The news that wild socialite Veronica St. Germaine has cleaned up her act and stepped into her father's shoes as ruler of a Mediterranean principality creates a tabloid frenzy! But it's not just the paparazzi that are out for blood....
Duty demands that bodyguard Rajesh Vala must protect Veronica--whatever the cost.... But Veronica has always rebelled against commands, and she isn't making Raj's job easy!
He calls it safeguarding. She calls it being held captive at his beach house. Both realize that the attraction between them is inconvenient.... Veronica is forbidden, not for bedding!
The President of Aliz was hiding in the ladies' room.
Veronica St. Germaine lifted her head, frowning at her reflection in the mirror. She really should go back out there, but she was tired of smiling, tired of shaking hands and making small talk, tired of feeling desperate and overwhelmed and so very out of her element.
Yet she knew she had a job to do.
For Aliz. Her people needed her, and she would not fail them. They'd entrusted her with their welfare and she would not return empty-handed.
Momentarily, she would go back to the hotel ballroom and paste on a smile. Just as soon as she regained her center of calm.
She couldn't quite say what had triggered her need to escape. Perhaps it was the huge crush of curious faces, the suggestive looks from some of the men, or even the knowledge that she was surrounded by men in black suits who would dog her every step for the next two years of her life.
That was what she hated most of all--the loss of her autonomy. In truth, it sparked unpleasant associations she would rather forget. Until the age of eighteen, her life had been so tightly regimented that she'd not had even a single friend.
Veronica took a deep breath and pulled a lipstick tube from her purse. Another moment, and then she had to return to the elegant party.
She'd been traveling for the past two weeks, trying to drum up investment in her country. It wasn't an easy prospect. Aliz was beautiful, with beaches and coastline and balmy breezes, but it was also poor after so many years of mismanagement. Investors wanted to know that if they poured money into the country, it wouldn't be in vain.
She was here to convince them Aliz was a good bet.
And it was much more difficult than she'd anticipated. In so many ways, she wasn't prepared for this job. She'd said no to running for office, but Paul Durand--an old friend of her father's--had convinced her she was the person who could make everything right again.
She'd laughed at the idea--who was she to be president of a nation? She was famous in Aliz, but she was infamous the world over. There was a difference between the two, but Paul hadn't listened.
He'd spoken with such passion, such conviction. And he'd convinced her she was the one person who could do the most good for Aliz. Her notoriety, far from being undesirable, was an asset in the public arena.
She reminded herself of that now. She'd done many things wrong in her life, but she would do this right. Aliz needed her. And she was not the same person she'd been when she'd fled her father's house ten years ago.
Then, she'd been headstrong, selfish and a touch naive.
She'd been looking for adventure, and she'd done everything to excess once she'd escaped her father's control. It had been inevitable that she would become a bad girl, a diva, a spoiled debutante. Some would even include wanton seductress on that list, but all she would say was that she'd allowed herself the freedom to take lovers when it had suited her.
A dart of pain lodged beneath her breastbone. Her last relationship had not ended so well--though it wasn't the man who'd caused the pain that even now threatened to consume her.
If she stopped fighting for even a moment, the pain would win. Because it was her fault it had happened. Her fault the tiny life growing inside her had never had a chance.
She'd always felt impervious, as if no one could hurt her because she refused to let them, but she'd learned there were many kinds of hurt. Some hurts snuck up on you like a scorpion in the night and left you gasping and aching and wondering how you'd never known...