way I still rolled.

I sat on a couch and impatiently thumbed through a magazine. China patterns, honeymoon locales, reception favors, more china patterns…

I threw the thing down. Was pretty damn sure I felt a rash coming on now.

“Claire!”

For the love of Louboutin, how long did putting on
one
wedding dress take? Okay, so she
was
my sister. Sort of. Technically, my soon-to-be sister-in-law—even if only a handful of people on the planet really knew that. I wasn’t sure I wanted the news expanded past those boundaries, either. It had been sheer hell working out the bullshit surrounding the “family” everyone
did
know about.

No.
Today wasn’t a day for moping about Mother. Or the way she’d used my birth like a bargaining chip. Or the fact that she’d kept that truth from me for twenty-six years—and not felt a moment of remorse once I did find out.

Christ almighty. What was Claire doing in there, sewing the damn thing by herself? Since there were three attendants with her, that was the
mystère du jour
.

“Claire!” I repeated. “Honestly, I’m growing roots from standing in the same—”

My derision died as my doe-eyed stepsister stepped out of the small room, silk and lace trailing behind her in a wave of tulle and princess bride splendor. If I were a weaker woman, which I most certainly was not, I would cop to a lump in my throat at the vision standing before me, eyes aglow, dimples bracketing a shy smile, red hair tumbling into the gown’s regal neckline.

Holy hell. Wait until Killian saw this. He thought he was head over heels before?
Brother of mine, prepare your gut for a
real
train collision.

“Claire Bear. Wow.”

It was all I could manage. And
no
, the tightness at the base of my throat had nothing to do with it.

The sales bitches beamed like they’d just birthed the fucking Baby New Year. They had this one in the bag and knew it—the exact reason why I pulled a full ice princess, glaring just enough to let them know the real bitch would come next. In an instant, they rushed forward to fuss around Claire once more.

This dress was
made
for you, Miss Montgomery.

Mr. Stone’s eyes are going to fall out of his head.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

It went for fifteen minutes, one
blah blah blah
after another. I tuned out, my stomach turning on the latte I’d subbed for breakfast this morning.

This would never be me.

Never.

I would never walk down the aisle into the controlling clutches of a man.
Ha
; I didn’t even have a father to walk me down the aisle. Like it was even a big deal anymore. Until ten months ago, I’d written off the “dad time” angle from my life, with no reason to disbelieve what Mother always asserted: that my father had run out on us and didn’t deserve a moment more of my attention. That all changed in a Chicago hospital room, where Josiah Stone had confessed to something much different—before taking his last breath.

Never knowing that his death had also killed off one of the most enduring fantasies of my life.

That somehow, my father would realize what a huge mistake he’d made in running from me—and return to embrace me with tears of grateful reunion. He’d tell me he didn’t care about my makeup or clothes, that he only wanted to know what I was really like, on the inside, before sweeping me off to his mountain cabin, where—

Like going any further down that road was going to help right now.

Thank you, Mommie Dearest
.

I officially hated that woman.

No, you don’t.

Hmmm. I was pretty sure I did. Though I was too damn afraid of her to ever say it to her face, which was…unnerving. At really deep levels.

“Margaux? Are you okay?”

Claire’s enormous brown eyes were fixed on me through the mirror. This chick didn’t miss a beat with her attention
or
her concern, which pounded the unnerving right down into disturbed.

Christ, I was a mess lately. And the kicker? I was actually aware of it.
Puke
. Life was much simpler when all I thought about in the morning was digging into someone else’s dirt—and how fabulous I’d look while helping them with it.

“Have you really seen the back of this one, Claire?” I flashed more ice shards at the bitches. “Did
any
of you think to show her the back? It’s stunning, Bear. Truly.”

My diversion tactic worked, at least on the sales flock. They flurried again, turning Claire so she could see, erupting into more gibberish about the gown and its perfect fit, flare and hem line. But dammit if my sister didn’t keep her eyes fixed on me, silently—and unashamedly—trying to probe. I finally rolled my eyes and gave her the Margaux salute, jabbing my middle finger when the attendants weren’t looking. She suppressed a giggle but that didn’t fool me. She’d be all over me the minute we were alone—because that was simply the kind of girl she was. Observant. Intuitive. And caring to the point where it was her damn super power.

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