Tag Archives: Romance Book Excerpt

Sweet Surrender by Lori Wilde – Excerpt

Sweet Surrender bookcover

Excerpt From Sweet Surrender
by Lori Wilde

Book Details:
Harlequin Books
Harlequin Blaze
September 2010
ISBN: 9780373795659
Contemporary Series

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Excerpt:

All work and no play makes Bianca a dull girl…or does it?

“From a marketing standpoint,” Bianca began, shifting uncomfortably on the plush chaise lounge.

Whenever she moved she felt the silky material of the Catch Me if You Can lingerie glide across her skin like warm water. The sensation was wholly erotic and quite frankly, unsettling. Over the ephemeral garment, she wore a gray, knee-length pencil skirt and a buttoned-up white cotton blouse with sensible gray pumps and pearls. Her hair was swept up in a sleek French twist, giving her what she hoped was an air of up-and-coming young executive on the go. “You have to decide if you’re selling celibacy or sex.”

She still couldn’t believe she was here. Bianca St. James–the woman who in high school was voted most likely to end up CEO of her own company, the woman who had written a mission statement for her life when she was a college freshman, the woman who’d spent the ensuing nine years throwing herself full tilt into her career–was sitting poolside with a near-naked man, a potent umbrella drink getting sweaty in her hand, at two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon in Rio de Janeiro.

It was a scenario for disaster and, after the previous summer, Bianca had learned her lesson. No summer fun in the sun while she was working–although technically it was winter in Brazil.

They were on the penthouse rooftop of a downtown Rio office building that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean. The place was straight out of Condé Nast Traveler. Sleek and ultra-modern in design, the stark-white open-air interiors possessed clean, smooth lines, while at the same time overtly whispering money, money, money. The roof was no different. Behind them stood a blue-and-white-striped cabana. A bowl of exotic fruits lay on the table between them. The ocean breeze caressed her skin and scattered the scent of the city over them–coffee beans and coconut oil and sea foam and sugar cane.

The pool was a long rectangle, the turquoise water coolly inviting on the warm June day. White chaise longues with cushions to match the water were strategically positioned on the exotic white stone of the pool area. Numerous large potted palms in decorative clay pots added a bit of greenery. A beautiful, dark-haired woman in a pink string bikini manned the mahogany bar a few feet away. The white marble wall behind her was mirrored, reflecting back at them the gleaming array of liquors in their colorful bottles– golden whiskey, pink vodka, blue curaao, deep-brown rum.

The swarthy man beside Bianca wore nothing more than a pair of darkly tinted sunglasses and swim trunks in a stunning color of azure that matched the peaceful sky overhead and accentuated his darkly tanned skin.

Although she’d met Senhor Santos several times before, it had always been in the buttoned-up offices of Stillman, Burke and Hollister, and Thomaz had been dressed in sleek Italian tailor-made suits that perfectly fitted his large muscular frame.

And she’d never been alone with him.

All traces of the civilized executive she thought she knew had disappeared, leaving nothing but pure, primal man. Here was the earthy playboy she’d heard so much about.

She’d never seen a face quite like this one. His angular cheekbones carved in sharp lines, he was dangerously handsome without a hint of softness. His hair was darker than an underground cavern and his body…oh, damn his body…she’d been avoiding looking at it ever since she’d taken the seat next to him. Trepidation bit at her with sharp teeth.

“In essence, Mr. Santos, you can’t row your boat in two directions at once,” Bianca went on, wondering if his eyes were open or closed on the other side of those expensive designer sunglasses.

She’d been here for a good five minutes and he hadn’t once budged from his lounging position, or given so much as a hint that he was even aware she was sitting beside him. But she refused to let it show that he unnerved her.

“I cannot speak of business while you are so uncomfortable,” Thomaz Santos said.

“I’m not uncomfortable,” Bianca denied.

She crossed her legs and pressed her knees together tightly. The provocative lingerie moved with her, rubbing gently against her bottom. She’d never in her life been so aware of an undergarment and it threw her off-kilter. What was the thing made of? It felt sensual, luxurious. Better question, why had she agreed to Izzy’s silly bet in the first place?

