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Authors: Francis Ray

All That I Desire

BOOK: All That I Desire
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You may not make this e-book publicly available in any way.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book
you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:
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.

 

Lovingly dedicated to all of my loyal readers who patiently waited and never lost
hope that Rio’s story would be written.

 

Acknowledgments

Again, to my incredible readers for their support and well-wishes during the process
of writing this book. You rock!!

 

Contents

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Epilogue

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St. Martin’s Paperbacks Titles by Francis Ray

Rave Reviews for Francis Ray

About the Author

Copyright

 

Prologue

Skylar Dupree, event director for Navarone Resorts and Spas, had never been impulsive.
But now as she watched the approach of two couples and one lone man from the second-floor
turret window of Navarone Castle, Skylar contemplated taking the biggest gamble of
her life.

As the pampered only child of divorced, overprotective parents, Skylar had wanted
for little in her life. What she now desired—what she’d longed for, dreamed of, the
past two years—might be impossible to attain. And cost her a job she loved.

Unlike her highly successful parents in Boston, she wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer.
When a family friend showed her an ad for an assistant to the event director for Navarone
Resorts and Spas—headquartered in Tucson, Arizona—she had jumped at the opportunity.

Six weeks after she’d been hired, she met Blade Navarone at the grand opening of his
latest resort. With him were his two personal bodyguards. One in particular, Rio Sanchez,
caught her attention the instant she saw him.

He was tall, fallen-angel handsome, with razor-sharp cheekbones, long curly black
hair that he wore tied at the nape of his neck, and flat black eyes. Much to her surprise,
since she had loads of male friends but nothing serious, Rio piqued her curiosity
and heated her body.

The other guard, Shane Elliott, might socialize, but Rio never did. He always kept
himself apart, always watching. He seemed unapproachable. Hard. She’d observed more
than one woman start toward him only to stop a few feet away, then beat a hasty retreat.
She well understood why.

Rio was handsome enough to draw attention, but the unblinking flat eyes made any sensible
woman feel as if she might be getting in over her head. Skylar felt that way herself.

In the two years she’d known Rio, she’d caught him a couple of times watching her.
The problem was, she couldn’t be sure if it went deeper than just doing his job.

Skylar wanted to know the man behind the unreadable facade that never smiled, make
him stop looking through her, calling her Ms. Dupree. It was more than her wanting
him to notice her or treat her differently than he did all the other people, besides
Blade and Shane. She didn’t think Rio had anyone.

Blade and Shane had wives, but who comforted Rio? With his broad shoulders, quick
reflexes, and reported skills as a fighter, he acted as if he didn’t need or want
anyone.

She might have believed that if she wasn’t looking at Rio with Blade and Shane and
their wives. As always Rio walked apart, unsmiling, as the two couples laughed and
held hands. She didn’t know there were tears on her cheeks until Ruth Grayson, Blade’s
mother-in-law, handed her a tissue. “No man should walk this earth alone,” she said
and excused herself.

Skylar might have been embarrassed, but she liked Mrs. Grayson and knew she could
keep a confidence. Skylar looked out the window again and came to a decision: Rio
wouldn’t walk alone any longer if it she could help it. It would be risky, emotionally
and professionally.

If Rio felt she’d crossed the line professionally, she’d be out on her ear. She would
be risking everything for a man who had never smiled at her, had never given her any
indication that he felt anything more for her than the stones surrounding the castle—except
for those two occasions.

Suddenly Rio looked up at her. She felt the familiar leap of her heart, the warmth
curling through her, the need to touch, to soothe. She smiled. He didn’t smile back,
just continued inside behind the others. He was a tough man. That was all right. She
turned from the window.

One day he would smile back.

 

Chapter 1

Skylar Dupree wasn’t the risk-taking type, but neither was she the type of woman to
falter once she’d made up her mind. The only other time in her twenty-six years she
dared do anything remotely defying tradition was leaving law school. Yet that had
been more for self-preservation. Her parents were pragmatic; she tended to be more
easygoing and laid-back.

Skylar paused on the curved stone staircase of the thirty-five-room castle. Easygoing
wasn’t going to cut it this time, not if she wanted to grab Rio’s attention.

Just the thought sent her heart rate skittering out of control. Rio could look straight
through you with hard, unblinking black eyes. He exuded danger. Nothing seemed to
bother him. She could count on one hand the number of times she’d seen him smile,
and those times had been when he was with his closest friends, Blade and Shane. As
far as Skylar knew, he’d never bestowed upon anyone else a smile, let alone his laughter.

The task she’d chosen for herself was scary. Since Shane’s marriage, Rio was head
of security for Blade’s business as well as Blade’s personal bodyguard. Even Rio’s
security team had a healthy fear of the man reported to be deadlier than a viper,
and just as stealthy. She’d heard one of his men refer to him as “smoke” because of
his elusiveness.

