Read an Excerpt
By Laura Wright
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
The sea took the shape of a woman's hip as it climbed into a wave: curved and pink in the setting sun. But Crown Prince
Alexander William Charles Octavos Thorne had no use for women anymore, real or imagined.
Lungs filled with salty air, he sagged against a jagged rock and watched the surf crash against the beach and crawl
He didn't run from its progress, didn't move. Not even when icy water stung his foot.
He understood the sea's endless need to consume, to take, to hurt. For five long years he'd felt the like - too many
times to count. Then there was today ...
Three hours ago he'd received word that his wife had left town, left him for another man. Like the cold, pinkish waves
before him, relief rippled through his blood. Relief and anger - for a woman who'd hated him the minute they'd
married, a woman who'd acted like a bloody iceberg no matter how hard he'd try to care for her, a woman who'd wanted no
children, no warmth, no friendship.
Alex tore off his shirt, let the cool air rush over his chest.
He'd been a man of his word, married a woman he'd hardly known, remained loyal and honorable to her, kept silent when
she'd told his father and the court that they were trying to conceive a child - even kept up the charade that they'd
been living together for the past two years.
But today, on the day she'd run off with another man, loyalty, honor and care went to Llandaron only. Alex had his
country to think of now, damage control to see to. If the world found out the truth of his situation, the heart of the
Llandaron people could be destroyed forever.
Pretense was his only saving grace.
He would move slowly, tread easily. He would use whatever money and means was required to settle this matter, while
keeping the truth hidden for as long as possible. Next week he left for his summit in Japan with the emperor. He would
make his wife's excuses, take care of business, and while he was there, call in a favor from an old school chum he
trusted, who just happened to be a divorce barrister in London. Then at some point, he'd return home to Llandaron and
tell his family - tell his father that he'd failed.
At that offensive realization, Alex's jaw tightened to the point of paiin. If there was anything he despised more than
failure it was admitting it.
Echoing his mood, twilight seeped in around him and the sea turned choppy, each boundless curl morphing from pale pink
to violent purple.
From this day forward, he vowed silently, no woman would rule him.
And from this day forward, the prospect that he would rule dimmed.
The lifelong assumption that he would govern his country might now have to be put aside in favor of his brother, Maxim.
For a queen and an heir were vital to the Kingdom of Llandaron. And Maxim had both.
Pain snapped at Alex's heart. He opened his mouth and released five years of unlivable ache. The gut-wrenching cries to
the sea echoed, ricocheting back into his ears, making him start, stop.
Suddenly his eyes widened, focused. All thought drifted down, sank into the wet sand under his feet as out in the
distance, a sailboat lurched across the coarse sea.
For one brief moment, before the boat disappeared behind the towering cove walls, he saw a woman, perched on the bow of
the craft like one of the jewel-tailed mermaids from his childhood dreams, all mind-blowing curves and brazen, red
She was facing him, her long hair thrashing about her neck and chest like silken whips. She seemed to stare straight at
him - a bizarre sensation, as her eyes were impossible to make out. Unlike the delectable combination of senses
emanating from her: air, water and fire.
From gut to groin Alex went hard.
A massive wave crashed just inches from him, spitting saltwater into his face, his mouth and eyes. He scrubbed a hand
over his face to clear the mist, then quickly glanced up.
Both boat and mermaid were gone.
Awareness, raw and demanding battled in his blood, but he shoved the feeling away. He'd felt need before, perhaps not
this strong, but he'd fight it just the same. No woman would rule him.
Jaw set, Alex stripped bare and dove into the frigid water, determined to remind the lower half of him - just as he
had his mind - who was master.
Excerpted from Ruling Passions
by Laura Wright
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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