“Please, bonita, you are fooling no one but yourself. There is perspiration on your upper lip and you sit as if you have a steel rod thrust up your spine. Relax. Go pick out a swimsuit for yourself.” He waved at the rack of skimpy swimsuits parked nearby. She assumed it was inventory from his business. “Cool off in the pool.”

Bonita.

He’d just called her beautiful. It both pleased her and irritated her. “Mr. Santos,” she said waspishly, “let’s get something straight right up front.”

He smiled wryly. “And what is that?”

“In my country calling me beautiful at a business meeting could be construed as sexual harassment.” Not that this encounter was remotely like a business meeting. Dammit, she wished he’d take off those sunglasses so she could read what was going on in his eyes.

His smile deepened.

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Copyrighted Material. This excerpt was used by permission from either the author, publisher or authorized entity. Please do not copy or reproduce this material without express consent from the authorized copyright holder. Thank you.

Swept Aside by Sharon Sala – Excerpt

Swept Aside bookcover

Excerpt From Swept Aside
by Sharon Sala

Book Details:
MIRA Books
August 2010
ISBN: 0778328023
Contemporary

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Excerpt:

Sunday afternoon—Bordelaise, Louisiana

A storm was brewing, and Nick Aroyo could tell, even from inside the Bordelaise Police Department, that it was going to be a strong one. The day had begun with sunshine and a breeze, but for the past couple of hours the wind had continued to rise, until now it had elevated to a high-pitched whine that he could hear through the three-foot-thick concrete block walls of his jail cell.

For Nick, jail was the last damn place he needed to be, but getting arrested on a Friday night in Bordelaise, Louisiana, meant you awaited the judge’s pleasure when it came to a “prompt” arraignment, and for whatever reason, this time it wasn’t happening until Monday.

In his other life, away from the undercover world of the DEA, Sunday meant sleeping in, hot wings and watching football on TV. But there would be none of that today. The jailer had yet to pick up their food trays from lunch, and the cockroach crawling on top of his leftover macaroni and cheese was so damn big he was afraid to turn his back on it. As for sleeping, at four inches over six feet tall, there was no way Nick could get comfortable on a jail bunk. So he paced, thinking about the three other men he’d been running with for the past eight months and who’d been arrested with him, and trying not to think of the luxurious extra-long mattress back in his Miami condo. Even though he knew his mother was keeping an eye on his place, he was anxious to put this case behind him and go home.

There had been a time when he’d thrived on undercover work, but the older he got, the more he realized that real life was passing him by. He had yet to have one serious relationship survive his unexplained absences, and at thirty-six, his own biological clock was ticking. He wanted someone to come home to and a kid who called him Daddy.

Suddenly he became aware that the wind outside had changed to a roar and a siren was going off somewhere, and when something hit the roof of the jail with such force that he felt the vibration beneath his feet, he ducked. To his horror, seconds later the corner of the roof began to lift. Knowing he only had moments to take cover, he grabbed his mattress, hit the floor, then slid beneath the frame of his bunk, pulling the mattress in on top of him.

The sounds that followed were like something out of a nightmare. The air became a living, breathing banshee—screaming nonstop and ripping the roof and rafters from above him before sucking them up into its vortex.

He clutched the mattress against him, then closed his eyes as he began to be pelted by rain and f lying debris. Suddenly something hit the bottom of his boot with such force that his entire body slid a foot to the north.

Above the wind, he could hear a scream…

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Copyrighted Material. This excerpt was used by permission from either the author, publisher or authorized entity. Please do not copy or reproduce this material without express consent from the authorized copyright holder. Thank you.

Summer Pleasures by Nora Roberts – Excerpt

Summer Pleasures bookcover

Excerpt From Summer Pleasures
by Nora Roberts

Book Details:
Silhouette Books
Silhouette Special Releases
June 2007
ISBN: 0373285464
Contemporary Series

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Excerpt:

The week a magazine like Celebrity went to bed was utter chaos. Every department head was in a frenzy. Desks were littered, phones were tied up and lunches were skipped. The air was tinged with a sense of panic that built with every hour. Tempers grew short, demands outrageous. In most offices the lights burned late into the night. The rich scent of coffee and the sting of tobacco smoke were never absent. Rolls of antacids were consumed and bottles of eye drops constantly changed hands. After five years on staff, Lee took the monthly panic as a matter of course.

