Rescued by the Millionaire (Harlequin Romance Series #4412)

Rescued by the Millionaire (Harlequin Romance Series #4412)

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by Cara Colter
     
 

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Wanted: A second pair of hands! 

Daniel Riverton is handsome…and a confirmed bachelor. The only thing he finds more frightening than commitment? Children! 

When his neighbor Trixie Marsh appeals for his help with her mischievous twin nieces, his instinct is to steer clear. But there's something about Trixie that makes her hard to say

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Overview

Wanted: A second pair of hands! 

Daniel Riverton is handsome…and a confirmed bachelor. The only thing he finds more frightening than commitment? Children! 

When his neighbor Trixie Marsh appeals for his help with her mischievous twin nieces, his instinct is to steer clear. But there's something about Trixie that makes her hard to say no to…. 

Against all expectations, Daniel's a natural with the twins, and Trixie can't take her eyes off her rescuer. Could Daniel be just what this house of chaos needs?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781460325728
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
02/01/2014
Series:
Harlequin Romance Series , #4412
Sold by:
HARLEQUIN
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
295,862
File size:
0 MB

Read an Excerpt

The pitter-patter of little feet.

Daniel Riverton lay on the sofa contemplating that saying with utter dislike. It seemed to him he had always heard that expression spoken with affection, usually by his mother who seemed to hold out the hope, despite all the evidence to the contrary-and her considerable contribution to his cynicism about romance- that he was going to provide her with grandchildren someday.

His mother. Twenty-two text messages today. Who on earth had taught her to text, anyway?

Urgent. Please call. Are you avoiding me?

At least the pitter-patter of little feet was providing something of a distraction from that. But obviously that expression would never be used with affection by anyone who had tried living below apartment 602 Harrington Place for the past four days.

Obviously that expression would never be used, period, by anyone being subjected to the actual pitter-patter of little feet. At three in the morning, when the owners of said little feet should be in bed, fast asleep.

As far as Daniel could tell, the owners of said little feet had woken up at about the same time he was getting home from a long, productive and wonderfully challenging day of avoiding his mother's phone calls and looking after business at his company, River's Edge Enterprises. Today, he had put in fourteen hours, had a light dinner with friends and come home just wanting the most simple of pleasures: a good night's sleep.

At two in the morning he had moved from his bedroom after it had become evident the little monsters from upstairs were jumping on a bed located somewhere directly above his head.

But the pitter-patter of little feet had followed him. For the past hour they had been running in a frantic, tight circle right above his new location on the sofa. The light fixture above him-Swarovski, apparently-was trembling and shuddering ominously.

The condominium manager, Mrs. Bulittle, had been unsympathetic about his complaints.

"Yes, Mr. Riverton, it is an adult only building, but people are allowed to have children visit."

This said as if he, Daniel, the victim of the pitter-pattering, was the nuisance, as if he had said children shouldn't be allowed in the world, not asked for the right to quiet enjoyment in his own premises, heavy emphasis on the quiet.

Temporary premises, thank goodness. The Harrington was an older building, surrounded with lilacs, rather than the more modern aesthetic for landscaping. Still, it had a sought-after southwest Calgary location right on the edge of lower Mount Royal.

The circa 1970 apartments had been converted to condos. Despite Kevin's extravagant upgrades to this unit, it was more than evident no one had given soundproofing a thought back in the good old days.

Was it even possible to soundproof against such an onslaught?

While he was feeling annoyed with expressions, Daniel decided to add "never look a gift horse in the mouth" to his list. Three in the morning was a great time to compile lists of trivial sayings and to look gift horses in the mouth.

It had seemed serendipitous when his best friend Kevin Wilson, owner of 502, had been going overseas on a photography assignment for three months at the very same time Daniel's own premises-a very upscale loft conversion that was completely soundproof-was undergoing a major renovation.

At the very same time he was going into hiding from his mother.

He owned the building. His loft apartment was right above his business, and he was the only person who lived in the building, a fact he would be a great deal more grateful for when he returned to it.

He'd been talked into the renovation when he'd been seeing an interior designer, Angelica. He'd already known they weren't going anywhere as a couple, and so had she. They both had extraordinarily demanding professional lives-the pitter-patter of little feet not even a blip on either of their radars-but he had liked the bachelor chic of her design, a design notably lacking a Swarovski crystal chandelier.

The renovation had now outlasted the relationship by several weeks. The breakup had been amiable, as were most of his breakups.

When he had complained to the manager about the noise in 602 for the third time, Mrs. Bulittle had sniffed and said, "It's not as if Mr. Wilson hasn't had a noisy party or two."

Daniel was pretty sure he'd heard the slightest touch of smugness in her voice, which was possible since Mrs. Bulittle lived directly below 502, in 402.

