His Pregnant Princess Bride

By: Catherine Mann

Prologue

“I have to confess, I don’t care for the football at all.”

Princess Erika’s declaration caught Gervais Reynaud off guard, considering they’d spent the past four hours in the private viewing box overlooking Wembley Stadium, where his team would be playing a preseason exhibition game two months from now.

As the owner of the New Orleans Hurricanes NFL team, Gervais had more important things to do than indulge this high-maintenance Nordic princess he’d been seated beside during today’s event, a high-stakes soccer match that was called “football” on this side of the globe. A game she didn’t even respect regardless of which country played. Had it been sexist of him to think she might actually enjoy the game, since she was a royal, serving in her country’s army? He’d expected a military member to be athletic. Not unreasonable, right? She was definitely toned under that gray, regimented uniform decorated with gold braid and commendations.

But she was also undoubtedly bored by the game.

And while Gervais didn’t enjoy soccer as much as American football, he respected the hell out of it. The athletes were some of the best in the world. His main task for today had been to scout the stadium, to see what it would be like for the New Orleans Hurricanes when they played here in August. He’d staked his business reputation on the team he owned, a move his financial advisers had all adamantly opposed. There were risks, of course. But Gervais had never backed away from a challenge. It went against his nature. And now his career was tied to the success of the Hurricanes. The media spotlight had always been intense for him because of his family name. But after he’d purchased the franchise, the media became relentless.

Previewing the Wembley Stadium facilities at least offered him a welcome weekend of breathing room from scrutiny, since the UK fan base for American football was nominal. Here, he could simply enjoy a game without a camera panning to his face or reporters circling him afterward.

He only wished he could be watching the Hurricanes play today. He’d put one of his brothers in charge of the team as head coach. Another brother ran the team on the field in the quarterback position. Sportswriters back in the United States implied he’d made a colossal mistake.

Playing favorites? Clearly, they didn’t know the Reynauds.

He wouldn’t have chosen from his family unless they were the best for the job. Not when purchasing this team provided his chance to forge his own path as more than just part of the Reynaud extended-family empire of shipping moguls and football stars.

But to do that successfully, he had to play the political game with every bit as much strategy as the game on the field. As a team owner, he was the face of the Hurricanes. Which meant putting up with a temperamental princess who hadn’t grasped that the “football team” he owned wasn’t the one on the field. Not that she seemed to care much one way or the other.

Sprawled on the white leather sofa, Gervais tossed a pigskin from hand to hand, the ball a token gift from the public relations coordinator who’d welcomed him today and shown him to the private viewing box. The box was emptying now that the clock ran out after the London club beat another English team in the FA Cup Final. “You don’t like the ball?”

She waved an elegant hand, smoothing over her pale blond hair sleeked back in a flawless twist. “No, not that. Perhaps my English is not as good as I would wish,” she said with only the slightest hint of an accent. She’d been educated well, speaking with an intonation that was unquestionably sexy, even as she failed to notice the kind of football he held was different than the one they’d used on the field. “I do not care for the game. The football game.”

“Interesting choice, then, for your country to send you as the royal representative to a finals match.” Damn, she was too beautiful for her own good, wearing that neat-fitting uniform and filling it out in all the right places. Just looking at her brought to mind her heritage—her warrior princess ancestors out in battle side by side with badass Vikings—although this Nordic princess had clearly been suffering in regal silence for the past four hours. The way she’d dismissed her travel assistant had Gervais thinking he wouldn’t even bother playing the diplomat with this ice princess.