To Claim His Heir by Christmas(9)

By: Victoria Parker



The tap on her door flung her heart into overdrive and she crept up to the door to peek into the security viewer.

Shoulders slumping, she unlatched the lock and allowed the porter in to collect her bag. ‘Thank you. I’ll meet you downstairs.’ Luciana pulled a two-hundred-euro note from her jacket pocket and conjured up a sweet smile. Feminine wiles and all that.

‘The back door, okay?’

His boyish grin told her she was in the clear and she grabbed her handbag and scarpered from the room.

Down in the private elevator she went. Out through the back exit and into a frosty evening that nipped her cheeks.

The door of the limousine was an open invitation and Luciana sank into the plush leather, not wasting one vital moment. ‘Can you take me to the Altiport, please? Fast as you can.’

The door slammed shut with a heavy clunk.

The locks clicked into place.

‘Sure thing, lady.’

Lady? Frowning, she glanced up into the rearview mirror to see a peculiar pair of deep-set titanium-grey eyes staring back at her.

Luciana’s blood curdled in her veins.

Then that voice—as brutal and vicious as the thrash of a whip—sliced through the leather-scented cabin, its deadly effect severing her air supply.

‘We meet again, Princess of Arunthia.’

Vaulting backwards in her seat, she crushed herself into the corner and scoured the dim recesses of the car, her heart thudding a panicked tempo.

Black sapphire eyes glittering as starkly as the stars in the Courchevel sky, he raised one devilish dark brow and said, scathingly, ‘Did you really think I would allow you to turn your back on me a second time, Luciana? Disappear into the night once more? How very foolish of you.’

Dressed from head to foot in a bespoke black Italian suit, he lounged like an insolent predator—a sleek panther perusing his kill.

‘Well, let us get one thing perfectly clear right now. This time you will not walk away from me.’





CHAPTER TWO

SHE COULDN’T MOVE. Not one muscle.

‘This time you will not walk away from me.’

What did he mean by that? Did she have to wait until he walked away from her? How long was that going to take? An hour? A day?

If she didn’t start breathing she’d never find out.

Luciana yanked her focus dead ahead in order to stitch up the tattered remnants of her composure. She couldn’t do that and look at him at the same time. It was futile. The mere sight of him, dangerous and dominating, skewed her equilibrium and turned her brain to mush.

The privacy glass rose up before her, sending her heart slamming around her ribcage. For a second she toyed with the idea of launching herself from the car, but then remembered the locks had snapped into place. A moment later the limousine began to rock down the steep incline from the lodge and the risk of hyperventilating became a distinct possibility.

Breathe, Luce, for heaven’s sake breathe. He probably just wants to talk on the way to the Altiport.

Why, oh, why hadn’t she looked at which car she was getting into? She was supposed to be avoiding trouble. Being good. The refined, beyond reproach, virtuous Queen she was born to be. She could already hear her mother… So reckless, Luciana. So unthinking.

She let loose a shaky exhalation, then took a deep lungful of air. And another. Then seriously wished she hadn’t. His audacious dark bergamot and amber scent wrapped around her senses like a narcotic, intensely potent and drugging as it swirled up into her brain, making her vision blur. Her entire body wept with want.

How did he still do this to her? After all this time? How? It was as if he engulfed her in his power, lured her in with his black magic. Well, any more of his lethal brand of masculinity and she’d be done for.

Clearing her throat, she straightened in her seat. With far more sangfroid and bravado than she felt, she said, ‘Why am I here? What exactly is it you want from me?’

Seconds ticked by and he didn’t so much as murmur. Merely allowed the atmosphere to stretch taut. And, since she was hanging on to the very last fraying threads of her control, it didn’t take her long to snap.

Up came her head—big mistake as she realised too late it was exactly what he’d been waiting for, what he wanted: her full attention, total control over this…whatever this was. His gaze crashed into hers. Unerringly. Mercilessly.

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