Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1) (12 page)

BOOK: Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1)
4.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Matilda lay in bed that night with a new thought that she had not considered before. What if she went home?

It was a tantalizing thought. If she went home, it would be like wiping the slate clean. She would be able to rid herself of Colin completely. She could get a job fitting for a royal princess, and work quietly, like her sister, without drawing attention to herself. It would be what her father wanted, and it would mean getting away from all the mistakes she had made here.

Somehow, though, she couldn’t face it. It was clear to her why she hadn’t thought of the solution before. Going home would be like losing the battle. It would be like giving up and admitting defeat. If she went home, she would have traded in her last chance to be someone. Instead, she would have to resign herself to being the media’s darling and her father’s instrument.
She might even have to do the same as Caroline and accept a suitable husband, one of her father’s choosing. That would hardly be any better than submitting to Colin!

Besides, even if she went home, those photos of her would not disappear. Who knows what would happen to her or when they might surface? She would have to live in fear of them for the rest of her life.

She supposed it was still possible to come clean and tell her father, but she knew how he would react. He would never truly respect her again. He could never understand the strength of her feelings towards Damian. It was as if she didn’t even have full control of her own actions. She was so intoxicated by him that to have stopped herself would have been a crime against her nature.

How could a strict man who never did anything for pleasure ever understand that?

No matter how she looked at it, she knew that she had to play it out here. Damian was worth that. She would not give up on the best thing ever to happen to her. No way!

When she thought about Damian, the way he made her feel was still as potent as ever. She could feel his lips on her neck, the soft brush of his fingertips against her breasts.

She gasped as she remembered the sensation, as if it was real and happening right at that moment. She teased her skin lightly, imagining that it was Damian’s hand tracing soft patterns on her ribcage.

She let her hand slide upwards, tweaking one nipple with her fingers. Her breathing hitched, and she could see Damian’s smirking face on the insides of her eyelids.

Her other hand crept downwards as she teased her breasts, feeling the warm strength of Damian’s fingers instead of her own small, delicate hands. Her right hand crept beneath the waist of her panties, and she groaned at the warm, wet slickness which met her.

She found her clit, pressing it gently, bathing in the image of Damian’s clever tongue, licking and flicking her into arousal.

Working with two of her fingers pumping in and out of her pussy and her thumb caressing her clit, her breathing became more and more ragged. She wanted to feel Damian between her legs, his rock hard cock sliding into her, thrusting with unbridled passion.

The pressure built, and she tugged and squeezed at her breasts as she pumped her fingers faster, working up a furious rhythm.

She came hard, and the sensation of Damian’s presence dissipated as she came back to the dark bedroom and her desperate situation. The brief glow of pleasure disappeared as soon as it had come, like the flame of a candle being extinguished by a gust of cold air.

She couldn’t believe that Dami
an could do that to her

take her away from everything. Even the thought of him reminded her of how good it had been. She couldn’t give that up

no way!

But… the way she felt about Damian was so strong that it controlled her body. Would she really have to sleep with Colin just to see hi
m? She knew she had no choice. It was either sleep with Colin and not see Damian, or possibly sleep with Colin and see Damian. Wasn’t the second option better?

Try as she might, it seemed as though those were her only options
. Colin was blackmailing her. He had an iron grip on her freedom and there was nothing she could do but be exposed and humiliated or obey him.

the thought struck her with the force of a truck, and she lay still for a few seconds, letting the possibility settle in her mind.

Would it be possible to stop the blackmail at its source?

She was almost angry that it hadn’t occurred to her before, but then again, she had been in a state of extreme panic after Colin had tried to force himself on her, so she hadn’t been thinking clearly. But the more she thought about it, the better it seemed.

If she could only get those photographs back from Colin, there would be no need for any of this duplicity! She would be able to do what she liked and Colin would lose his power. The first thing she would have to do was ensure that her father got rid of him. He was a dangerous man and she was frightened at the thought of what he might do if the power was taken away from him.

