What?! Aladdin swears AND has a boner! Now his name is Ian.
Imagine Jasmine... named Valentina.
I don’t have any lines until scene four, so I scan the audience, my eyes landing on familiar faces: Mary Murphy, mother of pizza-faced Jack, sits in the middle of the third row like she’s the bloody queen of Éire. Behind her is Horatio Doyle, an up-and-comer in Murphy-Doyle, with a few of his lads flanking him. Two rows behind them, I can make out the dark, beady eyes of my cousin, Jarlath Keegan.
It was Jarlath what first got me and my little brother running with the Keegans, promising us hot dinners while me mam was high as a kite. She was chewed up and spit out by my twelfth birthday, and Jarlath—ten years older than me—ended up taking in me and nine-year-old Albie. He used to beat us on the regular too, but over the last three years, I got bigger and started fighting back. I know he still gets a punch in on Albie from time-to-time, but not if I’m around. He don’t dare hit the kid in front of me. I’m a mean, whatever-it-takes, street-rat style fighter, just like he taught me to be. And what I lack in muscle-tone I make up for in grit. I don’t stop hitting until my enemy is down.
We lock eyes for a second, my cousin and me, with him putting a tattooed arm around my brother’s scrawny shoulders just to rattle me. Albie don’t notice. He’s focused on the action up on stage. I narrow my eyes, warning to my cousin to leave Albie the fuck alone, and he smirks at me with a lazy wink on his ugly gob. I fucking hate him, I do.
Skimming my eyes away, I look for…for…
I barely notice that my fingers are curling into fists, but they are, and while they’re at it, my heart speeds up, galloping like a pony at the track. The muscles in my chest flex and harden as I breathe deep and hold it.
Ka-dum. Ka-dum. Ka-dum. Ka-dum.
I step away from the cardboard tree, straightening up a little and focusing my eyes on the white-blonde of her hair—on the way the stream of a spotlight from the back of the theater tosses a halo over her head.
Like she’s a fucking angel. Like she’s legendary. Like she’s not even real.
There’s no mistaking who she is or what she is—it’s clear in the way she holds herself, sitting in a rickety velvet seat that’s seen better days: back straight, neck long, little chin tilted up, and wide, dark eyes fixed on the stage.
My head tilts to the left and my face falls slack as I stare at her, eyes like fucking lasers, riveted on her beautiful face.
I’m sure her skin is a regular pinkish color up close, but from here, with that glaring spotlight and from a bit of a distance, she’s almost otherworldly. Her crisp white shirt is open at the neck and a string of pearls hug the base of her throat. Her light hair falls behind her shoulders in white waves, and tiny white sparkles in her ear lobes draw my eyes. I imagine the softness of that skin against my lips, compressed between my teeth. My filthy mouth waters as I slide my gaze to hers.
Full and soft, her lips are high-tone glossy in the light that streams over her head. A mental image of them wrapped around my cock makes my balls tighten.
Make no mistake: I ain’t lonely. I get it on the regular when I want it, and mostly with who I choose, but suddenly I feel like a green kid who’s never fucked.
That’s about when I realize I’m wearing tight jeans.
On a stage.
In front of the whole of Limerick.
I tear my eyes away from her and stare down, expecting to see my cock rising like the River Shannon in high tide.
Sheep. Tea. Rugby. Cricket. Limey bastards. The Queen of bloody England with her thousand-year-old cunt.
I purse my lips together and breathe slowly through my nose, thinking of everything I hate, trying to get that beautiful fucking image out of my head before I’m sporting an on-stage boner. And thank the good Lord above for small mercies, but I feel my blood recede before the audience notices my struggle, except…
Except when I glance up again, she’s looking at me. Right at me.
Seemingly aware of my struggle, and definitely amused, she fights not to smile as she lowers her gaze to my cock for a long second, then skims it back up my body to nab my eyes again.
Brazen as fuck she is!
Locked with hers, I feel my own eyes widen with disapproval as hers sparkle with laughter.
I fell in love with her the first moment I saw her.
That’s the truth.
Does it sound corny?
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I know.
The thing is?
I don’t really care what you lot think.
I know what I know.
Love at first sight is possible.
I’m positive because I’ve lived it.
I am Ian Ladd,
a street rat from the back alleys of Limerick.
She is Valentina Yasmina De’Medici,
Her Serene Highness.
This is our story.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract, and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.
Several dozen books and three RITA® nominations later, Katy claims authorship of the multititled Blueberry Lane series, the A Modern Fairytale collection, the Summerhaven series, the Odds Are Good collection, the Arranged duo, and several other stand-alone romances, including the critically- acclaimed mainstream fiction novel Unloved, a love story.
Katy’s books are available in English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Turkish.
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