Prince's Addiction (The Exiled Royals Series Book 2)

BOOK: Prince's Addiction (The Exiled Royals Series Book 2)
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Prince’s Addiction

By Ivy Iverson

 

The Royal Exiles Series

Book 2

 

Blurb

When Kate Morrison sets out to seduce a prince, she quickly learns… all bets are off.

Since their parents died, it’s been Kate and her little sister, Lily, against the world. So when Lily gets sick, Kate needs a plan to fund her lifesaving operation. She sets out to seduce Prince Alexander Godonov, who’s been exiled because of his serious gambling problem. If she can tempt him into betting, his inheritance will go straight to the charity that can save Lily’s life. Yet Kate wasn’t counting on Alex’s powerful arms or soulful brown eyes. She’s starting to get entangled, but she can't let that stop her saving Lily...

Alex’s gambling is out of control, but it shouldn’t be too hard to stop taking bets—or at least, stop getting caught. It’s the only way to get his exile revoked and insure his parent's don't show away his inheritance. But when he meets a sexy stranger, he’s finds himself with a new addiction: Kate's curves and deep green eyes. Soon, Alex is being tempted at every turn, but he’ll have to control his urges if he doesn’t want to disappoint his family yet again.

Kate is determined to make Alex stumble, but is winning his money worth losing him?

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Chapter One

Her heart was pounding.

To be fair, her muscles were burning and her calves felt like they were on fire, and she was breathing in large, ragged gasps as well. Turning up the volume on her iPhone, Kate Morrison forced herself to listen to the pounding beat and resounding bass of her workout mix. Granted, she wasn’t a fan of working out—at least not of running. She swam sometimes at the Y if her sister, Lily, wanted to go. She didn’t mind sightseeing walks or long strolls through the desert with her friend Joan, either. Those were fine. There was nothing like climbing the top of a ridge—at her own damn pace, thank you—and seeing the utter beauty of a Las Vegas landscape, complete with the orange and russet sand and the cacti beneath the crest. That was fine.

Running?

Just running for fun?

Hell no. It was sheer torture, and if she wasn’t a woman on a very definite mission, she wouldn’t be keeping up such a hellish pace. She was trim and fit from her other passions, but this was not her style. It was frustrating first of all. She was on her third loop through the city park, passing the same dried out bushes planted around to give the impression there was some greenery of some kind around the city. She saw the same women with their strollers and their same kids shoving sand in their mouths at the playground section. The only thing that was different over the last twenty minutes was the heat. She’d come out early because that’s what the mission dictated, but even if she hadn’t, as the sun rose higher in the sky and it drew closer to nine a.m., she could feel the sharp rise in the desert heat. It had only been seventy-five degrees when she’d set out, but now she could feel the sun glaring down on her mostly-bare shoulder blades and the sensitive skin of her neck. Sweat was pouring down her back and pooling in between her breasts and soaking her bra.

It had to be climbing up toward ninety already.

Just another scorcher in that desert paradise of Sin City.

Just a dry heat
, her ass.

She shook her head and tried to push aside the distraction of the muscle cramps and the stifling heat.

Damn it, Kate, focus
.

The discomfort didn’t matter. It was nowhere near what Lily had been dealing with for months. No, this was all about her little sis—the best part of her life—and keeping the promises she’d made five years ago. She was going to protect her, and if making sure this mission succeeded was the only way, then she’d crawl through red-hot coals to do that. Taking in another deep, steadying breath, she fidgeted with her phone. The top forty hits and all that pounding hip-hop seemed like a good way to keep herself motivated at first, but she needed something more to keep her lungs from rebelling.

She cued up Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” and let the words take her away. What was that saying from the Revolutionary War?
I have not yet begun to fight
. It was something like that, wasn’t it? Well, she hadn’t even started yet, so let the words of hope and ambition keep driving her. She wasn’t going to give up and she definitely wasn’t on the ropes.

Not if her plan worked.

It was just making sure the execution was flawless.

So as she closed in on her fourth circuit, she got ready to slow her pace to a more languid jog. This was the part of the park that actually mattered, the few stone tables set aside for the Sunday morning chess matches. This was where she’d come every week for the last three weeks to keep an eye on her mark and to get to know one Prince Alexander Godonov of Lavinia.

Well, formerly of Lavinia.

