Prince Dominic Sancho has always lived up to his family's royal expectations. Until one irresistibly spontaneous night with teacher Ginny Jones has dramatic repercussionsshe's now carrying the next heir to Xaviera's throne! There's only one solutiona royal wedding
A marriage of convenience is Ginny's worst nightmare, but for their baby's sake, she says "I do." And as the royal couple jet off on their honeymoon, she begins to realize that beneath the royal etiquette, Dominic is a daddyand loving husbandin the making!
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When the doorbell to her condo rang, Virginia Jones, Ginny for short, had just gotten out of the shower after a long, long day at Jefferson High School in Terra Mas, Texas. Her school was the last on a list of places Prince Dominic Sancho of Xaviera, a small island country between Spain and Algeria, was visiting on a goodwill tour. As guidance counselor, she'd shown him the school and introduced him to staff, then herded the kids into the gymnasium, where he'd given an hour-long talk on global economics: how the world was a much smaller place than it had been before the internet.
She'd loved the talk, but she'd liked looking at Prince Dominic even more. Tall and broad shouldered, he filled out the formal uniform of his royalty like a man meant to be a king. His dark eyes sparkled with amusement at the antics of "her" kids. His full lips had never stopped smiling.
If it were permitted for grown women to swoon, she would have made a fool of herself with him that afternoon. As it was, common sense had kept her professional. And now she was tired. Not up for a visitor.
Her doorbell rang again.
She gave her glass of wine a longing look before she rose from her sofa.
"I'm coming." She said it just as she reached the door. Going up on tiptoes, she peeked through the peephole. When she saw Prince Dominic, she gasped and jumped back.
Her doorbell rang again.
She peered down at her sweatpants and tank top, ran a hand along her still-wet long blond hair and knew this would go down in the annals of her life as one of her most embarrassing moments.
With no choice, she pasted a smile on her face and opened the door.
He laughed. "I caught you at a bad time."
"Unfortunately." Just looking at him made her heart speed up. He'd removed the royal uniform and replaced it with a lightweight white V-neck sweater and jeans. Not a hair of his shiny black curls was out of place. His dark eyes sparkled with amusement.
"You probably think all Americans are idiots."
"No, I think the United States is a very comfortable country." He paused long enough to lift his perfect lips into a warm smile. "Are you going to invite me in?"
She motioned for him to come in with a wave of her hand and kept hyperventilation at bay only by a miracle of self-discipline. She had a prince entering her house. A good-looking, good-natured, good everything prince.
As she closed the door, he said, "I'd actually come here tonight to see if you'd like to have dinner with me." He shrugged. "And show me your town."
She had to work to keep her eyes from bugging. He wanted to take her out? Then she realized his request made sense. She'd shown him the school. Of course, she was the prime candidate to show him the town. He was not asking her out.
"Then I thought maybe we'd fly to Los Angeles and go to a club."
She let her eyes bulge. Okay. He was asking her out. "You want to go clubbing?"
"Don't you like to dance?"
Her heart tripped over itself in her chest. "I love to dance."
He smiled. "Me, too. I'm afraid I don't get to dance often, though. Duty supersedes fun. Please say you'll come with me."
"I'd love to."
Though he was in jeans, he looked good enough to eat, so she slithered into her prettiest red party dress, put on her best makeup and slid into tall black sandals.
They had dinner at the local Italian restaurant, with his bodyguards unobtrusively eating at the tables beside theirs, then they actually got on his royal jet and flew to LA, where they'd danced until three. He should have dropped her off at her building lobby. Instead, he came up to her condo, and the few kisses they'd shared in his limo turned into passionate lovemaking. The best sex of her life. She'd kissed him goodbye at the door in her one and only fancy robewhich she'd retrieved from her closet when he made the call to his driver that he was ready. Then just when she was about to shower for school again, he called her.
The sweetness of his words caused her throat to tighten. Her voice was soft and breathless when she said, "You're welcome."
"I'm sorry we'll never meet again."