Celebrity was a slick, respected publication whose sales generated millions of dollars a year. In addition to stories on the rich and famous,it ran articles by eminent psychologists and journalists, interviews with both statesmen and rock stars. Its photography was first-class, just as its text was thoroughly researched and concisely written.Some of its detractors might have termed it quality gossip, but the word quality wasn’t forgotten.

An ad in Celebrity was a sure bet for generating sales and interest and was priced accordingly. Celebrity was, in a tough competitive business, one of the leading monthly publications in the country. Lee Radcliffe wouldn’t have settled for less.

‘How’d the piece on the sculptures turn out?’

Lee glanced up at Bryan Mitchell, one of the top photographers on the West Coast. Grateful, she accepted the cup of coffee Bryan passed her. In the past four days, she’d had a total of twenty hours sleep. ‘Good,’ she said simply.

‘I’ve seen better art scrawled in alleys.’

Though she privately agreed, Lee only shrugged. ‘Some people like the clunky and obscure.’

With a laugh, Bryan shook her head. ‘When they told me to photograph that red and black tangle of wire to its best advantage, I nearly asked them to shut off the lights.’

‘You made it look almost mystical.’

‘I can make a junkyard look mystical with the right lighting.’She shot Lee a grin.’The same way you can make it sound fascinating.’

A smile touched Lee’s mouth but her mind was veering off in a dozen other directions. ‘All in a day’s work, right?’

‘Speaking of which?’ Bryan rested one slim jean?clad hip on Lee’s organized desk, drinking her own coffee black. ‘Still trying to dig something up on Hunter Brown?’

A frown drew Lee’s elegant brows together. Hunter Brown was becoming her personal quest and almost an obsession. Perhaps because he was so completely inaccessible, she’d become determined to be the first to break through the cloud of mystery. It had taken her nearly five years to earn her title as staff reporter, and she had a reputation for being tenacious, thorough and cool. Lee knew she’d earned those adjectives. Three months of hitting blank walls in researching Hunter Brown didn’t deter her. One way or the other, she was going to get the story.

‘So far I haven’t gotten beyond his agent’s name and his editor’s phone number.’ There might’ve been a hint of frustration in her tone, but her expression was determined.’I’ve never known people so closemouthed.’

‘His latest book hit the stands last week.’ Absently, Bryan picked up the top sheet from one of the tidy piles of papers Lee was systematically dealing with. ‘Have you read it?’

‘I picked it up, but I haven’t had a chance to start it yet.’ Bryan tossed back the long honey?colored braid that fell over her shoulder. ‘Don’t start it on a dark night.’ She sipped at her coffee, then gave a laugh. ‘God, I ended up sleeping with every light in the apartment burning. I don’t know how he does it.’

Lee glanced up again, her eyes calm and confident. ‘That’s one of the things I’m going to find out.’

Bryan nodded. She’d known Lee for three years, and she didn’t doubt Lee would. ‘Why?’ Her frank, almond?shaped eyes rested on Lee’s. ‘Because?’ Lee finished off her coffee and tossed the empty cup into her overflowing wastebasket ‘?no one else has.’

‘The Mount Everest syndrome,’ Bryan commented, and earned a rare, spontaneous grin.

A quick glance would have shown two attractive women in casual conversation in a modern, attractively decorated office. A closer look would have uncovered the contrasts. Bryan, in jeans and a snug T?shirt, was completely relaxed. Everything about her was casual and not quite tidy, from her smudged sneakers to the loose braid. Her sharp?featured, arresting face was touched only with a hasty dab of mascara. She’d probably meant to add lipstick or blusher and then forgotten.

Lee, on the other hand, wore a very elegant ice?blue suit, and the nerves that gave her her drive were evident in the hands that were never quite still. Her hair was expertly cut in a short swinging style that took very little care?which was every bit as important to her as having it look good. Its shade fell somewhere between copper and gold. Her skin was the delicate, milky white some redheads bless and others curse. Her makeup had been meticulously applied that morning, down to the dusky blue shadow that matched her eyes. She had delicate, elegant features offset by a full and obviously stubborn mouth.

