Jack And The Princess by Raye Morgan released on Mar 25, 2003 is available now for purchase.
Read an Excerpt
Jack And The Princess
By Raye Morgan
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneScaling the wall of a mansion and slipping from a balcony into an upper-floor room was probably a unique way of interviewing for a job. But Jack Santini was a pretty unique guy, and he decided it was the reasonable way to go. And all went well until he got to his destination. He hadn't expected to find a young woman in the room, much less in the bed, in midafternoon. As he came in through the open French doors, he was as surprised as she was.
He couldn't afford to have her scream and bring the household down on top of him, so he followed his instincts and grabbed her quickly, covering her mouth with his hand while he whispered in her ear.
"Take it easy, honey. I'm not going to hurt you."
She didn't struggle. Her first start of alarm faded quickly, and though he could feel hear heart beating wildly, she was looking at him sideways, more with wide-eyed interest than with fear. She was a pretty one, with shiny golden hair that curled around her face and huge blue eyes framed by thick black lashes. For just a moment he was intensely aware of how soft and rounded she felt, and his head was filled with her fresh, sunshine scent. But he shook it off. Years of training held him in good stead and he quickly regained his professionalism.
"You think you can stay quiet for me?" he asked her, his mouth against her ear.
She nodded and he loosened his grip, waiting just a few seconds to make sure she wasn't bluffing before completely releasing her. Springing up off the bed, he went to the door and listened, ready to leave as quickly as he'd arrived. There were people in the hallway, chatting back and forth. Probably maids cleaning rooms. He combed a hand through his thick black hair, frustrated. He was going to have to get past them if he was going to end up downstairs in the business office without triggering any sort of alarm.
That was his goal. He'd come to interview for the job as head of security for this estate. He liked to take a direct approach and test out what was going on, which is why he'd come into the property the way he had. His experiment was showing him that security here needed a lot of work.
But his test wasn't over. He still had to arrive at estate manager Tim Blodnick's desk without being let in the front door. He was anticipating the look he would see on Tim's face when he appeared out of nowhere. The next few minutes after that look would determine whether he took the job or not. Even though he was desperate as hell for something to pull him out of the swamp he was stuck in, he wasn't about to sell his soul. Time would tell.
The best thing would be to show up in front of Tim's astonished face in about two minutes. But the voices still echoed up and down the hallway, sounding casual, in no hurry. He couldn't leave the room until they'd gone. Stymied, he glanced back at the girl on the bed.
She was sitting back against the headboard, watching him, her eyes very bright. She looked wary but not really scared, and he supposed that was a good thing, although rather unusual. One yell from her and he would seem foolish instead of exceptionally expert, which was what he was going for. He was lucky she was staying calm.
"Where are you taking me?" she asked him, acting more like someone on the brink of an adventure than anything else.
He turned fully and looked at her, noticing again that she was one of the prettiest girls he'd seen in a long time. An employee, probably. The room was sparse, with nothing more than a simple bed, a straight-backed chair and a small dresser. There were no decorations, no fancy drapes. The house itself had the look of a fairy-tale castle from the outside. If she was part of the family who lived here, he would think she would have fancier digs. At the most, he expected she might be a visiting granddaughter of the old couple Tim had mentioned lived in the place.
"I'm not taking you anywhere," he reassured her, starting back toward the door. "I'm getting out of here as soon as the coast is clear."
Her pretty face took on a puzzled frown. "Wait a minute. Didn't you come to kidnap me?"
He spun and stared at her, both hands raised. "Whoa, hold on. I'm not kidnapping anyone." He frowned, put off balance by her odd reactions. "Why would I want to kidnap you?"
Her chin lifted as though she was gathering pride around herself. "Because I'm the princess, of course."
A princess. Oh, sure. He relaxed. She certainly looked like one, though, sitting there in her lacy nightgown with her hair tumbling around her face. She could have been right out of a picture in a Victorian novel. Too bad she also seemed to be a little nuts. Either that, or she was just pulling his leg.
"A princess," he said wryly. "Right. And I'm Robin Hood."
Robin Hood. Karina Alexandera Roseanova, Princess of the Royal House of Nabotavia, mulled that over and it made her smile. This very imposing man would fit perfectly into the role of the bandit with a heart of gold. He moved with a strength and agility that made her marvel, and he had the right audacious attitude for it, as well.
She knew he was mocking her, but that didn't bother her at all. In fact, it made this encounter all the more interesting. She hardly ever got this close to such an attractive man-especially one who didn't know who she was. He was scoffing at the idea of her being a princess.
He didn't know!
This gave rise to all sorts of intriguing possibilities. She didn't get the chance to come across as a regular person very often. In fact, her life was often monotonous, although seldom ordinary. For her to sit here and contemplate being kidnapped and not be frightened by the prospect should have been bizarre, but somehow it wasn't. She knew very well that one of the main reasons they had to have such extensive security here at the estate was exactly because there were Nabotavian rebels who might think grabbing the princess would give them leverage of one sort or another.
There had been a coup in Nabotavia shortly after she was born. Her parents had been killed in the fighting, and she and her three brothers had been whisked out of the country for safekeeping. Ever since, fears that one of them might be grabbed and taken hostage in order to manipulate events back in the old country had been a constant backdrop to their lives. She knew she ought to take the risk more seriously, but she was tired of spending her life jumping at every strange sound and distrusting everyone who looked at her too long.
Excerpted from Jack And The Princess by Raye Morgan 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.