Guarding His Royal Bride

By: C.J. Miller

Chapter 1



The king of Valencia was dying and leaving behind a hell of a mess.

Emmanuel Floros had two ex-wives, five spoiled children who had grown into self-centered adults and a wife who was as controlling as she was stupid. The eight of them were squabbling for land and money, but the fighting was pointless. After the king died and his will was read, all would be revealed. Some might be cut out; others may have inherited a treasure trove.

Fortunately for him, President Demetrius DeSante of Icarus had a knack for turning disasters into opportunities. In this case, the opportunity had a name: Iliana Kracos. It wasn’t like him to care about a woman this much, even a woman as beautiful as Iliana, but she was special.

He wouldn’t allow a little obstacle like her fury at him to stand in his way.

Demetrius had to take his pursuit of Iliana to another level. No more casual phone calls, flower arrangements, gifts or dropping by the castle to see her. She was giving him the old-fashioned silent treatment, and maybe he deserved it. She had been angry with him when he had refused to back down from a fight brewing in the Mediterranean, but since war had been averted, she should have moved past it and forgiven him. Yet she’d rebuffed his calls and communicated only through intermediaries. During his infrequent visits to Acacia, she’d been away from the castle on business.

He was outside Iliana’s home, fist hovering in front of the wood door, prepared to knock.

Why was he nervous? He had nerves of steel, which had been tested many times over on the battlefield, and courage in spades that he displayed every time he faced difficulties head-on. But one fiery, green-eyed goddess had the power to reduce him to an anxious mess. Much more was on the line than Iliana’s significance in Valencia. She was the most fascinating woman he had ever known—feisty, smart and sexy, all wrapped up in a spicy package.

His servicemen were behind him, and he wouldn’t show fear in front of them. Though their loyalty was unconditional and challenged on a regular basis, he wouldn’t give anyone one shred of a reason to doubt him. He maintained control by showing power and strength. His careful decisions had pulled Icarus back from ruin and had changed it into a productive country for the first time in a century.

He heard a crash inside the house.

His protective instincts roared, and he pounded on the door. “Iliana! Open the door!”

Iliana’s terror-filled scream rang out. Demetrius kicked at the door handle. Once, twice and the door splintered under his weight. He rushed into the house, his servicemen on his heels.

He followed Iliana’s screams and the sound of breaking dishes.

She was at the back of the house, in her kitchen. Her hands were gripping the counter behind her, and a man was pointing a gun at her. Demetrius’s own gun was in his hands in milliseconds. His guards would be brandishing theirs, as well.

Demetrius didn’t recognize the man, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’d be forced to kill a stranger. “You are outgunned and outmanned. Drop your weapon, or I’ll kill you.”

The intruder looked from Iliana to Demetrius. The coldness in his eyes and the firepower in his hands indicated this wasn’t an armed robbery. This wasn’t personal. This was a would-be assassination. The man was likely a hired gun who knew his trade well. The hit man didn’t know Iliana, and that worked in their favor. He wouldn’t make reckless decisions based on emotion.

Demetrius would have killed him on the spot for threatening Iliana, but she didn’t like violence. And if the assassin was dead, they couldn’t find out who had sent him. “Last warning.”

Three more seconds and Iliana’s aversion to violence would come second to keeping her safe.

The assassin set his weapon on the kitchen table and raised his hands. The man didn’t have a death wish after all. Lucky for him. Demetrius took the gun and gestured to his servicemen to deal with the assailant.

After holstering his gun and handing the hit man’s gun to his guard, he strode to Iliana, who was still clutching the countertop, her face white, her body shaking. His rage for the assassin was renewed. He should have killed the man for upsetting her and found out who’d hired him another way.

His woman shouldn’t tremble from fear, and whether or not she chose to recognize it, Iliana was his woman.

White-hot anger sliced through him, and he reached for his gun. Any man who harmed Iliana would pay, and he’d set the precedent now.

Iliana set her hand on his, her soft fingers sending a jolt of lust and desire through him. “No, Demetrius. Don’t kill him. Please.”

She knew him too well. She had read the intention in his eyes. It wasn’t the first time she had stopped him from killing a man. If it were any other woman, he would have ignored her plea.

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