Forced Wife, Royal Love-Child

By: Trish Morey

Silence followed her words, so thick and heavy that she wished away the thump of her heart lest he hear it and read too much into it.

She was angry.


Nothing more.

And then, totally unexpectedly, he threw back his head and laughed, really laughed, deep and loud. So deep that it was too much and cut her right where it shouldn’t hurt and yet still did. So deep that she took advantage of his lack of attention and decided to make good her escape.

She didn’t get far.

‘Sienna,’ he said, as his hands trapped her shoulders and collected her in, pulling her around until she faced him, and holding her close. So close than the room shrank until it was just his scent that surrounded her, coiling into her all over again. So close that she had to shut her eyes to block out the sight of the triangle of skin exposed by the undone-at-the-collar shirt, a patch of skin her mouth knew intimately.

‘Let me go,’ she protested, squirming in his arms, lashing out at her gaoler while the prick of tears was dangerously close. ‘Stop laughing at me!’

‘I wasn’t laughing at you,’ he said, with such conviction that she stopped thrashing about and dared open her eyes. And what they met was a gaze so intense and fathomless that she felt it resonate to the soles of her feet. She watched his eyes drift purposefully southwards, felt their heat on her lips before it was the touch of a finger she felt there. She gasped, her lips parting with the shock of it, and dragged in air laced with the very essence of him. ‘Do you know how long it is since I’ve had someone really disagree with me?’

She wavered, thrown off balance by this sudden change in mood and by the electricity generated by his touch. But only for a moment. She knew what charm the man possessed—hadn’t it succeeded in getting her into his bed that first fateful time, even after she’d tried everything she knew to put him off? She couldn’t afford to let him through her barriers a second time.

Even so, it took everything she possessed to muster a defence. She stiffened in his arms, determined to be resolute.

‘Ten minutes? Fifteen at the outside. Surprise me.’

His smile widened, as if delighted by her response, rather than irritated by it as she’d intended. ‘Here I am surrounded by advisers and counsel but not one person has dared to disagree with me since that night I learned I was to become Montvelatte’s ruler.’ He looked down at her, smoothed a wayward tendril of hair from her brow, the touch of his fingers setting fire to nerve endings under her skin. ‘Not until today when you blew back into my life like a breath of fresh air.’

His words flowed like liquid promise through her veins, spreading warmth and hope and all the things she’d missed in these past few weeks, all the things she’d known even back then she had no right to, all the things she had even less right to now. It was exactly the way he’d lured her into their previous affair, by telling her she was different, that she was special. By making her feel special.

And look how that had ended.

Bitterness spiked in her gut, lending her new strength. Sienna shook her head, shrugging off his hand and twisting out of his reach. ‘I can imagine how much it must gall you being surrounded by sycophants,’ she shot back. ‘Now, is there a telephone or some other means of communication I can use to contact my employer and make arrangements for blowing right out of here again?’

To her surprise he let her go this time, and she edged cautiously away, forcing herself not to bolt in case those manacles he called hands locked down on her once again. She skirted the intricately carved lounge suite that held pride of place in the centre of the room in front of a majestic fireplace, all the while scanning the room’s contents for a telephone she might have missed earlier, while keeping one eye on Rafe. Making sure he kept his distance. It had taken every last shred of self-control she possessed to tear herself out of his embrace. How long could she keep doing so? How many times could she be constrained by those arms before she stopped fighting altogether and gave herself up to the temptation his body offered, the temptation she had given herself up to once before?

How many times?

What a joke.

How few times?

But at least for now he remained where he was, seemingly content to watch her from a distance. If his stance was relaxed and casual, a smile tugging at his lips as he leant back against a polished timber table with his hands at his side on the glossy wood and his ankles crossed in front of him, there was nothing of a smile about his eyes. She shivered, reaching out to clutch the cool wood of the lounge back as she felt their purposefulness wash over her. They were the eyes of a predator, glinting and dangerous, and right now they were fixed on her, content just to watch. She turned away before he might see her fear. The sooner she was out of here and away from Rafe, the better.

Why didn’t he make a move to stop her? Did he know the door she was heading for was locked and her quest to escape doomed accordingly? Her already wary footsteps slowed. Was he merely playing with her like a cat with a mouse, letting her think she would soon be free when she was trapped in here until he deigned to let her out? And would he laugh again when she turned the handle of the door to find that, too, locked?