A Prince’s Heart by M. L. Taylor

1019

Part of The Heart Series

Prince Valik Rikard Massoulieu is the only son and heir to King Viktor and Queen Camille of the Isle of Harris. Valik is beyond loyal to his family and has always tried to honor the expectations that goes along with the life of being a Prince. Upon his father's request, Valik travels to Liverpool to settle a dispute in an old family-owned business. He soon finds out what kind of evil there is in the world.

Valik is recognized as Viktor's heir and son of a king. He's hit over the head and captured for ransom by a man who has a violent vendetta against the sovereign family. Blindfolded and beaten, Valik's only hope is the help and aid from a young woman named Sophia. Her soft voice and caring hands pull him out of the depths of depravity. But Sophia's evil father expects his daughter to fulfill his nefarious misdeeds.

It doesn't take long for Valik and Sophia to battle against the growing attraction they hold for the other until it can no longer be denied. But can their two very different worlds merge enough for love to grow, or will their unspoken truths eventually tear them apart?

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Sample chapter from the book

Chapter Seven ~ The voice of reason.

She pushes the door open and stands in the threshold.  Only the light of the fireplace illuminates the chamber, and she almost takes a step back losing her nerve.

Like before, she tentatively scans the room and her gaze settles on Valik sitting cross-legged in the center of the large bed.  It is an unsettling moment of truth for her and when their eyes lock.

“Come in, Sophia. I've been expecting you,” he whispers.

To her… his voice almost resounds as a lover's caress and she shakes her head, positive her mind is playing tricks on her.  With great apprehension, she steps farther into the room and hesitantly closes the door behind her.  For a moment, she almost can't will herself to turn around and face him, but she forces down the knot in her throat and ultimately does.

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She leans her back on the door as her eyes grow accustomed to the darkness of the room, and immediately notices he is without a shirt.

Collapsing her gaze to the floor, she nervously clears her throat before she speaks to him.  “M-Maggie says she came and talked to you earlier today,” she murmurs, more as a question than a statement.  “Is this true?”

The sound of his chain echoes across the chamber as he slides his feet to the floor and sits on the edge of the bed to face her.  “Yes, she did,” he confesses.  “I do find Maggie's company to be very… liberating.”

Liberating?  Sophia ponders for a moment what that could mean, but then she realizes she doesn't indeed care. “Why did you agree to this?” she asks before she can stop herself.  “You could have said no.”

Valik shrugs.  “I did say no,” he admits, passively.  “But Maggie can be very persuasive, as you probably already know.”

Fidgeting on her feet, she nods her head understanding.  “Yes, she can be,” she offers a weak laugh.  “I will have to reprimand her for it later.”

A silence permeates between them until Valik rises to his feet.  “Are we going to shout across the room all evening?  Or are you going to come a little closer?”

Flames from the fire flicker shadows across his bare skin and chest.  It infuriates her that he is so unbelievably handsome.  Beautiful actually. “Can you give me a minute?” she glowers at him. Angered that his overwhelming presence affects her so much. “You have to recognize this isn't easy for me.”

“And you believe it's easy for me?” he bites back, eyes narrowing.  “At least you can walk away, whereas I cannot.”

Appearing confused by his caustic words, Sophia cocks her head.  “But you agreed to do this,” she challenges.  “If you have changed your mind, just voice it and I will leave.”

“You're missing my point,” he asserts, allowing his gaze to roam over her.  “And no, I have not changed my mind.”

She tugs on her bottom lip with her teeth, almost wishing he would have denied her.  “Okay, good,” she murmurs, her voice weak, and unconvincing.  “I suppose we should get on with it then.”

“Yes,” he shrugs.

She stands trapped in the glacier blue of his eyes willing her feet to move her closer, but she feels paralyzed, rooted to the spot.

He frowns.  “It's going to be genuinely challenging to accomplish the act with you way over there.”

A sense of desolation and disillusionment overwhelms her, but she nevertheless steps his way, closing the distance between them.  Once she is within arm's reach of him, she clears her throat.  “I would rather that you put your shirt back on,” she requests in a weak tone averting her gaze.  “There's no need for unnecessary contact.”

“Unnecessary contact?” he echoes, cocking his head.  “Surely in the past, you have not made love fully clothed? You know it's quite restricting.”

Oh, no.  She opens her mouth but finds it nearly impossible to speak.  “N-No… I-I have never…” she sputters, shaking her head and feeling a simmering heat burn her cheeks.

He takes a step back and glares at her.  “Are you trying to tell me you are still a virgin?”

