The Rich Man's Royal Mistress [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Robyn Donald
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Princess Melissa Considine of Illyria is instantly captivated by billionaire Hawke Kennedy. She throws caution to the winds and lets Hawke teach her how to love...and be loved. But Melissa is virginal and innocent. How can she handle a man of the world like Hawke? And she's been brought up to put duty before love. But to leave Hawke's bed is to leave his life--what should she do?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2006
20 Reader Ratings:
THE CHINA on the trolley rattled a little as Melissa Considine pushed it along the wide glassed-in corridor that gave privacy to the royal suite. Biting her lip, she slowed down, hoping that the guest in the most palatial rooms in the extremely exclusive lodge wasn't a stickler for punctuality.
Most of the guests she'd met since starting her internship at this fabulous place in New Zealand's Southern Alps had been very pleasant, but she'd discovered that people who should know better could be condescending, haughty and just plain ill-mannered.
And that the staff who served them had to take all that in their stride.
'Although there's a subtle but obvious difference between rudeness and abuse,' the manager explained during the orienting session, 'New Zealanders, including those paid to serve the rich and influential, have a very good sense of their own dignity. Don't take abuse from anyone—and that includes the chef!'
A wry smile curved Melissa's lips. Her mother, who'd made sure her children appreciated the prestige that went with the famous name of Considine, borne by the ruling house of Illyria for a thousand years or so, had also been insistent on exquisite manners and true grace. She'd have been shocked out of her elegant shoes by some of the stories her daughter had heard in the lodge staff-room.
But Melissa was five minutes late, so if the man in the royal suite complained she'd be politely deferential and apologetic, even if she had to bite her tongue.
She stopped at the heavy wooden door and knocked.
'Come in,' a male voice said from the other side.
On sudden full alert, Melissa froze. She knew that voice…
The command was repeated, this time with an undertone of impatience. 'Come in.'
Melissa swallowed to ease a suddenly dry throat, and used her key to open the door. Keeping her gaze on the trolley, she pushed it into the room and stopped just inside, heart skipping nervously.
Nothing happened. After a couple of uncomfortable seconds she looked up. Her pulse lurched into agitated urgency.
Big, totally dominant, the man silhouetted against the windows didn't move. The long southern dusk had tinted the lake and the mountains behind in subtle shades of blue and grey, but he was concentrating on the papers in his hand.
It was Hawke Kennedy—she'd know him anywhere. Melissa fought back the feverish excitement that roared into life from nowhere.
With a decisive movement he flicked the papers together and put them into a briefcase on the nearby table. Only then did he look up.
His tough, arrogantly featured face didn't alter, but she registered the change in his amazing eyes the moment he recognised her—about a second after he'd started his cool, deliberate survey. Stupidly, she was pleased, even though she knew Hawke probably hadn't met many women tall enough to look him almost straight in the eyes—except for a ravishing model he was occasionally seen with.
Knowing herself to be far from ravishing, Melissa straightened her shoulders and said tonelessly, 'Dinner, sir.'
'Well, well, well,' he said softly. 'Melissa Considine. No, as of a couple of weeks ago—Princess Melissa Considine of Illyria, only sister of the Grand Duke of Illyria. What the hell are you doing pushing a dinner trolley two stops past the furthest ends of the earth?'
'I'm an intern here,' she said stiffly, irritated and embarrassed by the heat in her cheeks.
How did he know that her older brother, Gabe, had had his right to their ancestors' title confirmed by their cousin, the ruling prince? Illyria was a small realm on the Mediterranean coast and the ceremony had been private, of interest only to Illyrians.
Beneath lifted black brows, Hawke's green gaze travelled from her face to the trolley she'd pushed in front of her like a shield. A slow throb of sensation reverberated through Melissa like the roll of distant drums.
In a voice textured by sardonic inflection, he enquired, 'You're doing an internship in waiting on hotel guests? What do your brothers think of that?'
'I'm doing a master's in management. This is part of it.' Flustered, she folded her lips firmly together. It was none of his business what she was doing there.
Another long, considering stare sent prickles across her skin. 'Waiting on guests?'
She allowed irony to tinge her smile. 'It's good for me to find out what it's like at the coalface.'
Of course he picked up on the subtle criticism. His lashes drooped, lending a saturnine cast to his features.
In response, more colour burned along the high cheekbones Melissa had inherited from a mediaeval Slavic princess. Reminding herself that he was a guest, she added hurriedly, 'But this isn't normally part of my job. I'm filling in for one of the staff who's ill.'
'I see.' Metallic red highlights gleamed in his charcoal hair as he reached into his pocket. 'Thank you.'
It gave her great pleasure to be able to say, 'Tipping isn't necessary in New Zealand, sir, unless the waiter has done something out of the ordinary.'
Only to recall, too late, that he was a New Zealander. The proffered tip must have been a deliberate attempt to humiliate her.
No, she was being paranoid. Why would he do that? He barely knew her. He was probably finding his handkerchief!
Straight black brows drew together. 'Indeed,' he drawled after a tense second. 'Thank you, Melissa—or should I call you Your Highness?'
'No,' she said, without trying to smooth her tone. 'That's Gabe's title, not mine.'
One dark brow rose. 'But you are officially a princess of Illyria.'
Copyright © 2006 by Robyn Kingston.