In France they called her La belle de nouveau époch. In Rome she was La bella biondina. There were other beautiful models, but none, who were so in demand as Zophie. At eighteen she had emerged during the flux and tumult of European political schism. Her face and her body represented the new era. She had been slower to woo the attention of the UK and United States, but even there she would soon make her mark. Zofie’s story was only half told… the best was yet to come.
Zofie’s arrival on the fashion scene was so momentous that she eclipsed her contemporaries overnight. The trend of size zero models of ten years earlier had passed. The vogue was now for classical beauty with an emphasis on the sexually provocative. Political correctness had given way to a new liberal minded taste, where women were encouraged to be excitingly chic, but staying on the right side of decency. At the same time pornography was far from being in the ascendancy. The mainstream taste had always been towards the truly erotic and now proper internet control had clamped down on sites, which sought to exploit women.
This radical artistic movement had come with a similar transformation in politics. The second decade of the 21st Century had seen a sea change in the western world. Economies collapsed and governments tumbled. There was tumult and upheaval, many believing the Mayans had been right, just a few years late. The austerity measures in the US and UK had seen them and a few countries riding the storm and were now emerging within the new system. A system where the people controlled banks and much of central government was devolved to regions. While some states remained steadfastly bureaucratic, most gave in to the voice of the people.
In Europe, the political map had been redrawn, independence for Catalonia was the catalyst that saw other regions rebelling - demanding independence. The collapse of the Euro had left political vacuums as riots had turned to uprising and uprising to revolution. In France, Occitanes now had semi-autonomy, Germany had granted regional assemblies to Saxony and Bavaria. However, the biggest changes had come in Central and Eastern Europe. The austerity measures had hit them more than most and the fallout that followed was irresistible. In the Czech lands, the old monarchy of Bohemia and Moravia had been restored and a new élite had been created. The old money, which had been hidden for so many years in Swiss vaults had been released. Gold, stolen by the Nazis had been retrieved and the kingdom now bathed in a new era of prosperity.
Zofie was basking in the limelight of her latest appearance in Paris Match. The dress that she had worn at the Monaco Festival was the most re-tweeted image in history. Her beauty and sex appeal would soon bring her world-wide fame. Wherever she went there was a clamour for her attention. Her status was rapidly being elevated to one of fashion royalty.
She had achieved so much in such a short space of time. She was amassing a small fortune and spending most of it at the same time. She enjoyed the money and the attention, but to those who were closest to her she was still just Zofie. The generosity and kindness that she showed to her inner circle was never publicised. She made anonymous donations to charity. After the cameras had turned away and the lights turned down, she could be herself. She had a knack of keeping her private life quiet. While her peers were being caught in delicto flagrante with one soccer player or another, her romances were as much a mystery as her work was in the headlines.
Zofie sat on the balcony of her apartment in Marseilles sipping Bucks Fizz and listening to the sea gulls that were squabbling on the roof below. She had asked to be kept informed of developments back home, where the parliament in Prague were about to appoint the new King. Her uncle though, was the oldest of three children and had a heart condition. Never the less the throne was his by birthright.
Zofie was trying to work out precisely what that would make her when her mobile buzzed. It was a message from her father. She was to ring him at her earliest convenience. He probably hadn’t expected her to be up yet, Zofie not known for her early starts.
“Hello Papa, it’s me. What‘s up?”
Zofie listened to her father but was finding it hard to comprehend.
“What do you mean he’s abdicated?”
“He’s not well Zofie. You need to come home now.”
“But I’m meant to be in Cannes tomorrow Papa.”
“Zofie, what I’m trying to tell you is, I’m being asked to take the crown.”
“Oh! Oh no! Oh Wow! You! That means… I’m…”
“Yes Zofie. You will be a Princess.”
“Where’s Mum? What does she say?”
“She is flying back from Australia in the morning. I know it’s a shock Zofie, but I need you to be here.”
“How can I be there? Everything’s set up for the show papa. They’re expecting me!”
“I’m sorry, I know how much this means to you, but you really have no choice.”
“I can’t believe this happening, I can’t papa.”
“You won’t have to give up the modelling completely. Just adjust it slightly.”
“Okay, well I need to ring some people. I’ll see you later.”
