November 5-9, 2018
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Just Pretending (The Chicago Falcons #3) by Leah and Kate Rooper
Publication Date: November 5, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush
It’s not easy being royal. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline wears her crown proudly, but between her duties and her overprotective big brother, the idea of romance is just a dream. But a chance encounter in Chicago changes all that….
Sure, seventeen-year-old Tyler Evans loves playing hockey, but he’s more concerned about providing for his dad and little sister. Then he meets Eva–and falls head-over-heels in love—and he has two more problems. One, she’s his best friend’s little sister. Two, she wears a crown.
But then Eva accidentally mistakes Tyler for a visiting prince, and for the first time, Tyler doesn’t feel like a nobody. He knows he has to tell her the truth…but not yet.
His plan? To keep up the royal charade as long as it takes to convince Eva he’s the guy for her. Even if he’s lying to everyone…including himself.
Disclaimer: May cause disillusionment. Those girls looking to find their Prince Charming might consider scouting out hockey rinks.
GUEST POST/DELETED SCENE
We’re including a deleted scene that occurs during one of the most intense moments of the book! This is the original scene when Tyler Evans’ charade of posing as Prince Tiberius is discovered. We loved this scene when we wrote it, and thought it was totally hilarious and fitting for Tyler’s best friend, Prince Daniel, who is super dramatic and hot-headed. Ultimately, we decided to re-write this scene to be less comedic and more serious so it would fit the tone of the book better. We still have a soft spot for this crazy, slapstick reveal 🙂
I push Tiberius’s long mop of hair out of my eyes and blink rapidly. I stare into the gaping faces of the banquet. Somehow in our tussle, we’d burst through the double doors back into the banquet hall. I can only imagine what we look like. I touch my lip, feel blood there. I want to look away but I can’t. All the eyes of the dinner party are on me…and the two princes in a heap beside me. Madison is front and centre, for once as stunned and silent as everyone else. The Queen Dowager looks like she might faint.
“What is going on?” Evangeline cuts through the fray, her voice sailing through the air like the toast of a glass. She looks so worried, and my heart aches. I did this to her.
“Tiberius,” she says and starts forward. “You’re hurt.”
Daniel leaps to his feet and blocks her path. “Don’t, Eva,” he says. “Don’t waste one more breath on that guy.”
“W-What?” Eva says, looking past Daniel at me.
“I caught him in the hallway,” Daniel says, not caring about the dignitaries and officials watching, “making out with some girl.”
Eva takes a small breath, her throat bobbing ever so slightly. Her eyes go blank and glossy. “T-Tiberius…is this true?”
Daniel steps toward her. “Don’t worry, Evans and I handled it. He’ll rue the day he messed with Daniel Sacachelli’s little sister.” He reaches for her, but she steps out of his grasp. She’s still looking behind him, her eyes trained on me.
“You…you made me believe that I was special,” she whispers. “That I was finally heard.” She steps around her brother.
“Eva, don’t,” Daniel says, trying to grab her arm again.
“Daniel!” she says, her voice escalating. He backs away from her.
Her steps are firm and deliberate as she walks toward me, still tangled up with the real Tiberius. I can’t look at her anymore. My body feels like an engine that’s run out of gas. There’s no more running, no more stories. There’s no Madison or Millie to dig me out of this one.
It’s time to face what I’ve done.
“Stand up,” she orders. A queen’s voice.
Tiberius and I both shuffle to our feet, eyes downcast.
“Evans, you can come—” Daniel says, but Eva holds up a single finger. He silences.
Then she strikes me across the face with the palm of her hand.
“Eva!” Daniel roars. “What are you doing?”
Eva’s whole body is shaking. Her teeth are gritted together and tendrils of hair have fallen loose around her face. “Was it all a lie?” she chokes.
“No,” I say. Because it wasn’t.
Daniel rushes over and throws an arm over my shoulder. “What the hell, Eva? Don’t take this out on Evans!”
My whole body shuts down. All I can do is bow my head. My cheek stings.
“Evans?” Eva says, blinking wildly. “You said you caught Tiberius with another…”
“Yeah,” Daniel says, releasing me and grabbing the scruff of Prince Tiberius’s collar. He gives a little peep. “Prince Tiberius? Your true love?”
“N-No…” Eva says, shaking her head and gesturing to me. “This is Prince Tiberius.”
But then the real Tiberius throws his head back and brays with laughter. “There is only ONE Prince Tiberius,” he says, his accent thick on every word. “And that is mou.”
“What the hell is going on here?” Daniel says, eyes flying between Eva and me. “Tyler…”
“Tyler,” Eva says, as if the word were toxic on her tongue. “Ty…”
Suddenly, Madison is beside Eva, gently touching her arm. “Eva, maybe we should let the boys get cleaned up…everyone’s watching.”
Eva doesn’t even acknowledge her. “Who,” she says, her voice cutting like a blade, “is Prince Tiberius?”
