Prince's Son of Scandal

By: Dani Collins

Their hostess moved to the podium to make a short speech, thanked the guests for their donations then announced the winners for the auction items. Trella grew increasingly self-conscious as the moments ticked down, certain she had truly lost her mind this time. Maybe she should leave before—

“Finally, our most coveted prize, a dance with the Prince of Elazar, has been won by... Angelique Sauveterre!”

The applause was polite, the knives in her back proverbial, but she felt them. She privately smirked, then blushed as Xavier showed no surprise. Was he so sure of her?

“I’m flattered.”

“You should be. I promised to double the next highest bid. You had better dance well enough to be worth it.”

“I do,” he assured her, rising to help with her chair, doing that erotic thing of speaking against her hair so tingles raced all over her skin. “For that sort of generosity, bella, I’ll give you the whole night.”

Oh, he was good. Lightheadedness accosted her every time he called her bella, the same nickname her family called her. Her pulse pounded so hard she thought it would bruise her throat, but it fed the thrilling excitement washing over her. He made her feel so alluring. Sexy.

He made her feel as though he wanted her.

That was beyond captivating. She had spent a lot of dark nights telling herself how flawed she was, how she didn’t want men anyway, so she didn’t care if they didn’t want her. She did want, though. She wanted to feel normal and alive. Happy and desirable.

The touch of his hand on the small of her back had a terrific effect on her. The awareness that had been teasing her all evening became a suffusion of deeply sensual lethargy. Dear Lord, was she becoming aroused?

It was what she’d envied her sister for—which was when it struck her what was happening. She and Gili had a twin connection. They didn’t read each other’s thoughts or anything so intrusive, but they picked up hints of the other’s emotions despite whatever physical distance might separate them. The preternatural sense was stronger on Gili’s side. Trella had been so messed up for years, taking anti-depressants to quash anxiety attacks, she hadn’t been as receptive to her sister’s moods.

Lately, however, she’d become more aware, particularly if Gili was restless or having an off day. Tonight, her sister was with a man who truly excited her. She was usually so careful, so rarely selfish, yet she was basking in something that made her incredibly happy.

Her sister’s buoyant heart lightened Trella’s. She was happy for Gili, happy her sister wasn’t weighed down by all the things Trella had put her through. It added another lift of carefree joy to her own evening.

“You dance well yourself,” Xavier said as he spun her in a waltz.

She was too exhilarated to respond. The sparkling ballroom circled around her in a kaleidoscope of colors. His embrace was confident and reassuring, making her feel light as a fairy.

“I feel like Cinderella.” It was too true. She was the smudged sister who had escaped from the attic, wearing borrowed clothing to dance with a prince.

“You look like something out of a fairy tale.” The line of his brow twitched and the corner of his mouth deepened, like he both surprised and disparaged himself for saying. “You’re very beautiful,” he added gruffly.

Gili was the beautiful one. Trella had fought hard to get back to the same weight as her sister, wanting to feel as good as Gili looked. She had let her hair grow out to her sister’s length so she could impersonate her for her dry runs going out in public, but she never thought of herself as beautiful. She too often thought of herself as broken.

Not tonight. She diverted herself away from any thoughts other than how glorious this was. Around and around they went. His thighs brushed hers, his fingers splayed as though trying to touch more of her. She let her fingers trail closer to his collar so she could rest the side of one finger on the hot skin of his neck. It was electrifying. The magnetic sensations grew as he kept her dancing into the second song, tugging her toward an unknown crescendo. When someone tried to cut in, Xavier shrugged him off.

“The privilege of position?” she teased.

“I’ve never seen anyone glow like you. I’m enthralled.” Again, misgiving seemed to flicker like a shadow across his face. He didn’t like admitting to whatever he was feeling, but it added to her own exuberance.

“I feel like... I can’t even describe it. Like it’s Christmas. Like anything is possible.” She brought her gaze down from the chandelier into the turquoise blue of his eyes.

She reminded herself that becoming over-excited could have a rebound effect. She didn’t want to backslide. It would be a long fall from this height.

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