A Royal Temptation(4)

By: Charlene Sands

 “Impressive. And do you work in your country?”

 “I’m based out of Los Angeles and New York. I don’t spend any time in Samforstand.”

 “That’s how it was for me. I worked out of Miami and New York, but now, Alma will be my permanent home. My duty is here and I will adjust. The country is beautiful, so it won’t be a hardship.”

 “Excuse me, Your Highness,” said a voice from behind the bench.

 “Yes?” Juan Carlos turned around.

 “I’m sorry to interrupt, but Chancellor Benoit has been called away and insists on saying his farewells to you personally. He is waiting in the antechamber.”

 “All right, thank you. Please tell the chancellor I will be in to see him shortly.”

 The man gave a curt nod and walked off.

 “Well, looks like duty calls. I’m sorry.” He rose and extended his hand. “Please save another dance for me tonight, Portia. There’s more I want to learn about...art advising.” He smiled.

 Her heart hammered. She didn’t know what to make of the cocoon-like hold he had on her. She’d only just met him and already he was wrapping himself around her thoughts with his silent compliments and easy ways. “I will.”

 She rose and he walked her back to the ballroom, depositing her exactly where he’d found her, beside Maria and Alex.

 “I will be back,” he said.

 Portia’s throat hitched and she nodded.

 “Looks like the king is smitten.” Maria kept her voice low enough for only Portia’s ears. She was sure Maria, a public relations expert and friend, had been instrumental in her receiving an invitation to the coronation and gala.

 “He’s being gracious, Maria.”

 Maria seemed to ignore her comment. “He’s a good man.”

 “Perfect for Alma. But not for me.” She was attracted to Juan Carlos. Any woman with blood running through her veins would be, but talk about high profile. You couldn’t get much higher, and that’s the last thing Portia needed in her life. It had taken her three years to climb out of the hole she’d dug for herself by getting involved with the Duke of Discourse, Travis Miles, LA’s favorite talk show host.

 Charming, debonair and controversial, he’d dragged her into his limelight from the start of their love affair to the bitter, heartbreaking end. Her career had suffered as the details of his neglect and wandering eye came into play. She’d almost lost all credibility with her clients. Luckily, she’d managed her way out of that situation, vowing to keep a low profile, stay in the small circle of the art world and not allow another high-profile charmer to get to her. And that included the king of Alma.

 “I don’t know about that,” Maria said, matter-of-factly.

 “I do,” she said, convincing herself of that very thing. “I have an important meeting in Los Angeles with a client in a few days.”

 “A lot could happen in a few days, Portia.”

 But the conversation ended when a nice-looking gentleman approached, introduced himself as Alma’s secretary of defense, and asked her to dance.

 Portia accepted, and as she was being led to the dance floor, shot an over-the-shoulder glance at Maria.

 Only to find Juan Carlos standing there, his gaze following her every movement.

 He had indeed come back for her.

 * * *

 Gnashing his teeth, Juan Carlos ran a hand down his face to cover the tightness in his jaw. Princess Portia had danced nonstop with three men since he’d returned from seeing Chancellor Benoit off. Every time Juan Carlos thought to approach, he was interrupted or summoned into a conversation with a group of dignitaries. He couldn’t fall short of his duties on his coronation day, yet the beautiful snow queen consumed his thoughts, and as he spoke with others, he kept one eye on Portia.

 Finally free from conversations, he had an aide approach the orchestra and suggest that they take a five-minute break. The music died instantly and Juan Carlos strode over to the table where Portia had just taken a seat. “Hello again.”

 Those startling blue eyes lifted to him. “Hello.”

 “I’m happy to see you having a good time.”

 “I am,” she said. “Would you like to sit down?”

 “I have a better idea.”

 Her eyes twinkled. “Really? What would that be?”

 He offered his hand again, hoping she’d take it. “Come with me and find out.”

 Her hesitation rattled his nerves. “Where?”

 “Trust me and I’ll show you.”

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