Loving The Princess
by AC Arthur
Book 2 in the Royal Weddings Series
To kiss a royal
As Grand Serenity’s goodwill ambassador, Princess Samantha DeSaunters lives a dazzling, high-profile life. Her own romantic dreams come second to her devotion to her island realm. Until she impulsively kisses a sexy stranger at a political gala. Now the reticent royal can’t get enough of Garrison Montgomery, the former soldier hired to keep her and the throne safe. But who’ll protect Sam from yearning to turn their mock courtship into the real thing?
In the Caribbean to run security for the ruling family, Gary instead finds himself caught up in a sizzling forbidden affair that could sabotage his mission. As he and Sam share passionate secret nights that make him forget about his past, the threat against the DeSaunterses escalates. Can Gary protect Sam from the enemies out to destroy the crown and hold on to the chance at happily-ever-after with his princess?
Loving The Princess
Book 2 in the Royal Weddings Series
Loving The Princess
His lips were hot. His tongue licking against hers like flames raging and spurting with energy. She tilted her head and he went deeper, his strong hands plastered against the skin left bare by the low cut of her dress. She felt like she was falling. No, he was tilting her back, leaning into the kiss with as much fervor and…dare she say, desire, as Sam felt bubbling up from the pit of her belly.
The world around her ceased to exist as he nibbled her bottom lip, only long enough for her to catch a breath before he delved deep once more. Her lipstick was done. Her hair, the careful topple of curls that had taken Lucie, her maid, an hour to arrange, were going to be a complete disaster. And she was certain—as was part of her ingenious plan—that everyone was staring at them.
Well, she hadn’t actually wanted everyone to see. Just Morty Javis and his persistent and unwelcome advances.
She still wasn’t one hundred percent certain doing what she had done was the best idea. Especially considering all eyes in Grand Serenity and a few of the neighboring islands were on her and the entire DeSaunters family right now. That’s what happened when there were several attempts on the lives of the royal family, one of which was an explosion at the palace six weeks ago that injured sixteen people who had been innocently attending the annual Ambassador’s Ball.
He was taking a step back now, his lips still on hers as he brought them both to an upright position. He pulled away slowly, so slowly Sam felt like she might have actually been following him to keep the contact going. When she opened her eyes it was to see that he was already staring at her.
Dark brown eyes, bushy brows and slightly parted lips of medium thickness that really had her thinking about going in for a second kiss. She didn’t. It was time to get her thoughts in line, if not her traitorous body, that wanted to stay right here in this man’s arms to enjoy more of his kisses, and possibly whatever else he had to offer.
Instead, she flattened her palms against the lapels of his suit jacket and prepared to step away. He held her firmly, halting that exit plan.
“Excuse me,” she said, her voice low, a tentative smile in place.
He didn’t even blink, but instead asked, “Is that what you normally say after kissing a complete stranger?”
“I—” she started to reply when Morty tapped him on the shoulder.
“Do you know who you’ve just accosted? I’ve taken the liberty of calling the palace guards, Your Highness,” Morty continued.
“This is the Princess Samantha DeSaunters. Her father will certainly have you jailed for daring to put your hands on her in such a familiar way, especially in this public forum.”
Morty continued to talk as he reached for Sam’s arm. That’s when things shifted.
His hand clenched Morty’s wrist only seconds before his fingers could touch Sam’s bare skin. The glare he gave was serious and intimidating as hell, even Sam’s heart skipped a beat at the intensity transmitted through that simple gaze.
“I’ll take good care of the princess,” he said, his voice deep and raspy.
“Guards!” Morty yelled.
Three guards appeared at that moment and everyone in the room that had not already been staring at them, was definitely on alert now.
“Wait a minute,” Sam started to say. “I can explain.”
“There is no need, Your Highness,” he told her.
He kept his hold on her, even when the guards approached. Sam was definitely concerned now. After the explosion her father and brothers had been adamant about increasing the palace security. She, thankfully, had been left out of most of those meetings. It wasn’t for lack of concern, Kris had told her, but because as Grand Serenity’s goodwill ambassador, it was imperative that she have a genuine smile and authentic enthusiasm for this island and the royal family at all times. If she were privy to all the safety issues and precautions, they feared she might not be as inviting to tourists or as engaging with the press. Without the tourists Grand Serenity’s economy would suffer.
Was she offended by their logic? No, the simple fact was she didn’t have time to be. This was not only her job, but her life and Sam took both very seriously.
So what the hell had she been thinking by walking up to this guy—regardless of how ruggedly handsome he was—and kissing him in front of everyone attending the Caribbean Counsel Dinner. Her gears were already switching toward damage control.
