Authors: Heidi Rice
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Women, #General, #Fiction
‘First you kiss me until I’m so damn hot I can’t see straight. Then you run off. And now you’re doing the whole damn thing all over again.’
He searched her face with an intensity that had heat flooding between her thighs. ‘Stop playing hard to get. There’s no need,’ he murmured, his lips a millimetre from hers. ‘Believe me, you’ve already got my full attention.’
She heard her own staggered gasp moments before his lips swooped down in a harsh, punishing kiss. Her fingers fisted convulsively in his shirt, but she could do nothing to resist the powerful, possessive strokes of his tongue. A tidal wave of raw, flaming need rose up from nowhere and cascaded through her. Her head fell back in surrender and his firm, insistent lips suckled the pulse-point in her neck.
‘Kiss me back,’ he urged in a strained whisper.
She lifted shaking arms, circled his neck and did as he asked, all thoughts of resistance gone as the bone-deep longing, the wild crazy thrill of exhilaration fizzed inside her like vintage champagne. Their tongues tangled in a frantic dance. A new, unknown power shimmered through her as he shuddered in response.
He tore his lips away, his breathing as ragged as hers. ‘No more games now. I came here tonight to have you. My hotel’s in the next valley. If we hurry we should be there in ten minutes.’
I love it when I’m in the process of writing a book and a secondary character yells, ‘Hey, what about me? Don’t I deserve a story of my own?’ So I was chuffed to bits when Juno Delamare did exactly that as I was writing her best mate Daisy’s story in HOT-SHOT TYCOON, INDECENT PROPOSAL.
At the time, Juno didn’t even have a second name; she was just Daisy’s cautious, earnest, tomboy friend. Juno had been hurt badly once, and it had made her prickly and pessimistic and extremely wary of good-looking men. But her honesty, her fortitude and her emotional integrity instantly engaged me. And so, as Daisy’s story unfolded, Juno began to insist I find her a man of her own who could coax her out of her cocoon.
Then, lo and behold, Connor Brody—Daisy’s hero—mentioned he had a long-lost brother. Now, while at first this seemed a remarkably lucky coincidence, I quickly realised Juno had not had a man as dangerous as Mac Brody in mind when she had asked me to find her one true love. Would she be able to cope with this brooding Irish bad boy-turned-Hollywood star who had sealed off his heart at an early age and seduced women only to discard them the instant things got serious? And then I thought, What the hell? I’m the author here—not her. I’ll chuck Juno in at the deep end and see if she floats.
I hope you get the same kick out of watching her—and indeed Mac—struggle to survive the emotional tidal wave that promptly knocks them both flat. Feel free to let me know on [email protected]
was born and bred and still lives in London, England. She has two boys who love to bicker, a wonderful husband who, luckily for everyone, has loads of patience, and a supportive and ever-growing British/French/Irish/American family. As much as Heidi adores ‘the Big Smoke’, she also loves America, and every two years or so she and her best friend leave hubby and kids behind and
Thelma and Louise
it across the States for a couple of weeks (although they always leave out the driving off a cliff bit). She’s been a film buff since her early teens, and a romance junkie for almost as long. She indulged her first love by being a film reviewer for ten years. Then two years ago she decided to spice up her life by writing romance. Discovering the fantastic sisterhood of romance writers (both published and unpublished) in Britain and America made it a wild and wonderful journey to her first Mills and Boon
novel, and she’s looking forward to many more to come.
Recent books by the same author:
HOT-SHOT TYCOON, INDECENT PROPOSAL
PLEASURE, PREGNANCY AND A PROPOSITION
THE TYCOON’S VERY PERSONAL ASSISTANT
PUBLIC AFFAIR, SECRETLY EXPECTING
To Suzy, for knowing when
a 600-mile road trip is not the way to go
And Daisy, a brilliant author and an even better friend.
to control her galloping heartbeat, Juno Delamare scanned the arrivals screen at Heathrow’s bustling Terminal Five for details of Flight 155 from Los Angeles. The words ‘In the Arrivals Hall’ winked back at her and her heart stampeded into overdrive.
For goodness’ sake, woman. Get a grip.
Juno jammed her fists into the pockets of her newest jeans—which had a small tear at the knee where she’d been stacking shelves the day before—and took several deep breaths. She had to calm down. She was on a mission here, a very important mission, and she simply did not have time to have a heart attack—it would put a serious crimp in her plans.
When Hollywood heart-throb Mac Brody walked through the arrival gate, she intended to be ready—and in complete control of her faculties—so she could hand him his invitation to her best friend Daisy Dean’s wedding and make sure he agreed to come.
Daisy was marrying millionaire property developer Connor Brody in two weeks’ time and she’d set her heart on reuniting Connor with his long-lost brother at their wedding. So Juno had made it her mission to ensure said little brother came whether he wanted to or not.
How exactly she was going to get him to agree she hadn’t quite figured out yet. But she intended to give it her very best shot. Daisy had helped Juno put her life back together six years ago—when she’d thought she’d never be able to care about anything or anybody again—and she owed her.
Unfortunately, despite Juno’s heartfelt commitment to the cause, when she’d made her secret vow two weeks ago to get Mac Brody to Daisy and Connor’s wedding she hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to the logistics. But now, as zero hour approached in Heathrow’s imposing terminal, the logistics were beginning to choke her.
