When a stunning woman appears from nowhere to seduce industrialist Morgan Abbott, she shatters his steely composure and sends his pulse racing. Morgan has never felt compelled to make time for romance—until this mysterious beauty bestows a passionate kiss upon him before disappearing into the night. And when the temptress reappears in two other cities and again presses her lips to his, Morgan is completely undermined.
Cecilia St. Martin couldn’t be happier with the results of her prank. Distracting her rival while she buys enough stock to threaten Abbott Industries with a takeover is delicious payback for a loyal friend. But revenge is a dish best served cold—and kissing Morgan has aroused a fire deep within her. When Cecilia’s virile prey discovers her ploy, she’ll have to make a choice: conquer her darling enemy or merge her soul with his.
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: The Redhead and the Preacher, Raven and the Cowboy, and Ride with Me.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Linda Cajio has written twenty titles for the Loveswept imprint over the years, oftentimes naming her books after rock or pop songs. In recognition of her lengthy career, during which she also wrote books for Kensington and Zebra, she received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award nomination.
Read an Excerpt
It was his thirty-sixth birthday.
As a waiter cleared away the remains of his birthday dinner, Morgan Abbott absently touched the silvering temples of his chocolate-brown hair and decided that birthdays were overrated, embarrassing, and only fussed about by people whose birthday it wasn’t. After all, he was thirty-six, and not a nine-year-old, excited about presents and birthday cake. He didn’t even like desserts anymore.
But George Boswick, his friend and business associate, had insisted on celebrating this milestone by taking him out for drinks and dinner at an elegant North Shore Chicago restaurant, since he, Morgan, had been away from home on a business trip on his birthday. George and his wife had even provided a kind of date for him to make the party a foursome.
Morgan glanced at his date. Lisa, an attractive blonde, was a junior executive in the accounting department of George’s electronics supply company. She had just the right amount of brains, ambition, and soothing personality to take her far in the corporate world. As chairman and chief executive officer of Abbott Industries Morgan knew that she was exactly the kind of person he wanted working for him. Lisa knew it, too, he thought, as she gave him a polite, yet acknowledging smile that meant she was happy with her job, but was open to another company’s offer of more money and quicker promotions.
Realizing he was vaguely thinking of her only as a prospective employee, Morgan ruefully chuckled under his breath. He was getting too damn old.
He silently conceded that recently there had been very few women in his life. In fact, there had been very few women in his life, period. Running a corporation demanded all his time.
Briefly closing his eyes, he wished he could find the woman who would be his first priority in life.
Instantly Morgan gave himself a silent lecture. Making a silly birthday wish at his age! He had never met a woman challenging enough to take the place of Abbott Industries in his life and probably never would. Lisa was certainly someone who could understand his often twenty-hour workdays, but she wasn’t a challenge. Nothing about her was new or different. There were no hidden facets to discover. One quick reading of her résumé, and he could accurately guess the rest. Lisa was the typical, career-oriented, no-nonsense modern woman. He saw too many Lisas striding purposefully along AI’s corridors to be more than mildly interested in her.
A slight grimace crossing his sharply etched features, Morgan decided why he was still a bachelor at thirty-six. He was damn picky.
Amused by his private thoughts, he absently gazed around the crowded dining room. And instantly froze, when he caught sight of a lone woman standing in the entryway. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and she was looking directly at him.
His gaze roved over her oval face. Delicate reddish-brown brows arched over wide, dark eyes, contrasting alluringly with her milky skin. A hint of a sensual smile played on her full lips. Lips made for a man’s kisses. Her nose was slim, and her chin was raised at an almost haughty angle. Flaming red hair was wrapped in an intricate chignon. It seemed too heavy for her slender neck, yet she held her head proudly.
Her beauty would have drawn second looks anywhere, but it was her dress that left the other diners gasping. The long-sleeved gown of black crepe fit like a glove over her slender body, covering her from neck to toes. But it was cut on a diagonal between her breasts, shockingly exposing the flesh of the right side of her upper body under a sheer black net sparked with diamentés and tiny black crepe flowers. Only the breast itself was modestly covered by a large crepe flower, a winking stone nestled in the center directly over her nipple.
Morgan couldn’t take his eyes off it.
The woman spoke to the maître d’, then turned back in Morgan’s direction. She gazed coolly around the room for a moment before she followed the maître d’. Her walk was lithe and graceful, and Morgan knew he could have watched her movements for hours. She was a goddess come to life. The thought popped into his head that if he had wanted a birthday present, she would have been it.
A hush had fallen over the restaurant, and heads turned in her wake. The men were more than appreciative; the women enviously disdainful. Realizing she was actually coming to his table, Morgan felt his heart leap and begin to pound its way out of his chest. As he continued to stare at her everything seemed to fade into a gray mist until he and she were the only ones in the room. A still-functioning corner of his mind cursed his schoolboy reaction to the woman, and sternly told him if he didn’t snap out of it he was going to make a fool of himself.
That thought penetrated his numb brain, and he managed to politely stand when she reached his table, vaguely aware that George had also stood. He didn’t even take notice of George’s wife and Lisa as they sat stiffly, glaring at the female stranger.
The woman stood directly in front of him, and he found her even more impossibly beautiful. Her brown eyes locked with his. For a moment he thought she was angry, until she smiled an impy little grin that belied all her regal elegance.
His face beginning to heat, he wondered if she was a birthday surprise arranged by George. Belly dancers, singing telegrams, and strippers were popular gifts nowadays for the American male.
Morgan fervently prayed she wouldn’t burst into a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” Or worse, start stripping to her bikini!
Suddenly her arms wound around his neck, and she kissed him. Her lips were petal-soft, a butterfly’s caress to tease and tantalize, and her breasts pressed against his chest, the small mounds causing an ache he had never felt before. Perfume, as light as dew on the morning grass, seemed to enfold them in a private cocoon.
It was the sweetest kiss he’d ever received.
She quickly broke the embrace, and Morgan opened dazed eyes, expecting to see her standing before him. But she wasn’t there.
Wild-eyed, he glanced around the dining room, only to discover the woman had completely vanished, while all the diners were staring at him as if he’d suddenly gone insane.
Dark red staining his cheekbones now, he instantly turned to George and demanded, “Who was that woman?”
“I thought you knew her!” George said. “Because I certainly don’t.”
“George! Stop playing dumb. My birthday surprise was very funny, and a little embarrassing, but I’m not angry. So don’t be afraid to admit you hired her.” He chuckled dryly. “At least, I’m not as angry as I would have been if she’d started belly-dancing in front of me.”
“Morgan, I didn’t hire her. Believe me, I wouldn’t be afraid to admit it if I had. But I never saw that woman before in my life.”
Morgan stared at George in confusion. George’s consternation was too genuine; he obviously had no idea who the beautiful redhead was. Morgan looked around the room to see if he could spot a familiar, laughing face, then drew his brows together in puzzlement when he didn’t find one.
“Well, whoever she is,” he said with a lopsided grin, “she forgot to wish me a happy birthday.