His Royal Love-Child

By: Lucy Monroe


DANETTE MICHAELS closed the tabloid and put it down on the coffee table with careful precision.

Her hands were steady. It amazed her. A hurricane of pain was shaking her insides. She made no sound, though she wanted to scream. She wanted to rip the offending magazine to shreds, too. But she couldn’t do either. If she so much as touched the tabloid again…if she gave vent to even a tiny bit of the storm tearing apart her soul, she was going to lose it completely.

She refused to do that. She’d spent years controlling her emotions, hiding both physical and mental pain while denying her tears. Ray’s betrayal had made her cry and she’d sworn she wasn’t going to let another man do that again. Not even Principe Marcello Scorsolini.

“He’s just delish, isn’t he?” Lizzy breathed, oblivious to the devastation her visit had wrought in Danette. She leaned forward and flipped the magazine open again, and pointed to the picture that was the source of Danette’s current mental agony. “Can you imagine being that woman?”

Danette looked down at the picture. She didn’t want to. It hurt, but she couldn’t help herself. Her eyes were drawn by an emotion as powerful as the love that lay bleeding at the bottom of her heart. The need to know, and a desperate hope that her vision had deceived her the first time.

It had not.

The picture was exactly what she thought it was. It showed the drop-dead gorgeous president of the Italian arm of Scorsolini Shipping dancing with an equally attractive woman at his father’s birthday bash on Scorsolini Island. They were practically molded to one another’s bodies. Prince Marcello was smiling and the woman looked like a beautiful, sleek cat who had just copped a whole bowl of the richest cream.

How could Danette have been so stupid that she’d allowed herself to get involved with this man…to actually believe that they had enough in common where it counted?

She’d fallen into his arms with about as much self-preservation as a lemming following the pack leader off the side of a cliff. She’d given him her virginity and asked for nothing in return but his overwhelming passion. He’d offered her his fidelity, but that picture made her doubt the sincerity of the gift.

Contrary to what he had told her, her prince was the king of the playboys. Was she terminally stupid where men were concerned, or simply unlucky?

“Earth to Danette. Hello, is anyone in there?” Lizzy’s voice penetrated Danette’s crushing thoughts.


“Where were you at, chica? Don’t tell me you were thinking about work.”

“Something like that,” Danette said in a strained voice. In her mind, her job and her lover were inexorably linked.

“I said, can you imagine being her?”

Only too well, except when Marcello held Danette close like that, she was never wearing a designer original ball gown. Most of the time, she wasn’t wearing anything at all. “Yes.”

Lizzy laughed. “You’ve got a better imagination than me then.”

“Not really.”

“Are you okay?” Lizzy asked, her face creased with concern. “You seem out of it, and more than just your normal preoccupation with being the original Wonder Woman at work.”

Danette forced herself to look away from the picture and at her small, blond friend. They were both Americans, but that was where the similarity ended. Lizzy was five feet even with the body of a pocket Venus and short blond hair that fell in wild ringlets around her heart-shaped face. She also had an infectious smile that had drawn Danette to her immediately.

Danette, on the other hand, had slight curves, a very slender build, a neck that Marcello said looked like a graceful swan’s, but which she felt was too long, average looks he called refreshingly natural, and average height that felt very tiny beside his six-foot-two-inch frame. Her chin-length mouse-brown hair was straight and even when she tried to curl it, it never held. So she’d given up trying.

Marcello said it felt like silk against his fingertips and he loved the fact she didn’t starch it with lots of product, but the blonde he was holding so closely in the picture certainly looked made up to the nines. So much for Marcello’s evinced preference for the unadorned lily. It was obvious he liked hothouse orchids just fine.