The Secret That Shocked De Santis

By: Natalie Anderson

How is she going to tell him?

Army lieutenant Stella Zambrano had the surprise of her life when a routine medical check revealed she was pregnant. Tapping into survival mode, the headstrong beauty only has two thoughts on her mind:

1. Knowing she must conceal the father’s identity.

2. And wondering what it means for the career she worked so hard for?

Because Stella’s baby bombshell is the result of one shockingly sensual afternoon on a deserted beach with Prince Eduardo De Santis. And with an out-of-wedlock heir on the cards, Stella knows the playboy prince will demand marriage!

Eduardo lifted away from the door and walked toward her with long, easy strides that belied the speed and strength she knew he had. And his expression was too leashed to be anything but assuring.

This wasn’t the suave, gleaming-eyed Prince Charming who the public adored, this was a carved-from-granite, coldly angry stranger. This was a side of him Stella had never seen.

Yet now, despite his iciness, that sensual intensity still emanated from every inch of him. And in seconds she was so close to succumbing to it again.

And that scared her more than anything.

He walked closer, his gaze never leaving her face, restraint evident in his too-measured movements and the compression of his mouth. But for a second he’d looked furious.

It was only with supreme self-discipline that she suppressed the instinct to step back. Just beneath her skin her blood simmered, almost humming in delight from his nearness. It was insane, and she hated her foolishness. How could she be so weak when the result of this want had just ruined her world? Yet that willful, wicked, reckless part of her only wanted him to touch her again. Touch her and make her forget the world as he’d done so easily once before.

Mercifully he didn’t. He stopped a single pace away, his muscles taut, his stance wide and predatory—as if he suspected she might try to escape any second.

“Stella Zambrano,” he said softly, but through gritted teeth. His intense lazuli eyes sharpened, hardened, chilled. And his words stabbed. “Welcome to Segreto Reale. We will be married here tomorrow.”

For the fabulous Flo, thank you for being such an awesome editor and giving me such support—there’d be no book without you!


STELLA ZAMBRANO FELT as if she was sitting outside the principal’s office, knowing she was in trouble without a clue as to why. All she could do was wait and try not to think the worst.

The military wing of the San Felipe palace was designed to impress and to intimidate. It succeeded in both. The vaulted ceilings were metres high, the floors tiled in a headache-inducing intricate mathematical pattern, and the walls plastered with gold-framed portraits of the De Santis predecessors—princes, military leaders, powerful men.

San Felipe, a famed island principality in the heart of the Mediterranean, was currently ruled by Crown Prince Antonio De Santis. Austere, yet beloved, and devoted to duty, Antonio was aided by his charming, utterly adored younger brother, Eduardo. The public face of San Felipe, risk-taking, suave Prince Eduardo almost single-handedly kept the tourism industry afloat.

The most recent portrait in the vast room depicted the two brothers standing side by side in full military regalia. It hung on the wall directly opposite, dominating Stella’s field of vision. She opted to stare at the floor. The sweat on her back iced. She desperately hoped the Princes were not present in the palace today.

‘Lieutenant Zambrano?’

She looked up as her name was called.

‘The General will see you now.’


Stella searched the Captain’s face for clues, but saw that if he were any more expressionless he’d be dead. She was uncomfortable, conscious that she ought be wearing her sharply pressed midnight-blue trousers and a starched white shirt, topped with her gold-trimmed blue jacket. Her brass should be gleaming, her ribbons immaculate, her star straight on her shoulder. Instead she was wearing sweat-stained fatigues and muddied boots.

She’d just finished her morning run when a stony-faced sergeant had appeared and said it was urgent and that she didn’t have time to change. He’d driven her straight from the base to the palace, where the General of San Felipe’s army had his official quarters.

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