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Authors: JT Schultz

Frog Tale (10 page)

BOOK: Frog Tale
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He nodded, “I am.”

“How could I have not known?” Her fingers brushed along the seam of the scar. She lowered her hand and again touched his cheek. “You’re real.” Her mind raced. “You sent me the necklace.”

“Yes, to me, you were a princess.” He held his breath. “I’m sorry, Chloe, I should have come to you sooner.” His eyes darted to the necklace then met hers again.

So many emotions and thoughts collided in her head and heart, but she could sort them out later. “Luc…”

Again, he nodded and she laced her arms around his neck. His strong arms wrapped around her and a wash of happy tears flooded down her cheeks.

“Don’t cry,
il mio cuore.”

She lifted her head slightly so she could look into his eyes. “I was about ready to commit myself.”


You aren’t crazy, far from it and look more beautiful tonight than any memory I have of you or any picture I’ve seen of you.”

Fear, disbelief and happiness fought for control over her soul and she blinked. “I have so many questions.”

“And I will do my best to answer them.” His midnight colored gaze scanned her face, like a soft caress. “Which will be a challenge if you put yourself in a padded room.”

She inhaled a small unsure breath and darted a look to his lips before lifting her eyes back to meet his. “If I kiss you again, will you turn back into a frog?”

He chuckled and the sound healed part of her broken soul. “Absolutely not.”

“Oh,” her chin tilted and her lashes closed as his head lowered to hers.

His warm breath teased her skin and warm soft lips touched hers. She tightened her hold around his neck and his arms held her closer to him. His soft velvety tongue caressed her lower lip and her mouth parted, granting his tongue access. Heat worked through her body and her breasts crushed against his solid chest. His hands splayed across her lower back and her belly flattened against the bulge in his pants. Pressure built across her stomach from his arousal. He groaned as she deepened the kiss, wanting more than their tongues entwined. She wanted all of him and the need to have him deep inside her grew as desire formed between her legs, dampening her thong.

His lips lifted from hers and her eyes opened, greeted by his dark intent gaze. “If this continues, we will be leaving the party early.” Desire blazed in his stare and his lips curved into a grin. “And it will not be for conversation,
il mio cuore
.”

              Still her emotions raged as she stepped out of his arms and lowered hers from his neck. Fear pierced her heart and her brows dipped. So many thoughts and questions ran through her mind to the point she didn’t know if she were dreaming or not and if she was, she didn’t want to wake up. Everything seemed too logical―sort of and perfect.

“What’s wrong?” His handsome face etched in worry

Her mind raced and horrible images flashed through her mind. Did she tell him what she was thinking and come across as that scared teenage girl all over again, or did she deny this moment and the truths that seemed to be unrealistic?

His eyes widened and concern crossed his features under the pale glow of the lights. “Chloe―”

“I’m afraid I’ll turn around and you’ll be gone again.” Panic worked over her and her breathing became shallow. “I can’t lose you again―not yet.”

His expression softened and a smile crossed the lips, she again longed for. “I won’t leave you again. You won’t
lose me, Chloe.” His mouth gently brushed hers and his grin broadened. “I’m yours as long as you’ll have me.”

She forced a smile. “That might be a long time.” At the very least until she could make heads or tails of the situation―if this was real, she migh
t never let him go.

“I hope so.” His hand slid to her lower back and his body turned to lead her back into the house. The touch wakened her body and soothed her spirit. “Now let’s go mingle and get you another glass of champagne, have you relax and then we can have some time alone.”

Paranoia filled her and she reached for him. Despite how she normally wasn’t clingy, this time fear controlled her. “Luc―”

“I won’t leave your side, not until we have a chance to talk and I give you some answers to the many questions and many doubts you mu
st have.” He assured her so gently as if reading her mind and the thoughts she had.

The words he spoke were a small comfort, but still, her nightmares haunted her and terror she would lose him again played a real threat in her mind.

If he is really a prince, are my worst fears real too?

 

Luciano kept his hand on Chloe as they reentered the house. His erection had diminished and he had the woman of his dreams by his side. Desire still blazed through him, but he was patient. He had waited this long for her and if the kiss in the garden was any indication, tonight she would be completely his. Hot erotic images played out in his mind as he imagined Chloe’s naked body entwined with his. His body stirred again and he banished the colorful scenarios as he glanced around the room. His stepmother’s eyes bore into him and her glare focused on the beautiful woman by his side.

