The Price of Royal Duty by Penny Jordan - Romance>Contemporary
Santina's rebellious princess Sophia made a shock exit from her brother's engagement party last night following the surprise announcement of her own arranged marriage. It seems Sophia did not favor the match...instead boldly stowing away on the magnificent Maharaja of Naipur's private jet!
Staff insiders to the charismatic maharaja, Ashok Achari, aren't denying the pair spent a wild night together before being caught on film on arrival in Mumbai....
Scandal is the last thing the Santina royals need right now--might this maharaja be persuaded into taking Santina's runaway princess as his wife?
'Ash.' Sophia Santina, youngest daughter of the King and Queen of the island of Santina, breathed the name silently to herself, almost reverentially. Just the feel of the nearly silent breath that whispered his name and caressed her throat was enough to raise erotic pinpricks of desire within her flesh. Ash. How the whispering of his name was enough to unleash within her an aching echo of the tumultuous teenage desires he had once aroused in her. The very air was electric with the reckless sensual excitement that wantonly flooded her, even though she had sworn she would not, positively not, allow herself to experience it.
She had known, of course, that he had been invited to her eldest brother's engagement party here at the castle that was their family home, but knowing that and actually seeing him with that strikingly sensual maleness of his that she remembered so well were two very different things.
She would have recognised him anywhere, just as she had done now merely from her brief glimpse of the back view of him as he walked into the ballroom and then turned to refuse a glass of champagne. Just the turn of his head, just the thick dark sheen of his hair and the way it curled into the nape of his neck, was enough to conjure up old memories. Memories of longing recklessly for the right to bury her fingers in its softness, curl them around its strands and then urge his mouth down to her own. A shudder of sensual awareness jolted through her. Some things never changed. A certain kind of need, a certain kind of desire, a certain kind of love.
First love? Surely only a fool believed that first love was an only love, and she prided herself on not being that. No, Ash had killed that tremulous, tender love when he had rejected her, telling her that she was a child still who was putting herself in danger by offering herself to a man of his age, that she was fortunate that his own sense of honour and the repugnance he felt at the very thought of taking what she offered meant that she was protected from him taking advantage of her naivety. Telling her that even if she had been older he would not have wanted her because he was wholly committed to someone else.
She had promised herself then that in future her love would only be given to a man who was worthy of it and who valued it and her. A man who loved her as much as she did him. And because of that promise to herself, she needed Ash's help now, no matter how much her pride reacted angrily against that need.
Putting down her virtually untouched drink, she started to walk towards him.
Standing in the packed ballroom in the castle on the Mediterranean island of Santina, the official residence and home of the royal family of Santina, Ashok Achari, Maharaja of Nailpur, frowned as his grim, obsidian gaze swept the scene in front of him. Beyond the open doors to the stunningly elegant ballroom with its crystal chandeliers and antique mirrors stood footmen wearing the livery of the royal family. An impressive dress-uniformed group of the king's own personal guard had been standing motionless in front of the castle in honour of the occasion and the guests. As a fellow royal, Ash had seen them salute him as the limousine that had picked him up from the airport had swept up to the main entrance. It was plain that no expense was being spared to celebrate the engagement of the king's eldest son and heir.
His fellow guests milled around him, and laughter and the sound of conversation filled the air.
Ash had gone to school with the groom-to-be, Alex, and they were still close friends. Even so, he hadn't wanted to attend this engagement party as he had more pressing...