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When model Keri was stranded with dark, brooding bodyguard Jay Linur, it was clear they were from different worlds. But opposites attract...and she impulsively abandoned the fashion catwalk for a walk on the wild side. The passion that followed blew her mind....
Back in reality, Keri discovered that Jay was more than he seemed: not only did he have brawn, but he also had brains and billions! And though marriage was the last thing on Jay's mind, Keri found she couldn't walk away from himknowing that in bed, at least, Jay dropped his tough-guy guard and let his passion take control....
About the Author
Sharon Kendrick started story-telling at the age of eleven and has never stopped. She likes to write fast-paced, feel-good romances with heroes who are so sexy they’ll make your toes curl! She lives in the beautiful city of Winchester – where she can see the cathedral from her window (when standing on tip-toe!). She has two children, Celia and Patrick and her passions include music, books, cooking and eating – and drifting into daydreams while working out new plots.
Read an Excerpt
HE DIDN'T say much, but maybe that was best. There was nothing worse than a driver who talked.
Keri settled back in the soft leather seat of the luxury car and stared at the back of the man in the driving seat in front of her. No, definitely no talker hemore the strong, silent type. Very strongjudging by the broad set of those shouldersand very definitely silent. There had been little more than a nod when he had picked her up from her London flat early that morning, and very little since.
Keri shivered. Outside the snowflakes continued to flurry downbig, fat, splodgy things which melted on your cheeks and clung like stubborn confetti to your hair.
She pulled her sheepskin coat tighter and huddled into it. "Brrr! Could you turn the heater up a little? I'm absolutely freezing."
His eyes intently fixed on the road ahead, Jay flicked a switch. "Can do."
"And would you mind putting your foot down? I want to get back to London some time tonight."
"I'll do my best," he said equably. He would drive only as fast as conditions demanded, no more and no less. Jay's face was hidden, but he flicked a glance at the rearview mirror to see the model sliding a pair of fur-lined gloves over her long fingers. If she had been able to see him she would have seen the unmistakable look of irritation on his face. Not that his irritation would have bothered her, of courseeven if she had picked it up. He was simply the driveremployed to cater to her every whim and keep close watch on the priceless chandelier of a necklace which had been dripping exquisite diamonds from her long, pale neck during one of the coldest afternoons of the year.
He had watched while the stylists and the photographers and all their assistants had fussed round her, and had observed her blank, almost bored look of compliance as she had let them. He had been pretty bored himself, if the truth were known. Watching a magazine-shoot seemed to involve one hell of a lot of waiting around. The waiting he could deal with, if there was a good reason for it, but this had seemed like a complete waste of time.
To Jay, it had seemed crazy that a woman would agree to wear a flimsy evening dress outdoors on a bitterly icy day. Surely they could have recreated a winter scene inside the warmth and comfort of a studio, and made his job easier?
And then he had seen the Polaroids, and suddenly he had understood. Before the camera she had come aliveand how. He had given a long, low whistle and the photographer's assistant had flashed him a conspiratorial smile.
"Gorgeous, isn't she?"
Jay had studied them. Sure, she was exquisitejust like the diamonds themselves, if you liked diamonds, which personally he didn't. Framed by the sooty fall of her loose hair, her face was pale as a dusting of frost, her eyes as dark as the bare charcoal branches of the trees. Her lips were full and redpainted crimson, like rich ruby wineand they parted into a shape of sheer, moist provocation. The thin silver gown had added to the wintry feel of the photograph, and it had high breasts and the curving bottom.
But she'd looked as if she had been made from ice, or waxtoo perfect to be true and not real at all. If you pricked a woman like that, would she bleed? he wondered. If you made love to her, would she cry out in wild, uninhibited passionor would she just smooth down that perfect hair and flick it back over her shoulders?
"She's okay," he had drawled, and the assistant had given him another understanding smile.
"I know what you mean." He'd shrugged. "Not just a case of out of our leagueshe's probably never even heard of our league!"
Jay had nodded and turned away, not bothering to correct himthe day he decided a woman was out of his league would be the day he failed to draw breath. He was here to do a job and get away as soon as possible. He shouldn't even have been there in the first place, and he had a date that night with a cool dream of a blonde he had been fighting off without quite knowing whyonly tonight he had decided that maybe it was time to throw in the towel.
