Authors: Shelli Stevens
Published by Shelli Stevens
Copyright © 2012 by Shelli Stevens
Cover by Vidette McDowall
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All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
Huge thanks to Rhonda Helms and my niece Megan for your fabulous editing skills. To my old agent Laura for all the time you invested in my projects. To Marie Force for your mad formatting skills. And finally to my family, friends and readers for being so wonderful and supportive.
“Shall I find out who she is,
Andrés Montero didn’t immediately answer the discreet question from his assistant. Instead, he kept his gaze trained on the woman who’d caught his attention just moments ago.
A hot summer breeze rolled in off the Mediterranean, lifting the blonde’s hair as she ran. From where he stood beneath the palm tree, Andrés watched her shove back the curly strands while she maneuvered her petite curves around a row of sunning chairs near the path that led to the resort.
Lifting his snifter of brandy, he took another sip. But it wasn’t the alcohol that warmed his blood at this moment. Intrigued far more than he cared to admit, he visually traced the soft curves of her breasts beneath a dark blue bikini top, down to the pale glow of her bare stomach, to the flare of her hips concealed beneath a white sarong.
. She looked young, with a carefree spirit and optimism he usually had no patience for. And yet he experienced a twinge of disappointment as she disappeared inside the luxury hotel a moment later.
His luxury hotel.
With the reputation as being Spain’s elusive bachelor billionaire—tabloid-dubbed, of course—Andrés never found himself without a willing female to warm his bed. But he was quite careful and selective of the women who actually made it that far.
He swirled his brandy before taking another sip. All he had to do was give Pablo the word, and the blonde could be waiting naked in his bed within hours. Though first she’d be pulled aside and questioned extensively and discreetly. If she met Andrés’ requirements and was interested, she’d be presented with a confidentiality contract.
The women, of course, were always interested.
He narrowed his eyes and turned his attention to the Mediterranean Sea, which basked in the lavender and coral swirls from the sunset just a short while ago.
Already he could imagine the blonde reclining upon smooth sheets, the loose curls of her hair falling over her shoulder to tease creamy breasts. It had been several months since he’d taken a lover, and his body stirred at the image.
But once more, he made the decision to place business first. He had a meeting with the manager of the resort in less than half an hour. And he had not arrived at his position in life by thinking with the wrong head.
Andrés gave a firm shake of his head. “No,
, Pablo,” he finally murmured. “Tonight is for business, not pleasure. I think I will walk alone for a bit prior to the meeting.”
Chloe Wilkinson slung her backpack over her shoulder and rushed back out of the employee lounge. She pushed another unruly hair away from her eyes and groaned in frustration.
Running around. She was always running around somewhere at this darn resort. At least now she was officially off the clock doing it.
She huffed a sigh and picked up her pace. Everyone would probably be done swimming by the time she returned to the beach. How could she possibly have forgotten to grab her backpack? She took it with her everywhere, using it in place of a purse. Though the most valuable thing in there hardly had a monetary value.
She thought of the aged leather journal that told the story of two people who’d fallen in love…lovers who had now been dead for over a year. Chloe’s stomach clenched and a heavy wave of sorrow pricked tiny holes through the excitement of her evening.
Not now. Not while she was in Spain.
Once again pushing aside the momentary stab of sadness, she exited the resort through a side entrance and let herself smile. These were the moments she loved the most. When she was finally off her shift waitressing at the posh resort and had a few moments to enjoy the beauty of this country.
Stepping onto the path that led to the beach, Chloe clutched the strap of her backpack. The palm trees blocked the light from the rising moon.
It was all so romantic, with the sounds of the Spanish guitar being played by the resort’s musician. They did that for the tourists. Funny, but after the first couple of weeks in Spain she’d stopped thinking of herself as a tourist. This country was in her blood like a fever she couldn’t shake. Had no desire to. It would be hard returning to the States after being here for two months.
She’d been fortunate to get the job at the resort, allowing her to work in Spain. Though it helped that she had experience waiting tables back in the States. To pay her bills, waitressing had become a second job to her part-time position as a magazine columnist. Writing for the magazine was her true passion, and someday she hoped Modern Coquette picked her up for a full-time columnist position. Maybe this article she was working on would help that.
With a sigh, Chloe moved onto the beach, loving the silken sand weaving between her toes. She closed her eyes for just a moment to enjoy the night’s ambience. Then slammed into something. Hard.
She gasped, her eyes snapping open as she stumbled backward. An iron grip clasped around her forearms, stopping her fall before she could land in humiliation on her bottom.
