MAID FOR A PRINCE
The Point St. Claire
where true love finds a way
"This was an awesome read.
True love lasts beyond a lifetime.
Helene Masters loves to push the envelope, take risks. But almost maiming a royal prince for the sake of adventure is too much. Thankfully, Darius Vasily is willing to forgive and forget. In fact, he wants to hire Helene as personal help. But when “personal” turns an intimate corner, things heat up more…and not always in a good way.
Darius intends to be a worthy king, which means following tradition and respecting his people’s hopes as well as their fears. But since meeting Helene, it’s one crisis after another…freak accidents, broken artifacts, even open rebellion. Now, with help from a bittersweet force from the past, Darius must face the greatest choice, and challenge, of his life. Helene just wants to go home. Not that she could possibly know…
Answers await them in Point St. Claire.
"Watch out beloooow!”
As her cry pierced the air, Helene Masters gripped the ladder’s top rung with one hand and lunged with the other. Her fingertips grazed the handle but the bucket, three-parts filled with paint, continued on, a short-range missile speeding toward earth.
This secluded Mediterranean island was a sacred place. The architecture was classic and walkways, like the one under this ladder, were patterned with sandstone laid thousands of years ago. She’d have a tough job cleaning up the mess.
But it got much worse than that.
Someone had just rounded the corner. At the same time she shouted out, the man glanced up. Espresso-colored hair, a proud aquiline nose and passionate mouth. A regal face, Helene thought in that split second. And one that was about to be covered in robin-egg blue.
The man braced, stepped back, and the bucket missed him by a whisker. It clanged on the stone, spraying plumes of blue into the air before the shower slapped the ground as well as that man’s shoes, pants and shirt.
Helene cringed to her toes. She was in big trouble. The last thing she wanted. The very last thing she needed. She was done with feeling like anyone’s accident waiting to happen.
Below her, strong bronzed hands bunched into fists and a dark gaze snaked back up to snare hers. A slash of paint oozed down one cheek while his Hollywood jaw clenched doubly tight. Energy rippled off him in blistering waves, hitting Helene with a smidgeon less intensity than a sonic boom.
Balanced on the ladder, she gulped out an apology.
“I’m so sorry. It slipped.”
He flicked his dripping hands. Blue dots flew as he squinted up and asked, “Who in the devil are you?”
His voice was deep and smooth. She loved his accent—rolling r’s, rounded vowels, and a tone that reminded her of black velvet.
“Your name?” he said again.
She gathered her thoughts. “Helene Masters.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Painting the gutters on this old stable.”
His flicked his hands again and muttered, “Clearly.”
But now, rather than ticked off, he sounded intrigued, and a certain glimmer in those dark eyes said that, whoever he was, she might not be thrown into some ancient jail cell just yet.
“Who commissioned you?”
Helene held her breath. “I choose not to answer on the grounds it might incriminate someone.”
His eyes flashed―black diamonds glittering in late-summer sunshine. Then one corner of that passionate mouth lifted so slightly, she might have imagined it.
“You’re concerned for a friend,” he surmised. “He has nothing to fear.”
“Let’s say, a person of authority.”
Helene wondered… Could this man be the Prince of Teirenias? But the Prince wasn’t due on this island until next week. Besides, she’d seen a portrait. They looked similar in hair color and complexion. So did most people in these parts. But the person in the portrait was much younger. His jaw wasn’t anywhere near as strong as this man’s. Ditto the physique.
The man stepped back, leaving blue-bordered footprints behind. “Come down.” Flinching, he rubbed his neck. “I’m getting a crick.”
Whoever he was, Helene decided, it didn’t make sense to carry on a conversation with him down there and her all the way up here.
A moment later, she was on the ground and feeling even more flushed. She’d known this man was built and attractive, but close up, he was bone-melting. His confident expression sent her blood pressure soaring. She’d heard about animal magnetism—the power some people had to hypnotize and draw in their prey.
This man smoldered with it.
“Tell me who’s behind your being here,” he glanced dubiously skyward, “painting gutters?”
“You’re a local?” she asked.
“Then you’d know. About the prince, I mean.”
A dark curl fell over his brow, bobbing in the briny breeze as he crossed his arms. “Fill me in.”
“Before the Prince of Tierenias can be crowned king, tradition says he needs to spend seven days and nights on this island—”
“A sacred place that helps royals-in-waiting realize their greatest strengths through meditation and spiritual renewal.”
Helene slowly grinned. She couldn’t have put it better herself.
“I was hired to tidy up before the Prince arrives. But I’m even more excited about this island’s other story. You’d know the one. About an ancient fertility goddess and her mysterious powers.”
His expression sobered, questioned, so she went on.
“Story goes that she can mesmerize any mortal of her choosing. It’s said that power is greatest in a secret place somewhere here on this island.”
Helene took in her surroundings: a centuries-old stone villa crouched on a bluff, verdant slopes dotted with olive trees and prickly pear, the scent of crystal-clear water and coo of gentle doves. Somewhere on this secluded paradise, the goddess was hiding…waiting.
“This island’s so beautiful.” Her gaze dropped to the blue-splashed sandstone. “And I’ve trashed it.”
He didn’t seem too concerned about that anymore. “I need to know who left you here.”
She didn’t want to get her friend in trouble. But records could be checked. Alexio’s name would show up eventually.
“Alexio owns a taverna on the main island,” she began, “but he also oversees the upkeep here. He does a lot of the work himself.” She brightened. “But Alexio became a grandfather yesterday, so he offered me the job. Three days work. He dropped me off yesterday.”
“What about me?”
“How do you come to be here? Your accent…you’re American?”
“From Maine. East Coast. I’ve always wanted to travel. As soon as I finished my degree, I was off.” Across the Atlantic, backpacking her way all over the place.
She’d swooned over Mad King Ludwig’s castle in Germany. She’d been blown away by the gothic splendor of Notre Dame. In Italy at the Fontana di Trevi, she’d tossed a coin and promised, no matter what, she would return. Then she’d hopped aboard a sailboat destined for that little known Aegean kingdom steeped in legend, the twin islands of Tierenias.
She’d heard that a distant relative had come from these parts. Helene was even named after her.
“Now, can I ask you a question?” she asked, and he considered before nodding. “Who, or what, are you? Some kind of guard or secret service type?”
“Are you here alone?”
He only lifted his chin higher.
Awareness stirred in her stomach and all the fine hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. But she’d already ruled that out. The prince was much younger. The planes of his face less angled. His body less…hard. He wasn’t meant to arrive until next week.
“You’re not—” She cut herself off with a short laugh. “You couldn’t be… Could you?”
The man thrust back his paint-splattered shoulders. “I am Darius Vasily, Royal Prince of Tierenias. And what we have here, Ms. Masters, is a huge problem.”