Authors: Carole Mortimer
Knight Security Series 0.5
USA Today Bestselling Author
Copyright © 2016 Carole Mortimer
Cover Design Copyright © Glass Slipper Designs
Editor: Linda Ingmanson
Formatter: Matthew Mortimer
ISBN: 978-1-910597-21-7 (mobi)
ISBN: 978-1-910597-22-4 (ePub)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All Rights Reserved.
My Wonderful Family
No, no, no, no, no,
No, I couldn’t have done.
Stazzi slammed her forearms down on the desk either side of her laptop, a sick feeling in her stomach as she stared at the screen, hoping—praying—
the damned image to change. To see her Sent box no longer showed that her last email, meant for her best friend and flatmate Lissa had gone instead to Prince Alexandre, the ruler of the island principality of Androcco.
An email in which Stazzi totally lost it and blasted off a diatribe of exactly what the demanding prince could do with himself. In graphic detail.
In the past two weeks, Stazzi had received dozens of emails from Gerard St Sebastien, the prince’s cousin and private secretary, each one listing more of the prince’s needs during his week-long stay at the Meyers Hotel. An exclusive and discreet London hotel, one of its fifty luxurious suites took up the whole of the penthouse floor.
And, coincidentally, that was the suite Gerard St Sebastien had demanded for his cousin’s stay.
Along with many other demands.
His Highness requires fresh fruit and flowers in his suite at all times.
His Highness requires down pillows, not synthetic.
His Highness sleeps between silk sheets, not cotton.
His Highness requires green towels in the bathrooms.
His Highness wants this, His Highness needs that, His Highness whatever.
The list of what His Highness did and didn’t “require” was over two pages long.
As the manager in charge of the exclusive penthouse floor of the Meyers Hotel, it would be far from the first time Stazzi had been asked to cater to the whims and fancies of a particularly demanding guest. Maybe not one who looked quite like His Highness Prince Alexandre Sylvain Claude St Sebastien of Androcco, but still…
Tall and dark haired, his tanned and chiseled features dominated by emerald-green eyes, Prince Alexandre had been something of a playboy until the sudden death of his father in a car accident almost two years ago. His photograph had often been plastered across the front page of the tabloids, after one wild escapade or another, or the breaking up of his latest… Well, Stazzi was loath to call them romances when those relationships had inevitably lasted only a week or two.
The unexpected death of his father meant the wild prince had to step up as ruler of the small island in the Mediterranean, rumored to have acquired its original wealth from the fifteenth-century piracy of the many ships traveling through the treacherous waters about its coastline. Nowadays, the island practiced a different sort of piracy, adding to its considerable wealth from its casinos and exclusive homes of the ultra-rich and famous.
A lifestyle Prince Alexandre no longer seemed to be a part of. His dark hair was worn shorter, he was always photographed wearing dark, perfectly tailored suits, silk shirts, and ties, and no longer gave the tabloids fodder regarding the week-long parties aboard his private yacht or ski lodge in Klosters. Nor did he attend film premiers with a beautiful actress or model at his side, let alone engage in much-publicized affairs with them.
From all accounts, His Highness Prince Alexandre of Androcco was now the respectable and responsible ruler of his small principality. He was also still single at the age of thirty-four, making him the most eligible, as well as the richest, bachelor in the world. Well, according to all those polls in glossy women’s magazines he was.
Stazzi and Lissa had spent hours one evening trying to decide if this new Prince Alexandre wasn’t too good to be true.
A couple of bottles of wine later, and Lissa had even gone one step further and speculated as to whether the prince had secret fetishes he now practiced in private. Like bondage. Which Stazzi found a complete turn-off, but Lissa had said she might be willing to try if she could have Prince Alexandre as her Dom. The two of them had giggled over that one.
Stazzi no longer felt like giggling.
On top of all the prince’s demands, there had been a visit yesterday from a man representing Knight Security. Daniel had brought him up to the penthouse floor and explained the other man was here on the prince’s behalf, checking to see that all the prince’s prearrival security was in place.
Then this morning she’d received an email directly from the prince himself, stating it was now his intention to arrive a day earlier than expected, and asking—which Stazzi read as being a princely command—she be present when he arrived at the hotel at nine o’clock this evening. The “if that is convenient” had definitely been an afterthought.
And it wasn’t convenient. Far from it.
Stazzi was meant to be having dinner at eight o’clock this evening with Will, her boyfriend of the last six months. When pressed, he’d been very mysterious about where they were going, except to say it was somewhere they could have a “conversation where they wouldn’t be interrupted.” As far as Stazzi was concerned, that could mean only one thing. Will was going to propose.
Except now Prince Alexandre had upset all her plans for leaving early, going back to her apartment, and indulging in a relaxing soak in a bubble bath, before just as leisurely getting herself ready for her date. She had even popped out during her lunch break yesterday and bought herself a sophisticated new black dress to wear.
None of which was going to happen now. Along with the proposal.
Prince Alexandre’s nine o’clock arrival meant she couldn’t spare the time to meet Will before the prince arrived, and she doubted Will would appreciate her fitting him in after she had seen the prince comfortably settled into his suite. Especially when she had no idea what time she would be able to get away.
