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by Morgan Q. O'Reilly
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Destiny waits for all... especially a headstrong princess. Royal blood can take a princess only so far in life. Sooner or later destiny will sweep her off her feet. If she's lucky, he's tall, blond, fun to push around, and helps her save their ice ball planet from a killer comet. Content warning: this is a sexy hot read that has graphic sex, lots of ice, hot springs and touch of bondage for fun. This is a futuristic, Sci-Fi, with erotic and paranormal elements.
eBook Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc., 2008 2008
eBookwise Release Date: January 2009
19 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [482 KB]
Reading time: 288-403 min.
"No one will ever be able to convince me that Hell never freezes over," Noreen muttered as she looked over the flat, frozen vista on the far side of the thick window before her.
Blinking travel fatigue from her eyes, she focused past the reflected images of the people behind her in the large Ryadstholm Depot, many rushing in from the huge inter-galaxy cruiser on the launch pad. Even more were lining up to board it. Instead, all she saw was white landscape against a midnight-black sky. Outdoor lighting obscured the stars.
Just before opening the doors to let her disembark, the captain had said the early morning temperature was fifty degrees below zero, Celsius. Her guess would put it down around minus sixty. Not that it mattered much. Cold was cold.
"This isn't Hell," a deep voice replied from behind her shoulder. As she shivered, she saw a blond man's reflection in the window. "Noreen Tibbetts?" The voice was slightly hesitant, as if reading from a slip of paper. A different kind of shiver traveled down her spine. One that made her feel a little warmer.
Turning to face the speaker, she didn't appreciate the look of amused condescension before his eyes traveled the length of her body and returned to her face. Their gazes met, and she found herself mesmerized by the deepening of his already dark blue eyes. Dimly aware of a faint ringing in her ears, much like the sound of two pieces of heavy steel colliding, she fought for control as his stare fanned a tiny spark of heat deep inside. Shaking her head slightly to break the heat wave rising between them, she purposely ignored the shocked look he wore as she stepped back until a row of connected chairs stopped her retreat.
She wasn't staying long enough to dally with the locals. Especially not these locals. Still, had they been this magnificent before she left? After all, Hans, her bodyguard, was a very fine specimen of manhood, but this man made him look like a thug. Oh Freya, don't think about such things. This man was an escort, nothing more. A transport driver. Chauffer. Hired help.
"Fine, have it your way. Helvete." She gave him an insincerely sweet smile to cover her sudden lack of breath and wildly beating heart. No need for panic attacks!
His gaze had just wandered to her secretary, Fiona, obviously waiting with her, but cut immediately back to Noreen at her use of the local term. Let him figure out how she knew the old Nordic word for Hell. She knew the word in more languages than he was probably even aware existed.
Before he could question her, she regained control of her emotions and nodded to the bulky bundle in his hands. "Is that for me?"
"Yes. I wasn't told there were two of you, though." Uncertainly he set down a pair of boots and held out an insulated parka and high-waisted pants that matched the outerwear he wore. His unzipped parka showed a thin, white silk undershirt clinging to what looked like a muscular chest. "They'll be more comfortable without the jeans and sweater you're wearing."
Ignoring the lift of his eyebrow and the challenge in his eyes, she squared her shoulders, took the outerwear from him and set it on a chair. "My secretary has accommodations here and will see to the bulk of my luggage. That pile will go with me now." With a wave of her hand she indicated half a dozen soft and hard cases, then grasped the bottom of her wool sweater and lifted it over her head. Hans, with the help of Sophie, her personal maid, had control of the trunks and suitcases that made this pile look like luggage for a day trip.
The blond man's gulp was loud enough for her to hear as she carefully pulled the sweater over her neatly coiled hair. Bet he wasn't expecting her to strip down in the public lounge to the clinging fire-red silk shirt she wore under a bright blue wool sweater. Handing the discarded garment to Fiona, Noreen quickly toed off her woolen shoes and shimmied out of her jeans.