She had no doubt suffered a night or two of lost sleep herself, since Daniel could vouch for the noisiness of several parties he had attended in this very apartment.

Ah, he and Kevin had enviable lives. Successful thirtysomethings, unattached, and pretty much devoted to keeping it that way, much to the chagrin of both their mothers!

Daniel, where are you staying during the reno of your loft? I can't reach you. Is this any way to treat your mother?

Mom, I'm fine. Just busy.

He followed that with a couple of heart symbols. He liked texting! You could have the pretext of intimacy while being totally disengaged. To assuage the slight guilt he was feeling for avoiding her, he sent her flowers, thanking his lucky stars that her marriage to Pierre had landed her in Montreal and she loved it there and still lived there. If she was local and lacking his current address? She would be camped out in his office!

* * *

Kevin was an internationally known photographer, Daniel the head of River's Edge. His company was a software engineering firm that had developed some of the best technologies used in the Alberta oil fields.

In recent years, Daniel had applied his considerable ambition and business acumen to real estate, and investing in young companies that he thought had potential. So he was not accustomed to being brushed off by a building manager, who had told him, with a certain mean satisfaction, "I'll give you the tenant's name and phone number. You talk to her."

The her in question was Patricia Marsh. When Daniel called, he had to shout to make himself heard over the caterwauling in the background. She'd sounded harried, exhausted and she had been totally apologetic. Her nieces were visiting. They were from Australia, the difference in times meant they were having trouble settling into a normal routine.

She had promised changes, and Patricia Marsh had possessed one of those lovely, husky voices that might have inspired belief in one less jaded than himself. He had ended the call on a curt note-probably more because of being harassed by his mother than anything to do with Patricia Marsh-but oh, well.

None of the promised changes had materialized, so he was less and less sorry for the curt note.

It was day four-make that night four-in the combat zone. There was sudden silence above his head, but instead of enjoying it, Daniel noted that his headache felt permanent, and his shoulders were bunched up with tension.

So, the visiting children were having a little break right now. He wished he could appreciate the silence, and he tried to. He closed his eyes, willed himself back to sleep.

He was closing the Bentley deal tomorrow. Months of groundwork were coming to fruition. He needed to be razor-sharp and ready. He needed his sleep. But instead of sleeping, he contemplated the silence with deep suspicion, like a soldier waiting for the firing to start again.

Five minutes. Then ten. Then fifteen. At half an hour of blissful silence, he took a deep breath, and allowed himself to be lulled into a sense of security. The knot in his forehead relaxed ever so slightly and he felt his shoulders unwind.

Tomorrow, he'd go get a hotel for the duration of the children's visit. He'd been to that nice boutique hotel across from the Bow River at the invitation of a visiting female executive a few years back. They had luxurious, quiet suites. He remembered there were great jogging paths at Prince's Island. He could run in the morning before he went to the office- His eyes closed. Ahhh. Bliss.

Trixie Marsh's eyes fluttered open, and for a moment she just felt the utter contentment of having rested. But the moment was fleeting.

It was very dark in her apartment. Was she sitting up? She felt deeply disoriented.

The twins! She had not rested properly since the arrival of her four-year-old nieces.

Even as she'd worried about her own twin sister Abby's seemingly impulsive plan to drop off her children, she had been thrilled to have time with Molly and Pauline. She had envisioned finger painting and building with Play-Doh, romps in the park and bedtime stories. Trixie had envisioned time with the twins as a glimpse at the life she always wanted for herself.

And really she should have known better! The life she had always wanted for herself was really the life she had always had growing up: surrounded by family and laughter, a sense of safety and belonging.

Always had, until her parents had been killed in a car accident the year she had graduated from high school. Since then, it seemed the more she chased after what had once been, the more it eluded her like a ghostly vision, growing dimmer with each passing day of her life.

As it turned out, her nieces preferred their finger painting on the walls. And on each other's faces. And on the cat. They liked eating Play-Doh and they loved that this unusual dietary choice made for very colorful poop.

They didn't listen to Trixie ever, they were up all night and the man in the apartment below her-it couldn't be that Daniel Riverton, could it?-was complaining. In a voice so sexy it made Trixie's heart hurt!

"Enough," she snapped at herself, out loud. It occurred to her it was night and her apartment was eerily silent.

Plus enough did not come out enough. It came out a garbled eblubluk. There was something in her mouth. It felt almost as if her cat, Freddy, a long-haired Persian, was nestled close to her face. She went to brush him away.

And that's when Trixie realized she was trapped. Her arms wouldn't move. And neither would her legs.

Suddenly, panic rising, it came back to her.

