A Royal Temptation(6)

By: Charlene Sands



 She heard the familiar Bruno Mars ringtone of her cell phone and grabbed it from the nightstand. Her assistant’s name popped up on the screen and she smiled. From the very beginning, her assistant had been her closest friend. “Hello, Jasmine.”

 “Hi, Portia. I hope I didn’t wake you?”

 “No, not at all. I’m getting ready to have brunch. It’s good to hear your voice.”

 “Did you survive the coronation?” Jasmine Farr never minced words. “I know you weren’t thrilled about attending.”

 “Actually, it wasn’t so bad.” The newly named king was quite a man. “And it’s my lot in life to attend these functions every so often.”

 “That’s what you get for being a princess.” She chuckled. “I saw some of the coronation on YouTube.”

 “That was fast.”

 “It always is. Anyway, I’m calling to tell you that Mr. Greenboro had to cancel your meeting this week. He’s flying out of the country and won’t be back for three months. He sends his apologies, of course, and he did reschedule. I hope it’s okay that I took the liberty of making that appointment. I didn’t think you’d want to let him get away.”

 “Oh, I’m disappointed. I’d set the entire week aside to work with him, but I’m glad you’re on the ball and rescheduled with him. Text me that date and I’ll mark it on my calendar.”

 “Will do. So, now you don’t have to rush back. There’s really nothing else going on this week.”

 “Right.”

 “You’ve worked hard these past few months and you’ve been meaning to pencil in a vacation. Seems like a perfect opportunity.”

 “It is beautiful here.”

 “From the pictures I’m seeing, the beaches are to die for. I wish I could join you. I’d come in an instant.”

 “Why don’t you come? We could have spa days together.”

 “I can’t. I’m flying to Maryland for my cousin’s wedding at the end of the week. “

 “I’d forgotten about that. Darn.”

 “But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay on. I can book you a villa suite in Playa del Onda. The beach resort is top notch. You’ll get lots of R&R.”

 “Let me think about it. I’ll get back to you later on today.”

 After she ended the call, she stripped off her pajamas and entered the shower. The pounding water rained down and woke her up to the possibility of an actual vacation: away from phones, away from the hectic pace of gallery openings, away from the pressures of making art selections for her obscenely rich or drastically eccentric clients. Her schedule was a busy one, and this did seem like a perfect opportunity to unwind.

 When she was finished with her shower, she slipped into a white dress with red polka dots that belted at the waist, slid on navy patent leather shoes and tossed her hair up into a ponytail. She applied light makeup, including eyeliner and soft pink lip gloss.

 The jewelry she chose was delicate: a thin strand of pearls around her neck and wrist. She fastened her watch on her left arm and noted the time. Juan Carlos was sending a car for her in ten minutes. She grabbed her purse and left the hotel room.

 In the lobby, she was greeted by a uniformed driver who escorted her to an ink-black limousine. She played the role of princess well, but she would rather be wearing a pair of jeans and going to the local café for a bite of breakfast.

 “Your Highness,” the driver said, as he opened the door for her, “allow me.”

 She slid into the backseat and bumped legs with Juan Carlos. Her breath hitched in her throat. He took in her wide-eyed surprise and grinned. “Good morning, Portia.”

 “Excuse me, but I didn’t expect you to come to pick me up.”

 Should she worry about the implications? This wasn’t a date. At least, not in any real sense.

 “It’s a nice morning for a drive. After yesterday’s events, I thought you might like to join me to see some of the city. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve changed our brunch plans for today.”

 He wore dark slacks and a casual white silk shirt, opened slightly at the collar. She glimpsed his tanned chest and gulped for air.

 “Of course not.”

 “Great. You look very pretty this morning.”

 “Thank you.” And you look dynamic, powerful and gorgeous.

 He issued directions to the driver and they took off.

 “How were your first twenty-four hours as king?” she asked.

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