Home > The Prodigal Prince's Seduction (Castaldini Crown #2)

The Prodigal Prince's Seduction (Castaldini Crown #2)
Author: Olivia Gates

Chapter One

“I want one hour with you.”

Prince Durante D’Agostino froze at the foyer’s threshold.

That voice. Coming out of nowhere. So low he shouldn’t have heard it over the live jazz music blaring its infectious energy from the ballroom where the charity function was in full swing.

He heard nothing but its softness. As if faders had been hit, boosting it, dousing every other sound. More. As if it had been generated inside his head, a caress of a thought, making all else recede from his awareness. An awareness that bristled with responses so tactile that every hair on his body rose as if he were caught in a field of static electricity.

He frowned. What was all this, over hearing a woman’s voice? Over yet another blatant invitation?

A scowl seized his face as he swung around to the offending entity. And everything receded farther. Disappeared. He felt as if his blood stopped in his arteries even as everything else hurtled through him. Heat, sensations. Urges.

Eyes. From the shadows behind the foyer’s door, they trans-fixed him. Pieces of heaven. Staring up at him from a face that was what the offspring of an angel and a siren must look like.

Then the impossible creature spoke again. “One hour. I’ll pay one hundred grand for it.”

His eyes dragged away from the clear skies of hers to the lips spilling that offer. Dimpled, dewy and flushed as if she’d been sucking on bloodred cherries. They were still again, slightly parted. But he could see them as they’d wrapped around each syllable of her spell, could imagine them nibbling and suckling their way down his body…

He shifted, stunned to feel himself hardening, zero to one hundred in two seconds.

Aroused? Here? From just a look and a few words?

He expanded his chest in an effort to draw in more oxygen, to drive blood to his head instead of his loins. He managed only to suck in her scent—clean, with a tinge of jasmine and a deluge of pheromones. Every cell in his body twitched, revved.

Then she stepped out of the shadows and he forgot any intentions or delusions of subduing his body.

This might not be happening anyway. He might still be in the back of his limo, dreaming this apparition as he dozed off on the way to the charity event he was sponsoring. Thirty-six sleepless hours must have taken their toll on his nervous system. It would explain her, the epitome of his every far-fetched fantasy. From hair the shade of fire he’d once seen in a painting and wondered if it truly existed in nature, a waterfall of silk his fingers itched to twist through, to a complexion of such clear olive that it offset the vividness of her hair and the lightness of her eyes, to features sculpted and aligned in such an unusual way that they screamed character and whispered sensuality, to curves and swells in the abundance and the distribution to answer his every specification.

But she was no figment of his overworked mind. She was real.

What was unreal was her effect on him. Women had been throwing themselves at him since he’d turned seventeen, and even then he hadn’t operated on hormones. Then had come this woman.

She’d aroused everything in him just by breathing those words, by being near. Now, by just looking at him, she had his imagination flooding with images and sounds and sensations and scents, of drenched silk sheets and hot velvet limbs, of cries rising in the dark along with the aromas of arousal and satisfaction.

Was this it? The overtures of the breakdown Eduardo and Jade claimed he was teetering on? Was this surreal reaction the first crack before a chasm tore his psyche wide open? Not that he cared. If this was a breakdown, maybe it was exactly what he needed.

“I have a check right here.” She fumbled inside her evening purse. “Make it out to the charity or cause of your choice.”

He watched her supple hands, with those neat, short, un-adorned fingernails, found himself imagining grabbing them, sucking each finger until she was begging for his lips and teeth and tongue elsewhere…everywhere.

He took a step toward her, maybe not to translate fantasy into action, but to feel her—any part of her—against him, to confirm that she—and what she evoked in him—was real.

She stumbled back. He surged forward to stop her, only to become trapped in the swarm of people who’d materialized between them.

Maledizione. He hadn’t even heard them approach. Now there was nothing but the cacophony of their intrusion, the encroachment of their self-interest.

“Prince Durante! You’re finally here!”

“Prince Durante, this way.”

“You must come this way first, Prince Durante.”

“I have someone who’s dying to meet you.”

“Me, too, and you’ll definitely want to meet him first.”

He was suddenly sorry that he’d left his bodyguards outside. He fought the urge to signal them to disperse the throng who’d so rudely fractured the pristine intensity that had cocooned him with her. But they might rush to deal with the situation with inappropriate force. They’d been jumpy ever since Jeremiah Langley had stabbed him a month ago.

Apart from bellowing for everyone to get the hell away from him, he had no recourse but to let them sweep him along, watch her recede as she remained standing where she’d first intercepted him in that evening gown that could have been spun from the hues and radiance of her eyes. The last thing he saw of her before the ballroom doors closed was her arm falling to her side, the check held limply in her hand.

He buzzed his head bodyguard, muttered an order to keep track of her if she left. He couldn’t risk losing her.

Only then did he start playing the evening’s sponsor, burning to wrap everything up so he could do what he really wanted to do. The first thing in years that he couldn’t wait to do. Seek her out, give her whatever she wanted and experience that eagerness and exhilaration she’d inspired in him, something he hadn’t felt in…ever.

Gabrielle Williamson’s eyes clung to one thing among the ebbing wave of people. The man they’d swept along, the one who towered above them all.

So that was Prince Durante D’Agostino.

She’d thought she knew what he looked like from endless photos in newspapers and magazines, including her own publications. She’d known nothing. Every photo had downgraded him to the man who deserved every letter of his reputation as the world’s most notorious, eligible and panted-after royalty.

In reality he was a…a god.

And she’d approached him—okay, ambushed him more like—with her pathetic offer. A hundred grand felt ridiculous now. But what would an hour with a god rate?

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