In the Royal States of America, magic rules all, but life—and love—always finds a way.
Latent horse empath. Dishwasher. Closet chef.
When food poisoning sweeps through Dallas, Patrick Laycal doesn’t expect a princess to show up at his door asking for his help.
Her one, simple request dumps him in the middle of a Royal mess—one that could cost him far more than just his life.
Storm Called features characters first introduced in Null & Void, the first of the Royal States novels.
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It was shit luck I was on shift the day the Texan Royals decided they had a hankering for overcooked fries and burgers so sopping with grease I wouldn’t have fed them to a pig. I was fortunate; I washed dishes, so I wouldn’t meet any of them, not in my worn jeans and flannel shirt. They wouldn’t even know I existed, and I liked it that way.
The rest of the staff faced off against the king and queen of Texas, who were rumored to be volatile on a good day.
I didn’t want to learn what it was like to be struck by lightning. I also didn’t want to find out if they really made low-talent freaks with horse affinities, like me, disappear. My talent had been registered early, at age eight, but it had refused to develop into anything worthwhile, which came as no surprise to me.
My parents couldn’t afford a horse. I couldn’t afford the college I attended, let alone a horse. I’d heard the same story all my life: talents needed to be used to develop.
I wasn’t a null, but I’d never grow beyond my current caste. I could live with that. As long as I didn’t mind washing dishes for the rest of my life, I’d always be able to find a job. If push came to shove, I could join the family trade. Everyone needed a janitor. My mother even enjoyed working as a maid.
She believed a clean home was a happy home.
“Pat,” my boss bellowed.
Jerking my head up, I turned away from my work to face him. “Sir?”
“Take twenty for dinner.”
The next time I searched for work, I’d make certain I got a proper thirty-minute break—and I’d remember to pack my lunch every single day on the off-chance royalty might show up wanting bad food for dinner. With the kitchen already in a state of chaos from the unexpected guests, there’d be no leftovers for the staff, leaving me to make the hike down the street to grab something at the convenience store to take the edge off. For a rare change, I appreciated my high odds of food poisoning.
To dodge the royals, I left out the back door, navigated around the garbage littering the alley, and made my escape to the main street. Two minutes later, I reached my destination.
It, too, had a royal infestation, and the Crowned Heir of Texas glared at a bag of chips. Had I been the subject of her scrutiny, I would’ve run for the hills without looking back. Looking back lost races when every second mattered. In the news, the blonde-haired woman scowled often. I couldn’t tell if the lack of selection or indecisiveness bothered her.
It didn’t matter. A smart man avoided trouble, so I headed for the refrigerated shelves to pick a sandwich and roll the dice. Movement in the corner of my eye startled me from my search.
The Texan princess stalked me, her expression one of unwavering determination. “Excuse me?”
“What ya need?” I blurted, and my face grew hot as my accent betrayed me as someone from a lower caste.
She either didn’t notice or care. “What’s good here?”
I frowned, considering the selection of sandwiches. To my dismay, only one lacked eggs or mayonnaise, the top culprits of unexpected digestive distress following the poor choice of acquiring dinner from a convenience store. I grabbed the pulled pork sandwich from the shelf and offered it to her. “If by good you mean edible, your best bet is to take one labelled as made today and hope for the best. This is the one you want.”
I picked the second-best option, and while labelled as from today, it doubled down on the eggs and mayo with some cheese and questionable chunks of chicken. By the end of my shift, I’d regret having eaten anything. I nodded in an effort to be polite and fled while I could. To escape faster, I left the cashier my change to avoid humiliating myself in front of Princess Jessica Dunhaven, the future queen of Texas.
About the Author
Susan Copperfield is the royal romance, urban fantasy loving alter ego of award-winning & USA Today bestselling novelist RJ Blain.
Under the super not-so-secret identity of Susan, the Royal States of America is explored, where the work of sixteen founding royal families preserved the United States from destruction and civil war when magic swept over the world.
In the Royal States, life, love, and magic always finds a way.