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His Drakon Runaway Bride(19)

By:Tara Pammi

“I want to invite a couple of my good friends so that they can reassure themselves that the husband I have been hiding from for ten years is not a complete monster. And yes, they get a vacation.

“There have to be some perks to being the Crown Prince’s precious wife, ne?”

“Kala,” he said after a long gap. In a sudden movement that sent her heart lurching to her throat, he caged her against the wall. He took her mouth in a furious kiss that was all tongue and teeth and left her clinging to him. A sob burst out of her when he buried his mouth in her neck.

“Any more demands?”

Oh, his mouth was such a sensuous trap. So harsh when he dealt out commands and yet so soft when he kissed. She licked her lips and he leaned in closer, until his breath was a whisper across her heated skin. “I want Giannis back.”

“Oxhi. Next?”

She placed her hands on his chest and pushed, determined to win this battle. “I want my people around me. People who care about me, people who don’t think I’m your downfall. People who will stop me from feeling as if I live in a vacuum.

“I’m not a toy you play with, dress up and then put back on the shelf. That was me stopping before I fell into old, harmful patterns. I came—”

“Harmful patterns?” A vein pulsed dangerously at his temple. “Toy I played with? After every lie you’ve told, after everything you’ve done, I am still prepared to give you a place as my wife. A position coveted and sought out by the most beautiful, most accomplished women in the world today.”

She flinched but refused to back down. “But you chose me. Whatever it is that sits in the place of your heart, wanted me, Andreas. In my own naive way, I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of how uncharacteristic your choice was. How far off the mark you had gone.”

She pushed against his hold on her wrists until her upper body grazed his. The hiss of his breath drowned her own. Jaw set, fingers taut over her wrists, he searched her face. As if he was seeing her for the first time.

“You still want me. You wish you didn’t. And not just for a quick screw, or you would have taken me on the flight and dumped me. You could never be that ruthless with me then, and you won’t now.

“Andreas Drakos has a weakness and it is me.”

He pressed into her, a feral curve to his mouth. Bare chest crushed her breasts, and Ari threw her head back. Mouth drifting over her neck to the pulse, he smiled against her skin. “Point to Ariana Drakos. So why the hell are you not letting me give us both what we desperately need?”

“Because I’m not that train wreck reeling from her parents’ deaths anymore. My primary function in life is not to provide you with sex and relief from your duties. I’m not awed that you noticed me, much less chose me.” If her breath caught at the lies she was spouting, she hoped he didn’t notice.

She twisted her hands in his grip and he let go, as if she’d burned him. But Ariana was not through. A fire ran in her veins, a sense of rightness that she belonged with him. A new hope that she could live with Andreas without losing herself.

She clasped his face in her hands, determined to make him see her.

“I’m not that girl who thought the sun and moon rose out of your eyes, Andreas. I will not be another cog in the machine of your life like Petra or Thomas or your chauffeur.

“Unless you’re prepared to meet me as an equal, unless you’re prepared to share your life with me, I’ll run away again.

“And believe me, if I know one thing, it is how to escape from situations. This time, when you catch me—” his eyes gleamed at her acknowledgment “—I will come with a scandal that will rock your precious House of Drakos.

“So decide, Your Highness, if you want me in your life or not.”


ANDREAS FORCED HIMSELF to let Ariana go, stripped off his drawstring pants and walked into the cold shower. The mosaic tiles were startlingly cold against his overheated skin. He turned the jets to biting cold and still it took a few minutes for his arousal to abate, for his rational mind to grasp hold of the situation.

By the time he was out of the shower, he was shivering. He wrapped a towel around his waist and stood in front of the mirror.

His hair was overlong, falling past his ears. His eyes still had those dark shadows but had lost that bruised look he’d been walking around with for God knew how long. Gone too was that black void he’d carried inside of him for months.

And the black, biting, cold rage after Theos, in one of his mad rages, had spilled that Ariana was alive. It was as if his world was beginning to tilt back to normal again. He was beginning to understand that he had known nothing about her back then. Nothing of substance at least.

