Our gazes locked. He looked down at me with a molten golden stare and I got the distinct impression that he was thinking about the same things.
“We can’t,” I started.
“No,” he agreed quickly.
Too quickly. I felt the familiar resistance, the old wound of his rejection, that he found me ridiculous and repulsive, but I remembered. His fingers, his touch, the way he greedily tasted me.
My inner princess was now offended. “Why can’t we?” I demanded. “A lot of men think I’m attractive. A lot of women, too,” I added, for good measure.
A tense sigh tore of out of him. “I know.”
“You know that I’m attractive, or you know that a lot of other people think I’m hot enough to …” My voice tapered out under the undeniable heat of his gaze. “Kiss,” I ended lamely.
“You don’t want to be with someone like me,” Hugh said, almost kindly.
“Someone like you?” There was my alter ego, Awkward Repeating Robot, again. “Are you gay?” I asked him.
His mouth slid to one side. “No.”
I wracked my brain for other possible reasons why I would not want to be with this tall, handsome, extremely competent man with intense eyes and clever hands and a loyal heart and … oh. Crap.
Another frustrated sigh. “No. I’m a fucking street kid from Koras who joined the army simply to get food and a roof over my head. I’m a government employee with
cheap suits, tattoos, a government pension that starts in two months and absolutely no knowledge about expensive wine or the Crusades or the fucking king who got himself killed in that supermarket car park.” Suddenly, Hugh was much closer, practically looming over me.
“Wait. You think you’re not good enough for me?” I laughed. Oh, irony was delicious. “You know I’m not a princess anymore, right?”
“So you keep saying. But all I see is the daughter of the next king of Drieden.”
I held his gaze for a long moment. “Liar,” I finally said.
“What did you call me?”
“You heard me. I called you a liar. If all you saw was an untouchable princess, then you wouldn’t have done what you did.”
“It was a mistake.”
“Not on the couch,” I said. “In the stables. When I was nineteen and asked you to take my virginity. You know what I think?”
“I couldn’t possibly guess.”
“I think you were tempted to take me up on the offer.”
“You were a child.”
“I was nineteen. You were—what, twenty-five?” I shook my head. It wasn’t an unheard-of, insurmountable age difference. “You saw me as something else.”
He leaned in, inches away from my face. “I saw you as trouble.”
It all clicked then. Hugh’s fundamental nature, how he took his job so seriously. He’d said it in Italy, hadn’t he? He thought his job was to protect me from my own bad decisions.
Even if my bad decision was him.
Meet the Author:
As a Texan and recovering sorority girl, Lindsay Emory has strong opinions on “real” football (soccer, duh), wine (bubbles, please), and wearing white after Labor Day (just don’t). Lindsay writes books with mystery and romance featuring cranky heroes and the sassy heroines who drive them crazy. She lives on the North Texas plains with two big dogs and her own cranky hero, drinking gimlets and raising two STEM warrior princesses.
About the Book:
When Princess Caroline of Drieden of the Royal House Laurent eloped with a race car driver, she forfeited her royal title and her family.
Now a widow and exiled from Drieden, Caroline is working as a journalist, writing exposes under a pen name. When, one day, she catches sight of her sister Thea’s ex-fiancé, she’s stunned – Christian is supposed to be dead. Here could be the scoop of the century.
But Caroline’s plans to uncover Christian’s deception are foiled by the arrival of Hugh Konnor – her former bodyguard and Caroline’s first – unrequited – love. When Hugh stubbornly refuses to leave her side, Caroline can’t deny they make a good team.
As they unravel a web of deception that could bring down the House of Laurent, Caroline must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect a family she feels deserted her – and whether the man who swore to guard her body can safely hold her heart.
Add to Goodreads
- $15 Amazon Gift Card