Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights (Taken By The Billionaire

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By Alicia Roberts Bride by Design 3: Manchala Nights (Taken By The Billionaire) Copy right 2012 by Alicia Roberts This book is licensed for y our personal enjoy ment only . This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental.

Adult Reading Material Disclaimer: The material in this book is for mature audiences only and contains graphic sexual content. It is intended only for those aged 18 and above.

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Bride by Design 3: Manchala Nights (Taken By The Billionaire)

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Manchala comes as a big surprise to Lisa. The other guests are not all what she’d expected - and Colin surprises her in ways she loves and hates. Lisa’s desire to be helpful blinds her to some obvious truths, but after she makes a serious judgment error, is it too late to make amends? This is the final book in the “Bride By Design” series.

Chapter One It was late afternoon by the time we reached the Grand House, a seven-bedroom villa sitting atop the central hill in Manchala. When I looked away from the house, the hill sloped downwards and I could see the untouched beaches and angry waves of Manchala. It was a thrill to be here - a place very few men or women had ever set foot on. The Grand House, Don told us, was the first and only thing he’d built on the island, a retreat for him and his extended family . He hoped to may be live in the House one day , after he retired. It was sprawling and majestic, and there seemed to be nobody else inside. When I commented on the quietness, Don said, “Every one’s having a siesta. It’s our tradition here, after lunch - and we hope y ou two’ll get some rest after y our terrible flight in.” He winked at me, and I tried to smile and forget the horrible kite-like plane. “We’ll have a barbeque dinner in a few hours’ time, and y ou’ll meet the rest of the guests then.” A uniformed servant appeared out of nowhere and led us to our room. After he left, I closed the door and leaned back against it. I felt overwhelmed by it all and wanted to laugh maniacally , or sink to the floor in amazement. Manchala was gorgeous with its pristine beaches, dark green forests and the lush tropical quietness. The Grand House was understated and welcoming and I wondered at the strange twist of fate that allowed me to have a glimpse at this secret luxury - a place most people would never even know about, let alone visit.

Colin had dragged our luggage out of the way and opened the curtains. When he saw me leaning against the door, he seemed to know how I felt. He came and leaned beside me. “Strange new world, huh?” I turned and smiled at him. “It must be just another day at work for y ou.” He nodded, his smile thin and his ey es hooded. “But it wasn’t alway s like this.” “No, I guess not.” I wondered what he’d done before he’d become a property developer. “Every one has to start somewhere.” “And now I plan to get somewhere.” The steel was back in his voice, and his ey es were flashing. “This resort is going to be my mark.” I sighed. “I can’t imagine a resort here, it would just ruin every thing.” “Oh it’ll be exclusive, of course.” He reached out and touched my shoulder. I felt the sparks against my skin and I drew back quickly . I was going to live up to the promise I’d made my self on the plane - I wouldn’t let Colin touch me or kiss me, and there was no way any thing would happened between us on Manchala. I planned to get back home with my pride and heart intact, there was no way I’d be a notch on

Colin’s belt. He seemed surprised at my quick withdrawal, and his jade ey es widened slightly . “I’m going to take a bath,” I said coldly , ignoring the twinge of guilt I felt when I saw his ey es. “And I’m happy to pretend we’re all lovey -dovey around the others, but don’t think I’m letting y ou kiss me again.” I unzipped my luggage and grabbed the first clothes I saw. When I closed the bathroom door behind my self, I had to groan under my breath. This was ridiculous - did all the bathrooms have such a lovely spa bathtub? They probably did. The room was done in shades of beige and gold, and there was even a delicate loveseat near the tub. I filled it up and switched it on, shedding my clothes and sinking down into the warm bubbles that soothed and relaxed me until I forgot all about my flight in. I started to wonder what the other couples would be like, and what Don’s wife was like. Would every one be rude and stand-offish to each other? Or would they pretend to be nice? After a while, I finally got out of the water and got dressed. I’d pulled out a purplish maxi dress - this was something I actually liked a lot, it was dark and sty lish, floaty and comfortable without being revealing. Colin was sitting on the edge of the bed, scrolling through his tablet.

