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A Virgin for the Taking
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A Virgin for the Taking

3.3 6
by Trish Morey

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When Ruby Clemenger inherits half of the Bastiani Pearl Corporation, she knows that her life is about to get complicated.

Zane Bastiani, the pearl master's son, wants rid of Ruby--he thinks she was his father's mistress and can be easily bought. But Ruby's price is high. Unable to pay her off with cash, Zane decides to seduce Ruby into submission. He has


When Ruby Clemenger inherits half of the Bastiani Pearl Corporation, she knows that her life is about to get complicated.

Zane Bastiani, the pearl master's son, wants rid of Ruby--he thinks she was his father's mistress and can be easily bought. But Ruby's price is high. Unable to pay her off with cash, Zane decides to seduce Ruby into submission. He has nothing to lose--until he discovers Ruby is innocent...in every way....

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Presents Series , #2585
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

ZANE BASTIANI stepped on to the tarmac of Broome International Airport and felt the late wet-season humidity close around him like a vice. He glanced skyward in irritation, to where the source of the melting heat shone so unforgivingly above.
He'd forgotten about the heat. Other things had slipped his mind, too--like the sharp blue of the sky, the clear salt-tinged air and the sheer quality of the light. Nine years of dreary London weather and grey concrete architecture had disarmed him completely. He felt like a foreigner in his home town.
Nine years.
Hard to believe it was so long since he'd left with just his name and the conviction to make it big time on his own. Not that he'd wasted a minute of it. Now, with a terrace house in Chelsea, a chalet in Klosters and the chairmanship of the most aggressive merchant bank in London, he was well on his way.
And for every one of those nine years he'd been waiting for his father to call and admit that he'd been wrong, but when the call had finally come it hadn't been from his father at all.
"Not critical," the doctor had assured him, "but Laurence asked to see you."
He'd asked to see Zane.
It might have taken a heart attack, but after all the bitterness between them, any request had to be worth something.
So Zane had taken the first flight out of London to anywhere that might offer the fastest connection with this remote north-west Australian location. His platinum credit card had taken care of the details.
He shrugged the kinks out of his shoulders as he headed for the terminal, steeling himself for meeting his father once again. When Zane had been just a kid growing up, Laurence Bastiani hadalways seemed larger than life, always the big man with the big voice and the big ideas who'd never succumbed to as much as the common cold. It made sense that it would take something like a heart attack to stop him in his tracks. Even so, it was impossible to picture him now, lying ill in hospital. His father would hate it. He'd probably have checked himself out of there already.
Inside the arrivals' terminal, ceiling fans spun languidly overhead, stirring up barely more than a breeze as travel-weary passengers began to crowd around the luggage carousel.

