Taken by a trillionaire.., p.10
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       Taken by a Trillionaire 1-3, p.10

         Part #1 of Taken by a Trillionaire series by Ruth Cardello
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  “You’re mine,” he said huskily. “That’s what I’ll announce tonight.” He settled himself between her legs, spreading her wider for him. The tip of him teased her, entering her ever so slightly before he withdrew it again. Between kisses, he teased, “You belong to me now. Say, it, Reanna. Say you want to stay here with me.”

  He paused his caresses and waited.

  Stay with him? Reanna wanted to ask if he meant for a few more weeks, for longer, or forever, but it didn’t matter. She wanted whatever he was offering. And she wanted it with the same desperation that she wanted him inside her again. She writhed beneath him, whimpering with need. “I will stay here, Xander. As long as you want me.”

  He thrust deeply inside her and growled in her ear, “Even if it’s forever?”

  She wrapped her legs around his waist and rocked her hips up to meet his. “Oh, God, yes. Yes to everything, especially forever.”

  Her answer sent him wild, and he let go of her hands, allowing her to hold him in a way that he could pound down into her. There was no gentleness given and none needed. Reanna dug her nails gloriously into the skin of his back as they rode toward a climax they reached together in an animalistic frenzy.

  A short time later, wrapped in each other’s arms, Reanna caressed his chest again, wondering if she could possibly have heard him wrong. “Did you mean it about dinner tonight with your father?”

  He looked down at her with such tenderness she stopped doubting it even before he spoke. “I did. My brothers will most likely be there as well. It will be a formal affair as my father prefers meals that way.”

  Reanna froze. “How formal?”

  “Tediously so.”

  “What should I wear?”

  Xander smiled down at her. “I will have someone bring you a selection of dresses.”

  “I still have the ones you bought me, but I’ve never met a king. I won’t know which outfit to choose or what to say. Do I bow? Shake his hand? Will there be special utensils at dinner? I’d read up on all of this. Maybe you should give me a couple days to prepare. I don’t feel ready.”

  He hugged her to his chest. “We use forks and knives just like everyone else. We will dine with him tonight because it is my wish. And you will be smiling and confident because I will have my staff instruct you on whatever you are not sure of. Is there anything else?”

  Reanna bit her bottom lip and shook her head. “What if I get too nervous and forget everything?”

  He kissed her lips gently. “I know how to cure that. I will arrange a day for you that will have you ready for tonight.” He rolled onto his back and pulled her so she was once again lying naked across him. His once again hard cock nudged against her slick slit.

  Reanna laughed down at him. “This is your plan?”

  He ran his hands warmly up and down her back, rolling his hips so the tip of his cock grazed her clit in teasing caresses. He laughed at her. “Not all of it, but when is a second orgasm ever a bad way to start a day?”

  Reanna conceded the point, bent to kiss him, and lowered herself fully onto his shaft. How wrong could any day go that started with a second orgasm?

  Their motorcade pulled up to the royal palace. It was as ornate and impressive as any European castle, but the large stone walls still surrounding it stood as evidence of a more violent time in the island’s history. In the late twelve hundreds, Xander’s family had fought Henry I of England during a time when England had teetered on losing its monarchy. Personalities had clashed, and the English king, who had promised Xander’s family great wealth in return for their loyalty, had said, “You think you can rule better than I? Here is your chance.”

  He had given them what, at the time, had been considered a worthless island. Historians on both sides of the ocean agreed the abandoned land had been intended as a death sentence rather than a reward. The island had been overrun with pirates who had made it their stronghold, with enough force to be able to hold off warships. Likely, the king had considered it a win/win. Either Xander’s family would be killed fighting the pirates, or they would beat the odds and rid the area of a vicious blight. Either way, he had not expected a formal sovereign state to be born or for another royal family to join the European ranks.

  No one had expected the Demande family to find wealth beneath the soil of the island or to parlay that discovery into a dynasty.

  One of the Royal Guard led Xander and Reanna to his father’s library. His father and two brothers were seated off to one side, but all three stood when Xander and Reanna entered.

  Xander put a hand on Reanna’s lower back and said, “Father, I present to you, Reanna Fielding, my official choice. Reanna, this is my father, King Francis.”

  Reanna shook beneath his hand, but she didn’t question Xander’s claim. She curtsied before the king.

  His father acknowledged her and looked her over. He didn’t hide his displeasure. “Recognizing her is simple since you have paraded her all over the country.”

  “Had I not found a woman I wanted to wed before my thirtieth birthday, you would have been furious. Be happy I have found one so wonderful I could not help but show her off.”

  Reanna glanced back at him with eyes as wide as saucers. “Wed?” she mouthed silently.

  He gave her a curt nod, then returned his attention to his father. Reanna swayed a bit beneath his hand.

  His middle brother stepped toward Reanna and said, “Father, if you keep glaring at the poor girl I believe she will soon pass out at your feet.” He moved closer and took her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Fielding. My name is Bryan.”

  His youngest brother moved to stand in formal formation beside Bryan. “The pleasure is also mine. My name is Christopher.”