But in a way she wasn't. She'd had a wonderful fairy-tale night with a prince, something she could hold in her heart forever. There would be no need to worry if he would be a good king or a bad king; no need to know if he did stupid things like hog the bathroom; no need to worry if the stress of his job would make him an alcoholic, as her dad had been. No need to know the real Prince Dominic Sancho.
There had been one glorious, wonderful night. No regrets and no worries about the future. The way she liked all her relationships.
They hung up on mutual sighs. In the process of setting her phone on her bedside table, she realized that because he'd called her, she had his number. She clicked a few buttons and when the digits came up caller ID said private line. She smiled. She didn't just have his number she had his private number.
That pleased her enormously. If she ever got curious or lonely, she could call him
Or not. Best to sit and stare at his number and imagine good things. Not bad. Never bad. She'd had enough bad in her life.
Knowing there was no time to sleep, she dressed for school, hugging her secret to herself. For two weeks she walked on a cloud of happiness, then one morning she woke and realized she hadn't gotten her period, and she knew there really was a good reason to have his private number.
"Thank God our country isn't like Britain used to be where the future king had to marry a virgin."
Prince Dominic Sancho held back the anger that threatened to rise up in him. He'd been the perfect royal for nearly thirty years and one slip, one reckless night in America, had wiped all that away. His father might be angry, but it was his life plan that had been changed. In order to ensure the integrity of the line and the safety of his child, he had no choice but to marry Ginny Jones, a woman he didn't know.
"Yes. Thank God I'm permitted to marry the mother of my child."
"I was being facetious." Short and bald, with a round belly, his father, the king of Xaviera, was an imposing, strict man. He hated mistakes. Couldn't even tolerate slipups. Especially not from the son who was his successor.
"And I was being sarcastic." It wasn't often that he got smart with his father. In fact, he probably hadn't done it more than five times in his entire life, including his teen years. But discovering a simple one-night stand had resulted in a pregnancy had pushed him over the edge. His brother was the king of playboys but did he ever suffer a consequence for his actions? No. Yet the first time Dom stepped out of line, he was punished.
"I've arranged for you and Ms. Jones to meet with the protocol officials whenever you're ready. But no later than tomorrow morning." King Ronaldo caught his gaze. "Prepare your bride"
The insult in his father's voice cut through Dom like a knife. He just barely succeeded in not sniping back.
He rose from his seat across from the ornate desk that was the seat of power for the king. He should have said, "Thank you for your time, Your Majesty." A good prince would have done that. Instead he said, "I'll get back to you."
"See to it that this wedding is done right. I will not be so easy on you if you screw up again."
He bowed and headed out of the room. I will not be so easy on you if you screw up again?
Anger coursed through him. He stifled it. His father was the king. Dominic was heir to the throne. He knew there were protocols and rules. He'd broken them. He deserved this.
Still the penalty for one misstep was marriage? Marriage.
After the way his father had fallen apart when his mother died, Dominic understood why his dad was careful, rigid now. His grief had been so intense that he hadn't come out of his quarters for six weeks and in that time the country had begun to crumble. Parliament nearly took his crown, and, watching it all unfold, Dominic had promised himself he would never marry, never soften so much that a loss nearly destroyed him.
When an opportunity for a treaty had arisen, the price being his marriage to a princess of a country that had been an enemy for centuries, he'd thought why not? Not only was the feud between their kingdoms old enough that it was time to retire it, but also there'd be no real emotional ties in a marriage that was part of a treaty, and he'd get an heir who would be a prince in two countries. But now here he was. Forced to marry a woman he didn't know, ruining his design for a double royal heir, because of his own carelessness.
His life plan really had gone to hell.
He sucked in a breath and walked to the back stairway that led to his private quarters, buying time before he had to talk to Ginny.
If he was angry, he couldn't imagine how she felt
Unless she'd gotten pregnant deliberately?
The horribleness of the thought froze his blood, stopped his breathing, and he told himself to calm down. Too many things had to align for her to have orchestrated the pregnancy, including the fact that he was the one who had gone to her condo that night. And she'd been a cute mess. Wet hair. Sweatpants. She obviously hadn't been planning on seeing him that night.