Skylar had flown in that Sunday afternoon from Navarone Resorts and Spas’s headquarters
to go over the final preparations for a charity auction and ball to benefit the Music
Department of St. John’s College, where Mrs. Grayson was chair. The auction was two
weeks away. The big draw to get the right people to come was that the auction would
be held in Navarone Castle, near Santa Fe, a place heretofore off limits to anyone
but close family and friends.

Much had been speculated about the home of the billionaire, which had a real moat,
a working drawbridge, a helipad, and a lake. Sierra, Blade’s wife, might have owned
the castle before her marriage, but Blade ensured their privacy by buying up all the
surrounding property within fifty miles. You might get on the property, but with its
constant patrols, you were quickly escorted off, which gave Navarone Castle even more
of an air of mystique.

Continuing down the stairs with her iPad clutched to her chest, Skylar stepped into
the comfortable great room. Sitting in sky-blue leather chairs and love seats were
Blade, Sierra, and her mother on one side. On the other were Shane and his wife, Paige.
Rio, arms folded, standing by the immense stone fireplace, glanced up. Her heart did
a fast jitterbug.

Rio looked incredibly handsome in a long-sleeved white shirt with the cuffs rolled
back to show strong wrists. He had a silver watch on one arm and a wide silver band
on the other. His jeans delineated the long, sleek muscles of his thighs and made
Skylar’s mouth dry.

In Tucson he’d always worn tailored clothes, the same as Blade. Here, Rio was more
casual. The curly black hair she’d dreamed of running her fingers through was held
at the base of his neck with a silver clip. His bronzed, hard body was honed to perfection.

There was nothing in his midnight-black eyes that indicated he desired or felt anything
at all for her. Skylar stared back at the flat eyes that seemed to see right through
her and stiffened her spine.

One day he’d look at her with desire.

“Hi, Skylar.” Sierra rose from her seat and went to greet Skylar. “I’m sorry we weren’t
here to meet you.”

“That’s all right.” Skylar smiled. She and Sierra had hit it off immediately. “I enjoyed
looking around the castle again. You have a beautiful home.”

“Thanks.” Sierra glanced back at Blade. “We like it.”

Skylar’s smile increased. One place she’d bet was off limits was the grotto downstairs
that was Sierra and Blade’s secret place.

“Please have a seat.” Sierra took the other woman’s arm. “Can I get you anything?”

“No, thank you.” Skylar greeted everyone as she took a leather chair. Everyone spoke.
Rio nodded.

“Is everything going as planned?” Ruth asked.

Skylar knew Ruth could have asked that question earlier, but hadn’t. Mrs. Grayson
also didn’t let on she’d seen or talked with Skylar before. She smiled her thanks.

“Yes, Mrs. Grayson. In fact, we’re ahead of schedule. As planned, the auction will
be by invitation only. Thanks to Lance’s help, a printed color catalog with the starting
bid for each item has already been sent out.”

“Good thing,” Sierra interjected. “Because he and Fallon are off on their honeymoon.”

“Still discussing if she’ll be able to go scuba diving due to her pregnancy.” Blade
glanced at Sierra. “She’s almost as strong-willed as another woman I know.”

“Aren’t you and Lance the lucky ones?” Sierra grinned and kissed Blade on the cheek.

Skylar cut a sideways glance at Rio. His arms remained crossed, his gaze somewhere
over her head. He wasn’t going to make this easy. Back to the business at hand.

“I personally called everyone to ensure they received the catalog and still plan to
attend.” Skylar pulled out the guest list and stood to give it to Rio. “This week,
four of the invitees asked if they could bring a guest. It was to be expected that
some would ignore the one-month time limit to invite a guest. I know you’d want to
check the people out before I committed.”

He crossed to her in his effortless stride that reminded her of a stalking cat. Long,
lean fingers took the list without looking at it. “Thank you.” His voice held no inflection.

Trying not to sigh, Skylar retook her seat. She needn’t have bothered wearing a tangerine-colored
dress that complemented her complexion and hazel eyes. However, she wasn’t giving
up.

“The items will be arriving by special courier or delivery service starting Tuesday.
I’ll be here to check and sign them in. I’ll return each day until we have all the
items in place,” Skylar told them. “We’ve already selected the room where they’ll
be displayed.”

“That’s too much trouble,” Sierra said. “It would be easier and make more sense if
you stay here.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Blade said.

“I couldn’t,” Skylar said, surprised by the invitation. While they were planning the
auction, she’d always flown in and out of Santa Fe.

“We have plenty of guest rooms.” Sierra leaned against Blade. His arm immediately
circled her slim shoulders. “We’re leaving for a new Navarone property in the morning;
you’re welcome to stay here.”

Skylar didn’t know what to say. She was very aware that a lot of trust had gone into
the invitation. If Rio stayed, she might run into him more. The thought had no more
than materialized when she discarded it. She was not going to impose on Blade and
Sierra’s kindness to go after Rio.

BOOK: All That I Desire
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