The real Prince Tiberius sweeps into a bow. “At your service, Your Highness.”
Eva grabs my chin and forces me to stare at her. “Then who are you?”
My words are more breath than voice. “Tyler Evans,” I say. “I’m…” I’m what? A hockey player? Daniel’s friend? A liar? All true, but they all feel so empty. “I’m nobody.”
“All this time,” she says, “you were lying to me?” Her hand falls from my face.
I stare at her pleadingly. “I only did it because…I wanted to be with you. I did it because…” I shake my head, feel my eyes start to sting. “Because I love you.”
“How can you possibly love me,” she breathes, “when everything about you is a lie?”
“Eva—” I reach for her hand.
“Don’t touch me!” she yells, her voice echoing through the ballroom.
“Someone tell me what the hell is going on,” Daniel says. His body tenses like a bow string. “Or I’m going to start making my own conclusions, and that’s not a good idea for anybody.”
“No,” Madison mumbles quietly, “it’s really not.”
“It’s my fault,” I choke out. “When I picked Eva up from the airport, I had lost Tiberius…so…so I pretended to be him.”
Slowly, Daniel looks between Eva and I. “You…you pretended to be Tiberius. Which means…” His gaze settles on me. “You’re the Tiberius that Eva is in love with.”
There are a hundred pairs of eyes on me, but there’s only one I care about. Eva looks at me as if I’m a stranger. As if we hadn’t laughed together, spilled our secrets to one another, felt the touch of each other’s body. And the look she’s giving me right now is worse than the absent glare from when I tried to talk to her with my hockey gear on.
“Please,” I gasp. “Let me explain.”
Daniel paces back and forth, before stopping at the nearest wall. He slams his fist against it, rattling the decorative swords on their wooden mount. Then he stills, and says in a dark voice, “Oh, Evans. The time for explaining is past.”
In a single instant, Daniel moves, snatching the swords down from the wall and brandishing one as if he were some medieval knight. A gasp goes up from the audience.
“What are you doing?” I cry.
Daniel slides one of the swords across the floor. It lands right at my feet. “Pick it up,” he says. “I want to fight you like a man.”
“Those are antiques!” the Queen Dowager cries.
“Shush!” Madison says. “This is getting good.”
I stare down at the polished sword by my feet. “Daniel, come on. Just listen to me—”
“No, you listen,” Daniel snarls. “Listen to the sound my sword makes as I sheath it in your flesh!” With an animalistic roar, Daniel rushes at me, sword above his head.
Instinct takes over, and I grab the sword at my feet. Just in time, I bring it up to clang with Daniel’s.
There are screams and shouts from the onlookers, but Daniel doesn’t care. He grunts and swings his sword again. I barely have a chance to block it. “D-Dan, stop!”
“You betrayed me!” he roars, going for my flank. I counter, the sing of metal sounding through the banquet hall. “You betrayed my sister!”
All my years of playing video games rush back to me, as I counter Daniel’s flurry of attack. Is Daniel really attacking me with a sword? This cannot be happening! With a roar of my own, I strike back, slashing at Daniel’s left arm. He doesn’t get his sword up in time, and it slices through his black coat.
He looks down at the tear, then back up at me. With newfound rage, Daniel surges forward. Clang, clang, clang, our swords smash against one another. I’m being pushed back, closer to the wall. The sword is heavy and my muscles scream as I block Daniel’s assault again and again. But I’m too slow, and I see Daniel’s sword arc up and then swing down—
A giant black mace swings through the air, blocking Daniel’s sword from shaving off one of my blond curls. I turn and stare at its wielder.
She holds the big mace tightly, her body hunched over, breathing ragged. The suit of arms near us rattles, empty-handed, from where Eva must have grabbed the mace.
“Enough,” she says again. “Get out. All of you.”
No one moves. She arcs the mace up in the air and slams it down onto the floor. “GET OUT!”
Slowly, everyone starts murmuring and shuffling toward the door. Eva drops the mace and turns away, her head in her hands.
“Eva—” I say.
“Don’t.” Her body stiffens. “I believed you. Every word.” She looks back, just the peek of her face over her shoulder. “You could have believed in me too.”
I fall to the ground, head in my arms. I hear Daniel’s sword clang to the ground, then his heavy footsteps as he walks away. The bustle of the crowd dies down as everyone leaves, and then the lights go out, only the candles on the walls still burning.
I sit alone in the dark. The candles flicker on.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leah and Kate Rooper are sisters from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Growing up beside the Pacific Ocean and inside a temperate rainforest fed their sense of adventure as children, and nourished a curiosity for strange and distant lands. They fed this curiosity with books – lots and lots of books. After experiencing the magic of Middle-earth, they began creating their own worlds. When they’re not writing, Leah and Kate spend their time blogging and vlogging about their travel adventures and their writing journey.