Nevertheless, she had to try. If she could get the photos back, she could destroy them and see Damian without being afraid of the consequences. She would have to tell her father this time around. If she didn’t, it would open up the possibility of something else getting in their way. If she could get him to approve, or even if he didn’t… the thought of being able to be with Damian just as they had been in that one beautiful week they had spent together was like a dream come true.

But first there was the matter of the photographs. How would she get hold of them?

She knew that Colin worked more or less the same hours as her

as well as acting as her bodyguard, he did a lot of office work for her family. He was supposedly here on some important business, which kept him tied up downtown for a lot of the day.

knew that he was very smart and not likely to cut any corners when it came to security. He would keep his door locked and the photographs safely hidden. But would he really have copies on him at all times? It seemed too paranoid even for him, and she thought it more likely that they were safely hidden in his apartment. If that was the case, she could find them

and destroy them.

Matilda swallowed hard. What she was planning to do was technically breaking and entering. She might even need to break into a safe or break a lock. It seemed like it was part of some crime drama. How had her life turned into this? Perhaps it just wasn’t in her destiny to live a simple, easy life. Nevertheless, she would have to do it if she ever wanted her freedom.

At that moment, she decided. She had to at least try. Her life couldn’t exactly get much worse, could it?


By the next morning, Matilda had her plan perfectly fine-tuned, or at least as finely tuned as it was possible to make such a dangerous and risky plan. She knew that Colin would probably find out almost immediately about the loss, and she would have to take the risk that he would try to hurt her. She had considered calling the police on him, but then she would have to show the photos as evidence of his blackmail, and there was no way she wanted them to ever get out!

In the end, she had decided to wait in her apartment while he discovered the loss and wait until he cooled down before talking to him. She would tell him to resign his position and leave forever or she would tell the police. That way, she would be safe and he would be gone.

She decided to feign illness and leave work an hour early at the end of the day. That way, Colin would have no way of knowing about her plan. If she took the whole day off, it was likely that he would become suspicious and either follow her to see what she did or take the photos with him, suspecting what she was going to do.

If she had an hour extra, it would be plenty of time to search out the pictures and destroy them.

As planned, she gave Sylvie an excuse and headed back home at 4, confident that she had plenty of time to get into Colin apartment, search for the photos and get out again.

She already had her entry way planned, but the execution was a little more daunting than the theory. She lived on the third floor of the small apartment building, with Colin directly beneath her on the second floor. Her balcony was directly above his, and she thought it would be an easy matter to drop down onto his balcony from hers.

Now that she looked down to Colin’s balcony, slightly to the left of hers and therefore directly beneath her if she were to slide over the railings and drop down, it seemed farther away than before. If only she had a spare key to his apartment as he did for hers!

Bracing herself, and thanking her lucky stars that she had thought to change into pants, she swung one leg over the railing of her balcony. Had her apartment always been so high up? She wondered if she should drop a pillow or something down first to soften her landing, or use a sheet tied to the bars of her balcony to gently climb down. However, she
didn’t want to lose her nerve

or the short amount of time remaining to her.

She swung the other foot over the balcony and looked down. Colin’s balcony only protruded ever so slightly to the left, so there was mostly just an expanse of cold, hard ground, far below her.

Taking a deep breath, Matilda readjusted her position so that her knees were poking through the bars and her hands were at the base of her balcony. This was it. Now all she had to do was swing down and land on Colin’s balcony. If only she’d been more interested in gymnastics at school… Those singing lessons had been a stupid idea!

Closing her eyes wasn’t a very good idea given the circumstances, but Matilda did it
anyway. She unhooked her knees and extended her arms slowly, so that her legs were dangling downwards, hovering above Colin’s balcony. It was a good six foot drop still

if only she were taller! Her sister, if she ever chose to do anything so reckless, would have done far better. She was a good four inches taller than Matilda, who barely reached 5’3”.

