Forced Wife, Royal Love-Child

By: Trish Morey

So many sensations, building one upon the other, a frenzy of feeling that threatened to consume her whole. And then he was lifting her, urging her legs around his waist, only to lower her slowly down until she felt his rock-hard length nudge at her core, and it was her turn to consume him.

He made a sound as he filled her, harsh like the cry of a wounded animal, as if it had been torn from his soul, and she clung to him, afraid for him.

Afraid for herself.

And then he was pumping into her, so fast and furious that sensation exploded inside her like a fireball. She was falling then, his arms still locked around her, barely aware of what was happening when her back met the rumpled bed and he lifted himself, easing out of her until he sat poised there, at the very brink. Through eyes still blurred with passion she looked up at him, looked into his wild eyes and saw the agony that marked his beautiful face and read the words inscribed on her soul—it was already too late—when with a roar he thrust into her, burying himself to the hilt again and again in a final turbulent release that sent her shuddering into the abyss once more.

It was his voice that brought her back to life, the low, urgent tones as he spoke into the phone rumbling through her like a passing thundercloud, but it was a glance at the clock that catapulted her to full consciousness and back into the bathroom to dress.

He barely noticed her go, his attention almost one hundred per cent on the words his business partner was saying. Yannis Markides, one of the few people on the planet who knew the truth of Rafe’s background and the identity of his father, knew more than anyone what the television reports would mean to him.

‘You have to go,’ Yannis urged. ‘It’s your duty.’

‘Now you’re sounding just like Sebastiano. He’s already in Paris, apparently, and on his way. He certainly didn’t waste any time hunting me down.’

‘Sebastiano’s right to do so. Without you, Montvelatte will cease to exist. Do you want to be responsible for that?’

‘I’m not the only one. There’s Marietta too—’

‘And the day you drop something like this on the shoulders of your little sister, is the day you lose me as a friend. Anyway, you know law dictates it must be a male heir. This is your call, Raphael, your duty.’

‘Even if I go, there’s no guarantee I can save it. The island is a financial basket case. You heard the reports—Carlo and Roberto and their cronies have drained the economy dry.’

There was a deep laugh at the end of the line. ‘And this isn’t what you and I do for a living every day? Bring the fiscally dead back to life?’

‘Then you go, if you’re so concerned. I like my life just the way it is.’ It was the truth. He’d worked hard to get where he was, taking on the hardest projects out there and proving to himself time and again he was up to the task. And he’d proven something else to himself—that he didn’t need to be royalty to be someone.

‘But it’s not up to me, Rafe. You’re the son, the next in line. There is nobody else who can do what you have to do.’ There was a pause. ‘Besides, don’t you think it’s what your mother would have wanted you to do?’

Rafe should have known Yannis would hit below the belt. They’d grown up so close he was better than any brother could ever be. The downside was he also knew how to hit hard and to hit where it hurt the most. He wasn’t about to admit that fact, though he couldn’t deny another truth. ‘I’m just glad she died before she found out his death had been organised by his own sons.’

‘Not all of his sons,’ Yannis corrected. ‘There’s still you.’

He laughed, short and hard. ‘That’s right. The bastard son. The son he exiled along with his bastard’s mother and baby sister. Why should I go back to bail out his island nation? It’s sickening what happened to him, sickening that his own sons conspired against him. But why should I be the one to pick up the pieces? I hate what happened to him, but I don’t owe him a thing.’

‘Why should you be the one? Because Montvelattian blood flows in your veins. This is your birthright, Rafe. Seize it. If not for your father’s sake, then for your mother’s.’

Rafe shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. Yannis knew him too well, knew he felt no loyalty for a father who had never been more than a name to him, and who had discarded his own son and the woman who had borne him as easily as if he’d been brushing lint off his jacket. Even the knowledge that his death had not been an accident didn’t cause Rafe any pangs of loss. It was impossible to lose something you’d never had, and Prince Eduardo had never been part of his life.

But his mother was a different matter. Louisa had loved Montvelatte and had talked endlessly of scented orange groves, of colourful vines, of herb bushes tangy with the spray of sea, and of mountainsides covered with flowers amidst the olive trees that she would never see again.

She’d never forgotten the small island nation that had been her home for twenty-one years and that had spat her out, sending her into exile for the rest of her too short existence.

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