A Tale of Two Princes by Eric Geron Blog Tour

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links which will allow me as an associate to earn a small commission on any purchase made through the link of the products I share. This commission in no way changes the pricing of any items for the buyer.**

Title: A Tale of Two Princes

Author: Eric Geron

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: January 10, 2023

Page Count:  461

About the book:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Geron delivers whirlwind wish-fulfillment in this story of a closeted crown prince and an out-and-proud cowboy who discover they were separated at birth.

Edward Dinnissen leads a charmed life. He’s the Crown Prince of Canada, gets the royal treatment at his exclusive private school, and resides in a ritzy mansion. He thrives off being the perfect prince as he prepares for the Investiture Ceremony on his eighteenth birthday, the final step in his role as heir—and Canada’s future king. But this closeted Crown Prince has just one tiny problem: he’s unsure how to tell his parents, his beloved country, and his adoring fans that he’s gay.
 
Billy Boone should be happy with the simple life. His family’s ranch is his favorite place in the world, he loves his small town, and his boyfriend is the cutest guy at Little Timber High. So why does it feel like something’s still missing? Maybe it has to do with the fact that this out-and-proud cowboy feels destined for something more . . .
 
When Edward and Billy meet by chance in New York City, they discover that they are long-lost twins, and their lives are forever changed. Together, will these twin princes—“twinces”—be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations? Or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal train wreck?

Find this book online:

Goodreads  /  Amazon  / BookShop.org / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble 

Excerpt:

Chapter One

EDWARD

“Handsome and charming? How is Canada’s perfect royal son possibly still single?”

Travis Romano, Dean of Admissions at The Juilliard School here in New York, gives me a meaty handshake. A gigantic grin plasters his face and his green eyes crinkle at the corners. He shifts his stance as if hoping the photographers will be able to capture a few good shots of this moment. It’s the same irk-some question I’ve been dodging since the day I went from “Royal Tot” to “Royally Hot.”

The clanging of crystal quiets as a hush falls around the dean. A Silicon Valley tech guru sets down her glass of Bor-deaux to lovingly place her hand on her husband’s arm. The president’s son gives me a cheeky grin. Everyone within a three-metre radius is now silent, impatiently waiting to hear how I’ll respond.

For a moment, I imagine telling everyone the truth: “Guess what? I’m gay! And I don’t want to marry a woman and one day have babies to continue the royal bloodline.” But I’ll never say that. It’s too important to my parents—and all of Canada—that I follow in their footsteps.

And as next in line to the Maple Crown, it’s too important that I be a good king for my people one day.

EDWARD

“Handsome and charming? How is Canada’s perfect royal son possibly still single?”

Travis Romano, Dean of Admissions at The Juilliard School here in New York, gives me a meaty handshake. A gigantic grin plasters his face and his green eyes crinkle at the corners. He shifts his stance as if hoping the photographers will be able to capture a few good shots of this moment. It’s the same irk-some question I’ve been dodging since the day I went from “Royal Tot” to “Royally Hot.”

The clanging of crystal quiets as a hush falls around the dean. A Silicon Valley tech guru sets down her glass of Bor-deaux to lovingly place her hand on her husband’s arm. The president’s son gives me a cheeky grin. Everyone within a three-metre radius is now silent, impatiently waiting to hear how I’ll respond.

For a moment, I imagine telling everyone the truth: “Guess what? I’m gay! And I don’t want to marry a woman and one day have babies to continue the royal bloodline.” But I’ll never say that. It’s too important to my parents—and all of Canada—that I follow in their footsteps.

And as next in line to the Maple Crown, it’s too important that I be a good king for my people one day.

So, I’ll never find true love. That’s the cost of my destiny, and I’ve accepted it. Besides, I’m already married—to tradition.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 57: Never discuss matters of the heart.

To cover my nervousness, I flash my signature sugar-sweet smile—one befitting the Crown Prince of Canada—at the attentive crowd on the dance floor, letting them drink in the seconds. Over the Juilliard violinists playing softly in the back-ground, I answer the dean’s question about how I’m possibly still single with one deadpan word:

“Midterms.”

Some people chuckle while others begin a chorus of aaaaaaw. The platinum maple leaf brooch on my jacket lapel sits heavy on top of my heart. It identifies me as the Crown Prince of Canada, but it’s also the lock of the box I’m trapped in-side. The truth is, I’m single because I’m a closeted gay guy…and I’m a closeted gay guy because I’m the Crown Prince of Canada.

