My Royal Temptation(6)

By: Riley Pine


“Just—show me the way out,” I say, attempting to push myself up, but as soon as I put pressure on my bare foot, my knees buckle and I almost hit the ground again.

Almost. Because Nikolai Lorentz, Prince of Edenvale and heir to the throne, catches me.

“Shit,” he hisses. “You are hurt.”

“And you smell like you hit a limousine minibar,” I say, trying to cover my reaction to his hands on me with disdain.

But my breath still quickens. He carries me with a concern I can feel in every nerve of my body.

“It was a Rolls, but you’re very perceptive, Miss—”

“Winter,” I say, having no choice but to throw my arms around his neck for purchase, my broken shoe still dangling from my fingers.

“Aha,” he says, that devilish grin taking over his features. “Have you read Romeo and Juliet? Doesn’t Juliet ask what’s in a name?” He begins to walk.

My cheeks grow hot, and the tips of his fingers—his palm where it touches the bare skin of my thigh—sends sparks right through me.

I clear my throat. “You read Shakespeare?” I ask, though it’s obvious.

“You’re as icy as your name implies.”

I huff out a breath and push as far from him as I can while the rogue still has me in his arms.

“I’m no such thing! You—you’re the one who likened my services to a dating website. My work is nuanced and relies on personal metrics and psychology, thank you very much. You’re also the one who just cost me a day’s work. So pardon me if I’m not exactly warming to your famous charm.”

He stops dead in his tracks. We’re still in the maze, and I can’t tell if we’re any closer to making it out of here or if he’s taken us deeper.

His eyes dart in every direction, as if he’s checking for intruders, before they land on mine. Stone gray and burning with intent, I can’t look away if I try.

“I will not marry,” he says, his voice cool and even. “Is that understood?”

I nod. “And I will not walk away from this job.”

“Then I guess we’re at an impasse.”

The air between us is warm, charged with the mingling of our breaths. His skin against mine sizzles. My head tells me that everything I’m feeling is wrong, but the physical need brewing inside me throbs at my core.

I haven’t been with a man since my fiancé, Jean-Luc, died BASE jumping in Alaska. He was the love of my life, but he loved the thrill of adrenaline more than me. Afterward, I joined my big sister Madeline’s business to devote my life to what I was denied: a happy ending.

It had been two long, careful years of self-denial and occasionally my own hand. Before that it had only ever been Jean-Luc.

But the hand against me now is big, strong and unfamiliar. All it would take is his fingers sliding an inch more, and he’d feel that need, wet and pulsing.

He swallows, and I watch his Adam’s apple bob. That’s all it takes to let me know that whatever this is, it’s not only me.

Maybe this is what it feels like to live in the moment, take a risk, something I never let myself do because I had to be careful for both of us. I had to move in with Madeline to save on rent. Never have I let myself simply want.

But this stranger’s hands on me are warm. Strong. And for a second I imagine what they could do. It’s intoxicating, this growing need and the possibility of satisfying it right here and now. I feel drunk and squirm in his grasp, hoping he’ll simply think I’m readjusting myself in his arms, but I miscalculate and my lips brush against his.

He sucks in a breath, and this makes me grin.

“I don’t like you,” I say. Truer words have never been spoken.

“Likewise,” he answers, his voice low and rough.

All my life I’ve played it safe, and where did it get me? Lost and alone. But this man exudes raw power, a power that draws me into his orbit, a pull stronger than gravity. I feel myself inching toward some sort of internal cliff, and the woman I thought I was relinquishes control.

“You said you’d sooner fuck me than let me arrange your nuptials.”

He nods. “I certainly did.”

I lean close to his ear, nip at his lobe, and step across the line of comfort I’ve hidden behind for far too long and whisper, “It’s sooner.”