I'll Stand by You (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #324)

I'll Stand by You (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #324)

4.8 7
by Wayne Jordan
     
 

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Will he be her happily ever after?

On leave from her job as a firefighter, Eboni Wynter is on a quest to reunite with her three long-lost sisters. She isn't looking for romance…until she meets her off-the-charts-sexy neighbor. A major player on the Manhattan singles scene, real estate mogul Darren Grayson arouses a deep passion in Eboni.

Darren

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Overview

Will he be her happily ever after?

On leave from her job as a firefighter, Eboni Wynter is on a quest to reunite with her three long-lost sisters. She isn't looking for romance…until she meets her off-the-charts-sexy neighbor. A major player on the Manhattan singles scene, real estate mogul Darren Grayson arouses a deep passion in Eboni.

Darren has never met anyone quite like Eboni. He'll do whatever it takes to win her heart…if she'll let him. But sooner or later, Eboni's bound to discover the truth about Darren's past, and his secret may come between them. Or will they discover the courage to stay together and find their own perfect ending?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...the kind of happy ending readers will appreciate"
-RT Reviews on SAVED BY HER EMBRACE

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373862993
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
02/19/2013
Series:
Harlequin Kimani Romance Series, #324
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.40(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

He was downright gorgeous. No, he was more than gorgeous.

Inside, the phone rang, but she refused to move. She just wanted to feast her eyes on the hunk that was stepping out of the complex's swimming pool.

She groaned in disappointment. He wasn't wearing the tight Speedo she'd anticipated. Instead, he wore loose-fitting boxer shorts that revealed very little.

However, her eyes immediately lowered to that telltale bulge noticeable through his soaked shorts. She giggled softly.

And then, the unexpected happened. The man slipped out of the shorts and tossed them onto a pool chair. He stretched his hands in the air, and Eboni closely observed his very fitted swim trunks.

She gasped.

Lord, have mercy. He was loaded.

She could not breathe. All she could imagine was the pleasure that he was capable of giving her.

There was an air of confidence in the way he stood, as if he knew he looked fine. There was no one at the pool, but she had no doubt that if there were people there he would have dropped the shorts with the same nonchalance as he did now.

And then he hooked his fingers in the waistband of the trunks and…stopped.

He looked in her direction and it was only then that she realized that she had gasped a second time, and he had heard.

His fingers hovered at his waist, the smile on his face blatant, daring and flirtatious.

Time stood still for a flicker of a moment, but in that moment something sparked between them.

Darren glanced up and saw the woman who lived in the condo adjacent to the one he used when he stayed nights in the city. While he owned the complex, he'd not met with her personally. His office manager had completed the sale.

She'd moved in a few weeks ago. Though she wasn't his usual type, soft and delicate, there was something about her that intrigued him. Her youthful innocence made him feel…old.

The women he usually dated were drop-dead gorgeous. Actually, all the women he was usually seen with were beautiful, but she was different. While their beauty came from a bottle or a plastic surgeon, hers appeared natural and seductive.

When he'd arrived home from work an hour ago and realized there was no one in the pool, he'd decided to take a dip. He didn't do it too often, but on nights like these, when the high-school girls who miraculously appeared whenever he went into the pool were nowhere in sight, it was safe.

He'd taken notice of his neighbor from the moment she'd appeared from behind the curtains of the glass door that led to her balcony just above the pool.

The fact that she'd been watching him furtively stroked his male pride.

On several occasions, he'd planned on walking over to her and introducing himself, but he'd decided against it. To say that he wanted her was an understatement, but wanting her didn't mean he had to have her. He prided himself on his self-control, which he'd perfected to a fine art.

His fingers were poised at the waistband of his trunks. He felt daring. At this time of night, people rarely came to the pool. He continued to stare at his neighbor and then he flicked his trunks downward.

The shock across her face was priceless. Of course, her retreating back was all he could see before he dived into the water.

Pervert! That's what he was. Eboni could feel the heat against her face.