Her smile came quickly, naturally, as she touched the guy’s arm and laughed jovially.
“Don’t be silly, Morty. There’s no need for the guards especially since they already know—”
She’d intended to say his name and say something to the effect of him being an old friend, but she didn’t know his name.
“No, darling, they don’t know yet. Remember we decided to keep this our little secret,” he interrupted.
The guards stood a couple feet away, each of them making eye contact with him, but not coming any further. He didn’t smile, but he did pull her closer to him. Sam kept her smile intact, no matter how many questions were suddenly soaring through her mind.
“I would like to know what is going on,” Morty stated, his shoulders squared, dark eyes zooming in on her.
“It’s simple,” the guy answered for her, yet again. “Long distance relationships suck. Which is why we’ve decided to stop hiding. Isn’t that right, darling?”
“That’s…absolutely right…dear,” Sam managed to reply.
When he’d pulled her close she’d slipped an arm around his waist, her hand going flat against his chest. She leaned her head in closer as she realized they were definitely the center of attention and just as she smiled brighter, a camera flashed. Then another and another and before she knew what was happening, guests were clapping, the guards had disappeared and Morty looked like a cartoon character about to explode with fury.
If someone had told Gary a year ago, or hell, even an hour ago that he’d be in a delicious lip-lock with the Princess of Grand Serenity Island, he would have called them a bold-faced liar.
Now, half an hour after the kiss, when his body was still simmering with need, and his hand was still firmly braced on her hip, he told himself he’d done what he had to do. There had been no other choice. It was for the job. Yes, definitely for the sake of the job and nothing more.
“Darling Samantha, I am so excited for you,” a woman who Gary had earlier identified as Jacqueline Mahair, spoke enthusiastically.
Prime Minister Obari Mahair ruled a much smaller island south of the Bahamas. He was a seventy-five year old man with a protruding stomach and wiry gray hair, while his wife was much more glamorous with her large expressive eyes, plump glossy red coated lips and waist length blonde curls. The professional boob and butt job, not so cleverly masked in the black dress that hugged her like a second skin, weren’t nearly as loud of a statement as Jacqueline’s high-pitched twenty-three year old voice with its distinctly southern twang.
“I for one, would never have guessed you were hiding such a delectable hunk of hot chocolate from us all,” Jacqueline continued. “You have great taste in clothes and you’re a sly one.”
Jacqueline laughed as she stepped closer to Gary, her gaze fixated on him. It made him uncomfortable, but he knew it didn’t show. He was a trained sniper who could sit still for hours on end while waiting on a target, patience and deceit were two of his main traits.
“Thank you, Jacqueline,” Samantha said, her voice steady and controlled, as always. “I am so happy that you and Prime Minister Mahair could join us this evening. It is important for the counsel to remain united in sharing our culture with the world.”
She was back. It had only taken her a few seconds to adjust. Gary admired that about her. Princess Samantha DeSaunters was not easily ruffled, ever. In the months he’d been on Grand Serenity, Gary had watched this particular member of the royal family carefully. The fact that she was, hands down, the sexiest woman he’d ever seen, had nothing to do with that. It was his job and Gary always did his job.
“Well, you know, I finally talked Obari into letting me open my own restaurant on the island. It’s totally southern. I even stole my daddy’s cook to come down and show those stuffy guys with all their international degrees, how to properly prepare a good southern meal. You look like a man who was brought up on good old fashioned soul food, weren’t you? What’s your name and where are you from? I already know you’re American. They just don’t make ‘em like this anywhere else in the world.”
With that last comment Jacqueline looked Gary up and down, moving one step closer to him as she ran her long hot pink polished nails down his arm.
“I’m Gary and I’m from Cambridge, Maryland,” he replied.
“I’m sure visitors to your island will enjoy the offering of an American themed restaurant,” Samantha injected. “If you’ll excuse us, Gary and I should speak with my father and his fiancé before they retire for the evening.”
Her smile had been brighter than Jacqueline’s, much more targeted and landed with the polite and undeniable punch she’d intended as seconds later Samantha was guiding them easily away from the Prime Minister’s daring wife. They moved across the room, still encountering smiles and well-meaning nods from the guests. There were dignitaries here and members of the Caribbean Counsel, which was an organization of the ruling parties or their designated representatives of a majority of the Caribbean islands. It was formed five years ago, by the youngest member of the Counsel, Samantha DeSaunters.
