Bargain Called Marriage (Silhouette Special Edition #1839) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Feisty tomboy Samantha Hopewell wasn't the marrying kind—and neither was her handsome new housemate, Italian speedboat driver

Niccolò Verdini. But when the sexy, oh-so- charming playboy was nearly killed in an accident, Sam reluctantly found herself playing nursemaid until her mother's infamous godson recovered.

Nic couldn't deny his attraction to his beautiful caregiver, nor could he ignore the buried emotions she stirred. When an unexpected...

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Bargain Called Marriage (Silhouette Special Edition #1839)

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Overview


Feisty tomboy Samantha Hopewell wasn't the marrying kind—and neither was her handsome new housemate, Italian speedboat driver

Niccolò Verdini. But when the sexy, oh-so- charming playboy was nearly killed in an accident, Sam reluctantly found herself playing nursemaid until her mother's infamous godson recovered.

Nic couldn't deny his attraction to his beautiful caregiver, nor could he ignore the buried emotions she stirred. When an unexpected medical diagnosis gave Sam only a short time to get pregnant and have the child she'd always dreamed of, Nic volunteered for the job. Would their marriage, born of necessity, help them find the love and family they'd always wanted?


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426803116
  • Publisher: Silhouette
  • Publication date: 7/1/2007
  • Series: Silhouette Special Edition Series , #1839
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 710,886
  • File size: 185 KB

Meet the Author


Kate Welsh lives her own happily-ever-after in the Philadelphia suburbs, with her husband of over thirty years, her daughter, their one-hundred-pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever Ecko, and Kali, the family cat. Kate loves hearing from readers, who can reach her on the internet at kate_welsh@verizon.net


