Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Cordina's Royal Family Collection

Nora Roberts

  Cordina’s Royal Family Collection

  Affaire Royale: Cordina's Royal Family

  Command Performance: Cordina's Royal Family

  The Playboy Prince: Cordina's Royal Family

  Cordina's Crown Jewel: Cordina's Royal Family

  Nora Roberts

  Table of Contents


  Title Page

  Affaire Royale: Cordina's Royal Family

  Command Performance: Cordina's Royal Family

  The Playboy Prince: Cordina's Royal Family

  Cordina's Crown Jewel: Cordina's Royal Family

  Nora Roberts

  Hot Ice

  Sacred Sins

  Brazen Virtue

  Sweet Revenge

  Public Secrets

  Genuine Lies

  Carnal Innocence

  Divine Evil

  Honest Illusions

  Private Scandals

  Hidden Riches

  True Betrayals

  Montana Sky



  The Reef

  River’s End

  Carolina Moon

  The Villa

  Midnight Bayou

  Three Fates


  Northern Lights

  Blue Smoke

  Angels Fall

  High Noon


  Black Hills

  The Search

  Chasing Fire


  Irish Born Trilogy

  Born in Fire

  Born in Ice

  Born in Shame

  Dream Trilogy

  Daring to Dream

  Holding the Dream

  Finding the Dream

  Chesapeake Bay Saga

  Sea Swept

  Rising Tides

  Inner Harbor

  Chesapeake Blue

  Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy

  Jewels of the Sun

  Tears of the Moon

  Heart of the Sea

  Three Sisters Island Trilogy

  Dance Upon the Air

  Heaven and Earth

  Face the Fire

  Key Trilogy

  Key of Light

  Key of Knowledge

  Key of Valor

  In the Garden Trilogy

  Blue Dahlia

  Black Rose

  Red Lily

  Circle Trilogy

  Morrigan’s Cross

  Dance of the Gods

  Valley of Silence

  Sign of Seven Trilogy

  Blood Brothers

  The Hollow

  The Pagan Stone

  Bride Quartet

  Vision in White

  Bed of Roses

  Savor the Moment

  Happy Ever After

  The Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy

  The Next Always


  The O’Hurleys

  Skin Deep

  Without a Trace

  Dance to the Piper

  The Donovan Legacy





  Cordina’s Royal Family

  Affaire Royale

  Command Performance

  The Playboy Prince

  Cordina’s Crown Jewel

  Nora Roberts & J. D. Robb

  Remember When

  J. D. Robb

  Naked in Death

  Glory in Death

  Immortal in Death

  Rapture in Death

  Ceremony in Death

  Vengeance in Death

  Holiday in Death

  Conspiracy in Death

  Loyalty in Death

  Witness in Death

  Judgment in Death

  Betrayal in Death

  Seduction in Death

  Reunion in Death

  Purity in Death

  Portrait in Death

  Imitation in Death

  Divided in Death

  Visions in Death

  Survivor in Death

  Origin in Death

  Memory in Death

  Born in Death

  Innocent in Death

  Creation in Death

  Strangers in Death

  Salvation in Death

  Promises in Death

  Kindred in Death

  Fantasy in Death

  Indulgence in Death

  Treachery in Death

  New York to Dallas


  From the Heart

  A Little Magic

  A Little Fate

  Moon Shadows

  (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

  The Once Upon Series

  (with Jill Gregory, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Marianne Willman)

  Once Upon a Castle Once Upon a Rose

  Once Upon a Star Once Upon a Kiss

  Once Upon a Dream Once Upon a Midnight

  Silent Night

  (with Susan Plunkett, Dee Holmes, and Claire Cross)

  Out of This World

  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Susan Krinard, and Maggie Shayne)

  Bump in the Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Dead of Night

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Three in Death

  Suite 606

  (with Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  In Death

  The Lost

  (with Patricia Gaffney, Mary Blayney, and Ruth Ryan Langan)

  The Other Side

  (with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  The Unquiet

  (with Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan, and Mary Kay McComas)

  Also available…

  The Official Nora Roberts Companion

  (edited by Denise Little and Laura Hayden)


  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

  (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


  An InterMix Book / published by arrangement with the author


  Harlequin Books edition / April 1986

  InterMix eBook edition / January 2012

  Copyright © 1986 by Nora Roberts.