,” she said, blushing. She reached up to grip the man’s arms to further steady herself. Her eyes widened at the thick muscle she discovered beneath the crisp white shirt.
How had she not seen him standing there? The man was huge. Granted, she’d had her eyes closed for a second, but still.
She lifted her attention up to his face and their gazes collided. Now that she’d stepped out from beneath the palm tree, the bright light from the moon clearly lit up his features.
The breath hitched in her throat and she struggled to swallow. Good lord, he had to be the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on. And having worked at the resort for almost two months, she’d seen her share of attractive men.
He was tall compared to her petite frame, and her heart thumped madly in her chest. She was keenly aware of the strength in the hands that held her in a gentle, yet unyielding grip.
, are you all right?” His question was tinged with concern and spoken in a deep, accented voice that lifted the hairs on the back of her neck and made her breath catch.
Her mouth parted to form a response, but no words came out. She couldn’t drag her attention away from his chiseled face or resist studying the strong nose and sexy cleft in his chin.
Finally, she raised her head again to see his eyes. Eyes that were so dark they seemed almost black, but then perhaps that was just the deception of the night. His eyes bore into hers with a mix of concern and something else. Something impossibly hot and dangerous that sent a coil of heat through her body.
?” he murmured, stepping closer to her and causing any air left in her lungs to flee.
“I’m sorry,” she almost squeaked, completely thrown off-balance. “What was your question?”
The man’s mouth curled upward and his eyes crinkled a bit, and for some odd reason it surprised her. As if smiling was not something that this man did all that often.
His gaze swept down over her so thoroughly, she felt as if it had been his hands touching her instead of simply his stare. The wake of his inspection left gooseflesh on her skin and her cheeks warmed.
“Tell me your name,
,” he commanded.
. She spoke enough Spanish to get by waitressing at the resort, but even though she wracked her brain to place what sounded like an endearment, she came up blank. Her mind was beginning to go to mush anyway, with how he was looking at her and the intimate way he held her.
Really, why hadn’t he let her go yet—and more so, why wasn’t she asking him to?
Andrés was beginning to wonder if she would ever give him her name, when the woman murmured a soft, “Chloe.”
“Chloe,” he repeated, and traced his thumbs over the silky naked skin of her forearm. “A beautiful name for a beautiful woman.”
And an American. He had realized the moment she spoke. Was she a guest at his resort? Beneath his hands a small tremor moved through her body. She had the most succulent full lips, which were just slightly parted to draw in unsteady breaths. What would that mouth feel like beneath his?
She stared up at him, frozen like a doe trapped by a hunter, with round, soft brown eyes. But more than the fear in her stare, there was interest and an awareness of him. A very good sign.
Electricity seemed to snap through his body.
, but he could not have predicted this. He’d deliberately decided not to have Pablo seek her out and yet now here she was, in his arms.
Andrés drew in a controlled breath and moved a hand to her bare waist, pulling her closer and ignoring her startled gasp. “You were not on tonight’s agenda,” he murmured, moving his hand up to slide his fingers into her hair. Soft, like the most expensive silk, and with the scent of jasmine. “But I certainly won’t protest the change in plans.”
Her brows drew together in surprise, but before she could reply, he lowered his head and captured her mouth with his.
So soft and sweet, Chloe tasted of vanilla and innocence. She let out a distraught cry, the move opening her mouth just enough for him to discover the temptation inside.
Her hands, small and quick, came up to his chest, almost to push him away. But he changed his technique quickly and softened his mouth against hers, flicking his tongue in light, teasing movements instead.
A moment later she made a soft but revealing moan that signified her pleasure and surrender. She ceased in her efforts to push him away and instead gripped the white cotton of his pressed shirt.
Pure male triumph shot through him. He gathered her closer and angled his head to get deeper access to her mouth. Her breasts crushed against his chest, the now firm tips just further proof of her arousal.
Heat built between them, and an urgency that made him nearly forget where he was. Fueling him with the temptation to pull her down onto the sand on his beach and take her, no matter how many other guests might be wandering the night.
That’s what finally grounded him again. The realization at just how far gone he nearly was.
. From a simple kiss. A kiss that left him as dazed as a knock on the head.
Andrés pulled his mouth from hers, so discombobulated by his own reaction that he could barely appreciate the murmur of protest she made. But it soon registered, along with the passion-drugged look in her eyes when her lashes fluttered upward.
Ah, yes. She wanted him. Would likely accompany him to his room if he requested. But that would be something he never did. Bring a woman back to his room without knowing everything about her. Without having Pablo discuss the confidentiality contract.