Reaching the top floor of the east wing of Xaviera's palace, he strode in the direction of the white double doors with intricate scroll designs carved down the sides. The huge square "waiting" area between the top of the stairs and his apartment had scant furnishings, though the walls were adorned with art. Picasso. Rembrandt. Monet. Hidden treasures. Mostly for his viewing. Because that's what his life was. Special. Honored. In spite of the awkward meeting with his father, he knew that he was different. Some day he would be a king.
The click of his heels echoed as he walked along the marble floor. When he reached the doors, he took both handles and opened them onto his home, his haven.
Virginia Jones rose from the tufted bench seat in what served as a foyer for his apartment. Medium height, with long yellow hair and the kind of body that tempts a man to do exactly what he had done the night he met her, Ginny was every man's fantasy. When her striking blue eyes met his, he remembered how adorable she was at the Texas high school, a guidance counselor beloved by her students. He also remembered the hot little red dress she'd slipped into when he'd persuaded her to go clubbing with him. The dress had brought out the best of her figure, almost made him drool and turned him into a real live Prince Charming. Seducing her had been second nature. The sex had been amazing.
It seemed that was all he could think about when he looked at her. And now he was about to make her a princess.
"So, my father and my kingdom wish for us to marry."
Those bright blue eyes met his. "Wish?"
He motioned for her to follow him into his formal living room. More marble floors greeted them, except these were covered by rich red Oriental rugs. White sofas flanked a white marble fireplace. Red pillows gave the room some color. He gestured for Virginia to take a seat while he strode to the bar and grabbed the decanter of Scotch.
"Can I get you a drink?"
She gaped at him. "I'm pregnant."
He winced. "Right." He took a breath. "How about some orange juice?"
"I'm fine." She held his gaze. "I'm more anxious to learn my fate than to pretend we're having a tea party."
He had no idea where the attitude had come from, but that was the truth of getting intimate with someone you didn't know. She could be the Wicked Witch of the West, or a woman who wanted to save the whales, or a woman who had no loyalties at all, a woman who was lazy, crass or stupid, and he was stuck with her.
"All right." He walked to the sofa across from the one on which she sat and set his Scotch on the glass table between them. "Maybe the better way to put it is that they are requesting that we marry."
"So I have a choice?"
"Not really. You are pregnant with the heir to Xaviera's throne. If you decide not to marry me, your child will be taken from you."
She gasped. "What?"
"He or she is the heir to our throne. There isn't a country in the world who'd dare supersede our laws with their own when it comes to royalty, especially royalty in line to rule the country."
She bounced from her seat. "That's not fair!"
He sat back, watching her long legs as she paced. Though she wore jeans and a snug sweater, he pictured those legs beneath the shiny red dress. "Try suing. Waste time. Ruin the chance for us to have a royal wedding. Ruin the chance for the gossip to die down and our child to be brought into the world with a celebration instead of whispers."
She stopped pacing and caught his gaze, obviously thinking through what he'd said.
He took advantage of her weak moment. "You won't win and you'll bring our child into a world of chaos for nothing because I have a plan."
Ginny stared at the gorgeous man on the sofa. With eyes so dark they almost looked black and onyx hair, he was every inch a prince. A royal. A future ruler who lived a life of privilege. A man just a little bit above everybody else.
As they talked about a situation that would totally change her life, he very calmly sipped Scotch.
"My father wants the next king to be born in wedlock." He held her gaze. "Our subjects will, too. But that doesn't mean we have to stay married."
Relieved, she sat on the sofa across from him again. "It doesn't?"
"No. But it does mean we have to play a part for a while." He glanced at his Scotch then back up at her. "Over the next couple of days, as the protocol office begins planning our wedding, we'll be seen together in public."
Her heart thumped when he said wedding. She would be married to a guy who would someday be a king. Did that mean sleeping with him? They might be at odds now, but the night they'd gone out, they'd had a really good time. She had no idea how that factored into his plan, so she kept her face calm, simply kept her gaze locked with his, hoping to appear cooler than she was.
"Next week we'll announce our engagement, quick wedding and pregnancy all at once."
That didn't sound fun. "Oh, boy."
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This is my first read from this author. Enjoyed and just purchased another one
Very good story