Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1)

BOOK: Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1)
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Royal Expat Seduced

Prologue

The bar was crowded and dimly lit, and the air was warm and heavy with the scent of booze. Damian scanned the crowd, wondering about the identities and personalities of all the assembled people. What did they do—more importantly, why did they do it? Not one of the people here looked contented or at ease. It was all false smiles and make-up smeared over desperation. Sure, some of them looked like they were enjoying themselves, but in the morning, they’d be back to the drudgery of everyday life. The night before would only be a blur of regret; money wasted and a bad headache.

He thought about his own free and easy lifestyle, traveling the world without worrying about money, family and careers. Why did so many people live life like robots, too afraid to enjoy themselves? Not one of these people, not one… his eyes glided idly over the crowd, registering the tired, bored and anxious expressions plastered to each overdressed person with little interest.

Then Damian’s shrewd, smoky gray eyes swept over the figure of one woman, sitting on the balcony and sipping her drink—and darted back, focusing on her completely.

She was exceptional—
petite and elegant, her slender arms bare and white, gleaming like satin in the questionable lighting of the bar. Her face was bright and captivating, and Damian couldn’t help but stare. Her eyes were alight with excitement and laughter, her full lips red and delightful, like some form of forbidden fruit ripe for the plucking. Her hair was like a curtain of liquid ink, sleek and black and beautiful. She was exquisite, any man’s dream. Damian was no exception; he instantly felt pulled towards her, an almost animal desire for her coiling in his stomach. But most of all, he was captivated by
her.
Her very being gave off energy, innocence, and a hint of uniqueness, with all the power of an intoxicating drug. She was something special.

He knew that no matter what, he had to have her. She was like the one gleaming apple in a barrel full of rotten mush. He knew that she would be juicy, delicious, and
devastating, like the apple Eve had bitten into before the dawn of time.

His heart beat faster as her liquid mischief eyes, with their alluring glow of innocence, met his across the dimness of the bar. She smiled coyly at him, and he grinned internally. She would be the sweetest thing to ever tou
ch his lips. In all his travels across the globe, he had never seen such pure enjoyment and such energy. She was unspoiled, and he was hooked. He could tell that she was too. The delicate, peachy blush spreading across her alabaster cheeks was enough to tell him that she was his for the taking. Almost too easy… perhaps it wasn’t worth the effort after all.

His eyes left hers for a moment as he noticed a shadow behind her, a dark, lean and powerful figure of a man.
He wasn’t good-looking, and he seemed much older than the young woman, who barely looked old enough to be in a bar in the first place. His eyes were close-set, and his lips were thin and unpleasant, although this might simply have been because of his expression. He was glowering at Damian, and as their eyes met, like a red hot poker to skin, he could sense the hatred and jealousy hidden beneath them. They said that the beautiful woman was his, and his only, even as the cherry-red smile and the half-lidded eyes directed at Damian said differently.

He thought about going o
ver there and causing trouble—seeing if he could pluck the ripe apple from the greedy grasp of this man—but decided to wait, bide his time, and play out the game. Move too soon, and he wouldn’t get to draw out the fun.

The flirtation continued. He’d meet the woman’s eyes and smile, enjoying the game, saving the best for last. He was laughing internally as he saw the man’s face grow darker and darker behind her as their flirtation escalated, the sparks of attraction between them near igniting the row of spirits sitting out on the bar.
He wondered who would snap and approach the other first. As he was about to order another drink, he felt a firm hand on his shoulder. Turning around, he came face to face with the dark, angry eyes of the woman’s companion and knew that the games had truly begun.

“I saw you looking at her,” the man said. “And I advise you to look somewhere else.” Hi
s accent was clipped, precise—an English accent, out of place in a bar in Washington DC.

“Is she anyone’s property?” Damian replied
in his own American drawl, relaxed and smiling slightly. “I like to think that people can make their own choices, and she hasn’t decided against me yet if her smile is anything to go by—or the way her nipples are pressing against that sexy little top.” He loved to provoke this man, who was powerless to stop him from having anything he wanted. After all, what could he do?

“She’s under my protection,” the Englishman said
, his face contorted with fury. “And I won’t let a dirty hippie like you get his hands on her.”

“Dirty hippie?” Damian cast his eyes down his loose t-shirt, only barely hinting at the tan, toned body beneath, and the scruffy shorts, clinging perfectly to his hips
and displaying long, lithe legs which went on for miles. “She didn’t seem to object.” Damian knew that women found him attractive; his dark, wavy hair, kissed by the sun, his crooked smile and muscular, athletic body were the result of many years of adventure and time spent outdoors, not the artificial sunbed and gym so many narcissistic men resorted to. He was strong, fast and active—and if he had to, he knew he could take this guy out.

“If you touch her,” the Englishman threatened, “I guarantee you that there will be so much hell to pay that you’ll still be Satan’s whipping boy in thousands of years to come.”

Damian considered the man’s face. His eyes were narrowed to black pinpricks, his face was contorted into a furious leer and even his large fists were clenched at his sides. It was a scary image, but Damian had been around people too long to be afraid. Life only got interesting when there was a challenge to be had.

