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Authors: tani shane

Tags: #love relationships, #bodyguard romance, #marriage arrangement, #billionaire contemporary romance, #friendhship, #lovers and friends, #popular romance, #betrayal and trust, #heiress romance, #husband and wife romance

Heart Matters

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Heart Matters’
by Tanishq Sheikh




Copyright © 2015 Tani Shane

All rights reserved

Cover illustration: Pooja Betrabet

Author’s note

This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, locations and incidents are either products of the
author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
persons (living or dead) and events is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this
publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from
the author.

To my husband and soulmate

Thanks for making this book happen.

Dear Reader,

They say there’s always a first time. Well,
this is my first book and the first in many more to come. I wrote
the first draft of this romance almost 20 years ago. Then, it was
on paper with my favorite pen. A few years later, I had the
fortunate foresight to type it out and mail it to myself. It lay
there in my mailbox for almost fifteen years before I discovered
Kindle and I realized getting my book out there can be easy.

I read somewhere that self publishing almost
makes you lose respect for yourself. You feel like you possibly
weren’t good enough to be published but I beg to differ. I was just
too lazy to offer my book to a publisher and then I found one in

So sit back or lay back or be in whatever
position you feel comfortable in and enjoy ‘Heart Matters’. I hope
you like it and find it in your heart to give me a good review and
stars to match it. Criticism is welcome but please do be gentle. If
it’s severe, I don’t want a nervous breakdown just because I
thought I could entertain you and failed miserably.

Nah. Joking. Thanks a mil for taking your
precious time to read it up.

Warm regards,

Tani Shane

Reach me on:


Eight years ago

Mark Sebastian whistled a vague tune
drumming his fingers to the beat on the steering wheel. He glanced
at his watch and almost groaned in dismay. Not even nine thirty;
Jessica had been in the club less than an hour. He disliked this
part of his job the most; waiting for her like an idiot while she
partied. Damned if she wasn’t the most maddening client ever thrust
upon him. What was it about rich little girls that made them so

He sighed, running a hand through his thick
brown hair. He had a lot of answers to that question but then
Jessica wasn’t like most rich girls. She was an innocent soul. Add
to it kind, fun-loving, down to earth, gentle and guileless. She
was one of those pure individuals that you came across perhaps once
in a lifetime. And he had come across her in the one of the most
bonded of relationships.

Three years ago Jeff Cantrell had appointed
him as his sister Jessica’s personal bodyguard. Heiress to half of
‘The Cantrell Residency’, Jessica was at the time a sweet sixteen
and Mark a mature twenty eight. When he first set eyes on her, he
felt his breath leave him. She was in one simple word; stunning.
Her heart shaped face was framed with chocolate brown hair that
hung in waves below her back, her huge gray eyes were flecked with
deep emerald slivers, her nose was tiny but elegant, her full lips
sensual with a ready smile and her skin was like porcelain, shining
with health and radiance. She stood at five foot six inches and
when she looked up at his six foot three, she would tilt her head
and pout. “You’re taller than you should be, Ty!”

That’s what she called him; Ty, short for
Tyson, the nick name she had given him with the reason that he
always stood with his arms crossed as though he was a boxer posing
for a photo shoot.

Jeff Cantrell, her older brother, was the
President of ‘The Cantrell Residency’, an exclusive chain of five
star resorts around the world. He was saddled with the
responsibility at the young age of twenty two when both his parents
were killed in an air crash. Added to that was the responsibility
of his baby sister, Jessica. She was barely twelve then and Jeff
her sole guardian. Due to the suspicious nature of their parents’
air crash, both siblings were put under heavy protection. It was
several years later that the board members agreed to reduce the
security cover to all but one bodyguard.

That was how Mark Sebastian got appointed as
Jessica’s personal bodyguard. He was an ex-marine. He had taken a
bullet to the chest on an undisclosed mission and was discharged
with honor from the Marine corps. It agitated him to be chucked off
but medically he couldn’t clear some crucial tests after being
shot. So he came home and took up a silly job at a security company
that provided bodyguards to high-profile clients. He actually hated
the job but till he found something better, it was better than

Then he was assigned to Jessica and his
whole world changed. To say he was fascinated by her would be an
understatement. He worshipped her. Period. She was unlike most rich
people he had come across and treated him more like a friend and
confidant than an employee.

The attraction between them was undeniable
but it was also an emotion that was not an option he could explore.
He was entrusted with her well being and if required, he would
easily give up his life for her. He knew that Jessica was also
painfully aware of their relationship but he could never cross the
unspoken limits of their association.


Jessica Cantrell gyrated to the music with
Jake Wallace, her on and off date from college. Having met a mere
six months ago, Jake had pursued her relentlessly from the start
till she had given in and agreed to date him. She enjoyed that
casual first movie and dinner date with him and later they went out
several times.

However Jessica couldn’t bring herself to
take things beyond their casual friendship. She was too enamored
with Mark to even think of being with anyone other than him.

