Meet Princess Francesca…in a novel by Brad Vance!

I’m powering through this…novella? Maybe 40k? More like a movie treatment than a full length novel, at a cinematic pace, too. Marc and Jesse need more time, and right now, I’m literally buying them time, or I hope I am…

I’ve heeded the call from #TeamVance – Brad Vance is the official author of this book! You’re right, if I write it, I should claim it. Ella Frank crossed over from MF to MM without changing names. “A Little Too Broken” almost got triple #1’s during the BookBub, but it was beat out in GayRom, by a title from two successful New Adult authors who’ve branched into MM. So these “borders,” these lines between MM and MF, are blurring. More and more readers are looking for a good story and aren’t squeamish about whether Tab A goes into Slot B or Slot C (umm that came out wrong…wait, that came out wrong too…o never mind).

Once upon a time, I would have felt like a “traitor” converting Prince Franz Albert into Princess Francesca Albertine. But there’s nothing essentially gay about this story, nothing about the closet or repression, that I’m “removing” to MFify it. And honestly, given market size? One MF success will fund more than a few potential MM failures.

I am intent on writing more Werewolves, finishing the Vikings, keeping Marc and Jesse galivanting, but…well, did you ever see the movie The Right Stuff? There’s a scene where the Mercury astronauts see the space capsule, and there’s no hatch they can use to escape. They want a hatch. And to get one, they threaten the scientists by telling them they’ll go to the press to complain, which will arouse the public, which will arouse the government. As they say to the scientists…

Gordon Cooper: You boys know what makes this bird go up? FUNDING makes this bird go up.

Gus Grissom: He’s right. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

This isn’t a cynical ploy. I love this story, I love the characters. And I’m having fun doing this story. And with a collapsing income, Measures Must Be Taken.

And now, meet Princess Francesca Albertine for yourselves…

 

Her Royal and Imperial Highness, Princess Francesca Albertine, second in line in the House of Habsburg-Esterhazy to the Throne of Burgenland, had a very bad case of sweaty palms.

It was not her first time speaking in front of a crowd. Far from it. She had delivered her first speech at the age of six, to a crowd of farmers at a rural horse show. She had only stumbled once over her short, memorized speech, for which she was appropriately punished.

In fact, you couldn’t even call this a crowd. For a short period in January, the World Economic Forum in Davos was the center of world power. And those who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend had better things to do than actually listen to the speeches.

Francesca Albertine had figured it out the first day. People only sat in on these speeches because the rooms were a quiet place to commune with their smartphones. The whole Davos experience was about networking, being seen and heard, not about listening quietly.

The front of the hall was nearly empty. Most of the audience sat near the back, where they could make a quick and discreet exit when they got bored enough.

And why shouldn’t they? Prince Francesca Albertine was just another talking head, with another prepared speech, hot air prereleased to the media – “Our commitment to progressing forward into the challenging future blah blah blah.”

But today would be different. And that was why her palms were sweating.

Princesses do not sweat. They might perspire. No, not even that, Francesca Albertine had been taught. So how could she wipe her hands on the legs of her Armani suit when everyone was watching? And when you were a princess, everyone was watching. Always.

“Remember Trollope?” Sonia had asked her on the phone, when she’d called her old governess for one last confidence boost.

She smiled. She could see her governess now, the sturdy Russian peasant body and the steel-grey bun that match her steel-blue eyes. She remembered Anthony Trollope’s novels. Just before entering drawing rooms full of their enemies, young people fortified themselves with a simple thought.

“They cannot eat me,” she replied.

“Remember, you are in charge. You are a Princess of Burgenland, a nation where the Monarch still rules.”

It was true. Burgenland was, like Liechtenstein, one of the few states left in Europe where the monarch was more than a figurehead. Not an absolute monarch, but a very powerful one. Even monarchs of old had to answer to their nobles. In Burgenland, the monarchy answered to the bankers – the world’s new aristocrats.

And to the Palace. The Imperial bureaucracy was referred to as “the Palace,” as if they held the power and not her father, the King. Well, it felt that way sometimes. God knows their wrath would fall on her head after this…

“Yes, Governess,” she laughed, addressing Sonia as she had all through her youth.

“Good. Now go tear them a new asshole.”

She had a pleasant speaking voice, deep and strong, and her English was, of course, flawless. Nobody would misunderstand her. She took a breath and began to read the “secret speech,” the one she had written himself.

“The theme of this Forum is ‘Global Cooperation for Leveraging Synergy.’ Global cooperation sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Like a scene from Doctor Seuss, with all the Whos in Whoville, holding hands and singing to enlarge the heart of the Grinch.

“But what does global cooperation actually entail? Nations around the globe cooperate to exploit natural resources, help the rich dodge taxes, launder immoral earnings, enable slavery, and deliberately widen the gap between rich and poor.”

Heads looked up. The seasoned veterans of many a conference knew something was off, because she was actually saying something.

“The titans of government, industry, and media don’t meet here to solve the world’s problems. No. Just to keep them manageable, so they don’t impact their own comfort and power.”

Now people were stirring. Phones were raised and cameras turned on.

“And my government, my country, is as guilty as anyone. We are enablers. Our security forces build walls and fences against the tide of refugees from Syria, they punch and kick and abuse small children desperately seeking safety. Our secretive banking system is one of the linchpins of global corruption…”

She didn’t speak long. Five minutes tops, she’d decided – long enough to get anyone to watch the whole YouTube video. Francesca Albertine was from an old royal line, but she was young and tech-savvy and knew all about short attention spans.

When she finished, there was scatted clapping, not because the speech was bad, but because the audience was in shock.

Behind the curtain once more, Francesca Albertine gave into her humanity and wiped the…yes, sweat from her brow. She had gone on stage and performed, just like her namesake, Francis Albert Sinatra. Whether or not she had knocked ‘em dead remained to be seen. But, she smiled, I did it my way.

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