AFTER OUR NIGHT IN THE GAZEBO, RHYS AND I DIDN’T GET any more time alone during the tour. But when we returned to Athenberg a few days later, we managed to sneak in trysts despite my packed schedule. The guesthouse at midnight, after everyone had gone to sleep. The supply closet on the third floor of the staff quarters during lunch hour. My favorite rooftop above the kitchen. No place was off-limits. It was risky, dangerous, and out of character for both of us, given how practical we usually were, but we couldn’t have stopped if we wanted to. We’d waited too long and needed it too much. It was a crazy ride that would eventually have to end, and while we never talked about the future, we’d come to a silent agreement to enjoy every second we could. But, as much as I wanted to spend all my days and nights with Rhys, I had other responsibilities, and three weeks after my return to Athenberg, I found myself in my grandfather’s office, waiting for Erhall to finish speaking so I could present my agenda items. “Let me guess. You have another citizen issue you’d like to bring up. Your Highness,” Erhall added tightly, no doubt remembering my grandfather was also in the room. I responded with a serene smile. “Yes. That is what we do, isn’t it? Help the citizens of Eldorra?”
Erhall, Edvard, Andreas, and I sat around Edvard’s desk for the king’s weekly meeting with the Speaker. It was my third such meeting since I returned from my goodwill tour, which had been a smash success. Henrik ran a glowing profile of me in the Eldorran Herald, and my public approval rating shot sky high, nearly rivaling that of my grandfather’s. I personally didn’t care much about ratings, but it was one of the most powerful weapons in my arsenal since I didn’t hold any actual political power. I also took great pleasure in the fact Erhall’s rating was nearly twenty points lower than mine. “Of course.” Erhall smoothed down his tie, looking like he’d just sucked on a lemon. “What would you like to discuss?” I’d built on my impulsive decision at Ida’s farm and created an official Citizen Letters program by which Eldorrans could write or email me with their concerns, and I acknowledged every one. The most important ones, I brought to Erhall’s attention during the weekly meetings. He probably wouldn’t do anything about the majority of them, but I had to try. “It’s about the roads in Rykhauver…” I launched into my presentation, ignoring Andreas’s smirk. I hated that he was there, but he was still “shadowing” Erhall, and since he was second in line to the throne, no one objected to him joining the meetings. It didn’t matter. He would never be King, not if I had anything to say about it—and, as crown princess, I had plenty to say. “I’ll look into the issue,” Erhall said. Code for I’m going to pretend this conversation never happened after I leave this room. “Now, Your Majesty, about the tax reform…” Edvard cast a sympathetic glance in my direction. He refrained from fighting my battles for me because it wouldn’t look good if I ran to him for help every time Erhall was a jerk, but I—
Oh God. I nearly jumped out of my seat. Erhall paused and gave me a strange look before resuming his speech. I pressed my thighs together beneath the table as the silent but powerful vibrations resumed between my legs. I’m going to kill him. Rhys had ordered me to wear a vibrator all day and I, like an idiot, had agreed. It’d sounded hot, and Rhys had a minuteby-minute breakdown of my day. He’d kept the vibrator off during my meetings, so why— My eyes fell on the grandfather clock in the corner. Dammit. We were running over. Fifteen minutes over, to be exact. Rhys probably thought I was out by now. A bead of sweat formed on my forehead as I tried not to moan, squirm, or do anything that might give me away. “Are you alright? You look…flushed.” Andreas raised his eyebrows, his eyes sharp as he stared at me. “Yes.” I forced a smile. “Perfectly all right.” “You don’t look so well,” Edvard said, sounding concerned. Dear God, every minute they spent asking about me was another minute the meeting dragged on. It needed to end, soon, before I came in the middle of a discussion about freaking tax legislation. “It’s just a little hot in here. Please, don’t stop on my account,” I managed. The vibrations ratcheted up a notch, and my nails dug into my skin so hard it left little grooves in my palms. Edvard looked unconvinced, but he and Erhall resumed their conversation while Andreas watched me with narrowed eyes. Normally, I would give him an icy stare right back, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything except the throbbing of my
clit and the rasp of my nipples against my bra. Thankfully, the meeting ended soon after. I bid Edvard a hasty goodbye, gave Erhall a curt nod, and ignored Andreas completely before exiting as normally as I could. I didn’t want to raise their suspicions any further by running from the room, even if I was a hair’s breadth away from orgasming. The instant I was in the hall, the vibrations ceased. Of course they did. I smoothed a hand over the front of my skirt and managed to walk semi-normally to my office, where Rhys waited for me. My heart leaped when I saw him leaning against my desk. Eyes dark, arms crossed over his chest, his pose casual and arrogant. “That was cruel.” I pinned him with a stern stare even as my clit throbbed again—not from the vibrator, but from the sight of him. The stubble, the tattoos, the way he looked at me like I was the only person in the world…Stop. Focus. “I was in a meeting.” “It was supposed to end half an hour ago.” “It ran over.” “Clearly.” Rhys’s eyes lit up with a wicked gleam. “Come here, princess.” I shook my head, even though I was so turned on the faintest gust of air against my skin caused my breath to quicken. It was the principle of the matter. “No.” “That wasn’t a request.” My nipples hardened into aching points at his authoritative tone, and I folded my arms over my chest to hide them. “You can’t tell me what to do.” “Come. Here.” His voice dropped to a dangerously soft decibel. “Before I bend you over my lap and spank you so hard you won’t be able to sit for days.”