“I need to tell y ou about the other people here,” he said, brusquely . “And we‘d better get our stories straight. Every one will want to know how we met and what’s going on with our marriage.” I nodded and sat down on the sofa opposite. We looked at each other stiffly , all business, and slightly uncomfortable. I ignored the way sunlight bounced off his hair, and the fact that a part of me wanted to go and press my self against him and feel his warm lips on mine. It was time to do my job, and to ignore my emotions. Colin and I discussed what we’d say , how we’d met and how happy we were in our marriage. It felt ironic to be talking about how happily we were married, when we were sitting far away from each other and being careful not to feel the attraction between us. Once we got our stories straight, Colin began to reel off the list of other people who were here. Roger and Celine were on the island - they were Colin’s closest competitors. Roger came from one of the oldest and richest families in the US, and I gasped when I heard his last name. His father had been one of Sir Donald’s closest friends, and Don was predisposed to give the resort job to Roger. John and Keith were here to prove that Sir Donald wasn’t being biased in his selection. They were highly unlikely to get selected, and Colin wasn’t concerned about them. Jason was an Australian property developer, and he and his wife Carol hadn’t been able to make it to the island. Jason had faced some kind of crisis with one of his other developments, and

Colin didn’t think Sir Donald would consider him seriously for the Manchala project. This week was all about meeting the people Sir Donald would be working with, and while Jason’s current crisis was probably serious, his not showing up on the island indicated that he wasn’t so keen on the Manchala project. Finally , Rani and Rahul were here with their six-month old son. After Roger, they were Colin’s biggest threat. “Rahul’s dad is an Indian steel magnate, a guy who’s on the list of Forbe’s fifty richest people in the world. On the other hand, I’m nowhere in the top two hundred.” “Oh, how tragic.” I couldn’t help teasing, “How will y ou ever live with that shame?” Colin laughed, and I felt the ice between us melt. “I guess I’ll just have to hope and work hard.” I smiled, admiring the way Colin’s ey es crinkled when he laughed. He’d changed into Dockers and a polo t-shirt, and had taken out a sweater for himself and a cardigan for me. When he saw me looking at the latter, he said, “It might be chilly outside. Why don’t we get going?” I nodded, and grabbed the cardigan. I hadn’t realized it had gotten so late. We’d missed the sunset - I had really wanted to see the ocean turn pink before it got dark. Well, may be tomorrow. When we stepped out of our room, a uniformed servant told us that every one was out on the deck. We followed him to a covered

area overlooking the bay . It was too dark to make out the ocean, but the dining area on the deck was lit up cheerfully . Drinks were being served on one side, and on another side, a grill had been set up and the scent of meat being barbequed drifted over to us. Sir Donald came over to greet us, and the group of happy , laughing people looked at us as we walked towards them. “Lisa, Colin,” Sir Donald said, kissing my cheek, “You’re just in time. We’re having a few drinks while the meat gets done.” He introduced us to his wife, Diane, a slender woman with grey hair and kind ey es. For a moment, I hated my self for taking part in this charade, for fooling these kind people who extended their hospitality towards us. But then Diane led me off while Don introduced Colin to the other guy s, and I met Celine. Celine was slim and looked vaguely familiar, her button nose and pink lips perfect, her blonde hair smooth and cascading, and her blue ey es cold and distant. We air-kissed perfunctorily and I saw her glance towards Colin. In that split second, the frost chilling my veins told me what I needed to know. When Celine glanced back at me, she smiled knowingly and I hated her for having slept with Colin. “How did y ou two meet?” Her smile was polite, and her voice was deep and relaxed. Diane chimed in, “Oh y es, I’d love to know too!”

I smiled, grateful that Colin and I had rehearsed our stories, and accepted a glass of wine from the waiter who appeared just in time. I told Diane and Celine how Colin and I had lunch in the park together and then wound up going out in secret - a version of ev ents which was close to the truth, while being so ridiculously different from what was really going on. “I never thought Colin would settle down.” Celine’s voice was wary , her ey es watching me for signs of some secret hold I had over Colin. I shrugged, happy that I could snub Celine politely , even while I wanted to rip out her perfect hair. “I guess he just needed to meet the right girl.” Celine stretched out her fingers to admire her massive engagement ring. I would’ve felt bad for being so catty , but she had the real thing - the wealth, the beauty , the marriage into one of America‘s oldest families. “Where’s y our engagement ring?” “Oh, I forgot to wear it. I’ve gotten so used to pretending not to be married to Colin! You know, to get away from the press and all.” “Of course,” she drawled, flipping her hair over one shoulder. “The paparazzi are soo rude.” I tried not to gulp as I remembered why she looked so familiar her photos were alway s splashed over the tabloids and glossies. Diane oohed over how cute Colin and I were for a minute, before excusing herself to tend to the other guests.

