Today I’m giving you a little excerpt from my book from the Christmas Miracles in Maternity series, A Royal Baby for Christmas. It features my beautiful Scottish paediatric surgeon and an incognito Prince. See what you think.
His eyes scanned the bar as he ran his fingers through his hair. Six weeks, three countries, ten flights and thousands of miles. He’d been wined and dined by Heads of State and consulate staff, negotiated trade agreements, arranged to be part of a water aid initiative, held babies, shook hands for hours and had a number of tense diplomatic conversations.
All of this while avoiding dozens of calls from his mother about the upcoming royal announcement. His apparent betrothal to his lifelong friend.
All he wanted to do was find a seat, have a drink and clear a little head space. Il Palazzo di Cristallo was one of the few places he could do that. Set in the stunning mountains of Montanari the exclusive boutique hotel only ever had a select few guests – most of whom were seeking sanctuary from the outside world. The press were banned. The staff screened and well looked after to ensure all guests’ privacy was well respected – including the Crown Prince of Montanari. For the first time in six weeks Sebastian might actually be able to relax.
Except someone was sitting in his favourite seat at the bar.
There. A figure with shoulders slumped and her head leaning on her hand. Her ash blonde hair was escaping from its clasp and her blue dress was creased. Two empty glasses of wine sat on the bar in front of her.
The bartender sat down a third and gave Sebastian an almost indiscernible nod. The staff here knew he liked to keep his identity quiet.
Odd. He didn’t recognise the figure. Sebastian knew all the movie stars and celebrities who usually stayed here. She wasn’t a fellow royal or a visiting dignitary. His curiosity was piqued.
He strode across the room and slid onto the stool next to hers at the bar. She didn’t even look up in acknowledgement.
Her fingers were running up and down the stem of the glass and her light brown eyes were unfocused. But it wasn’t the drink. It was deep contemplation.
Sebastian sucked in a breath. Whoever she was, she was beautiful. Her skin was flawless. Her features finer than some of the movie starlets he’d been exposed to. Being Prince of Montanari meant that a whole host of women had managed to cross his path over the last few years. Not that he’d taken any of them seriously. He had a duty to his future kingdom. A duty to marry an acceptable neighbouring princess. There was no question about it – it had been instilled in him from a young age it was part of his preparations for finally becoming king. Marriage was a business transaction. It wasn’t the huge love and undying happiness portrayed in fairy tales. There were no rainbows and flying unicorns. It came down to the most advantageous match for the country and his parents had found her. Theresa Mon Carte, his childhood friend and princess from a neighbouring principality. They were to be married within the year.
Part of the reason he was here was to get some time to resign himself to his fate. Because that’s what it felt like.
But right now, he couldn’t think about that at all.
He was entirely distracted by the woman sitting next to him. She looked as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. There was no Botox here. Her brow was definitely furrowed and somehow he knew this woman would never be interested in cosmetic procedures.
“Want to tell me about them?”
“What?” She looked up, startled at the sound of his voice.
Light brown eyes that looked as if they’d once had a little dark eyeliner around them. It was smudged now. But that didn’t stop the effect.
It was like being speared straight through the heart.
For a second neither of them spoke. It was the weirdest sensation – as if the air around them had just stilled.
He was drinking in everything about her. Her forgotten about hair. Her crumpled clothes. Her dejected appearance.
But there was something else. Something that wouldn’t let him break their gaze. A buzz. An air. He’d never felt something like this before. And she felt it too.
He could tell. Her pupils dilated just a little before his eyes. He didn’t have any doubt that his were so big right now the Grand Canyon could fit in them.
There was something about her demeanour. This woman was a professional. She was educated. And she was oh, so sexy.
He found his tongue. “Your worries.” He couldn’t help but let the corners of his mouth turn upwards.
She gave the briefest rise of her eyebrows and turned back towards the waiting wine glass. Her shoulders straightened a little. He’d definitely caught her attention.
Just like she’d caught his.
He leaned a little closer and nudged her shoulder. “You’re sitting on my favourite bar stool.”
“Didn’t have your name on it,” she quipped back.
Her accent. It was unmistakeable. The Scottish twang made the hairs on his arms stand on end. He could listen to that all day. Or all night.
She swung her legs around towards him and leaned one arm on the bar. “Come to think of it, you must be kind of brave.” She took a sip of her wine. Her eyebrows lifted again. “Or kind of stupid.”
He liked it. She was flirting back. He leaned his arm on the bar too, so they were closer than ever. “What makes you think that?”
She licked her lips. “Because you’re trying to get between a Scots girl and the bar.” She smiled as she ran her eyes up and down the length of his body. It was almost as if she’d reached her fingers out and touched him. “Haven’t you heard about Scots girls?”
He smiled and leaned closer. “I think I might need a little education.” He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more.
Instant attraction. He’d never really experienced it before. Not like this. He’d wanted to come in here to hide and get away from things. Now, his sanctuary, had become a whole lot more exciting.
A whole lot more distracting.
His stomach flipped over. What if he never felt like this again? Or even worse, what if he felt like this when he was King of Montanari and married?
Right now he was none of those things. The engagement hadn’t been announced. He was about to step into a life of duty and constant scrutiny.
Theresa was a friend. Nothing more. Nothing less. They’d never even shared a kiss.
He hadn’t come here to meet anyone. He hadn’t come here to be attracted to someone.
But right now he was caught in a gaze he didn’t want to escape from. The pull was just too strong.
Something flitted across her eyes. It was as if her confidence wavered for a second.
“What’s wrong?” He couldn’t help himself.
She sucked in a breath. “Bad day at the office.”
“Anything to do with a man?” It was out before he thought.
She blinked and gave a little smile again, pausing for a second. “No. Definitely nothing to do with a man.”
It was like he’d just laid himself bare. Finding out the lay of the land. He couldn’t ignore the warm feeling that spread straight through him.
He had no royal duties this weekend. There were no hands he needed to shake. No business he needed to attend to. He’d told security he was coming here and to keep their distance.
If he lived to be 100 he’d remember this. He’d remember this meeting and the way it made him feel. The buzz was so strong the air practically sparkled around her.
He was still single. He could do this. Right now he would cross burning coals to see what would happen next.
He leaned even closer. “I came here to get some peace and quiet. I came here to get some head space.” He gave her a little smile and lowered his voice. “But, all of a sudden, there’s no space in my head at all.”
He took a chance. “How about I stop searching for some peace and quiet, and you forget all about your bad day.”
She ran her fingers up the stem of her wine glass. He could tell she was thinking. She looked up from heavy eyelids. “You mean, like a distraction. An interlude?”
The warm glow in his body started to rapidly rise. He nodded. “A distraction.”
She licked her lips again and he almost groaned out loud. “I think a distraction might be just what I need,” she said carefully.
He tried to quieten the cheerleader squad currently yelling in his head.
“I’ve always wanted to meet a Scots girl. Will you teach me how to wear a kilt?” He waved to the bar man. “There are some killer cocktails in here. You look like a Lavender Fizz kind of girl.”
“I’ll do better than that.” There was a hint of mischief in her voice. “I’ll teach you how to take it off.”
A Royal Baby for Christmas is the final book in the series.
The Nurse’s Christmas Gift by Tina Beckett
The Midwife’s Pregnancy Miracle by Kate Hardy
White Christmas for the Single Mum by Susanne Hampton
A Royal Baby for Christmas by Scarlet Wilson