Samuel went directly to his suite and flipped on the lights as a knock sounded at the door. He was eager to get this over with, so he could return to Johanna’s bed. There was a lot he wanted to do to her, and he was running tight on time. He opened the door to find Patrick and eight guards standing in the hallway. He didn’t say a word, he just opened the door and allowed them to enter. Once inside, the men stood at attention beside the dining table, waiting for their reprimand.
“What the hell happened?” he demanded, closing the door and turning back to them.
“Permission to speak, sir,” one man asked watching as Samuel nodded. “We know our duty was to the front entrance, but a crowd formed at the window of the nightclub. They were watching the queen inside and we knew she would be upset if she learned she was a spectacle, so we went to order them away. While we were busy, the press entered.”
“Did it take eight men to disband a group of curious lookers?” Samuel growled.
“Only six of us went, sir, two remained at the front entrance.”
“Then how the hell did those leeches get in?”
“They rented a room, sir. We couldn’t prevent them from checking in. Once they were inside, they disappeared. It was our assumption they had gone to their room, but then…” the man paused.
“What?” Samuel insisted.
“They went into the nightclub. They were taking pictures of you and the queen. We didn’t realize it until after it was already done. We thought we got them out before any damage was caused, but they outsmarted us and downloaded the photos before they left the club.”
“Son-of-a-bitch,” Samuel growled anticipating Johanna’s reaction to the news, then turned to Patrick. “Replace the guard. You men are on report. I’ll deal with you later. I want every floor in this building secured. As of this moment, nobody is allowed in or out without showing their identification and room key.”
“Yes sir,” Patrick answered then left the room to follow his orders, followed by the rest of the men.
Samuel watched the door close then began pacing the room. He wasn’t going to be able to hide Johanna from this news, and he wasn’t going to be able to prevent it from causing a lot of damage to her reputation.
As he was trying to consider his next step of action, the door opened, and his father walked in. He didn’t say a word, he just went into the small living room and flipped on the television. Samuel watched with a frown as he turned to a local news station.
“I’m not exactly sure where our last report should fall,” the middle-aged man was saying with an amused smile. “You could say it was entertainment, or Royal news, either way the queen continues to make news. Bayen Harvick has this live report.”
The screen flipped to the image of a man with a microphone standing outside the window of the nightclub.
“Queen Johanna has been making a lot of news with her visit to Northern Shores,” the man began with a smile. “Between her historic financial bailout for property owners, to her order that all student age children were to return to school, she has had jaws dropping all over Westerly since she first stepped on island soil. But nothing can compare to what happened this evening when she showed up on the dance floor with no one else but the Captain of her Royal Guard.”
The screen flipped to images of the two of them dancing to a rather fast-paced tune. She was an excellent dancer, and she captured a lot of attention during the night, but he had no idea there were cameras on them. Then the screen changed to the last song they danced, slow and romantic.
“We all knew the queen was energetic and enthusiastic,” the reporter continued, “but we had no idea she had a seductive side to her. She spent over two hours at this local nightclub dancing with the very eligible Samuel Carrington of Spring Arbor. This has a lot of people asking just how much of her body, Captain Carrington is in charge of protecting. This is Bayen Harvick reporting outside Northern Lights. Back to you Dillon.”
Samuel reached for the remote, but not before the reporter and his cohost began talking about Johanna.
“The queen definitely has some moves,” the man said, turning his chair, so he was facing the woman beside him.
“I don’t see where this has anything to do with the way she rules the island,” the young red-haired woman said in defense of the queen. “Johanna is a young, beautiful woman. Eventually, she’s going to have to produce an heir for Westerly, and the only way she can do it is by getting to know men. Frankly, if I were her, I’d choose Samuel Carrington as well. He’s not just handsome, but he’s loyal to the throne and to his service. He’s young enough to help her produce an heir or two, and they really make a cute couple.”
“But don’t you think it’s a bit premature for her to be out playing when she’s already said she still has a lot of work to do before she can consider her personal life?”
“Not at all. She’s been under a lot of stress, why not spend a couple of hours unwinding. It’s not like she was out picking guys up off the street. She was in a nightclub with her guard, and from the photos of her sitting at the table, there were three other guards with her. It’s more than likely she chose Samuel because he is the closest one to her.”
“You can see just how close he is,” the man chuckled. “What’s the weather going to be like for us tomorrow Marcia?”
Samuel flipped off the television and fell into the sofa’s cushions. He ran his hands through his hair before looking at his father who was sitting in the chair next to him.
“Maybe it was a stupid idea to take her there,” he told the man. “She said she didn’t know if she should go out. Now, it looks like she has some kind of psychic premonitions.”
“What are you going to do?” Walter asked.
“I don’t know what I can do. Taking her there has caused more problems for her than she deserves. It’s not fair, Father. She’s doing everything for this bloody country, and nobody thanks her, but they sure as hell find a way to condemn her as soon as she steps outside of the box.”