Protectively, he caressed Chloe’s lower back and turned his attention off Ella. The woman was a bitch and her hatred for him burned with intensity. Chloe glanced up at him through her thick dark lashes and smiled. He knew that the longer he stayed by her, the more she would relax and led her over toward the bar. “Another champagne?”

“Wine, red, please.” Her long lashes blinked as she stared up at him.

He nodded and confirmed her wish with the bartender then turned to her. “I will get you whatever your heart desires.” He teased lightly.

Her slow seductive gaze raked over him the same way her hands on his bare skin would have the same effect. His flesh burned to feel her naked beneath him. Lust sparked in her eyes, he knew she wanted him as carnally.

“That
il mio cuore
, is a given.” He assured.


Chloe Starling,” a male voice called and he turned to see a tall blonde man step near. Her body turned, yet her back never broke contact with Luciano’s touch.


Montgomery Anderson, it is always a pleasure.” Her tone was polite, but lacked the warmth it usually carried.

The blond man reached for her hand and kissed the back of it. “You’re the pleasure.”

He knew he had no right to be jealous, but he didn’t like the stranger putting his lips against Chloe’s hand and reveled slightly, when she quickly withdrew from the new arrival’s touch. She stepped back slightly so her soft curvy bottom was against Luciano’s thigh. “Montgomery, allow me to introduce Prince Luciano Mercury.” She glanced up at him. “Luc, this is Montgomery Anderson, his family deals mostly in oil lubricants and occasionally Saudi Light, they're direct to the seller.”

Keeping his hand against Chloe, he extended his other and shook the man’s hand. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

Montgomery’s eyes shifted to Chloe. “A Prince. That explains why you’ve turned me down so many times.” He grinned at Luciano. “She is one of the best brokers in the business and going to rival her father one day.”


I agree.” He was proud at how successful she had become and again reveled that she hadn’t given the man in front of them the time of day outside business.


Chloe!” Georgina called and approached. She flashed Montgomery a smile then raked her gaze over Luc seductively, before she turned to her sister. “I need to talk to you.” She forced a fake smile. “Now!”

Her back stiffened as she reached for the wineglass placed next to her. She sipped the wine and smiled at Montgomery. “If you gentlemen will excuse me please.”

Montgomery bowed his head slightly and she turned to Luc. Her gaze met his and he shot a look to Georgina before focusing on her again. “Talk to your sister, I’ll find you.”

Apprehension filled her dark eyes and she nodded before she glared at Georgina. “This better be good,” she all but hissed in a whisper.

Luciano’s gaze followed Chloe as Georgina led her away. He already missed her and knew she hadn’t wanted to leave his side. He glanced back to Montgomery and smiled. They ended up exchanging pleasantries for a few more moments, discussed sugar and other commodities. From across the room his father and Albert waved to him and he excused himself to go over to where they stood. His eyes scanned the room and he saw no sign of the Starling sisters.


How are things?” Albert asked right away as they led him down a hall and away from the hub of people.


Did you tell her the truth? Did you tell her you were the―”

He swallowed and nodded. “I did and she actually believed
me.” He smiled. “She also shed quite a few tears.” His eyes darted out to what he could see of the main room and still no sign of Chloe. He turned back to his father and friend. “I know she thought she was losing her mind. I wonder if I should have come to her sooner.”

Albert smiled. “I had no idea how attached you two had become. She was lost without you and like I said since she talked to you yesterday, she has been completely out of sorts and far from the happy woman I know.”

His father cast him a leveled look. “Is leaving her what killed your spirit?”

“Yes.” Luciano’s heart pierced. “Forgive me gentlemen, but I would like to find her and spend some time with her without others. She has a lot of questions and I’m sure she will eventually wonder if she doesn’t already, why I didn’t come sooner.”

Albert lifted his brow. “Please―”

“My intentions are more than sincere. They always have been.” Never did he want either father to doubt his integrity where Chloe was concerned.

“I never doubted your intentions. I care about you both.” He patted his shoulder and winked. “Now go find my daughter, give yourselves a chance to be happy.”

Turning away he walked back to the hub and remembered where the kitchen was. He drew near when he spotted the navy dress and the slender hourglass frame.

Georgina scowled. “Don’t be a bitch Chloe. I need the money, I want a divorce.”

“I told you no. Why should I? You always treat me terrible and are only nice whe
n you’re broke and need money.”

