Weak, Sofia berated herself as she changed and removed her makeup.
She immediately regretted her lack of a shield when Laszlo was shown into her apartment. Her entire being felt peeled to its rawest state, throbbing with sensitivity.
Her brother had purged the king’s chambers during his brief reign, and she was awaiting some minor redecorating before she took them over. Part of her wished she could stay here in the rooms she’d had since she and Luca had left the nursery. She longed for one small thing to remain the same, but nothing ever did.
Laszlo flickered his gaze around the silvery greens and soothing yellows, the sumptuous furniture and the ceiling-high drapes that covered the windows. No balcony of shame here. Only a glowering palace secretary, who noted the queen had dressed down in wide-legged pants and a comfortable pullover.
“Shall I have the car and driver wait?” Guillermo asked.
“I’ll text you when we’ve finished our discussions.”
Guillermo left with a snap of a closed door, and Laszlo ran his tongue over his teeth behind his lips.
“Your butler disapproves of your hosting late-night summits, Prin— I beg your pardon. Your Majesty.”
“Call me Sofia or I’ll have you beheaded.” She poured drinks, trying to keep from throwing herself into his arms. Her hand was unsteady and the neck of the crystal decanter sang a musical note as it tapped the crystal glass. “He’s the palace secretary and has reason to be concerned.”
“Because of your brother’s recent troubles?”
“And my father’s long history of them.” She crossed the room to offer one of the glasses.
Being near him was like standing near a blaze. She craved the heat and light that filled her but had to remind herself to be careful not to get too close or she’d be consumed.
“Whatever you’ve heard or read is nothing compared to the things our staff has covered up over the years.” She sipped the strong scotch. “Things even I didn’t know until I came into this position and insisted on learning.”
It wasn’t wise to be so loose-lipped, but in many ways she had always felt safe with Laszlo. She saw now that had always been his appeal for her. She could be herself in ways no one else allowed.
A muscle pulsed in his jaw. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“My father? No.” She took another sip of the searing alcohol. “Only to say that his appetite for sex—” and drugs and other things “—was more than a monarch’s eccentric and questionable tastes. It was self-destructive and shattered his wife. It scarred his children, impacted the staff and left our entire country in dire straits. Every time I give in to this need to see you, I fear that I’m doing the same thing. That’s why it has to stop.” Has to.
He sucked in a sharp breath.
“You feel the same. I know you do,” she said with an anguished, humorless laugh. “Why are we even here now? This is the behavior of one with an addiction”
“Untrue. I’m cautious politically,” he said crisply. “But I’m not ashamed of what you and I do when we’re alone. I’m offended that you are.” He set aside his glass without tasting it and cupped her chin. “You are a passionate, sensual, perfect person. I celebrate that. That’s why I’m here. That’s what brings me to you every damned time.”
She blinked at the poignant tears that rushed up to dampen her lashes.
He dragged her close and smothered her mouth with his own.
Log in or create an account to read the next chapter of "Scandal Befitting a Princess"
Every month we select a new title from one of our authors so that you can discover new stories, locations and genres for free.