Janette Kenny

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Prince Kristo Stanrakis had never thrown a royal fit of anger in his life, but he was moments away from doing so just now. He flung his tuxedo jacket on a red brocade Louis XV chaise and ripped open his stark white shirt, sending a row of diamond studs flying. One pinged off an inlaid table before falling to the gold Kirman carpet, while another chinked as it hit a window.

This urgent meeting with the future King, his lawyers and the highest officials was over. Angyra would face change yet again.

His life had just been turned on its heel and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do to evade his fate. No! His duty!

He paced the impressive length of his apartment. Duty! How he hated that word. How he hated her!

Just one month ago they’d buried their father, the beloved King of Angyra. She’d come to the funeral and sat with her father and sister, looking solemn and royal and aloof. Looking sexy as hell in a black sheath that had hugged her luscious curves.

He hadn’t seen her in almost a year, yet the moment their eyes had met he’d been slammed him back to that day on the beach. A roiling mix of guilt, rage and desire had boiled in him.

He wanted nothing to do with her. Yet he still wanted her more than he’d ever wanted a woman.

Being near her needled him with guilt for betraying his brother and he did not like that feeling one bit. But he’d been prepared to suffer through her return in less than two weeks to marry King Gregor. Except that would not happen now!

The rap at his door was preceded by its opening. He whirled to find Mikhael striding into his suite, with a bottle of ouzo under his arm and two glasses clutched in one hand.

“I thought you could use this,” Mikhael said, and promptly poured two drinks.

He took the offered liquor and tossed it back, relishing the bite to his senses. “Did you have any idea that Gregor was ill?”

Mikhael shook his head. “He’s seemed tired of late, and complained of headaches, but I attributed it to the stress of assuming Father’s duties.”

The same thought had crossed Kristo’s mind. He’d never dreamed that Gregor had secretly seen a doctor just before the King’s death, only to discover two days ago that he had inoperable cancer.

The prognosis was grim. With death imminent, Crown Prince Gregor had chosen to abdicate before the State Council proclaimed him King of Angyra tomorrow.

That official announcement had been made just one hour ago.

By order of birth, the crown now passed to Kristo. He was now Crown Prince, which had thrown the council into emergency session. Unless they deemed him truly unfit to rule–which was possible, considering his reputation–the accession ceremony would take place tomorrow promptly at eleven in the morning.

As if that weren’t jarring enough, he was now forced to assume his brother’s betrothal agreement as well! He had to marry Demetria Andreou–in less than two weeks, if he kept to the schedule that had been set in place. Damn the fates!

Desirable, unfaithful Demetria would be his wife. His Queen.

“I don’t look forward to tomorrow.” “For what it’s worth, I think you’ll be a good King,” Mikhael said.

Kristo wasn’t so sure. Though he’d done his duty to the State Council, and sat in on required meetings, he’d paid little heed for he’d been in reality no more than a figurehead.

However, he’d taken his role as ambassador much more seriously, as that had allowed him to wine and dine dignitaries around the world. Gambling and carousing, as his father had called it.

At times that had…

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