Sarah Harrington has moved from New York to Australia to expand her father’s chain of wine bars. She’s too busy for a social life, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to completely ignore her needs. She contacts an exclusive agency who promises to send her a man who can fulfill her every desire. But the man they send is nothing like she expected.
Just one night with Sarah is enough to have vineyard owner David craving more. He’d planned to try and approach her with a business proposition, but he never expected her to even agree to talk to him, let alone take him to bed. This case of mistaken identity turns out to be the best night of his life, even if Sarah now thinks he set her up.
Sarah might not trust him, but she certainly can’t deny her body wants him. All David has to do is convince her that one taste of him hasn’t satisfied her, and together they could have some full-bodied fun.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
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Sarah Harrington glanced at her pearl-faced gold watch for the umpteenth time and willed herself to calm down. It was twenty after seven. Her date was only twenty minutes late. It doesn't mean you've been stood up. Under the circumstances, why would he do that? This is his business, Sarah. It's not personal.
Not reassured by her inner pep talk, Sarah took another sip of her Shiraz. It was good, one of the best she'd tasted recently. The bartender had informed her it came from a boutique vineyard in the Yarra Valley, just outside Melbourne. He'd been chatty about the place but Sarah had listened with only half an ear, distracted by anxiety over what she had come to this exclusive upmarket hotel to do.
What she would do if her partner for the evening ever showed up.
There was no way she could call him direct to check on his whereabouts. That wasn't part of the deal. She'd dialed the number of a woman named Kendra who ran an exclusive agency catering to women with more money than time, like Sarah. She'd been promised anonymity and discretion. Perhaps she should have extracted an assurance of promptness or at least a description. All she'd been told was the man's name was David, he was in his early thirties and he was supposed to be here by seven.
Sarah glanced at the gold-etched doors that separated the bar from the hotel lobby. The only person walking in was a woman wearing an elegant pantsuit and too much makeup. Sarah sighed and returned to her wine. If only she had time for a bona fide social life instead of filling her days to the brim with work, stooping this low might not have been necessary. For God's sake, she'd contacted an escort agency.
Admit what it is, Sarah. You're paying for sex.
"Excuse me, ma'am. Would you like another?"
Sarah glanced at the bartender then down at her almost empty wineglass in surprise. She hadn't realized how much she'd drunk — and that had been her second glass. She turned her wrist to see her watch once more. Almost a quarter to eight. He wasn't coming.
The rejection pierced her like a sword through the abdomen. It was ridiculous — she was stung at being stood up by some faceless man who meant nothing to her. But it was impossible not to feel small when you were discarded by someone you'd paid to be with you.
She offered the bartender a wan smile. "No, thank you."
"There's a smooth Merlot that comes from the same estate. Maybe you'd want to try that?"
"I've had enough for tonight." She'd had enough of sitting here, waiting for an escort to show. People tended to wait for Harringtons, not the other way around. She picked up her purse and slid off the barstool, her heart growing heavier with each step she took toward the door.
Perhaps a vow of celibacy was the answer.
David Genero brushed a hand through his hair as he strode across the burgundy carpet of the hotel's lobby, trying to repair the damage done to the neat style by the fierce wind. It was a chilly evening, the kind where curling up in front of the fireplace on his property held particular attraction, even if he would have been doing it alone now that Melissa had left. Eight months ago, but it felt like less. He'd been working nonstop so he barely noticed the days racing by or the quiet emptiness of the cottage nestled within the vineyard.
Proving Melissa's argument, David supposed. Perhaps the vineyard had meant more to him than she had.
No question, he'd reached the end of his tether. One phone call from his friend John, who worked the bar here during the week, and David had been dressed in the only suit he owned and behind the wheel of his four-wheel drive, breaking limits to get here and see for himself. Sarah Harrington, the Sarah Harrington, American hotel heiress and head of the Harry's Nook chain of wine bars, was sitting in the lobby bar of the Regent drinking one of David's wines.
The perfect opportunity for him to introduce himself. Perhaps slip her his card and invite her out to Windy Valley for a tour.
David swallowed the foul taste left in his mouth by what he was about to do. He wasn't that guy. He despised opportunism, yet here he was. He didn't have a choice. If he didn't do something to increase sales soon, the winery his uncle left him could go under. The Harringtons had opened a Harry's Nook in Melbourne a few months ago and another was set to open soon. If David could convince the company to stock his wines, it would give his business a much-needed boost.
But so far the minions in the organization had given him short shrift, reducing him to this.
Someone pushed open the door to the bar just as he started to pull it back. He did the bulk of the work, taking the gold-etched glass out of the blonde's hands and standing back to allow her passage. She offered him a polite smile as she passed, her blue eyes sliding over his face. A pretty, summer-sky blue that hit David somewhere in the chest while the delicate waft of her perfume enveloped him, making him want to move closer.