The two women had entirely different styles and entirely different tastes but oddly enough, their friendship had begun the moment they’d met. Though Bryan didn’t always like Lee’s aggressive tactics and Lee didn’t always approve of Bryan’s laidback approach, their closeness hadn’t wavered in three years. ‘So.’ Bryan found the candy bar she’d stuck in her jeans pocket and proceeded to unwrap it.’What’s your master plan?’

‘To keep digging,’ Lee returned almost grimly. ‘I do have a couple of connections at Horizon, his publishing house. Maybe one of them’ll come through with something.’ Without being fully aware of it, she drummed her fingers on the desk. ‘Damn it, Bryan, he’s like the man who wasn’t there. I can’t even find out what state he lives in.’

‘I’m half inclined to believe some of the rumors,’ Bryan said thoughtfully. Outside Lee’s office someone was having hysterics over the final editing of an article. ‘I’d say the guy lives in a cave somewhere, full of bats with a couple of stray wolves thrown in.He probably writes the original manuscript in sheep’s blood.’

‘And sacrifices virgins every new moon.’

‘I wouldn’t be surprised.’ Bryan swung her feet lazily while she munched on her chocolate bar.’I tell you the man’s weird.’

Silent Scream‘s already on the bestseller list.’

‘I didn’t say he wasn’t brilliant,’ Bryan countered, ‘I said he was weird. What kind of a mind does he have?’ She shook her head with a half?sheepish smile.’I can tell you I wished I’d never heard of Hunter Brown last night while I was trying to sleep with my eyes open.’

‘That’s just it.’ Impatient, Lee rose and paced to the tiny window on the east wall. She wasn’t looking out; the view of Los Angeles didn’t interest her. She just had to move around.

‘What kind of mind does he have? What kind of life does he live?

Is he married? Is he sixty?five or twenty?five? Why does he write novels about the supernatural?’ She turned, her impatience and her annoyance showing beneath the surface of the sophisticated grooming. ‘Why did you read his book?’

‘Because it was fascinating,’ Bryan answered immediately.

‘Because by the time I was on page 3, I was so into it you couldn’t have gotten the book away from me with a crowbar.’

‘And you’re an intelligent woman.’

‘Damn right,’ Bryan agreed and grinned. ‘So?’

‘Why do intelligent people buy and read something that’s going to terrify them?’ Lee demanded. ‘When you pick up a Hunter Brown, you know what it’s going to do to you, yet his books consistently spring to the top of the bestseller list and stay there. Why does an obviously intelligent man write books like that?’ She began, in a habit Bryan recognized, to fiddle with whatever was at hand?the leaves of a philodendron, the stub of a pencil, the left earring she’d removed during a phone conversation.

‘Do I hear a hint of disapproval?’

‘Yeah, maybe.’ Frowning, Lee looked up again. ‘The man is probably the best colorist in the country. If he’s describing a room in an old house, you can smell the dust. His characterizations are so real you’d swear you’d met the people in his books. And he uses that talent to write about things that go bump in the night. I want to find out why.’

Bryan crumpled her candy wrapper into a ball. ‘I know a woman who has one of the sharpest, most analytical minds I’ve ever come across. She has a talent for digging up obscure facts, some of them impossibly dry, and turning them into intriguing stories. She’s ambitious, has a remarkable talent for words, but works on a magazine and lets a half?finished novel sit abandoned in a drawer. She’s lovely, but she rarely dates for any purpose other than business. And she has a habit of twisting paper clips into ungodly shapes while she’s talking.’

Lee glanced down at the small mangled piece of metal in her hands, then met Bryan’s eyes coolly. ‘Do you know why?’

There was a hint of humor in Bryan’s eyes, but her tone was serious enough. ‘I’ve tried to figure it out for three years, but I can’t precisely put my finger on it.’

With a smile, Lee tossed the bent paper clip into the trash. ‘But then, you’re not a reporter.’

