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A Royal Amnesia Scandal

By:Jules Bennett

A Royal Amnesia Scandal, - Jules Bennett
One

Escaping to the mountains would have been much better for his sanity than coming to his newly purchased private seaside villa off the coast of Portugal.

Kate Barton fully clothed was enough to have any man panting, but Kate running around in a bikini with some flimsy, strapless wrap that knotted right at her cleavage was damn near crippling. The woman had curves, she wasn’t stick-thin like a model and damn if she didn’t know how to work those dips and valleys on that killer body. Not that she ever purposely showcased herself, at least not in the professional setting, but she couldn’t hide what she’d been blessed with, either. Even in a business suit, she rocked any designer’s label.

Luc Silva cursed beneath his breath as he pulled his Jet Ski back to the dock and secured it. His intent in coming here was to escape from the media, escape from the woman who’d betrayed him. So why was he paying a penance with yet another woman?

To ensure privacy for both of them, he’d given Kate the guesthouse. Unfortunately, it and the main house shared the same private beach, damn it. He’d thought purchasing this fixer-upper on a private island, barely up to civilization’s standards, was a brilliant idea at the time. With no internet access and little cell service, it was a perfect hideaway for a member of Ilha Beleza’s royal family. He didn’t want to be near people who knew of or cared about his status. Luc had only one requirement when searching for a hideout: a place to escape. Yet here he was with his sexy, mouthy, curvy assistant.

Not only that, the renovations to the property were only half-done, because he’d needed to get away from reality much sooner than he’d thought he would.

A lying fiancée would do that to a man.

“Your face is burning.”

Luc fisted his hands at his sides as he approached Kate. Was she draped all over that lounge chair on purpose or did she just naturally excel at tormenting men? She’d untied that wrap and now it lay open, as if framing her luscious body covered only by triangles of bright red material and strings.

“I’m not burned,” he retorted, not slowing down as he marched up the white sand.

“Did you apply sunscreen?” she asked, holding an arm over her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun.

The movement shifted her breasts, and the last thing he needed was to be staring at his assistant’s chest, no matter how impressive it was. When she’d started working for him about a year ago, he’d wanted her... He still wanted her, if he was being honest with himself.

She was the absolute best assistant he’d ever had. Her parents still worked for his parents, so hiring Kate had been an easy decision.

A decision he questioned every single time his hormones shot into overdrive when she neared.

He never mingled with staff. He and his parents always kept their personal and professional relationships separate, so as not to create bad press or scandal. It was a rule they felt very strongly about after a scandal generations ago. Rumor had it the family was quite the center of gossip for a while after an assistant let out family secrets best left behind closed doors.

So once Luc had become engaged to Alana, he’d put his attraction to Kate out of his mind.

For the past three months, he’d been ready to say “I do” for two very valid reasons: his ex had claimed to be expecting his child, and he needed to marry to secure his crown to reign over Ilha Beleza.

Now Alana was gone and he was trying like hell to hang on to the title, even though he had just a few months to find a wife. And the second he was in charge, he’d be changing that archaic law. Just because a man was nearing thirty-five didn’t mean he had to be tied down, and Luc wanted nothing to do with holy matrimony...especially now that he’d been played.

“You’re frowning,” Kate called as he passed right by her. “Being angry isn’t helping your red face.”

There were times he admired the fact she didn’t treat him as if he was royalty, but just a regular man. This wasn’t one of those times.

Before climbing the steps to the outdoor living area, Luc turned. “Did you cancel the interview with that journalist from the States?”

Kate settled back into her relaxed position, dropping her arm to her side and closing her eyes as the sun continued to kiss all that exposed skin.

“I took care of canceling all media interviews you had scheduled regarding the upcoming wedding, or anything to do with Alana,” she told him. “I rescheduled your one-on-one interviews for later in the year, after you gain the title. By then I’m positive you’ll have everything sorted out and will be at the top of your game.”

Luc swallowed. Not only was Kate his right-hand woman, she was his biggest supporter and advocate. She made him look good to the media, occasionally embellishing the truth to further boost his family’s name.