The woman's face was arresting, from the slender line of her nose to the fine curve of her lips. She was attractive in a way that David sensed would improve through the years and she carried herself with a regal aura that spoke of good breeding, her spine stiff and straight like a Norfolk Island pine. As she moved past him, David's attention remained on her. He stood there holding the door open like a porter, watching her move on endless, stockinged legs to the elevator. She was wearing a black dress, simple and elegant with long sleeves and a scooped neckline that hinted at a ripe suppleness but stopped short of revealing it. It was classy and expensive — like the woman wearing it.
She must have perceived him staring because she turned back and held his gaze with one that gave nothing away. He had no clue if she was flattered by his clearly appreciative male reaction or displeased by it. The thought that it might be the latter roused him from his trance. He mentally shook himself and stepped into the bar, letting the door swing shut behind him.
What was he doing? He'd come here to meet one woman and had just spent far too long staring at another — checking her out like an awestruck adolescent, to be precise. He forced his mind onto the task at hand. Sarah Harrington. If she was still here, he had to talk to her.
David strode to the bar and caught John's eye. The other man nodded in acknowledgement, finished serving the customer in front of him and headed over. His first words made disappointment sink through David. "You just missed her. She liked it though, mate. Finished two glasses."
Poor consolation if he couldn't keep the business open in order to produce any more. "Don't suppose she offered to stock loads of it in her wine bars?"
"Sorry, mate. She was nice though, nicer than you'd expect for a rich American." John chuckled. "A stunner too. Leggy, blonde. The type blokes like you and I don't get a chance with."
Sarah Harrington is a blonde.
Thinking of the woman at the door, David could have kicked himself for not putting two and two together then. "Shit. John, I've gotta go."
Then David was running. In the back of his mind he was aware this was not the way to handle things, but he was operating on instinct and an unhealthy dose of desperation. He shoved open the glass doors and saw the blonde standing by the elevator. As he watched, the shiny silver doors parted and she took a step over the threshold.
David made it to the lift just as the doors began to whoosh shut. He stuck out his hand to stay their progress. "Sarah?"
The way she glanced up was all the answer he needed. It was her. Belatedly, he realized he should have addressed her as Miss Harrington. Not a very professional beginning, Genero. First he openly ogled her, now he got too familiar and ... Actually he'd sunk to ogling again.
Christ, she was breathtaking.
He started at the sound of his name. She knew who he was? Then he remembered John saying on the phone earlier he would try to lay some groundwork for him, talk about his friend who owned the little winery that just needed a chance to grow. John must have told Sarah about him.
"Yes, it's me." David stuck out his hand to formally introduce himself but the elevator doors dinged and tried to close on his arm. He pushed them back with a determined thump. "I'm sorry I didn't realize who you were when I first saw you. I didn't think you ..."
She waited, one brow raised. "Didn't think I'd ...?"
"Be so beautiful." Inwardly, David winced. Smooth, man, real smooth.
She assessed him shrewdly, perhaps trying to work out if he was spinning a line. Of course, she must get a lot of that sort of thing. David called himself a first-class dunce.
"I apologize — again." Once more, the doors tried to close and David held them open by sheer will. He didn't want to come across as any more presumptuous than he already had by stepping into the elevator before she invited him to. "Can I start over? Please? I'll try not to say anything else so trite and expected."
He saw it then, a ghost of a smile twitching her lips. "You think I expect to be called beautiful?"
David found his focus roaming over her face, helplessly. "Don't you?"
They eyed each other for several heartbeats. Then Sarah glanced pointedly at the door, which was about to close on David's arm once again. "I think you'd better come in."
Letting out a breath, David stepped over the threshold into the lift. The doors closed with a sigh, locking them into the artificial cone of silence of the carriage. Sarah pressed the button marked sixteen, the top floor of the hotel. Obviously she'd be staying in one of the most expensive suites.
Now that he had his time with her, David had no idea how to begin. Her attention rested on his profile. The heat of it compelled him to turn his head to face her.
In her heels she was almost six feet tall, nearly equal to him in height. She stared him down as though seeing inside him and making assessments he couldn't hope to fathom. She didn't flinch as he returned her scrutiny, although he could do nothing to hide the fact he found her appealing.
"Thank you," he said, hoping to distract her before she realized he was undressing her with his mind.
That calmly measured inspection continued. "What for?"
"For not telling me to go to hell. I wasn't sure you'd agree to meet with me."
"I wasn't sure I should meet you. I don't usually ... I don't usually do this sort of thing."
"I know." David was abashed his situation had forced him to take such measures. He'd hunted down Sarah in her own private time and cornered her in an elevator. "Believe me, neither do I."
Skepticism toughened her features. No doubt people subjected her to all sorts of boorish requests in the hope of gaining their slice of the Harrington fortune. And here he was, doing exactly that. Why would she believe he'd never been this pushy before?
"You have every reason not to believe me," he told her. "But I hope you do anyway. I've never done this before."
