A Royal Temptation(2)

By: Charlene Sands



 “You were a year older and that gave you bullying rights.”

 “Okay, guilty as charged. But now you can have me hung by the neck until dead.”

 “I could’ve done that to you back then, too.”

 “Ha, funny.”

 “Call me Juan Carlos or cuz, just like you do now. Your Highness comes into play only on formal occasions or royal business.”

 All amusement on his cousin’s face disappeared. “Seriously, Juan Carlos, congratulations. The family is proud of you. You’re the only one of the lot who was cut out for this. You are honoring our aunt Isabella’s final wishes by restoring the monarchy.”

 Juan Carlos came to the throne quite by accident, after Bella discovered a secret cache of letters that revealed Rafe, Gabriel and Bella’s late grandfather, Raphael Montoro II, was illegitimate and not the true heir to the throne. As such, neither of Juan Carlos’s cousins would have been the rightful king. The former queen’s indiscretion had been kept hidden all these years until her great-grandchildren had uncovered it.

 “Thank you, cousin. I’ve thought about my grandmother these past few weeks and I think she would approve. It means a great deal to me.” He sighed. “I hope to make a diff—” He caught a glimpse of a woman in blue and craned his neck to get a better look.

 It was her. She was attending the gala. Only dignitaries, friends and family members along with the royal photographers and journalists had been invited to the party, two hundred strong.

 “Hey,” Rafe asked. “What are you stretching your neck to see?”

 “She’s here,” he muttered, without shifting his gaze. She was standing near an archway leading to the foyer, looking to make an escape.

 “Juan Carlos?”

 “Oh, uh, I saw a woman at the coronation and I haven’t stopped thinking about her.”

 “This I’ve got to see. Any woman who can take your mind off a day as big as this has got to be something special. Where is she?”

 “I’m not going to point. Just look for the most beautiful woman in the room and you’ll find her.”

 “Emily is right there, talking to Bella.”

 “Spoken like a besotted newlywed. Okay, yes, Emily is gorgeous, now find a woman in blue who is not your wife.”

 “If you’d agreed to a formal receiving line, you’d have met her already.”

 He hadn’t wanted a stiff, awkward line of people congratulating him. He’d make his way over to his guests and speak with them during the course of the evening. He’d vowed to be a king of the people and for the people and that started right now. “Do you see her?”

 “Ah, I do see her now. Very blonde, nice body, great eyes.”

 “That’s her. Do you know who she is?”

 “No, but apparently she knows Alex and Maria Ramon. They just walked up to her and they appear friendly.”

 “Well, then, I think it’s time I spoke with Alma’s deputy prime minister of commerce and his wife, don’t you?”

 Juan Carlos moved swiftly across the ballroom and as he approached, Alex spotted him and smiled. “Your Highness.” Juan Carlos nodded. It would take some time getting used to that greeting.

 Maria, not one to stand on ceremony, hugged his neck. She and Alex had just married and postponed their honeymoon to attend the coronation. “I’m happy to see this day, Your Highness. You are just what Alma needs.”

 “Thank you, Maria.”

 As he made eye contact with the blonde woman, it felt as if something quick and sharp had pierced his body. Her eyes were large, shaped like perfect twin almonds, the sparkle in them as bright as any star. Mesmerized, he couldn’t look away.

 “And please, let me introduce you to Portia Lindstrom, Princess of Samforstand.”

 Princess?

 She could have his children.

 Juan Carlos offered her his hand and at the touch of her delicate palm, he once again felt that quick, sharp sensation. “Nice to meet you, Princess. I’m glad you could make the coronation. It’s a good day for Alma, I hope.”

 “I’m sure it will be, Your Majesty. And please, call me Portia.”

 “I will,” he said. “If you call me Juan Carlos.”

 A pink cast tinged her porcelain skin. “I couldn’t.”

 “Why not?”

 “Because, you’re the king.”

 “I’ll let you in on a secret. Up until a few months ago, I was living in Miami and running a rather large business conglomerate. I’m afraid I still have American ties and king is not in their vocabulary, unless we’re talking about Elvis.”

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