To Claim His Heir by Christmas(10)

By: Victoria Parker

Oh, Lord.

Overwhelming anguish held her in stasis as her every thought fled and she allowed her treacherous heart to devour the dark beauty that was Prince Thane.

Devastating—that was what he was. Bewitching her with that breathtaking aura of danger. Those high, wide slashing cheekbones and obsidian eyes framed with thick decadent inky lashes. That chiselled jaw that was smothered in a seriously sexy short beard. On anyone else it would be labelled designer stubble. But this was Thane and he wasn’t vain in the least. Or he hadn’t been. In truth, she’d been amazed at just how clueless to his gorgeous looks he was.

His hair was longer, she noticed. Dishevelled was a ridiculously romantic word for the mussed-up glossy black hair that fell in a tumble to flick his shoulders, one side swept back and tucked behind his ear. Unkempt, maybe. Hideously long… But she kind of liked it. Craved to run her fingers through it. Had to fist her hands to stop herself from doing just that.

The dim interior lighting camouflaged his facial scars but she remembered every one. The slash in his top lip, just shy of the full cupid’s bow. The second, enhancing the sensuous, kissable divot in his chin. Another slicing into the outer corner of his left eyebrow.

Her throat grew tight, swelling in sadness and hurt for him. Just as it had five years ago. Not that he’d ever talked to her about them. The one time she’d asked he’d shut down so hard it had taken her sitting astride his lap wearing nothing but lace panties to tease him out of it.

Ah, Luce, don’t remember. Don’t.

His tongue sneaked out and he briefly licked his lips, but otherwise he remained still, watching…waiting…his sensationally dynamic body vibrating with dark power. And she clutched her handbag tighter still, fingers burying into the leather—

Whether it was the feel of her phone poking through the side of her bag or the sudden realisation that the car was at a standstill she wasn’t sure, but she crashed back to earth with a thud.

The car had actually stopped!

Luciana shuffled on her bottom to peek out of the window and saw the huge security gates of the lodge swing open in front of the car. Electronic operation. Unmanned. Drat.

Twisting the other way, she grasped the cushioned leather and peeked out of the back window, her eyes widening as she spied her bellboy, still at the top of the drive, waving for her attention, with her case in his hand.

Oh, my life!

Her speech faculties finally deigned to kick in. ‘You have to turn around,’ she said, with her best do-it-or-else regal intonation. ‘You’ve left my case back there.’

And as soon as they pulled up back at the lodge she was making a run for it.

‘Really?’ he drawled, mock astonishment lifting his brows high above his vivid eyes. ‘How unfortunate.’

Luciana narrowed her gaze on him. That was it? Unfortunate?

‘Well? Aren’t you going to go back for it?’ she asked, her tone pitched to an ear-splitting squeak.

‘And give you the opportunity to run again? I think not, princesa. Consider yourself under lock and key.’

The limo turned right onto the main road and picked up speed. But not nearly as fast as her temper.

Anger sparked. Revving up to be free of its leash. And she let it take hold. Uncoil deep inside her. Unravel at a breakneck pace. It was wonderful. Glorious. Just what she’d hankered for all day. All day? No. Since she’d stepped off the plane from Hong Kong, thoroughly powerless, with her façade firmly in place.

‘Just who do you think you are? You can’t just take me like this.’

Cool as you like, he simply said, ‘Watch me.’

She sucked in air through her nose. ‘Are you playing with me? You’re taking me to the Altiport, right? I have a plane to catch.’

‘We are going to the Altiport, si.’

‘Good. That’s good.’

Though he hadn’t really said what was happening when they got there, had he?

Warily, she ventured, ‘And you’ll let me get on my own plane to Arunthia, yes?’


Mouth falling agape, she coughed out an incredulous laugh. ‘Are you serious?’

‘Deadly,’ he said, as sharp as a blade.

His eyes were as cold and hard as steel. Where once they’d been tender and warm. Had she known him at all? she wondered, fighting a miserable flare of anguish. Even a little bit? Or had the last few years killed any ounce of decency and compassion he’d possessed?

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