“As I see it, there are two recourses you can take,” Walter continued in a calm voice watching the curious expression cross his son’s face. “You can stop seeing her on a personal level. It might be the easiest thing, for now at least. You can still see her privately, but you shouldn’t be seen outside the bedroom. Assign another guard to protect her, and you return to your men.”
“I can’t stop, Father,” Samuel said a few silent moments later. “I’m in love with her.”
“I know you are, son, but if it’s to help her save face…”
“It would be easier if you asked me to cut my arm off.”
“There is another option. Perhaps a better one for both of you.”
Samuel stared at his father with a frown. He had no idea where he was going, or what he planned on saying once he got there.
“Marry her,” Walter said boldly, watching the shocked expression pull his son’s jaw open. “I know it’s not something you’ve ever considered doing again, but Johanna is different. You’ll never have the issues with her that you did with Melinda.”
“I won’t… I can’t…she wouldn’t any way …she’s not ready…”
“What about you? Are you ready to watch her walk away, knowing she’s in love with you, even if she can’t admit it? Can you stand by and watch while she walks off into the sunset with another man? Someone like Julius Sorensen?”
“What the hell has he got to do with this?” Samuel snapped.
“The news did an interview with Sorensen and asked him how he felt about seeing her with you. He felt it would be best if she were to settle down with a respectable man…like Julius.”
“What the hell? What am I?”
“At the moment, you’re her bodyguard.”
Samuel stood and paced the small living room. He didn’t like the idea of walking away from her, especially now, but he would never be able to accept the fact she chose another man over him, especially someone like Julius Sorensen.
“How do I convince her that marriage is the best option for her?” he asked his father.
“You don’t have to convince her son, you just have to ask her and don’t stop asking until she says yes.”
“You don’t know Johanna. She thinks love is a useless sentiment. Marriage is too close to love, and she wouldn’t agree under any situation.”
“I think I know her pretty well, and I’ve seen the way she looks at you. It wouldn’t take much to convince her this is best for both of your reputations.”
“Is it our reputations you’re worried about, or your own?”
Walter was quiet for a few moments then drew a deep breath and looked at his son.
“Alright, yes. I am concerned about our name. We’ve just recovered the slander Melinda caused. I’m not in a hurry to have our name drug through the mud again.”
“I’m so sorry that my life has caused you so much pain, Father,” Samuel snapped. “If you remember, I never wanted to marry that little bitch. It was you who wanted a grandchild, an heir to the great Carrington fortune.”
“Is it wrong that I make certain our line is protected for future generations? Look what happened here. Tall Red was given Northern Shores, but within a few years, he was killed at sea. Since then there have been fifteen Leaders, and none of them have lasted more than two generations. Look at the condition of Northern Shores now. Do you want that for Spring Arbor?”
“For God’s sake, Father. You convinced me once of that crap, you won’t do it again. I will not get married just so you can save face in the eyes of the press. And I will not have a child that neither of us is ready for.”
“Just ask her and see what she says,” Walter pleaded. “You can say that you were celebrating your engagement. It will give Westerly something else to focus on instead of your illicit affair.”
“Enough!” Samuel snapped as he headed for the door. “This subject is over. It’s a ridiculous idea and I won’t do it.”
“Then you’ve left Johanna to face the damage alone. I suggest you save the pictures from tomorrow’s papers because she will never allow herself to be photographed with you again.”
“That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
Samuel slammed out of his room and walked directly down to Johanna’s suite. He was going to make damn certain she knew she belonged to him, and Julius Sorensen wasn’t going to take what was his.
Johanna dried herself off and quickly slipped into the black satin gown and matching panties. She left her hair down and had just finished brushing her teeth when the phone began ringing.
Stepping into the living room, she picked up the elegant Victorian-style phone, frowning as she looked at the clock. It was half past midnight. Far too late for idle conversation.
“Johanna,” Alissa’s voice said on the other side of the phone. “I just saw the news. Are you doing alright?”
“What are you talking about?” she asked wondering what the news could possibly be saying about her now.
“The news about you and Samuel,” Alissa clarified. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled you two are together.”
“Maybe you should start at the beginning,” Johanna demanded, then sat down and flipped on the television.
“The news is reporting that you and Samuel are…well…”
Johanna ignored her aunt as she focused on the reporter in front of her. She watched the image of herself and Samuel flash across the screen and nearly groaned.
“Johanna?” Alissa said from the other side of the phone. “Are you still there?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” she said.
“Sweetheart, what’s been going on down there?”
“Work, Aunt Alissa. Tonight, Samuel talked me into taking some time off to relax. If I knew I was going to be photographed, I would never have gone.”
“Well, I agree you should relax, but what a way to do it.”
