Romeo for Hire
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Scorching sex: definitely on the menu. Hold the love, please…
Workaholic Carly Mason is caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock: an invitation for four days of sun and sand with her friends and their men. The hard place: “Mr. Invisible”, who lusts after her with delicious abandon, doesn’t exist—Carly invented him to keep her friends off her back about her lack of a love life.
Then she encounters a motorbike-riding Adonis whose image taunts her during the wee small hours. When fate drops him in her sights the next day, she grabs the opportunity to offer him a job. Pretend to be her Romeo, just for the duration of her getaway.
Exhausted from months negotiating his multi-million-dollar company’s expansion, Marco Valente is more than tempted by Carly’s outrageous proposal. If nothing else, it’ll give him a temporary escape from his high-profile life—and his mother’s serial-bride attitude.
Once on the island, Carly realizes her well-meaning friends have tricked her into a “relaxing” vacation. For the next four days and nights, it’s just her and her hired Romeo. And a growing connection that definitely wasn’t part of the contract…
Warning: Contains two unbelievably stubborn people undergoing serious cell phone withdrawal, and seriously scorching sex on the beach. Not responsible for reader’s failure to apply sunblock before reading.
As Carly glanced into the car’s mirror, she caught the reflection of a flickering single golden beam. It loomed out of the darkness, alone, closing in on her and filling the car with an eerie glow. Automatically, she stiffened and a ripple of fear trickled down her spine. She tested the car door to make sure it was locked, chastising herself for taking the back road where the dense hedgerows clung to either side of the narrow winding road. The route was meant to be a shortcut, but now, in the depth of the night, it seemed to meander forever. She pressed on the accelerator and the car instantly sped up, but the beam of light continued to trail mile after long mile behind her.
Practicing deep breathing, Carly managed to rein in her fanciful thoughts when a fractured boom pierced the night. The car jerked sideways, the steering wheel whipping from her grip as the right front wheel began to thump with a bone-jarring jolt.
She yanked the wheel back, righting the car, swerving to miss a culvert.
Her foot pumped the brake.
Nothing. No pressure, no resistance.
Staring down at her foot as if it would explain why the brake wasn’t reacting, she tried it again and pushed harder.
Dear God. Carly’s stomach lurched. She was going to crash. There was no way out. No brakes and only three tires. The grating scrape of metal against metal rent the air—then nothing—no movement or sound, except for the hum of a single engine echoing in the silence.
Carly’s heart thudded so hard she thought it would explode. Her breathing came in harsh, short gurgles and her eyes fluttered shut for a second. She counted slowly to ten, trying to collect her scattered wits.
“Need some help?”
Her head shot up and she choked back a fearful sob as she looked up into the eyes of a stranger at the driver’s door. Instinctively, she pulled away from the daunting outline of a lone man silhouetted by the flare of a motorcycle headlight.
There was no one here to protect her.
So what’s new?
Carly gave a tiny internal shrug.
With stubborn pride, she bit back her uncertainty, struggling to stamp down the flock of butterflies doing an upbeat tango in her stomach.
“I…uh, yes.” Remembering common sense to meet your foe at eye level, she opened the car door. She clutched her car keys in the ball of one fist, letting the pointed edge of the key poke between thumb and finger, and stood. She was battle-ready if need be.
Grateful for the lighting of the moon that haloed them as if they were in their own illuminated cocoon, she pulled herself to her full height. He was powerfully built, with the broad stance of an athlete and the aura of being in charge—totally. It unnerved her, and she stepped back a fraction.
“The tire is flat,” she muttered apologetically, feeling foolish at stating the obvious. On autopilot, she operated on sensory rather than brain cell. “And the brakes wouldn’t work.”
It was. Very bad. And his nearness set Carly on edge and drowned out any sensible thoughts. Her nostrils flared as she inhaled the spicy scent of his cologne, recognizing the tang of citrus and cinnamon. The exotic perfume wrapped around her, conjuring up visions of the desert, of men riding bareback. Very sexy. Very tempting. And definitely all male.
Beneath her silk blouse her nipples grazed against her lacy bra and she felt a scalding heat stain her cheeks, liquid desire spreading through her body. It pooled where it had no right to make her feel. Not here. Not now, in the middle of the night, on a lonely back road with a total stranger.
Whoa! Back up. What was she thinking?
Never mind thinking, what was her body doing? Her wayward reaction set her off balance, as if she were two people, her body and her brain.
That reaction alone ignited an uncomfortable emotion in Carly she hadn’t dealt with for a long time. Things like this didn’t happen to her. She had no time for men. She wasn’t interested.
Perhaps if she said it enough, she would finally believe it. Carly frowned and ignored her own reasoning.
If the stranger noticed her scramble for sanity, he said nothing. He crouched down, and Carly heard the clanging sound of metal wrenched from metal. A frown creased his brows, and her gut churned. The nightmare wasn’t easing.
He straightened and dusted his hands down leather trousers that molded his muscled thighs like a second skin, the moon in a cloudless sky striking a play of light against the shiny fabric. It hid absolutely nothing.
No. Don’t do that, she pleaded silently. But her gaze remained riveted to his hands as they grazed his thighs. She choked back a cough, and her brain switched into overdrive. In her overheated imagination it wasn’t his legs his hand caressed, but hers.
“I can change the tire, but I don’t think it’ll do much good if the brakes are acting up.”
Carly’s eyes closed. She bit back the urge to cry. “My foot went straight to the floor. There was no pressure at all.”
“Be dangerous to drive then. You’d better ride with me.”
Carly’s eyes shot open. “Dangerous?” she repeated. “With you?”
“Yeah. I can promise you a smooth ride.”
She bet he could. His voice had a faint accent, making it smoky and sinful. Just the sound of it sent a shiver racing down her spine.
She shook her head. This shouldn’t be happening. What was wrong with her? She was…on fire.
So where is Ms. Boring now? Ms. Everything-is-about-business.
Who the heck knew?
From the scuff of his ebony boots with all those shiny silver buckles to the tip of his rakish jet-black hair, this man fit the description of her Mr. Invisible perfectly.
Whoa. Forget it. Bad, bad idea.
What was she thinking? She tried to find her voice, but came up blank.
“If you lock up your car, you can call the auto service when you get home.”
“Ride with you?” Oh, Lordy. Carly eyed the bike. A silver-chromed monster, seething with power and…sex. Just like him.
“Unless you want to walk ten miles in those sex-kitten heels you’re wearing?”
“Sex-kitten? They’re expensive…”
“Most likely, since they’re Manolo’s,” he interrupted, surprising Carly that he knew about shoes. “But with that peep toe you’ve got going on and heels that are no fatter than a noodle, they’re definitely in the sex-kitten category.”
Carly stared down at her feet. The beam from his motorcycle highlighted her shoes. “What the heck do you know about shoes?”
“Not shoes exactly, but I’ve seen plenty of legs in killer heels in my time.” He gave her a wink.
How did she reply to that? Carly snapped her mouth closed. Heaven help her.
Was she? Suddenly, she felt as if she’d swallowed the Sahara desert and licked her lips. But the moment she lifted her gaze and saw Mr. Blue Eyes staring straight at her mouth, she slammed her lips firmly closed.
“Have you ridden on top before?”
Oh, good God. Help! Someone! Why was everything he said, plus everything she thought, sounding like sex? Totally and utterly carnal. “I…I’ve never ridden a bike, unless you count a push bike and my sister’s tricycle.”
“Really?” One dark brow arched, and his smile broadened. “Then it will be my pleasure to teach you.”
One Lucky winner will win a Copy of “Romeo for Hire” (INT)