Heir in Exile

By: Danielle Bourdon

Chapter One

Chey knew this particular brand of bliss, the kind that came wrapped in golden skin, strong hands and passionate kisses, couldn't last forever. Well it could. Today, however, she was out of time for ecstasy.

Rolling onto her stomach, sheets twisted around her hips, dark hair tangled around her shoulders, Chey surfaced from the haze of desire and ignored the lusty look her fiance was giving her.

Sander, all male, with his golden hair, rough whiskers and appealing broad shoulders, acted like they didn't have a day fraught with tension, strife and possible danger ahead. He cocked his elbow into the pillow and rested his temple in his palm.

“What?” Chey asked, giving Sander an accusing look. He shouldn't be so sexy, so...infuriatingly masculine. Hot. That's what Prince Sander Darrion Ahtissari was.

And hers. All hers.

“It's not like you to quit before you co--”

“Sander. We don't have time for all that.” Chey rested her flushed cheek against the pillow.

“But you had time for two hours of--”

“It's almost eight o'clock. We're due at the castle at ten.” Chey cut him off before he could remind her, again, what they'd been doing for the last two hours.

“If I use my tongue, it only takes you four or five minutes to rea--”

“Sander Darrion Ahtissari!”

“Quit cutting me off.” He reached over to pinch her shoulder before untangling from the covers. Sliding out of bed, he got to his feet and shook his hair out like a lion shakes his mane. Grinning like the rogue he was, he strode for the bathroom in all his naked glory.

At six-foot-three, there was a lot of naked flesh for Chey to enjoy. She lingered over his thick thighs, taut buttocks and tight stomach. Until he swerved out of sight, that is.

Chey kicked off the sheets and followed. After the morning just past, she felt wonderfully nimble and sleek. Sander had a way of bringing everything feminine about her to the fore. Although many inches shorter than him, she carried herself with statuesque grace, bare feet silent on the stone floor.

Catching sight of herself in the long mirror, she glimpsed the riot of dark hair tumbled around narrow shoulders, the modest indent of her waist and shapely legs that had not so long ago been wrapped around Sander's hips. She crept up behind him while he ran the water in a shower that could easily fit eight people standing upright. Sliding her arms around his middle, she pressed several kisses between his shoulder blades and made a low noise of pleasure when he reached back to stroke calloused fingers across her outer thigh.

“You sure you don't want me to--”

“Just get in the shower.” Laughing, Chey bulled him under the spray. He was incorrigible.

While they washed their skin clean of sweat and the scent of sex, Chey allowed her mind to roam over the last month and a half.

Since his proposal on Christmas eve, they had been inseparable. Except for meetings and other Princely duties, Sander and Chey had hidden away on the island of Pallan a few miles off Latvala's shore. The brutal winter season, well under way, made it difficult to do any serious traveling or sight seeing. Never mind that Chey was in the country illegally, hiding out from the King and Queen. Only members of Sander's personal staff and a few others knew she was here.

Chey hadn't minded exploring the castle and the island, what they could reach of it, with Sander. He'd taken her hiking on the mountain, skiing on gentle slopes and snow mobile riding through meadows and valleys. He'd proven time and again what a skilled outdoorsman he was, handling the equipment like a seasoned pro. He also knew the island well, giving them the advantage when he took her adventuring.

So far, no one knew of their engagement. They kept it hidden even from Mattias, Sander's younger brother, a man both trustworthy and able to keep secrets.

Now, however, her presence in Sander's life, if not their engagement, was about to come out. He had a ball to attend in Dubai in three days and he insisted she go with him. It was time, he'd said, to break the news to the King and Queen so they didn't find out through photos of the event that Chey was back in his life.

Rinsing suds from her body, she gathered the shampoo and attacked her hair next. Sander kissed her on the shoulder on his way out of the shower. Finished before her, he snagged a towel from the holder, shook out his hair, and toweled dry.

Chey watched him while she finished a routine that included a skin scrub, shaving her legs, and the use of a pumice stone on her heels. By the time she was done, Sander had changed into a pair of black slacks, white button down, and a suit jacket that he paired with an ice blue tie.

“That looks nice on you. Decided to dress up for the occasion, huh?” she asked. It meant she needed to find something equally fitting to wear. Not that she would have gone in jeans or something too casual. But now she needed a semi-formal dress or suit so she didn't look out of place for the announcement.