Authors: Lucia Jordan
2012 by Lucia Jordan
This book is a work of fiction.
The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s
imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be constructed as
real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or
organizations is entirely coincidental.
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could still remember the first time she’d met Max Nolan – how could she
possibly forget? It had been at that high-powered charity ball she’d
accompanied Mark, her boyfriend to.
, she revised, biting on her
pushed that dreary thought away as her eyes flew once more to the man she’d
rather be thinking about right then.
billionaire cowboy, the philanthropist, the dream of every woman – Max
didn’t seem to care that he stood out from the other men in the room, dressed
in their dark power suits, their shiny black wingtips. He was probably worth
more than half of them put together anyway.
He was also in
his third year on the Forbes List of youngest male billionaires – fourth
or fifth place
she couldn’t remember which
But all that didn’t matter to her.
mattered, was the man. His dashing persona, his evident sense of
self-collection that made him
different for all
the right reasons. He had a lean, streamlined body, with long legs that made
those pair of blue jeans he wore look sinful. His startling white
shirt was tucked in and open
at the throat, revealing
tanned, invitingly smooth skin.
face was much too angular to be considered textbook handsome. But to a woman
like Eva, he appealed on so many levels. She liked his strong jaw, his narrow,
manly, firm lips. She also liked his
eyes, a gorgeous icy blue. He had longish golden brown
framed his nicely shaped head, and she couldn’t help picturing him
in a cowboy hat to go with his deliberately casual attire. He looked like he’d
just stepped off the ranch for a drink with the guys.
didn’t tell me Max Nolan will be here,” she said almost accusingly to her
mother, who was standing next to her. Lori Fowler, silver-haired and elegantly
lovely at age fifty, turned to her daughter in surprise.
no idea you knew him,” the older woman said. This was one of her many cocktail
parties she threw for the project close to her heart – the Henry Fowler
Foundation named after her late husband, Eva’s father. Now, mother and daughter
side by side
, welcoming and greeting guests,
male and female, who were the cream of the town’s corporate society.
“I’ve met him once. Leon introduced us; his financial firm had been running
after the Nolan account for ages, apparently.”
her mother’s lips curl slightly in irritation at the mention of Leon’s name.
Eva knew her mother had never approved of her ex, and now he’d given Lori one
more reason to dislike him by breaking Eva’s heart.
then, was she truly heartbroken, Eva mused for a moment. And then she decided
the achy feeling in her chest was mostly due to the fact that Leon had simply
helped do what she hadn’t had the guts to do long ago. Break up a relationship
that held no fire, no promise.
and Leon had been her first, so she
didn’t really have much to judge by. She’d tried asking her friends, in a coded
way, about their own sex lives. But the little snippets she received only made
her more miserable as she got an idea of what was missing in her life.
read the steamy romance novels, listened to a few whispered details by the
giggly girls at work – and come to terms with the fact that none of that
was ever going to happen to her. It would all remain a fantasy, or something
designed for other, more fortunate women but never for her.
mother’s hand suddenly tightened around her wrist, drawing her to the present
time and place. Eva blinked, looking sideways into Lori’s green eyes, the same
emerald shade as hers. “Have fun, Eva,” her mother said quietly, softly. “Live
your life. Forget him.”
sighed at the way her mother seemed to perfectly read her thoughts. She then
smiled as her mother handed her a glass of wine from a passing waiter. “I’m
going to mingle, take a few photographs for the week’s paper,” Lori said,
sipping from her own glass, before winking at her daughter and striding away.
shaking her head in amusement as she drank her wine. Her mother really
shouldn’t be handing her alcohol and telling her to have fun at the same time.
