On the heels of learning Friday that the third book in this series has been accepted (look for it in June) I'll post another snippet from this, the second book.
See the first sample, the opening pages, here. This comes right after that, switching from Gideon's point of view to Adara's.
I'll try to keep this up the next few weeks, but I can't promise. I have to go out of town for the day job and I have a rather heavy deadline Nov 1st.
~ * ~
Adara averted her gaze from the end of the drive where the sun was glancing off her rented car and piercing straight into her eyes.
The grounds of this estate were an infinitely more beautiful place to look anyway. Groomed lawn gently rolled into vineyards and a white sand beach gleamed below. The dew was off the grass, the air moving hotly up from the water with a tang of salt on it. Everything was brilliant and elevating.
Perhaps that was just her frame of mind, but it was a refreshing change from depression and anxiety and rejection. She paused to savor the first optimistic moment she’d had in weeks. Looking out on the horizon where Mediterranean blue met cloudless sky, she sighed in contentment. She hadn’t felt so relaxed since... Since ever. Early childhood maybe. Very early childhood.
And it wouldn’t last. A sick ache opened in her belly as she remembered Gideon. And his PA.
Not yet, she reminded herself. This week was hers. She was stealing it for herself and her brother. If he returned. The gardener had said a few days, but Adara’s research had put Nico on this island all week so he obviously changed his schedule rapidly. Hopefully he’d return as suddenly as he’d left.
Just call him, she cajoled herself, but after this many years she wasn’t sure he’d know who she was or want to hear from her. He’d never picked up the telephone himself. If he refused to speak to her, well, a throb of hurt pulsed in her throat as she contemplated that. She swallowed it back. She just wanted to see him, look into his eyes and learn why he’d never come home or spoken to her or her younger brothers again.
Another cleansing breath, but this one a little more troubled as she turned toward her car again. She was crestfallen Nico wasn’t here, not that she’d meant to come like this to his house, first thing on arrival, but her room at the hotel hadn’t been ready. On impulse she’d decided to at least find the estate and then the gates had been open and she’d been drawn in. Now she had to wait—
“Loverboy not home?”
The familiar male voice stopped her heart and jerked her gaze up from the chevron pattern in the cobblestones to the magnificence that was her husband. Swift, fierce attraction sliced through her, sharp and disarming as always.
Not a day passed that she didn’t wonder how she’d landed such a smoking hot man. He was shamelessly handsome, his features even and just hard enough to be undeniably masculine. He rarely smiled, but he didn’t have to charm when his sophistication and intelligence commanded such respect. The sheer physical presence of him quieted a room. She always thought of him as a purebred stallion, outwardly still and disciplined, but with an invisible energy and power that warned he could explode any second.
Don’t overlook resourceful, she thought acridly. How else had he turned up half a world from where she’d thought he would be when she’d taken pains to keep her whereabouts strictly confidential?
Fortunately, Adara had a lot of experience hiding visceral reactions like instant animal attraction and guilty alarm. She kept her sunglasses on and willed her pulse to slow, keeping her limbs loose and her body language unreadable.
“What are you doing here?” she asked with a composed lift of her chin. “Lexi said you would be in Chile.” Lexi’s tone still grated, so proprietary over Gideon’s schedule, so pitying as she had looked upon the ignorant wife who not only failed as a woman biologically, but no longer interested her husband sexually. Adara had wanted to erase the woman’s superior smile with a swipe of her manicured nails.
“Let’s turn that question around, shall we?” Gideon strolled with deadly negligence around the front of her car.
Adara had never been afraid of him, not physically, not like she had been of her father, but somewhere along the line Gideon had developed the power to hurt her with a look or a word, without even trying, and that scared her. She steeled herself against him, but her nerves fried with the urge to flee.
She made herself stand her ground and find the reliable armor of civility she’d grown as self-defense long ago. It had always served her well in her dealings with this man, allowing her to engage with him even intimately without losing herself. Still, she wanted higher, thicker invisible walls. Her reasons for coming to Greece were too private to share, carrying as they did such a heavy risk of rejection. That’s why she hadn’t told him or anyone else where she was going. Having him turn up like this put her on edge, internally wind-milling her arms as she tried to hang on to unaffected nonchalance.
“I’m here on personal business,” she said in a dismissive tone that didn’t invite discussion.
He, in turn, should have given her his polite nod of acknowledgment that always drove home how supremely indifferent he was to what happened in her world. It might hurt a little, but far better to have her trials and triumphs disregarded than dissected and diminished.
While she, as was her habit, wouldn’t bother repeating a question he had ignored, even though she really did want to know how and why he’d followed her.
No use changing tactics now, she thought. With a little adherence to form they could end this relationship as dispassionately as they’d started it.
That gave her quite a pang and oddly, even though his body language was as neutral as always, and his expression remained impassive as he squinted against the brightness of the day, she again had the sense of that coiled force drawing tighter inside him. When he spoke, his words were even, yet she sensed an underlying ferocity.
“I can see how personal it is. Who is he?”
~ * ~
More Than A Convenient Marriage is available for pre-order on Harlequin.com. It’s a 2-in-1 with No Longer Forbidden? so good value.