Read an Excerpt
Wife For A Day
By Kate Walker
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Copyright © 2003
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Ronan Guerin looked down at the sleeping face of the woman in the bed and almost changed his mind about the whole
She looked so peaceful, so innocent, so damned beautiful. It was impossible not to recall the night he had just spent
with her, the incandescent passion they had shared, and feel a pang of regret for the course he had started out on.
But then he remembered Rosalie, every bit as beautiful and just as innocent, and he hardened his heart. Firming his
resolve, he reached out a hand and touched her shoulder gently.
"Lily ..." he said softly.
At first there was no response. She was too deeply unconscious, too exhausted by a night in which sleep had been the
last thing on their minds to hear. Refusing to let himself reconsider, to be weakened by the sight of her innocent
appearance, he shook her slightly, watching as she gave a faint murmur and stirred, her eyes still closed.
"Good morning, wife."
Good morning, wife. The words reached Lily through the clouds of sleep that clogged her brain, making them
sound vague and indistinct so that she frowned in drowsy confusion.
It was as she moved languorously in the deep comfort of the bed, feeling the soft brush of the fine linen sheets on her
naked body, that realisation struck home with the force of an arrow thudding straight into the heart of a target. Her
eyes, wide and deep gold, flew open, meeting the steady, watchful gaze of the man who sat on the edge of the bed, his
strong fingers still resting on her arm.
Of course! How could she have forgotten, even for a second? How could sleep have wiped away the fact that this was the
man to whom she had given her heart so completely that there was never a hope of getting it back - not that she wanted
it. The man who, only the day before, had placed a gold wedding band on her finger as he vowed to love and honour her
for the rest of his life.
Stretching luxuriously, she turned to face him.
"Good morning, husband."
Her smile, with its deliberate edge of sleepy sensuality, was directed straight into his intent blue-grey eyes, the
angle of her head calculatedly provocative as it splayed the long blonde strands of her hair out around her heart-
shaped face on the immaculate white pillows.
To her surprise, neither the smile nor the inviting gesture earned her the response she had anticipated. Instead, Ronan
seemed strangely, almost worryingly distant. The strong-boned features under the silky dark chestnut hair were set in a
way that made him look disturbingly remote and cold, light-years away from the ardent, passionate lover of the night
Memories of the indulgence of that night brought a rush of colour to her cheeks, and her tongue slipped out to smooth
over the soft curve of her lower lip, as if she could still taste the burning kisses he had pressed there. A hot rush
of sexual awareness mixed with a heady sense of very female triumph flooded every nerve as she saw the indigo gaze drop
to follow the slight movement.
"Husband," she murmured again, savouring the sound of the word.
Her body still ached faintly, and there were one or two tender spots on her skin, but she didn't care. The pleasure she
had experienced last night had been so totally new to her, so mind-blowing in its intensity, that she had been hard put
to it to believe that she could feel it and not shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.
And it was something she very much wanted to enjoy all over again.
As she believed Ronan would too. In fact, when she had finally drifted into exhausted and satiated sleep, she had been
convinced that she would wake to find herself firmly enclosed by the strength of his arms. That he would greet her with
gentle kisses, rouse her body to demanding life, as he had done so easily the night before, his own muscular frame
heating, tensing, hardening in matching response.
Which was why it was so disconcerting to find him now sitting beside her, looking so cool and indifferent - and fully
"What time is it?" she asked in some concern, recalling the flight they were due to make that day.
"Just after nine."
"So early! Then what are you doing out of bed?"
Her full mouth formed a petulant moue of disapproval as she took in the clothes he was wearing. They were hardly
suitable for someone about to set out on a long-haul trip to the tropical island he had promised would be their
honeymoon destination. The immaculately tailored suit in a light grey silk, white shirt and conservative tie only added
to her confusion, aggravating the sense of alienation she had experienced earlier.
"Our plane doesn't leave until three!" she protested. "We've hours yet."
Lily reached out and stroked his hand where it lay, broad and strong, with long, square-tipped fingers, on the pristine
whiteness of the quilt cover.
"Come back to bed," she murmured, her low voice pitched to entice.
An adamant shake of his gleaming dark auburn head was Ronan's only response. His disturbingly shadowed gaze was fixed
on the thick gold band that gleamed bright and new on her slender finger.
Incredulity sharpened her voice, giving a disbelieving lift to the single syllable. Was this the same man who had been
so physically demanding, so insatiable throughout the night? The same Ronan as the one who had allowed her no rest
until they were both limp with exhaustion, unable to move, even to breathe properly?
"What is it, darling?" Deliberately she lowered her voice to a husky whisper. "Have you gone off me already?"
That got a reaction, but not the one she had expected.
With a jerky movement, Ronan lifted his head so that his eyes once more met hers full on. Coolest sea-blue locked with
the almost amber warmth of Lily's perplexed gaze, and something deep in those eyes, some shadow darkening their limpid
clearness, made her shiver in intuitive apprehension.
"Gone off you?" he echoed, his voice sounding as if it came from a throat that was painfully raw. "Never that!"
As if to emphasise the words, he accompanied them with a look so sensually appreciative, so blatantly carnal, that it
was almost a physical caress in itself. But, just as Lily was about to relax back into the comfortable warmth of her
sleepy sexuality, the realisation of a cold edge to that look, a glitter of something disturbing in his eyes was like
the splash of icy water in her face, bringing all her defences to red alert before he even spoke again.
"You turn me on just by existing, lady," he declared with disturbing harshness. "And you know it. I only have to look
at you to want you so much that I feel I might die if I don't have you. But that's a penance I have to endure."
That first tiny prickle of unease had now become a raging tide of discomfort. Every nerve stung with a tension that was
like the pins and needles of blood returning to a numbed limb, but magnified a hundredfold.
"I don't understand!"
She couldn't hide the tremor of her voice as she pushed herself upright in a panic, feeling far too vulnerable lying
"Ronan? What is it?"
"I want you, Lily," Ronan persisted, as if she hadn't spoken. Each word was so cold, so clipped that Lily flinched away
from them as if they were actually formed in ice as they fell on the sensitive skin of her exposed neck and shoulders.
"But I'll never have you again - ever. It was good while it lasted - perhaps the best - but now it's over. I only
waited until you were awake so that I could say goodbye."
It couldn't be true! She couldn't have heard right. Either that or this was some appalling sick joke, one that she
didn't like at all. But she would never have believed that Ronan could be so hatefully cruel.
"This isn't funny, Ronan!"
His intonation said it all, Ronan knew. There was no need for further elucidation. But still he wanted to spell it out
to her, setting out the details with a precise pedantry that made it plain his intent was to spare her nothing. He
wanted her to know exactly what was happening, to understand what the experience of pain was truly like.
"This is no joke, my darling. No joke at all. Believe me, I never felt further from laughter; I couldn't be more
serious. Our marriage, such as it was, is over - done with. I'm leaving today and I'm never coming back."
He got to his feet, the easy, indolent movement somehow shocking when Lily contrasted it with the whirling frenzy
inside her head.
"I'll let you decide when to serve the divorce papers."
"And now, if you'll excuse me ..." The carefully formal politeness underlined the ruthless determination to give her no
quarter at all. "I have a long drive ahead of me."
As he strolled to the door Lily could only stare after him in stunned confusion. But even as her golden eyes were fixed
on his retreating back her thoughts were turned inward, reviewing the events of the previous day - their wedding
day - trying to see how the glorious happiness she had experienced then could have brought her to the emotional horror
of this moment.
Excerpted from Wife For A Day
by Kate Walker
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.
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