I keep smiling at the crowd, even though the many faces staring back feel overwhelming. I’ve been gone from the public eye for almost a year, so of course everyone is excited to see the “reclusive” Crown Prince return to the limelight. They don’t have to know that “reclusive” actually means I’ve been grounded this whole time, and all because of how poorly I acted at my seventeenth birthday party.

In the fallout, Mum and Dad grounded me for the rest of my junior year, then ordered I be sent away to New York City for my senior year. I’ve been here for six months, cooped up between my family’s private Upper East Side residence and a stuffy private school. Sure, there was public scrutiny over my parents shipping me off to New York, but they passed it off as an opportunity to strengthen their tight bonds with Canada’s closest neighbour to the south. No need for anyone to know I had been grounded and sent here as punishment.

Luckily, all my efforts to be a model prisoner have paid off, and my parents have just decided I don’t have to be grounded for the rest of my senior year. Tonight they’re giving me the chance to prove I really can be a model Crown Prince. And of course, I promised Mum and Dad I would be on my abso-lute best behaviour. After all, the Investiture Ceremony is in a couple of weeks, which means I have to prove that I’m fully prepared to be heir to the Maple Crown, aka the Canadian Crown. I know I’m ready. I’ve been training for it since I was a child. But I still need to convince the 38,346,809 people of Canada—and the rest of the world too. No pressure, right?

Dean Romano claps me on the back, wagging his finger at me with a cloying smile. “Well, we look forward to the day you find the perfect girl.” The rest of the group applauds po-litely and clinks their glasses.

I sigh inwardly. Since forever, Mum and Dad have said the same exact thing to me whenever the topic of the future queen has come up. I want to tell my rapt audience that I’m only seventeen years old, and therefore in no rush to marry anyone, obviously. But I’m used to near-total strangers interrogating me about my love life, so I wink at the dean and then add, “I promise that you’ll be the first to know.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 16: Maintain civility in social settings.

The semicircle of men and women—okay, mostly women—tightens around me, countless sequined arms and shimmer-ing bare shoulders swarming me like voracious sea creatures. My Adam’s apple presses against my stiff collar. “Who knows?” I add, my sultry smile fighting a twitch as I reach up to loosen my tie. “Maybe I’ll meet someone special here tonight.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 46: Make everyone feel heard

Charity balls are a royal pain in the derrière, but also an unfortunate requirement, along with cutting ribbons and giv-ing speeches. With the Dinnissen monarchy still so new, my parents work tirelessly to endear themselves to the Canadian public, which is still forming opinions on our family as its new fledging figureheads—and as soon as I graduate in June and return home to Canada, the full weight of that responsibility will fall upon my shoulders as well.

Though I suppose I can’t be too upset with my parents, or as the British press has dubbed them, Canada’s “Maple Syrup Sweeties.” Tonight, they’re off at some admirable conference with our prime minister. Actual important stuff that doesn’t in-volve schmoozing with politicians and celebrities. Well, maybe still some schmoozing—Mum always books her reflexologist before traveling with the PM. Then again, I can’t complain about standing in for them tonight. I’m still just so glad my time of captivity is finally over.

“To Prince Edward finding true love!” Dean Romano’s wife, Rebecca, lifts her crystal champagne flute toward the chandelier, and everyone echoes her words, then drains their glasses.

I manage to keep smiling. Her toast is yet another painful reminder of something I’ll never have…true love. But that’s the trade-off that comes with getting to be king one day.

It’s more exhausting than I remembered to keep pretending I’m something I’m not. I really need to get a breath of fresh air.

Excusing myself, I turn away and scan for the back doors of the Grand Ballroom—combing through a choppy ocean of barons, dignitaries, dukes, and celebrities. All resplendent in sheer gowns and sleek black ties. All elated to speak to me. But I don’t care about any of them. I only care about one per-son. Where the hell is Neel, anyway? To think I call him my best friend. And where the hell is the exit?

Gord Lauzon, Canadian secretary to Dad and my personal adviser since I was a child, is laughing up a storm with a group of people against the ballroom’s gilded wall. Like always, Gord looks sharp in a luxury suit and tie, his head freshly shaved and gleaming white. He was Granny’s ex–private secretary who now controls the press office, acts as the vital channel of com-munication between my parents and the Canadian govern-ment, and manages my day-to-day. Gord also works as liaison to the Institution—or “Firm”—that keeps the Royal Family running like one big business. He was delighted my ground-ing presented him with a chance to ratchet up his royal lessons. That is, after he got over the sour taste it left in his mouth.

