When Paul Bronson pulls an unconscious female from the icy lake, he has no idea he's just saved a princess. Paul's family is devoted to helping expatriates from the neighboring country as they seek freedom from the sadistic dictator, but giving aid to this beautiful young lady could be catastrophic. Princess Sierra Montgomery is on the run and would rather die than be forced to marry the bloodthirsty dictator's son in four days. Her broken and bruised body cries out for help bolstering Paul's courage and determination to defy the dictator. The struggle to keep Sierra safe and out of enemy hands will prove to be more difficult than he ever could imagine. Keeping their relationship on a professional level will be next to impossible.
Through her long dark lashes, Sierra watched the two men — one who had repeatedly beaten her nearly to death, and the other who had consistently nursed her back to life — as they discussed her current frail condition.
“I don’t care if she has to be wheeled in on a gurney,” Reginald Rawlings declared angrily to Dr. John Roth. “She will marry my son in four days. Why isn’t she responding to the medications?”
“She seems to have lost the will to live, sir,” Roth replied. “Perhaps the wedding should be delayed.”
“She only needs to live long enough to become Victor’s wife — although I would prefer that she produce an heir. But her royal name alone will give me the support I need.” Rawlings glanced at his watch and adjusted his too-tight silk tie. “I have to make an appearance at the engagement celebration and try to explain her absence,” he said through gritted teeth, glaring at Sierra as he turned and walked toward the door. “Keep me informed of her progress.”
The door to the palace infirmary slammed shut behind him, and Sierra let out the air she had been holding in her lungs. Dr. Roth hurried over to her side and threw the blankets off her.
“Now, Princess Sierra. Quickly, there isn’t much time.” He rushed into the nearby supply closet.
“Dr. Roth, please don’t call me princess.” Sierra swung her slim bruised legs over the edge of the bed and pulled off her hospital gown. Dr. Roth came out of the closet with a pile of clothing and helped her dress — three layers of shirts, two pairs of pants, two pairs of wool socks, and rugged brown hiking boots. Then he guided her arms into a green military jacket and tucked her long, dark-blonde hair up into a soldier’s hat. He added a fake mustache to her top lip for the finishing touch.
“I don’t know why Rawlings was so late with his visit tonight,” he said. “The plane is supposed to leave in ten minutes, and they damn well better wait for you.”
“Thank you for everything, Dr. Roth,” Sierra said, placing her hand on his arm and looking into his eyes. “Without you, I’d be dead.”
“Well, you’re not out of the palace just yet, so you might want to save your thanks until after you’ve crossed the border. Do you remember everything I told you?” She nodded. “The cab driver will have another coat and hat for you in the vehicle. Be safe, Sierra, and good luck.”
She slipped out of the infirmary and walked quickly down the empty corridor to the door Dr. Roth had pointed out to her as an unmarked exit that led to an outside service door. Once outside the building, she hurried across the parking lot to the rear service entrance gate. Miraculously, she didn’t run into any employees or guards along the way. As Dr. Roth promised, a yellow cab was waiting for her just beyond the gate to take her to the airport. She opened the back passenger door and climbed inside.
“Good evening, Ms. Montgomery,” the driver said with an unrecognizable accent. “Buckle up, please. The roads are pretty nasty, and we’re in a hurry.” His ball cap was on backwards, covering his military-style haircut.
She had no doubt the roads would be wickedly slick tonight. The raging snowstorm had started earlier in the day and had cast a dark cloud over her hopes for escape. Sierra looked to her left and found her coat and wool hat on the seat. She took off the military hat and mustache and stuffed her hair up into the wool cap. Then she pulled the ear-flaps down and tied the strings securely under her chin. She removed the military jacket and wiggled into the thick down coat.
The cab driver said nothing else to her, and for most of the hectic ride she stared out the window. The dim glow of the streetlights did little to illuminate the roads. A massive weather system had moved in, and the snowflakes fell so fast and thick that they blanketed the incandescent lights. As the cab turned up a narrow street, the wintry white world plunged into darkness, lit only by the faint beams from the snow-covered headlights.
Sierra wondered where the road led, what she would find at its end. Sitting quietly in the back seat and asking nothing of her unknown driver was so out of character for her that she almost laughed at the thought. She knew he must be from the underground, a volunteer from the insurgents, and yet she wasn’t at all worried, at least not like she had been a couple of months ago when they tried to assassinate her.