The nerve of that man! He had no shame, no respect for the other tenants in the complex.

But the thought of him naked made her feel all tingly. How was she ever going to face him again?

She turned back, moving to the curtains and closing the door to the balcony before he saw her again. She glanced downward and realized he was focused on swimming lap after lap.

At the same time she forced herself to move, the phone rang. She wondered who it was, but then remembered. It was probably one of her brothers, checking in.

She'd only moved into the complex three weeks ago, but already her overprotective brothers were driving her crazy. She loved them, all three of them, but sometimes they took their assumed roles as her protectors a bit too seriously.

She could look back at some of their antics as humorous, but since she'd moved out of their parents' home she'd expected things to change. They had changed. Now, instead of being around all the time, her brothers made sure they dropped by every free moment they had available.

She picked up the phone. It was Maxwell, her older brother. "Hi," she said.

"Is everything all right?" he asked.

"As all right as it was yesterday when Omar called."

He ignored her comment, and continued, "You need to give Mom a call. She said that she hasn't heard from you for a few days."

"Okay, I'll give her a call," she replied abruptly. "I have to go. We'll talk later."

Before he could object, she ended the call.

She lowered herself to the couch. After such a pleasant sighting, she had to deal with this…again.

She'd hoped that her brothers would start seeing her for the independent woman she was, but their constant need to protect her was wearing thin. She'd attempted to have a serious talk with them on a few occasions, but somehow the words seemed to enter one ear and go out the other.

She glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. Fortunately, the club was just a five-minute walk, so she'd still get there on time.

While she'd been granted leave from her full-time position as a firefighter, her classes at the fitness center, where she taught part-time, were still going on. She needed the exercise and distraction to help her deal with the loss of one of her colleagues several weeks ago.

She headed to the bedroom, hoping that a good workout with her upcoming class would clear her troubled mind.

Eboni shuffled the bags in her hand as she attempted to balance the large one. She walked slowly toward her apartment door—the hallway seemed longer than usual. She should have followed her original plan. Making two trips would have taken longer, but it would have been easier.

After what seemed like hours, she arrived at the door, the packages still balanced precariously.

She bent, put the packages down and then fumbled in the pockets of her jeans for the keys to the door.

She entered her home, placing the keys on the table before she returned to retrieve the packages. But when she turned to step back into the apartment, she slammed into the door, not realizing it had closed behind her.

She placed the bags down and turned the door knob, and it didn't open.

An expletive she rarely used slipped with ease from her lips.

She'd locked herself out!

She fished into her pocket for the keys, hoping they were there, but remembered she'd placed them on the table beyond the door.

What the hell was she going to do?

The only spare key was at her parents' home, but to call them—or her brothers—was not an option. She'd have to go to the management company's office.

But how on earth was she going to do that, if her car keys were on her key chain?

Frustration got the best of her and she kicked one of the bags, the contents scattering across the hallway.

She watched as a can of beans rolled along the floor, slowing before it stopped between a pair of legs.

Her eyes shifted upward.

It was him.

He smiled, that lazy, probing smile that sent shivers down her spine…and farther.

"You could crawl between my legs to get it," he offered.

She snorted in disgust.

"It'll be much easier for you to move," she replied, her voice laced with sarcasm.

He laughed. "Isn't anything I say going to faze you?" he asked.

"I'm sure that nothing you say will ever faze me."

"Only what I do?" he teased again. She blushed.

"I'm not impressed by perverts."

"Pervert? Me? I was just having a bit of fun."

"That's not what I call fun. Seeing your…" she spluttered, unable to finish what she was going to say.

"So what I do doesn't upset you, huh?" he teased, his laughter loud and hearty.

She did not respond. He picked up the can, and stepped toward her. She felt the urge to step back, but didn't. She couldn't let him see her discomfort.

When he reached her, he handed her the can. She took it cautiously.

Their fingers touched. A bolt of heat scorched her body.

Their eyes met, each probing the other. She was the first to look away, his gaze too intense. "How can I help you?" he asked, his voice low and concerned.