A slow smile of anticipation curved his mouth. "How long, do you think?" The model's voice cut into thoughts which were just threatening to get erotic, and her question didn't really help.
"How long is what?" he questioned.
Keri sighed. It had been a long, long day and, if the truth were known, she would have liked nothing more than to go home to a hot bath and then curl herself up with a good book instead of go out on a dinner date. Not that dinner with David would be anything other than enjoyableit always was. True, he didn't set her pulses on fire, but he knew that and he didn't mind a bit. Well, that was what he saidbut Keri couldn't help wondering if, deep down, he was quietly working on a campaign to make her change her mind. And she wouldn't, of course. David fell firmly into the category of friend and was stuck there, and that was probably best. Loversat least in Keri's limited experience tended to be bad news.
"I was asking how long it will take us to get back to London."
Jay narrowed his eyes at the road ahead. The snow was getting heavier now. The skies were pale grey, so pale that it was impossible to see where the falling, swirling snow ended and the sky began. Trees loomed up as they passedskeletal brooms so inhospitable that you could not imagine them ever bearing fruit or leaves or blossoms.
It was tempting to say that if she hadn't wasted so much time then they would be well on their way now, but he didn't. It wasn't the job of the driver to offer anything in the way of opinions, which took more than a little self-restraint on his part.
"Difficult to say," he murmured. "Depends."
"On what?" Something about that lazy, drawled air of assurance was making her prickly. What kind of driver was he, anyway, if he couldn't throw in a rough estimate of their time of arrival?
He heard the faintly impatient note in her voice and hid a smile. He had forgotten what it was like to be subordinateto have people tell you what to do and to ask you questions and expect you to answer, just as if you were some kind of machine.
"On how bad this snow gets," he said, frowning suddenly as he felt the treacherous slide of the front wheels. He slowed right down.
Keri stared out of the window. "It doesn't look that bad to me."
"You think so?" he murmured. "Well, that's okay, then."
He had a faint, almost American drawl, and for a moment she thought she detected a mocking note of humour underpinning it. Suspiciously, Keri stared at the unmoving set of his broad shoulders. Was he making fun of her?
Through a gap in the thick curtain of dark fringe which flopped into her eyes Jay could see the tiny frown which pleated the smooth, pale perfection of her forehead. "Would you like the radio on?" he questioned, as soothingly as he would to a maiden aunt who was in danger of becoming fractious.
He was making her feel...uncomfortable, and she couldn't quite put her finger on why. "Actually," said Keri, very deliberately, "what I would really like is to get some sleep, so if you wouldn't mind...?"
"Sure. No problem." Jay hid a smile which vanished as he drove further into the winter dusk. The flakes of snow had changed from being the innocent ones of storybook picturesnow they were small, and he knew that they would have the bite of ice behind them. The wind was gusting them into bitter white flurries so that they looked like swarms of white bees.
He glanced in the mirror again. She had fallen asleep. Her head had fallen back and her hair was spread out behind it, like a shiny black pillow. The blanket had slipped down and the slit in her skirt meant that her long legs were sprawled outpretty much the longest legs he had ever seen on a woman. Legs like that could wrap themselves round a man's neck like a deadly snake. Deliberately, Jay averted his eyes from their coltish display and from the tantalising glimpse of lacy stocking-top. This drive was going to take longer than he had anticipatedfar better she slept than distract him.
But the weather was distraction enough. The narrow lanes became more precarious by the second, with the snow falling heavier and heavier, and as night closed in the darkness hid the fall from sight and the car began to slow as it encountered the first drifts.
He knew way before it happened that things were going to get badreally bad. Instinct told him that, coupled with the experience of having lived in some of the most God-awful conditions known to man.
His windscreen wipers were flicking dementedly, but still it was like gazing into an icy abyss. The road dipped slightly, and he eased his foot back. A dip was good. Slopes ran down into hollows and hollows were where you found people, and they built houses which equalled shelter, and he suspected that they very soon they might need shelter... Except that this was pretty desolate countryside. Unspoiled, he guessed. Chosen for its beauty and its very isolation.
He flicked the light on briefly, to glance down at the map, and then squinted his eyes as the car passed the darkened bulk of a building. Some way after that, Jay realised that he no longer had a choice, and braked. Hard.
The jerk of the car woke her, and Keri opened her eyes, caught in that warm half-world between waking and sleeping. She yawned. "Where are we?" she questioned sleepily.
