Read The One That Got Away Online

Authors: Kelly Hunter

Tags: #Romance

The One That Got Away

BOOK: The One That Got Away
11.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The man who’s always left her wanting
more!

Good job?
Tick.
Newly purchased
apartment?
Tick.
Evie’s life is on a pretty even
keel at the moment. The only thing missing? A man with an edge to keep things
interesting.

Enter Logan Black. Tortured, distant and sexy, Logan has edge
written all over him. He’s also the man who tipped Evie over the edge a few
years back—she gave him everything, but he didn’t know when to stop taking.

Leaving Logan was the hardest thing Evie’s ever done. Until
now. Because Logan’s back, the chemistry is as blistering as ever and this time
he’s not going anywhere….

SNEAK PEEK EXCERPT FROM

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

“I like you, Logan, in case you hadn't noticed. Baggage and
all. It wouldn't be a hardship to spend another week with you. Might even be
fun.”

“As opposed to…”

“Intense, confusing and ultimately heartbreaking.
I'd like to think that we have enough experience between us now to keep those
elements out of play.”

“You don't like intense?”

“You're right. There's a lot to be said for
intensity. That one can stay.”

“You calling the shots now, Evie?”

“Only some of them. Feel free to voice your
requirements, too.”

“I want exclusivity,” he said.

“The feeling's mutual.”

“And freedom.”

“I'll do my freely exclusive best.”

“Obedience.”

“And sometimes you'll get it.” Evie edged closer,
elbows to the table—so much for manners. “You don't want to dominate me
completely, remember? Or am I wrong about that?”

“Just keep reminding me when I forget.”

Dear Reader,

When it comes to reading and writing romance, I like my heroines smart, my heroes hot, the settings interesting, the story engaging, the romance intense and I do like to have a laugh. Bonus points if the story makes me cry. Harlequin’s new KISS series promises all that and more—in short contemporary romance form. There will be four new KISS stories out each month, starting in February 2013, and I’m thrilled that
The One That Got Away
is part of the launch lineup.

The One That Got Away
is a reunion romance, of sorts. When Logan Black walked out on Evangeline Jones all those years ago he thought he was doing the right thing. He probably was. But now he’s back and Evie’s grown into a strong and confident woman who knows what she wants, and she has
never
stopped wanting Logan. All she has to do is persuade him to give her a second chance.…

I love reader feedback—you can find me online at
www.kellyhunter.net
.

Dear Harlequin KISS,

You look so fresh and shiny and new. I think I’m in love. Here’s to a wonderful writing life together and a whole lot of happily ever after.

XOX
Kelly Hunter

The One That
Got Away

Kelly Hunter

ABOUT KELLY HUNTER

Accidentally educated in the sciences, Kelly Hunter has always had a weakness for fairy tales, fantasy worlds and losing herself in a good book. Husband…yes. Children…two boys. Cooking and cleaning…sigh. Sports…no, not really—in spite of the best efforts of her family. Gardening…yes. Roses, of course. Kelly was born in Australia and has traveled extensively. Although she enjoys living and working in different parts of the world, she still calls Australia home.

Kelly’s novels
Sleeping Partner
and
Revealed: A Prince and a Pregnancy
were both finalists for the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award in the Best Contemporary Series Romance category!

Visit Kelly online at
www.kellyhunter.net
.

“Hunter manages yet again to pack a whole lot of characterization and emotion in a tiny space. She’s one of my new ‘must reads.’” —Amazon reviewer Kelli M. McBride

Did you know this and other titles by this author are also available as ebooks?
Visit
www.Harlequin.com
.

PROLOGUE

There were limits—but Logan couldn't remember what they were.

He lay on the bed, stripped-out and trembling, his body screaming out for oxygen and his brain not working at all. The woman splayed beneath him looked in no better condition. Boneless in the aftermath, just the occasional twitch to remind them that there was substance there, the shallow rise and fall of her chest that accompanied her breathing.

He looked to her skin; it had been flawless when he undressed her but it was flawless no more. There were marks on it now from his fingers and from the sandpapery skin of his jaw. Marks on her wrists and her waist and the silky-soft underside of
her
jaw.

He'd met her in a bar; that much he could remember. Some student hangout near the hotel he was staying at. This hotel. This was his room; he'd brought her back here. She'd given him her number but that hadn't been enough for him. The hotel nearby. He'd walked her back to it. Invited her back to his room.

And those golden eyes had seen straight through to his soul and she'd tilted her lips towards his and told him to take what he wanted, all he wanted, and more. And he'd done so and discovered himself utterly in thrall.