Gary had a feeling she wanted them to find a spot alone to talk, or to regroup, may have been more like it. His announcement had thrown her off, even if for just a moment. However, she would never show it. Samantha was the epitome of refinement and never failed to control any situation she found herself in. He’d discovered that about her in the last few weeks. It was an enviable trait and one he thought she’d been thrust into cultivating. Through his many conversations with Kris, Gary had learned that Samantha was only five years old when their mother died. From that moment on she was, for all intent and purposes, the princess of Grand Serenity Island. It was a duty she’d honed and embraced for the next twenty years. Yet, in just four months, she would relinquish the bulk of her responsibilities to Malayka Sampson, the woman who was engaged to marry the reigning prince of Grand Serenity, Rafferty DeSaunters.
“Well, the couple of the hour,” Kris said quietly as he fell into step easily on Samantha’s other side.
They would be careful to keep their conversation low, their facial expressions jovial. Masks, Gary thought. This family was very good at wearing masks. He knew a little about that himself, so he didn’t judge.
“Had to think of something off the cuff,” Gary replied while being sure to watch who was around them as they moved to the farthest end of the room.
This official dinner might have been held in one of the ballrooms on the northern end of the palace, but that area was under construction after the damage from the explosion. They were still in a very formal dining area with floor to ceiling windows, sparkling gold chandeliers and enough clinking crystal to cause Gary slight discomfort. He hated social gatherings. Always had.
“However, I think it will serve a bigger purpose,” he finished.
“It was my fault,” Samantha added “I set it in motion because Morty was being an ass.”
She didn’t sound regretful, just annoyed. Gary wasn’t sure if that would be directed more to him and what he’d said as a follow-up to their kiss, or herself for initiating the kiss in the first place.
“There’s going to be lots of talk about this in the morning. Dad’s understandably distressed. Landry tried to smooth it over acting as if she knew about the secret affair. I’m not sure he’s buying that,” Kris continued, finishing just seconds before the three of them approached Prince Rafe, his fiancé and Landry.
The latter was Kris’s wife, the newest princess of the island. On a few of the times Gary had visited Kris’s private office he’d had the chance to talk with Landry. They were both American, which instantly gave them a lot to talk about. The fact that she’d actually worked closely with Malayka Sampson in the States as well as when they arrived on the island, was a bonus. Especially since Kris and Roland, the younger prince, suspected their soon-to-be stepmother was not everything she seemed.
“I expect you two have some explanations for me,” Rafe stated immediately upon their approach. “However, since your little announcement has created such an interest, I suggest we take this up tomorrow. In my office at ten.”
With that statement Rafe leaned in to kiss Samantha on her cheek. He gave a curt nod to Kris and, reluctantly Gary thought, to him. Then the prince took his fiancé’s hand and led them across the room where they began to extend their good nights to the guests.
“He’s not at all happy with you at the moment, Gary,” Landry said when the four of them were alone. “I don’t think he was ready to see his only daughter caught up in such a heated embrace, or to hear that she’d been having a secret affair.”
“I wasn’t terribly comfortable seeing or hearing that myself,” Kris said as he moved to stand beside his wife.
Kris would one day take Prince Rafe’s place as the head of this family and ruler of the island. He had been groomed for this role and possessed the same authoritative stance and temperament as his father. The past few weeks were the first time Gary had been able to make that comparison since when he’d met Kris they were both nineteen years old and freshmen in college.
“I needed to get Morty off my trail. I should have handled it better,” Samantha said.
She’d stepped away from him the moment they’d come close to Prince Rafe. Because the older monarch had been giving Gary a pretty lethal stare, he hadn’t made any attempt to keep his hands on the man’s daughter. No matter how much he missed the feel of her standing near him.
“You never told me Morty was a problem,” Kris stated.
Samantha shook her head. Strands of her long hair—which Gary couldn’t remember if they were lose before—moved softly over her shoulders with the motion. She wore a black lacy type dress that was just modest enough to hide a man’s favorites such as cleavage, but still painfully sexy as it left all sorts of sexual ideas to the imagination. Her heels were high, long legs alluring, and those eyes, that’s where it all came together. Well there and her mouth. That was it for him. Deep brown, expression-filled eyes and a wide and inviting mouth. Two things that up until tonight he’d been able to keep at a safe distance.
“It’s not an issue,” Samantha told her brother. “At least it won’t be anymore. I’ll take care of Morty and we’ll spin this—” She paused and looked over to Gary. “We’ll make this work to our advantage. I just need to see everyone off for the night and I’ll have a damage control plan in the morning.”
She would, Gary thought, because this was her job. She was the face of Grand Serenity, the personality that drew in tourists as well as business opportunities. Everything she said and did resulted in a gain for their island because she would have it no other way. So Gary had no doubt at all that she would come up with a way to make what had happened tonight work, not only for her personally, but for their family. She had no choice.
As for him and the job he’d been hired to do, he would have to be an intricate part of her plan. Whether she liked it or not.