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Authors: Barbara Freethy

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Before I Do Amazon

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BEFORE I DO

 

BACHELORS & BRIDESMAIDS (#4)

 

 

BARBARA FREETHY

Also Available

In the Bachelors and Bridesmaids series

 

Kiss Me Forever (#1)

Steal My Heart (#2)

All Your Loving (#3)

 

BEFORE I DO

 

From #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy comes BEFORE I DO, the 4th book in her bestselling Bachelors & Bridesmaids Series. Seven friends start out as bridesmaids and end up as brides!

 

Nicholas Hunter is a sexy, rich entrepreneur, but he has two left feet, and to his dismay, they are getting in the way of his latest merger. His Argentinian contact insists Nick learn the tango—or the million dollar deal is off!

 

Nick storms into Isabella Martinez's dance studio and demands she be his teacher and his partner. Isabella reluctantly agrees. What she knows and Nick has yet to find out is that the tango is more than a dance. Like love, it invades the heart, the mind and the soul...

Before I Do

© Copyright 2015 Barbara Freethy

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (v3)

 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

For information contact:
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Table of Contents

BEFORE I DO

Also Available

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Epilogue

Excerpt - A SECRET WISH

Book List

About The Author

Chapter One

 

"He's out of his mind." Nicholas Hunter stared in bewilderment at the contract in his hand. "What kind of loophole is this?"

Martin Hennessey sat back in his chair at the long table in the executive conference room of Hunter Resorts International and gave a shrug. "I'd say it's an intriguing one."

"What the hell does it mean?"

"He's got you, Nick. Face facts. Juan Carlos will not sell you his piece of prime Argentine coastline unless he gets what he wants."

"What he wants?" Nick echoed. "The man wants me to dance the tango, or am I misreading this?"

Martin grinned. "You're not misreading anything."

"He's crazy. I'm not going to do that."

"Why not? It's just a dance."

Nick tossed the contract down on the table. "What the hell happened, Martin? When I left Buenos Aires, a mere forty-eight hours ago, everything was set. You and Juan Carlos were just going to sit down and iron out the last few details."

"Juan didn’t like the way you acted when you were down there. You didn't socialize with anyone. You didn't reach out to the locals. You stayed in your room or in Juan's office studying geographic maps and architectural plans."

"That's my job."

"Yes, but Juan is worried that you don't understand his country well enough to build a resort that will fit in with the natural beauty of the land, enhance the flavor, the uniqueness of Argentina—his words, not mine. He says he's a patriot first and a businessman second."

Nick paced restlessly around the room, which was part of a spacious office suite on the top floor of the Grand View Towers Hotel in downtown San Francisco. While his company operated hotels all around the world, San Francisco was his home base.

Pausing in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, he looked down at the city. The narrow, steep streets of Nob Hill, Chinatown and North Beach filled his view, and those streets were teeming with people on a windy but clear Wednesday afternoon. Off in the distance were sailboats bobbing in the bay and the sweeping span of the Golden Gate Bridge. The view was spectacular by anyone's standards but it wasn't as good as the view in his mind.

Instead of seeing a busy city, he saw a deserted quiet beach in Argentina. The sea was turquoise and clear as crystal. The white sand stretched for miles, and the sunsets were an unbelievable mix of orange, pink and purple. He would take that strip of coastline and turn it into a world-class resort. He'd been building that hotel in his mind for fourteen years. It was past time to make it happen.

He reached into his pocket, his fingers curling around the frayed edges of the magazine photograph he couldn't seem to throw away. His long-time dream was about to come true, and he couldn't let anything get in the way. He had to find a way to buy Juan's land.

"It's just a dance," Martin said again, bringing his attention back to the present.

He turned to face his vice president of operations. "Juan thinks if I dance the tango, I'll understand his country?"

"Yes. He's an emotional old man. The last day we were there he took me for a walk on the beach and told me about the first time his feet had touched that sand, the day he'd taken his fiancé there to propose as the sun was going down. He doesn't want to sell the land at all, but he needs the money, and he knows the local economy would benefit from having a resort there."

"Which is why he has to sell to us. He won't get a better offer."

"And you won't get him to budge on the tango. So suck it up, boss." Martin pushed a brochure across the table. "There's a dance studio not far from here. I already made a call. They teach the Argentinian tango, and they have private lessons available."

"You already made a call?"

"That's why you pay me the big bucks," Martin joked.

While Martin was his second in command, they'd also been friends for a decade, and Martin was one of the few people Nick was close to. Most everyone else he kept a good arm's length away.

"This could be good for you, Nick," Martin continued. "You've been working non-stop for the last ten years—days, nights and weekends. And forget about vacations—they don't exist in your world. Maybe it's time to take a break, catch your breath, look around and see if you've missed anything in your obsessive drive to build an empire."

"That obsessive drive is what pays your exorbitant salary," he reminded him.