“It was dancing, Alissa, nothing else.”
“You’re going to have a hard time convincing the press of that.”
“I don’t give a damn what they want to believe. My personal life is mine, and I won’t allow anyone to interfere in it.”
“Are you sleeping with Samuel?” Alissa asked, forcing Johanna into a silence that said more than her words could.
Knowing the girl never lied, Alissa understood immediately and groaned into the speaker.
“Oh, Johanna,” she said. “What have you done?”
“What does that mean?” Johanna snapped back.
“You’re the queen. You have to be very selective of whom you choose to spend your private time with. How are you going to explain this to the press?”
“I don’t have to explain anything. I’m the queen, as you said. I make the decisions for this island, and for my life.”
“Johanna, you don’t understand how many people are relying on you. The best thing you can do is cut it off before any more damage is done.”
“You are in no position to tell me what to do with my private life,” she snapped angrily.
“Then marry him,” Alissa insisted. “You can say you were celebrating your engagement. The news will be thrilled, and the island will be so happy they won’t care who you’re sleeping with.”
“Are you insane?”
“Why not? If you’re having sex with the man, you obviously have feelings for him, whether you want to admit to it or not.”
“Alissa, that’s enough. I’ve had a very busy day and I’m exhausted.”
“Have you thought about Samuel?” Alissa asked ignoring the hint that she was ready to end the conversation.
“What do you mean?” Johanna asked curiously.
“He was dragged through the press for months after Melinda died. Do you want him to have to go through that again?”
Johanna was silent for several long moments as she thought about it. She hadn’t considered that there may be ramifications for their actions, and the last thing she wanted was to hurt Samuel.
“So…” she began, “how do I convince him that marriage is the answer?”
“Just ask him, and don’t stop asking him until he agrees. Or you could do what women have done for centuries.”
“You can get pregnant.”
“Oh, hell no,” she shouted. “I will never do that to him or to an innocent child, and I am not ready for any of this.”
“Nobody said you have to get married right away. You could have a long engagement.”
“Alissa, that’s enough. I’m tired and I’m going to bed. I have another long day ahead of me, and now I’m going to be lying awake thinking about this.”
“I’m sorry Sweetheart,” Alissa said apologetically.
“You know, I doubt you are. And stop calling me that!”
Johanna slammed the phone down the instant Samuel barged into the room, slamming the door behind him. He turned to see Johanna stand up and turn to him. The television was on and they were showing the weather for the next several days, but neither of them paid any attention to it. They just stood glaring at each other.
“Marry me,” they said in unison, then looked at each other in confusion.
“What did you say?” Johanna asked.
“What did you say?”
“Alissa suggested that we should get married in order to save graces with the press,” she clarified.
“That’s odd. That’s exactly what my father suggested.”
“So…what do we do?” she asked with a confused look pulling her brows down.
“I’m not sure,” he answered as he walked to the sofa, leaning against the back. “Would it be so odd if we were to…you know…consider it?”
“I suppose not,” she said, kneeling on the sofa, so she could be closer to him, so they wouldn’t have to shout. “But I thought you didn’t want to get married again?”
“I didn’t…until my father suggested it. The idea that someone else may take my place…it’s not an idea I’m willing to contemplate. And we do enjoy each other’s company…not to mention bodies.”
“I do feel more comfortable with you than with anyone else. If I have to get married…and I do eventually…then I’d rather marry someone I like being with.”
“So…we agree…engagement…marriage…that whole thing?”
Johanna didn’t answer, she just nodded her head looking up to see a strange light in his blue eyes. She watched as he leaned into her, gently kissing her lips to seal the deal.
“You know the L word will have to be spoken sooner or later,” he told her.
“I know…but not now…I have to adjust to…this, first.”
“You aren’t cursed, Johanna,” he whispered as he cupped the side of her head in his large hand. “You have to understand that, more now that you know your family wasn’t taken from you because they loved you.”
“I know…but it’s hard to accept…and I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Nothing is going to happen to me, darling,” he promised, kissing her a bit harder. “I’ll never leave you.”
“Swear it,” she said in a desperate tone.
“With all my heart,” he assured her, wrapping her in his embrace and kissing her with all the conviction his heart could produce.
“I don’t understand,” Samuel said as he sat at the dining room table staring at the map she had printed out from her cell phone. “Why didn’t they search south if Reginald was convinced the plane went that way?”
“Because the last known coordinates are here,” Johanna said, pointing to the location indicated by Reginald’s notes. “From what I can tell, the Westerly Navy joined the search in the north, but then went south as ordered by the King. They never found anything, either way.”
“But he was still convinced he was right?”
“Apparently. I don’t understand though, what he intended to prove if he did find some form of evidence they were thrown off course. There’s no way they could have survived long at sea, and there isn’t a country - or island - that wouldn’t have detected the crash if they made it to land.”
