Authors: Danielle Bourdon
Tags: #Mystery & Suspense, #Romantic Suspense, #Contemporary Romance, #Contemporary, #New Adult & College, #Romance, #Literature & Fiction, #Suspense, #royals
Heir in Exile
Published by Wildbloom Press
Copyright © 2013
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
For grandpa Judd
You are missed
Chey knew this particular brand of bliss, the kind that came wrapped in golden skin, strong hands and passionate kisses, couldn't last forever. Well it
Today, however, she was out of time for ecstasy.
Rolling onto her stomach, sheets twisted around her hips, dark hair tangled around her shoulders, Chey surfaced from the haze of desire and ignored the lusty look her fiance was giving her.
Sander, all male, with his golden hair, rough whiskers and appealing broad shoulders, acted like they didn't have a day fraught with tension, strife and possible danger ahead. He cocked his elbow into the pillow and rested his temple in his palm.
“What?” Chey asked, giving Sander an accusing look. He shouldn't be so sexy, so...infuriatingly masculine.
That's what Prince Sander Darrion Ahtissari was.
And hers. All hers.
“It's not like you to quit before you co--”
We don't have time for all that.” Chey rested her flushed cheek against the pillow.
“But you had time for two hours of--”
“It's almost eight o'clock. We're due at the castle at ten.” Chey cut him off before he could remind her, again, what they'd been doing for the last two hours.
“If I use my tongue, it only takes you four or five minutes to rea--”
Sander Darrion Ahtissari!
“Quit cutting me off.” He reached over to pinch her shoulder before untangling from the covers. Sliding out of bed, he got to his feet and shook his hair out like a lion shakes his mane. Grinning like the rogue he was, he strode for the bathroom in all his naked glory.
At six-foot-three, there was a lot of naked flesh for Chey to enjoy. She lingered over his thick thighs, taut buttocks and tight stomach. Until he swerved out of sight, that is.
Chey kicked off the sheets and followed. After the morning just past, she felt wonderfully nimble and sleek. Sander had a way of bringing everything feminine about her to the fore. Although many inches shorter than him, she carried herself with statuesque grace, bare feet silent on the stone floor.
Catching sight of herself in the long mirror, she glimpsed the riot of dark hair tumbled around narrow shoulders, the modest indent of her waist and shapely legs that had not so long ago been wrapped around Sander's hips. She crept up behind him while he ran the water in a shower that could easily fit eight people standing upright. Sliding her arms around his middle, she pressed several kisses between his shoulder blades and made a low noise of pleasure when he reached back to stroke calloused fingers across her outer thigh.
“You sure you don't want me to--”
“Just get in the shower.” Laughing, Chey bulled him under the spray. He was incorrigible.
While they washed their skin clean of sweat and the scent of sex, Chey allowed her mind to roam over the last month and a half.
Since his proposal on Christmas eve, they had been inseparable. Except for meetings and other Princely duties, Sander and Chey had hidden away on the island of Pallan a few miles off Latvala's shore. The brutal winter season, well under way, made it difficult to do any serious traveling or sight seeing. Never mind that Chey was in the country illegally, hiding out from the King and Queen. Only members of Sander's personal staff and a few others knew she was here.
Chey hadn't minded exploring the castle and the island, what they could reach of it, with Sander. He'd taken her hiking on the mountain, skiing on gentle slopes and snow mobile riding through meadows and valleys. He'd proven time and again what a skilled outdoorsman he was, handling the equipment like a seasoned pro. He also knew the island well, giving them the advantage when he took her adventuring.
So far, no one knew of their engagement. They kept it hidden even from Mattias, Sander's younger brother, a man both trustworthy and able to keep secrets.
Now, however, her presence in Sander's life, if not their engagement, was about to come out. He had a ball to attend in Dubai in three days and he insisted she go with him. It was time, he'd said, to break the news to the King and Queen so they didn't find out through photos of the event that Chey was back in his life.
Rinsing suds from her body, she gathered the shampoo and attacked her hair next. Sander kissed her on the shoulder on his way out of the shower. Finished before her, he snagged a towel from the holder, shook out his hair, and toweled dry.
Chey watched him while she finished a routine that included a skin scrub, shaving her legs, and the use of a pumice stone on her heels. By the time she was done, Sander had changed into a pair of black slacks, white button down, and a suit jacket that he paired with an ice blue tie.
“That looks nice on you. Decided to dress up for the occasion, huh?” she asked. It meant she needed to find something equally fitting to wear. Not that she would have gone in jeans or something too casual. But now she needed a semi-formal dress or suit so she didn't look out of place for the announcement.
“For some reason, I always think they take me more seriously when I wear a suit,” he said, glancing up after he pulled on socks and a pair of polished shoes.
“I'm sure.” Chey wrapped the towel around her body and stepped over to 'her' sink. There were two, one of which was surrounded by a bevy of organizers holding all her feminine accoutrements. She kept it neat and tidy, so it didn't overflow the long counter top.