Article 02: Untitled

His one hastily packed leather bag, its red Priority tag swinging, came through first. He reached down, hauling it from the carousel, then headed towards the exit, making for the line of waiting taxis, increasingly aware the fine cotton of his shirt was already heavy with perspiration.
How long would it take to re-acclimatise to Broome's tropical temperatures, given he'd been away so many years? Not that it really mattered, he thought dismissively as he curled himself into a taxi and snapped out a brisk command to the driver. He'd be back in London long before there was any chance of that happening.
THE CRASH TEAM had departed, the tubes and needles removed, the equipment turned off. Strange--she'd grown to hate that incessant beeping of the monitor over the last couple of days with its constant reminder of Laurence's increasingly frail condition. But right now Ruby Clemenger would give anything to have that noise back--anything to break the deathly quiet of the room--anything at all if it meant that Laurence was still really here.
But Laurence was gone.
Her eyes felt scratchy and swollen, but there were no tears, not yet, because it was just so hard to accept. And so unfair. Fifty-five was way too young to die, especially when you had the vision and energy of Laurence Bastiani, the now late head of the largest cultured South Sea pearl operation in the world.
Even now he looked like he was sleeping, his hand still warm in hers. But there was no tell-tale rise and fall of his chest under the sheet, no flicker of eyelashes as if he was merely dreaming, no answering squeeze of his fingers.
She let her head fall forward on her chest, her eyelids jammed together as she tried to see past the yawning pit of despair inside her. But logic had deserted her tonight just as swiftly as Laurence's unexpected departure. And now all she could think about were his final words to her, half whispered, half choked, his fingers pressing urgently into her flesh as the attack that had finally taken his life overcame him.
"Look after him,'he'd managed to whisper. "Look after Zane. And tell him--I'm sorry..."
And then the monitor's note had changed into one continual bleep and her thoughts had turned to panic. A heartbeat later the doors to the room had crashed open to a flurry of blue cotton and trolleyed machinery and in one swift blur she'd been expertly manoeuvred outside.
By the time they'd let her back in it was over and she'd never had a chance to ask him what he'd meant and why the son who hadn't bothered to contact his father the best part of a decade should need looking after or why Laurence felt he was the one who should apologise for his son's neglect. And she'd never had a chance to demand to know why the hell Laurence would expect her to be the one to do it.
But she had no time to squander on the prodigal son. After the way he'd neglected his father, Zane was so low on her radar he didn't register. Right now she'd lost her mentor, a father figure and an inspiration. Most of all, she'd lost a dear friend.
"Oh, Laurence," she whispered, her voice cracking under the strain. "I'll miss you so much."
The door swung open behind her. She sniffed and took a calming breath. The staff would be wanting her to leave so they could complete the formalities. She lifted her head to acknowledge their presence.
"I'm almost ready," she said, only half turning towards the door. "Just a moment longer, if that's okay."
There was no immediate response, no drawing back and closing of doors, and a strange feeling of unease crawled its way up her spine. Her back straightened in reaction, her arms prickling into goosebumps as the room chilled to ice-cold.
"I'd prefer to visit with my father alone."
Her head snapped around to where the stranger with the ice-cold tone filled the doorway. And yet, for the briefest second, her heart skipped with recognition--until harsh reality resurfaced, snuffing out her momentary joy.
Oh, they might have been Laurence's eyes she'd been staring at, with their same dark caramel richness, the same shape and heavy-hooded, almost seductive lids. But whereas the older man's eyes had been filled with a mixture of affection and respect, their corners crinkled with laughter over a shared joke or with natural delight at discovering the perfect pearl, the eyes turned upon her now were cold and imperious.
Zane, she realised, her first-impression sensors screaming a red-light warning. So what that he was Laurence's son?--clearly that didn't make him her friend.
His body language made that more than plain. His unyielding stance was imbued with antagonism, from his unshaven jaw and short finger-combed dark hair to his designer black jeans and hand-crafted leather boots, planted on the tiled floor like they owned it. Even the contrasting white shirt failed to soften the impression, instead only emphasising his olive skin and dark features. He wore power like a birthright.
She forced her aching back ramrod straight in her chair as his icy gaze swept over her, noticing when it finally came to a halt where her fingers rested, still curled around his father's hand. Disapproval came off him in waves, but she pointedly maintained her hold. She had a right to be here even if he didn't like it. And he obviously didn't. Too bad.
And yet, whatever his faults, part of her recognized that he had to be hurting, too. Despite the two not speaking for years, his father's death must still have come as a huge shock. Even just one day ago Laurence had been expected to make a complete recovery, so when Zane had boarded that plane from London, the prospect of his father's death would have been a remote and unlikely possibility. He would have to be made of granite not to be affected by what he'd discovered once he'd arrived. Nobody could be that hard. Nobody could that insensitive.
"You must be Zane," she said, trying to steer some kind of course through the jagged ice floes cluttering the atmosphere between them. "I'm Ruby Clemenger. I worked with your father."
"I know who you are," he snapped.
She blinked and took a steadying breath, instantly rethinking her earlier assumption. Maybe he was that hard and insensitive, after all.
"I am sorry about your father," she persisted, trying again, if only for Laurence's sake, because even if she didn't give a rat's about Zane, she'd wanted so much for Laurence to have his last wish met. She shook her head. "He wanted so much to see you. But you're too late."
His eyes narrowed in on hers, intensifying their laser-like quality.
"Too late?" he repeated. "Oh, yeah, it sure looks that way from where I'm standing."
She shivered in the frosty atmosphere. Why did she get the distinct impression he was talking about more than his father's untimely death?
Zane battled to hold his mounting irritation in check. Trust her to be here. He hadn't seen a single photograph of his father over the last few years that hadn't also featured this woman clinging to his arm. Ruby Clemenger--his father's constant companion, his father's right-hand woman. His father had always been a leg man, and, judging by the long sweep of golden limbs tucked beneath her on the armchair, nothing much had changed.
But right now all he wanted was for her to use those legs to get out of here. This was his father, his grief, his anger. He'd travelled the best part of twenty-four hours, only to be cheated out of seeing his father by one. He didn't want to share this time with anyone, let alone with the likes of her.
At last it seemed she was taking the hint. The spark of fight that had flared in her azure eyes had dimmed as she unwound herself out of the chair, her movements slow and deliberate, like she'd been sitting too long. But still she didn't move away from the bed, her filmy skirt floating just above knee length.
Even in their jet-lagged state his eyes couldn't help but notice--he'd been right about the legs. But now she was standing, it was clear her attributes didn't stop there--they extended much further north, an alluring mix of feminine curves and sun-kissed skin, of blue eyes framed by dark lashes and lips generous enough to be begging to be kissed--just the way he liked them.
Just the way his father liked them.