My core clenched at the mental image, and I almost refused so he could do exactly that. But after hours of teasing, I couldn’t wait anymore, and I walked forward on shaky legs until I stood in front of him. “There. That wasn’t so hard.” Rhys grabbed the back of my neck and pulled me toward him. “Remember. In public, you’re my princess, but in private, you’re my whore.” His other hand reached down and pinched my swollen clit until I squealed, and the beginning tremors of an orgasm rocked through me. “You’ll do what I say, when I say it, and you’ll take my cock however I want. Won’t you?” Oh God. Another rush of moisture flooded between my legs. “Yes,” I breathed. The word hadn’t fully left my mouth before he swallowed it with a hard, knee-buckling kiss, and any vestiges of resistance crumbled. I wrapped my arms around his neck, reveling in the taste and feel of him. We’d been insatiable since the night in the gazebo, and I still couldn’t get enough. The sneaking around, the late-night trysts and loaded glances in rooms full of people…it could all crash down around us at any second. But for once in my life, I didn’t care. I’d never felt more alive. “How was your day, sweetheart?” Rhys breathed against my lips, his tone gentling from moments ago. “Good. Frustrating,” I said pointedly before I, too, softened my voice. “I missed you.” I hadn’t seen him since breakfast. His eyes crinkled into a beautiful smile, and my heart soared so high I thought I might float off the ground. If I could have any three things in the world, it would be world peace, my parents back, and Rhys’s smiles forever.
“I missed you too.” He gave me a softer, lingering kiss before he slid his hand up my inner thigh again and a low groan escaped his throat. “You are soaked.” His tone returned to the hard, commanding one I was used to. “Bend over and lift your skirt.” I obeyed, the prospect of having him inside me soon making my fingers shake as I bent over the desk and yanked my skirt over my hips. “Take off your underwear.” I slipped my hand into the waistband of my panties and shimmied them down until they pooled around my ankles. Heat rose on my cheeks when I realized Rhys now had an unimpeded view of my vibrator and the mess it’d left behind —my panties completely drenched, my thighs slick with my juices. Still, I was turned on enough to brush past my embarrassment. I gripped the edge of the desk, my body taut with anticipation, but there was only silence. No words, no touch. I twisted my head in confusion. Rhys stood behind me, his eyes ravenous as he soaked me in. Between his hungry stare and my current position, I felt like a sacrificial lamb waiting for a lion to pounce and devour me. “Spread your legs wider. Let me see that pretty pussy dripping for me.” Heat scalded me from head to toe, but I did as he asked. “So beautiful.” He palmed my ass with both hands and squeezed. “What would the good citizens of Eldorra say if they could see you now, hmm? Their prim and proper princess bent over and spread wide, waiting for a hard cock to fuck her.” Was it possible to come from words alone? Because I was this close to doing so.
“Not just any cock,” I panted. “Yours. Now are you going to keep talking, or are you actually going to fuck me?” Rhys laughed. He made quick work of his belt and pants, and my mouth dried. I would never get over how huge he was. Thick, long, and hard, the head already dripping pre-cum. “That’s right.” He pulled the vibrator out and positioned the tip of his cock at my entrance. “Mine. Only mine. And don’t you forget it, princess.” He drove into me with one deep thrust, and my initial yelp turned into a series of whimpering moans as he pounded me from behind. They mingled with his grunts, the creaking of the desk as it shook beneath the force of his fucking, and the sound of flesh slapping against flesh. A delicious, filthy symphony that muddled my thoughts until all I could focus on was the feel of him thrusting in and out of me— “Bridget? Are you in there?” Mikaela. It took a few seconds for her voice to penetrate my sexdrenched fog, but once it did, my eyes flew open and I tried to stand up, only for Rhys to push me down again. “Not done with you yet, princess.” He thrust into me again and clapped a hand over my mouth to muffle my moan. “Rhys, she’s right outside,” I hissed when he loosened his hold enough for me to speak. I desperately wanted to come, but my stomach churned at the prospect of being caught. I could’ve pretended I wasn’t there, but Mikaela and I had a scheduled meeting I’d completely forgotten about until now. “The door’s locked.” “She could hear us.” We spoke only loud enough for the other to hear, but to my paranoid ears, we might as well be shouting. “Then you better keep quiet, hmm?” Rhys’s hot breath slid over my skin as he reached around to pinch my nipples. Another jolt of lust rocketed through me.