Because she wasn’t very good at taking advice, Lee switched on her bedside lamp, stretched out and opened Hunter Brown’s latest novel. She would read a chapter or two, she decided, then make it an early night. An early night was an almost sinful luxury after the week she’d put in at Celebrity.

Her bedroom was done in creamy ivories and shades of blue from the palest aqua to indigo. She’d indulged herself here, with dozens of plump throw pillows, a huge Turkish rug and a Queen Anne stand that held an urn filled with peacock feathers and eucalyptus. Her latest acquisition, a large ficus tree, sat by the window and thrived.

She considered this room the only truly private spot in her life. As a reporter, Lee accepted that she was public property as much as the people she sought out. Privacy wasn’t something she could cling to when she constantly dug into other people’s lives. But in this little corner of the world, she could relax completely, forget there was work to do, ladders to climb. She could pretend L.A. wasn’t bustling outside, as long as she had this oasis of peace. Without it, without the hours she spent sleeping and unwinding there, she knew she’d overload.

Knowing herself well, Lee understood that she had a tendency to push too hard, run too fast. In the quiet of her bedroom she could recharge herself each night so that she’d be ready for the race again the following day.

Relaxed, she opened Hunter Brown’s latest effort.

Within a half hour, Lee was disturbed, uncomfortable and completely engrossed. She’d have been angry with the author for drawing her in if she hadn’t been so busy turning pages. he’d put an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation and done it with such skill that Lee was already relating to the teacher who’d found himself caught up in a small town with a dark secret.

The prose flowed and the dialogue was so natural she could hear the voices. He filled the town with so many recognizable things, she could have sworn she’d been there herself. She knew the story was going to give her more than one bad moment in the dark, but she had to go on. That was the magic of a major storyteller. Cursing him, she read on, so tense that when the phone rang beside her, the book flew out of her hands. Lee swore again, at herself, and lifted the receiver.

Her annoyance at being disturbed didn’t last. Grabbing a pencil, she began to scrawl on the pad beside the phone. With her tongue caught between her teeth, she set down the pencil and smiled. She owed the contact in New York an enormous favor, but she’d pay off when the time came, as she always did. For now, Lee thought, running her hand over Hunter’s book, she had to make arrangements to attend a small writers’ conference in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Copyright © Nora Roberts

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Copyrighted Material. This excerpt was used by permission from either the author, publisher or authorized entity. Please do not copy or reproduce this material without express consent from the authorized copyright holder. Thank you.

Scarlet Woman by Shelley Munro – Excerpt

Scarlet Woman bookcover

Excerpt From Scarlet Woman
by Shelley Munro

Book Details:
Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
November 2005
ISBN: 1419903128
Erotic Romance

Buy Scarlet Woman now!

Excerpt:

He heard a door open and shut down at the other end of the house. At least some of his brothers were home. The click of claws on the wooden floor sent alarm skidding down his spine. He tensed. The truth might come out sooner than he liked.

Emily sighed against his chest. ‘I should ring Maggie. She’s probably frantic.’ The thought of speaking with Maggie rubbed away some of the gloss. They would argue—she sensed it. Maggie would probably sulk and ignore her for weeks. Yeah, she should ring right now and get it over with. But she didn’t want to move. Saber warmed her through. A generous lover, he tempted her to commit the ultimate folly. A bit silly of her, considering her experience with Michael. A sliver of fear worked through her at the thought.

To trust again. To lay her heart down and become vulnerable.

‘She’ll know you’re with me.’

And she was probably having a cow because Emily wasn’t acting the grieving widow. Not for the first time, Emily wondered if she’d made a mistake in trying to protect the family from Michael’s shortcomings. They had given him saint status, and already Maggie was questioning her right to date again or go out for a night of fun after only six months of being a widow. Emily grimaced. ‘She’s probably guessed since we both disappeared.’

The seductive idea of staying formed in her mind. A week or two in the fresh country air. No, she thought. Treasure this one perfect night. Nothing stays the same. Save the heartache. Go home and start over.

The bedroom door creaked. When Emily turned her head, a huge black cat pushed the door open and prowled into the bedroom. Emily froze, her mouth dropping open in shock. The cat halted just inside the door.