It was at this point that Matilda began to reconsider her master plan.
She didn’t dare to look down

the thought of dangling from such a height made her dizzy, and dizziness was the last thing that she needed right now. If only she’d been sensible and used a sheet or something to climb down. At least then there might have been the possibility of climbing back up! As it was now, she was stuck. She couldn’t get back up even if she wanted to

her thin arms wouldn’t support her weight.

Her hands were beginning to ache from clinging to the ribbed metal. She knew that
she had to do it soon. There was no getting out of it. She was either going to land on the balcony, or this was all going to be over much sooner than she had expected.

With a quick prayer to anyone who might have been listening, Matilda let go.
For a moment she was suspended in mid-air, and she felt as if she had just jumped from the top of the cliff, falling down, down, until the grey sea came up to swallow her. After just a moment, though, she hit solid ground with a bump. She fell on all fours like a cat on the comfortingly solid surface of the balcony below, and breathed out a long sigh of relief. She had done it! It was such a good feeling after the impending panic

almost as if she had just finished a marathon or saved a kitten from a burning building. The adrenaline pumping through her was like a drug, and she had to remind herself that she had important work to do.

Pulling herself together with a quick shake, she got up off the ground, brushing herself off before turning to assess her surroundings. Like her balcony, Colin’s had a sliding door which led into his apartment. She had a sudden nasty feeling that perhaps it was locked. After all, Colin was trained in security, so he was probably a little more careful than her about keeping his apartment impenetrable.

She gave the door a cautious tug, wondering what she would do if it was locked

she could hardly sit around on the balcony waiting for Colin to come back, unless she was some sort of glutton for punishment.

To her relief, though, the door clicked op
en easily. As she had thought: nobody ever locked their balcony door. What was the point when the only thing that could reasonably break in was a highly skilled pigeon?

Had she just compared herself to a bird? Matilda shook her head, trying to pull herself together. This was an incredibly risky situation, and her entire future depended on it. It wasn’t the time to be thinking such irrelevant thoughts.

She made a quick sweep of the room with her eyes. The balcony was off Colin’s bedroom, and she had never been in here before, nor did she ever, ever want to be in here again. It was surprisingly disorderly for such a tidy man. There were clothes strewn over the floor, balled-up black socks tossed in the corner, and the bed was unmade. It was fine for her

she was only 20

but for a grown man, it was a little gross that he lived in such a mess.

She cast a glance at the ca
binets next to his messy bed. One drawer was slightly ajar, and the other was closed, but didn’t look as though it had a lock of any kind. Could he keep the photos in his bedroom, next to his bed? The implications of this made Matilda shudder, and for a moment she was tempted not to even look

she didn’t want to know what a man like Colin might keep in his bedside cabinets. She didn’t have a choice, though. Tentatively, she pulled open the drawers and rifled through the contents: some letters, a sleeping mask (she would have giggled if she wasn’t so tense) and a bottle of pills

she didn’t know what they were for, but they didn’t really help her.

In the other
drawer, she had similar luck

that was, no luck at all. A few chargers and adapters, but apart from that, nothing.

She knew that she had to be thorough in her search, so she quickly rifled through his clothes drawers, wishing that she had thought to bring rubber gloves.
Aside from a perplexing number of turtlenecks, she didn’t find anything which even hinted at the photographs.

Giving up on the bedroom, she went into the living room with a slight edge of urgency to her step. It was now almost 4:40, and
Colin would leave work at 5. She probably had another 30 minutes, 40 at most, until she had to get out of there.

She started on the coffee table, although she didn’t really think that he would leave the photos lying around in broad daylight. She did find a flash drive, which she slipped into her pocket to boot up later in order to check for the photos. Other than that, all she learnt was that Colin drank a lot of coffee, read extremely boring books and didn’t clean his coffee table nearly often enough.

Quickly checking under the sofa and on the bookshelf, Matilda satisfied herself that the photos were not in the living room. She moved on to the room she thought most likely to hold the thing she wanted: the study.