Lust flared in his eyes as his gaze swept her lower body encased by clinging silk leggings to match the top. Disregarding the sudden pebbling of her nipples in response to the nearly physical caress of his perusal, Noreen glanced at Fiona and saw her secretary smirking at the man's reaction. So he noticed she only wore the long silk underwear and no other under items?
Knowing she'd be in tight quarters for a few days, she'd opted out of wearing additional under things. Stepping into the thick cold-weather pants, Noreen added an extra wiggle as they slid up over her hips. When she felt her unbound breasts jiggle in response, she glanced up in time to see his jaw tighten. Yup, he noticed. Not laughing was a strain as she watched him shuffle his feet and make a point of looking away.
"So, handsome escort, what might your name be?" A quick tug tightened the shoulder straps that held up the garment. Through the silk of her leggings, the soft fur lining was a lover's caress against her body. Fur seal, a distant cousin to the seals of Earth, highly prized for its deep sable softness. Per local custom, she mentally sent a sigh of thanks to the spirit of the animal who'd given up its life to feed the tribesmen, and its skin to keep her warm. One of the very rare luxuries of living on the iceball, known to the universe as Nordia.
After a startled frown, a slow smile spread across his face at her impertinent tone. It was almost too easy to bet no one usually talked to him so casually. Liked a sassy female, did he? Maybe the trip would be entertaining after all.
"Gunnar. Gunnar Zaren. Princess Coreen personally asked me to make sure you arrived in Stravicsholm safe and whole."
"I'm honored." It was hard keeping the sarcastic tone from her voice, and she muffled it further by turning to pick up the parka after stomping her feet into the tribal-made fur-lined boots he'd also brought along. Thankfully they were broken in and the waterproof tanned skin soles molded softly to her feet.
Yeah, I just bet Cory asked you personally, the cynical thought crept into her mind and she swiftly kicked it away as well. No lusting after locals and no trashing royalty. Even if she did outrank Cory. Gunnar didn't know that and didn't need to. Let him find out in a couple weeks when she was six star systems away.
Fiona finished folding her discarded clothes, and zipped them into the nearest case.
"How long will it take to reach Stravicsholm?" her secretary asked her escort, as the last piece of luggage was grabbed by a porter and loaded onto a trolley.
Noreen watched the porter head out the door toward a bright orange transport as she searched the pockets of the parka for mittens. Compact and boxy, the cab of the snow crawler rode high over articulated tracks instead of wheels. She'd have to climb a short ladder into the vehicle. Right, in this bulky gear. Was it too much to hope the cab would be warm enough to unzip the parka? She suppressed a frown when her luggage was stored in the cargo bay at the back. If it froze, there'd be hell to pay long before they reached their destination.
"Three days if the weather holds. A storm could delay us by a day or more."
Noreen glanced back in time to see Gunnar's eyes assess the cool blonde who nodded sharply. Yeah, he could see Fiona had the local look and the questions were beginning to rise in his mind.
"I'll try to check in along the way." Noreen turned to her secretary, eager to dispatch her before he started asking those questions. "Leave word at the palace in care of Princess Coreen's name when you get settled, just to make sure there hasn't been a change since we made the reservations."
"Yes, of course. Travel safe."
Noreen felt an extra squeeze as Fiona embraced her. Fi knew how hard this visit would be. "Look after the other two," Noreen added with a whisper.
Fiona kissed her cheek then stepped back. "I'll see to everything. You just enjoy the trip. As much as possible, anyway," she added in an undertone.
For the first time in more than ten years, Noreen was heading off without at least one of her staff of three in attendance. Stepping, unchaperoned, into a small transport, with a man who looked like he wanted to spend the trip in bed with her. Why had she agreed to leave Hans in Ryadstholm? After quelling the sudden knot of nervousness in her stomach, it also occurred to her it was her first visit home since her sixteenth birthday. The very day she'd grabbed Fiona and left the planet in an attempt to avoid her fate. Fate, it seemed, had more ways than one to skin the proverbial cat. She tried to ignore the little voice that said one more life had just slipped away.