‘Out,’ Saber snapped.

The cat mewed, sat on its haunches and fixed them with a haughty stare. The door flew open again and another cat stalked into the bedroom to sit beside the first.

Saber reached out and snagged the sheet off the floor. He covered her naked limbs before turning his attention to the cats. ‘Out.’

‘Um, big kitties,’ Emily said in understatement. Her voice trembled more than she liked. There really were panthers?

Hurried footsteps sounded outside the bedroom and one of Saber’s brothers burst into the bedroom.

‘Anyone else waiting out there to come in?’ Saber demanded with a note of impatience.

‘The local cop car is heading up the driveway,’ Joe said.

At his words, the two black cats raced from the room. Strange. It was almost as if they had understood. In the distance, she heard the peal of the doorbell.

A hand seized Joe by the scruff of the neck and hauled him out of the room. Felix stuck his head into the bedroom. Emily tugged the sheet up to her chin, very aware of her nakedness beneath the sheet and Saber’s erection pressing against her leg.

‘I’ll deal with Allan.’ A brief smirk tugged at Felix’s lips before he disappeared, pulling the door shut.

‘Sorry about that,’ Saber murmured. ‘They’re used to walking in whenever. I don’t usually…’

It made her feel good to know he didn’t have a procession of women in and out of his bedroom. Special. ‘Um, about the cats—’

‘I ‘m not leaving until I see with my own eyes,’ a furious voice shouted.

‘Oh, damn.’ Emily frantically sought a place to hide. Wardrobe. No time. Damn. Under the bed. Emily half-slipped out of the bed before she realized that drawers filled the gap between the mattress and the floor. Footsteps thumped closer. Just as the door opened, she tugged the sheet Saber had retrieved from the floor over her head and shut her eyes. Maybe Maggie would go away?

‘What have you done with my friend? Where is she?’ Maggie demanded.

‘I haven’t done anything with her.’ Saber’s voice held a hint of amused arrogance.

That wasn’t true, Emily thought, chewing on her bottom lip. Each time she moved, she felt the pull of well-used muscles. And his erection pressing against her had woken her libido so much that she wanted him again. Her pulse hummed in sexual awareness. But he’d done more than make love to her. He’d changed the way she thought about herself. The words Michael had screamed at her weren’t true. She was capable of attracting a man. And keeping his attention.

‘She’s in that bed with you, isn’t she?’ Maggie snapped. ‘I ‘m not stupid. I can see there are two bodies in that bed.’

‘I love an intelligent woman,’ one of Saber’s brothers said.

‘Me too,’ another agreed. ‘A brain is a sexy thing. I think I might be falling in love,’ he added in a dramatic tone.

‘Oh, shut up!’ Maggie snarled in a very Michael-like growl. Emily trembled, knowing in her gut that her friend was going to hate her when she found out. Maybe she’d just go away? Please let her go away.

The sheet was yanked off the bed, leaving them both visible. Emily gasped in shock and tried to make herself small. Saber calmly replaced the sheet and tucked it around them.

Sly walked up to Maggie, trying to divert her. ‘Why don’t we discuss this over coffee? Let Saber and Jo get dressed.’

‘I’ll be out in the kitchen,’ the policeman said. ‘Doesn’t look like a crime scene to me.’

Color surged to Emily’s cheeks and seeped down to her chest. One perfect night of passion. That’s all she’d wanted. But even that had gone awry, turning into a fiasco of gigantic and embarrassing proportions. It took two hands to count the number of people who had seen her naked this morning.

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Copyrighted Material. This excerpt was used by permission from either the author, publisher or authorized entity. Please do not copy or reproduce this material without express consent from the authorized copyright holder. Thank you.

Summer in the City of Sails by Shelley Munro – Excerpt

Summer in the City of Sails bookcover

Excerpt From Summer in the City of Sails
by Shelley Munro

Book Details:
Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
March 2005
ISBN: 1419952544
Erotic Romance

Buy Summer in the City of Sails now!

Excerpt:

A noise woke Summer. One moment she was dreaming of playing rugby with the All Blacks and the next her eyes sprang open, the fine hairs on her arms prickling in silent alarm. She froze, exhaling slowly while she listened.

