Taken by a trillionaire.., p.12
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       Taken by a Trillionaire 1-3, p.12

         Part #1 of Taken by a Trillionaire series by Ruth Cardello
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  His father went pale and sat on the edge of his bed. “You don’t understand, Xander.”

  “No, you don’t. I refuse to follow in your footsteps. I will not bow down to the Arcano. Let them come for me. I will strike them down one at a time. I will rally those loyal to me and defeat them as you should have.”

  “You will lose, and your choice will die along with you,” his father said in sad resignation.

  “Where is your fight, Father? What kind of man are you?”

  His father stood, a look of determination on his face. “A man who doesn’t want his eldest son to make the same mistakes he did.” He pressed a button beside his bed. “You think letting the public see Reanna will stop them from coming for her? You’re wrong. You must accept your fate, as I did, or I fear for you and your brothers. Do you really believe my brother, Ivan, died in a car accident? I don’t. He sounded just like you. As did I. His life was the price I paid for my arrogance. Hate me, Xander, but I cannot allow the past to repeat itself.”

  The door opened and several guards entered. “Take him to the east wing. Tell no one. Make sure no one sees you.” When Xander struggled, his father said to the guards. “Use whatever force is necessary, but don’t harm him. You will each be rewarded well for your loyalty today.”

  As Xander was dragged out of the room, he heard his father say, “Wake Simon.”

  Chapter Thirteen

  Still wedged between two uniformed guards in the back seat of the SUV, Reanna shifted angrily. “Are we waiting for Xander? Is he joining me here? Is that why we’ve been looking at that plane for hours?”

  Neither guard broke their silence or even looked down at her, which wasn’t a surprise since they had sat like stone statues beside her once she’d been dragged from Xander’s room and deposited in the back of the limo. At first Reanna had been terrified. As time passed, she was also getting angry.

  She turned to the stoic man on her right and said, “Blink twice if you think there is any chance tonight is going to end well for me.”

  Nothing.

  Reanna stopped caring if they were responding and started venting her thoughts aloud. “I knew Xander was too good to be true. There is a reason why no one I know has married a prince — it doesn’t happen to normal people. But that didn’t stop me from falling in love with him. Nope, for someone with a genius IQ, I can be pathetically optimistic sometimes. I wanted this to work out. I really thought I had finally found where I belong. What a joke.”

  The man beside her nodded, not at what she was saying but at something he heard in his earpiece, and then he opened the door.

  Reanna’s heart beat wildly in her chest. Had Xander finally arrived? She was torn between being furious with him and wanting to throw herself in his arms.

  The frail old man who slid into the seat that the ox of a guard had vacated was a huge disappointment. When he didn’t say anything at first, Reanna thought he was going to ignore her as well. She skipped all formalities and demanded, “Is Xander here?”

  The old man turned and looked at her. His gray eyes met hers with an unyielding composure, which contrasted with how wild and high Reanna’s emotions were running. “No, he is not. The king sent me to deal with you.” He looked across at the other guard and said, “Leave us.”

  When they were alone, Reanna clasped her shaking hands in her lap and asked, “What are you going to do with me?”

  “I don’t know yet.”

  “Xander won’t let you hurt me. He loves me.”

  “He does indeed, but your fate is not in his hands.”

  “Is it in yours?”

  “If it were, I would put you on that plane and send you back to the States. My name is Simon. I am the royal family advisor. Normally, I am the eyes and ears of the crown. Unfortunately, today, I am also the arm.”

  Reanna raised her chin. “I’m not afraid of dying. Living sucks a million times more than whatever the afterlife could hold for me. So, if you’re here to kill me, do it and get it over with.”

  “Do you know you’re pregnant, Reanna?”

  Reanna’s hand went to her stomach instinctively. “What? No. I’m not.”

  “You are. That’s why you fainted at the royal palace. The royal physician confirmed it with a blood test.”

  Reanna shook slightly at the news. “Then Xander has even more reason to come for me. And he will, no matter what you say.”

  “He won’t. He thinks you are safely halfway home, and he knows nothing of your condition.”

  Reanna glared at Simon. “You’re not a very likeable man, are you?”

  Simon rubbed his chin. “I am a man who has been given a nearly impossible task. Reanna, how much fight do you have in you?”

  Reanna turned more fully toward Simon. “I don’t understand what you’re asking.”

  “I’ve read your files, Reanna. I know who you are on paper. You have spent a lifetime running from confrontation. But is that who you are in your heart? If it is, you have no place in our country and lack the character to rule it. But if there is a fighter within you, there is a chance you could fix this.”

  “I won’t go before the council and say I love Xander. Not if it means sentencing another woman to her possible death.”

  “Not even to save Xander?”

  “Save him? Is he in danger?”

  “He has risked everything for you, Reanna. He defied our law, threatened his father, and is now being held in the east wing of the palace pending punishment.”

  “From his father?”

  “From those even more powerful. His father is trying to protect him. If you get on that plane and leave, Xander will not survive the night.”

  Reanna’s eyes filled with tears, and she clutched her stomach. “No. That can’t be true.” She saw the truth in Simon’s unblinking gaze. “I don’t know what to do. There has to be something I can do.”

