Around the Square

holly jacobsRoyal in Hiding
by Holly Jacobs

CataRomance Reviewer's Choice Award

Holt Medallion Award WINNER

Parker Dillon, aka Princess Marie Anna Parker Mickovich Dillonetti of Eliason, came to Erie, PA to go to college in blessed anonymity. She finds she likes being just plain old Parker Dillon, so even after college ends she doesn’t return home. She opens a coffeehouse and with her two college friends, Shey Carlson and Cara Phillips instead. Monarch’s and Titles are doing well and Parker is happy with her life, until her father cuts off her access to her trust. Now she’s working at Monarch’s to earn a living. Things get even worse when her father sends her unwanted royal fiancé to bring her home. She wants nothing to do with the prince, but she does like the looks of the private investigator her father's hired to watch her.

Jace O’Donnell’s life is chaos. His sister is getting a divorce and has moved in with her 13 year old twins, Bobby and Amanda. He’s supposed to be trailing a runaway princess, and while he’s at it, he’s being trailed by his niece and nephew who have decided to spend their summer vacation learning to be detectives. To make matters worse, the princess is the most gorgeous woman he’s ever met. If she wasn’t royal he’d make a play for her. But Jace has learned from family experience that crossing the class-line never works, so he tries to keep his distance. But keeping his distance proves hard, since all he really wants to do is wrap this wayward princess in his arms.

Two people from different backgrounds find they have all that matters in common...they have love!


Kindle and KU


"Parker is a refreshing, sassy heroine." RT

"Holly Jacobs writes a charming tale of two people who discover love is more than champagne and roses, but a lot of hard work. ...If you’re looking a heartwarming, pick-me-up, then you should grab..." a copy of Royal in Hiding. ~Cat Cody, Romance Junkies

"Ms. Jacobs once again proves she has a penchant for weaving a sweet story of romance with engrossing characters...If readers want a quick read that is definitely not lacking in story or humor...a must-read." ~Kelley A. Hartsell, LoveRomances.com 4 stars

"Holly Jacobs has masterfully penned an absolutely delightful story..." 5 Stars, CataRomance.com


Book, Reviews, Excerpt


Royal in Hiding
COPYRIGHT Holly Jacobs

"I need a job."

Just one week before when Parker Dillon had uttered those words to her two best friends, Shey Carlson and Cara Phillips, she hadn’t known what she was letting herself in for. And now here she was a working woman--a waitress extraordinaire.

Okay, so maybe she wasn’t quite extraordinary yet.

Most shifts she wasn’t even totally competent, but it had only been seven days and her business degree hadn’t exactly prepared her for a waitressing career path. But Parker frequently reminded herself that all she’d ever wanted was to be ordinary, so maybe being a less than extraordinary waitress was okay.

"Hi, may I take your order?" she asked her newest table at Monarch’s, her friend Shey’s small coffeehouse on Perry Square, in Erie, Pennsylvania.

A man and two children looked up.

A man and two children who looked rather familiar.

The man wore a black turtleneck sweater, black jeans all topped by a black leather jacket. His hair was black as well. Not some dark brown bordering on black, but a true black. Despite the dark color, it looked soft.

Inviting even.

Not that Parker wanted to be invited.

She didn’t have time for men.

Not even darkly handsome ones.

So she concentrated on the two youngsters and smiled. "Who’s first?"

The girl grinned and said, "I’d like a hot chocolate and one of those blueberry muffins, please."

Parker wrote the order down, then turned to the boy. "And you?"

"Hot chocolate and a chocolate donut."

The man cleared his throat.

"Sorry, Uncle Jace." The boy looked at Parker and added, "Please."


The man wasn’t their dad.

For some reason Parker’s heart did a queer little double beat.

He--Uncle Jace--turned from the children and looked right at her.

Parker noted that his eyes were as dark as his hair. Deep and penetrating eyes. They looked at her as if they could see more than her well-worn jeans and ponytailed blond hair.

He peered at her as if he knew things about her, things that she’d rather no one know.

"Coffee," was all he said in a low voice that sounded as if someone had taken sandpaper to his vocal chords.

Something within her stirred at the sound.

"Cream and sugar?" she asked, her voice oddly breathy.


It figured, she thought with a small smile. Of course Mr. Tall-dark-and-handsome took his coffee black.

"Be right back."

She headed back to retrieve their food, but couldn’t help one quick glance over her shoulder. Uncle Jace appeared to be scolding the kids, who were both wearing guilty looks.

"Hey, that’s some hunk," Shey said as Parker came behind the counter. "Too bad about the kids. Like they say, all the good ones are taken."

