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His Drakon Runaway Bride(6)

By:Tara Pammi

“How refreshing that you’re capable of loyalty, even if it’s toward another man, pethi mou. I told him, soon enough you’d have found a reason to run out on him. That your precious freedom would have come calling.

“Is it not your pattern?”

Ariana flinched, the softly delivered statement even more painful for she’d been about to do exactly the same thing to Magnus. Not for some kind of femme fatale reason but because she’d realized Magnus deserved much better than her.

“I didn’t think you of all people would be crass enough to typecast me as some kind of vacant-headed, freewheeling slut. If for no other reason than that it would taint your own pristine image, your own association with me.”

“What does that mean?”

“I was eighteen, Andreas. I... I was bowled over by you. I threw myself at you. I was...messed up after my parents’ deaths, and you were a high unlike anything I’d ever known.

“You were—you are unlike any other man I’ve ever known.

“Jesus, did you know what your attention, your reluctant interest, meant to me? You...who didn’t show interest in princesses, and models and CEOs.

“You looked at me. Me—messed-up, frightened, guilty Ariana.

“You married me knowing who and what I was. So, if we have to call out someone for the...twisted mess that was our marriage, it’s you.”

“Was that the justification when you let me think you had died in a horrible drowning accident,” he bit out and she flinched. “Maybe I will let you go, Ariana. Maybe one of these days I will find that little bit of decency within myself again. Maybe you can go back to being Anna Harris and the savior of those women in your little town again.”

And in those statements of his, Ariana saw his shredded control for what it was. Saw his loathing that she was still an obsession with him. He despised himself, and her, because he couldn’t give her up.

Any hopes she had of convincing him perished in that moment. After all, she did know him better than anyone.

“So this is about revenge?”

“Call it whatever the hell you want to.” His gaze tracked her face and her torn clothes. He fisted his hand so tight by his side that the knuckles were white.

For the first time that day, Ariana realized how tremendous his self-control was.

“You need food and rest. Do not force me to manhandle you into that, too. We both know whether it will be pleasure or punishment.”

Ariana fell onto the bed with a soft thud, the recrimination in his eyes burning through her like acid. Her skin still prickling, for the first time since she’d known him, she was grateful for his iron-clad self-control.

Because, even after all these years, she had none when it came to resisting the Crown Prince of Drakon.



For the second time in a few hours, Ariana jerked upright so suddenly that her neck gave a painful twinge. She looked at the stewardess patiently waiting for her to wake up.

So the cat was out of the bag.

Instead of the panic she braced herself for, all she felt was a...quiet resignation. Not the give-up-and-become-his-wife kind. But the guilty-as-hell kind.

Whatever he had done to her, however much she had despised him at the end of their marriage, it was clear that she had miscalculated the effect of her supposed death on Andreas. On hearing of his swift engagement to a real estate mogul’s sister, her own guilt had been alleviated.

She didn’t belong in the Crown Prince’s world and that he’d replaced her so fast had been proof enough.

Of course, that miscalculation had been aided by his father.

If Andreas had grieved her loss, who knew how Theos had twisted that to his advantage?

King Theos, she had realized within a week of meeting her guardian as her father-in-law, had possessed an unhealthy hold on his heir. He’d seen her as nothing but a weakness to eliminate from his son’s life.

What had been painful was from the moment he had presented her to King Theos, even Andreas had begun to see her as that—a weakness to be hidden away.

The stewardess’s eyes traveled over Ari’s hair, which could rival the Amazon forest for its wildness right now, to the torn dress she had fallen asleep in.

Ari cringed. She stood up from the bed, and pushed the dress off her shoulders and hips.

Ill-concealed curiosity scampered across the woman’s face. “I will take care of the dress, Your Highness. Have it mended. I’m sure you’d want to—”

“No, that’s not necessary,” Ari replied, pulling the slip off her shoulders. Her strapless bra stuck to the underside of her breasts uncomfortably, thanks to her habit of smothering herself under the covers. She stepped out of the slip seconds before the woman took it, almost dislodging Ari off her feet.

