Forced Wife, Royal Love-Child

By: Trish Morey

He silenced her with a hiss, shrugging away from the gesture, away from her, and she sensed distance opening up between them where once there had been none. She heard a name—Montvelatte—recognising it as a tiny principality strategically perched in the territorial waters between France and Italy, and saw a reporter against a shifting backdrop—what looked like a fairy-tale palace lit up against the night sky, then the line of famous casinos fringing the harbour and a picture of the former Prince Eduardo. The reporter continued talking animatedly, accompanying footage of an army of maroon-jacketed gendarmes frogmarching the young Prince and his brother into cars before being driven away from the palace. She frowned, trying to make sense of it all. Clearly something was very wrong in Montvelatte.

The reporter ended his report with a scowl and an emphatic slash of one hand accompanying the words—‘“Montvelatte, finito!’”

The news programme crossed back to their studio before moving on to their next story. Rafe hit the remote, the screen went black and he turned his back on both the screen and her, raking his fingers through his hair.

She loosened the towel at her hair, began rubbing it in cautious circles, sensing that something major had transpired and knowing she was missing more than what had been reported in the sensational yet indecipherable television coverage.

‘What’s happening? It looked like the police were carting away the entire royal family.’

He spun round, his ruggedly beautiful face reduced to a mask of tightly drawn flesh over bones suddenly lying too close to the surface, his eyes both wild and filled with something that looked like grief.

‘It’s over,’ he said, in a voice that turned her cold. Then his eyes glazed even colder. ‘It’s over.’

An inexplicable fear zipped down her spine. Finally he’d acknowledged her presence and yet she doubted he’d even seen her. Right now it was more as if he was looking right through her.

‘What’s over? What is it that’s happened?’

For a minute she wasn’t even sure he’d even heard her, his only movement the rapid rise and fall of his chest, but then his chin jerked up and his eyes took on a predatory gleam, finding a focus that had been lacking before.

‘Justice,’ he said cryptically, crossing the carpet silently in his bare feet until he stood before her, his turmoil-filled eyes holding hers hostage, his naked chest so close it took her breath away. And before she could ask him what he meant, before she could ask what any of it meant, he reached over and took the damp towel from her hands, tossing it purposefully to one side.

Sienna trembled, her pulse quickening as it always did when she had one hundred per cent of his attention, his scent and his aura wrapping around her and pulling her in.

‘Tell me,’ she whispered in spite of it, refusing to give herself up to his power, knowing that once he touched her, she’d be lost. ‘What does it mean?’

Rafe said nothing. Instead, there was a tug at her waist followed by a loosening, and then the sides of her gown fell open. She felt the kiss of air against her skin, heard the hiss of breath through his teeth as he gazed down at the ribbon of exposed flesh, and felt that searing heat of his eyes like the brand of a torch. ‘It means I want you,’ he said, reaching out the fingers of one hand to scoop back the robe on one side, tracing a path down her aching breast to her nipple and circling that sensitive peak. ‘Now!’

Her body was ready, the swell of her breasts and the insistent thrumming of the pulse between her thighs telling her so. But something flashed across his eyes, and she sensed something of the torment he was feeling, and panic shimmied up her spine as she recognised the truth. He didn’t see her at all, not really. She was merely a vessel, a vehicle for release from whatever demons were plaguing him, and once again, she wondered why he seemed to care so much about a tiny island principality that featured in the tabloids more for the exploits of its young Princes and their latest love interests, rather than for any financial concern Rafe would normally be interested in.

Sienna put her hands to his chest, made a move to push herself away. ‘I don’t know if this is such a good idea,’ she warned, her head shaking even though the rest of her body betrayed her by trembling under his skilled hands, and her hands refused to lift from the wall of his chest. ‘I have to get to work. I’ll be late.’

‘Then be late!’ he growled, uncaring, before sliding a hand around her neck and pulling her to him. His lips captured hers, punishing and demanding, in a kiss in which it was impossible not to feel the turmoil that held him hostage. He tasted of coffee and need and passion—all these things she had tasted before. But now she tasted something new, something triggered by the news report that drove him, an aching fury that moved his kiss beyond mere passion to something dark and dangerous and all-consuming.

And meanwhile his mouth was everywhere—on her lips, at her throat, on her breasts, hungry as he grappled with her robe, reefing it over her shoulders, forcing it down and pulling her naked body against his. She went willingly then, melting into him because she had no real choice, her senses overloaded with the taste and scent of him, the mouth suckling and nipping at her breast, the brush of denim against her legs, the feel of his hot flesh melting her bones, the sound of his zip coming undone…