All the Queen's Men

by Megan Hussey

Queenie: Verona is a director who has everything under control on the set of her latest flick; until she has to deal with the seduction of a hunky star and the intrusion of the queen of the jungle.

Behold the Beauty: Prince Beau loves healer Agnatha, and with the help of an all-powerful godling, the two may find the happiness each deserves.

The Prize of Queens: The power of the Horse radiates from Marguerite, a lifelong equestrian who transforms into the mythical Pegasus when danger strikes. It's a mystical but lonely life – until Cole, Marguerite's ranch hand, woos and seduces the lifelong bachelorette. Yet when a ruthless horse thief threatens her livelihood, only the Power of the Horse can save them both.



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? Heat Level: 4

Megan Hussey "All the Queen's Men"


Click the story title to view each excerpt:

Queenie | Behold the Beauty | The Prize of Queens


Chapter One

"A jungle shoot? Criminy! We'll be fighting off giant, economy-sized mosquitoes the entire friggin time!"

Verona Callahan rolled her eyes in the direction of Oliver West, her co-director at Destiny Pictures.

"Great pictures are our destiny." Verona often liked to joke. "We're just not quite there yet."

She was never more certain of that slogan than today, when she faced a seemingly impossible, and acutely sweaty, film project.

"You want to film the movie on an island that, strategically speaking, is located approximately 500 ¼ miles from, well, nowhere." She tapped her fingers against the surface of her cherry wood desk. "And you want this film to star Sally Hoyt, a woman who considers clear nail polish and flat heels to be sublime acts of 'roughing it?'"

"She's guaranteed box office." Across the desk, Oliver ran a self-conscious hand through his sleek ebony hair. "And with your talents, bella, I'm sure you can draw a top performance from her."

Verona leaned back in her plush leather seat, her gaze taking a leisurely walk down Oliver's tall, muscled form.

For a royal B.S. artist, she surmised, Oliver is pretty blasted hot.

Aloud she sighed, "OK, we'll go with Sally for the lead. Who is our actor for this film?"

Oliver cocked his head, seeming to monitor her reaction to his next words.

"Blaine Ray." He smiled.

"Oh hell to the yeah!" Verona blurted out, clasping her hands before her. "He's so hot…in the theaters right now." She sobered, and took a deep, sustaining breath. "What I mean to say is, his portrayal of Lifeguard Two in the new 'Beach Watch' movie is drawing strong critical notice."

"Then it's a good thing he's signed on for this project." Oliver pinned her with a knowing smile. "We start filming Monday."

* * * *

Monday morning found Verona on board a single-engine private plane, flying high above a sea of sheer crystalline blue.

She stared with blatant admiration at the lush waters surrounding Muldivia, the island that served as the setting of her next film, Island Passion.

"I started off my career wanting to direct the next Gone With the Wind." She sighed. "Now I direct soft core films that are more along the lines of Gone With the Bikini Straps." She slumped in her seat. "You make a few adjustments to your life plan, so you can pay a few bills."

Aside from some needed cash, her career had produced a valued friendship with Oliver West, her co-director and co-owner of Destiny Pictures.

A longtime friend and collaborator, Oliver was like a brother to her; and, at times, when she looked into his gem blue eyes, she swore she saw a deeper emotion.

She regarded him now, taking a well-earned snooze in his cushioned seat.

Her other two fellow passengers, by contrast, were wide awake; one loudly, annoyingly so.

"Why do we have to film this in Muldivia?" The slender blonde Sally Hoyt pouted prettily across the aisle, shuffling her delicate feet. "It's so hot and sticky there. I'm just certain my perm will collapse!"

Verona turned to Blaine Ray, the male star of Island Passion. Like Sally, he was a statuesque, flawlessly gorgeous blond with long, flowing hair and an impressive physique.

Their similarities had not gone unnoticed during the course of their three-hour plane ride.

