Title: Pregnant with His Majesty’s Heir
Author: Annie West
Genre: Contemporary Romance
The father of her baby… Is none other than the king!
After the death of his beloved uncle and cousin, reluctant royal Lucien is seeking escape. Which he finds with an irresistible waitress who stokes an uncontrollable fire within him…
Her one reckless night with an unforgettable stranger leaves Aurelie a mother-to-be. She’s scandalized to discover her baby’s father is the brand-new king of Vallort! And as much as ordinary Aurelie can barely imagine her place in this opulent kingdom, she has no choice. She must confess all to Lucien and await His Majesty’s reaction…
‘You feel it too.’ His eyes held hers.
Aurélie felt trapped, caught by his bright gaze and disorientated by something within her that urged her to hold tight and not let go.
‘This.’ His hand squeezed hers and her breathing turned fluttery.
Aurélie stared back, overwhelmed by the need to stay connected. By a response to this man, this stranger, that was beyond anything she’d experienced.
‘I don’t understand you.’ An instinct for self-preservation prompted the words.
For a second longer she felt it, the thrill of contact, his flesh against hers, then he moved. Her hand fell to the red upholstery and the blaze inside died a little as he turned away. Not only turned but surged to his feet.
‘You’re right…That was a mistake.’ He forked his hand through his hair, pushing it back off his brow. Aurélie watched the mesmerising shift and play of his oblique muscles and others she couldn’t name, as he moved.
Her heart hammered to a stop so abruptly she felt sick, then it started up again, fast and erratic.
‘What are you doing?’ Aurélie was on her feet.
He didn’t look at her. He wore that closed expression she’d seen in the restaurant and out on the street.
‘Thanks for your hospitality, Aurélie. I appreciate it. Now it’s time I left.’
‘You can’t go.’ Her voice rose. ‘It’s not safe to drive and you haven’t got a place to stay.’
He shrugged and reached for his pullover. ‘I’ll sleep in the car. I have to leave.’
Aurélie stood before him, forcing him to look at her. When he did, the impact of that glittering stare rocked her back on her feet. Yet it was nothing to the urgent emotions within.
He paused, hands fisting in the dark wool, his bare chest rising sharply on a ragged breath.
‘Because I want you, Aurélie.’
He dragged in another breath that sawed loud in the silence while his words demolished something inside her.
‘I’ve wanted you from the first moment you smiled and led me to my table. I watched you walk in front of me, your scent fresh as spring, the sway of your hips, the perfect curves of your backside…even the damned swing of your ponytail beckoned me.’ His voice ground low, hitting a husky note that dragged through her like fingers raking velvet.
Lucien swallowed and she read urgency and mouth-drying hunger in the jerky action. It mirrored her own response to his words, his nearness. Her throat was parched, her heartbeat jagged and she felt strung out with anticipation.
Hadn’t she spent the evening fascinated? Wanting? Trying to pretend that she didn’t? Telling herself it was charity that led her to invite him here when from the first she’d been driven by another compulsion entirely?
‘I thought I could master it. Be civilised and grateful and walk away. I will be all those things,’ he added through clenched teeth, ‘but I have to go now.’
Her hand closed on his bare arm and he went rigid, his breath like the hiss of water on molten metal. Surprisingly soft hair tickled her palm. She felt corded muscle and heat and that singing, soaring sense of rightness.
‘I feel it too.’
‘What?’ Finally he swung his head to look at her.
‘I feel it. The connection. The…need.’ Aurélie swallowed against the emotions constricting her throat. ‘I don’t understand it. I don’t usually…’
She shook her head, bewildered by the strength of her feelings. Then, blessed relief, his other hand cupped her face, his touch fortifying and reassuring.
‘I don’t usually either.’
His expression was dead serious, despite the sexual tension twanging between them.
Aurélie lifted her chin. ‘I hadn’t realised how alone I felt until tonight. When you came…’ She paused, searching for words.
‘When I came, what, Aurélie?’
She could listen to him saying her name forever, in that smoke and suede voice that undid her every time.
‘I can’t explain.’
His thumb brushed her cheek, slowing to swipe her bottom lip. She shivered. It felt like a fine wire tightened between her mouth, her breasts and her womb.
‘Like there’s a link between us?’ he murmured.
‘As if I recognised you, knew you, though you’re a complete stranger.’ It was a relief to admit it, however crazy it sounded. Her hand tightened on his arm. She revelled in the connection, as if claiming him.
‘I feel the same.’ He shook his head, his expression grave. ‘I don’t want to leave, Aurélie. I want to be with you. Spend the night making love to you.’
Relief was a sigh of breath as her lungs emptied then refilled.
‘Yes.’ A smile trembled on her lips. ‘I want that too.’
Lightning flashed in his eyes and surely a jagged bolt struck her too. She felt the heat solder her feet to the floor.
‘Sweet Aurélie.’ He shook his head as if he couldn’t quite believe it. ‘You know I’m passing through. I won’t be back—’
‘Sh.’ Her finger on his lips stopped his words. ‘I know this is only for tonight.’ She hesitated a second then added, ‘I’m leaving here too. I don’t think I’ll return.’
It was the first time she’d said it out loud. It felt like crossing into unknown territory.
Whereas, remarkably, planning to have sex with a man she’d met just hours ago felt perfectly normal.
She needed this, needed Lucien with a force she couldn’t comprehend yet couldn’t doubt. Whatever the reason this was real and right.
For once she’d do something for herself, not because it was demanded by others. Just as, later, she’d move from the only town she’d known and begin the new life she’d dreamed about.
For one delicious moment, their gazes held and time stood still. Then Lucien bent his head and his mouth brushed hers, soft as a drifting snowflake, teasing her lips. Aurélie looped her arms around his neck and rose on tiptoe, responding, inviting, urging.
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What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
It has to be a long walk in the sunshine to clear my head, or reading a good book – I love losing myself totally in another world.
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It’s a Cinderella fairy tale for grownups. Well, Cinderella with a couple of twists. My heroine’s not very passive and there are no actual Cinders but it’s a very romantic, very sexy story set in a beautiful alpine kingdom where dreams might just come true. I loved diving into that world with these characters and I hope you do too!
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Annie fell in love with books before she could read for herself, and is still hooked. Her love of storytelling led her to swap drafting government reports for writing romance. She adores passionate, contemporary stories about sexy, powerful men and strong-minded women who shake up their world! She has more than fifty stories published and at last count had translations in twenty languages. She’s a USA Today Bestselling author and lives on the east coast of Australia, from where she is always planning her next research trip - so much more fun than housework!
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