"I'm fine," she replied.

"So why are you standing out here kicking your belongings around? Let's put our very memorable introduction aside and start over."

Again, she did not respond, but she did notice the mockery was gone.

"I locked myself out," she finally responded. "My keys are inside."

"Spare?"

"At my parents'."

"I could take you there to get it, but the building manager's office is just a few blocks away. You could go there. I'm sure they will have a spare."

"My car keys are on the same bunch," she acknowledged. She was sure that by now he was thinking that she was quite foolish.

"I'll take you," he said.

Though she was skeptical, she knew she had no choice.

"Thanks for offering."

He seemed surprised at her response, but he quickly regained his composure.

"Come, the office is not too far. It won't take us long to get there."

"Thanks again."

He smiled briefly and turned to leave. She followed.

Outside, she followed him to a steel-blue Ferrari.

The fit was perfect. He looked like the Ferrari type—daring and adventurous with a bit of arrogance.

He opened the door for her, waiting until she was seated and comfortable. Not that she could ever feel comfortable around him.

Closing the door, he circled the car and took his seat. Soon, they were on the street.

"I don't know your name," he said, breaking the silence. "I'm Darren Grayson."

"I'm Eboni Wynter."

She waited for the laughter or a smile, but when neither came she relaxed. Her name had often become the butt of most people's jokes.

"Well, Ms. Wynter, it's a pleasure to finally meet you. I noticed you only moved in a few weeks ago. I hope you can forgive me for my little indiscretion the other night."

"It didn't bother me much," she lied.

"Sure," he said. "If that's the way you want to deal with it."

Before she could respond, he pulled the car to the entrance of the manager's office.

"I'll wait here for you, so I don't need to park."

He searched in his pocket and pulled his wallet out, tossing her a few bills. "I suspect you're going to have to pay some sort of inconvenience fee for the lockout," he said.

She hesitated, but took the money anyway. She didn't have a choice, but being indebted to anyone wasn't a good feeling.

"And here is my ID. Just let them know I'm vouching for you. I've been living in the complex for a while, so they know me."

"Thanks," she replied, taking the card. "I'll be sure to pay you back."

"A few dollars won't leave me broke. It's not every day that I get to help a damsel in distress."

She stepped from the car, glad to be away from the stifling confines and the close proximity to Darren.

She proceeded into the building and in five minutes she was out again, his twenty-dollar loan in the office's coffers.

When he saw her, he smiled, a smile she'd already grown accustomed to. The smile was in keeping with his witty, laid-back personality.

She opened the door and stepped into the car, showing him the key she'd had to purchase.

"Good, you had enough money."

She nodded, handing him the bills she'd not used.

"I don't know how to thank you."

"A home-cooked meal would be fine," he replied, laughter in his eyes.

"Sure," she responded casually. She didn't think he was serious anyway.

"So what about tonight?" he asked.

She turned her head to face him as he started the car and pulled onto the street.

"You're serious?" she asked.

"Of course I am. Why would you think I'm not?"

"Don't know. Maybe it's the way you said it."

"The way I said it?"

She paused, trying to find the right words.

"Cat got your tongue?" he teased.

"I'm generally not at a loss for words, but you seem to have this strange effect on me," she admitted.

"I do seem to have an effect on women," he replied. There was no trace of pride or arrogance in his voice. He'd said it with the confidence of a man who knew who he was and didn't need to boast.

"So, how about dinner? If you can't cook, that's fine. You can order pizza. I don't want you for your cooking. Just your body."

She stared at him, not sure if he was being serious or poking fun at her. But his eyes twinkled and he laughed.

His smile disappeared when he noticed her serious expression.

"I'm sorry. I know I can be annoying at times," he admitted. "But I do want to have dinner with you. Just dinner," he repeated.

When he stepped into her condo fifteen minutes later, she could tell that he was impressed by what he saw.

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From the Publisher
...the kind of happy ending readers will appreciate"

-RT Reviews on SAVED BY HER EMBRACE

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