A World She Doesn't Belong To (Harlequin Presents Extra Series #206)

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Overview

Laura Talbot can't believe she's even considering Kyros Spyridis's outrageous proposal—although he is her late twin sister's husband. Yet for reasons she daren't admit, the shy, innocent Laura is tempted by Kyros's dangerous proposition.…

Kyros needs Laura to act as his wife and keep the lies about his disastrous marriage going—just for one more week.

Having lived all her life in her sister's shadow, will the ...

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Overview

Laura Talbot can't believe she's even considering Kyros Spyridis's outrageous proposal—although he is her late twin sister's husband. Yet for reasons she daren't admit, the shy, innocent Laura is tempted by Kyros's dangerous proposition.…

Kyros needs Laura to act as his wife and keep the lies about his disastrous marriage going—just for one more week.

Having lived all her life in her sister's shadow, will the "good" twin finally be able to step into her own light—even if it leads straight to Kyros's bed?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373528745
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Series: Harlequin Presents Extra Series , #206
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Natasha Tate's romantic side has its roots in childhood. As an army brat and perennial new kid, she consumed a romance book a day, hiding them within her textbooks. This habit persisted into college, despite her more academic pursuits, equipping her with the know-how to tame her own alpha male hero. Now that she's married and an author for Harlequin, she lives her dream of crafting fairytale romances set in modern-day, larger-than-life settings. Visit her at www.NatashaTate.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Ten months was too damned long to go without a woman.

That was the only explanation Kyros Spyridis could think of to rationalize his reaction to his wife's presence in the New York Medical Examiner's office. It certainly wasn't the setting. Sterile white and beige, underscored with medicine, astringent and the scent of dirty snow, was no aphrodisiac. And it couldn't have been the discovery that Lana was still miraculously alive after her accident.

No.

He wouldn't lie to himself about that. Not when the news of her death had triggered an undeniable flash of relief.

His bride hadn't even waited six weeks after their son's birth before she was trolling for a new party, a new lover, and a new way to spend the money marriage to him provided. Given her self-absorbed commitment to fun, it had been hard to muster any degree of grief at all.

Perhaps it was because he'd already suspected the truth. Lana was like a cat. She always landed on her feet: sleek, unruffled and unrepentant, no matter the circumstances.

The fact that she'd survived the explosion without a scratch didn't surprise him.

What did surprise him, though, was his body's leaping response to her obvious health.

He did not want to be attracted to the woman he'd married. Anger rose to augment the heat of his arousal, fueled by the thought of her most recent infidelity. His jaw flexed as he stared at Lana's profile. If she and her lover had suffered such a fatal accident, then why was she here, looking so glaringly intact? And why the hell was he here, dragged halfway around the world when she wasn't even hurt?

Irritated by his response to her, by the coil of warmth gathering in his groin, he studied her as she stood beneath the harsh white lights, trying to divine what, exactly, had set off the surge of attraction he hadn't felt since the first time he'd seen her.

He'd been drunk that fateful night nearly a year ago, in the mood to celebrate his latest merger and too inebriated to see beyond the gorgeous package to the conniving little gold digger lurking beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, by the time he'd figured out his error of judgment, it had been too late. The damage had already been done.

He still couldn't figure out how it had happened. Even when he was drunk, he never forgot protection. But the DNA test Kyros had demanded proved Lana right: she was pregnant with his son, leaving him with only one choice to differentiate himself from the man who'd fathered him.

One choice to keep his grandmother's faith in him intact.

Giagid had never blamed him for the death of his mother or the sins of his amoral father; she'd loved him, supported him and raised him to be a man of honor despite his flawed genetics.

He'd die before he proved her wrong.

So he'd married the spoiled, manipulative American. Without a word of complaint, he'd endured nine months of marital misery with a woman he couldn't abide.

Granted, Lana was as beautiful as she'd always been, an enchanting blend of blue-eyed minx and ballerina, with upswept sable hair and a pale blush of pink lending color to her cheeks. But he was no longer fooled by the exterior trappings of the woman he'd married. The subtle underpinnings of passion that simmered beneath her innocent smiles, beckoning men like a siren's song, didn't work on him, either. He was immune to her charms. He was, damn it all.

He watched her in silence as he drew near, suppressing his sexual awareness with a brutal force of will. Think of Titus, he ordered himself. Think of what a wretched mother she is to your son.

For some reason, the admonitions didn't work.

Narrowing his eyes, he catalogued her fragile, bowed posture with a grim frown. With her delicate body wrapped in a wool coat the color of weak tea, he was surprised to discover she'd traded out her usual flashy style for a conservative skirt and heels. Something was different, he realized, as he drew to a stop a few meters away. He'd never seen his wife look so…small.

