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Time is running out for Prince Vittorio. His father’s health is failing and he must find a royal bride. Fast. He’s never forgotten his glimpse of a beautiful Scandinavian princess and lures her to his Mediterranean country with an invitation to his father’s birthday ball. He’d planned to propose a marriage agreement as cold as her icy reputation, but then he discovers she’s as colorful and warm as a summer sunset. The heat between them flares red-hot and when she allows him to seduce her, Vittorio sees his future unfolding just as he had planned. But what he doesn’t know is that the woman in his bed is not a princess at all.
The last thing schoolteacher Mia Holmberg expects when she masquerades as her royal cousin is to be swept off her feet by a charming prince. The incredible night in Vittorio’s arms is like a fairy tale come true, but she’d never want the life of a real princess, with all its pomp and politics. Knowing they can never have a future together, she slips out of his bed and back to reality, where she belongs.
But Vittorio discovers the deception and kidnaps Mia back to his palace, demanding she be his mistress until the real princess appears. Despite her attempts to stay aloof, Mia soon learns there’s more to the prince than arrogance and attitude, but now she’s in danger of falling in love with a man she can never have.
Mia sipped her champagne and tried not to be affected by the man sitting next to her. He was so…so everything. Charming. Gorgeous. Commanding. Seductive. One dance and she hadn’t been able to control her reaction to him. What had made her press against him like that?
To rub against his obvious erection? With a man she’d only known a few minutes. She was certain even Birgitte wouldn’t have been that forward.
She’d had to get off the dance floor, had to get out of his arms before she did something outrageous like beg him to take her to some dark corner and ease the ache he was causing within her. But tonight she was Birgitte. No free pass at this ball. She had to act the princess.
But she longed to be out on the dance floor again. The music was so stirring. She found herself swaying with the beat of the song. The ballad was one she didn’t recognize, one she’d certainly never heard back home. The melody called to her on a visceral level. There was no logical reason why. Music was that way sometimes. It couldn’t have anything to do with Vittorio.
“What are you thinking?” he asked softly, leaning over to murmur the question softly in her ear.
“Simply enjoying the music,” she replied, trying to ignore the delightful shiver caused by the whisper of his warm breath along her skin.
He slipped his arm over the top of her chair, letting his fingers brush her bare shoulders.
Just a simple touch like that sent her heart racing. “Would you like to dance again?” he asked in a seductive tone that suggested he might be talking about more than just a dance.
“I’m not sure I dare,” she admitted, keeping her gaze on the musicians.
“Oh?” With one finger, he touched her chin and turned her face his way. He shot her a wickedly sexy grin. “You don’t seem to be the type to back away from a challenge.”
She leaned back against his warm arm. She couldn’t help herself. “So I should consider another dance with you as a challenge?”
One lazy finger traced circles on her bare shoulder, teasing a shiver to run along her skin. “For me, the challenge will be pretending I have no more interest in you than any other guest at the palace tonight.”
Mia swallowed to moisten her suddenly dry mouth. Pretending she was Birgitte made it slightly easier for her to hold his gaze and slowly smile. “And what interest do you have in the princess of Stagatland?”
“I assure you, my interest in you is strictly as a beautiful, enticing woman. That you are the lovely princess is simply an additional benefit.”
She knew better. He wouldn’t be flirting with her if he knew she was a commoner, no one of importance. If he ever saw her in her usual outfits, the bulky sweaters and heavy boots, he wouldn’t look at her twice. The knowledge should have upset her, but it had been a fact of life for her since she was old enough to realize that her cousin was treated differently than she was. Mia had always had to step back and let Birgitte have all the attention, no matter if it was a royal affair or simply a family gathering.
To be called beautiful and enticing by such a handsome, charming man gave her often bruised ego a boost. What harm would it do to soak up an easy compliment? He probably tossed them away like crumbs to the birds. A man such as Prince Vittorio surely had had his choice of beautiful women over the years. He knew how to charm. Seduce. She told herself she could enjoy it without making more of it than what was intended.
Birgitte would probably take the compliment as her due. No sense gushing over the flattering remarks. She was a princess. Act like it, she admonished herself.
“I suppose I could take a chance and join you on the dance floor once more,” she said, trying to keep her tone light and flirty, and not betray the fact that she was aching to be back in his arms again.
“I like a woman who’s willing to take a risk.” The faint lines at the corners of his eyes crinkled with his smile and she wanted to reach out and brush her finger over them. Oh, she liked him. More than she should.
Grab the moment, Mia. Tomorrow you’ll be back home, shivering from the freezing cold instead of the arousing touch of a handsome prince.
Vittorio rose and graciously helped her to her feet. His commanding presence threatened to take her breath away. How could she resist him at all?
Natasha Moore fell in love with the written word as soon as she could read. As she grew up, she discovered romance and now enjoys the chance to add some extra sizzle to her stories. She writes sexy contemporary and erotic romance because she believes that stories of love and hope are important, and that there’s nothing better than a happy ending. She lives in New York State with her husband, her real life hero who is happy to tell everyone that he’s her inspiration.
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