It was almost the same as telling her to get drunk – which she knew her
mother hadn’t intended, of course. But still, a week after breaking up with Leon,
she was still raw and vulnerable. She needed
kind of picking up. Already, the one glass she’d gulped down
seemed to be taking effect. The crowded room seemed less intimidating, more
welcoming. Maybe she’d do a bit of mingling herself…
was someone at her elbow. Thinking her mother had returned, she twisted to the
side, a ready smile on her face. Only to freeze when she saw
lean, tanned face creased in a smile when he saw her expression. “Pardon me
– I didn’t mean to shock you,” he said in that deep, throbbing voice she
so well remembered. “But since you’d been staring at me all evening, I decided
to come over and afford you a closer look.”
eyes widened, then darted as her cheeks flamed with embarrassment. Had she
really been so blatant? She wanted to sink through the marble floor.
it’s okay – I like being ogled by a pretty woman,” he drawled, taking her
empty glass from her limp grasp and placing it aside.
Eva said with a scratchy throat, her heart racing from his presence and his
recent words. “It’s…nice to see you again. We met at – “
remember,” he cut in crisply, his eyes hooded for a moment as they swept over
swallowed. “Oh.” She still couldn’t believe he was right next to her, so close
she could see the dark orbs in the centre of his startling eyes. Up close he
was lethal; he exuded
certain magnetism that would make any woman standing within a yard of him start
to hyperventilate. Eva felt the strangest kind of twitching within her stomach
muscles and wondered why he affected her so.
as bad as the first time.
taken her over to Max Nolan. It had been an even more formal occasion that this
one, and he’d still been dressed as casually. Blue jeans, a dress shirt with
the sleeves rolled up. Eva could recall Leon mumbling something to her later
about accomplished moneybags who didn’t have to conform to society. She’d had
the impression that Leon was awed by the guy, who was around his age, barely
even thirty. She could remember that veneration turning to resentment when Max
Nolan finally picked another firm to handle his interest city-side.
had introduced her as his girlfriend, and she’d felt an instant awareness as
she’d shaken hands with the billionaire. His touch had been warm, almost
scalding. His grip, though brief, had been firm. She’d held his eyes for a
moment and had felt tilted on her feet. The spell was broken; he looked away,
letting her go. But as Leon continued talking with Max Nolan, she’d somehow
felt that the lean-hipped man’s attention was still centered on her.
didn’t share many words after
as she never got to
really contribute much to the conversation. But before Max Nolan got drawn away
by some other fawning group of people, he looked at her with those piercing
blue eyes, shook her hand again, and told her how nice it was to meet her. Her
whole body had tingled for hours afterwards.
tried a weak smile, wondering if it was really true that he remembered who she
was. They’d come in contact for no more than ten minutes, tops. And they’d
barely shared three whole sentences. And it was so long ago – months
she hadn’t forgotten him either – but that didn’t count. He was Max Nolan,
the Australian billionaire cowboy and owner of the sprawling Keystone Ranch.
She was just…Eva, fresh out of college and working for an online
like she was wrong about that though. Because Max Nolan was looking at her in
much the same way he’d looked at her that night – in the way that would
make a woman’s toes curl up in her shoes.
. Did he?
Eva was in a whirl. How possible was it that a man like him could be attracted
to her? It looked more like a figment of her overactive imagination.
the boyfriend?” Max asked mildly, thumbing his pockets in a way that seemed to
unconsciously thrust out his hips. And what hips. Those sexy jeans seemed
sprayed on, hugging him lovingly, especially that spot beneath his belt buckle
that was intriguing enough to make her steal more than a few admiring glances
he really did remember her, she said, “Um…oh, Leon. He’s history.”
eyes glinted in surprise, and she could swear, even glee. And yet he said,
eyebrows shot up into her full fringe. “Excuse me?”
said, “damn”,” he told her, taking her elbow and leaning forward to whisper in
her ear, “I was so looking forward to the satisfaction of having to steal you
out a choked laugh, shock and excitement coursing through her. That moment of
closeness and intimacy as he’d come near to her ear had been electrifying. But
for some reason, she couldn’t seem to take him seriously. She was actually
think I’m joking?” he said softly, eyes narrowing on her face as he correctly
read her mind.
shrugged her slender shoulders. “I think you like to flirt, Mr. Nolan. You like
the idea of making a young, impressionable girl smile and feel admired and