Perhaps it was the brush with death that had changed her.

No. He dismissed the thought without further internal debate. Lana would never be introspective enough to learn or grow from the experience of an accident that had left her unscathed. If anything, she'd have been annoyed that the party aboard her lover's yacht had been interrupted by an inconvenient engine explosion.

Lana must have sensed his presence because she turned to face him, inhaling sharply while her slender hand flew up to press against her throat.

Kyros froze, the startling juxtaposition of what he read in Lana's face and what he'd expected to find making his gut twist. What game was she playing now? And why did her expression look so stricken and raw?

If he didn't know better, he'd think Lana was consumed by a debilitating grief, her composure hanging on by a mere thread.

He gave himself a mental shake. Lana? Grieving? Impossible.

Lana didn't care about anything or anyone enough to grieve.

But then why.?

Fingers of unease gripped the base of his spine as Kyros fought the irrational urge to gather his wife close, to kiss the sorrow from her quivering mouth and murmur reassurances into the delicate shell of her ear.

He cleared his throat and remained where he stood, suddenly aware of how constricting his suit and tie felt. "What's going on here?" he asked with a scowl.

Her clear eyes, glimmering with a disconcerting blend of innocence and tears, widened. "You don't know?" she asked in a thin, tremulous voice.

Kyros had thought himself incapable of being surprised, least of all by Lana. But the fact that her statement communicated confusion instead of its typical haughty dismissal astonished him.

Irritated, he growled, "I don't have time to travel halfway around the world to clean up yet another of your accidents.'''

"Another of my…?" she stammered, looking nothing like the entitled socialite who spent more on spa treatments than most companies made in a year. Her brow furrowed before she gasped softly and then raised her palm to her chest. "Oh, no. You don't understand. I'm not—"

"I'm not interested," he interrupted as he stepped toward her and reached for her elbow. Spinning her toward the exit, he marched her forward. "I have a business to run and employees to oversee. You're alive and I'm taking you home. Now."

"No!" Lana blurted, yanking her arm free before they'd made it ten steps. She cupped a hand around her elbow and looked up at him with the wide eyes of a troubled ingenue. "You don't understand! I'm not who you think I am."

He flicked an irritated glance at her face. "Don't be ridiculous," he said, even as her scent, an unfamiliar blend of innocence and allure she'd surely paid a fortune of his money to have blended, threatened to turn the blood in his veins to steam.

"I'm not," she insisted, her eyes suddenly awash with nervousness and something dangerously close to sympathy. Her tongue stole out to dampen the delectable seam of her mouth. "I'm Laura. Lana's twin."

"Right," he said in a clipped tone as he glared down at his wife, "the orphan I married, the woman who swore she was all alone in the world, suddenly has an identical twin. Convenient, don't you think?"

A flicker of hurt clouded her features, but she quickly hid it with a swift blink of her blue eyes. "Lana said that?"

"No. You said that."

"I didn't," she said, while the beat of her pulse fluttered visibly at the base of her throat. "I'm not Lana."

Against his volition, his attention shifted to trace the gentle curve of her cheek and the scattering of freckles atop the bridge of her nose. Her pink mouth trembled beneath his gaze, sending a torrent of unwanted desire coursing through him. Unnerved and feeling horrifically off-kilter, he watched as a delicate blush rose to stain Lana's skin. "You're lying," he ground out.

"I don't lie." A frown gathered between her dark brows. "Ever."

The claim was so outrageous that he laughed. It was a low and scratchy sound, one he made far too infrequently. "All you ever do is lie," he accused as he stepped closer. Towering over her, trying to intimidate her into telling the truth for once in her wretched, selfish, little life, he waited until her indignant frown wavered into a trembling line of nervousness.

"I'm…I'm not lying." Emotion flashed behind her clear gaze of sea blue, but it vanished before he could catalogue it properly. "Lana might have, but I wouldn't. I swear."

He narrowed his eyes. Was that a hint of confused vulnerability he'd read in her expression? His fists clenched as he brushed the irrational thought aside. Lana was about as vulnerable as a viper, and he'd be smart to remember it. He'd be even smarter if he could make his body remember it. "Don't think I'll believe you just because you've decided to reinvent yourself. Again."

Lana swallowed, drawing his gaze to the delicate column of her white throat. "I don't blame you for doubting me. Lana did have a tendency to…get creative at times." The slight breathlessness in her delivery made it sound as if she were as disturbed by their proximity as he. "But this is not one of those times. I promise."