Damian laughed in the man’s face. What was going to be a tasty morsel had just escalated into an all you can eat buffet. There was nothing in the world he loved more than a challenge.

“You know what they say,” he said to the Englishman. “Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven. And I think I’ll take my slice of heaven while I can get it.” He winked wickedly at the man. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a beautiful woman to seduce.”

And leaving the Englishman sputtering furiously, he slid gracefully out of his seat and headed over to where the
black-haired beauty was waiting, ready for the ride of a lifetime.

-

Matilda Stuart rolled her eyes and pulled a childish face at her cell phone as it continued to rant at her with the voice of her sister, Caroline. She half listened while internally, she buzzed with excitement. This was it

the first step towards freedom, and there was nothing that Caroline could say to dissuade her.

She idly braided and unbraided a thick strand of her silky, coal-black hair as Caroline continued to berate her.

“What on earth possessed you to want to go to America of all places?” Caroline queried. “You know our family doesn’t have nearly as much influence over there. Daddy won’t be able to protect you, you know. You’ll be entirely on your own. You’re only 20. A month ago you were a student. Are you really ready for such a big step?”

“Caroline,
of course it’s what I want,” Matilda said, exasperated with her sister’s narrow view of the world. “Do you really think I want everyone to know my face and hold my hand every step of the way? I’ve been angling for this for months

years, even. It’s my dream.”


Your dream? To go and work in some stuffy office in DC?” Caroline sniffed. “Tilda, you could do anything you wanted to right here in England. There’s no need to work as some common secretary.”

“I’d rather make my own way than use the family’s influence,” Matilda replied stu
bbornly. “It’s bad enough that Daddy’s name helped me to get this job

and even worse that Colin is coming with me.”

She gave a dark look towards the boring, black luggage of her unwanted travel companion. Colin As
tor was her father’s henchman

a political crony who shuffled paperwork and made her life difficult. She had only been allowed to go to DC on the condition that Colin would accompany her and make sure she didn’t get to enjoy even an ounce of freedom without it getting back to her incredibly strict family.

She pouted as she looked at Colin’s lean, irascible profile. They could at least have sent her over with someone fun. Colin was a boring pencil-pusher without even an ounce of humor. Of course, her sister would approve entirely.

“At least there’s that,” Caroline sounded slightly happier as she echoed the thoughts of her younger sister. “It’s not that I don’t love you, Tilda, but you do tend to get into all sorts of ridiculous situations. You need someone there to watch out for you.”

“I’m an adult,” Matilda sighed, trying to convey the point to her year-older
sister. “I’m twenty years old. I can take care of myself and I do not need to have a babysitter. Honestly, it’s ludicrous that I even have to get Daddy’s permission to go anywhere in this day and age. I should have ignored him and gone on my own.”

“He has a reputation to uphold,” Caroline reminded
her. “Not even just his reputation

you know this, Tilda.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Matilda pulled another face at her c
ell. This was the bottom line

the real reason she wanted to get away from England. “I’m the daughter of a prince. It’s kind of a pain, you know.”

“You are lucky,” Caroline said. “You are
a member of the Royal Family. Most girls only dream about something like that!”

“And I have nightmares about it,” Matilda snapped. “Look, Caroline, I
never asked to be a princess. I’m not, even, really.”

“You are in the eyes of the media, which means you are in the eyes of the family,” Caroline lectured, using the same tired, exasperating line of argument she always did when Matilda tried to do anything fun. “Even if you are illegitimate, you are still the daughter of Prince Laurence and the granddaughter of the Queen. You’re 18
th
in line for the throne, for goodness’ sake!”

“Which means that I am basically irrelevant and the only thing that being a royal does to my life is mean that I never get to do anything I want to do in case the media makes it into some big scandal,” Matilda said, a little too loudly. Behind her, a few ears perked up, and fingers began racing on the keyboards of iPhones.

“That’s not true. You’re relevant to us,” Caroline said. “We don’t just want you here so we can keep an eye on you. You have to admit that you’re impulsive, Matilda. We

I don’t want you doing anything that you might regret.”

“Like what?” Matilda challenged.

“Oh, I don’t know. Getting in with a bad crowd, going off the rails with drinking and drugs, getting pregnant,” Caroline listed off. “Or getting shot or mugged or something

America can be dangerous.”

“I’ll be working within a stone’s throw of the Whitehouse,” Matilda reminded her. “I don’t think anything too dangerous is going to happen t
o me. Besides, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to get myself into any kind of trouble. I only want the option of living my own life without the media and the family breathing over my shoulder and judging every last thing I do.”

“I know.
I just worry. Couldn’t you do something a little closer to home? Caroline asked mournfully. Although she was as strict and proper as their father, she had a soft spot for her spirited younger sister. It was, Matilda thought, because everybody else she spent time around was bone-achingly dull.

“I can’t be like you,” Matilda said sadly. “I can’t just be the good daughter and settle down and cut ribbons at public
events

like they’d even let me near anything like that anyway. I’m the family embarrassment.

“I need to be doing something exciting. I need to be free, Caroline. Don’t you ever wish that you could be free and travel the world, without a single care about your duties or responsibilities?”