He meets my eyes through his bold-framed glasses. After six months of him being my New York City babysitter, aka my parents’ eyes on me, I can tell he’s checking in. He subtly extends his arm, pressing fingertip to thumb, our signal for asking if everything is copacetic. I doubt anything foul will happen in this historic hotel’s grand old ballroom, other than me breaking a heart or two, so I return the gesture and he nods in understanding. Though, if I’m being honest, I could use his help to point out the exit door.

I check my timepiece and realize I’ve only been here for an hour. I used to be so good at wowing the crowds at these fundraisers. I’ve got to get back on top of my game. That is, after I take that much-needed brief break.

“Well, if it isn’t Canada’s Golden Child,” says a sly voice in my ear.

Suddenly, I’m being suffocated by a thick cloud of vanilla perfume as I turn to take in the full lips and chiseled cheek-bones of Sephora’s latest global ambassador, aka Lady Sofia Marchand, aka Fi, aka my frenemy since childhood. In an exquisite seafoam-blue couture gown with enough tulle to make Cinderella jealous, she looks every bit an ethereal fairy tale goddess.

Click!

The event photographer trips the shutter of his camera be-fore I can even utter a greeting. Seamlessly, Fi throws her head back in laughter as if I’ve just showed her the most hilarious GIF in the world. Instinctively, I tighten my core, relax my shoulders, and flex my chest.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 13: Have a royal presence.

Gord once told me that the best way to have perfect posture was to pretend someone was pulling a string right up through the top of my head, like a puppet. I was five. That’s me, all these years later: Perfect Puppet Prince Eddie, aching mouth unhinged, grin and all.

And Lady Sofia knows just how to pull my strings. With British aristocracy on her mum’s side and descending from French nobles on her Canadian dad’s side, Fi’s been one of my Crown-approved acquaintances since we were kids at Ash-wood Elementary in Ottawa. For years, we’ve attended the same polo and equestrian summer camp, the same celebrity birthday parties, and the same VIP meet-and-greets backstage at sold-out concerts. It’s painstakingly evident that our par-ents are hoping for a romantic spark, but Fi and I are less like maple syrup in milk and more like oil and water. I thought we might be rid of each other when I moved south of the border for my senior year, but no such luck. Her parents put her into St. Aubyn’s Prep as soon as they heard I would be attending, which she didn’t seem to mind.

Click!

“Well if it isn’t New York’s hottest crown-chaser,” I mut-ter out the corner of my mouth.

“Given how elusive you are, it’s no wonder I haven’t caught it yet.” Fi laughs—cackling this time. “It’s only a matter of time.” She perches one hand on my shoulder while lightly clasping it with the other, her front leg shifting to elegantly eclipse her back leg. She’s all fair skin tinged pink, peachy cheeks, silver-highlighted collarbones, and smoky cat eye.

Click!

Behind the photographer a few yards away, I spy a huddle of girls my age clamouring for my attention, hopping and waving their arms about. I’ll have to deal with them soon, I’m sure.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 52: Every person is important.

That includes the fangirls. Ça va. Beside me, Fi drops her sculpted arms and shoulders back, puffing out her chest. “What’s it been, nearly a year since you’ve hit the social scene? Glad your ’rents finally let you off the short leash.”

I smile very sweetly, keeping my eyes trained ahead. “As am I.”

Click!

“I can’t wait to get even more photos with you at the gala on Thursday night,” Fi continues. “I assume you’ll be there.”

“Wouldn’t miss it.”

The photographer lowers his camera and nods, as if to say he’s captured enough. Bien.

Fi faces me and talks through her smile. “My work here is done. It’s been real, loser. See you in school!” Then she turns to the photographer. “Make sure you tag me—that’s Sofia with an f.” She scoffs to herself. “As if he doesn’t already know that.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 101: No personal social media accounts.

So, that’s a thing, albeit fairly new. My Royal Family has general verified accounts instead, of course. At my last check, the @CanadianRoyals had 20.6 million followers. And pho-tos of me happen to get the most likes.

I look past Fi, lingering despite her goodbyes, and inad-vertently lock pupils with one of the girls in the huddle, who takes the fleeting eye contact for an invitation. Gathering her black gown, she rushes forward. Her gaggle of friends follows with hungry expressions, flocking my way in a V-formation.

