A Royal Without Rules(9)

By: Caitlin Crews

She could practically see his mocking smile, and it burned through her, making her flush hot with the force of her temper. She excused herself from the ambassador and his aides, then walked calmly across the ballroom floor as if she was headed nowhere more interesting than the powder room, nodding by rote to those she passed and not even paying attention to the usual swell of her loathed surname like a wake of whispers behind her as she went. She was too focused on Pato, damn him.

He would not be the reason she failed Lenz. He would not.

But Pato wasn’t corrupting innocents in the library, or involved in something sordid in any of the receiving rooms. She checked all of them—including every last closet because, the man was capable of anything—then stood there fuming. Had he left? Was he even now gallivanting about the city, causing trouble in one of the slick nightclubs he favored, filled as they were with the bored and the rich? How would she explain that to Lenz when it was all over the tabloids in the morning? But that was when she heard a soft thump from above her. Adriana tilted her head back and studied at the ceiling. The only thing above her was the ambassador’s residence....

Of course. That bastard.

Adriana climbed the stairs as fast as she could without running, and then smiled at the armed guard who stood sentry at the entrance to the residence. She waved her mobile at him.

“I’m Prince Pato’s assistant,” she said matter-of-factly. “And I have His Majesty the King on the line...?”

She let her voice trail away, and had to fight back the rush of fury that swirled in her when the guard nodded her in, confirming her suspicions. She’d wanted to be mistaken, she really had.

And now she wanted to kill him. She would kill him.

Once on the other side of the ornate entryway, Adriana could hear music—and above it, a peal of feminine laughter. Her teeth clenched together, making her jaw ache. She marched down the hallway, stopped outside the cracked door where the noise came from, and then had to take a moment to prepare herself.

You already found him in bed with two women, a brisk voice inside her pointed out. You handled it.

She tucked her clutch beneath her arm, and wished she was wearing something more like a suit of armor, and not a sparkly blue gown that tied behind her neck, flowed to her feet and left her arms bare. For some reason, it made her feel intensely vulnerable, a sensation that mixed with her galloping temper and left her feeling faintly ill.

He was sleeping when you saw that, another voice countered. He is probably not sleeping now.

God, she hated him. She hated that this was her life. Adriana steeled herself and pushed through the door.

The music was loud, electronic and hypnotic, filling the dimly lit room. Adriana saw the woman first. She was completely naked save for a tiny black thong, plus long dark hair spilling down to the small of her back, and she was dancing.

If that was the word for it. It was carnal. Seductive. She moved to the music as if it was part of her, sensual and dark, writhing and spinning in the space between the two low couches that took up most of the floor space of the cozy room.

Performing, Adriana realized after a stunned moment. She was performing.

Pato lounged on the far couch, his long legs thrust out in front of him and crossed at the ankle, his elegant suit jacket open over his magnificent chest, and his lean arms stretched out along the back of the seat. He was fully clothed, which both surprised and oddly disappointed Adriana, but he looked no less the perfect picture of sexual indolence even though his skin wasn’t showing.

Her throat went dry. The woman bent over backward, her hips circling in open, lustful invitation, her arms in the air before her. The music was like a dark throb, moving inside Adriana like a demand, a caress.

She swallowed hard, and that was when she realized Pato was looking straight at her.

Her heart stopped. Then kicked, exploding into her ribs, making her stomach drop. But Adriana didn’t—couldn’t—move.

The moment stretched out between them, electric and fierce. There was only that arrogant golden stare of his, as if the woman before him didn’t exist. As if the music was for Adriana alone—for him. She had the panicked thought that he’d wanted her to find him like this, that this was some kind of trap. That he knew, somehow, the riot inside of her, the confusion. The heat.

Top Books