And maybe none of that is going to happen, and instead I’ll very shortly be out of a job altogether once the prince has complained to Daniel Meyers, the owner and manager of the hotel, about the outrageous and insulting email he’d received from one of the other man’s employees.
Stazzi stared at the screen, still not quite believing what she’d done. She had been upset, and then annoyed, at having her plans for the evening disrupted so arrogantly, and as a consequence hadn’t been concentrating on what she was doing, but—
Oh God, it was still there, in very black-and-white, that her last email had definitely been sent to Prince Alexandre.
Maybe its content wasn’t as bad as she thought it was?
Stazzi quickly read what she’d written—
she’d written, to Lissa.
No, if anything, it was worse than she’d thought.
She and Lissa had been friends since they’d attended the same boarding school at the age of thirteen, both attended university in Edinburgh, and shared an apartment since they moved to London five years ago, and the two of them had absolutely no secrets from each other.
The words “selfish bastard,” “arrogant prince,” and “princely pain in the fucking ass” now leapt off the screen at Stazzi. Worst of all, Stazzi had then gone on to describe exactly what penis-shaped fruit she would like to painfully shove up that demanding princely ass.
So far, there had been no reply.
Well, there wouldn’t be, would there.
Prince Alexandre was probably too stunned and outraged at having one of the employees at the exclusive Meyers Hotel write to him in such graphic terms.
She was screwed.
Well and truly screwed.
Maybe she should just save Daniel Meyers the trouble of listening to the prince’s complaints against her and just hand in her notice now?
“I still don’t understand the reason you decided to arrive in London a day earlier than planned.”
“It’s not necessary you understand, Gerard,” Alexandre coolly answered his cousin and private secretary as the two men sat together in the limousine driving them into London from the private airfield several miles outside the city.
“Then I should have been the one to alter the arrangements for you.”
“I was quite capable of changing the arrangements myself.”
The older man frowned, obviously displeased with Alexandre for having done so. “The doctor says you aren’t fully recovered from this last bout of illness.”
Alexandre scowled at this reminder of the affliction that had been troubling him on and off for the past year. “The doctor you brought over from France is not only overcautious but in no way lives up to the reputation for excellence you claimed he has.” So far, the man had diagnosed gastric flu, food poisoning, and now he’d decided Alexandre had an ulcer and prescribed a foul-tasting medicine to be taken after every meal.
“You did at least bring all your medication with you?” Gerard fussed.
“Yes,” Alexandre bit out between clenched teeth. Besides the disgusting medicine for a supposed ulcer, he also had an epinephrine autoinjector in his breast pocket, in case he accidentally ate shellfish. He had almost died the last time he had forgotten to carry one of those. “But I think I’ll consult with another doctor while I’m in London.” A second opinion certainly couldn’t do any harm. Especially when his own doctor didn’t actually have a conclusive opinion.
“I’m not sure Dr. Assante will like that.” Gerard frowned.
“I don’t particularly care whether he likes it or not,” Alexandre dismissed in a bored voice.
“Is seeing another doctor the reason we’re arriving in London a day early?”
He almost smiled at Gerard’s tenacity. “No.”
Gerard’s eyes widened. “Personal?” he repeated doubtfully.
Alexandre would have laughed at his cousin’s comical expression if he hadn’t felt irritated by it too. Because they both knew Alexandre no longer had a personal life. How could he, when his every waking moment was taken up with the smooth running of Androcco, domestically and internationally.
That was about to change.
Because of a black-haired, turquoise-eyed woman he hadn’t even met in person.
Manager of the penthouse floor of the Meyers Hotel.
Also the woman who had sent him an email earlier today, in which she had insulted and lambasted him in a way no one else had ever done, and referred to him as ‘a princely pain in the fucking ass.’
Alexandre inwardly chuckled as he recalled the email hadn’t been meant for him at all, but someone called Lissa. No doubt a close friend of Anastazia’s.
So far he had only seen a photograph of Anastazia on the hotel website, smiling and very professional, but that had been more than enough to pique Alexandre’s interest. And a certain part of his anatomy, which hadn’t had nearly enough use the past two years.
That was about to change too.
He shifted in the leather seat to accommodate his cock swelling in arousal caused by merely thinking of the tall, blue-eyed, long-legged woman with the voluptuous figure. “Exactly how demanding were you in regard to our stay at the Meyers Hotel?”
“What…?” Gerard looked suitably confused by this change in subject.
The two men weren’t only cousins but had been friends since childhood, Gerard the son of Alexandre’s Uncle Frederic. With only a year between them in age, they had shared a nursery, gone away to an English boarding school together, both attended Oxford University, and now, with Gerard as his closest adviser, they necessarily had a strong working relationship.
But Alexandre knew Gerard could be overbearing when it came to Androcco and the deference he insisted be shown to the St Sebastien family that had ruled the small principality for over six hundred years. He suspected Gerard’s high-handedness was one of the reasons for Anastazia Carmichael’s frustration earlier today, his own instruction of arriving a day early possibly having been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Alexandre eyed the other man mockingly. “It really isn’t necessary that I always have green towels in the hotel bathrooms, you know.”
“Very funny.” Gerard gave him a scathing glance. “The color of the towels in the bathrooms is merely a symbol of the respect and deference our family deserves.”