“I'm not trying to tell you anything,” she snorts, heatedly.

Both his hands shoot up until they rest on his head and he appears as a man being held up in a robbery.  “I don't believe this,” he charges, staring at her incredulously.  “Does your father know you are yet a virgin?”

Nodding her head, she doesn't know why she feels so indignant by his question.  “Yes.”

A wave of intense anger clouds his eyes.  “What kind of father does this to his only daughter?” he growls with disbelief.  “And you have the nerve to lay judgment on me and my family.  Maybe it's time to get off your high horse, Sophia.”

The fear of what she is about to do abruptly vanishes and her body shakes with fury.  “I am forced to do this because of what your family has done to us,” she spits furiously.  “Larkin was betrothed to your sister, and she's a Princess.  He would have become a member of your noble family and we would have wanted for nothing.  But now, because of your father and his rash decision, we are practically destitute.”  She breaks off in a breathless sob.

He allots her a latent stare. “So, because your father and brother mishandled or abused your family funds, my father is to blame,” he chortles in disgust.  “Do you even hear yourself, Sophia? Do you not see how irrational your statement is?”

Her hands clench into fists and she marches closer to him.  “How dare you try to besmirch my brother's character,” she hisses.  “You are not worthy to even speak his name.”

A smile that doesn't reach his eyes curls across Valik's lips.  “Your brother was a miscreant,” he sneers.  “And if you try to claim otherwise, you are lying to yourself, Sophia.”  The slap happens so quickly he doesn't have time to react.

“Shut up,” she pants, glaring at him.  “Don't you dare say another word.”

He lifts his hand to his reddened cheek.  “Or what?” he challenges, with heated eyes.  “Will you have me beaten?  Or hold me captive chained to a bed?”  He takes a step closer until their faces almost touch.  “What could you possibly do that hasn't already been done to me?”  He reaches out and seizes her arm, hauling her against him.  “Or, how about this… force me to have sex with you so your family can get their grubby hands on the Massoulieu fortune by producing the next heir?  Did I happen to leave anything out?”

“Let go of me,” she seethes, trying to wiggle free.  “Your touch repulses me.”

He abruptly releases her and watches as she stumbles backward.  “Oh, really,” he challenges.  “So, you are going to allow your father's men to take turns with you?  Is that what you want?”

It feels as if her world is crashing down on her, and she struggles to hold her tears back.  “It doesn't matter what I want,” her voice trembles.  “You should already recognize that by now Prince Valik.”  Reality strikes her hard in the face and she squares her shoulders.   With as much fortitude as she can muster, she lifts her chin resolving the distance between them.  “Let's just get this over with, shall we?”

They stare at each other with challenging eyes.

“So, now you want to go through with this?”

“Yes,” her voice shakes.  She watches him lift his hand until it settles on her cheek and caresses her skin, not daring to flinch away in fear of insulting him.

“It appears your father likewise has a heavy hand with you,” he whispers, allowing his thumb to graze over her bruised lower lip.  “Does he hit you often?”

“No,” she lies.

Surprising them both, he leans down and gently presses his lips over the bruise.  “All women deserve to be cherished, Sophia,” he murmurs, as he places gentle kisses along her mouth and jaw.  “Even ones who don't know when to hold their brazen tongues.”

Closing her eyes, a lone tear slides down her cheek.  “Can we just not talk or argue anymore?  I just want-”

His mouth crashes into hers, kissing her hard and urging her lips apart.  The kiss is cruel, and he absorbs her helpless cry.  “Fold your arms around me, Sophia,” he demands, breathlessly.  “Feel my body as I am about to feel yours.”

With a will of their own, her hands slowly drift up his torso until she clasps them tightly around his neck.

His lips cover hers once more, and this is a kiss at full burn, a firestorm of passion.  It's an impossible kiss born of shared madness, and when his foraging tongue slips past her lips, she drops her hands to his chest, struggling to push him away.

“Valik!”  He releases her so abruptly she stumbles backward, and her hand shoots up to her bruised lips.  “W-What are you doing?”

He stares at her as both of their chests heave, trying to catch their breaths.  “Every woman deserves to be made love to on their first time, Sophia,” he whispers sensually.  “Even young women who force their attentions on an innocent man deserve it. So that's what I am going to do.” He pauses, taking a step closer and clasping her hands.   “I'm going to make love to you.”

What? “Y-You don't have to do that,” she stammers, her voice barely detectable.  “I understand there will be pain and I have accepted my fate.”
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