“Okay my dear. I love you Zofie.”
“I know, I love you too Papa.”
Zofie put her phone down and looked out to sea. Everything had been going to plan. She enjoyed what she did. This didn’t make sense. She thought she understood her destiny and was managing everything just fine. Why was the carpet being pulled from under her feet?
Zofie would find that carrying the title of Princess gave her rather more influence, even than she had been used to.
Almost a month later to the day, Zofie was still coming to terms with her new life. Catwalk beauty one day, Princess the next. The revolution in Central Europe had sent her life into turmoil. Zofie was still adjusting. She was comfortably off before, making a healthy living from her modelling career. Now she wanted for nothing. She was royalty. The novelty was beginning to wear off, just a little bit. Yes, she could eat the finest lobster and sprinkle saffron in her soup. She could ask one of her body guards to go out and buy a brand new Ferrari, if she so wished. It was all a little too easy. Where was the edge? She still socialised, no one could stop her from enjoying herself but ‘they’ were always there - in the background. Every occasion had to be approved. She wanted to taste total freedom again.
Her father, Head of State in the new Kingdom of Bomavia was not one to suffer the dalliances of youth. He was a serious, some would say grave man, who could trace his line back to Wenceslas. He loved his daughter, but didn’t approve of her high life among Europe’s socialites. Before the restoration of the Monarchy he had done everything to guide Zofie into a career in law or medicine. However, she wasn’t one to be pushed this way and that. She studied hard for her degree but she used her free time to the full. When she got her break in modelling, it was no easy thing for her him to give her his blessing.
Her education in Oxford might have been the catalyst that propelled her into the cerebral achievements, which her father wished for. Zofie’s brilliance, her sheer perspicacity went beyond her years. But it was always her party gene that came through in the end. There was a hegemony in the background. Her tutors and her father on one side, pushing her towards her inevitable achievements and her friends and all night parties on the other.
Oxford had at least given her the opportunity to perfect her English. The ‘plan’ was to get a first in history, which she did, no problem. Then she would find a role at a city solicitor’s while she studied law. It was in her first year at Oxford that she had been ‘discovered.’ Her cousin, Margita had already won her first modelling contract and Zofie had been invited along to one of the shoots. Given a choice between becoming a model and studying law, Zofie knew which she would take. That was fours years earlier. What did she need to do to taste real life again?
She looked in the mirror that morning as her maid laid out her dress and wished she could just go out and let her hair down like she once could. She was still so full of youth and exuberance.
“Thank you Jirina. I love this dress, it is a perfect choice for today.”
“You are welcome madam, I do my best.”
“You are very pretty Jirina. Why are you waiting on me hand and foot, when you could be out there living the life of a young woman.”
“I enjoy palace life, I am not cut out for the city.”
“Well listen Jirina. I know you have a job to do, but I don’t need you to do all this bowing and so on.”
“I want us to be more like friends.”
“Yes your Highness.”
“Oh Jirina! Okay, well you can help me do up this dress seeing as you‘re here.”
Zofie put on the cream dress of Chinese silk as the maid fussed around her, making unnecessary adjustments to her hair. The Princess looked in the full-length mirror. Her curves were accentuated perfectly by the luxurious garment. Her full, pert breasts and her tiny waist made up two thirds of her amazing hour glass figure. No one else turned heads like Zofie. Cosmopolitan and Vogue had sold out when she had worn the famous see-through dress in Milan.
“Do stop fussing Jirina! I’m quite able to fasten my shoes, thank you.”
“I’m sorry your highness, you don’t normally complain.”
“I know, I know. It’s Okay. I’m just feeling a little frustrated today that’s all.”
“Oh. Is there anything I can do?”
“No, not really.”
Zofie looked at her maid. A thought occurred to her.
“Actually Jirina, there is something you can help me with.”
“Just say what it is.”
“You mustn’t say a word to anyone!”
“Of course not!”
“Promise me Jirina.”
“The thing is Jirina, I fancy going on a little trip. But I need your help.”
“A little trip? But the household deal with such things.”
“Yes. Official ones. I want to go on an unofficial one.”
“Oh Your highness! I will be toast if they find out.”
“No you won’t Jirina. I will make sure nothing leads back to you.”
“Oh Okay Madam, what do you want me to do?”