Meet the Author

Trish Morey wrote her first book at age 11 for a children's book-week competition. Entitled Island Dreamer, it tells the story of an orphaned girl and her life on Hindmarsh Island--a small island at the mouth of the Murray River--and was totally self-published. She wrote, illustrated and stitched the pages together herself (her earliest and least successful experience with body piercing!). Island Dreamer was also to be her first rejection--her entry was disqualified unread because she'd transposed the copyright and title pages. This rejection had a devastating effect on the young writer's psyche. Shattered and broken, she turned to a life where she could combine her love of fiction with her need for creativity. You guessed it--Trish became a chartered accountant.

Life wasn't all dull, though, as she embarked on a skydiving course, completing three jumps before deciding that she'd given her fear of heights a run for its money and it was time to retire her parachute and hang around on terra firma for a while.

Prepared to set the financial world alight, Trish moved from her native Adelaide to Canberra, where she promptly fell in love with a handsome guy who cut computer code. Marriage followed a few years later, along with a stint in Wellington, New Zealand, where Trish worked for the NZ Treasury. There she penned her second book--A Guide to Departmental Budgeting. It didn't have a huge print run and the royalties were nonexistent, but she'd learned something--the pages were at least stapled. Unfortunately, she never got to complete the surefire sequel and New York Times bestseller, Asset Management, as her hormones intervened with ahealthy dose of motherhood.

Two years later and back home in Canberra after the birth of their second daughter, Trish spied an article announcing that Mills & Boon was actively seeking new authors. It was one of those "Eureka!" moments. Her whole life clicked into place and immediately she embarked on a professional writing course. She sent off a couple of partials, earned a couple of rejections, had a couple more daughters and even had a couple of feature articles published in the newspapers. Just so she wouldn't get bored, the family moved countries a couple more times. Their third daughter was born in Hemel Hempstead, England, by sheer coincidence, the same town Trish's aunt had been born some 70 years prior, before the family had emigrated to Australia.

Living in the UK offered more than just the chance to check out the NHS system, though, and the young family took the opportunity to explore farther afield, visiting France, Italy and even Crete, as well as many magical sites in the UK. Tintagel in Cornwall and Hadrian's Wall stand out as two of the highlights.

Back in Australia and now with four daughters, Trish knew it was time to get serious with her writing. She started entering the contests offered by Romance Writers of Australia, achieving third place in her first competition. More successes followed, along with closer involvement in RWA Australia. Trish managed three contests for RWA before serving on the RWA Executive in 2002-3 as conference coordinator, organizing the 2003 Gold Coast "Passion in Paradise" conference. Trish is currently vice president of RWA Australia.

In 2002 Trish entered the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest for the first time and was amazed and delighted to final in the short contemporary section. The same manuscript was already under consideration in London, and in June 2003 (actually June 18th at 6:32 p.m.) the magical phone call came. Mills & Boon wanted to buy her book!

According to Trish, selling a book is a major life achievement that ranks up there with jumping out of an airplane and motherhood. All three take commitment, determination and sheer guts, but the effort is so very, very worthwhile.

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Virgin for the Taking 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story good ending
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alot of angry passion. Lots of lustful thoghts. Lots of great reading. Enjoy
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