A crushing weight settles on my chest. Although the pressure of being a royal is ever-present, at least when I was grounded I didn’t have to deal with this level of people-pleasing.

Nodding toward the girls, Fi scrunches up her delicate nose. “Good luck with that.” She flashes the crowd an enchant-ing smile, flips her long ombré hair, and strides down a non-existent red carpet while all heads turn her way and another photographer flails for her attention.

Well. That’s Lady Sofia for you, je ne sais quoi and all.

“Your Royal Highness!” says the girl in the black gown, who appears to be squatting in what I suppose is her attempt at a perfunctory curtsy. “Sir, may I get a photo with you, too?” I freeze, trying with all my might not to roll my eyes. Members of the Royal Family must always be gracious. “Of course, mademoiselle!” Growing up with a French-speaking nanny clearly rubbed off on me—along with remedial French lessons at school.

“Thank you!” she squeals, then turns to her posse and mouths, Mademoiselle! She angles her phone overhead, and I see my brow wrinkling on-screen.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 102: No selfies

Another recent rule. My grandmother and the family matri-arch, the queen of England, managed to officially deem self-ies as unfit for royalty. Too common. Too vain. I agree with some of the Maple Crown Rules inspired by Granny’s original ones (the Buckingham Crown Rules). But a lot of the tradi-tional values that any Royal Family thrives on are woefully backward.

C’est comme ça.

I gesture at the event photographer still hovering nearby. “Shall we have him take the photo? I trust my friend here will do a fine job capturing your beauty.”

“Oh, of course, sir!” The girl titters abashedly and tucks her phone into a sequin clutch. We assume the position while her friends look on, capturing every moment behind their screens. Others move in to watch too, unwittingly revealing the exit behind the photographer. He snaps a few shots and then walks over, showing us the photos.

I smile in approval, then I rely on an old standby and wave to an invisible friend across the packed ballroom. “I’m terri-bly sorry,” I tell the growing cluster of waiting girls. “I must step out for a brief moment. I’ll be back very soon! I promise.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 18: Depart at the right moment

Technically I also broke the rule Royals don’t apologize, but I can typically let that one slide. I am Canadian, after all.

Flashing one last dashing smile, I make my escape. The good ol’ Flash-and-Dash. Works every time. I spin on my heel and bump into a table, sending plates and glasses chattering like teeth (how unlike me!), then course-correct, making my way toward the exit. In my periphery, Gord excuses himself from his coterie of raucous socialites and follows, a long shadow tethered to my every stride, while I search for that pesky in-visible friend who conveniently can’t seem to stay in one place, weaving in and out and greeting the crème de la crème as I go.

“How are you?” I call to a NASA astronaut. I wave at a Scot-tish minister. “Hello there! Smart-looking kilt!”

“Salut! Comment va votre famille?” I ask the French ambassa-dor. I crank my megawatt smile up to an eleven for the prime minister of Japan. “Sumimasen,” I say.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 36: Royals should speak multiple languages.

For everyone else, I use my nod/twinkle-in-eye combo that’s friendly, but also too intimidating for anyone to do more than reply with a wave, smile, or nod. Otherwise, they’d be on me like flies on maple syrup. I reach the exit, soar through a series of doors, and maneuver past the black-and-white-clad waitstaff wheeling out carts of teacups. Everybody is so busy, they don’t even notice me in all the hubbub. I push a swinging aluminum traffic door, stepping past the bustling kitchen, and take a flight of steps down to a door leading to a break room reeking of what I can only assume is the smell of old coffee where I know no one will find me.

It’s empty, except for a guy my age in a worker’s uniform sitting at a rickety little table, gazing at his phone. I drop into a folding chair at a table in front of him, loosen my tie some more, and let out a whoosh of air.

I’m safe. For now.

“Oh!” he says with a start, nervously pushing back his bangs.

“Can I help you? Are you lost?”

“I’m fine. It’s okay that I’m in here, right?” I ask.

His glimmering eyes dart around. “Umm, normally they’d make me kick guests out for…reasons.” He suddenly notices my maple leaf brooch, and blushes. “But it’s cool! I won’t tell. Your Royal Highness, sir,” he adds hastily.

I almost begin to disclose why I’m hiding out in the first place. But then I remember.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 77: Only share what is necessary.

It’s technically: Only share with your subjects what is necessary, but I’ve truncated it. I don’t have subjects. At least, not yet.