Even now, he knew there were things he still could not grasp. Things he knew he saw in her eyes when she had lain in bed next to him.

Things he struggled to put into words.

If you want me in your life, Your Highness...

Laughter, shocking even him, burst out of him at the audacity of the woman.

She had always been reckless and defiant, and yet there was something new to her. A self-possession that was as intoxicating as it forced him to pay attention.

She clearly thought he’d miss that adoration, and a part of him did. But this woman, who challenged him even as she trembled with her desire for him, she couldn’t hold a candle to that girl.

He had no doubt she meant every word of her threat. No doubt that she would bring scandal, if not ruin, to his feet if he didn’t give her whatever it was she wanted.

The challenge, instead of riling him, made anticipation flow in his veins.

He wanted to argue and negotiate with her. He wanted to dominate that defiance until it turned into desire. He wanted her under him, writhing and screaming.

Once he dressed, he could not however give her chase, as desperately as he wanted to.

The moment he had stepped out of his suite, Petra and his three aides had been desperate for his time. A contract he was signing with the House of Tharius came up and his thoughts veered.

His life would be so much better if he divorced her and took Maria Tharius for his wife. A doyenne of charities, Maria had been groomed since birth for a role like that. She would be amenable to his every wish, would know her place, be a proper mother for any children they had.

Maria would be the perfect Queen of Drakon. Maria would not demand that he give sanctuary to women fleeing their lives. Maria would not demand that he locate a security guard who worked in the palace ten years ago, who clearly had broken protocol and befriended the Crown Prince’s young wife. Much less order that he not only be reinstated but join her personal team, knowing that it made her husband...uncomfortable that his wife was...chummy with that man.

Face it, Andreas. You’re insanely jealous.

A growl rose through his throat and his team froze around him.

Dio, was this what she reduced him to?

In his heart of hearts, he knew Ariana wouldn’t have cheated on him. And yet he’d been insanely jealous of her friendship with that young guard.

And he still was, given that Ariana clearly still had affection for Giannis.

He, the future King, jealous of a small-time guard.

Yet the thought of sitting down to dinner with Maria for the next thirty years, the thought of seeing Maria’s placid smile across a crowded ballroom, a woman who would always remain a stranger because he just knew she’d stick to her place, the thought of taking her to bed... Distaste filled his mouth.

Thee mou, now that he had found her again, only Ariana would do.

Ariana, who had already won over his family with her effervescent personality.

Ariana, who would not give a damn about protocol and etiquette when it came to their own children. No, she would be the first one to slide down the side of a snow-covered hill. The one who would encourage them to break as many rules as possible. The one who would...love them unconditionally, whether they were an academic like him or a sick child like Nik had been. Or a little girl craving acceptance, like Eleni had been.

The one who would give a new definition to the future reputation of the House of Drakos.

“I want a Giannis Petrakis located as soon as possible,” he said to one of his aides. “He used to be a security guard with the palace. Have him report to Mrs. Drakos.”

“Mrs. Drakos?”

His aide paled when Andreas pinned him with a look. “Yes, Mrs. Drakos, my wife.”

In the following week, he chose to avoid her, chose to immerse himself in the most pressing state matters. Tried to lose himself in the riot almost brewing among the members of the Crown Council after he had passed the latest edict, relinquishing them of their powerful positions.

His opening their real estate to Gabriel’s company, and Nikandros’s risky financial ventures, had already caused waves.

The people didn’t understand investment when their national debt was already in millions of dollars. But Andreas had persisted.

It had taken everything he’d had to trust Nikandros, but he had. And it was the best decision he had made, for Gabriel’s company had already boosted the employment rates in the remote areas of Drakon.

There were a hundred matters for him to see to.

Yet all he felt was this raw, fierce need to possess her. To shatter the defiance he saw in her eyes, to own the fiercely strong woman she’d become.

To fix whatever she thought they had to fix between them so that he could drag her to bed and drive himself inside her.