“I need you to find out when the guards change over at the main gate. I hear there is a new guy on.”
Zofie knew the usual guard would be too suspicious and insist that official procedure be followed. All traffic had to be cleared by the Estate Office. They in turn received instructions from Zofie’s Personal Secretary. She didn’t just come and go, willy nilly. Zofie was gambling that a new recruit, however keen could be fooled into committing an indiscretion. Yes, they would be in hot water, but a little collateral damage couldn’t be avoided. Not her Jirina though. Zofie would make sure she was okay. It was still all girls together.
Zofie gave Jirina instructions, which would involve some trivial question, cleverly worded, which would give Zofie the information she required.
“Go down to the Estate office. I want you to give them this message.”
She was not meant to go out without her body guards. The timing was crucial too. In two days her father, the King would return from his visit to Stockholm. It would be too late. If she was to sneak out alone it had to be within the next 36 hours. Yes, when he found out he would be angry. The palace officials would be sent here and there. There would be an investigation, but she had to make a statement. Zofie had a point to prove. In the meantime she would wait for the intelligence she required and take a walk around the palace grounds. Maybe feed the ducks. There was fresh halibut on the menu for lunch, that would be nice.
A hundred miles away in Slovakia, Tom Garthson was spending a weekend fishing and sightseeing in the beautiful forest and mountains near the border. He cast his line into the clear blue water and hauled in a huge salmon. It twitched and struggled as his toned, sculptured arms reeled in the catch.
“Strewth! You’re a whopper!”
He held up the beast of a fish and it waggled its tail defiantly.
“I think you deserve to live another day - at least,” said Tom, as he threw the salmon back into the water.
Tom walked back to the lodge, which he had rented from a friend. Three days in the fresh mountain air had been just the tonic. It was the antithesis of his hectic life in London.
Tom’s life had been a little stressful before he came out. He was involved in the Olympic Organising Committee. The meltdown in the Spanish economy had left the IOC in a difficult position. The Olympic Games had to go ahead. Only Paris and London had the infrastructure in place to host the event. There was not enough time to go through another selection process, so a meeting of the top brass at the IOC decided that unprecedented contingency plans were needed. Paris and London would host the Games. London would do the track and field events, along with sailing and gymnastics. France would play host to football, swimming, cycling, rowing and the Marathon. The other events would be split between them.
Tom liked to work hard and play hard. He played football at weekends with the guys at work and wasn’t averse to a little squash now and then. His hobby though was fishing. He seldom found time to take it up, living in London, but relished his breaks in Scotland. He always put them back. It was the thrill of having that beautiful iridescent creature on the end of the line. Man against nature. He knew some people thought it cruel. The poor fish, struggling with hook in mouth. Tom knew he had caught the same Rainbow Trout two days running though. It didn’t seem any the worse for wear. He hoped the fish swam away after its brief ordeal, as if it hadn’t happened. In the great order of things, Tom catching the odd fish wasn’t that bad he thought. If there was some bad karma, he hoped he could make up for it in other ways. Balance the books. Tom was very much a do unto others as you would have them do unto you type of guy. He hoped the fish would forgive him.
He had two more days of his trip left. One for a little hike and more fishing in one of the many lakes in the area and another to check out the city. He would have liked longer, to discover the area properly and sample some local cuisine. Another time he would maybe, but his boss hadn’t exactly been over the moon with three days and his preference was for the outdoors and eating out of a tin. He had bought some sausages on the way up and intended to make a little barbecue later and have a beer or two as the sun went down. He loved the lodge, set in its vast forest. There were woodpeckers everywhere and he had startled a wild boar in the morning. It was the perfect retreat.
Zofie sat in the bay window of the study, the following day. The sun shone through the window making the transparent film on her photo album sparkle. It was a bitter sweet moment. So many happy memories and yet the nostalgia was tainted by her effective incarceration within the palace. Most girls would have swapped places with her, if only for a week. But when it was real life, with no immediate prospects of change it was another matter. Zofie closed the album and sighed. She now had to wait for Jirina to come back with the information that would allow her to make her move. To say it was a desperate bid for freedom was an exaggeration, but only just. Zofie was only 21, she wanted to feel normal again. At least she wanted to feel as normal as an internationally acclaimed model and Princess could do.