I nod. “Perfect. Thanks.”

“D-do you want some privacy?” he stammers. He stands up to leave, and his phone falls from his hand. It skitters across the warped linoleum, coming to a rest at the tip of my shiny black patent leather shoes.

I pick it up and hand it back to him. “No, no, it’s fine. Stay. I just needed a tiny break. I’ll be out in a jiffy.” I give the break room a cursory scan, eyes sweeping cabinets, a sink, a small white fridge. “Do you have any food? I’m famished.”

One of his eyebrows quirks in bewilderment. “Oh, you didn’t get a chance to eat?”

“At a charity event like this one? Too much schmoozing. Not enough eating. As it goes.”

He lets out a little laugh. “Let me see what we have.” He vanishes up into the stairwell, then comes trundling back down a minute later with a tray of miniature desserts: everything from frozen mochi and mint sorbet to macarons and bonbons with gold leafing on top.

“Super!” I pinch up a pink mochi and pop it in my mouth. “Have one.”

He hesitates, but after darting a glance at the door, he selects a pale green one. “Staff isn’t supposed to eat these,” he says, but he bites down on it anyway.

“Look at us,” I remark. “Me trespassing in employee break rooms and you eating forbidden mochi. We’re breaking all the rules.” We both laugh. “So, you work here? Aren’t you in high school like me?”

“Yeah. But I just work nights. I’m saving up for college. My uncle got me the job. He’s a cook here.”

I take another mochi. Double chocolate. A favourite. “Do you cook too?”

“I try.” He laughs, running his hand through his shiny black hair. “What about you?”

Best not to share how all of my meals are prepared for me at the risk of sounding elitist. Instead, I grin. “Can you keep a secret? I’ve been working on a chocolate chip cookie recipe that puts Pierre on Park’s to shame.” I pass it off as a joke, but I actually spent all winter experimenting on just that recipe—along with original recipes for fresh new takes on profiteroles, cream puffs, and croquembouches.

The guy laughs again, briefly covering his mouth. “I bet.” “I’m serious.” I select a bonbon from the tray. “It’s rather ag-onizing being a foodie when you’re the next leader of a coun-try whose biggest culinary claim to fame is gourmet poutine.” His expression turns contemplative. “Hey, didn’t Canada invent the Twinkie?” “I rest my case.”

The guy chuckles and combs his fingers through his hair once more, then locks eyes with me. “I never expected to meet a royal, let alone, well, you. Sorry, you just seem so…normal.” Reddening, he adds, “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t… It’s just, you seem so chill. It’s like hanging out with…a friend from school.” He tucks a strand behind his ear, his eyes downcast, his cheeks practically puce.

“Don’t worry about it. I get it.” I swallow. I don’t know why, but my throat has decided to go bone-dry. “It’s easy to talk to you too. Do you get that a lot?”

Silence falls.

My stomach drops as soon as the words escape my lips. Do I sound like I’m coming onto him? What am I babbling about to this stranger?

But much to my relief, a smile washes across his face like sunlight.

I’m wondering what to say next when—

Slam!

The break room door bursts open, and I hear the voice of my best friend. “Edward! There you are!”

The worker and I jump with a start, stepping away from one another as if we were just caught hiding a dead body.

In struts Neel Singh, aforementioned best friend who also happens to be the son of Zubin Singh, Indian ambassador to Canada.

Let me tell you about Neel. People think I’m charming, but Neel can get them eating out of the palm of his manicured hand in seconds—including my parents, who bizarrely enough think him being in New York with me is a good thing. He grew up all over the world, but stayed in Ottawa long enough for us to become best friends, a relationship which fully crystallized after we built a snowman with a creatively placed carrot. Thank goodness it melted before my parents or Gord saw it. And now, he’s in New York for his senior year too. Only Neel could con-vince his parents that he should move to another country for his last year of high school. I guess he griped enough about being separated from his best friend that they eventually caved.

But in this moment, with the worker’s eyes still locked on mine, I’m kind of wishing Neel’s parents had kept him in Ottawa.

I fold my arms across my chest. “Oh, now you decide to show up. Where were you forever ago when I was looking for you, mon chum?”

Neel glances at the worker, whose name I wish I knew—que c’est gênant—then back at me, grinning. “Oh, you’ve made a new friend?”

“Shut up,” I growl so low that only Neel can hear me. He knows my secret and I trust him to keep it, but sometimes what he says in front of others makes me sweat.