What if she failed? What if he travelled with a phalanx of bodyguards and she couldn’t get near him? What if he refused to take the invitation if she did get near him? And then there was the coup de grâce. When was the last time she’d even approached a strange man, let alone tried to persuade him to do something? Her powers of persuasion were less than nil where men were concerned.
She didn’t do seduction—she didn’t have the looks, the aptitude or indeed the wardrobe for it. Which meant she would have to appeal to Mac Brody’s better nature. But on the evidence so far, he didn’t have one.
Maybe she’d never met the guy. Maybe she’d never even seen one of his movies, but Juno had been in Daisy’s bright airy kitchen two weeks ago. The morning the letter had arrived…And that had told her all she needed to know about the true character of Mac Brody, Hollywood mega-star and Irish bad boy extraordinaire.
Okay, so he was good-looking—if you went for the tall, dark and dangerous stereotype—but that didn’t alter the fact that beneath all that brooding masculinity was a shallow, arrogant, self-absorbed egotist.
Juno’s temper rose again at the memory of Brody’s callousness.
Daisy had been so excited, so sure the letter would be good news. Only to rip open the envelope and find the wedding invitation she’d sent Brody inside and a note from his agent that stated in one neatly typed sentence that Mr Cormac Brody would not be attending the wedding of his brother Connor and requested that Ms Daisy Dean refrain from contacting him in the future.
The perfunctory note had made Daisy cry, and Daisy hardly ever cried, but almost worse for Juno had been Connor’s reaction. He’d slung his arm round Daisy’s shoulder and told her not to upset herself so. Mac was entitled to his feelings, they’d no right to pressure him into making a commitment he didn’t feel comfortable with and that was the end of the matter. But Juno had watched Connor read the note himself and had seen the sorrow and regret he’d been trying so hard to hide.
What right did Brody have to hurt her friends like that? And worse than that, he hadn’t even had the guts to get his hands dirty and contact them himself.
Juno muscled her way through the waiting crowd and folded her arms over the barrier. Ignoring the insistent rat-a-tat-tat of her heartbeat, she studied the stream of owl-eyed transatlantic passengers flowing through the arrival gate. Her mouth set in a grim line of determination. She’d have to hide her hostility towards him if this was going to work. But whatever happened, she was not going to give Brody the satisfaction of seeing how nervous she was—or how much she had at stake—and she absolutely refused to beg.
It would only make the contemptible man feel more superior.
Juno’s eyes narrowed sharply as she spotted a tall solitary figure strolling down the concourse alone. In contrast to the other travellers, who were rumpled but well dressed, this guy’s clothes were comfortable to the point of being disreputable. Faded denim hung from his lean hips and an ancient LA Dodgers T-shirt stretched across tanned biceps as he lugged a large leather holdall over his shoulder. The matching Dodgers baseball cap had been pushed down so the peak covered his face, but Juno could still see a day’s worth of stubble on his chin, and the wavy black hair that touched broad shoulders.
Could that be Brody? She stared, trying to make up her mind. If it was him, he wasn’t what she’d expected. With his shoulders hunched, his head down and his fingers fisted on the handle of his holdall, the man walking towards her looked as if he was trying to be inconspicuous.
And it was working. But for his height, which towered at least a foot over her own five feet two, Juno guessed no one would have given him a second glance. But then Juno noticed the way the stranger moved and she knew he had to be Mac Brody. He had the exact same loose, languid gait as his brother, Connor.
She jostled her way through the crowd to head him off at the exit gate—her heartbeat bumping right back up to warp speed.
Keeping his eyes on the grey industrial flooring, Mac Brody blanked out the crowd noise and hitched his shoulder to relieve the knot of tension and fatigue.
He’d never been keen on airports, and Heathrow held some bad memories. The last time he’d been here three years back, the paparazzi had been lying in wait to ambush him. It had been less than a week after his public bust-up with supermodel Regina St Clair—and a mere two days after Gina had sold her story to the press and branded him a coke-snorting wild man who bedded a different woman every night.
Gina’s X-rated fantasies might have been funny—but for the fact that a lot of people had believed her and the fallout had followed him around like a monkey on his back ever since. The press had smelled blood that day, and they hadn’t let him alone since. He’d never been comfortable exposed to the media spotlight, so it had been a harsh lesson to learn and no mistake.
He’d been mad as hell with Gina at the time. But he’d got over it soon enough. Somehow she’d deluded herself into believing they were in love and he hadn’t been paying enough attention to notice. He adjusted the weight of his carry-on bag on his shoulder. Lesson learned. Whenever he dated now, he made it plain exactly what he wanted out of a relationship—and exactly what he didn’t want—right from the start.
He glanced up to search the terminal for the exit. Seeing no sign of any photographers or press hounds, he heaved a sigh. He could cope with the paps if he had to, but right now he was exhausted after an eleven-hour flight and back-to-back night shoots during the past week and he didn’t need the hassle. Luckily for him, he’d learnt to blend into the woodwork at an early age; people rarely recognised him in a crowd unless he wanted them to.
Spotting the ‘Way Out’ sign, he changed direction, but as he lowered his head to make for the exit a small figure stepped from behind a pillar straight into his path.
‘What the…?’ He pulled up sharply to stop knocking the girl down.
‘You’re Cormac Brody.’ Her voice wavered, but the statement was loud enough to attract attention.