Tempted by the rebellious royal…
Millionaire Grayson Landers has fled the paparazzi back home—only to find himself in another media storm: rescuing the king's niece from a thief!
Lady Annabelle DiSalvo is no pampered princess—she's come to the Mediterranean island of Mirraccino to solve the mystery of her mother's death. Grayson can't help but want to assist her. Plagued by guilt over not being able to save his ex, this is his chance for redemption. Only he absolutely cannot fall for her and risk his heart again…unless it's already too late!
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At last, Annabelle got through to the police department.
And without playing the royal card, she was able to speak with someone in authority. They told her to stop by in the morning and they’d see about getting some of her possessions back to her. She wasn’t sure what some consisted of, but it was a start.
“Everything okay?” Grayson asked.
She nodded. “They’d like you to stop by tomorrow and give them a statement.”
He didn’t say anything as he turned to stare out the window as they approached the palace gates. She chose to take his silence as a good sign, but she couldn’t help but worry just a bit about the impression he’d gotten of Mirraccino. She could only hope the financial projections packet she’d put together would outweigh everything else.
Annabelle sat in the back of her sedan with Grayson as Berto ushered them past the security gates and onto the royal grounds. Annabelle had to admit that after living here for the past couple of years she’d begun to take the palace’s beauty for granted.
She turned to Grayson to find him staring out the window. He seemed to be taking in the manicured lawns, the towering palm trees and the red-and-white border of flowers lining the long and winding drive.
“This place is remarkable.” Grayson said, drawing her from her thoughts. “We have nothing like this where I come from.”
“You’re from California, right?”
He nodded, but he never took his gaze off the colorful scenery. “I couldn’t even imagine what it must be like to live here.”
“You get used to it.” As strange as that might sound, this big place felt like home to her. “Is this your first visit to Mirraccino?”
“Yes.” He still didn’t look at her.
The turrets of the palace were first to come into view. They were colorful with stripes of yellow, pink, aqua and gold. Annabelle found herself looking at them through new eyes.
And then the palace in its entirety loomed. It was enormous, even compared to her family’s spacious mansion back in Halencia. While her home in Halencia was all white, the palace was created in warm shades of tan and coral with some accents done in aqua. It was simple and yet stunning.
And with the afternoon sun’s rays, the palace practically gleamed. When she was a little girl, she’d thought the palace was magical. She’d always wanted to be a princess, but her mother assured her that she didn’t need to be a princess to be special.
Being the daughter of the Duke of Halencia, she was addressed as Lady Annabelle. It gave her recognition in high society but not much else. Her father’s estate would eventually revert to her older brother, the Earl of Halencia. She used to think it was unfair, but now she appreciated having choices in life.
The car pulled to a stop outside the palace. Berto rushed to get the car door. Annabelle alighted from the car followed by Grayson.
Grayson turned to her. “Why is the South Shore so important to you that you’d go out of your way for me?”
She schooled her features, trying to hide any hint of her desperation. “The South Shore was a pet project of the crown prince. He brought me in on the project at the beginning. When his responsibilities drew him away, I promised to see that it was finished.”
“So you’re keeping a promise to the prince?” Grayson arched a brow.
“He’s my friend as well as my cousin,” she was quick to clarify.
“That’s right. You did mention the king was your uncle. So this is a family favor of sorts?”
“Yes. You could put it that way.” If that’s what he wanted to believe, who was she to change his mind? Because in the beginning that’s all it had been. Now it was her way to prove herself to her father. “But in the process, I’ve really come to care about the people of the South Shore and I want to see it flourish.”
He smiled at her, making her stomach quiver with the sensation of butterflies. “In that case, lead the way.”
She didn’t normally enter through the main door, but Grayson was a special guest—pivotal to her future. It wouldn’t hurt to give him the VIP treatment.