He ignores me and walks across the break room. “Hi. I’m Neel. It’s so nice to meet you.” He pumps my new friend’s hand, lingering for far too long. He has a knack for being overly friendly. And there’s no denying Neel looks suave in his tailored black suit, crisp white button-up that contrasts nicely against the warm bronze undertones of his brown skin, and bow tie that perfectly matches his silk pocket square. Probably a look he “borrowed” from the runway he walked in Milan. The perks of being incredibly wealthy and good-looking.

“Nice to meet you too.” The guy looks from Neel to me, flashes a timid smile, and scurries from the room before I can utter salut.

Neel shoots me a knowing smirk then starts washing his hands at the sink. He ditched me all night, only showing up to barge in and scare off my new friend. This is low, even for him.

“Can you believe they had no vegetarian options?” he asks incredulously. “Meat pies for as far as the eye could see.”

“Seriously, where have you been? I needed you,” I say. “And how did you find me?”

He dries his hands on a dish rag then snatches up a bonbon. “I have my sources,” he says through a mouthful.

I glare. I could murder him. Use industrial-strength kitchen cleaner to hide the evidence.

“Fine.” Neel sticks his thumb into a vanilla mochi, then jerks it in the direction of the door.

Right on cue, Gord sets foot into the break room, looking less than pleased. “Your Royal Highness.”

Rolling my eyes at Neel, I give Gord the signal that all is well.

But as Neel rests a hand on my forearm, I’m no longer sure. He’s got that look in his eye. “I’m bored of the ball, so I’m thinking we leave before the raffle and silent auction.  Besides—” he beams his radiant smile “—there’s a private shindig taking place now at Beauty and Essex—no nonsense this time. Say you’ll come? Great! Let’s go.” Neel hooks his arm in mine and twists in the direction of the door.

He may have made the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, but right now, he’s number 1 on my naughty list.

I plant my feet. “Sounds sweet, but I’d rather not end up grounded again.”

Neel grips my face, pleading. “Please? Pretty please with maple sugar on top?”

I pry his fingers off. “Tempting,” I say, “but I’m afraid I’m immune to your charms, my friend.”

He grins impishly. “I’ll do your AP Chem lab homework,” he says in singsong.

He knows that’s my Achilles’ heel. I sigh. “You better not make me regret this.”

Gord clears his throat. “Sir.” He slowly shakes his head.

Neel knots his fingers together pleadingly. “But I’ll have him home by midnight, G!”

I raise an eyebrow. “Who are you, my fairy godmother?” With Neel, “midnight” means 4:30 a.m. Neel’s dad still lives in Ottawa, his mum’s in India, and he has no chaperone here, so he’s pretty much a free agent. The notion of “curfew” is not something he’s well acquainted with. While Neel’s par-ents are barely even aware of his zip code, mine like to be in the know, even with being busy running and continuing to establish a somewhat new form of monarchy. Hence, Gord, who I’m practically closer with than my own father.

Gord picks a piece of invisible lint off my jacket. “I don’t advise it, sir. Your parents gave me direct orders—your name is not ending up in the tabloids.” He straightens my brooch. “Again,” he adds tartly.

It’s true. Dad did say leading up to this event that if I had one more bad run-in with the press, he was going to revoke my going-out privileges for good.

Neel gasps and clutches his chest. “What happened last time was not his fault.”

Gord turns on Neel. “You mean when His Royal Highness was photographed setting off fireworks for his birthday party on a yacht in the Ottawa River? A little stunt that burned down half the trees on the waterfront? You’re both lucky it didn’t launch a media blitz.”

I feel myself blushing. “I didn’t know it was illegal to set off fireworks from a yacht, pour l’amour du Christ!”

At this response, Gord clenches his jaw. I know what that means. This conversation is over.

Neel knows it too. He screws up his mouth in defeat, and sighs. “Bye, bharˉa.” His nickname for me, “brother” in Pun-jabi, never fails to pull at my heartstrings.

I clap a hand on his shoulder. “Have fun for both of us?”

Neel eases back into his radiant smile, eyes playful again. He winks. “Oh, I always do.”

“Prince Edward! Prince Edward! Over here!”

Paparazzi surround us, cameras flashing, as we step out into the Manhattan night. A frigid breeze buffets down the ave-nue, fluttering awnings. My chauffeur holds open the door to my black town car as I duck inside, exchanging the icy air for blissful artificial warmth.