‘Hey,' he said gruffly, and reached out to drag his thumb across her stretched and swollen lips. Their last close encounter had been the wrong side of rough, and he felt the shame of it now, the black edge of guilt encroaching on the insane pleasure that had gone before. ‘You okay?'

She opened her eyes for him, and, yeah, she was okay. He smoothed her inky-black hair away from her face, tucked it behind her ear, combed it back from her temple. He couldn't stop touching her. Such a beautiful face.

He stroked her hair back, smoothed his hand over the curve of her shoulder. ‘Can I get you anything?' he offered. ‘Glass of water? Room service? Shower's yours if that's what you want.' Whatever she wanted, all she had to do was ask.

And she looked at him and her lips kicked up at the corners and she said, ‘Whatever you just did to me...whatever that was—I want more.'

ONE

‘You could marry me,’ said Max Carmichael as he stared
at the civic centre drawings on Evie’s drawing table. The drawings were his, and
very fine they were indeed. The calculations and costings were Evie’s doing, and
those costings were higher—far higher—than anything she’d ever worked on
before.

Evie stopped chewing over the financials long enough to spare
her business partner of six years a glance. Max was an architect, and a
visionary one at that. Evie was the engineer—wet blanket to Max’s more fanciful
notions. Put them together and good things happened.

Though not always. ‘Are you talking to me?’

‘Yes, I’m talking to you,’ said Max with what he clearly
thought was the patience of a saint. ‘I need access to my trust fund. To
get
access to my trust fund I either have to turn
thirty or get married. I don’t turn thirty for another two years.’

‘I have two questions for you, Max. Why me and why now?’

‘The “why you” question is easy: (a), I don’t love you and you
don’t love me—’

Evie studied him through narrowed eyes.

‘—which will make divorcing you in two years’ time a lot
easier. And (b), It’s in MEP’s best interest that you marry me.’ MEP stood for
Max and Evangeline Partnership, the construction company they’d formed six years
ago. ‘We’re going to need deep pockets for this one, Evie.’ Max tapped the plans
spread out before them.

She’d been telling him this for the past week. The civic centre
build was a gem of a project and Max’s latest obsession. High-profile,
progressive design brief, reputation-enhancing. But the project was situated on
the waterfront, which meant pier drilling and extensive foundation work, and MEP
would have to foot the bills until the first payment at the end of stage one.
‘This job’s too big for us, Max.’

‘You’re thinking too small.’

‘I’m thinking within our means.’ They were a small and nimble
company with a permanent staff of six, a reliable pool of good subcontractors,
and the business was on solid financial footing. If they landed the civic centre
job they’d need to expand the business in every respect. If they got caught with
a cash-flow problem, they’d be bankrupt within months. ‘We need ten million
dollars cash in reserve in order to take on this project, Max. I keep telling
you that.’

‘Marry me and we’ll have it.’

Evie blinked.

‘Shut your mouth, Evie,’ murmured Max, and Evie brought her
teeth together with a snap.

And opened them again just as quickly. ‘You have a
ten-million-dollar trust fund?’

‘Fifty.’

‘Fif— And you never thought to
mention
it?’

‘Yeah, well, it seemed a long way off.’

He didn’t
look
like a
fifty-million-dollar man. Tall, rangy frame, brown eyes and hair, casual
dresser, hard worker. Excellent architect. ‘Why do you even need to
work
?’

‘I
like
to work. I want this
project, Evie,’ he said with understated intensity. ‘I don’t want to wait ten
years for us to build the resources to take on a project this size. This is the
one.’

‘Maybe,’ she said cautiously. ‘But we started this business as
equal partners. What happens when you drop ten million dollars into kitty and I
put in none?’

‘We treat it as a loan. The money goes in at the beginning of
the job, buffers us against the unexpected and comes out again at the end. And
we’d need a pre-nup.’

‘Oh, the romance of it all,’ she murmured dryly.

‘So you’ll think about it?’

‘The money or the marriage?’

‘I’ve found that it helps a great deal to think about them
together,’ said Max. ‘What are you doing Friday?’

‘I am not marrying you on Friday,’ said Evie.

‘Of course not,’ said Max. ‘We have to wait for the paperwork.
I was thinking I could take my fiancée home to Melbourne to meet my mother on
Friday. We stay a couple of nights, put on a happy show, return Sunday and get
married some time next week. It’s a good solution, Evie. I’ve thought about it a
lot.’

‘Yeah, well, I haven’t thought about it at all.’

‘Take all day,’ said Max. ‘Take two.’

Evie just looked at him.

‘Okay, three.’