  Reanna bowed her head and said, “I’m very happy to meet all of you, also.”

  Xander’s father said, “Please, do not think my displeasure is with you, Reanna. It is my son who attempts to claim the crown early by putting me in my grave before my time.”

  Xander kept his hand protectively on Reanna’s back. “There is no issue, Father. It has all worked out perfectly, just as I assured you it would.”

  The king studied Reanna once again. “You’ve agreed to marry my son?”

  Reanna’s chin went up proudly, and she said, “He hasn’t asked me yet.”

  “And when he does? What will your answer be?” King Francis demanded.

  “I suppose it depends how well he does at asking,” Reanna said in her matter-of-fact way that momentarily left the king speechless.

  Xander held back a chuckle. He saw his brothers doing the same.

  After a tense moment, King Francis looked Xander in the eye and said, “Simon told me about this one. Too much intelligence in a woman can be a dangerous trait.”

  Reanna tensed as if she were about to say something, but Xander answered first. “I want a queen who will rule beside me, not beneath me. Reanna has all the traits to be that queen.”

  “I don’t think I like being spoken about as if I weren’t here,” Reanna said.

  Christopher answered, “You get used to it. My father speaks like that all the time. You should see when he discusses the state of affairs with his advisor. You’d think the rest of us were still under the age of five.”

  “Enough, Christopher,” the king corrected sternly.

  Bryan nodded at Xander. “Xander can be just as bad as our father. If you can stand either of them, welcome to the family.”

  Their father bristled. “When I was a child even princes were beaten for speaking so disrespectfully to the king.”

  Xander entered the conversation again smoothly. “Reanna has no issues with me as I am, Bryan. And, Father, have a sense of humor. Being outspoken is valued by this generation.”

  “It shouldn’t be.”

  “But it is. Here in the castle, as well as out on the street, the world is changing. Even you cannot stop it, no matter how you may wish you could. Plus, I doubt a beating would cure Bryan and Christop
her. They’re too far gone.”

  Christopher added, “See, Reanna. Get used to it.”

  Reanna shot Christopher a conspiratorial look. “I’m working on an equation in my head where the necessity of an amazing proposal is directly proportional to the number of times either of them talks about me instead of to me.”

  Christopher chuckled.

  The king shook his head in disgust. “Perhaps all of this impertinence will be more tolerable to me after we have eaten.” He led the way out of the study. His brothers followed him.

  Xander held back for a moment with Reanna. “Reanna . . .”

  Reanna waved a hand angrily in his direction. “I know what you’re going to say, I should have held my tongue. I shouldn’t have made that joke. But you kind of blindsided me with this whole you chose me for the next queen talk. I thought maybe you’d tell your father we were dating or something. I never — ”

  Xander turned her toward him, loving the fire in her eyes, and silenced her with a deep kiss. “I don’t want you to change, Reanna. You’re perfect for me, and my country, just the way you are. I should have better explained about today. I told you it would be my declaration. I thought you understood what that meant.”

  She looked up at him, confused with wide eyes. “How could I? It’s all happening so fast.”

  “Love often does.”

  Her mouth fell adoringly open. “Love?”

  “I love you, Reanna. That’s why you’re here.”

  Reanna sat on the arm of a chair behind her. “You love me?”

  “I do.”

  With that Reanna passed out and would have dropped to the floor if he hadn’t caught her. Xander lifted her into his arms and called to the nearest staff member to summon the royal physician. He carried her to the nearest couch and laid her down.

  She was already blinking and coming around by the time her head hit the cushion. She sat up before he could stop her and swayed.

  He steadied her and crouched in front of her to look into her eyes. “I have a doctor coming. How do you feel?”

  She rubbed a hand across her face, half hiding behind it. “Mortified.”

  “I’m not asking if you’re embarrassed. Are you in any pain? Do you still feel lightheaded?”

  She lowered her hand. “No. I was too nervous to eat anything today, that’s all this probably is.”

  Xander moved to sit beside her, pulling her into his embrace and tucking her head beneath his chin.

  The royal family physician was there within moments. Xander sat beside Reanna as she answered questions, and the doctor took her temperature and blood pressure. He agreed that Reanna might feel better if she ate something, and small finger sandwiches were instantly brought to her along with a glass of orange juice. The doctor suggested that Reanna visit him soon for a comprehensive evaluation, but he didn’t see a hint of anything serious.

  When the doctor had gone, Reanna looked up at Xander and asked, “Is it too late to join your family for dinner?”

  “I told them we would return another time. You’ve had enough excitement for one evening.”

  “I’m fine now. Really.”

  “The dinner doesn’t matter, Reanna. You do. You will see the doctor this week.”

  Reanna nodded. “I’m sorry.”

  Xander cupped her chin with one of his hands and raised her face to his. He kissed her lips softly. “You have nothing to be sorry about, Reanna. I should have done this better. I am used to thinking only of myself. I didn’t look at today through your eyes.” He tapped her on the nose in playful reprimand. “You know, passing out when a man tells you he loves you can dent his ego.”