Camera lenses take aim, yards from the tinted windows. Good luck getting a decent shot. The paparazzi here truly are as ubiquitous as rats on subway tracks. Not that I’ve ever taken the subway.

Gord buckles into the passenger seat, and the chauffeur pulls the car onto 59th while the paparazzi give chase, shouting my name. Before kicking me out of Rideau Hall, Mum and Dad never failed to remind me that the paparazzi in New York would be documenting my every folly, unlike in Canada where the industry isn’t quite so rabid and boundaries are better re-spected (other than the Daily Maple, the source for most Royals- related reports and rumours). Going out and about, acting like a delinquent in New York would not only mean my family would find out about it, but the rest of the world as well. Given Mum and Dad’s own distaste for paparazzi, they must have felt pretty desperate to have sent me here, but it’s been quite ef-fective. That, and being under Gord’s constant supervision.

We cross the intersection, leaving Central Park behind us, its naked treetops illuminated by city lights. From the front seat, Gord turns up the radio volume and soft classical music plays. He knows it’s one of the few things that relaxes me. I lean back, take a deep breath, and pull out my phone.

A million Google alerts pop up. What? Of course I have a Google alert for my own name. I need to know what people are saying about me after my reentry into the party scene. It’s mostly just gossipy tabloid stories, an occasional fashion mag-azine editorial, and the inevitable message board comments perpetuating age-old rumours and adding to tired conspiracy theories. When it comes to the relatively new Canadian mon-archy, people love trying to spill royal Earl Grey tea.

Just before I was born, Mum and Dad fled across the pond to Canada in hopes of escaping the scrutiny of the English press. Waking up to a new disparaging headline every day about Mum being a lowly commoner from Canada was un-tenable for them—not to mention being baited and badgered by slimy photographers wherever they set foot. My parents had even been prepared to leave the Royal Family and relinquish their official titles—anything to help put an ocean between them and the snaky British tabloids.

A while back, there was a movement to one day replace Granny with a homegrown Canadian Royal Family, but noth-ing came of it. Our current situation was the result of an agreement with the Canadian prime minister at the time. Apparently, he recognized that Canadian love for the Royal Family was good for business. (Our official merch alone con-tributes greatly to Canada’s bottom line.) The fact Dad was born on Canadian soil before growing up in England made him a natural fit for Canadian king.

On my phone, I’m idly poking around popular royal hashtags and notice that someone has reposted, for the zillionth time, that old and super famous long-range paparazzi photo of my parents arriving home at Rideau Hall with bundled-up newborn me. It was the first time the paparazzi had caught a glimpse of The Canadian Royal Baby. Given my mum’s ner-vousness about paparazzi, my parents had hidden out at the super private Hôpital Royal Jolee in Montreal for the birth, far from where anyone expected them to go.

It’s one of the only photos of me as a child to have gotten out. To no one’s surprise, it was from a wily and out-of-town photographer who wasn’t afraid of being blacklisted. Since that day, my parents have held an iron grip on our private lives, only slightly loosening up the photography ban when I en-tered high school a little over three years ago. (Hello, People magazine cover shoot!)

Despite her secretly difficult pregnancy, Mum appears healthy, rested, and as much a fashion icon as ever in the photo, step-ping out of a town car in a formfitting dress with the traditional maple leaf tartan pattern. Dad cradles me in a blanket woven with the same fabric. I’ve seen this photo so many times that I know it by heart.

I tap back to my notifications. Many of the alerts swirl around the topic of me at tonight’s ball, with a few official photos starting to surface, most showing me on the red carpet, hands in pockets. The one of me with Fi is already trending. Just as she’d hoped.

I let out a sigh. It does little to release the familiar feeling of pressure and expectation building in my heart and chest. The whole world is watching, commenting on my every move. I have to uphold the royal Dinnissen glory, or our Canada goose is cooked, because there’s a lot to live up to as Crown Prince, aka Prince Royal. Mum and Dad had the perfect modern-day fairy tale love story: prince meets born-and-bred Cana-dian commoner and falls in love. People have always eaten up and adored their story, even with its darker, nearly-stripped-of-their-titles side to it.

Suddenly, the heat in the car has become stifling. I crack the window for some fresh air. 

As much as I love the perks of being Crown Prince, sometimes I want to throw all the rules out the window. But when ever I get that urge, I remember the fiasco that was my seventeenth birthday party. I’ve learned my lesson. And what choice do I have? I’m trapped.