Just as she reached for a comb to pull through the wet strands of her hair, a bout of nausea hit. She stilled, one hand bracing against the counter. Her nerves must be getting the better of her. Breathing in and breathing out, she steadied herself.
“You all right?” Sander asked from a bench in the middle of the closet.
“Yeah. I think my nerves are starting to kick in.” It was bound to happen some time.
He rose after fixing the hem on his pants and walked over to stand behind her. Dwarfing her in height, he set a hand on her towel covered hip and studied her face in the mirror.
“You sure? You look a little pale.”
“Just nauseous. It's not bad.” She smiled at his reflection and picked up the comb. While she sorted the tangles out, Sander regarded her with a dubious expression.
“No, we don't need to put it off,” she said, anticipating his protest. “We need to get it over with, then I won't be nervous about it anymore.”
He hovered at her back, protective and skeptical. “We can delay three or four hours, if that'll help.”
“I'll be all right, really. Promise.”
Giving her hip a squeeze, Sander stepped to the side, leaning against the counter. Watching her.
“Are you going to stare at me the whole time I get ready?” she asked, amused despite the pitch and roll of her stomach.
“It's distracting.” She put the comb down and picked up the blow dryer.
“And you should go busy yourself with something else until I'm done. I can't concentrate,” she retorted around a laugh. Chey turned the dyer on, mouthing
I can't hear you
when he complained. She didn't want him to leave, but the idea of puking in front of him was too mortifying to contemplate.
He snorted and smacked her on the backside before exiting the bathroom.
Relieved, Chey braced a hip against the counter and swallowed down another bout of nausea. Maybe she needed to nibble on toast.
You're stronger than this, Chey. Don't let them get to you.
Easier said than done, she thought, as she dried her hair before taking a curling iron to it. Making quick work of applying a thin layer of make up, she put everything away when she was done and went into the expansive closet. She'd filled 'her' side quite nicely after the recent shopping trip.
What she chose from the racks was a heavy, throat to mid-calf dress with long sleeves and a modestly scooped neckline. It was ivory, with baby blue piping on the cuffs and collar. Very suitable for winter. A baby blue overcoat as long as the dress went with it. She added taupe boots with a flat sole and stuffed gloves into one of the over-large coat pockets.
If Chey had learned anything in her time here, it was to dress for the weather. A slinky, satin creation with high heels would have landed her half frozen and probably skiing on the helicopter pad before the day was through. She enjoyed the heavier clothing anyway, at least while the snow was knee deep, and didn't mind bundling up in several layers.
Exiting into the suite, fixing the collar of the coat, she saw Sander slathering a piece of toast with butter and a dab of jelly. He'd ordered up a quick breakfast between the time he'd left the bathroom and now.
“Here. I thought this might help,” he said, handing her a small plate with several slices of prepared toast.
Chey took the little plate and picked up a slice right away. “Thanks. How did you know? It's like you read my mind.”
“Isn't this what people usually eat if they're sick to their stomach? Toast, crackers, things like that?” He arched a brow and bit into his own piece.
“I suppose it is. I couldn't have stomached a really big breakfast anyway. Not today.” Not with the meeting looming over their heads. She took little bites of toast and sipped hot coffee that he'd poured her. Sander thought of everything.
“I know it's a lot of tension. I wish there was another way around it,” he said.
Chey also heard what he
say. That she'd known by agreeing to stay that this was the way it would be. This was his life, replete with unpalatable situations that she needed to learn to work through.
“I know. I'll get through it.” She wanted him to know that her constitution was still strong, that she could face adversity and come out intact on the other side.
He cut a quick smile her way and finished the last bite. Sander hadn't eaten much.
Chey noticed that his mood was moving into that stage between bare tolerance and forced diplomacy. It was his default demeanor lately whenever he had to face the King and Queen. She wouldn't have called it a black mood, per se, just one where he didn't smile as deep or as often. Sander was prone to longer stretches of silence during these times and a strict expression that did not invite jokes or games.
Little by little, Chey was learning all his subtle nuances. She knew it was better to keep her rambling thoughts to herself until they were out of the meeting and back on more familiar ground.
“Ready?” he asked after swinging a longer, heavier coat around his shoulders.
“Yes.” Chey set the plate down with just one half slice of toast remaining. Already her stomach felt better.
“Remember to take the ring off,” he added, throwing a scarf around his neck.
Chey frowned. She hadn't removed it since he'd proposed on Christmas Eve. “What if I just wear my gloves the whole time?”
“I'd rather not take the chance. It's not time yet to divulge our engagement.” His tone indicated he wouldn't budge on this issue.
Chey slipped the ring from her hand and walked it over to him. She looked up into his eyes. “Keep it safe for me?”
Sander palmed it and slid it into the inner pocket of his overcoat. “Done.”
He extended an elbow to escort her out, shoulders squaring, expression waning neutral once more.