“Stella told me you gave her twenty thousand.” Her tone to Chloe resembled the hiss of a serpent.

“And I’ve given you a hell of a lot more.” Chloe’s voice strained.

In the years, some things never changed. Her sisters were still menaces.

“Give me the money or I will make sure that Prince Charming knows how crazy you are.”

Time to cut in and put the wicked sister in her place once and for all.

The last thing he needed was Chloe anymore upset tonight.

Georgina’s voice became harsh. “I know all about you, Chloe. I know how you shut yourself down waiting for Mr. Right―you still believe in fairy
tales. Give it up and commit yourself, Stella thinks you’re crazy too.”

“Chloe, there you are.” He placed his ha
nd firm on her lower back and his body relaxed just from the slightest touch. She glanced up at him and he smiled then focused on Georgina. “I couldn’t help but overhearing the conversation.”

A demonic smile curved across the blonde’s lips. “Prince Luciano, how nice of you to join us.” She shot a sneer to Chloe then returned her smile at him. “And what timing.”

“Yes, I am most fascinated over the topic of fairy tales.” He reached and took Chloe’s hand.

Her sister’s gaze dipped to their hands laced together
.

Reveling in the moment, he smiled. “I was always a fan of The Frog Prince.”

Georgina’s eyes widened as the horror washed over her face. “No…” her eyes flashed to the scar. “No. there is no way―impossible.”

A bubble of laughter escaped Chloe. “You know
what Georgina; I’ll pay for your divorce, the expression on your face just provided me with enough entertainment for the next decade. Now if you’ll excuse us, I would like to entertain the prince.”

Quietly he led her away from Georgina, keeping her hand in his. He paused and smiled at her. “And just how did you plan on entertaining me?”

Her eyes sparkled and his heart started to race. “If you’re ready to leave the party, I would be more than happy to show you.”

His libido kicked up a notch and his body started to ache. “Lead on.”

Chapter 8

 

After discreetly escaping the party, he followed her up to the end of the house where her room had been years earlier and still located. She opened the door and flicked on the light. The bedroom was nothing like he remembered. Gone was the pink and floral print from years gone by, now the room was rich in earth tones. The wall that had once divided Stella’s room from Chloe’s had large double doors in the middle and revealed an upscale office. He knew Albert’s office was down the hall. A strange ache formed in his heart and he turned.

Her gaze met his and her brows dipped in worry. “Are you all right?” She shut the door and locked the handle then stepped closer to where he stood. She looked gorgeous and his body heated in need, despite the sentiment of his heart.

“It feels strange to be in here. Strange and yet…”

She closed the distance and the temperature of the room rose as did his libido. “Yet, what?”

Like I’m home.

If the saying “home is where the heart is” held truth, then his heart had always rested with Chloe. He tore his eyes from her and glanced around. “This is as elegant as you are.” He shifted his attention to the office then looked back to her. “You work a lot?”

“That would be all I do.” She answered then smiled weakly. “Okay, work and further my education.”


Yes, two degrees, very remarkable.” He honestly was impressed and had known she would achieve success.

She nodded and stepped around him, her smile faded. “Why didn’t you come to see me sooner?” her tone quiet, carried sadness. She pivoted in the spot she stood and her dark eyes met his. Grief blinked at him from behind her long lashes. “I honestly thought I had lost my mind. You were the frog. I don’t know how many times you told me you were a prince. I didn’t listen. Who you were didn’t matter as much as how much I cherished you.” Her voice cracked with emotion and she hung her head.

“Chloe...” He didn’t know what to say. “At first I stayed away because of the age difference. You were sixteen. Things would have been very difficult.”

She lifted her head and thought for a moment. “How old are you?”

He cleared his throat. “I’m thirty-four which means I’m six years older than you.”

A thoughtful expression crossed her pretty features.  “That’s why you had me change in the bathroom?” She debated. “Makes sense now, I guess.”

He grinned. “You’re as smart as you are beautiful. Yes what can I say, I was a frog with ethics and you were very attractive, even if you didn’t see it.”

Her full lips thinned. “What about when I was grown?”

Sighing, his own smile faded and he placed his hands in his tuxedo pant pockets. After a moment of thought he went for honesty. “I thought you deserved more than a scarred man.” He had spoke his insecurities out loud and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I wanted you to have the best, and I wasn’t what I thought you deserved.”