* * *

It took them a week to work through all the
ramifications, but eventually Evie said yes. There were provisos, of course.
They only went through with the wedding if MEP’s tender for the civic centre was
looking good. The marriage would end when Max turned thirty. They’d have to
share a house but there would be no sharing of beds. And no sex with anyone else
either.

Max had balked at that last stipulation.

Discretion regarding others had been his counter offer. Two
years was a long time, he’d argued. She didn’t want him all tense and surly for
the next two years, did she?

Evie did not, but the role of betrayed wife held little
appeal.

Eventually they had settled on
extreme
discretion regarding others, with a
two-hundred-thousand-dollar penalty clause for the innocent party every time an
extramarital affair became public.

‘If I were a cunning woman, I’d employ a handful of women to
throw themselves at you to the point where you couldn’t resist,’ said Evie as
they headed down to Circular Quay for lunch.

‘If you were that cunning I wouldn’t be marrying you,’ said Max
as they stepped from the shadow of a Sydney skyscraper into a sunny summer’s
day. ‘What do you want for lunch? Seafood?’

‘Yep. You don’t look like a man who’s about to inherit fifty
million dollars, by the way.’

‘How about now?’ Max stopped, lifted his chin, narrowed his
eyes and stared at the nearest skyscraper as if he were considering taking
ownership of it.

‘It’d help if your work boots weren’t a hundred years old,’ she
said gravely.

‘They’re comfortable.’

‘And your watch didn’t come from the two-dollar shop.’

‘It still tells the time. You know, you and my mother are going
to get on just fine,’ said Max. ‘That’s a useful quality in a wife.’

‘If you say so.’

‘Dear,’ said Max. ‘If you say so,
dear
.’

‘Oh, you poor, deluded man.’

Max grinned and stopped mid pavement. He drew Evie to his side,
held his phone out at arm’s length and took a picture.

‘Tell me about your family, again,’ she said.

‘Mother. Older brother. Assorted relatives. You’ll be meeting
them soon enough.’

She’d be meeting his mother this weekend; it was all arranged.
Max showed her the photo he’d just taken. ‘What do you reckon? Tell her
now?’

‘Yes.’ They’d had this discussion before. ‘Now would be
good.’

Max returned his attention to the phone, texting some kind of
message to go with the photo. ‘Done,’ he muttered. ‘Now I feel woozy.’

‘Probably hunger,’ said Evie.

‘Don’t you feel woozy?’

‘Not yet. For that to happen there would need to be
champagne.’

So when they got to the restaurant and ordered the seafood
platter for lunch, Max also ordered champagne, and they toasted the business,
the civic centre project and finally themselves.

‘How come it doesn’t bother you?’ asked Max, when the food was
gone and the first bottle of champagne had been replaced by another. ‘Marrying
for mercenary reasons?’

‘With my family history?’ she said. ‘It’s perfectly normal.’
Her father was on his fifth wife in as many decades; her mother was on her third
husband. She could count the love matches on one finger.

‘Haven’t you ever been in love?’ he asked.

‘Have you?’ Evie countered.

‘Not yet,’ said Max as he signed for the meal, and his answer
fitted him well enough. Max went through girlfriends aplenty. Most of them were
lovely. None of them lasted longer than a couple of months.

‘I was in love once,’ said Evie as she stood and came to the
rapid realisation that she wasn’t wholly sober any more. ‘Best week of my
life.’

‘What was he like?’

‘Tall, dark and perfect. He ruined me for all other men.’

‘Bastard.’

‘That too,’ said Evie with a wistful sigh. ‘I was very young.
He was very experienced. Worst week of my life.’

‘You said best.’

‘It was both,’ she said with solemn gravity, and then went and
spoiled it with a sloppy sucker’s grin. ‘Let’s just call it memorable. Did I
mention that he ruined me for all other men?’

‘Yes.’ Max put his hand to her elbow to steady her and steered
her towards the stairs and guided her down them, one by one, until they stood on
the pavement outside. ‘You’re tipsy.’

‘You’re right.’

‘How about we find a taxi and get you home? I promise to see
you inside, pour you a glass of water, find your aspirin and then find my way
home. Don’t say I’m not a good fiancé.’

‘Vitamin B,’ said Evie. ‘Find that too.’

Max’s phone beeped and he looked at it and grinned. ‘Logan
wants to know if you’re pregnant.’

‘Who’s Logan?’ Even the name was enough to cut through her
foggy senses and give her pause. The devil’s name had been Logan too. Logan
Black.

‘Logan’s my brother. He’s got a very weird sense of
humour.’

‘I hate him already.’

‘I’ll tell him no,’ said Max cheerfully.

Minutes later, Max’s phone beeped again. ‘He says
congratulations.’