About six months ago, both the regular, official press and the tabloids had been more than happy to point out that Prince Godonov, as well as two of his cousins, had been exiled from the family fortune and the potential to inherit his title. He still had the chance to go home, but his gambling debts and extravagant life in Monaco, Atlantic City and, naturally, Vegas had annoyed his parents for the last time. He was under a looming threat. The sword of Damocles would fall from Queen Catherine and King Nikolai’s hands if they found out that at any time in his one-year exile that Prince Godonov had been seriously gambling.

She needed him to fail.

It was the only way…

No, she wouldn’t think about that. Kate was taking things into her own hands. She wouldn’t risk such a precious future on whether the prince’s willpower failed or on fate or chance. No, that was foolish.

She was going to make everything happen, create the reality she needed. It was the only acceptable option. So far, as she’d tailed him as he’d lounged around his cousin’s hotel and casino, he’d not gambled. He seemed to just spend most of the time here in the park or going out to various eateries. Yes, she’d seen him take a few bets on a game of chess—a twenty here or even a hundred there—but those were pick-up games and unprovable. He wouldn’t permanently lose the crown and the fortune over a few chess games in a park.

She needed to think bigger, and that meant getting much closer to the prince.

Kate eased to a stop and pretended to be stretching across from the chess tables. It was the best way to keep an eye on her quarry. Of course, any girl with working eyeballs would want to keep a lookout on Prince Alexander.

He was tall, even sitting clearly dwarfed his reed-thin opponent. In the desert heat, he’d opted for a white tank top that hugged his muscular frame and made his large shoulders loom even bigger. His hair was a light brown and cut short, gelled up in spikes as a bit of an affectation, maybe something a bit more Eurotrash than her usual salt-of-the-earth taste, but it was no less attractive on him. Even from where she stood—pretending to raise her arms over her head in a stretch—she could make out his chocolate-brown eyes.

It was as if for the first time in her life, she understood what the phrase “bedroom eyes” actually meant. She’d have given anything to be alone with him, but…
no
,
focus
. She had a mission and it didn’t matter that the guy had the body of Channing Tatum and the face of a Greek God.

He was going to lose his struggles with gambling addiction; she was going to see to it.

Then, of course, he’d just have to win his match, maneuvering in for the checkmate. His opponent groaned and tossed him two fifty-dollar bills and the prince smiled, all dazzling white teeth and dimples.

Nope, now she was certain. Alexander really was the most attractive man she’d ever seen.

And they were set up as enemies. After all, for her plan to succeed, he had to fail—zero-sum game, and all that.

Kate stopped her faux stretches and kicked her run back into gear. It had been enough observation for today. Hell, just seeing that beatific smile was enough observation for probably a lifetime. Still, as her legs ached and her heart picked up its pace again, one thought was echoing through her mind:

I’m going to destroy you, Prince Godonov. Just watch me!

 

Chapter Two

Alexander hated the heat.

It wasn’t that the summers in Lavinia couldn’t be quite warm, but it was part of the former USSR, and its winters were famously cold, just as its nearby neighbor—and onetime colonial overlord—Russia’s were.

Being raised in that often-frigid environment had left him with a preference for the cold. He’d take a hundred days of below-freezing weather, frigid winds and the risk of hypothermia over a day of sweating in the desert. Why his cousin had settled here, he’d never know. Frowning, he took another deep gulp out of his water bottle and used the hem of his tank top to mop his brow.

A few seats over, one of the women playing chess gulped.

He enjoyed that. It was no secret he was attractive and, once he’d become fully a prince, had used both that and his family’s name to bed many women—models, actresses, other minor royalty. Oh yes, he’d had them all. It wasn’t difficult—to be fair—to encourage women in clubs to come home with him, but it didn’t interest him. He’d been used to being royalty. These regular tourists and women looking to take home a story about their wild time in Vegas both couldn’t compare and were tiresome.

Instead, he found his solace where he could: hanging out with his cousin and his cousin’s new bride, relaxing by the hotel’s pool—at least the desert heat was good for something—and chess.

Alexander had learned to play at his father’s knee when he was only five. Still, no matter how hard he’d tried to learn and how hard he’d studied the moves, he’d never beaten his dad. Oh no, and it was a fact that the good King Nikolai never let him forget. But wasn’t that the story of his life? He was ranked well in both Lavinia and in international competition, but it wasn’t enough for his father. Either you were the best, bar none, or you were nothing.