She had avoided this room until now because she knew that it would be obvious if she had rifled through his things in the study, whereas she thought that so far her search had been pretty non-invasive. She entered the room, and wondered how he had generated such an enormous stack of papers in under a month of being there.

She approached the desk with caution, as if there might be some guardian creature underneath ready to attack anyone who entered without permission. This was it. If the photos weren’t here, then she would have failed in her mission, and her life would essentially be over.

She went straight for the desk drawers. The first one contained
only the normal paraphernalia: stapler, pens, spare paper and a notepad with some passwords and other information scribbled in it.

She went down to the second drawer, hoping with all her strength that the photos would be
there. She tugged the handle, but the door wouldn’t budge!

A thrill of horror went through her as she realized that i
t was locked. This must be it

it had to be it! But where was the key?

If she was correct, then the key would probably be lingering somewhere nearby. It was only a small lock, and not many people bothered to keep the key somewhere secret. She remembered having a similar lock herself on her dresser back in England. Even though she kept her diary locked inside, the key could generally be found in one of the boxes on top.

Hoping that Colin was similarly careless

after all, he could hardly expect her to go so far as breaking into his apartment

she scoured the top of the desk for a key. There was nothing!

Matilda was beginning to panic now. It was almost 5, and s
he needed to get out of there

soon! She hovered for a moment, undecided, but finally came to a conclusion. Colin was going to know that she had broken into his apartment whether or not she got the photos, and she was positive that they must be in the drawer.

With all her strength, she wrenched at the drawer, causing the wood to splinter as the lock broke into pieces. Slightly dazed,
and surprised by her own strength, Matilda rifled through the draw desperately, terrified that she wouldn’t be able to locate the photos.

She almost cried with relief as she recognized the envelope Colin had shown her. Sighing in satisfaction, she quickly opened it up to check that they were the right photos. It seemed like they were all there. She tucked the photos under her arm, and was about to leave when a flash of silver caught her eye. Under a document, there was a small camera, a basic digital one, neither expensive nor remarkable.

Matilda’s heart skipped a beat. Could that be the camera he had used?!

She snatched up the camera and switched it on, searching through the photos saved on the camera. With a sickening lurch, she found herself looking at the photos of her and Damian. Mixed in with her anger was a tinge of regret as she saw how complete they looked together.
They looked contented, exulted; the perfect couple.

had almost missed the camera

how stupid of her. Taking it with her, she was satisfied that she had all the evidence she needed. There was no way Colin would be paranoid enough to have more copies elsewhere, right? The only other place they could be was on his computer, and he had clearly taken it with him to work. She hoped against hope that he wouldn’t have saved copies on his computer where anyone could see them.

Even if he had, there
was nothing she could do now. Perhaps she could destroy the laptop if it came to that. With her ill-gotten gains, Matilda checked the time

her heart leapt! Colin could be back any minute.

Without bothering to clean up

what was the point?

Matilda headed for the door, unlocking it from the inside and running upstairs to her own apartment. Only when the door was bolted behind her did she begin to feel better. Even so, her heart was thudding and she could hear her pulse in her ears. She had really done it now!

Immediately, Matilda set about destroying the photos. In a glass dish, she set fire to the envelope, watching as the photographs twisted and blackened.

As soon as they were unrecognizable, she grabbed the camera, selecting the ‘delete all’ option to make sure that every single photo was completely erased.

Her last step was to boot up her computer to take a look at the flash drive. It was completely blank except for a folder marked ‘Colin1’. Just in case, Matilda clicked on the folder. It was just full of boring documents. She breathed a sigh of relief, but also felt slightly guilty for taking the flash drive which had turned out to be innocent.

Now that she had destroyed the photos, Matilda felt mounting fear as well as some sense of relief. She was glad that the photos were gone

now she had the power to take control of her life again

but she was afraid of what Colin might do when he found out. She considered leaving

that way he would have cooled down by the time she came back

but what if he still had a copy of the photos somewhere? She had to stay and find out.

BOOK: Seduced (Royal Expat Series Book #1)
4.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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