“Not really, no,” said Caroline bluntly.

“Well, I do,” Matilda said stubbornly. “I want to go out into the world,
make my own way, I don’t know, even fall in love! I don’t want Daddy to just marry me off to some politically suitable old man so I have to live my life behind closed doors, except when I have to come out and smile for the cameras.”

“I knew it!” Caroline sounded both triumphant and concerned. “
This is just about finding a man, isn’t it? Don’t do anything stupid, Matilda. Men are willing to take advantage of women

especially rich or connected women

who are stupid enough to let them.”

“I’m not stupid,” Matilda said loudly. “I’m not going to fall in love w
ith the first American I meet. I just want the chance to meet men who don’t already know who I am. Maybe they’ll like me for the real me rather than just wanting to be connected to the Royal Family.”

“I don’t know where you get your ideas
from,” Caroline sighed. “Just make sure Colin stays with you and I suppose you’ll stay out of the worst danger. You’re so young, Matilda. I don’t think you realize what kind of dangers are out there.”

“I’m a year younger than you, so don’t try
to patronize me,” Matilda said sternly, but she couldn’t help but smile a little at Caroline’s misplaced concern. She couldn’t get mad at her older sister

she was just a fretful person who had sat through one too many of their father’s lectures about propriety. “I promise I’ll keep Colin in the loop. I’ll even have him escort me to the rehab and the abortion clinic.”

“Matilda,” Caroline groaned, and Matilda laughed out loud.

“Seriously, chill out,” she advised her sister. “I’ve got this all under control. I’ve got a year’s internship with the National Archives. I’ll probably just be sorting files and things, maybe making some coffee, but it might be enough for me to come back home and get a good job where I can make some changes


“Oh no

not your freedom-fighter thing again,” Caroline said.

“Don’t put it like that,” Matilda warned her. “I just think there are som
e changes that need to be made, and one day I’d like to try and make them. So I’m going to spend my time in America wisely. I’m not just going to go off the rails and snort cocaine all the time.”

“Daddy doesn’t want

” Caroline began.

“I don’t care,” Matilda insisted. “I have the
right to do what I want to do

and I want to have some fun, explore a new country, and yeah, maybe kick back a little without the media breathing down my neck. But I’m planning on taking my job seriously.”

“Well I hope Colin will have the good sense to stay by yo
ur side,” Caroline said. “And

please be careful?”

“I promise,
” said Matilda. “You know me. Careful is my middle name.”

“Oh my god! It’s Princess Matilda, look everyone!” Matilda was jerked back into the reality of the airport as someone yelled loudly, pointing her finger at Matilda. Heads turned, and suddenly there was a clamor of people all craning to get a look at her.

“Gotta go,” she told Caroline, and hung up the phone on her sister’s protests, looking around for Colin, who had gone to check in their suitcases while she had been arguing with Caroline. He was nowhere to be seen.

Shit.

“Princess! Can I have your autograph?”

“Where are you going, Princess? Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s you!”

“Can I take a photo with you, please?”

Matilda winced as half a dozen people who hadn’t had the good manners to ask her first snapped pictures of her on their phones. Immediately she realized that she’d been talking loudly enough for anyone to overhear and realize who she was. What an idiot!

As she despairingly signed her name on a number of notepads, flight tickets and other scraps of paper and grinned blindly into a gaggle of lenses, her heart sank inside her. This was just what she was trying to get away from

would she really be safe from it in America?

As an illegitimate offspring of the fourth child of the Queen, it wasn’t likely that many people ove
rseas knew what she looked like. In fact, she knew for a fact that most people abroad only followed the stories about William and Kate, and didn’t even know of her existence. However, the English media simply adored the story of the lovechild of Prince Laurence, and as a result, she had grown up all her life with the media at her feet whenever she tried to branch out.

Her father was
almost chokingly protective. Although he loved her, he didn’t seem to understand her desire for freedom. She was a royal above anything else in his eyes, and had to behave accordingly. He had sent her only to the most elite schools and had insisted that she go to Cambridge over any other college. He also insisted that she toe the line perfectly so as not to let the Royal Family down or give the media any more fodder.

This was her first ch
ance to go out into the world

and it was being ruined by the unpleasant reminder of her fame.

“Matilda
! Through here, quick.”

Matilda looked up and Colin was striding towards her, tall and dark and as strong as an ox, his lean features,
close-set, small eyes and thin mouth all set grimly, pushing easily through the crowd. He grabbed her and tugged her behind him, and for once she was almost

almost

glad that he was there to protect her. The other part of her was annoyed. She had never had the chance to do anything truly by herself, and this was just another indicator of that fact.

“We should have gone to the VIP section in the first place,” he scolded her. “All that nonsense about
being just like anyone else. You’re not like anyone else. You’re a princess, or as good as.”

“I just

I know,” she said, feeling stupid and young as he stared down at her sternly. “Thank you,” she forced out. “I hate it

the media, the attention

the sooner I get away from it all, the better.”

“That’s my job,” Colin said. “To keep you away from it all. And I intend to do it to the best of my ability.”

-

BOOK: Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1)
2.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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