“I simply told each of the media outlets that this was a difficult time for you, playing up the faux miscarriage, and your family’s request for privacy.”

Kate lifted a knee, causing a little roll of skin to ease over her bikini bottoms. Luc’s eyes instantly went to that region of her body and he found himself wanting to drop to his knees and explore her with more than his eyes.

“If you’re done staring at me, you need to either go inside or put on sunscreen,” she added, without opening her eyes.

“If you’d cover up, I wouldn’t stare.”

Her soft laugh, drifting on an ocean breeze, hit him square in the gut. “If I covered up, I wouldn’t get a tan. Be glad I’m at least wearing this. I do hate those tan lines.”

Gritting his teeth, Luc tried but failed at keeping that mental image from his mind. Kate sunbathing in the nude would surely have any man down on his knees begging. Forcing back a groan, Luc headed up the steps and into the main house. She was purposely baiting him, and he was letting her, because he was at a weak spot in his life right now. He also couldn’t hide the fact that his assistant turned him inside out in ways she shouldn’t. He’d been engaged, for pity’s sake, yet before and after the engagement, he’d wanted to bed Kate.

Sleeping with an employee was beyond tacky, and he wasn’t going to be so predictable as to fall into that cliché. Besides, the house rule of no fraternizing with employees was something he stood behind wholeheartedly.

He and Kate were of like minds, and they needed to remain in a professional relationship. Period. Kate stood up for him, stood by him, no matter what, and he refused to risk that by jumping into bed with her.

She had been just as shocked as he was when Alana’s deception had been revealed. For once, Kate hadn’t made a snarky comment, hadn’t tried to be cute or funny. She’d instantly intervened, taking all calls, offering up reasons why the engagement had been called off.

In fact, it was Kate’s brilliant plan that had saved his pride. She’d informed the media that Alana had miscarried, and the couple had opted to part ways as friends. At first he’d wanted to just come out with the truth, but he’d been so hurt by the personal nature of the lie, he’d gone along with the farce to save face.

So, for all the times Kate got under his skin with their verbal sparring and her torturous body, he couldn’t manage this situation without her.

There were times, even before the fiancée debacle, that he’d just wished he had a place to run to and escape all the chaos of being royalty. Purchasing this home—even though it needed some updating—was like a gift to himself. The view had sold him immediately. With the infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the lush gardens, the previous owners obviously had to have been outdoor enthusiasts. At least Luc had a dock for his Jet Ski and his boat.

Too bad he’d had to come here before all the remodeling was complete. Kate had informed the workers they would have the next two weeks off because the house would be in use. The contractors had managed to get a few of the rooms fully renovated, and thankfully, Luc’s master suite was one of them.

He stripped off his wet trunks and stepped into his glass-enclosed shower, which gave the illusion of being outside, but in fact was surrounded by lush tropical plants. The shower was an addition to the master suite and one of his favorite features in the house. He loved having the feeling of being outdoors while being ensured of the privacy he craved. That had been his top priority when he’d bought the house.

An image of sharing this spacious shower with Kate slammed into his mind, and Luc had to focus on something else. Such as the fact she was ten years younger than him, and when he’d been learning to drive, she’d been going to kindergarten and losing her first tooth. There. That should make him feel ridiculous about having such carnal thoughts toward his assistant...shouldn’t it?

Water sluiced over his body as he braced his hands against the glass wall and leaned forward. Dropping his head, he contemplated all the reasons why bedding his assistant was wrong. Not only would things be awkward between them, but any bad press could threaten his ascension to the throne. Not to mention the no-fraternization rule, which had been implemented for a reason. He didn’t want to be the cause for a black mark on his family’s name. One major issue was all he could handle right now. Unfortunately, the one and only reason for wanting to claim her kept trumping all the mounting negatives. He had to find a way to keep her at arm’s length, because if he kept seeing her parading around in that skimpy gear, he’d never make it through these next two weeks alone with her.

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