"I know the two of you have joined the Mile High Club twice already." Verona cocked a caustic eyebrow in Blaine's direction. "Could you try for a third time, just so we could find another use for her mouth?"

Blaine doubled over, stifling a sharp guffaw.

"You bad girl." He slapped her knee. "Verona, have you ever joined the Mile High Club?"

"Are you kidding?" Verona rolled her eyes. "Unlike Sally, I actually eat." She snuck a self-conscious glance at her rubenesque form. "It's tough enough for a big girl to fit herself into an airplane restroom, let alone sneak in an ardent partner."

"Ever heard of dieting?" Verona jumped at the sound of a high-pitched voice, one that emanated from a seat across the aisle, coming from Sally.

"Sally!" Blaine hissed, green eyes flashing.

Unphased, Verona looked down her bespectacled nose at the smirking younger woman.

"Ever heard of the unemployment line?" She grinned with evil intent. "I have your contract in my briefcase, and could tear it up with my chubby hands at any given moment."

She watched with pleasure as the pure bronzed color drained from Sally's face. She and Blaine exchanged a subtle low-five beneath their seats as Sally sank in hers.

"I must tell you I'm very excited to be appearing in a Destiny film." Blaine dazzled her with a white-toothed grin. "I mean, I know we're not making art films here…"

Behold the Beauty

Chapter One

Beausoleil had his fill of simpering maidens vying to become his bride. In the eyes of his female admirers, the maidens of a Utopian land where his family ruled supreme, his masculine beauty shone as radiantly as the sun above him.

They sometimes spoke in admiration – or in outright envy – about his hair, which was the hue of pure gold and fell in luxurious waves down his smoothly planed back.

"I swear, the lasses are either begging for my room key or the brand name of my shampoo," he scoffed.

And they giggled among themselves, and sometimes wrote achingly bad poetry, about his skin that held a hint of bronze that covered a tall, muscular frame.

His eyes sometimes widened in apparent irritation or outright fear as he heard their blunt, loudly spoken observations. But all they noticed was the fact that those eyes shone "like emeralds" from a sculpted face. They drooled (and in some bizarre instances swooned) as they regarded a mouth, full and sensual, and they openly basked in the warmth of his disposition, which generally was as sunny as his moniker. Generally.

"I'll have no more of this! I declare, all the panting and drooling stops now!"

Beausoleil, or Prince Beau as the citizens of Ravenshead called him, issued this declaration in his father's great hall—a massive room with a towering ceiling, an intricately carved fireplace lined with fine silver pottery, and wooden tables filled with guests.

These elite villagers were titled lords and ladies who gathered this day for a feast hosted by King Benjamin, Beausoleil's father.

Benjamin was known as the man who ruled Ravenshead, a small, elite nation on the border of other lands sovereigned by gentry representatives of various nations; titled folk who yearned for larger lands, luxury and, in many cases, uninterrupted debauchery. Indeed, while they praised Benjamin's leadership skills, Beau was truly known as the man who served prime ale at his monthly feasts.

Yet, as guests were presented with bountiful tankards, as well as plates stocked with beef, pork, cheese and fruit, Beau was presented with heaping helpings of eligible females – all vying for a seat beside him at the head table.

"This is insane," he told his smirking father, a blond, broad-shouldered man who himself cut a striking figure. "I want simply to enjoy a good meal and the wit-filled tales of our storyteller, not to be ogled and pawed like a side of raw venison."

But it was too late. He saw the whites of their eyes, and of their under-shifts, as they flipped their colorful skirts to gift him with a subtle 'flash.'

"Aye, but I am blessed," thought Beau, rolling his eyes heavenward. His gaze then shifted to a long, lavishly designed tapestry that adorned the far end of the hall.

A work of sheer teal velvet, handcrafted by a castle weaver, the tapestry depicted a forest scene in all its earthly glory. Tall, noble trees stood beside bountiful bushes. Both boasted leaves of dew-glistened emerald, and provided a mystical setting for a lone fallow deer with a rich chestnut coat.