Mark ‘Ty’ Sebastian. She had fallen for him
hook, line and sinker the day he had entered her life. Too tall for
his own good, he was someone a girl just couldn’t ignore. His dark
brown hair was trimmed to perfection, his deep, chocolate eyes were
always alert and looked at her as if he could see through her soul,
his handsome face held a straight nose with some stitches where his
brows met and his stern lips that rarely smiled, hid perfect white
teeth. He was muscular all over and his chest was so broad that she
wished he would hold her against him forever.

But Mark was off limits. He was her employee
and she, his boss. They belonged to different worlds, a fact that
he time and again reminded her of through gently dropped hints. But
she was a growing woman; one who was forced to spend too much time
in the company of an overwhelmingly attractive man in his prime.
Mark filled her senses with his presence. She was so keenly attuned
to him that she could sense him around her without having to

She was also quite properly infatuated with
him by the time she was seventeen and had firmly made up her mind
to seduce him. That was easier said than done. Simply put, it was
like trying to seduce a boulder. As long as she was speaking with
him about her friends, her studies, her shopping, having lunch,
going to movies; Mark was the best friend she could have wished
for. But try and up the romance and Mark would all but bolt from

At such times, sensing her mood, Mark was
clever enough not be alone with her for long and even when he was,
he sported a perpetual frown and watched some nonsensical sports
channel rather than so much as glance at her. She could strut under
his nose naked and he wouldn’t notice. And then there was Jeff, her
overbearing older brother who traveled a lot but somehow always
managed to pop up when he was least expected.

But now she was finally in college. She was
nineteen and she felt confident she would succeed to melt her
boulder. Jeff hadn’t allowed her to stay at the dorm and she had an
apartment all to herself. Mark had to naturally be around her and
he had an apartment right next to hers. Yet she hadn’t managed to
draw him to her. But tonight, she had a plan that couldn’t possibly


Mark reached for his phone as it buzzed on
the dashboard where he had placed it. He swiped the screen and saw
it was a message from Jessica. He opened it with a frown that grew
deeper when he saw it was blank.
Now what the hell was this girl
up to?
he wondered and placed it back on the dashboard.

Fifteen seconds later, the phone buzzed
again and he reached for it, a small anxious flicker flaming his
heart. Even as he opened the next blank message from Jessica, two
new ones followed it. That was his breaking point and he was out of
his car in a split second racing towards the nightclub she had

He waved a hundred dollar bill at the
bouncer and entered almost immediately. Mark pushed through the
crowd near the entrance heading for the dance floor. It was next to
impossible to find anyone in the darkness that flashed randomly
with disco lights. It was also too crowded. Mostly college kids
graced this club and right now they packed the entire club with
their swaying bodies. Some made out in the corners or against the
wall and Mark swore under his breath. Young blood! He was sure most
of them had met each other for the first time here and were just
interested in a quick lay.

His eyes scanned the club quickly.
it, Jess! Where are you?
Almost as if she heard his silent
question, he felt rather than heard her gasp. He spun to his right
and not ten strides away was Jessica, allowing a guy to nuzzle at
her neck.

A bolt of raw desire shot through him as he
saw her suck in her breath sharply with her eyes closed. He curbed
it as fast as it had risen and drew in a deep breath.
What the
hell was he supposed to do now? It was obvious she wasn’t in any
danger; then why had she messaged him?

As if once again answering him, he saw her
brace her hands on her partner’s shoulders to push him away. Her
eyes opened; bleary and dazed and immediately found his. Her hand
rose towards him in a beckoning gesture and it was enough to have
him cover the distance and haul her partner away from her.

With Jake gone suddenly, Jessica all but
fell into Mark’s arms. She collapsed against the wall of his
muscular chest where he held her in a safe cocoon. He peered down
at her in concern. “Are you okay, Jess?”

Jessica reveled in the warmth only Mark
could give her and nodded dizzily. Luckily, a slow number was going
on and she didn’t have to shout to be heard. “I’m sorry…had too
much to drink.”

He nodded his acceptance. “Do you want to go

“Yes,” she whispered but stiffened, when
Jake came up behind Mark. She saw his simmering anger and shifted
out of Mark’s arms to stand before him. “Jake, I’m sorry…everything
was happening too fast.”

Jake glowered at her before his eyes shifted
to Mark. “So you called your
? I thought we had something
going Jessi.”

Jessica felt her temper rise at Jake’s
insult. She glanced at Mark’s face that held his customary
unreadable mask. Unfortunately her head spun again making her
stumble back against him. He held her up, his strong arms around
her waist. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

He made to move but Jake came to stand
before them. “Nice set up you got there old man. Screwing on duty
should be illegal!” Jake guffawed, jabbing at Mark’s rock hard

A muscle twitched in Mark’s jaw as his teeth
clenched. “Get out of the way and don’t make a scene,” he warned,
trying to steer Jessica away from the younger man but strangely she
held back.

She placed a sympathetic hand on Jake’s
chest leaning in to kiss his cheek much to the surprise of both
men. “Sorry Jake. Maybe some other time,” she whispered in his

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