Her Royal Masquerade (Her Royal Romance)(4)

By: Natasha Moore

Her small breasts were pillowed against his chest, her face nestled in the crook of his neck. He brushed his lips over her ear. “You’re a very good dancer, Birgitte.”

She lifted her head and looked him in the eye. Had he known how bright her blue eyes were? “As are you, Vittorio.” She sighed softly, the warm puff of air brushing his cheek. “This string ensemble is wonderful.”

“Music is an important part of the Mezzano culture.” He whirled her around and admired her graceful pirouette. Her hair shimmered as the strands settled back around her shoulders. The string of perfect diamonds hugged her collar bone, highlighting the place on her throat where he wished to brush his lips. Matching earrings glittered beneath the lights. “Only our finest musicians are here tonight for the celebration.”

“I must give my best to the king.” She scanned the crowd over his shoulder. “I haven’t had a chance to greet him yet and wish him a happy birthday.”

“He’ll be making an appearance in a short while. Unfortunately he’s not been well and it would have tired him to be here for the entire evening.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said softly and lightly rubbed his back as if she thought he might need comforting. “I hope he’ll be feeling better soon.”

Unfortunately, that was unlikely. Vittorio didn’t say the words out loud, didn’t even like to think them, but his father’s physicians were not at all optimistic. “Yes,” he said instead. “We all hope so.”

“Well, it’s a lovely night and I hope His Majesty is pleased with all the people who have come here to honor him.” She caught his eye and smiled, still swaying in his arms. “And this wonderful music is certain to help him feel better. How could it not?”

The music changed to a faster song and at first Vittorio was not happy when she backed out of his arms. He already liked the feel of her there. But then she started to dance.

Vittorio knew he was supposed to dance as well, but he suddenly couldn’t move his feet, or take his eyes off Birgitte. So he stood, entranced, and watched her dance.

The way the princess shimmied that body was close to indecent. Yes, he’d seen her on the dance floor in London, but at that time she hadn’t been his dance partner. The stab of jealousy was unexpected, but he found he wanted to get her away from the eyes of all the other men watching her move those slender hips in time with the music.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her close again. This was where she belonged.

“But this isn’t a slow dance song.”

He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her in tight. “I say it is.”

“And of course whatever the prince says, goes, right?” Even with that protest, she settled against him.

“Of course.” With all the heavy responsibilities that came with the title, he wasn’t going to complain about the few benefits. “But then, you must find the same applies to a princess.”

She blinked, then nodded. “Yes, what the princess wants is more important than just about anything.”

He frowned at the edge that crept into her voice, but when she shifted, pressing her softness against his rock hard erection, his curiosity fled. He spread his hand along her back, keeping her close.

“Right now,” she said, easing away, “this princess would like some more champagne and a chance to rest her high-heeled feet.”

Getting her off the dance floor was a great idea. He took her hand. “Right this way.” He led her over to his table and one of his well-trained wait staff was already there. “Two champagnes,” he ordered and then held out a chair for Birgitte.

When he sat down beside her, she tilted her head and studied him. What was she looking for? What did she see? Did she see a thirty year old playboy who used to party nearly as hard as she did? Or a man too young to be anticipating the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders?

“Thank you for the dance,” she said with a smile, “but I’m sure you have other duties to attend to. Don’t feel you have to stay with me.”

He wasn’t going anywhere. “Bored with my company already?”

“Of course not. But don’t you have to make the rounds or something?”

“Anyone who wants to speak to me knows where I am.” And if they knew what was good for them, they’d know not to interrupt. “There are plenty of family members around to keep an eye on things and my staff is extremely competent.” He couldn’t resist lifting her hand to his lips again. He wondered how long before he could get her to remove those long gloves. “I find there’s no one I’d rather be speaking with right now than you. I’d like to sip some champagne and rest my feet as well.”