Beau felt a strange affinity for the regal stag—one who he perceived not only prized his freedom, but yearned for a greater measure of it—along with some treasured privacy.

Mumbling his uneasy apologies, Beau rose from the table and walked abruptly from the hall. He knew he probably appeared a bit desperate, sprinting across the castle courtyard and into his father's stables, but frankly, he was beyond caring about the opinions of his father's elite, debauched friends.

Xavier, his prized ebony stallion, pawed restlessly as Beau saddled and bridled him.

"Aye, Lad, I know," Beau whispered in a soothing tone. "We shall leave here. We shall take a ride through the forest, forget the lot of them, and leave them behind."

With this, he mounted the regal horse in one swift motion.

The two of them escaped into the dark of night.

The Prize of Queens

Chapter One

If Peter Martin lived to be hundred years old, the boy swore he'd never forget the sublime sight of the Pegasus. And, thanks to the Pegasus, he just might live long enough to get that opportunity.

Taking full advantage of a sun-soaked Sunday morning, one he felt was best spent in the dew-glistened azure meadows of Bayville, Florida, the 14-year-old made quick, restless apologies to his sleepy-eyed mother and escaped their cramped homestead.

Then, running swiftly into a meadow that bordered their hedge-lined, carefully landscaped property, he yelped and turned restless circles in his favorite bed of dandelions. He threw his head back and basked in the breezes of a flawless Florida morning. And he ran barefoot through soft, dewy grasses toward an uncertain destination.

Soon, he supposed, he would abandon this nature made haven to visit its owner, his neighbor, Marquerite O'Mara. Peter harbored something of a crush on Marquerite; a tall, sturdy woman with broad shoulders, an easy laugh and sparkling green eyes that always reminded him of his grandmother's emerald bracelet.

Unlike those tanned swimsuit models, the pouty lasses whose images flooded his father's desktop calendars, Marquerite seemed more at home in a pair of jeans than a thong bikini. Still, even Dad admitted, she cut a fine form astride one of her prized palominos, the soft, curly strands of her fire-red hair flowing freely in the breeze.

Despite their shared wonder at the vision of Marquerite, sitting tall as she did in the smooth leather saddle of a sleekly maned ivory charger, Peter and his father, Roland, also shared a common curiosity. Why, they wondered, did she always ride alone?

Marquerite acted as the sole owner and proprietor of the Jaded Lady Ranch; a sprawling, tree-lined fifty-acre property she shared with a stable of five palominos. These stately animals claimed consistent blue ribbons at state and county fairs, as well as national horse shows.

Peter sometimes watched as the horsewoman groomed and shoed her prized charges. He noted that, while Marquerite always seemed a beaming, sweet-natured woman, her horses easily earned her broadest smiles.

"And while she's always friendly to my parents and me, she just seems more relaxed around the horses," he mused.

Even so, he always looked forward to their Saturday morning chats in her clean, though decidedly rustic, kitchen. She always offered him freshly made bundt cake and some inside advice on the art of horsemanship, a profession he himself intended to investigate right after high school.

This morning, in fact, he intended to ask what he considered an all-important question: if Buttercup, his prized Arabian mare, was ready and qualified for her first jumping exhibition.

First, though, he wanted to enjoy a little more time outdoors. With that in mind, he ran forward toward a narrow cliff that stood at the back of Marquerite's property and overlooked a flowing brook. This narrow body of water literally sparkled this morning in the beams of the overhead sun. And, as always, Peter took a moment to admire and bask in its crystalline radiance.

His quiet observations were jarringly disrupted by the sound of a low, savage growl, followed immediately by the ring of a vicious bark, sounds that slashed the air above him and prompted the boy to turn sharply in their direction.

Peter's eyes flew wide open as he desperately sought an escape. Then he screamed outright as, staggering backward, he slipped on some gravel that lay precariously underfoot and careened over the side of the cliff.