"Yeah, and ordinarily I wouldn't say anything, but sometimes I worry about you."

"Nothing to worry about. Everything is going according to plan." Or it had been until Juan Carlos had thrown a wrench in the works.

"You have just over a week to learn the dance. Juan is throwing a party a week from Sunday. He's invited us to come. You'll dance the tango. He'll sign the contract."

"Don't I need a partner?"

"Juan said he'd find you a partner if you don’t have one. What about Karen? She had some nice moves."

He nodded. "Very nice and all very calculated to further her modeling career."

Martin frowned. "Someday you're going to have to tell me what went on there."

"That won't be today." He paused, another thought coming into his head. "Why don't you have to dance, Martin? Why am I the only one on the spot?"

"Because I'm not in charge," Martin replied as he got to his feet. "When you go to the dance studio, ask for the owner, Isabella Martinez. She's the tango teacher, and she got great reviews online."

"I still haven't said I'm going to do it."

"You'll do it. There isn't anything you wouldn't do for that land. We both know that."

He really hated it when Martin was right.

As Martin left the conference room, Nick picked up the dance studio brochure. On the front was a picture of an exotically beautiful dark-eyed brunette, whose inviting smile actually made him want to open the brochure.

He skimmed the list of classes, his gaze settling on two important words—private lessons. If he was going to learn to dance, he would prefer not to do it in front of an audience. He was good at a lot of things, but dancing was not even close to the top of that list.

 

* * *

 

Isabella Martinez tapped her foot restlessly against the hardwood floor. The beat of the music flowed through her soul, and she yearned to move into dance and feel the freedom of expression that was so much a part of her. But this was not her time to dance; rather, to teach.

Three couples danced in front of her, each stumbling through their own variation of the waltz. She winced as one of the women set her spiked heel down hard on her partner's foot. The man groaned, but to his credit he kept going. That wasn't completely surprising. Those two were newlyweds, and he was obviously still trying to make his new wife happy.

The other couples were both older. One was a long-married pair who had signed up for the classes so they could find something they could do together. The third couple was made up of two divorcées who had met at a singles event a few weeks earlier and discovered they shared a love of dancing. They were probably the happiest people in the room, their waltz being used as foreplay for what would come later.

Isabella looked away from her students as she was joined at the front of the room by one of the other dance instructors, Ricardo Domingo. Ricardo was tall, dark and handsome, the epitome of a Latin lover, and he was happy to play up that role, especially with the female students.

"They're not exactly Astaire and Rogers, are they?" Ricardo muttered.

"They're trying. That's what matters. One-two-three, one-two-three," she called out encouragingly. "Listen to the music, let it be your guide."

"There's a man out front who needs to speak to you," Ricardo said.

"Can't you help him?"

"He insists on talking to you. He looks like an unwilling student. You know the type."

"All too well," she said with a sigh. The male gender usually came to her studio under some sort of duress.

"Here's his card. I'll take over for you until you get back."

Isabella looked down at the foil-embossed business card. "Nicholas Hunter, President, HRI, Hunter Resorts International. Sounds impressive, but I've never heard of him."

"That's because you spend all your time in this studio. Nicholas Hunter is a very successful businessman. He builds hotels all over the world."

"And he wants to learn how to dance?"

"Let's hope so. He can definitely pay top dollar."

"Okay. I'll be back as soon as I can."

Isabella took a quick glance in the mirror before leaving the studio. An off-the-shoulder white sweater covered her rose-colored tank top, and a filmy, flowing skirt dropped from her waist to below her knees. A pair of heels added two inches to her five-foot four-inch frame. Her face was still flushed from the demonstration she'd performed a few moments earlier and strands of long, dark brown hair fell out of her French braid. She tucked a few strands behind her ear, then went out to the lobby.

Nicholas Hunter stood in front of the glass case displaying dance trophies and photographs from various performances. Dressed in a black suit with a white button-down shirt and plum-colored silk tie, he appeared to be a successful business executive. His dark brown hair just touched the collar of his shirt, and his profile was strong and defined. When he turned to face her, his light blue eyes lit up an otherwise somber expression. She had a feeling that if he smiled, he'd take her breath away. As it was, he'd already given her pulse an unexpected jolt.

"Isabella Martinez?" he asked in a deep, husky voice.

"Yes."

"Nicholas Hunter." He shook her hand, his grip strong and firm, which boded well for him being a good dance partner. He was a man who obviously knew how to lead.

"What can I do for you?"

"I need tango lessons."

Tango lessons? A sexy, passionate dance for this conservative businessman? "Really? Why?"

"My reasons aren't important."

"Do you have a partner?"

"No, I'm on my own."

She walked over to the counter and turned on her computer to check the class schedule. "We have a beginning tango class starting tomorrow night. Two women still need a partner. Will that work?"

"No. I want private lessons, and I need them this week. I just need one or two to learn the basics. That's it."

"You'll need more than one or two lessons to master such a complicated dance."

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