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Read an Excerpt

Niccolò Verdini watched with appreciative eyes as Shanté Lincoln gathered his things together and put them in his suitcase. Her café au lait skin glowed against the crisp white of her nurse's uniform. The intricate weaving and beading in her hair fascinated him, too. The arrangement caught the light from the window and sparkled like a thousand jewels. Cleopatra would have been jealous of the lovely Shanté.
Nic grinned at her when she glanced his way, and a telltale blush warmed her cheeks. He liked women. He liked talking to them. He liked touching them, holding them and making love to them. He liked every variety, size and nationality. He just didn't trust them with more than the physical—the temporary.
Right then he wished he could trust one of the many women he knew. Because thinking about the future and the haunting memory of the boat accident—of those minutes when Jake and he had struggled to free him from the wreckage—scared him out of his mind. He could still remember with perfect clarity the moment he'd surrendered to the water surrounding him.
He'd fought it for what had felt like a lifetime, his lungs burning in desperate need of oxygen. He'd fought it not because he'd feared death, but because, as his life had flashed across his mind, he hadn't liked what he'd seen.
Frankly, there had been nothing of value to see. Just a tortured childhood, a university degree he had no intention of ever using and day after meaningless day he'd spent since he'd earned it. He'd left home to join a racing team so he could see the world and escape the strangling demands of his father. But the years spent since that day, living forthe moment, now felt wasted. Maybe because he'd realized he would be leaving nothing of value behind.
Nic had been more than mildly surprised that all the hard living he'd done had added up to an empty, wasted life. And now that a quick-thinking rescue crew and two well-trained paramedics had handed him a second chance, all he saw ahead was more of the same.
"You all ready to go, Niccolò ?" Shanté Lincoln, R.N., asked at his side, thankfully dragging him back from his dark thoughts.
Nic smiled at her, took her hand and kissed it. "I will miss you most of all, cara," he said quietly holding her gaze. "You have been a great comfort to me." "You are such a player," she said with a chuckle.
"You wound me," Nic declared, grinning now. All through this last week she'd lightened his spirits with her streetwise spunk, her keen intelligence and her quick-witted repartee. He would truly miss her.
"Niccolò , you'll be flirting on your deathbed," said his padrina, his godmother, from the doorway.
Nic tilted his head and grinned at her. "I should hope so. It is my mission to brighten the day of each and every lovely lady I encounter in my lifetime."
Zia Juliana chuckled and walked the rest of the way into his room. He had not seen her in almost a year since her oldest daughter's wedding and she was as beautiful as ever. "We'll take it from here, dear," Zia told the nurse. "I have his instructions from the surgeon and his prescriptions. Is he ready to leave?"
"All set," Shanté said. "I just have to load Casanova here into a wheelchair and he'll be on his way. Bring your car around to the lobby and he's all yours at the curb."
"I left a friend waiting there with the van." Shanté nodded. "Okay then.You work hard in therapy, and you'll be back behind the wheel—or whatever you call it—in no time. Why you'd want to go back for more of this I still don't get, but it's all on you now."
Nic nodded solemnly as her dark eyes stared into his. She knew about the times he woke reliving the crash. That same fear flooded his entire being now. He wasn't sure he wanted to return to racing or if he'd ever gain enough use of his arm to be able to control a craft again, but what else did he have? He had only his racing. Nic looked away and back to Zia Juliana, remembering one of the regrets he'd had as the seconds under the water ticked by. "I didn't ask before. I was afraid of the answer I suppose. How did Nonna take the news of the accident?"
Juliana and Shanté traded looks. "Exactly as you'd expect. Your grandmother had seen the news footage so she was frantic. Your father is concerned, too, but I imagine you don't want to hear about that."
Nic's mood darkened even more. "You are wise as well as beautiful. I hope I am not causing you too much of a problem by recuperating at Hopewell Manor."
"The subject is closed," Juliana said deliberately. He sighed. "Make that beautiful and stubborn. And since I cannot convince you to let me leave on my own, perhaps we should get this torture over with and be on our way."
And it was torture. His muscles pulled on his injured shoulder when he moved his head even slightly. And the minor sprain to his ankle made maneuvering much more difficult and tiring. Between the pain medication he was still on and exhaustion, Nic slept the entire four hour trip to Hopetown.
It was actually the sudden lack of motion that roused him. He yawned and peered out the window toward the sun as it dipped behind a profusion of leafy green trees and majestic pines. And there before him in the rosy, evening glow stood the beautiful brick and stone mansion that was Hopewell Manor.
When he'd first arrived there last summer for the wedding of Zia Juliana's oldest daughter, Caroline, Nic had been impressed by the home of his padrina. But not because it was one of the oldest or grandest homes he'd seen since arriving in America one year earlier. He was sure he'd been in one that was older and a few that were grander but none so warm and welcoming. Zia Juliana had imbued her home with a generous, homey spirit in spite of its many priceless antiques and its place on America's historical homes register.
"Here we are," Zia Juliana said when Will Reiger opened the driver-side door. The older man slid to the ground and walked around the front of the SUV to open both passenger doors.
"Zia Juliana, your home is wonderful," Nic said, planning to make one last bid for the independence he'd spent years attaining. "But my being here will most certainly be an imposition. It would be just as easy for me to stay at that quaint little hotel in Hopetown. Room service could see to my needs and you could visit me once or twice a week. Everything I need would be close at hand and you would have no need to fuss over me."
Juliana stepped out of the vehicle and faced him, her gaze sharpening. "Are you trying to insult me?"
Nic felt his face heat. Abby, the youngest daughter, had told him on the phone that her mother could be formidable and now he saw she had been right. "No. Of course not. But—"
"But nothing. You don't like it when I fuss over you?"
"Of course I do. It is not that. I have no wish to be a bother to your whole family."
"You're my godson. You are family. Not by blood, but by heart. Because of distance and circumstances, I was never able to be there for you as I should have been after your mother was killed. Now I can do more than write letters. And I'd like to think our home will offer what a hotel can't. Love. Family. I know that family means little to you other than your grandmother but, at Hopewell Manor, family is everything."
From the letters he'd received over the years from Zia Juliana, Nic knew that was true. As if on instinct, Nic sought what he had never had, the comfort of family warmth. He found himself easing out of the van to the ground and painfully following his godmother to a side entrance of welcoming Hopewell Manor. Though his head swam and his shoulder and arm throbbed, a feeling of peace enveloped him as they entered a large kitchen. There was a welcoming, Tuscan flair to the room that reminded him of Nonna and her home.
Maybe here family means more than being controlled, belittled and badgered.
From somewhere within the house came the delighted squeal of a child. Then, still laughing, the whirling dervish named Jamie tore through the foyer at the end of the hall leading out of the kitchen. His footsteps thundered upward on the sweeping staircase. Nic followed Juliana into the elegant foyer just as Samantha, the diminutive firebrand he'd tangled with at the wedding, arrived there in hot pursuit of her nephew.
"Jamie, I'm not kidding around here. Give it back! You had yours. I'm gonna catch up to you sooner or later. If you took even a bite—Oh!"
A teasing grin frozen on her lips, Samantha's captivating hazel eyes widened and she stopped dead when she saw them standing at the entrance to the foyer. Her gaze ping-ponged from him to her mother. Her cheeks were flushed and strands of her sun-kissed, wheat-colored hair escaped a tight ponytail at the back of her head.
"Mama, you're back!" She took a deep breath. "Abby and I made up the blue room for Niccolò . I know the bedroom's smaller, but that room has the private bath with the shower stall and the sitting room. Trey was home early so he ran cable to a television in there." She paused and brushed at the hair falling onto her cheek.
"Oh, and we changed the linens to make the rooms more masculine." She paused in her discourse, her gaze avoiding Nic's. "Well, actually, Abby did the decorating stuff," she added with a self-deprecating chuckle. "I was just the muscle until Trey showed up. We knew you wanted Niccolò to feel welcome."
Because as far as you are concerned, I'm not welcome here at all.
Nic had no illusions about her opinion of him. He'd heard that loud and clear, though she'd sounded perfectly pleasant about the arrangements she and her sister had made in their mother's absence. Still, he knew Samantha was furious that he'd invaded her home.
And that was all his fault.
Had he not had a good many glasses of the vineyard's excellent wine at the wedding reception last year, he might not have let Griffin Westerly talk him into that reverse striptease he'd performed on Samantha with the garter. The kiss he could blame on nothing but a shameful lack of self-control. Unfortunately, he had done what he had done and now he would have to live with the consequences of his actions. He had thought she would be over her pique by now, but that appeared not to be the case.
"I appreciate every bit of effort your arrangements for my stay have cost you," he said, hoping to charm her.
"I apologize for any trouble my arrival caused and for the time you had to spend away from your work in the vineyard and at the winery."
Samantha narrowed her eyes as if trying to find something in what he'd said to be annoyed about. Then, as if giving up for he was not worth the effort, Samantha shrugged. "Whatever. Pardon me while I track down my property."
"Jamie!" she shouted in no particular direction whatsoever. "That candy bar better be intact when I catch up to you." Her voice faded as she turned out of the foyer and down the hall he'd just limped along.
"I apologize, Niccolò . Samantha is—" his godmother began.
Nic held up his hand. "One of a kind," he quipped and realized it was true as a helpless smile took over his lips. He finally understood his attraction to someone so different from the women of his acquaintance. It wasn't attraction, per se. It was…curiosity. She was so different from the women he'd known that he could scarcely imagine what made her tick. He nearly sighed aloud in relief. Curiosity was so much safer than attraction, considering his connection to her mother.
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