‘Oh come on Jirina, where are you!’
Zofie’s thoughts turned to her young Maid. She didn’t know that much about her. She never discussed personal matters with her. She was such a pretty little thing. Her Czech accent put her somewhere outside of Prague. Maybe she was a country girl, made good. Zofie wondered if she had a boyfriend. Maybe she was into girls. Why not! Zofie was straight, although she did have the odd bi-curious moment. Like now, pondering her young maid. She wondered if Jirina kept her lady garden tidy. Was it a neatly trimmed landing strip like her own, or was it au naturelle?
The Princess began to fantasize. There she was in her pyjamas, Jirina in her little Maid’s dress, plumping up her pillow. What would Jirina say if she asked her outright.
“Jirina, I’ve been meaning to ask, do you have a neat bush?”
Zofie chuckled to herself with the preposterousness of it. But what if she was to press the matter. How far did her Maidly duties go? Where did the line of impropriety lie? Zofie imagined the bashful sweet face; those doe brown eyes looking up at her as she stroked Jirina’s hair with her hand.
“You have such beautiful brown hair you know.”
What would she do if Zofie were to sit on the edge of the bed and lift her Maid’s skirt?
“It’s Okay Jirina, I just want to see for myself.”
Zofie began to breath a little deeply and was tingling in her girly area.
‘Zofie! Stop it!’
Suddenly, there was a knock on the study door. Zofie sat up, her face flushed. It was the day time footman.
“Your Highness, Miss Jirina would like to see you.”
“Ahem. Jirina, yes…it’s Okay Tomas, show her in.”
Zofie was still feeling a little flustered and smiled at her Maid, wondering if her face bore the guilt associated with her little wet day dream.
“Okay Jirina, what do you know?”
“Petr comes on at ten tomorrow morning. They have a twenty minute hand over period and then he’s there till seven in the evening.”
“Ah well done Jirina!”
“Yes Madam. You’re sure…?
“Everything will be all right. Did they say anything to make you suspect they smelled a rat?”
“Not at all.”
Over the border Tom was packing his rucksack and fishing tackle into the boot of his car. He had one more night in the country and intended to find a quiet little hotel in the capital Bratislava. He would taste some local wine and sample the goodies in one of the famous Slovakian patisseries. The break was helping him get over his girlfriend, who had chosen her career over their relationship and had moved to Sydney with her company a month earlier. Their split was amicable, and they were realistic. Twelve thousand miles was just too far for a long-distance relationship.
In some ways the split couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. His previous job in London Underground Infrastructure Planning had become redundant and his organizational skills were just what the Olympic Committee needed. After so much of the foundations in place from 2012 it required just his attention to detail. Once again the country was brimming with Olympic fever. The magic of the Diamond Jubilee would be replaced by another royal baby. There were a few last minute arrangements to attend to. The first athletes were due to arrive in a week and he had to make sure all the facilities were in tip top condition. His three days in Europe meant he could return revitalized, ready for the final push.
While he had been down in the dumps after losing his job, no girlfriend was a bitter pill for a week or two, but that was all behind him. It felt like a new era in his life. Even as a temporary contract, it was a lucrative one. It left him with the option of a bit of a sabbatical when everything was done and dusted.
Tom checked that he had left the lodge in good order and set off for the capital. He had half a tank of fuel, which was plenty but there was something about the sound of the engine that bothered him. He was no mechanic but that tapping noise wasn’t right. He called the hire company but they couldn’t get another car for six hours. He had to make a decision. Did he scupper his plans and wait for a new car or go for it? The car was going, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. He spoke no Slovakian, even if he could have Googled a local garage. He continued along the winding country roads with the noise of the engine settling down and his car apparently still functioning normally. He passed through the occasional sleepy village but there was no sign of any workshops or anywhere that might offer assistance. Thirty minutes later he turned on to a road, which climbed through a forest and he reached a plateau. He could either continue west and join the interstate highway or hope he could make it to Bratislava via the scenic route. Both ways had their pros and cons, but with his car still mobile he plumped for the latter.
The way was a joy. There were blooming meadows and pretty orchids by the roadside. Tom had taken the main road north from the airport on the outward journey, missing the rural backbone of Slovakia.
His car was fitted with a Satnav and he had both a good road atlas and two detailed tourist maps. He reckoned he could stop for coffee en route and be in Bratislava for tea time. As he made his way south he began to form little embryonic plans for his sabbatical. He had always fancied Prague. Some of his mates had done a Stag weekend there but he hadn’t been able to make it. He had heard it was a beautiful, romantic city. If he were to meet another girl he might take her there. Maybe he would meet someone with a wanderlust too, that would be nice. No, Prague was somewhere to see in the sober light of day with a nice woman, not in a drunken stupor.
Tom had crossed the Váh and was less than thirty minutes from the motorway that linked Prague with Bratislava. He decided to stop at the next town for coffee and stretch his legs. Without warning the clanking sound in his engine returned and his car juddered to a halt. He was on a desolate stretch of road and hadn’t so much as passed another car for over an hour. Now he was questioning the wisdom of taking the scenic route but then what if he had broken down abruptly on the busy highway? It didn’t bear thinking about. However, it didn’t alter the fact that Tom was stuck.
Zofie placed the silver cutlery at the side of her plate and sipped a little sparkling water.
“Will you be taking coffee Madam?” asked the Butler.
“No thank you Tomas. I might take one in the parlour later.”
The butler nodded and cleared the plates away when she had risen from the table.
Zofie called upon Jirina who was reading in the staff library.
“Jirina, I’m going to my garage. I’ll be taking the Lamborghini. If anyone asks, you haven’t seen me since mid morning.”
“Yes. Your Highness?”
Zofie turned and looked at the angelic maid.
Zofie smiled and returned to her faithful lady in waiting. She touched her arm and kissed her on the cheek.
“Bless you Jirina. Don’t worry, I’ll be back.”
Zofie’s two cars were in their own little garage on the east wing of the palace. She took the passageway along from the library and down past the entrance to the wine cellar, where the King kept his treasured bottles of Tokaj. The least she was noticed the better. Going this way meant she was less likely to attract attention to herself. Going through the palace would mean she passed any number of staff and that might just cause some inconvenience. Zofie looked at her watch. The new guard had been on duty for 35 minutes if Jirina was correct. She started the engine and took the outer perimeter road past the orangery. Zofie’s pulse was racing. No one could actually stop her from leaving the palace, but it was still a risk. She was breaking all the rules and she loved it. They would protest. She had to have an armed guard. There would be the predictable objections. “What about palace protocol?” They would say.
Zofie slowed down as she approached the single wooden sentry box in front of the ornate iron gates.
“Yes, open the gates please.”
“Oh. I wasn’t told your Highness would be leaving.”
“Indeed, I need to fetch something for my father.”
The young guard rubbed his chin uncertainly.
“I just need to check…”
“You will do no such thing! Open the gates now!”
“Yes. I’m sorry Madam.. Your Highness… Immediately.”
The red-faced guard fumbled with the buttons on his console and the gates swung open. Zofie was free.
Zofie didn’t even know where she was going. She hadn’t made any plans. Suddenly she was speeding through the streets of Prague without the faintest idea what she was going to do. Her plates PZ1 were instantly recognizable to the police and afforded her immunity from any transgression of the speed limit or the odd dodged red light.
‘Bratislava is beautiful at this time of year,’ she thought.
She knew it was only a matter of time before questions were asked back at the palace. The recriminations and accusations would be flying this way and that. She knew Jirina would be okay. While she was not high up in the rank of palace staff her position was somewhat unique. She was to some extent untouchable. Her duties extended no further than the needs and personal requirements of her Princess. No one was at liberty to cross examine her, save for the King and Zofie herself. Not that she ever did. Zofie carried the weight of royal duties heavily and had no time for formalities. She enjoyed the luxuries but eschewed the baggage that went with it. Her appearances at official engagements were few and far between and she was more often notable by her absence. When it came to opening the new branch of Chanel in the centre of Prague it was altogether a different matter. Zofie’s face was on the front of every cover of Vogue the following week. She was hot property. No other Princess in Europe could sell a million magazines overnight and give every straight man a hard-on at the same time. The dress she wore for the occasion would not have been approved by His Majesty. Not that that made any difference to Zofie. She had E cup breasts that defied gravity and a bum to make grown men cry. Even other models had to defer to her unequalled assets. The paparazzo that could catch her topless would be a rich one indeed. The price of such a photo would go stratospheric. Zofie was far too cunning to be caught out in that way though. She was good at covering her tracks and finding secluded beaches away from prying eyes.
When Zofie joined the highway she put the convertible hood down and selected her favourite Rihanna CD. How sweet it was to do her own thing again. She was soon passing every car on the road, as she hit 100 mph. It wouldn’t be long before she was sipping white wine in a little rustic village. She sighed at the prospect of enjoying the Slovakian countryside. There would be no armed guards watching from a discrete distance, just her own company. Today she would be submitting to her whim and nothing else.
An hour later the Princess was traversing the rural country south of Brno. She could have gone directly to Bratislava but fancied a detour to take in the winding roads through the eastern part of her father’s Kingdom. Crossing the border she headed due east with a little village in mind that she used to visit with her aunt during the school holidays. She remembered the fields of barley and the rolling expanse of buttercups. She hadn’t passed another vehicle for miles and then in the distance she saw a car parked at the side of the road. A man was leaning against the bonnet, looking into his phone. When he saw her approaching he stepped into the road and waved.
“Is everything okay?” she asked, as she pulled along side the stricken driver.
Tom briefly forgot his predicament, partly from the relief of seeing another human being and partly due to the fantastic motor car.
“No. My car has given up. I can‘t even get a signal on my phone.”
“You are in the middle of nowhere,” said Zofie.
“I know, I tried to be clever, but not clever enough obviously.”
“Yes, you’re lucky I came along, you might have been on this road all night!”
“I don’t suppose you can give me a lift?” asked Tom, politely.
“No, I’m going to turn right round and leave you here!”
Tom’s face was a picture and then a smile spread across it as Zofie laughed.
“Of course I’m going to give you a lift! Do you have any luggage?”
Tom rubbed his oily hands on his shirt, inadvertently revealing his washboard stomach. Zofie began to count the bottom two rungs of his six pack and licked her lips. She didn’t have a clue who this stranded stranger was but he was fit. The sun played on his brown hair and his one day’s worth of stubble pleased Zofie.
Tom lifted the rear door of his hatchback and Zofie stepped out of her car to join him. Tom’s jaw didn’t so much drop when he saw her but hit the ground like an anvil. Zofie wrinkled her nose when she saw his keepnet and rods.
“Where were you going?” asked Zofie.
“Bratislava,” said Tom, somewhat absent-mindedly.
“That’s where I’m going. Well after a short break anyway.”
Tom had an idea of what a hot girl looked like. There were the Emma Watsons and Kate Uptons of this world, but Zofie was in another league. Her off-white dress emphasized all those qualities in a woman that men loved. Her figure was so good it was almost an assault on the senses. Tom tried not to gaze at her breasts too brazenly. To say they were perfect would be to do a disservice to them. They had a natural voluptuous perkiness, which defied description. The natural movements of her body - tiny gesticulations of her hands had the effect of making her breasts quiver. Tom began to imagine what they would be like unfettered but it made him giddy. Zofie’s bum had a pertness that he found utterly distracting. Tom had never quite appreciated the term ‘hour glass figure’ but now he was beginning to. In all his recollection of beautiful women, only Sophia Loren possessed a figure that approached Zofie’s.
“Well I can fit the rucksack, but you’re not putting all that fishy stuff in my Lamborghini,” said Zofie pointing at his messy luggage.
“Oh. But it’s all my fishing gear!”
“Well you are welcome to walk. I won’t drive too quickly.”
“Yes. Well… I suppose I can claim on the insurance.”
“Yes, you can.”
Zofie smiled and popped open the tiny trunk on her sports car.
“Wow this is some motor!” exclaimed Tom.
Zofie watched Tom quietly. His shirt was intended for a smaller man but he liked the snug fit. His sleeves gave lip service to his biceps, which rippled as he lifted the heavy rucksack. His latissimus dorsi flexed as he closed the lid.
“Not a lot of fat on you is there?” she said.
“Oh thanks! I work out a lot. I’m Tom by the way. I really appreciate this,” said Tom offering her his hand.
Zofie accepted his finger tips, avoiding the oily bits.
“It’s okay. I’m Zofie.”
“Zofie…that’s a nice name.”
Tom had never been in a Lamborghini before. He loved the purr of the engine as she turned the ignition and then the throaty roar as she hit the accelerator. Being so low down, speed was emphasized. Tom was surprised by the sheer power of the car and he watched the speedometer go from nought to sixty miles an hour in an alarmingly short space of time. His weight shifted, with the initial momentum pushing him back into the leather seat. Zofie handled the car beautifully, holding the corners like a Formula One driver. Tom mused over how his quiet weekend had turned into an adventure with a little twist of fate. His heart raced with the thrill of Zofie’s driving and from the fact that she was so amazingly beautiful. One would have been enough to cause palpitations. Tom looked at her as she changed gear, her shapely legs moving as she hit the clutch. Tom considered himself a gentleman but he wouldn’t have been a man if he hadn’t allowed his imagination to take its course.
“I know a beautiful little café in the next village,” said Zofie.
“OK, well I’d be happy to buy you a coffee,” said Tom.
“That won’t be necessary. Anyway, I was thinking more along the lines of a glass of white wine.”
Tom liked Zofie’s accent and her confident, almost blunt manner. He was used to the British way of sprinkling platitudes over every sentence. Tom hadn’t met any Slovakians since leaving the airport, maybe it was their way.
Zofie pulled up a short while later outside a café in a tiny village. There were a couple of old guys smoking outside and a woman and her little daughter were playing patter cake or something like that on the steps of the house opposite.
“They have a small garden at the back,” said Zofie as she clicked the remote on her key fob.
Tom went through a little wooden gate and pulled a seat up for Zofie by one of the little tables.
“Thank you Tom. I’ll wait here while you fetch the drinks,” said Zofie, handing him twenty Euros.
“Oh yeah, sure. White…or red?”
“White Tom. Always white. Also, their raspberry kolache are legendary.”
“Okay, yes. Got it!”
Tom retuned two minutes later.
“They’re bringing it out. I think.”
“Yes Tom, they will bring it out. You didn’t polish up your Slovakian then?”
“No,” admitted Tom, faintly embarrassed.
“Ha typical Englishman I think.”
“I guess so. Are you from Bratislava?” asked Tom.
“No, I am not Slovakian, I am Czech but we don’t think like that anyway.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.”
They were interrupted by a middle-aged woman who brought them a tray of pastries and two glasses. Zofie explained the difference between Bohemia and Moravia and the other bits that comprised her empire. Tom was fascinated by Zofie and her beautiful accent. She exuded class in a way Tom had never encountered before. Tom thought she had a charisma that went beyond her bewildering physical presence. Tom was itching to know more about his companion. Only someone bereft of intuition could avoid drawing the conclusion that Zofie was no ordinary woman.
“So, what do you do for a day job, when you‘re not giving lifts to strange men?” asked Tom.
Zofie nibbled on her pastry, pondering Tom’s question. She was sure he hadn’t recognized her, unless he was a good actor.
“I am a model actually!”
“Well that makes sense. My ex, she used to take Vogue… but I never…”
“Your ex? So you‘re single?” said Zofie with interest.
“Yes. For a month now. She went to Australia.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Zofie.
“Thank you. I’m coping,” said Tom.
Zofie found it refreshing that Tom was viewing her without the preconceptions of her fame. She was famous in her own right, but not only among the social hierarchies of Europe’s elite and among the fashionista. Girls adored her from Dublin to Istanbul, but she hadn’t made it onto every man’s radar. European affairs, even those of high society were not reported so much in the UK. If Zofie had been in the second half of the news once or twice, Tom had missed it. If she had been in Zoo or Nuts… that would have been a different matter.
“And what do you do?” Asked Zofie, “When you’re not getting lost in Slovakia?”
“I’m on the organizing Team for the Olympics.”
“Really! Oh how exciting! I wasn’t able to get to the last one.”
“Well, I could get you a ticket!” said Tom, more out of politeness than anything.
“Ah thank you, that’s all right. Would it be too forward of me to ask when you are returning to England? asked Zofie.
“I’m here for a night and then I’m flying back tomorrow afternoon. How about you?”
“I am on a little jaunt,” said Zofie. “An impromptu excursion you might say.”
“Oh, that sounds exciting!” said Tom.
“Yes, have you made a reservation?” asked Zofie.
“Not yet. I expect I will.”
“Hmmm… you might have a problem there,” said Zofie, brushing a few crumbs from her skirt.
“Tomorrow is a public holiday. There is a festival in Bratislava. Everywhere will be full.”
“I suppose you might find a rat pit by a brothel. One or two of the most expensive rooms might be free.”
“Ow! How expensive is expensive?”
“Five hundred Euros… at least.”
Zofie drained the remnants of her glass and gave Tom a brief once over. Tom had a certain manly ruggedness, and his unkempt hair gave him a carefree look. He had picked up a slight tan, being outside for two days, which made his blue eyes even more apparent. Being a Princess and being twenty one Zofie should have been engaged by now but had resisted all attempts to get her married off. Since her debutante ball she had always persuaded her father that ‘next year’ she would find a nice gentleman. The King ideally wanted her to marry into royalty, maintaining the old traditions. However, no one currently measured up to Zofie’s requirements. It wasn’t just that, she was too young to settle down. She chose her men carefully.
The little caprice she was on currently had stirred her wilder side. She was not prone to promiscuity in the least but when the fancy took her she did have a naughty side. Her needs would sometimes become particularly hard to resist but given her situation were normally left unfulfilled. There had been a couple of intense if brief relationships in the last couple of years. A footballer and an athlete had been rumoured but Zofie’s ability to dodge the press was legendary. Since her somewhat public fling at university, she had learned to be careful. That was before her change of status. It was not seemly for Princesses to walk out with the hoi polloi, even if they were fit. Tom though, he had that slightly rough edge, while still being kind of cute. He was agreeably masculine without being laddish.
“Perhaps you won’t assume I have an ulterior motive, if I invite you to stay with me?” said Zofie.
The hairs prickled on the back of Tom’s head. There was a hint of mischief in her enigmatic question.
“That is very kind of you,” said Tom. “But I’m not sure…”
Tom desperately wanted to take her up on the offer but felt he had to at least accept under protest.
“I am sure we could arrange things with all propriety,” she said. “It is a very large bed.”
Tom gulped and he was suddenly finding it difficult to comprehend what she had said. It was as if he was trying to say the alphabet backwards while solving an equation. Had she just implied that they share a bed? Tom wrestled with her offer, doing his best, unsuccessfully to avoid getting an erection. Was she serious or just playing a game with him? The idea that he could spend the night with her platonically was a non-starter, gentleman or not.
“I’m sorry, can you just run that past me again?”
“I have a regular reservation in town, it’s a double room. I‘m assuming you won‘t get a better offer?”
“Well I won’t disagree there. I suppose you’re single yourself?” asked Tom.
“Oh yes. I am single. I am very high maintenance you see.”
Tom discerned a twinkle in her eye as she spoke. His ego and naturally optimistic disposition did nothing to calm his arousal and took a deep breath, trying to think of anything but sex. Zofie excused herself, which gave him the opportunity to pull himself together. If Zofie was merely playing the good Samaritan then it would be the most frustrating night of his life. The alternative was beyond what he was prepared even to imagine. He went back into the café, paid the owner and met Zofie outside.
After they had refreshed themselves in the quaint Slovakian village, Zofie and Tom headed for the sights and sounds of the city. Zofie loved Bratislava. There was so much to see.
“Do you mind if we do a little shopping before we check in?” asked Zofie.
“No, of course not. I don’t mind a spot of shopping,” said Tom.
Zofie had a whole rack of shoes at the palace, but buying new shoes was in her genes. To her, buying new shoes wasn’t shopping, it was an indulgence. She loved feeling the snugness of the leather cushioning her feet or the sparkle of the gold trim. She enjoyed the pampering that she received in the kind of shops she frequented. Being a top model and a Princess definitely had its benefits.
For Tom's part, he was about to enter a new world. A world that hitherto, he had hardly imagined. One of royal privilege and wild sex. Dear Reader, thank you for getting this far. This first chapter was about character development. There is a lot of sex in Chapter 2.Danielle
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/blonde-ambition-chapter-1.aspx">Blonde Ambition - Chapter 1</a>