"They’re not his kids. They called him uncle."

"Not too bad then. I don’t see a ring." She was looking passed Parker toward the table. "Do you know him? He’s watching you."

Parker turned and sure enough he was. He shifted his gaze back to the kids, but he’d been studying her. "I can’t quite place him, but he looks familiar, like I should know him."

"So ask him," Shey said.

That was Shey in a nutshell.

She was the kind of person who always cut to the chase. She didn’t have the time, or the patience, to pussyfoot around issues.

Shey only had one speed...full steam ahead.

She’d been the one to spearhead Parker and Cara into forming a partnership and opening the two stores. Parker had her degree in International Business. And although Perry Square wasn’t exactly international, it felt good to use some of her education to put together a business plan. She’d been the stores’ financial backer and business manager. Having a healthy trustfund had made things much easier.

Full-steam-ahead Shey had taken responsibility for Monarch’s Coffeehouse, and Cara, who was the quieter of the trio, had surprised them all by not only managing Titles, the adjoining bookstore, but really enjoying it.

Each of their positions had played to each of their strengths. It had been perfect.

The stores weren’t generating enough cash to provide a livable income and that hadn’t been a problem until her father cut off her access to her trustfund. That’s why she’d taken the vacant waitressing position to help makes ends meet.

Both her friends had argued against it, but most of the time, Parker was enjoying it. Eyeing Uncle Jace, she had to admit she was enjoying today, and this particular table, more than most.

"Go on. Ask him if you two know each other," Shey prompted again.

"That’s okay. It’s not important," Parker said as she poured the hot chocolate into a cup.

"Come on now, Parker, he’s a hunk. You should just go for it. You’re on a roll lately," she said with a chuckle, "so why don’t you roll his way. Nothing can be as hard as standing up to your father. By the way, he called again...or rather his secretary did. You’re supposed to call him back. He said it’s important."

"I don’t think so." Parker topped the hot chocolates off with whipped cream and got a coffee cup.

"You should call your father," Shey scolded. "After all, what’s he going to do? You’ve said no. You’re an adult, free to make your own decisions. But just because you’ve decided not to go home, not to give into his demands, that doesn’t mean you should cut yourself off your family. Family is important."

Parker felt a stab of guilt. She knew she should appreciate her family more.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love them.

She did.

Her mother was the sweetest, most easy-going woman Parker had ever known.

Unfortunately, Parker hadn’t inherited any of those qualities from her mom.

She tried to recognize her own virtues...and laid-back wasn’t one of them. Parker knew she was as hardheaded and sure of herself as her father and brother.

She smiled as she thought of them all.

She adored them, even her bossy father. And to be honest, she missed them terribly.

But loving her family and living with them were two distinctly different things. There were so many burdens associated with her family name.

Parker wasn’t shy, but being the focus of so much public scrutiny was trying. Endless appearances that were little more than photo ops. And press who found even the most private details of her life were fair game as well. Being followed, hounded... A claustrophobic feeling pressed on her chest, making her pulse start to race.

Parker forced herself to draw in a long, slow breath and release it as she pushed unpleasant memories aside.

No, she wasn’t going back to that life, but that didn’t mean she didn’t miss her family. Despite everything, she knew she was lucky to have them all.

Look at Shey.

Shey didn’t have anyone except for her and Cara. The three of them were truly sisters of the heart. But Parker knew that Shey longed for more. That her friend would give anything for a real family, even if they came with unwanted baggage.

"I’ll call tonight," she promised. "But right now, I’m off to work on my waitressing skills."

"Ask Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Yummy if the two of you have met."

"Maybe," Parker said, hefting the tray and trying to balance it. "Maybe I will."


"Maybe I won’t tell, if you promised not to follow me again," Jace O’Donnell told his niece and nephew.

The twins looked stubborn.

"You know your mother will ground you, right? Your mom is tough."

Jace knew that was stretching the truth more than a little. His sister liked to pretend she was tough, but to be honest, she had a soft heart.

It’s what made her special.

It’s also what had caused her so much pain recently.

"We eat, then you leave," Jace continued. "And maybe, just maybe, I won’t tell."

"Come on, Uncle Jace," Amanda whined. She reminded him of her mother. Shelly had the same brown hair with streaks of blond, the same inquisitive blue eyes as the twins...she’d also been a huge pain when they were growing up. Her kids were carrying on the tradition.

Chalk one up for genetics.

Part of Jace wanted to hug his pretty little niece, the other part knew that if he didn’t come down on them hard now, he’d spend the rest of the twins’ summer vacation checking over his shoulder to see if they were tailing him.

