With: Christi Barth
What happens when an average American gets to attend her first royal ball? In borrowed diamonds and a couture dress? The Crown Prince takes her out for a secret kiss in the garden, of course! It is like living out a fairytale…except Mallory’s fully aware she can’t keep the prince or this charmed life. (Don’t worry – all my books come with an HEA guarantee)
Mallory slowly shook her head, mindful of the weight of the tiara. “It’s not fair. You’re giving your whole life to this country. You deserve happiness.”
“I haven’t done anything to deserve it. But I do want it.” Christian lifted her hand, pressed a kiss to the backs of her knuckles. Half bent, looking up at her from beneath heavy-lidded eyes, he could be a movie poster of Prince Charming. “I want you.”
It was a moment—another one—she’d remember for the rest of her life. The stars, the softness of an oversize tree fern against her arm, the sweet scent of a night-blooming something, and the handsome prince giving her the most knee-melting of looks.
Why did she have to be the party pooper? The adult in the room? Why couldn’t she turn off her responsibility-meter? “Oh, no. I mean, wow, but, we can’t.”
“I can’t not want you, Mallory.”
Well, she couldn’t lie to the man. Her good Midwestern ethics wouldn’t allow it. “I haven’t stopped thinking about you, either. I keep trying. I think that’s why I tried so hard tonight to find someone appropriate for you.”
“Appropriate? That sounds like a balanced diet with kale three times a week and no pasta. Like that menu you mentioned. Not at all what I want. So screw appropriate. I want you.” Christian surged forward. He locked an arm around her waist, splayed a palm across her nape, and kissed her.
His tongue immediately entwined with hers. Because there was no polite, warm-up peck. From the heat of his kiss, Christian had been as…affected…by their coupling at the bar as Mallory. And he’d been lusting for more, exactly as she had. A week’s worth of pent-up lust packed quite a punch.
It was grappling to see who could lick more, taste more. It was sloppy, wanton, wet proof of how much they wanted each other. It was a battle with no losers.
It was perfection.
“Mallory.” He moved his mouth to her ear, where his breath fanned all the tiny hairs and raced goose bumps down her neck. “You are stunningly beautiful tonight.”
“Several thousand dollars of diamonds will turn any woman beautiful,” she joked.
Christian pivoted them more behind the base of the statue. He kept his face so close to hers that even in the moonlight, it was possible to see the long, thick lashes framing his sexy violet eyes. “Every woman in there is dripping diamonds and wearing couture. And you outshine them all. By far. Because of who you are on the inside. Because I see you. Because you see me.”
She felt like it was true.
Like they were two normal people playing an extreme game of dress-up. Cosplay? A sexual fantasy scene with a great wardrobe?
It just didn’t compute that she was kissing the man who’d rule a kingdom.
Mallory was kissing the man who laughed at her jokes and made her try sour beer and had unexpectedly joined her and Kelsey for breakfast every day this week as they tried coffees from every country attending a trade summit Moncriano was set to host next month.
“Regardless, we should make sure that nobody sees us,” she said awkwardly.
“One more kiss,” he demanded.
“Only one,” she cautioned as his mouth captured hers once more. This time with just as much heat, but more tenderness. Like he was extending the compliment he’d paid with his lips.
Christian stretched his fingers across the small of her back. The heat of his touch radiated through the thin satin of her gown. His other hand cradled the back of her head as he slowly lowered her into a dip.
The position, for all that it was drenched in the utmost romance, was also so very sensual. It pressed his muscled thigh right in between her legs. Right where Mallory ached and pulsed for him, wishing for more.
With amazing strength, he held her there, bent backward, breasts tight against his row of medals. And when he broke off the kiss, Christian kept them locked in that intimate position.
“You, Mallory. You’re who I want. Remember that.”
Oh, no worries there. She’d never forget her first ball where the gorgeous prince chose her.
Just like she’d never forget that he couldn’t choose her for real. That stolen kisses in the shadows were all Christian could give her.