  “I humbly put forth a suggestion. You must go and speak with the king. You must offer your life in exchange for Xander’s, and you must do it in front of the head of the council.”

  “Will that save Xander?”

  “I believe it will.”

  “Will it save me?”

  “It may.”

  “Couldn’t we go to the news with this story? Wouldn’t that save Xander? Me?”

  Simon shook his head sadly.

  Reanna looked straight ahead. “That’s all you want me to do, huh? Just offer myself up on a platter to the king?”

  “No, I also want you to fight for your right to live. You’re a smart woman, Reanna Fielding. Make them see why our country needs you.”

  That’s all?

  Reanna took a deep breath. “Should I use my condition to try to sway them?”

  Simon knocked on the window and the limo began to move. “Use everything you have, Reanna. Fight.”

  Chapter Fourteen

  In the early morning hours, before the sun had come up, Reanna was led into the study at the royal palace where she had originally met Xander’s father. The king and another man turned as she entered. The other man was about the king’s age, and he stood with similar authority. She guessed he was the head of the royal council.

  Simon had instructed her to enter into the conversation with a healthy respect for both. Reanna wasn’t exactly sure why, but she trusted Simon. He wanted the best for the royal family and his country.

  The king nodded at Simon. “Good, you found her.”

  Simon bowed his head and stepped to one side. “I did, Your Royal Majesty.”

  The king turned to the man beside him. “I told you, there will be no scandal. We have everything under control.”

  The councilman said nothing, but watched Reanna closely.

  To Reanna, the king said, “I see Simon was able to talk sense into you, Reanna. I’m relieved. Now we can move forward with the wedding as we had planned.”

  Reanna took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and said, “Your Royal Majesty. Honored Councilman. I love Prince Xand
er, but I will not marry him.”

  The councilman’s head snapped back in surprise. “You know the consequence?”

  Reanna held her head high. “I do. I understand that Prince Xander tried to spare me from it, but I can’t let him do that. I offer my life in exchange for his.”

  The king was visibly shaken. “You love my son enough to give your life for his?”

  “I do. If I die today, it will not be in vain. Xander will abolish the law as soon as he becomes king.”

  The king was silent a moment, then said, “As I should have long ago. Laws must change as the people they govern do.”

  “It’s too late,” the councilman declared. “She has already refused your son. Take her away, guards.”

  The two men who stood at the door did not move. The councilman repeated his order, but they stared straight ahead.

  Reanna placed a hand on her stomach. “They won’t harm me. They have pledged their life to protect the royal family, and I’m pregnant with a child who may be their king one day. The guards might not protect me, but they will protect the baby I carry.”

  Xander burst through the door and the room filled with armed guards. He rushed to Reanna’s side and growled at Simon. “How could you betray me and bring her back here?”

  Simon lowered his eyes and said nothing.

  Reanna ran her hands over Xander’s face as tears ran down her own. “You’re okay. Don’t be upset with Simon. He’s trying to save us.”

  Xander held her to his side and motioned for his guards to secure the room. “Simon knows many things, but he underestimates me. As do you, Father. The Royal Guard is ready for a king who does not cower before the council.”

  The councilman’s face went bright red. “You’re making a grave mistake.”

  “No, you did that by holding yourselves above the royal family.”

  “You’ll be dead before the sun sets,” the councilman said.

  Xander shook his head. “I won’t be, nor will you. I am going to let you live because I want you to take a message to every last member of the Arcano. Kill me, and my brothers will rise against you. Kill them, and my people will come for you. I have planted evidence of the truth in the hands of those loyal to me around the world, and they will expose you and the heinous crimes you have committed, and then they will come for you. They will hunt down every member of your Arcano, your secret society, and exterminate you one by one.” Xander turned to the guards and waved a hand at the councilman. “Get him out of my sight. Rubare Collina no longer has a council.”

  The councilman snarled bold threats as he was led out of the room. Xander said nothing, but squared his shoulders. It is done.

  Xander looked to his father who was pale, but nodded in approval. The councilman was taken forcibly from the room.

  Reanna could feel Xander’s heart beating wildly in his chest. He finally looked down, meeting her eyes, and said, “You will marry me, Reanna. Not because of a law, but because you belong here with me. I will do whatever it takes to prove that to you.”

  Reanna threw her arms around his neck and pulled his mouth close to hers. “You’ve already convinced me.” Just before his lips closed over hers, though, she pulled back and said, “Except for the kidnapping part. I’m still angry with you about that.”

  “I needed you somewhere safe in case my plan didn’t work.”

  “You could have told me what was happening. You scared the shit out of me.”

  Xander touched her cheek softly. “I never meant to scare you. Your safety was all that mattered to me. Why did you come back?”

  Reanna looked up at him with her heart in her eyes. “To fight for you.”

  “I knew from the moment I met you that you had it in you. I love you, and my people love you. You will be the queen the historians will rave about.”

  “I hope I will also be a good mother. I’m pregnant, Xander.”