There it was again?a muted sound that could be a footstep. Summer slid from bed, knowing she’d have to investigate or she’d never get any sleep.

Voices whispered down the passage outside her room. Summer froze. A light flashed briefly then shut off.

“Must be in one of the bedrooms.”

The guttural whisper snapped Summer to attention. She crept noiselessly toward the window. The shutter clicked as she opened it. Loud enough that she froze again.

“I’ll check in this room and the bathroom. You take the other two rooms.”

“What about the girl?”

“You heard the boss. Do whatever’s necessary to get the goods.”

“Right.”

Two of them. That didn’t sound good. Healthy fear made Summer spring to action. She shoved the window open wide, no longer worrying about attracting attention. Footsteps sounded right outside her door. The door handle grated as it turned. Summer slithered out the window feet first. The sill dug into her stomach while her feet dangled two feet above Uncle Henry’s prized rose garden. Not the best position to be in, but not as bad as being accosted by strange men in the middle of the night. Summer wriggled further over the windowsill and let go.

Rose thorns sliced at her calves, her thighs. Summer bit her bottom lip. Shit! That hurt. Well that would teach her to wear a skimpy nightgown to bed rather than the flannelette pajamas her mother had packed. She extricated herself from the grip of Tom Thumb, Uncle Henry’s favorite rosebush, and limped toward Nikolai’s house. Pique made her grimace and think in curses. Just her luck. Her first night alone, and she needed help. A great start to her bid for independence.

“She’s not here.”

Summer glanced over her shoulder and once again cursed her nightgown. The pale material stuck out like a Jersey bull in her mother’s vegetable garden.

“She must be here.”

Summer changed direction. She’d have to go around the back of Nikolai’s house. She stepped up onto the verandah and almost fell through a broken board. Damn and blast.

“The window’s open. Look out in the garden.” The intruders’ voices carried on the night air.

An open window beckoned, the sheer net curtains fluttering in the soft breeze. The voices moved closer, and Summer didn’t hesitate. She dived through the window.

Something tackled her, sending her flying. Summer landed on her back in the middle of a mattress. The air hissed from her lungs as someone pinned her in place.

“Don’t move,” a harsh voice said next to her ear. A hand moved down her arm and across her chest, freezing when it came into contact with her breast. This time, the succinct Anglo-Saxon curse didn’t raise so much as an eyebrow. The body pressing her into the bed moved, but not enough for her to draw a good lungful of air. A bedside lamp switched on. She blinked at the surge of bright light.

“You.” Nikolai glared down at her. “What the devil are you doing in my bedroom?”

Summer swallowed. His hand was warm, and she felt her nipple hardening under his touch. Humiliation at her body’s betrayal made her tense even as she savored the spike of sensation.

“Um…would you mind taking your hand off my breast?” The way her nipple was cozying into his palm?talk about a newsflash. Being this close to the man was unnerving, especially since he was the enemy. She refused to think about how good it would feel if he rearranged their bodies a fraction. Nope. She wasn’t going there.

The furrow between his brows deepened. “Isn’t that what you’re here for?”

The innuendo made Summer stiffen even more. “Someone’s broken into Uncle Henry’s house.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” To Summer’s intense relief, Nikolai moved off her. “Have you rung the police?”

“No. I…” Summer’s voice trailed off as she took in the broad expanse of his naked chest. Oops, naked all over. Her gaze jumped northward again, but the vision of masculinity remained seared to her retinas. He looked so much better without clothes.

Nikolai rolled his eyes with the same masculine impatience her brothers exhibited when they thought she was acting blonde. “Never mind. Get in bed and stay warm. I’ll take care of things.”

He yanked on a pair of jeans and limped from the room before she could tell him what she thought of his verbal pat on the head. No way was she staying in his bed and missing out on the fun. She sprang from the mattress. This was more adventure than she’d ever imagined, and it was only her second day in Auckland.

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Copyrighted Material. This excerpt was used by permission from either the author, publisher or authorized entity. Please do not copy or reproduce this material without express consent from the authorized copyright holder. Thank you.