The Virgin's Secret Marriage [NOOK Book]


Once upon a time, hockey player Joe Hart fell in love with sweet, beautiful Emma Donovan. But then Joe discovered that Emma's father owned the NHL team he played for. Heartbroken, angry and kicked off the team, Joe disappeared to try to start his life anew. Seven years later, Joe has returned to Holly Springs for a second chance....

For the past seven years heiress Emma Donovan has unsuccessfully tried to put Joe Hart out of her mind. But when their scandalous "reunion" is ...

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The Virgin's Secret Marriage

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Once upon a time, hockey player Joe Hart fell in love with sweet, beautiful Emma Donovan. But then Joe discovered that Emma's father owned the NHL team he played for. Heartbroken, angry and kicked off the team, Joe disappeared to try to start his life anew. Seven years later, Joe has returned to Holly Springs for a second chance....

For the past seven years heiress Emma Donovan has unsuccessfully tried to put Joe Hart out of her mind. But when their scandalous "reunion" is caught on the local news, the town's gossips are delighted.... Especially when it's publicly revealed that Emma and Joe eloped all those years ago—and they're still married!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426877988
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 9/20/2010
  • Series: Brides Of Holly Springs Series , #997
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 521,273
  • File size: 744 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Virgin's Secret Marriage

By Cathy Thacker

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-75001-3

Chapter One

Joe Hart had made one crucial mistake in his long climb to success, and now finally - seven years after being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time with the "boss's daughter" - he was finally being given the chance to undo the damage caused by his foolishness.

He figured if he could come to terms with the heiress who had deliberately misled him and crushed his heart, see her for the deceitful manipulator she really was instead of the starry-eyed virgin he recalled every single night in his dreams, he might finally be able to move on. Because if there was one thing Joe wanted, it was a wife and kids of his very own. And to achieve that, he had to put Emma Donovan out of his heart and his mind once and for all.

In the meantime, though, he had the rest of the Hart clan to satisfy his craving for a family. His mom, his four brothers, his sister and her son. Now that he was back in the United States, back in his hometown of Holly Springs, North Carolina, he would be able to see a lot more of them. Joe was looking forward to interacting with them on a daily basis - as an adult, instead of a kid. That was if this meeting ever ended, he mused, in mounting frustration.

The Carolina Storm hockey team owner - multimillionaire Saul Donovan - seemed to have no end to the rules and regulations he wanted to go over, before he and Joe signed their names on the dotted lines of Joe's contract.

"All team members are expected to give back to the community that supports them and participate in local charities. You can select your own. Or my wife, Margaret, and the rest of the team's public relations staff will help you."

"No problem," Joe said, looking over at his new boss. The fifty-something man was just under six feet, and a little soft around the middle. But there was nothing soft in his light green eyes. "That's something I've always done whether it was required or not."

Saul looked at Joe over the rim of his half glasses. "And the team sponsors a hockey camp for young kids. You'll be expected to help out with that this summer, as well."

Joe nodded, not sure why he felt as if he were being called out on the carpet like an errant teenager. Although Saul had been nothing but businesslike and professional thus far in his treatment of him, he was waiting for the proverbial ax to fall.

Swallowing around the tension in his throat, he looked Saul in the eye and imparted sincerely, "I have a nephew who might want to participate in that." Assuming, Joe amended silently and ruefully to himself, if he could convince his older sister a burning interest in athletics was a good thing for her twelve-year-old son. Not an easy task, given the way Janey's marriage to Christopher's dad had turned out.

Saul nodded approvingly, then glanced down at the sheet of paper in front of him. "And that brings us to the last item on our agenda." Saul put down his pen, set his jaw.

Ah, shoot, Joe thought. Here it comes. The dressingdown I've been waiting for.

"I'm willing to overlook what happened years ago on one very important condition," Saul continued sternly. He took off his glasses and dropped them on the desk, giving Joe the full benefit of his decidedly lethal glare. "You stay away from my daughter."

Like he wanted to get in that kind of mess again? And be sent back to the minors or benched? At the height of his pro career? "Believe me, I intend to keep my distance, and then some," Joe promised. He not only wanted to exorcise Emma from his soul, in the most expedient practical way possible, he had no desire to speak to the beautiful brunette heiress ever again.

"I mean it," Saul reiterated, frowning. "I don't want Emma hurt."

Joe didn't want to be hurt, either. And Emma Donovan had torn his heart apart. To the point Joe had more or less sworn off love ever since the night he had been caught trying to sneak a sobbing, angry Emma and her suitcase back into her college dorm. Only to come face-to-face with her equally angry father. To this day, Saul Donovan still did not know the full extent of what had happened - or almost happened - that night. When Joe had learned the truth, he had come immediately to his senses, much to the rebellious Emma's chagrin.

As the increasingly uncomfortable staring match between Joe and Saul continued, Coach Thaddeus Lantz leaned forward and interrupted. "I think Joe gets it, Saul."

Joe nodded obediently, indicating that was indeed the case. Boy, did he get it. If he screwed up this time, there would be no second chances. Saul would do everything in his power to see Joe was finished in the world of professional hockey. And as owner of one of the best teams in the NHL, and soon to be solely in charge of Joe's destiny, Saul was powerful enough to accomplish it.

Saul Donovan backed off only slightly. "Given the line of work Emma has chosen, and where she has located her office, it may not be so easy to avoid her," he warned Joe.

No kidding, given the fact Emma had chosen to work alongside Joe's mother, who still did not know that Emma and Joe had ever been personally acquainted or even dated!

"You leave that to me, sir. I have no intention of running into your daughter at the Wedding Inn. Or anywhere else."

His mother owned and ran the premier wedding location in all of North Carolina. And Emma was now - according to his mother, anyway - the best, most sought-after wedding planner in the state, as well. The two women worked side by side more often than not. But that did not mean Joe had to get involved in the family business. Or ever put himself in a position where he actually had to speak to the impulsive heiress.

"Emma is over there this evening, you know."

One of many reasons why Joe hadn't told his mother he was in town. Yet. "I'm planning to crash at a hotel in Raleigh, until I can get the rest of my stuff moved here," Joe said. He already owned a home. He had purchased one a year ago in his hometown as an investment, but he'd never gotten around to furnishing it. Mostly because he hadn't expected to be living here again quite so soon. And wouldn't be now if Saul hadn't come through with the offer to play right wing for the Carolina Storm.

"Have you checked in at that hotel yet?" Saul asked, a little more kindly.

"Uh, no." Joe had been picked up by his Raleigh-based sports and entertainment attorney, Ross Dempsey, and come straight to this meeting from the airport.

"Then stay here," Saul encouraged, accurately reading Ross Dempsey's wordless entreaty to be more cordial to his newest player.

Joe cast a confused look at his attorney, who nodded encouragingly, then turned back to Saul. Making sure he had understood the invitation correctly, Joe asked, "You want me to stay here, at your estate?"

Talk about going hot and cold and hot again. He was beginning to see where Emma got her mercurial changes of mood.

Saul nodded, all cordial businessman and paternal kindness once again. "We've got plenty of guest rooms upstairs."

Joe hesitated. He knew from the talk among other athletes that this was par for the course for any new players on the Carolina Storm hockey team. Saul Donovan wanted the team to feel like family. And he did everything in his power to keep morale high and engender player loyalty, to him personally, as well as the team. His methods worked. The Storm had the highest re-signing statistics, and best player-satisfaction survey scores, in the league. The mess with Emma aside, Joe knew he was lucky to be signing on here.


Excerpted from The Virgin's Secret Marriage by Cathy Thacker Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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