  Reanna smiled for the first time since she’d fainted. He loves me. “Does one even notice a dent on something the size of Australia?”

  He chuckled, but spoke seriously, “You can say whatever you’d like tonight, Reanna. I aged ten years when I saw you collapse.”

  She searched his face. He really loves me. And I love him. Her emotions soared at the revelation.

  He kissed her gently again. “Now tell me you love me, Reanna. We both know you do.”

  She looked down at her lap, then back up at him, and there was a mischievous light in her eyes. “I believe it’s your humility I find most attractive.”

  He frowned. “Are you suggesting you don’t?”

  She smiled up at him again. “What do you think?”

  He threw back his head and laughed. “I think life with you will not be boring.” He stood and offered her a hand.

  She took it and hung on, clutching it. “I love you, Xander. I’m happy. I’m scared. Half the time I expect to wake up back in my bed in Boston and realize this was all a dream, but I do love you. This month has been the best month of my life. I don’t know how to begin to thank you for it.”

  “It’s real, Reanna, and I am just as happy to have met you. Come. Let’s go home. I have a proposal to plan.”

  Chapter Eleven

  Reanna was a bundle of nerves the next day as she waited for Xander to finish whatever business had kept him in the library since early morning. The cook had made her enough breakfast to feed three people, and Reanna had dutifully dug into it even though she was too excited to be hungry.

  The royal doctor came by early and suggested a full battery of blood work. He left promising her the results in a few days, but reassuring her he could find no sign of anything serious.

  Every time Reanna thought about the day before, she cringed. Going to the royal palace had been like stepping into a fairy tale. She wished she’d been able to have dinner with Xander’s father and brothers. They had been formal and stately in their initial meeting, but Reanna was certain they would have relaxed if given more time with her. There would be other dinners, though.

  A lifetime of dinners.

  Alone for once, Reanna walked through long hallways she’d come to know so well. Once again, she took time to pause before each of the portraits that hung along the way. In the beginning Reanna had been intimidated by their regal presence. However, as they became more familiar to her, she enjoyed studying the genetic variations evident over time. Unlike some monarchies, the Demande family had chosen brides from other countries and even other regions of the world consistently throughout their rule. Because of that, they were biologically hardy. There was evidence of some Nordic features on several portraits. Even though Reanna had not had much time to read about the family, she felt as if she’d gotten to know Xander’s ancestors by studying their features.

  This is Xander’s family.

  My family when I marry him.

  Reanna was standing before the portrait of Xander’s mother, wishing she could ask the woman about her strained relationship with her son, when she heard voices in a room across the hall.

  “He took her to meet the king, that means she’ll probably be the next queen.”

  “If she lives.”

  “Don’t tell me you believe in the curse of the crown.”

  “It’s not a curse, it’s a law. The prince must lure a new bride home and marry her before he’s thirty. If his choice refuses, she’s put to death.”

  Reanna froze and moved behind a curio beside the open door so she could hear them better. The hair on the back of her neck stood straight up.

  “If there ever was a law like that, it would have been banned long ago. King Francis would never allow it.”

  “You don’t know anything. My family has worked in the Royal Guard for generations. My uncle used to be a driver for one of the royal council members when King Francis was still a prince. He told me that Queen Stephanie was not the king’s first choice. The woman King Francis originally chose didn’t love him back, and after saying so she was never seen again. Call it a curse. Call it a law. That shit is real.”

  “Do you know why you’re cleaning the castle instead of defending it, Remy? Because you’re an idiot. And you just proved it. Your uncle was having fun at your expense.”

  “I’m just glad Mis
s Fielding seems happy here. I don’t want to be burying bodies as well as making beds.”

  “Finish this room alone. I can’t listen to this anymore. Do yourself a favor, though, and don’t tell anyone else this unless you want to be unemployed. And don’t mention it to me again. I don’t want to get fired with you.”

  Reanna clung to the wall behind the curio until she was sure both maids were gone. Curse of the crown? Put to death?

  Reanna wanted to dismiss it as confidently as the other maid had, but she couldn’t. She remembered what Moira, the nanny, had said to her. How she’d warned her to make sure her feelings were clear then swore her to secrecy about her visit. She remembered all the times Xander had said something that had rung odd to her, but she’d told herself she was being paranoid.

  If she stopped looking back at the meeting with Xander’s father through the lens of worrying what they thought of her, she had to admit it had been strange. Xander had introduced her as his choice, not his girlfriend. His father had been more concerned with her answer regarding if she intended to marry Xander than getting to know her.

  No, that’s insane.

  Reanna stepped away from the wall and walked right into Xander.

  “So this is where you’ve been hiding,” he said and nuzzled her neck. When she stood stiff in his arms, he raised his head and looked down at her with concern. “Are you feeling ill again today? What’s wrong?”

  Reanna forced a smile to her lips. “No, I’m fine. Just tired from all the excitement, I guess.”

  He studied her face closely. “Too tired for what I had planned for today?”

  Reanna swallowed hard. “Is it what we talked about last night?”

  He dug a hand gently into the back of her hair. “That and so much more. But it can wait if you’re tired.”