"In the middle of nowhere," he answered succinctly. "Take a look for yourself."
The sound of the low, tough masculine voice shook her right out of her reverie, and for a moment it startled her, until she realised where she was. She looked out of the window, and then blinked. He wasn't joking.
While she had been sleeping the snowy landscape had been transformed into one which was now unrecognisable. Night had closed in, and with it the snow. Everything was black and white, like a photographic negative, and it would have been beautiful if it didn't look so...forbidding. And they were in the middle of it. Of nowhere, as he had said. "Why have you stopped?" she asked.
Why do you think I've stopped? "Because the fall is heavy here."
"Well, how long is it going to take us to get back now?"
Jay shot another glance out, and then looked in the mirror at her beautiful perplexed face. It was clear from her question that she had no idea how bad it was, and he was going to have to break it to her. Gently.
"If it carries on like this there's no way we're going to make it back at all, at least not tonightwe'll be lucky if we make it as far as the nearest village."
This was sounding like something out of a bad movie. "But I don't want to go to a village!" she exclaimed. "I want to go to home!"
I want. I want. He supposed a woman like that spent all her time getting exactly what it was she wanted. Well, not tonight. "You and me both, sweetheart," he said grimly. "But I'll settle for what I can take."
She let the sweetheart bit go. Now was not the time to get frosty because he was being over-familiar. "Can't you just drive on?"
He pressed cautiously on the accelerator, then eased his foot off. "Nope. We're stuck."
Keri sat bolt upright. "What do you mean?" What the hell do you think I mean? "Like I said, we're stuck. There are drifts in the road. Snowdrifts. And they're underpacked with ice. It's a potentially lethal situation."
Keri briefly shut her eyes. Please tell me this isn't happening. She opened them again. "Couldn't you have predicted this might happen and taken a different route?"
He might have let it go, but something in her accusation made his blood simmer. "There is no alternative routenot out of that God-forsaken field they chose for the shootand, if you recall, I asked you three times to hurry up. I said that I didn't like the look of the sky. But you were too busy being fawned over by a load of luvvies to pay much attention to what I was saying."
Was he criticising her? "I was just doing my job!"
"And I'm trying to do mine," he said darkly. "Which is dealing with the situation as it is, not wasting time by casting around for recriminations!"
Keri stared at the back of his dark head, feeling like a tennis-player who had been wrong-footed. And the most annoying thing of all was that he was right. He might have an arrogant, almost insolent way of expressing himself, but she could see his logic. "So what do you suggest we do?" she questioned coolly.
By we he guessed she meant him. "I guess we find some shelter."
"No." Keri shook her head. What did he thinkthat she was going to book into a hotel for the night? With him? "I don't think you understandI have to be back in London. Tonight." She eyed his muscular frame hopefully. "Can't you dig us out?"
"With a spare snow-plough?" Jay smiled. "I don't think you understand, sweethearteven if I dug us out, it would only be a temporary measure. This road is impassable."
She felt a momentary flare of panic, until reason reasserted itself. "You can't know that!"
He wasn't about to start explaining that he had seen snow and ice in pretty much all its guises. The empty bleached horizons of arctic wastes which made this particular snow scene look like a benign Christmas card. Or swimming beneath polar ice-caps and wondering if your blood had frozen solid in your veins, wetsuit or no wetsuit. Men trapped...lost...never to be heard of again.
A hard note entered his voice. "Oh, but I canit's my job to know." He turned off the ignition, and turned round and shrugged. "Sorry, but that's the way it is."
She opened her mouth to reply, but the words froze on her lips as she met his eyes for the first timehard, glittering eyes which took her breath away, and it was a long time since a man had done that. It was the first time she had looked at him properly, but then you never really looked at a driver, did you? They were part of the fixtures and fittings, part of the car itself or at least they were supposed to be. She sucked in a dry gulp of air, confused by the sudden pounding of her heart, as if it was trying to remind her that it still existed. Lord alive, what was a man like this doing driving a car for a living?
His face was chiselledall hard and lean angles which seemed at odds with the lush, sensual curve of his upper lip. In the low light she couldn't make out the colour of his slanting eyes, but she could appreciate the feathery forest of lashes which gave them such an enigmatic look, and she had been modelling for long enough to know that cheekbones like that were rare.
He was, quite simply, gorgeous.