* * *

It couldn’t be her. Logan looked at the image on his
phone again, at the photo Max had just sent through. Max looked happy, his wide
grin and the smile in his eyes telegraphing a pleasurable moment in time. But it
was the face of the bride-to-be that held and kept Logan’s attention. The glossy
fall of raven-black hair and the almond-shaped eyes—the tilt of them and the
burnt-butter colour. She reminded him of another woman...a woman he’d worked
hellishly hard to forget.

It wasn’t the same woman, of course. Max’s fiancée was far more
angular of face and her eyes weren’t quite the right shade of brown. Her mouth
was more sculpted, less vulnerable...but they were of a type. A little bit fey.
A whole lot of beautiful.

Entirely capable of stealing a man’s mind.

Logan hadn’t even known that Max was
in
a serious relationship, though, with the way Max’s trust was set
up and Max’s recent desire to get his hands on it, he should have suspected that
matrimony would be his younger half-brother’s next move.

Evie, Max had called her. Pretty name.

The woman he’d known had been called Angie.

Evie. Angie. Evangeline? What were the odds?

Logan studied the photo again, wishing the background weren’t
so bright and their faces weren’t quite so shadowed. The woman he’d known as
Angie had spent the best part of a week with him. In bed, on their way to bed,
in the shower after getting out of bed... She’d been young. Curious.
Frighteningly uninhibited. There’d been role play. Bondage play. Too much play,
and he’d instigated most of it. Crazy days and sweat-slicked nights and the
stripping back of his self-control until there’d been barely enough left to walk
away.

At a dead run.

He’d been twenty-five at the time, he was thirty-six now and he
doubted he’d fare any better with Angie now than he had all those years ago.

He squinted. Looked at the photo again.
Could
it be Angie? They were very long odds. He’d never kept in
contact with her; had no idea where she was in the world or what she was doing
now.

No, he decided for the second time in as many minutes. It
wasn’t her. It couldn’t be her.

‘She pregnant?’ he texted his brother.

‘Hell, no,’ came Max’s all-caps reply, and Logan grinned and
sent through his all-caps congratulations. And then deleted the picture so that
he wouldn’t keep staring at it and wondering what Angie—his Angie—would look
like now.

* * *

Evangeline Jones felt decidedly nervous as Max helped
her out of the taxi and followed her up the garden path to his mother’s front
door. It was one thing to agree to a marriage of convenience. It was another
thing altogether to play the love-smitten fiancée in front of Max’s family.

‘Whose idea was this?’ she muttered to Max as she stared at the
elegant two-storey Victorian in front of them. ‘And why did I ever imagine it
was a good one?’

‘Relax,’ said Max. ‘Even if my mother
doesn’t
believe we’re marrying for love, she won’t mention it.’

‘Maybe not to
you
,’ said Evie, and
then the door opened, and an elegantly dressed woman opened her arms and Max
stepped into them.

Max’s mother was everything a wealthy Toorak widow should be.
Coiffed to perfection, her grey-blonde hair was swept up in an elegant roll and
her make-up made her look ten years younger than she was. Her perfume was
subtle, her jewellery exquisite. Her hands were warm and dry and her kisses were
airy as she greeted Evie and then retreated a step to study her like a specimen
under glass.

‘Welcome to the family, Evangeline,’ said Caroline, and there
was no censure in that controlled and cultured voice. ‘Max has spoken of you
often over the years, though I don’t believe we’ve ever met.’

‘Different cities,’ said Evie awkwardly. ‘Please, call me Evie.
Max has mentioned you too.’

‘All good, I hope.’

‘Always,’ said Evie and Max together.

Points for harmony.

In truth, in the six years she’d known him, Max had barely
mentioned his mother other than to say she’d never been the maternal type and
that she set exceptionally high standards for everything; be it a manicure or
the behaviour of her husbands or her sons.

‘No engagement ring?’ queried Caroline with the lift of an
elegant eyebrow.

‘Ah, no,’ said Evie. ‘Not yet. There was so much choice I,
ah...couldn’t decide.’

‘Indeed,’ said Caroline, before turning to Max. ‘I can, of
course, make an appointment for you with
my
jeweller
this afternoon. I’m sure he’ll have something more than suitable. That way Evie
will have a ring on her finger when she attends the cocktail party I’m hosting
for the pair of you tonight.’

BOOK: The One That Got Away
11.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Halfway Bitten by Terry Maggert
14 Christmas Spirit by K.J. Emrick
You Bet Your Life by Jessica Fletcher
If the Ring Fits by Cindy Kirk
Los milagros del vino by Jesús Sánchez Adalid
Faith by John Love