"Auntie," Molly said, blinking her huge brown eyes at her, "this is our favorite game. Our mommy lets us play it. You sit in the chair, and Pauline and I go around and around you with the roll of toilet tissue."

It had seemed harmless enough. And quiet, too. What she had not been counting on was the almost hypnotic effect of her nieces moving silently around and around her, pink tongues caught between little teeth in concentration.

What she hadn't realized was the depths of her own exhaustion, and how relieved she was that they were being quiet.

What she hadn't realized was that enough of that tissue could bind like steel. It wasn't just tissue. She could taste the fluff of quilting batting in her mouth.

Frantically, Trixie pulled at her limbs. She was stuck fast to the chair.

Endless scenarios began to run through her head. None of them had a happy ending. She was going to die. She just knew it. Her whole life was flashing before her eyes: she and Abby growing up in their matching clothes, unwrapping gifts at the Christmas tree, baking cookies with their mother, at the cottage…and then the knock on the door.

So sorry, an accident.

And Abby marrying and moving to Australia.

And Trixie being so alone.

And so when Miles, her one and only boyfriend, had said, Move in with me, I'll look after you, there had been no choice involved, really.

And when he left, he hadn't given her a choice, either.

For a moment, she pictured him bursting through the door, rescuing her, admitting the error of his ways, giving her back her dreams.

Trixie blinked hard. That's how she had gone through her whole life. Acting like someone else was in charge of her dreams. Acting as though she had no choice.

Now was she going to die the same way? As if she was powerless? As if she had no choice. No! She was going to fight and fight hard.

It wasn't just about her. Her nieces were in peril, too. They could all perish here if Trixie didn't act and act quickly.

She began to rock the chair.

Bang.

It sounded like an explosion, not a subdued pop, more like a mortar round had gone off right in Daniel's trench. Whatever had hit the floor above his head had hit it so loudly the crystals in the chandelier clanged against each other dangerously. Daniel jumped up off the sofa, his heart beating fast.

He waited for the sound of running feet to start again.

Nothing.

The hair on the back of his neck rose. And he knew, to the pit of his stomach, something was wrong upstairs, in the apartment above him.

He paused only at his own door to shove shoes on his bare feet and then Daniel raced out of his apartment, down the hallway and up the steps.

Outside 602, he asked himself what he was doing. If he was so sure something was wrong, why not call 911?

And say what? I was busy composing a list of inane sayings and then, guess what? I heard a bump in the night!

He stood outside the door for a moment, listening. He found the silence eerie, and the hair on the back of his neck would not sit down. He knocked on the door. There it was-the pitterpatter of running little feet. But nothing else. No other sounds, including the one he was listening for, the husky, lovely notes of an adult voice, someone in charge.

He knocked again, louder, more insistent.

After a long pause, and more of the pitter-patter, the door handle squeaked. The door slid open two inches, catching on the chain lock.

Nobody appeared to be there.

And then he looked down.

Two identical solemn faces, smeared with tears and what appeared to be red berry juice, were pressed against the crack in the doorway, and the tiny girls regarded him warily.

"Is your, uh, mommy here?"

"Mama goned."

The Australian accent was noticeable. It looked like they were going to close the door.

"Aunt!" he remembered. "Is your aunt Patricia here?"

"Auntie's name Trixie."

He was starting to feel exasperated, but a sound from in the apartment, muted, but very much like a whimper, made the hair on the back of his neck stand up higher.

"Get your aunt for me," he said, trying for a note of both sternness, to instill obedience, and friendliness to try and overcome whatever they had heard about the danger of strangers.

Two sets of identical liquid dark eyes exchanged a look.

"She's dead," one offered.

"Unlock the door. Right now." He fumbled for his cell phone, always in his shirt pocket, and realized he wasn't even in a shirt. He was standing in the hallway in a pair of plaid pajama bottoms, and his best shoes and nothing else.

Not exactly the person children would or should unlock the door for.

"Please?" He tried for a sweet note. It came as unnaturally to him as if he was speaking through the sickening fluff of candy floss. He tried to smile in a friendly fashion.

The children were fooled-it made him uncomfortably aware of how totally vulnerable children were-and one of them ventured a tiny smile in return while the other stood on tiptoes and tried to reach the chain that barred the door.

"Can't reach." And that was that. The little minx looked as if, now that she had made somewhat of an effort, she was going to shut the door.

"Get out of the way," he ordered. "Stand way back from the door."

The pitter-patter of running feet told him he had, somewhat surprisingly, been obeyed. Either that, or they had totally lost interest in him and run off to play. He threw his shoulder into the door, and the flimsy chain snapped with barely a protest, and the door crashed open and hit the coat closet door behind it with an explosive bang. Daniel was propelled into the darkness of the apartment.

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