  Excerpt from The Witness copyright © by Nora Roberts.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ISBN: 978-110-1-56819-4


  InterMix Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  INTERMIX and the INTERMIX design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  To Marianne Willman

  because she understands fairy tales

  Table of Contents


  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12


  Excerpt from The Witness


  She’d forgotten why she was running. All she knew was that she couldn’t stop. If she stopped, she’d lose. It was a race where there were only two places. First and last.

  Distance. Every instinct told her to keep running, keep going so that there was distance between her and … where she’d been.

  She was wet, for the rain was pounding down, but she no longer jumped at the boom of thunder. Flashes of lightning didn’t make her tremble. The dark wasn’t what frightened her. She was long past fear of such simple things as the spread of darkness or the violence of the storm. What she feared wasn’t clear any longer, only the fear itself. Fear, the only emotion she understood, crawled inside her, settling there as if she’d known nothing else. It was enough to keep her stumbling along the side of the road when her body screamed to lie down in a warm, dry place.

  She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know where she’d been. There was no memory of the tall, wind-whipped trees. The crash and power of the sea close by meant nothing, nor did the scent of the rain-drenched flowers she crushed underfoot as she fled along the side of a road she didn’t know.

  She was weeping, but unaware of it. Sobs wracked her, clawing at the fear, doubling it so that it sprinted through her in the absence of everything else. Her mind was so clouded, her legs so unsteady. It would be easy to simply curl up under one of those trees and give up. Something pushed her on. Not just fear, not just confusion. Strength—though one wouldn’t guess it to look at her, though she herself didn’t recognize it—drove her beyond endurance. She wouldn’t go back to where she’d been, so there was no place to go but on.

  How long she’d been running wasn’t important. She’d no idea whether it’d been one mile or ten. Rain and tears blinded her. The lights were nearly on her before she saw them.

  Panicked, like a rabbit caught in the beams, she froze. They’d found her. They’d come after her. They. The horn blasted, tires squealed. Submitting at last, she crumpled onto the road, unconscious.

  Chapter 1

  “She’s coming out of it.”

  “Thank God.”

  “Sir, you must step back for a moment and let me examine her. She may just be drifting again.”

  Over the mists she was swimming in, she heard the voices. Hollow, distant. Fear scrambled through her. Even in her half-conscious state her breath began to catch. She hadn’t escaped. But the fear wouldn’t show. She promised herself that. As she came closer to the surface, she closed her hands into tight fists. The feel of her fingers against her palms gave her some sense of self and control.

  Slowly she opened her eyes. Her vision ebbed, clouded, then gradually cleared. So, as she stared into the face bending over her, did the fear.

  The face wasn’t familiar. It wasn’t one of them. She’d know, wouldn’t she? Her confidence wavered a moment, but she remained still. This face was round and pleasant, with a trim, curling white beard that contrasted with the smooth, bald head. The eyes were shrewd, tired, but kind. When he took her hand in his, she didn’t struggle.

  “My dear,” he said in a charming, low-key voice. Gently he ran a finger over her knuckles until her fingers relaxed. “You’re quite safe.”

  She felt him take her pulse, but continued to stare into his eyes. Safe. Still cautious, she let her gaze wander away from his. Hospital. Though the room was almost elegant and quite large, she knew she was in a hospital. The room smelled strongly of flowers and antiseptics. Then she saw the man standing just to the side.

  His bearing was militarily straight and he was impeccably dressed. His hair was flecked with gray, but it was still very dark and full. His face was lean, aristocratic, handsome. It was stern, she thought, but pale, very pale compared to the shadows under his eyes. Despite his stance and dress, he looked as though he hadn’t slept in days.

  “Darling.” His voice shook as he reached down to take her free hand. There were tears under the words as he pressed her fingers to his lips. She thought she felt the hand, which was strong and firm, tremble lightly. “We have you back now, my love. We have you back.”