“Have it burned,” a soft voice commanded from the entrance.

The need to cover herself was instinctive, self-preservation at its primal. Shaking, Ariana covered her midriff with her arms.

The stewardess had that look again, switching between her and Andreas, as if she could figure out the secret as to how this average-looking, falling-apart-at-the-seams waif had snared the most powerful, gorgeous man in Drakon.

It was a question the whole world was going to ask this time, not just King Theos, if Andreas had his way.

His gaze dipped past Ari’s face this time—as if he’d given himself permission to look, to linger—moved to the pulse beating wildly at her neck, betraying the sudden tension that suffused her every cell, to the curves of her breasts rising and falling. A languorous ache settled low in her belly, her nipples hard against the flimsy bra.

“Checking up on me already?” Fear of how just one look from him turned her on destroyed the need for discretion in front of a member of the staff. “There’s no way to escape, unless you’re willing to provide me with a parachute. You can see me plummet to death, at least.”

He closed his eyes, his chest barely lifted and fell with his exhale, and then leveled that black gaze at her again. Military precision to every single breath. “I came in to see if you were awake. Petra needs your prescription for your inhaler. I will not have you fainting everywhere.”


“Yes, my secretary.” He looked down at his phone, frowned, typed a message and looked up again.

Tall, blonde, with a voluptuous body, armed with a master’s from a renowned university in Drakon, and hailing from a highly connected Drakonite family. Andreas’s oldest friend and shadow. Theos’s spy. If Ariana could give a form to all her self-doubts and insecurities back then, it would be Petra Cozakis. “I know Petra runs your life. And for the last time, it was the stress of the last week and that dress that did it today.

“Do not treat me as if I am still an imbecile, Andreas.”

He raised a brow. Confirmation enough that that was exactly how she was acting. “Petra is on this flight. Let her know if you need anything.”

“No,” she said loudly.

His gaze pinned her. “Precisely what are you saying no to?”

“If you’re dragging me to the King’s Palace, it will be different this time. I will not be hidden away like some stain on the great House of Drakos. I will not let your uptight, snobbish staff run circles around me. I will not communicate through your minions, will not let you pawn me off on them as if I was a thing to be managed.” Maybe what Andreas needed was a dose of reality. For his staff and his family and the world to realize who he had chosen and how unsuitable she was.

Lines formed between his brows. “Leave us,” he said to the stewardess without moving his gaze from Ariana.

The woman froze in the process of folding the damned dress. She thought Ariana and Andreas had gotten married in that dress, Ariana realized.

“Burn. That. Dress,” he repeated. The stewardess nodded and scurried out.

Arms still around her waist, Ariana turned, grabbed the duvet and pulled it around her like a shroud. However she tried, the choice was to either cover her chest or her midriff.

She covered her midriff. Her bra was enough for her meager breasts. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen the little she had to offer before.

The small scar she bore above her pubic bone might not be visible in the soft light, but she couldn’t take the chance. Closing her eyes, she willed the grief down. The situation with Andreas was explosive enough without adding her discovery after she had left him that she’d been pregnant.

That she had lost her precious little baby boy was an unbearable, ever-present weight on her soul. For Andreas, it would only mean more betrayal. Worse, the loss of a potential heir, a figurehead to represent the House of Drakos’s future.

Ariana couldn’t bear to hear his dismissal of that tiny life. The guilt of it, the grief of it was all her own.

At least, it served as a reminder that she couldn’t chance a pregnancy again.

Because there was no point in denying that she was going to end up in his bed. The attraction between them, it seemed, had survived despite everything.

She took a Post-it note and pen from the small bedstead and scribbled the name and number of her GP. Shards of glass seemed to be stuck in her throat when she turned. “I also need the prescription for my birth control pills filled.”

The memory of their last fight, the bitterest and dirtiest of them all, sculpted sharp grooves in his already gaunt cheeks. His hesitation was like handing her a live grenade. Bulky duvet and all, she reached him, her heart threatening to rip out of her chest. “Have something to say, Andreas?”