Her eyes widened, disbelief turning to surprise. Her breathing stilled and it made David hold the air in his lungs as well. He felt in tune with her, aware of her body as he couldn't remember being of any other woman's.
He couldn't help the way his appraisal wandered, moving over her high cheekbones to the tiny pearl earrings dangling from her lobes. He examined the tight French twist she'd forced her hair into, not a strand out of place, and imagined ripping those pins from her golden tresses. Would it rattle her quiet composure? He realized his desire was reflected in his tense features when shock registered on her face. He cursed his inability to veil his base reaction, even as he wondered what she'd do with the knowledge his failure gave her.
What she did stole his breath. Her lashes lowered, her gaze narrowing with interest as it dropped to his mouth. Cornflower-blue irises turned stormy as she surveyed his lips with slumberous interest, making no attempt to hide the fact she was wondering what it would be like to kiss him.
That expression alone was enough to make David's cock jerk and swell. He'd never been this close to a woman so refined or beautiful. He'd certainly never had a woman — a lady — like Sarah Harrington give him the come-hither treatment. He wondered what she'd do if he took her up on her silent invitation. If he wound his arms around her and covered her mouth with his, pressed her up against the wall of the elevator and ...
The ping that announced their arrival on the sixteenth floor startled David out of thoughts fast becoming dangerous. They both stared at the empty hallway without moving for so long the doors began to slide closed again. David shot out his arm to stop them.
Sarah laughed. It was a husky sound, as though her throat had to work rarely used muscles to make it. David suspected she didn't laugh much or often, and the thought made him sad for her. "Is your arm going to make it through tonight, do you think?"
"I'm not sure." David moved it back and forth, pretending to check for damage. "It might need first aid."
Her laughter petered out, leaving a faint smile behind. "Follow me, then."
She was inviting him to her room? David's dick reacted with predictable enthusiasm at the notion before his brain registered she was conceding to talk business. Business, Genero.
His heart in his throat, David followed Sarah along the thick-carpeted hallway.
Sarah had no idea how she managed to reach the door of her room without stumbling. The air in the hallway grew thin, not full enough of oxygen to replenish her supply no matter how rapidly she drew it into her lungs. She hadn't known what to expect. But she certainly hadn't expected him.
He appeared to be like any other man. Broad shouldered and handsome in a dark suit, but by no means drop-dead gorgeous. His hair was chestnut brown and curly, the kind of hair that could never be tamed into a neat style. A recalcitrant curl looped over his forehead, drawing her attention to his dark irises, which were a deep, gentle brown that somehow inspired trust.
Sarah reminded herself she didn't know David at all. Just because his eyes were nice, his appraisal of her physical attributes revealing in a way that made her heart skip, didn't mean he was honest. It didn't mean she could trust him.
"I'm sorry I arrived after you finished your drink," David said. "If you'd prefer to go back downstairs, I'd be happy to buy you another."
She should really admonish him, let him know making her wait wasn't acceptable. But the way he'd acted downstairs, the haste with which he'd raced to stop the elevator's ascent, made her think his tardiness wasn't due to negligence. Who knew? There were accidents on the roads all the time, people had trouble starting their cars. She wondered briefly what sort of car an escort drove. Something expensive and European? Did David earn enough for that?
Probably not, if he was new at this. She wasn't sure whether to believe that. It could be a line, used to put his "dates" at ease. Yet that unnerving instinct to place her faith in him rose within her again. It hadn't sounded like a lie.
She said, "I think I'd rather you came inside now."
She pushed open the door to the presidential suite and led him across the threshold.
Once inside, David let out a low whistle. "Nice digs." She slanted him a glance and he appeared immediately contrite. "Sorry. I think I'm showing my working-class roots."
A smile played with the corners of her mouth. "That's perfectly all right. Did you grow up around here?"
He shook his head. "A tiny town outside Adelaide. You probably wouldn't know it."
"I grew up in New York but my father had houses in L.A. and London too."
"Wow," he said quietly. "Makes Murrumbungee sound like a speck of dust."
Sarah frowned. She hadn't meant to come across as pretentious about her cosmopolitan upbringing. Not sure how to smooth that over, she asked, "Would you like some champagne?"
"Only if you're having some."
Sarah strode to the ice bucket, which stood beside one of the two-seater red-and-gold brocade couches that served as the suite's living room. The champagne came compliments of the hotel management, who'd apparently guessed who she was despite her using the assumed surname Harris upon check-in. Everyone had been very discreet however, leaving her blessedly free of sycophants or slick operators with business propositions they thought she wanted to hear.
As she began to remove the foil from the Cristal, David approached and took the bottle from her. "Allow me."
His nearness caused her body to react as it had in the elevator. Her pulse rate increased, her heart thumping rapidly against her ribs. She didn't think he wore cologne. He smelled faintly of rain and earth, the musky undertone something Sarah could only describe as man.
Excerpted from "Just One Taste"
Copyright © 2013 Sami Lee.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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