"You know better," he said sternly. "You could have blown this case."

"We wouldn’t," Bobby assured him. "We’re practicing. Next year we’re in high school, four years after that and we can come work for you full time."

Jace stifled a groan and reminded himself that he was flattered the twins wanted to work for him. They wanted to be like him because they looked up to him.

But occasionally their admiration was too much.

This was one of those times.

"This is an important case," he said. "I can’t afford to lose it."

"Tell us all about it," Amanda said, clearly intrigued. "We can help you."


"Four years, Uncle Jace," Bobby said. "That’s only forty-eight months. We need to train now."

"Not four years." The kids’ faces fell and Jace felt like a heel. They’d been through so much lately and now he’d made them feel worse.

"Eight," he corrected. "You each get your college degree first, then, if you still want, you can have a job."

"We don’t need college," Bobby said. "We want to work for you. You can teach us everything we need to know. Starting now with this case. Who are we spying on?"

Jace ignored their questions about the case and focused on their reluctance to attend college. "Unfortunately, I only hire college graduates. As for my case--"

Parker Dillon was heading their way, a tray balanced precariously on one hand.

"Sh," Jace said, not wanting their waitress to hear the conversation about his case mainly because she was the case. Not that he was telling the kids that.

Her tray wobbled as she approached their table and the huge puddle of water their very wet feet had made.

Visions of coffee and hot chocolates falling prompted Jace to jump to his feet and grab the tray just as she skidded in the puddle.

"My hero," she said with a grin as she righted herself. "That could have been a mess."

She took the tray back.

"No problem," Jace said as he slid back into booth.

"It would have been a problem if it had spilled, so as a thanks for saving me from certain disaster, your order’s on me."

He frowned. He knew from his report that Parker Dillon didn’t have money to spend on their breakfast. Last week her father had cut off her trustfund and Parker didn’t have two plug nickels to rub together. She’d be scrambling to make this month’s rent and to pay the stores’ monthly bills if she hadn’t sold her car.

He wondered if her father knew. He’d have to include the information in his next report.

"You don’t have to do that," Jace said.

"It’s my pleasure. It’s not every day a girl meets a hero."

"I’m no hero," he felt compelled to warn her.

The way she was looking at him, her very naked admiration, made him feel guilty.

And there was no way he should feel guilty. He wasn’t here to harm her. As a matter of fact he was here to make sure she didn’t come to any harm.

"You’re a hero," she said again.

"I’m--" Before he could protest further, his helpful niece and nephew jumped in.

"Sure you are, Uncle Jace," Amanda said. "Why just last week Mom said you were her hero when you took us to Cedar Point for the day."

"And how about the time you caught that guy who stole lady’s purse?" Bobby added. "The paper said you were a hero."

Parker smiled at the twins, then turned to Jace. "See, I was right, you’re a hero. I can always spot one. So, your breakfast, such as it is, is on me since you saved it from being on me."

She laughed at her own play on words.

Jace just frowned. He knew that Parker had no experience with being broke. He could give her lessons, but not without blowing his cover.

This was the first time in her life that she had to work for her money. And if her almost mishap was any indication, she hadn’t quite settled into a blue collared existence yet.

And why should she?

Parker Dillon was no real waitress.

Parker Dillon was a princess.

A true, blue-blooded, wear-a-crown-to-royal-functions sort of princess. And it was his job to find our why she wouldn’t go home and assume her royal duties. Until he did, he was to ensure the safety of Princess Marie Anna Parker Mickovich Dillonetti, of Eliason.

"Really, we can’t allow you to pay for our breakfast. I know how tight it can be to live on a budget."

There, he’d reminded her that she was on a budget now. She had to watch her money and couldn’t go spending it on just anything or anyone.

"Really, it’s my pleasure. Like I said, it’s not every day a girl meets a real hero. Speaking of meeting, have we met before? You look familiar."


She looked taken aback by his monosyllabic, more than a little brusk response. But when he didn’t say anything else, she took the hint.

"Well, all right then. Just holler if you need anything else."

"We’re fine," Jace said.

When Bobby appeared as if he was going to say something, Jace gave him a look of warning, and for once, his nephew heeded it and sank back in his seat, silent.

Without another word, Parker Dillon left them.

Jace watched her go.

The princess went back to the counter, ready to wait on someone else.

And while she was waiting on tables, her father, Antonio Paul Capelli Mickovich Dillonetti, the King of Eliason, was waiting for Jace to find our why she wouldn’t go home.

What a mess.

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