Pregnant Innocent Behind the Veil
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CHAPTER ONE (opening excerpt)
ALESSIA BERRUTI’S HAND shook as she pressed ‘play’ on her phone. The scene, one which had already been viewed by over two million people since its upload four hours earlier, was a wedding reception. Hundreds of finely dressed people were celebrating in a stateroom in the castle where the royal family of Ceres lived. The camera zoomed in on two women. The loud music and waves of surrounding conversation faded.
‘Your brother looks smitten,’ the blonde lady in the video footage said. Her voice, although pitched low, was clearly audible.
‘He is.’ The tiny, chestnut-haired woman who answered looked over her shoulder. The camera perfectly captured the face of Princess Alessia Berruti.
The blonde’s voice dropped even lower. ‘I wonder how Dominic’s feeling right now, seeing his intended bride marry another man.’
‘Who gives a...’ A loud beep was dubbed over the princess’s scathing retort. ‘That man’s an obese, sweaty, disgusting monster.’
‘Don’t hold back,’ the blonde said with a laugh. ‘Say what you really think.’
The princess laughed too and drank some more champagne before saying, ‘Okay, what I really think is that King Dominic of Monte Cleure should be locked behind bars and never allowed within three kilometres of any woman ever again.’
The footage ended the moment Alessia’s phone buzzed in her hand. It was her eldest brother, Amadeo.
‘My quarters,’ he said icily. ‘Now.’
Four days later, Alessia covered her flaming face and wished for the chair she was sitting on to plunge her into a deep pit.
What had she done?
Trying her hardest not to cry again, she lifted her stare to Amadeo. His features were as taut and uncompromising as she had ever seen them. To his right, their mother, her expression as unyielding as her eldest son’s. To their mother’s right, their father, the only person in this whole room with a smidgeon of sympathy. She couldn’t bring herself to look at the man sat on the other side of Amadeo, the final link in the human chain of disappointment and anger being aimed at her.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Alessia whispered for the third time. ‘I had no idea I was being filmed.’
It was an excuse that cut no ice, not even with her.
One unguarded moment. That’s all it had been. Unguarded or not, she should have known better. She did know better. Her whole life had been spent having her basic human desires and reactions restrained so that she was always in total control of herself.
‘I’ll marry Dominic,’ she blurted into the silence. ‘I’m the one who’s got us into this mess, I’m the one who should be punished. Not you.’
That had been the king’s first demand in the Berrutis’ valiant efforts to make amends. Marriage to Princess Alessia. It would show the world, so he said, that she had been jesting and that the Berruti royal family respected him. That the world had already got wind that he’d once made overtures about marriage to the princess and been politely rebuffed mattered not a jot to him. King Dominic had thicker skin than a rhinoceros. He also had the vanity of a peacock and the cruelty of a medieval despot. So atrocious was his reputation that not a single eligible female member of any European royal family had agreed to a date, let alone marriage. Dominic’s desperation for a blue-blooded bride had seen him trick a very distant relation of the current British monarch to his principality and then hold her hostage until she agreed to marry him. His victim escaped barely an hour before her forced nuptials when Alessia’s other brother, Marcelo, rescued her to worldwide amazement and Dominic’s fury, and married her for himself. It was at Marcelo and Clara’s wedding reception that Alessia had opened her mouth and made the simmering relations between the two nations boil over.
‘Don’t think I’ve not been tempted,’ Amadeo said grimly at the same moment their father stated, ‘Out of the question.’
‘But why should Amadeo have to give up his whole life for something that’s my fault?’ she implored.
‘Because, sister,’ Amadeo answered, ‘tempting though it may be to insist you marry that man, I wouldn’t marry someone I hate to him never mind my own sister.’
A tear leaked out and rolled down her cheek. She wiped it away. ‘But this is myfault. Surely there’s a way to make amends and bring peace to our countries without you having to do this?’
The man Alessia had been cursorily introduced to three days ago addressed her directly for the first time. ‘This is the one resolution satisfactory to both parties.’
Gabriel Serres. The ‘fixer’ brought in by her parents and brother to fix the mess and bring peace to Ceres and Monte Cleure, and the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d taken one look at him and, for a few short moments, all her troubles had blown out of her mind.
I love Michelle Smart’s stories because they are dramatic, emotional and highly entertaining adventures.
Undone by temptation…
Bound by the consequences!
Super-rich Gabriel Serres values anonymity above everything. Alessia Berutti lives in the world’s spotlight. Yet in that moment he saw his own need reflected in her gaze, she was a woman, not a princess… And now she’s carrying his baby!
Her whole life, Alessia has put the royal family first, until the night where she abandoned duty for desire. Her duty demands a hasty wedding to avoid a scandal! But walking down the aisle, she’s hoping for the unthinkable—that Gabriel could be the one to finally put her first.
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