How completely selfish of you for not telling me the truth and not letting me decide for myself. I should be furious with you and my father both for not saying anything to me.” Her gaze never wavered from him and she stepped closer to him then sat on the bed next to him. A long slender finger with a manicured nail traced his scar. His body flamed and despite the thickness of the tissue, it was sensitive to the intimacy of her touch. “I always thought you were perfect.” Her voice was low and sultry. She leaned her head then pressed her lips to the mark.

His fears and doubts subsided and
were replaced with desire and longing. “Forgive me for staying away. I missed you so much, but I didn’t think you’d want me.”

An odd expression crossed her face and she rose from the bed. “Luc, I…” She covered her face with her hands and he could see something bothered her terribly. He removed himself off the bed and walked over to where she stood. Chloe looked so distressed. He gently captured her fingers in her hands and kissed them.


Il mio cuore,
what’s the matter?”

Her dark eyes raked over his face like a gentle caress and she shook her head. “How could you think for a moment I wouldn’t want you? Luc, I’ve mourned you well into my adult life, when I heard you on the phone
yesterday, my soul ached and I thought I was that crazy teenager again. I wasn’t supposed to love a frog, yet I did. I cherished our friendship.”

His heart tightened. “Chloe your kiss is what changed me back into a prince. You’re kiss was more than that of a friend but someone who loved me unconditionally.”

You’re my true love Chloe, I just can’t tell you that part.

He smiled then continued. There was so much he wanted to say to her, but wasn’t sure where to even begin. “You were never a crazy teenager, however to this day I still wonder if you drive better than the way you worked a remote car.”

              A weak smile dusted her lips. “Most days and I have officially stayed away from self hair dying products of all sorts.”

Relaxing a bit, he shook his head, remembering the hideous orange color her gorgeous ringlets had turned. “Chloe, not coming sooner will forever be my regret. I owed you so much more and I’m the man I am today because of how you treated me.”

Her dark gaze studied him. “I can’t believe you’re a prince.”


I’ll refrain from telling you I told you so.”


I know a certain frog who wouldn’t have hesitated.” Her mouth curled into a small smile.


That frog looked out for your best interest.” His brows lifted and he touched the gold and diamond tiara necklace. “I can’t believe you still wear the necklace.”


I never take it off―ever. It’s the constant reminder I could be anything, maybe even a princess.” Her last word was barely audible, her voice so faint he almost missed what she had said.


I couldn’t be that lucky.” In reality, having her as his wife still remained nothing more than a dream and from where he stood a very beautiful dream.

A sexy smile curved across her lips. “Don’t sell yourself short Prince Charming.” A thoughtful look crossed her face. “Wait here.”

She stepped away from him and walked into her large closet. He had to admit he was most curious, until she stepped out, holding the red remote Porsche in her hands. “I still have this.”

“I can’t believe you kept that thing.” He chuckled and awe touched is soul.

“I couldn’t part with it. When I was younger I used to take the car in the backyard and remember the day I almost killed you.”

He crossed the floor to her and lifted the vehicle out of her hands. “You didn’t almost kill me and
, as I recall, I had the time of my life.” He grinned wickedly then glanced down at the Porsche. “Of course, the fun began after the terror wore off.” He sat the car in the chair and studied her. “I’m glad I came on this trip. I don’t think I will be ever be able to apologize enough to you for not coming sooner. I’m truly sorry, Chloe.”

Her dark eyes scanned his face and she nodded. “I forgive you.’ Again, her words came out a whisper, but this time her voice held a sexy undertone heating his body the same as a hot caress.

He lowered his head toward her and her lashes closed as he reached for her. His mouth claimed hers in a kiss and she gasped. Luciano skimmed his tongue along the soft fullness of lower lip and gently eased her back on the bed. Sliding a hand over her soft curves he savored the feel of her beneath his touch and his tongue entered her mouth. Her back arched and her tongue met his. He deepened the kiss, while his hand cupped a firm breast over the silky fabric. The ache in his groin intensified and he wanted her in every way.

Chloe’s hands moved to his tuxedo coat and ran from his shoulders, down his chest then reached for the button and undid the jacket. When her hands clutched the fabric of his shirt he lifted his head. Her eyes opened and he closed his fingers around hers, again savoring the moment and the fact he could touch her
now, something that circumstances had prevented him from doing in the past.

As much as he wanted her and his body ached. “
Il mio cuore
…”


What’s wrong?” Worry coated her words.


Il mio cuore
, you’re perfect, but I was not prepared for an encounter like this.”

