This is the second book in the Princess Brides Trilogy
Sound exploded from the back of the jet.
The aircraft shook, a shiver like teeth chattering, metal scraping
metal. The jet dropped yet again, a steeper descent, and suddenly
the teacup saucer seemed miles away.
She didn't like this.
Uncrossing her legs, Chantal planted her
feet firmly on the floor, doing her best to look relaxed. Unconcerned.
They weren't going to crash. It was just
turbulence. Nothing serious. Planes hit pockets of turbulence
all the time.
A flight attendant in the red and cream
uniform of La Croix Royal airlines came hurrying toward her. "Let
me take your cup," she said, swooping the cup and saucer
from the princess. "We don't want to get you burned."
The plane was jolting now, great shudders
like a silver belly dancer in the sky, and passengers were
murmuring in the back even as Chantal's hairdresser began to
Glancing up, Chantal's gaze met one of the
male passengers. He was sitting not far, just across the narrow
aisle in a matching leather chair, and his dark gaze continued
to hold hers, his expression calm, compelling. He wasn't English,
or French. He was too hard looking, beautiful but hard, face
all severe lines and planes -- an uncompromising line of brow,
nose, mouth, chin.
bumpy," she said, raising her voice a little, compelled
to make a connection. She didn't want to be afraid, hoped she
didn't look afraid.
Chantal had the feeling that he resisted
company-people. "Do you fly a lot?" she asked, trying
to keep from thinking about the terrifying shimmying of the
"Yes." His dark gaze was nearly
as hard as the line of his cheekbone and jaw. "And
"Quite a bit." She swallowed.
But she'd never been afraid like this before. Her fear was
intense. "I've never --" she broke off as the plane
sank abruptly, and someone behind her screamed.
The hair rose on Chantal's nape and gripping
the arms of her chair she concentrated on breathing. Be calm.
Be calm. Be calm.
Heart racing, eyes burning, she turned and
looked at the man across the aisle. She couldn't disintegrate.
She had to remain focused.
Talk to him.
Make contact with him.
She drew a shallow breath, her head spinning. "You
have an accent."
His black eyebrows dropped. "So do
Maybe he was Latin. Italian? Sicilian? The
burning in her eyes turned to tears. She felt ashamed of her
loss of control. "I'm from Melio," she said, naming
her independent country off the coast of France and Spain.
"I'm from Greece," he said, suddenly
rising. He crossed the narrow aisle, took the empty chair next
Greek, she thought, even more unnerved by his close proximity. "I'm
Princess Chantal Marie --"
"I know who you are."
Of course he did. How silly. She struggled
to sound normal. Natural. "What's your name?"
Her lower lip quivered. Her throat felt
swollen, a lump lodged right in the middle. "That's quite
His gaze held hers, eyes so intense they
dazzled her. "Yes."
The jet groaned loudly and did a strange
ripple as if it'd become serpentine. Flexible. Mobile.
Chantal's lips parted. She gasped in air.
She turned to Mr. Mantheakis. "This isn't turbulence anymore,
She hadn't thought so, and she nodded, exhaling
slowly, trying to ignore her fear, which had become a huge,
tangible thing. The fear was cold and heavy, like that of breaking
a sweat in the middle of a bad dream and wanting to wake, needing
to wake, and yet unable.
Demetrius leaned towards her, his broad
shoulder bumping hers. "How's your seatbelt?" he
asked, but he didn't wait for her to answer. He reached over
and checked the tension on her seatbelt personally.
His actions said more than words ever could,
and her fear grew, spreading within her. "You don't have
to do this."
"Do what?" He stared at her, his
dark gaze narrowed and focused on her face.
She thought his voice was like gravel, hard,
sharp, and she found herself thinking his Greek accent wasn't
like the Greeks she'd ever known. His tone was harder. His
inflection harsher. "Entertain me. Distract me. Whatever
it is you're doing."
call it company."
She tried to smile but couldn't. She felt
wild on the inside, her heart pounding, her pulse racing. They
were flying over the Atlantic Ocean, heading back to Europe.
There was nothing below them but water. Even if they needed
to land, they couldn't.
She turned to the window. The shuddering
of the plane, the inky clouds, the sense that destruction was
just a heartbeat away heightened her senses, time stretched
endlessly so that the future was impossible -far far out of
She felt the acid at the back of her eyes.
She pressed her knees tight to keep from letting tears form.
Princesses don't cry. Princesses don't show emotion in public.
Princesses must be above reproach.
But her daughter's face swam before her
eyes, the sweet pale face, the fair hair, the little lips shaped
like a Valentine.
She covered her face with her hands, rubbed
her eyes, drying the tears before they could fall. She couldn't
lose control. The captain hadn't made any announcement. The
flight attendants were buckled into their jump seats but they
looked quiet, focused, professional.
The jet shuddered and banked steeply left.
Chantal sat forward as the plane continued to verve left. She
glanced to her window again.
"I can't see anything," she said,
the jet appearing to settle back into a more normal flight
pattern. The world beyond her window was dark, thick with heavy
cloud, and the plane sailed through the dense blackness shuddering
every now and then as if to remind passengers that the danger
"It's dark out," he answered calmly,
leaning back in his seat, his body relaxed, no tension anywhere
in his big, powerful frame.
She wished she could take comfort in the
fact that he was at ease, but his confidence shook her even
more. "Can the pilots see?"
"They fly by equipment."
But what if their equipment was wrong, she
wanted to ask? Instead she thought back on life, the choices
made, the opportunities passed up. "Moments like these
are great for self-analysis," she said with a brittle
laugh. "Nothing like facing one's self."
"Regrets?" he asked.
Her eyes felt like they were on fire. "Dozens."
She shook her head, her hands gripping her
armrests tightly. "There's too many. I can't think of
just one, but all of them, all that life experience, all those
hopes and dreams..."
"Life's never what you think it's going
to be, is it?"
Her eyes sought his. He looked so big, so
imposing and yet he projected strength. Calm. "If you
could do it over, what would you fight for?"
stirred uncomfortably in her seat. She wanted off the plane.
She wanted away from this man who asked hard questions and
wanted real answers. It'd been a long day, but she didn't know
how not to answer her. There was something compelling in him,
something about him that compelled her to speak. "Happiness," she
finally said. "I'd fight for happiness."
LIKE IT? ORDER
Read the excerpt from Book 3 in The Princess Brides trilogy.