“What are you going to do?” Samuel asked leaning back in his chair and lifting his coffee cup to his lips.
“I contacted the British and American Navies. Both have vessels in the southern area of the Indian Ocean. I’ve asked that they keep their eyes open for anything that might help us put an end to the mystery.”
“It’s just a waiting game at this point,” he told her, slipping his hand on her hip and pulling her down to sit on his lap. “We have other things to discuss right now.”
“Like what?” she asked wrapping her arms around his strong neck.
“We should consider making our engagement known.”
“I was thinking about that while you were in the shower,” she said. “I’ve arranged a press conference for the day after tomorrow to discuss the reintroduction of the bordellos to Northern Shores. We can announce it at that time if you’re ready.”
“I’m nervous, and I think we should let our families know first, but I’ll support whatever decision you make.”
“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” she asked watching his eyes closely.
“You know I’m not crazy about the marriage issue, but I know I don’t want to be without you. At least this way, we won’t have to hide our relationship.”
“Who would have thought that after just two months on this island, I’d be in this predicament,” she smiled. “Forced to get engaged to hide our sexual addiction for each other.”
“I’m not complaining. Marriage does open doors to sexual acts that are frowned on if you’re single.”
“We need to get dressed,” she smiled.
“With your plans to reintroduce the bordellos to the Region, I’m going to hold you to your word,” he told her as he sat on the edge of the bed and watched her strip naked in an attempt to dress.
“What word?” she asked him with a frown.
“You said you’d go to the bordello with me. It’s always been a tradition for the king to spend his coronation night and wedding night at the bordello, but since you are who you are, nobody expected you to entertain the company of a lady the night you were crowned.”
“Do you expect me to consent to another woman joining us?”
“If I order it, you will,” he told her as he began to stroke his manhood. “Remember, the bordello is for the man’s pleasure. Every man loves to have two women attending to their needs.”
“I saw the documentary about Ian, but I didn’t see anything important about two women.”
“It’s a lot of fun,” he smiled watching the color steal into her cheeks when she saw what he was doing. “Men love having two tongues attending to them at one time.”
“And what do the women get out of all of this?”
“Naughty, perverted pleasure like nowhere else.”
“You’re hopeless,” she giggled.
“You’ll enjoy it. I plan on making it my primary goal.”
“What are you doing now?” she asked feeling her own heat begin to burn.
“Just enjoying the show,” he smiled as he continued to stroke his arousal, watching as she slipped into her underclothes.
“You have to stop tearing all my knickers,” she scolded, looking in her drawer at the last three pairs of panties.
“Then stop wearing them.”
“My pants rub wrong without them.”
“Wear a dress today and go without them. I want you to feel the sensation of your lips kissing all day.”
“You’re a pervert,” she accused taking out a pair of hot pink panties from the drawer.
“If you put those on, I’ll take them off before you can finish dressing.”
Johanna paused and stared at the man wondering if she should tempt fate or not. The look on his face warned her that he was serious. Wanting to be daring, she tossed them back in the drawer and walked to her closet, listening to his deep chuckle. She moved the articles of clothing around then settled on a dark blue knee length skirt and matching pullover sweater. At least with these, she could wear flat shoes or boots.
“Good girl,” he told her. “But before you get dressed, why don’t you come here and take care of my problem?”
“No,” she said in a flat, no-nonsense tone. “You want me to go knicker free, then you can go the rest of the day exactly as you are.”
“Think I can’t handle it?”
“I think I’m going to be much more comfortable than you will be.”
“You know, I never have shown you how to enjoy your bottom,” he smiled. “If I can withstand today and not beg you to relieve me, then you have to agree to surrender your fear and let me teach you what that third hole is for.”
Johanna stared at him for several long moments. What he suggested sound so unnatural and perverse, yet everything he had done or said to her since they met has been unnatural and perverse.
“It’s a deal,” she agreed, watching the smile creep up his face.
“You’re going to have to prepare yourself,” he said, standing and walking toward her, his hand still pumping his long, hard shaft. “I’ll print out the instructions and make sure you have what you need. Once we’re finished, you’re going to want to keep things on hand for when we want to make use of all of your holes.”
“What do I have to do to get ready?” she asked with a frown.
“You need to clean yourself out. I don’t want you cramping afterward because your bowel is full.”
“That’s as disgusting as the idea of what you want to do.”
Samuel laughed as he passed her, slapping her bottom hard enough to make her yelp. He watched her rub the red handprint on her backside as he retrieved his clothes off the floor where they had been discarded the night before. He was having a difficult time trying to control his throbbing libido. Just the thought of what lay ahead for the evening increased his desire tenfold. But he couldn’t surrender, he thought as he pulled his pants up across his hips, tugging the front closed over the swelling. He was determined to show her how much fun her body was for both of them, even if it killed him.