The Prince's Forbidden Love. Raye Morgan

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The Prince's Forbidden Love - Raye Morgan

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      About the Author

      RAYE MORGAN has been a nursery school teacher, a travel agent, a clerk and a business editor, but her best job ever has been writing romances—and fostering romance in her own family at the same time. Current score: two boys married, two more to go. Raye has published over seventy romances, and claims to have many more waiting in the wings. She lives in Southern California with her husband and whichever son happens to be staying at home at the moment.

       The Prince’s Forbidden Love

       Raye Morgan

      MILLS & BOON

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      Dear Reader,

      Weddings are wonderful – white lace and promises. Summer and spring weddings are the best with bridesmaids in pastel colours and pictures taken on wide, sweeping lawns. What might be even better? Royal summer weddings, of course. The gowns are even more elaborate, dripping with crystals and seed pearls and antique Victorian handmade lace. The men all look so dashing, like a casting call for Cary Grants. The tiny flower girls are so adorable with their baskets full of petals. But best of all - there are princes and princesses everywhere. Magic!

      Why do we love royalty? I think we catch royal fever from fairy tales we hear as children. Those princesses rarely get caught mopping floors or doing dishes - unless named Cinderella. They spend their time getting fittings for ball gowns and dreaming that someday their prince will come. And when he shows up, the adventures and romantic intrigues begin! The entire production captures the imagination and sends it into the clouds.

      And then we grow up and read the tabloids and realise those royal people aren’t so different from the rest of us after all. In fact, they often seem so much worse! Still, they’re royal. That sets them apart, and the dream that starts in fairy tales lives on.

      I hope my story captures the dream for you. All the best!

      Raye Morgan

      This story is dedicated to Kirsten, our own princess


      CROWN PRINCE ANDRE RASTAVA of the Royal House of Diamante, rulers of Gemania, was bored, and when he got bored he tended to get restless. The noise of the crowd in the casino was giving him a headache, and he found himself shrugging away the caresses of the exotic lady who had draped herself up against his body like a sleazy silk scarf.

      What was her name again? It didn’t really matter. Lately the women had become as interchangeable as all the other decorative items in his life. He couldn’t tell one from another.

      “Your Highness?” the croupier nudged, waiting for his call.

      He glanced back at the roulette wheel and shrugged, pulling his tie loose and shoving back the sleeves of his Italian suit.

      “Let it ride,” he said, his voice hoarse. It hardly mattered if he won or lost. He wasn’t really here for the gambling. Though few around him realized it, he had a far more dangerous game to play. That usually kept his attention razor-sharp.

      But for some reason not tonight. Maybe it was the early spring heat wave coming in on the winds through the high mountain pass and numbing his senses. Or maybe it was the throbbing pain from the shrapnel that still lodged in his leg from the near miss he’d had in the explosion of his car the previous year. Or maybe he was just getting tired of this lifestyle.

      He looked at the snifter of cognac that no one ever seemed to notice he seldom touched. It was all part of the show—just like the two young ladies who were his guests here this evening, just like the gaming, just like the setting. Just like the onlookers who didn’t know they were merely part of the audience to this play.

      He looked out at them, at all the interested faces. Many of the men gazed at him with awe and a bit of envy. The women tended to smile as though hoping to catch his attention, even if for a fleeting moment. They seemed like nice enough people. Why were they watching him? For just a second he felt almost apologetic.

      It’s all an act, people, he wanted to say. Don’t you get it?

      But something happened that stopped that thought cold. As his gaze skittered through the crowd it met a pair of dark brown eyes that took his breath away. He knew those eyes. He knew that pretty, comical face with its sprinkling of freckles over the pert nose and its impatient pout.

      But … it couldn’t be.

      Shaking his head, as though to clear it of a fantasy, he closed his eyes and tried to erase her. But when he looked again she was still there, her blond curls like an enchanted cloud around her pretty face, her dark eyes blazing accusingly.

      One sleek eyebrow rose as he stared back, curling his lip. He was letting her know from the start that he regretted nothing. She could take her complaints elsewhere. At least that was what he’d hoped to convey. But something in those soft dark eyes held him a beat too long. And suddenly he found himself sinking into her gaze in a way that caught at his breathing. Strange. He pulled away and blinked quickly. This wasn’t like him.

      His number won again. A larger crowd was gathering, which didn’t help under the best of circumstances. His wide mouth twisted as he frowned and glanced at the croupier. The young man shrugged imperceptibly and appeared a bit bewildered. Prince Andre motioned to have his winnings collected and prepared to leave, ignoring the murmurings of the crowd and the entreaties of his two young female companions.

      But when he rose and turned toward where he’d seen her she was gone.

      Had he been dreaming? He scanned the room. No, he was still living in the real world. There she was, walking quickly toward the outer terrace that overlooked the lake, her honey-blond hair bouncing against her lovely back, the skirt of her yellow sundress swishing about her shapely knees.

      He hesitated for another second or two. Was he sure it was Julienne? How could it be? His ward should be living under veritable lock and key in the mountain convent where she’d been ensconced for years now. The entire staff was under strict orders not to let her roam free. Was this merely a lookalike? A twin sister he’d never known about?

      No matter. In any case, he had to check it out. He turned to leave the roulette table.

      “Your Highness,” the exotic beauty was saying, reaching for him. “Please….”

      “May we go with you?” her Scandinavian partner was asking plaintively. “We’re supposed to accompany you to—”

      “Find Rolfo,” he said shortly, barely glancing at them. “He will see that you are taken care of. I have something urgent I must attend to.”

      And he was off.

      Princess Julienne was hurrying toward an exit,

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