Unfortunately, in his family’s eyes, especially dear old Dad’s, Alexander was nothing.

How could that be anything but true? After all, here he was exiled to this wasteland in America and bored out of his mind. At least he could gamble slyly this way. It took everything he had during the week to avoid casinos, but he simply couldn’t give up the thrill completely. He had to do his best to abstain. He needed his inheritance back; he needed the money and the fortune that was rightfully his. If his cousin squealed or his family’s spies found out, he’d be permanently in exile and that was unacceptable.

But here in the park?

What was a little “friendly” pick-up game between friends?

He grinned as his usual opponent, Ivan, sat down across from him. Ivan was an ex-pat from the Ukraine and not a bad chess player himself. He just wasn’t as good as Alexander.

Shaking his head and resetting both the board and the timer clock, he greeted his friend in Russian. Poor Ivan’s English wasn’t good enough for the usual tongue Alexander used when in Vegas. “So, you’re back again? I know that six losses in a row is a lot for anyone’s self-esteem, my friend. It would be okay if you stopped. I appreciate the weekly donation, but it’s a bit much.”

Ivan stroked his graying beard and sat down across from Alexander at the table. “No, I’m going to win this time. I think that your cockiness will be your undoing.”

Alexander chuckled. “It’s not being cocky
or
bragging if you can do it. I’ve beaten you easily six different times. There’s every indication that I’ll sweep for the seventh. It’s just simple odds. But I’ll show some mercy. You can be white, feel free to go first,” he said, waiting for Ivan to make his move and letting his attention wander a bit.

Whereas Alexander worked on instinct, years of practice telling him exactly where the next rook or pawn should go, Ivan overthought everything. He never moved until just before the alarm was about to ding, always played out every move in his mind up to the last second, running through the literally dozens of permutations that could play out.

To win, you had to trust yourself.

There was simply no other way, and that was why Alexander would continue to win. Some people had it and others simply didn’t.

Still, while he waited for moss to grow on Ivan as he debated his opening move, his eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to the cute blonde jogging past. Fate or the gods—or whoever—must have been smiling on him that day because she stopped at the fence across from their table and started to stretch. Secretly, he’d wished that she’d bend over for a toe touch so he could get an even better appreciation for how the tight black yoga pants she was wearing could hug her pert ass. Unfortunately, she opted to stretch her arms and he turned back to his game, trying desperately to focus on his moves and not on the blood flooding to parts further south.

Great, so now the blonde would distract him.

If Ivan only knew that was a path to winning, the poor old bastard would have hired a buxom accomplice like her earlier. Paying attention to the game was getting hard…as were other things. Was the blonde a psychic? Did she know how she was distracting him? Now she’d moved onto lunges to try and stretch out her legs.

He shook his head and focused on the game. The moves were what mattered. He worked with lightning speed, determined to get through this in time to go over and talk with the lovely lady who’d captured his attention.

Maybe he should always work against a deadline, because he had Ivan up against a wall fast, already putting his king in check. “Well, it looks like you’re losing yet again, old friend.”

Ivan glared and tried a move with a sacrifice pawn.

That didn’t work and Alexander grinned as he moved his knight into the correct position. “Well, checkmate and pay up.”

Ivan let out a terse curse and flung the two fifties at him as if they scalded him. “I don’t know how you do it, Godonov. With that talent, you waste your time here.”

“On that,” he said, chuckling and sweeping up his winnings. “You and I both agree.”

He shoved the bills in his pocket and glanced over his shoulder. He was hopeful this blonde was still stretching, but the sharp knife of disappointment cut through him as she started to jog again. She had gotten about five yards out when she tripped over a gap in the pavement. To his complete shock—and he was sure the shock of everyone else in the park—the fall, and her desperate quick step forward to stop it, had caused her yoga pants to split.

Now he, like everyone around him, had a perfect view to the wisps of pink thong sticking out through the hole in her pants.

God…and he thought he’d been hard before. Now Alexander felt like granite.

Hell, after a win and the blonde splayed out near him, maybe his day was actually looking up. Smirking back at Ivan, he started toward the blonde to help her up. “I’ll see you later, my friend, there’s a damsel in distress and I’m looking to save her.”

Ivan chuckled. “But who’s going to tell her, Godonov, that you’re the dragon?”

BOOK: Prince's Addiction (The Exiled Royals Series Book 2)
9.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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