The Prince’s Runaway Bride
Veronique has been taught all her life to be the perfect princess. Until walking down the aisle to meet her convenient husband, she sees a lifetime of duty flashing before her. Creating a royal scandal, she flees her wedding reception!
Commanding Prince Aldrick is determined to bring his runaway bride home, whatever the cost. But the dutiful princess he married is a far cry from the strong yet innocent woman he gets to know. And as their desire sparks wildly, will Aldrick help Veronique see that the freedom she craves can be found in his arms?
This is a prequel to Caitlin’s November Presents, Unwrapping the Innocent’s Secret.
The Prince’s Runaway Bride
The pounding on the heavy front door echoed through the abbey like thunder, waking Veronique from a sound sleep.
Outside, a fall storm raged down from the towering Dolomites that dominated this remote valley in the north of Italy, two hours from Verona over treacherous mountain passes and whole worlds away from the life Veronique had left behind when she’d fled the tiny principality of Chambault le Beau. Wind and rain rattled the shutters, and for a moment Veronique did nothing but lie still in her narrow cot.
But the pounding came again, louder this time.
More arrogant. More demanding.
Veronique told herself it could not be him. She had covered her tracks too well, surely. She’d dressed like one of the chambermaids who toiled away in Chambault Castle, the ancient seat of the Princes of Chambault le Beau. She’d snuck away from her life—and her fate—and had ridden away from the castle in the back of a flower truck.
Then, giddy with her unexpected freedom after a lifetime of prostrating herself to the duty her parents had settled upon her at birth, she’d made her way south. To this lovely, hidden-away abbey where her beloved grandmother had confined herself after the death of her first husband during some or other horrid war. Grand Mère had told so many stories about this place that Veronique could see it when she closed her eyes. And sure enough, the valley she’d found matched every dream she’d had of the place. Snowcapped mountains and pretty fields, with a lovely river cutting through the valley floor that gleamed in the light.
It was a dream come true. A wish made real.
“This is merely an abbey, child,” Mother Superior had told Veronique when she’d begged for an audience. “It is made of stones, not wishes. It has no particular magic of its own. You must make that yourself.”
“I don’t know if I can,” Veronique had whispered, too embarrassed to look straight into the older woman’s serenely lined face.
Veronique had been raised in an aristocratic family. Her father was still congratulated for his great coup in securing a marriage contract between his only daughter and the current prince. She had been raised to marry a man whose face was on coins in her pockets.
No one had ever asked Veronique what she wanted.
She had come to this abbey to find out.
The pounding on the door told her that her time had run out.
She threw back the covers, wrapped the coverlet around her, then made her way out into the long, stone corridor that led to a landing overlooking the front hall. She crept to the rail, then looked down, hoping against hope—
But it was him.
Prince Aldrick of Chambault le Beau.
And he was staring straight at her, his dark gaze like fire. Brimstone and accusation.
“How strange to find you in a convent, Veronique,” he said, his voice stern and carrying, as befit the ruler of a kingdom whose every word was law. “Did you forget that you were married?”