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Authors: Nora Roberts

The Playboy Prince

BOOK: The Playboy Prince
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Nora Roberts

Hot Ice

Sacred Sins

Brazen Virtue

Sweet Revenge

Public Secrets

Genuine Lies

Carnal Innocence

Divine Evil

Honest Illusions

Private Scandals

Hidden Riches

True Betrayals

Montana Sky

Sanctuary

Homeport

The Reef

River’s End

Carolina Moon

The Villa

Midnight Bayou

Three Fates

Birthright

Northern Lights

Blue Smoke

Angels Fall

High Noon

Tribute

Black Hills

The Search

Chasing Fire

Series

Irish Born Trilogy

Born in Fire

Born in Ice

Born in Shame

Dream Trilogy

Daring to Dream

Holding the Dream

Finding the Dream

Chesapeake Bay Saga

Sea Swept

Rising Tides

Inner Harbor

Chesapeake Blue

Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

Jewels of the Sun

Tears of the Moon

Heart of the Sea

Three Sisters Island Trilogy

Dance Upon the Air

Heaven and Earth

Face the Fire

Key Trilogy

Key of Light

Key of Knowledge

Key of Valor

In the Garden Trilogy

Blue Dahlia

Black Rose

Red Lily

Circle Trilogy

Morrigan’s Cross

Dance of the Gods

Valley of Silence

Sign of Seven Trilogy

Blood Brothers

The Hollow

The Pagan Stone

Bride Quartet

Vision in White

Bed of Roses

Savor the Moment

Happy Ever After

The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

The Next Always

eBooks

The O’Hurleys

Skin Deep

Without a Trace

Dance to the Piper

The Donovan Legacy

Captivated

Entranced

Charmed

Enchanted

Cordina’s Royal Family

Affaire Royale

Command Performance

The Playboy Prince

Cordina’s Crown Jewel

Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb

Remember When

J. D. Robb

Naked in Death

Glory in Death

Immortal in Death

Rapture in Death

Ceremony in Death

Vengeance in Death

Holiday in Death

Conspiracy in Death

Loyalty in Death

Witness in Death

Judgment in Death

Betrayal in Death

Seduction in Death

Reunion in Death

Purity in Death

Portrait in Death

Imitation in Death

Divided in Death

Visions in Death

Survivor in Death

Origin in Death

Memory in Death

Born in Death

Innocent in Death

Creation in Death

Strangers in Death

Salvation in Death

Promises in Death

Kindred in Death

Fantasy in Death

Indulgence in Death

Treachery in Death

New York to Dallas

Anthologies

From the Heart
A Little Magic
A Little Fate

Moon Shadows
(with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

The Once Upon Series
(with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

Once Upon a Castle               Once Upon a Rose

Once Upon a Star               Once Upon a Kiss

Once Upon a Dream      Once Upon a Midnight

Silent Night
(with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)

Out of This World
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)

Bump in the Night
(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Dead of Night
(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Three in Death
Suite 606
(with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

In Death
The Lost
(with Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan)

The Other Side
(with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

The Unquiet
(with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

Also available. . .

The Official Nora Roberts Companion

(edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

THE PLAYBOY PRINCE

An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Harlequin Books edition / September 1987

InterMix eBook edition / January 2012

Copyright © 1987 by Nora Roberts.

Excerpt from
The Witness
copyright © by Nora Roberts.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-110-1-56821-7

INTERMIX

InterMix Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

INTERMIX and the INTERMIX design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For Tara Bell,

with hope that her wishes come true

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Epilogue

Excerpt from
The Witness

Chapter 1

The stallion plunged over the crest of the hill, digging hard into the earth and kicking up dust. At the peak, he reared, powerful forelegs pawing the air. For an instant, horse and rider were silhouetted against the bright afternoon sky. One looked as dangerous as the other.

Even as hooves touched earth, the rider’s knees pressed to the stallion’s side and sent them both recklessly racing down the sheer incline. The track there was smooth, but hardly gentle with a wall of rock on one side and a drop into space on the other. They took it at full speed and gloried in it.

Only a madman rode with such arrogant disregard for life and limb. Only a madman, or a dreamer.


Avant
, Dracula.” The command was low and challenging as was the laughter that followed. The tone was one of a man who considered fear a banquet and speed the wine.

Birds, startled by the thunderous pounding of hooves on dirt, flew from the trees and bushes on the cliff above to wheel screaming into the sky. Their noise was soon lost in the distance. When the path veered to the left, the stallion took it without a pause. The edge of the road gave way to cliffs that spilled sharply for seventy feet to the white rocks and blue sea. Pebbles danced off the dirt to shower soundlessly into the empty spaces.

The rider glanced down but didn’t slow. He never even considered it.

From that height, there was no scent of the sea. Even the sound of waves crashing was indistinct, like thunder far off and still harmless. But from that height, the sea held a danger and mystique all of its own. Every year she claimed her tribute in the lives of men. The rider understood this, accepted this, for so it had been since the beginning of time. So it would continue to be. At times like this he put himself in the hands of fate and backed his bet with his own skill.

The stallion needed no whip, no spur to drive him faster. As always, his master’s excitement and confidence
were enough. They tore down the twisting path until the sea roared in their ears and the cry of gulls could at last be heard.

To the onlooker, it might seem the horseman was fleeing from devils or racing to a lover. But anyone seeing his face would know it was neither.

If there was a gleam in the dark eyes, it wasn’t one of fear or anticipation. It was challenge. For the moment, and the moment only. Speed whipped the man’s dark hair as freely as the horse’s dark mane.

The stallion was fifteen hands of coal-black energy, wide at the chest, powerful at the neck. The horse’s hide glistened with sweat, but his breathing was strong and even. Astride him, the rider sat erect, his tanned, narrow face glowing. His mouth, full and sculpted, was curved in a smile that spoke of both recklessness and pleasure.

As the path leveled, the stallion’s stride lengthened. Here, they passed whitewashed cottages where clothes flapped on lines in the sea breeze. Flowers crowded for space in tidy lawns and windows were opened and unscreened. The sun, still high in the sky after noon, flashed its brilliant light. Without slackening, without needing his master’s light hands on the reins to guide him, the stallion sprinted for a hedge as high as a man’s waist.

Together, they soared over it.

In the distance were the stables. As there were danger and deadly attraction in the cliffs behind, so were there peace and order to the scene ahead. Red and white, and tidy as the lawns surrounding them, the buildings added another touch of charm to a landscape of cliffs and greenery. Fences crisscrossed to form paddocks where horses were being exercised with far less drama than Dracula.

One of the grooms stopped circling a young mare on a lead when he heard the stallion’s approach. Crazy as a loon, he thought—but not without grudging respect. This horse and this rider, merged together in a blare of speed, were a common sight. Even so, two grooms waited at attention for the stallion to slow to a halt.

“Your Highness.”

His Highness, Prince Bennett of Cordina slid off Dracula’s back with a laugh that echoed the recklessness.
“I’ll cool him down, Pipit.”

The old groom with the slight limp stepped forward. His weathered face was passive, but he passed his gaze over both prince and stallion, checking for any sign of harm. “Your pardon, sir, but a message came down from the palace while you were out. Prince Armand wishes to see you.”

BOOK: The Playboy Prince
6.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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