  She didn’t pull away. Compassion forbade it. With her hand lying limply in his, she studied his face a second time. “Who are you?”

  The man’s head jerked up. His damp eyes stared into hers. “Who—”

  “You’re very weak.” Gently the doctor cut him off and drew her attention away. She saw him put a hand on the man’s arm, in restraint or comfort, she couldn’t tell. “You’ve been through a great deal. Confusion’s natural at first.”

  Lying flat on her back, she watched the doctor send signals to the other man. A raw sickness began to roll inside her stomach. She was warm and dry, she realized. Warm and dry and empty. She had a body, and it was tired. But inside the body was a void. Her voice was surprisingly strong when she spoke again. Both men responded to it.

  “I don’t know where I am.” Beneath the doctor’s hand her pulse jerked once, then settled. “I don’t know who I am.”

  “You’ve been through a great deal, my dear.” The doctor spoke soothingly while his brain raced ahead. Specialists, he thought. If she didn’t regain her memory in twenty-four hours, he’d need the best.

  “You remember nothing?” The other man had straightened at her words. Now, with his ramrod stance, his sleep-starved eyes direct, he looked down at her.

  Confused and fighting back fear, she started to push herself up, and the doctor murmured and settled her back against the pillows. She remembered … running, the storm, the dark. Lights coming up in front of her. Closing her eyes tight, she struggled for composure without knowing why it was so important to retain it. Her voice was still strong, but achingly hollow when she opened them again. “I don’t know who I am. Tell me.”

  “After you’ve rested a bit more—” the doctor began. The other man cut him off with no more than a look. And the look, she saw at a glance, was both arrogant and commanding.

  “You’re my daughter,” he said. Taking her hand again, he held it firmly. Even the light trembling had stopped. “You are Her Serene Highness Gabriella de Cordina.”

  Nightmare or fairy tale? she wondered as she stared up at him. Her father? Her Serene Highness? Cordina … She thought she recognized the name and clung to it, but what was this talk of royalty? Even as she began to dismiss it, she watched his face. This man wouldn’t lie. His face was passive, but his eyes were so full of emotion she was drawn to them even without memory.

  “If I’m a princess,” she began, and the dry reserve in her voice caused a flicker of emotion to pass
over his face briefly. Amusement? she wondered. “Does that make you a king?”

  He nearly smiled. Perhaps the trauma had confused her memory, but she was still his Brie. “Cordina is a principality. I am Prince Armand. You’re my eldest child. You have two brothers, Alexander and Bennett.”

  Father and brothers. Family, roots. Nothing stirred. “And my mother?”

  This time she read the expression easily: pain. “She died when you were twenty. Since then you’ve been my official hostess, taking on her duties along with your own. Brie.” His tone softened from the formal and dispassionate. “We call you Brie.” He turned her hand up so that the cluster of sapphires and diamonds on her right hand glimmered toward her. “I gave you this on your twenty-first birthday, nearly four years ago.”

  She looked at it, and at the strong, beautiful hand that held hers. She remembered nothing. But she felt—trust. When she lifted her eyes again, she managed a half smile. “You have excellent taste, Your Highness.”

  He smiled, but she thought he was perilously close to weeping. As close as she. “Please,” she began for both their sakes. “I’m very tired.”

  “Yes, indeed.” The doctor patted her hand as he had, though she didn’t know it, since the day she’d been born. “For now, rest is the very best medicine.”

  Reluctantly Prince Armand released his daughter’s hand. “I’ll be close.”

  Her strength was already beginning to ebb. “Thank you.” She heard the door close, but sensed the doctor hovering. “Am I who he says I am?”

  “No one knows better than I.” He touched her cheek, more from affection than the need to check her temperature. “I delivered you. Twenty-five years ago in July. Rest now, Your Highness. Just rest.”

  Prince Armand strode down the corridor in his quick, trained gait, as a member of the Royal Guard followed two paces behind. He wanted to be alone. God, how he wanted five minutes to himself in some closed-off room. There he could let go of some of the tension, some of the emotion that pulled at him. His daughter, his treasure, had nearly been lost to him. Now that he had her back, she looked at him as though he were a stranger.