Determined to regain control of his unwieldy libido, he stood his ground and waited for her to back down, hoping she'd react to his nearness the way she always did. He needed her to be impatient with his interference, to remind him that this unwelcome fascination was an aberration unworthy of his attention.

Instead, she merely waited, her breath shallow and her blue eyes carefully searching his. The overhead lights glinted on the tips of her eyelashes and fired her sleek brunette hair with glimmers of mahogany and wine. His fingers itched to reach for her, to drag her up and kiss her lush mouth back into its perpetual pout.

No.

Lana was a spoiled, manipulative harpy who deserved nothing beyond his cold disdain.

He lifted his wrist to check his watch. "I don't have time for this. We're leaving. And you're coming with me."

"No."

"Yes. We have Christmas on the island in three days," he reminded her, "and it appears you need a refresher course on how to play the role of my obedient, besotted wife."

"I told you. I'm not your wife. Lana is. Was," she corrected.

Anger coiled deep in his gut. "Don't think this little game of yours will excuse you from the holidays with Giagid," he said on a flare of nostril. "We made a deal, remember?"

"I never made any deal with you," she insisted, stumbling backward to create more space between them while nervousness pulled at her mouth.

Too irritated to tolerate her stalling tactics, he reached for her while she shrank back in obvious fear.

Fear? What the hell did she have to be afraid of? "Knock it off," he told her as he gripped her upper arms. "I don't believe you, so you may as well stop the act," he said as he fought the urge to shake the truth from her.

Her hands flew up between them, and the press of her small fingers against his chest sent sharp spikes of awareness along his nerve endings. "It's not an act!" she protested.

Dumbfounded at his reaction to her small body twisting against his hands, he tried to stem the tide of explicit images crowding his brain while his groin tightened in eager readiness. He imagined her pressed flush against the sterile white wall, her skirt rucked up and her panties ripped aside. He saw her blushing torso bared to his hungry gaze, the tidy line of buttons on her uncharacteristically prim brown suit torn asunder. He wanted to bite the tips of her pink-and-ivory breasts, to trace her fragile lattice of rib with his fingers and tongue. He ached to spread her slim thighs and plunder her slick folds with his mouth until she panted and screamed and clutched at his hair with both hands.

"Go look at her," she begged while an edge of panic colored her voice. "Please. See for yourself."

He yanked his hands free and shoved aside his arousal with a surge of self-disgust. He would not allow her to manipulate him again. "What'd you do, seduce some sap into creating a convincing scene for you?"

"What?" she gasped.

Studying her impassioned features, he battled the thread of doubt that threatened his conviction. It wasn't like Lana to allow her emotions to get the best of her. But it wasn't like her to ignore the details, either. Lana could exploit any situation to her advantage, and he'd be a fool to forget it. "I wouldn't put anything past you, Lana."

"I told you!" she said while her blue eyes glittered with distress. "I am not Lana!"

"So you keep saying," he said in condemnation, taking note of the way emotion had painted the crests of her cheek a heated pink. "And I must admit, the blush is especially convincing."

The pink deepened to red while she opened her brown handbag and started rummaging. "I can prove it to you."

"Anything you pull out of that bag could have been bought," he informed her. "With my money."

She stopped her rummaging and gaped up at him. "Are you always this callous?"

Kyros cocked a sardonic brow. "Considering the hell you've put me through this year, I'd say I'm being remarkably pleasant about the fact that you're still alive."

Her sharp inhale rent the air. "How can you say such a horrible thing about your wife, the woman you loved?"

"I never loved you, and you damn well know it."

"You never…?" she repeated, managing to look both shocked and horrified. "Why on earth would you marry Lana if you didn't love her?"

Enraged by the time he was wasting here, arguing with a woman who'd woven an entire life out of deception, he reached for her arm and wrenched her toward the hospital room she'd vacated. "Enough!" he barked as he marched her back down the hall. "If I have to look at the so-called remains of my wife to get you to abandon this ridiculous story of yours, I'll look. But once I have, we're leaving without another word of protest from you. Understood?"

Yanking the green curtain aside, he strode toward the metal table and jerked the white sheet back from the body laid out upon its dull aluminum surface.

A dizzying sense of vertigo threatened his balance and weakened his legs as he stared down at the battered face and limbs he'd have recognized anywhere.

Theos.

Lana did have a twin.

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  • Posted July 3, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I sat down and started reading this book and couldn't put it dow

    I sat down and started reading this book and couldn't put it down. Both characters, though flawed, were likeable and it was an easy quick read.

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