Cruising for Love
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Rosie Mae George
Word Count :53132
Publication Date :2021-11-19
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-3444-1
Julia runs from an abusive boyfriend to work on a cruiser, where she meets guest Nassif, who’s not who she thinks he is. Can their growing relationship survive the deceit? Can she trust him again?
When Julia escapes to work on a cruise ship from an abusive relationship and meets Nassif, a crown prince who has slipped quietly away from his usual royal glare and is incognito, their connection is instant.
Although Nassif is bound by duty to marry another and Julia is scarred by her past, they cannot break away from each other. When Nassif is forced to tell Julia the truth about who he is, her world falls apart. She trusted him with her life and her love. Can Nassif break from his royal confines to find true love? Can Julia forgive his deceit and allow herself to trust him again?
Standing in his study by his leather-topped, walnut desk, Prince Nassif looked at the photo in his hand, his dark eyes focussing carefully. He’d hoped that by now he would feel some kind of connection, but the beautiful young woman looking back at him from the photo still stirred nothing inside him. The fact she was as bound by duty to him as he was to her had set the tone for the start of their lives together. He wished the situation was different and he could continue his bachelor life, which suited him just fine. His heart was his and his alone. It was not for giving.
The air in the large wood-panelled room felt thick, even though the sun was shining through the slatted blinds, with a gentle aroma of ginger and vanilla filling the air from the diffusers. Nassif wanted to drop everything, run outside, and just enjoy the air, release himself of the royal burden he wore, for just a short while. For a moment, he imagined himself standing here, on this spot, in twenty or maybe thirty years’ time, living his life following the tradition that had been passed down through his family’s generations. How will I be, then?
For the last year, since his twenty-ninth birthday and the day Sohara had been chosen by the palace to be his bride, he had kept looking at her picture to see if he could muster some spark of feeling. She had been chosen from a small group of prospects for this position. Those who did the choosing were the palace officials along with his parents who, apparently, knew what a prince needed to be happy for the rest of his life. From that point, any female company, for him, was only allowed behind closed doors, not that he was particularly interested in spending time with anyone else. Like it or not, he was betrothed, and in his mind, fidelity mattered, even if he had not yet met her.
He looked again at the photo of the stunningly beautiful Sohara, with her long black corkscrew curls, her cinched waist, ample breasts and curvy hips. She was, quite simply, perfect to look at. Her intellect, of course, would be sufficient for a prospective queen. Sohara would be the image of perfection in social situations. She would circulate amongst guests with educated ease, making conversation on the arts, travel, even politics, when needed. Sohara would shine in the lavish ballroom, with its parquet floor, forty chandeliers and crimson walls decorated in gold leaf. She would beguile foreign dignitaries with stories of her home country, she would be the perfect hostess. Nassif had no doubt too that she would be the most attentive wife a man could aim to have.
He permitted himself a slight frown. With his thirtieth birthday looming, he was at a juncture in his life. It was the day he would marry his designated bride. In fact, everything about his life since he was twenty-two had been mapped out for him in the finest of details. His elder brother Khalid had seen to that.
Dragged back from Edinburgh University when his brother had decided that the throne was not for him, Nassif’s life had changed dramatically from living relatively independently in Europe with just a small security detail to watch over him, to completely controlled. Not only did his life change dramatically, but his brother, who he’d loved dearly and looked up to, was effectively torn from it. From that point, Nassif became Crown Prince, heir to the throne of Andamaraia, and the Palace was taking no chances on a second abdication of duty.
Leaving Scotland so suddenly meant he was also forced to leave behind his girlfriend, Elle. He’d felt like his heart had been ripped from inside him, but it had been necessary to keep his emotions subdued.
In his mind, he saw her flowing blonde hair, her trim figure, the way her eyes shone when she laughed. These were thoughts he didn’t usually allow to surface, and when they did, he squashed them quickly. He was a king-to-be, and displaying his feelings for others to see was unacceptable. The only way he could handle such a momentous loss in his life was to simply shut that side of his feelings down. Mentally, he sectioned Elle into a box in the back of his mind to allow him to go on.
His brother was no longer mentioned in any open conversation unless absolutely necessary. Nassif was forbidden to see or speak with him. At first, for a time, Nassif had been quietly furious with Khalid, not only for his absence in Nassif’s life, having been banished by their parents, but for his part in ending the only relationship that had ever mattered to him.
Khalid had studied in London and then later toured Europe to taste the different cultures, but he’d bailed on his duty, choosing to stay in Europe with a woman he’d fallen for, hiding away from his royalty, as if it was his right to do so. In claiming his own freedom to live and love as he wished, Khalid had stripped Nassif of his. As the years progressed, though, Nassif had grown to understand the weight of the burden Khalid had struggled to bear and his anger had evolved slowly into a sense of sadness that he would never see his brother again. Sometimes, he wondered where Khalid was in the world. Was he sitting on a beach somewhere, or had he married his woman and was now in his garden with a wife and a brood of children running round, playing? It occurred to Nassif that he could be a brother-in-law or an uncle. There could be a whole side to his family that he didn’t know.
His thoughts were interrupted when the door opened and his assistant Kareena, radiant in a vividly embroidered cerise sari, breezed into the study in her usual effervescent way.