“Bridget.” Mikaela sounded impatient now. “The door’s locked. Is everything okay?” “Y-yes. I’m”—Rhys slammed into me with a particularly brutal thrust—“coming!” My last word devolved into a gasp as my orgasm crashed over me in a tidal wave. I buried my face in my arms and bit down to stifle my screams. Rhys’s breathing changed, and a second later he came with a quiet grunt before sliding out of me. We didn’t have the luxury of basking in post-coital bliss, and the aftershocks of my orgasm were still rippling through me as we cleaned ourselves up. “One minute!” I called out for Mikaela’s benefit. I glared at Rhys, who’d fixed himself up in record time and looked like he was trying not to laugh. “This isn’t funny.” “Nice double entendre there at the end,” he said with a smirk. I’m coming. I flushed as I finished straightening my clothes and hair. A quick glance in the mirror told me I still looked a bit disheveled, but I could blame that on running around the palace all day. “I almost miss the days when you were an overbearing, overprotective ass.” “Then you’ll be pleased to hear I’m still an overbearing, overprotective ass. And princess.” Rhys’s voice stopped me when I was halfway to the door. “You’re forgetting something.” My face flamed when he held up the vibrator. “You are trying to get us into trouble.” I snatched the vibrator from him and wrapped it hastily with a tissue before shoving it inside a desk drawer. I’d deal with it later.
“It’s Mikaela. She doesn’t notice anything that doesn’t have to do with parties and society gossip. You could shove an elephant in front of her and she probably wouldn’t notice. You think I would’ve done that had it been Markus or Elin at the door?” Okay, Mikaela wasn’t the most observant person on the planet, but Rhys was exaggerating. In this case, though, I hoped he was right. I opened the door and finally let my annoyed-looking friend in. “What took so long?” she grumbled. “I have to meet my mother—” She stopped when she saw Rhys. “Oh, hey, Rhys. What are you doing here?” He was technically off duty when I was in the palace, and I scrambled to think of a plausible excuse. “We were going over security plans,” I improvised. “For Nik’s wedding. Some of it is, uh, confidential. Which is why I took so long to answer.” Nikolai and Sabrina were still in California, but they were getting married in Athenberg and preparations were in full swing. Mikaela frowned. “Just the two of you? I thought the Royal Guard was handling that.” “Personal security plans,” I amended quickly. “Oh.” The confusion in Mikaela’s eyes cleared. “Is now still a good time to meet? I can come back if not.” “Now works,” I said, even though all I wanted was to shower and take a nap. I was just grateful she didn’t ask any more questions about why it took me so long to unlock the door. My excuse would’ve unraveled faster than a cheap sweater under any scrutiny. “I’ll see you later, Your Highness. Lady Mikaela.” Rhys inclined his head and left, but not before shooting me a wink. I bit back a smile.
“It’s too bad,” Mikaela said, her eyes lingering on his backside a tad longer than I would’ve liked before the door shut behind him. “What is?” I absentmindedly shuffled some papers on my desk and tried to push aside the mental images of what I’d been doing on that exact spot ten minutes ago. “That Rhys is a bodyguard.” Mikaela returned her attention to me and plopped into the chair opposite mine. “He is so gorgeous. I don’t know how you see him every day without drooling. If he weren’t a commoner…” She fanned herself. “I would be all over that.” My entire body stiffened, for multiple reasons. “Just because he doesn’t have a title doesn’t mean he’s less than anyone who does have one.” I should’ve gone along with what she said because Lord knows I didn’t want to encourage any attraction she had toward Rhys, but I hated the implication aristocrats were better just because they were lucky enough to be born into a titled family. Mikaela blinked in surprise at my sharp tone. “Of course not,” she said. “But you understand the social dynamics, Bridge. Getting involved with the staff is so tacky. And I’m the daughter of a baron.” An unusual note of bitterness punctuated the last sentence. “My social standing isn’t high enough to survive that kind of scandal.” The aristocracy had a strict hierarchy, and barons and baronesses sat at the bottom. I suspected that was part of the reason Mikaela worked so hard at networking and staying on top of society gossip—to overcome her perceived lower status, even though her family was still wealthier than the average Eldorran. “Like I said, too bad, but at least I can look at him.” Mikaela brightened again. “You’re so lucky to have a hot bodyguard. Or not, since you can’t hook up with him.” She laughed, and I forced myself to join. “Of course not,” I said. “That would be crazy.”

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