  Xander tensed, then shuddered against her. He kissed her deeply, passionately, until she was sagging against him. “We will be married by the end of the week.”

  Reanna squeaked. “A week? How could I prepare for a wedding in a week?”

  Xander looked across at Simon who groaned, “I’ll see what I can do.”

  “Xander,” the king said from across the room.

  Xander turned to face his father. Reanna felt him tense in preparation for a confrontation.

  His father continued slowly, “A son is supposed to learn to lead from his father, but you taught me a great deal today. I should have fought harder for my family. I should have — ”

  Xander looked down at Reanna, then back up at his father. “I don’t know who I would be if I had lost Reanna today. And then to have lost a brother also. I can only imagine what you went through. I don’t judge you, Father, but I cannot live in fear as you have. With or without your permission I will eradicate the Arcano, and my men will follow me. Even if you call it treason.”

  The king shook his head. “I’m tired, Xander. I’m ready to hand the crown to you. You’ll not have to fight me for it. We’ll have a wedding and a coronation. Simon, make the preparations for both.”

  Simon sat heavily in one of the chairs. “I’m getting way too old for this.”

  Chapter Fifteen

  The entire island of Rubare Collina shut down for the royal wedding. The streets, from the cathedral where the ceremony had been performed to the summer castle where the reception was planned, were lined with citizens of all ages eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the newlyweds.

  In a daring act the Royal Guard had called foolhardy in the face of threats made against the royal couple by the Arcano, Xander and Reanna rode in an open, white, horse-drawn carriage. Xander said he refused to let anyone separate him from his people, and Reanna proudly stood by that decision.

  As Reanna waved to the crowd, she saw many familiar faces. Although Rubare Collina was not her birth country, she felt it was where she was meant to be. In the short time she’d been there, she’d fallen in love with both a prince and a country. Neither was perfect, but both had pledged their loyalty to her that day. She was home.

  Reanna turned to Xander and smiled. He leaned closer to her, laying a protective hand over her stomach as he spoke into her ear. “Princess Reanna, how does it feel to know that you will soon rule this country at my side?”

  Reanna looked into the bold blue eyes that had awed her that first day in the bookstore. She remembered thinking that someone like him would never be interested in someone like her. Even in her expensive clothing and with her newly acquired social graces, she still had to pinch herself now and then to check if the last months had really happened. Could her life really have changed so much in such a short time? She remembered what Kendra had said to her that morning while helping her into her wedding dress. “No one deserves happiness more than you, Reanna. And no one can take it away from you unless you let them. Don’t let them.” Reanna took Xander’s hand in hers, squeezed it, and gave him a brave smile. “A few months ago I would have said I was terrified to think of ruling a country, but I’m not afraid of anything when I’m with you.”

  Xander kissed her lightly, sending the crowd along the street into a deafening roar of cheering. “Nor I when I’m with you. I knew from the moment I met you that you belonged here with me, but I never imagined I could find a true partner in life. You’ve made me a better man, and because of it, I will be a better king. I love you for that and a thousand other reasons I’ll whisper to you between kisses tonight.”

  Reanna’s face split with a happy smile, and her cheeks warmed as she imagined how they’d spend the upcoming night. “A thousand kisses. That’s some wedding night.”

  Xander gave her a cocky smile and shrugged playfully. “Well, I am, after all, a prince.”

  THE END

  Taken By a Trillionaire ~ Bryan

  By

  J.S. Scott

  Chapter One

  Get married…or die?

  Since both of those options were e
qually abhorrent to Prince Bryan Demande, he was going to have a very hard time deciding exactly what his fate would be. For him, it really was a toss-up as to which one was the lesser of two evils.

  “I have the perfect woman for you, Your Highness.” Simon, the elderly royal advisor told Bryan loftily, as though he already had the problem well in hand.

  Bryan glared at the older man, fairly certain that Simon would probably stand proxy at the wedding for him if the practice were still allowed in his country. Fortunately, on the island nation of Rubare Collina, both parties needed to be physically present for a marriage to be recognized. If proxy marriages were still allowed and recognized by the people of Rubare Collina — commonly referred to as Rubarians — he’d already be married, a bride he didn’t even know presented to him as a royal gift from his father and Simon. He swore that there was nothing those two interfering, obstinate men wanted more than for him and his brothers to all be married and constantly producing new generations of Demandes.

  “I may choose not to marry at all, Simon,” Bryan grumbled impatiently as he paced the great hall of the royal palace, his hands behind his back, striding back and forth on the marble, gem-encrusted floors.

  Simon stood just inside the entryway of the enormous, formal room, his hands in front of him, seemingly in deference to his prince. In reality, the advisor was a master manipulator and rarely minded butting into the business of the royal family. “But Your Highness, the Arcano — ”

  “Will kill me if I don’t comply?” Bryan nodded sharply, regally at Simon. “I’ve had the talk, Simon. It’s my birthday. You were there. I’m well aware of the risks involved in not entering into a state of wedded bliss.” In Bryan’s eyes, it would be more likely to be torture than bliss.

  Xander was right. It was better when I didn’t know anything about the Arcano and the darker side of the ancient marriage laws.