She blinked and looked confused for a moment then nodded. “If you’re talking about a condom I don’t bring men here
. I don’t usually have
those
kinds of relationships, but I’m on the pill if that will suffice?”


It’s more than fine.” He sat up, then rose off the bed and flipped on the nightstand light, crossed the floor to the light switch and flipped the lever down, leaving the room illuminated by the soft glow on the nightstand. He shrugged his coat off and placed his tuxedo jacket over the arm of a plush chair where, no doubt, she sat and read until the wee hours of the morning. His lips twitched at the sight of the Porsche. He discarded his tie and slipped off his shoes then inched his way back on the bed.

Reaching up, his hand touched her hair and removed the clip. Dark long waves fell around her shoulders and face. “I can’t believe you are even more beautiful.”

She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I still can’t believe you’re real.”

A wicked grin tugged his lips up, while curiosity nipped at him. “I have to ask, do I look anything like the man in your dreams?”

She nodded and her smile broadened. “Yes, maybe a bit older, but I guess in my heart you were always the man, down to the scar.”

For some reason he’d forgotten about the mark the witch had given him, even if it were for a fleeting moment. The only thing that mattered was the fact he held Chloe. He eased her back onto the bed. “You’re about to find out how real.”

Her breath caught and her eyes closed. He brought his lips to hers and the soft velvety texture of her tongue grazed his lips. Sliding a hand beneath her, he pulled her close and parted his lips so their tongues could mate. Her fingers slid over his body as she removed the shirt from his pants, sent fire through his body. When her touch skimmed across the skin of his stomach he lost all thought. As far as he was concerned, nothing outside of the room existed and all thoughts escaped him as he relished in the feel of the woman―once the girl he’d loved and in so many ways, and still did.

He ran his hand down over
her waist to her thigh still covered by the length of the silky fabric of her dress. His hand slipped beneath and smooth skin teased his palm. She moaned against his tongue and her hips shifted slightly. He wanted to bury himself inside her, but at the same time wanted to take his time and savor every moment. Luciano peeled his lips from hers as her fingers undid the buttons of his shirt and her eyes opened.


Is everything okay?” He had no clue why he suddenly had doubts. He had held insecurities for so long, they were hard to let go of.


Fine.” Her fingers reached for the button at the wrist of his shirt and undid it with ease then used her other hand to do the same to the other side. She pushed the shirt from his shoulders and allowed him to finish removing the soft fabric. Rising from the bed, he stood and tossed his shirt to the hardwood floor before reaching out a hand and helping Chloe to her feet.

Their gazes locked as they stood under the faint glow of the moonlight. Luciano’s attention fixated on her as she ran her soft touch over his shoulders and down his chest. He snaked his hand out again
, captured her fingers in his hand, and pulled her close against him. His mouth covered hers and the kiss was hotter than before. Her breasts were hard against his chest and through the light fabric he could feel her nipples grow taut. Her hands ran over his bare flesh and his fingers reached for the zipper at the back of her dress.

He unfastened the tie around her neck and the dress slipped to the floor. He groaned against her tongue as her perky breasts grazed his chest and she stood in nothing but her thong. Luciano’s erection grew while her hands were already making
light work of the belt and opening of his dress pants. When her smooth touch dipped below his boxers and her fingers teased his hardened length, he needed more. He gently eased her back from him, removed his pants and the remainder of his clothes.

Sudden hesitation and surprise crossed her face when she noticed his size, which indicated to him she wasn’t as experienced as he’d thought. “Relax,” he whispered, stepping closer to her and running his hands up the soft skin of her arms. He led her back to the bed and covered her mouth in a hot kiss. Her nipples hardened and he lowered her back so he could savor all of her. He lifted his lips long enough to trail down her slender neck and collarbone. Hot kisses moistened her flesh and her body writhed beneath him as he sucked one of her firm nipples into his mouth and allowed his fingers to graze and play with the other hard peak.

A moan escaped her and her fingers laced through his hair. He continued to trail kisses over the flat of her stomach until he reached her silk thong. Carefully he peeled the damp fabric away and tossed it off the bed. Dark eyes locked with his and he gently traced a finger over her wet folds. Her full mouth parted and her lashes fluttered closed in pleasure as his finger slid inside the wetness. Hips bucked against his hand and his body hummed in desire. Needing to be inside her, he removed his fingers so he could position his body between her legs.

BOOK: Frog Tale
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