Gord is always telling me that it’s much easier for Canada to get rid of our monarchy than to further change it. I can hear Gord reciting Maple Crown Rule 1, drilling it into my brain like he has my entire life: Duty to the Crown above all else.

I open the faceless alias Instagram account, aka Finsta, that I secretly made for myself—mostly to drool over slow-mo videos of people frosting cakes or pulling gooey, piping-hot cookies apart, and to read baking “top tips” from my favourite maître pâtissiers, or master pastry chef—Chef Pierre—who regularly unveils his latest innovative desserts at his culinary school in Paris that end up on the menu of his world-renowned bakery-café here in New York.

Of course, there are also the gay couple accounts I peruse, with varying arrays of cutesy, saccharine selfies. I want what they have.

As I scroll, I can’t help daydreaming about going back to the break room, letting the cute guy pull me up onto one of those rickety little tables, his lips parting as we press against each other…

I can never tell a soul, let alone the world, about my petit secret.

I am absolutely certain that if I were to come out, the powers that be would find a way to strip me of my title. I can’t let that happen. Do I sometimes wish I could have a normal life that allows me to settle down with a nice guy? Yes, I do. But not more than I want that crown. Besides, it would break my par-ents’ hearts if their only son didn’t succeed them on the throne.

Sure, my family has had their own fair share of secrets. Hell, here are more secrets than rules (and if you couldn’t tell by now, we have a lot of rules). My Royal Family tree isn’t with-out its rotten apples—or rotten maple leaves, to keep things on brand. But I may just be the worst. A blight, the one to petrify the family tree so that not a single leaf remains cling-ing to its ancient branches.

It’s bad enough that the Firm and current conservative government share a little-known penchant for wanting to streamline the Royal Family, meaning the three of us could be stripped of our titles at any moment.

Selfishly, abdicating the throne would alleviate me of the immense weight to remain in the closet. But I couldn’t do that to my parents, even if I could find a good way out, and there isn’t one—out of the closet or out of the monarchy. After the stunt I pulled at my last birthday, Mum and Dad have felt like the three of us are in danger of losing our position in Canada and being sent to live out the rest of our days in a drafty, for-gotten castle in Cornwall.

But my parents won’t have to worry about the monarchy dissipating to the Chinook winds. I was raised to be Crown Prince of Canada, destined to fulfill my royal birthright. Even if it does mean no love life.

To bear a crown of power is to be alone, right?

I press my nose to the cold window glass, hearing ambu-lance sirens blaring in the distance. Normally, traditions im-posed on the heir to the throne wouldn’t be a huge problem. Except, well…

UNSPOKEN MAPLE CROWN RULE: Don’t be gay, eh?

DAILY MAPLE ONLINE

THE ROYAL ROUNDUP

March 2, 06:23 a.m. ET

PRINCE EDWARD SIZZLES BACK INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

by Omar Scooby

Welcome back, Eddie! After ten months of skirting the spotlight following his seventeenth birthday debacle, the Crown Prince of Canada slides back into the social scene with a rare appearance at a star-studded gala.

Entering the ballroom last night at the Plaza Hotel, the Crown Prince of Canada was a sight to behold—wowing in a tailored suit and titillating partygoers with his wit, charm, and majestic magnetism. The world has truly missed seeing that hundred-watt smile. The Daily Maple spoke to an insider about what it’s like for him, being a teen heartthrob.

When asked about any details surrounding the highly anticipated Investiture Ceremony, our close-to-the-royal-family insider went mum. What has the prince got up his hemmed silken sleeves? We hope to find out and see a whole lot more of him—and his winning smile—in the coming days.

RELATED STORIES

King Frederick Speaks to Prime Minister of Singapore

Queen Daphnée Promises to Lower Housing Costs

Canadian Prime Minister: Hottest Politician Alive?

Excerpted from A Tale of Two Princes. Copyright © 2023 by Eric Geron. Published by Inkyard Press.

About the author:

Eric Geron (pronounced: jur-ON) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hocus Pocus Spell BookPoultrygeist, and Bye Bye, Binary, along with numerous other titles, including the New York Times bestselling Descendants novelization under the name Rico Green. He earned his creative writing degree from the University of Miami and spent many years at Disney as an editor of New York Times bestselling books. He currently resides in New York City. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @EricGeron and on his website at ericgeron.com.

Author Website / Twitter / Instagram

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: