Forced Wife, Royal Love-Child

By: Trish Morey

‘I know you’re out there,’ she yelled at the wall of solid wood, punching it some more for good measure. ‘I know you can hear me. I demand to see Rafe. Right now. Where is the cowardly bastard?’

‘Here in Montvelatte,’ came a familiar voice behind her, a voice that sent panic sizzling down her spine like an electric shock, ‘the usual form of address is Prince Raphael, or Your Highness, rather than “the cowardly bastard”.’

Sienna swung around, vaguely aware of her braid slapping heavily against the timber door, all too aware of the impact of him slamming into her psyche. She’d demanded to see him and yet still she was totally unprepared for the sheer onslaught of this man on her senses.

And standing there, not two metres away from her, it was some onslaught. It was the same Rafe she remembered, but smoother, his thick wavy hair a little shorter and more tamed, his designer stubble smoothed to a mere shadow. But the sheer intensity contained in his eyes packed as much punch as they ever had. More. Because those eyes pinned her now, scanning her lazily from the top of her head to the toes of her boots and all points in between, until the skin under her uniform tingled, her nipples tightening to peaks under his continued scrutiny.

She swallowed, her breathing still ragged, her colour still high from her exertions on the door, if the heat she was feeling in her face was any indication, and it occurred to her in that moment the gulf between them had never been wider or more extreme. Because Rafe was now a prince and looked every part of it, so cool and urbane in his fine wool jacket, so groomed and superior, whereas she was still a nobody, and right now a dishevelled and flustered one.

But so what? She didn’t give a damn about his title, not after the way she’d been treated. She was little more than a prisoner here. The last thing she would do was grovel.

‘I call it like I see it,’ she shot back, refusing to apologise for the outburst or the terminology she’d resorted to.

His eyes narrowed, his expression hardening. ‘So I noticed. I can see your mood was not improved by the delay. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long. I was unavoidably detained.’

‘You were detained?’ She shook her head in disbelief. ‘Who are you trying to kid. It was me who was detained, prevented by your goons from taking off, and threatened with arrest if I didn’t go along with their plans. I’m the one who’s been detained for hours, held here against my will, and now my helicopter’s been stolen—’

‘It hasn’t been stolen.’

‘It’s gone! Someone’s taken it without my permission. I call that stolen.’

‘It’s been sent back to base. You’re not the only one who can fly a helicopter.’

‘Oh? And that’s supposed to make everything okay? I was due back with that helicopter. Instead I’ve been locked inside this prison you call a palace. Well, I’ve had enough. I’m leaving.’

Sienna launched herself across the room, aiming for the door he must have come through, figuring that one at least might still be unlocked, when his hand snaked out and took hold of her forearm, using her momentum to spin her back around.

‘You’re not going anywhere.’

The words were a whisper but deadly sure in their intent. She looked down at the hand burning a brand into her flesh, then up to his face, and almost wished she hadn’t. His eyes, once filled with passion and longing and desire for her, now harsh and flat and so cold that she shivered.

‘And if I don’t want to stay?’

‘You’ll stay.’

‘Why should I?’

‘Because I want you to.’

The unexpected words sounded like they’d been ground through his teeth, their intensity rocking her to the soles of her feet so that she felt herself sway towards him, as if drawn by some invisible thread. Drawing her so close that his masculine scent wrapped around her and drew her even closer. She’d dreamt of such a moment, on countless sleep-elusive nights, and in pointless daydream wishes. Wished it long and hard, even after she’d seen the news reports declaring that Rafe was indeed the new Prince of Montvelatte, and realising it could never be so.

But she was here now…She searched his face, his eyes, looking for the truth, trying to discover what it meant.

And then damned herself for hoping, straightening suddenly, her back once again rigid and set. This was the man who’d thrown her out of his room and his life without so much as a goodbye once before. There was no way she’d give him the chance to do it again.

‘And that matters to me because?’ She wrenched her arm from his grasp. ‘No, thanks. I’m leaving. And if you won’t arrange my departure, I’ll damn well find a way out of this hellhole myself.’

‘You’re not leaving.’ It wasn’t a question. It was a bald statement of fact and it used up the last remaining shred of patience Sienna had.

‘Who the hell do you think you are to tell me what I can and cannot do? They make you a prince and suddenly you think you’re the ruler of the universe? Well, let me tell you, Rafe, or Raphael or whatever it is you like to call yourself now, you’re not my prince. I didn’t vote for you!’