As soon as we were alone, Celine turned to me frostily . “You do know that I slept with Colin, right?” “Of course.” I smiled sweetly . “Colin and I don’t care about each other’s past.” Celine scoffed, “Yeah well, Roger seems to care about Colin’s past a lot. He hates Colin so much, even more now that he knows we got together again after my wedding.” I couldn’t help my look of surprise - I’d known Colin was a womanizer, but I’d never thought he’d chase after a married woman. Knowing he didn’t care at all about marriage, even if it was someone else’s, made me think less of him. Celine laughed at my expression. “So, I guess Colin hasn’t told y ou everything about his past.” I replaced my look of surprise with one of disapproval and tried to shift the focus off Colin - a guy whom I clearly knew nothing about. “I can’t believe y ou cheated on Roger.” “Oh don’t be so shocked, honey .” Celine raised an ey ebrow and fell for my bait. “Roger might be old-money but alcohol doesn’t help things in the sack. And y ou know how Colin is…” I laughed drily . Considering that we’d never actually been in bed together, I had only my imagination to help me out. I really didn’t want to let my imagination drift that way - not here, not now. I excused my self and went to refill my drink, where I ran into

Rani. Rani was the polar opposite of Celine. While Celine was slim, blonde and frosty , Rani was dusky , slightly chubby and bubbling with exuberance. We laughed as we both got more drinks and introduced ourselves to each other. She had a British accent, and told me she’d gone to Cambridge to get her law degree, where she’d met Rahul. A nanny was standing further away from us, holding a tiny , sleeping baby , and Rani pointed him out proudly - “I love him, but I don’t love this baby weight!” We laughed and I told her honestly that she looked great. Rahul came over to join us, and he was tall and handsome in a rugged way . He clasped Rani’s waist possessively , and I envied them their happiness and comfortable joy . They were clearly in love and had what Colin and I were only pretending to have. If Rani and I had met in different circumstance, I felt sure we’d be best friends. We both had the same tastes in music and the same sense of humor. She was charming and unpretentious, and I wished I could get to know her better, and a part of me felt that she and Rahul deserved this project more than Colin. Rahul was clearly talented, and he was one of those rare people who knew how to use their inherited money properly . He and his wife had grand plans, and I was impressed and charmed by their easy confidence and dreams for the future. “The meat’s about done,” announced Don, and we lined up to serve ourselves. Diane introduced me to Keith and John as I was heaping meat and salad onto my plate. Keith was a successful British property developer, and John, his partner, was an

architect. A few moments of conversation with them revealed just how charming and talented they both were - and I wondered if they knew there was no way they ’d get the project. We all sat down around a wooden table. Colin came and sat beside me, and whispered into my ear to ask how I was going. I just nodded in response and let him kiss my cheek, try ing not to feel any thing when his lips brushed my skin. I thought I was holding up my end of the bargain quite well, but I was distracted by the fact that Sir Donald, nice though he might seem, was clearly being unfair about choosing who he’d give the project to. Keith and John made an impressive duo, and I felt a bit sad that their talent wasn’t enough to make Don even consider them for the project. The freshly barbequed meat and crisp salad were delicious, and we all chatted politely throughout the meal. I noticed that Roger and Sir Donald were on easy , friendly terms, and I thought it was obvious that nobody else had a shot at getting the project. Keith and John were chatting with Celine about fashion and design, and I caught her glancing our way once in a while. I wondered if Colin still felt any thing for her, but he seemed to be ignoring her. I thought that was rather strange behavior on his part, since I’d expected him to flirt with just about any pretty woman. Diane asked us about our wedding, and we told her a story about a tiny official ceremony , try ing to stay out of the press, and hoping to have a large reception one day soon. She nodded understandingly , and told us that she and Don had been married

for over twenty y ears, and that their two sons were entrepreneurs who travelled for work frequently . Rani and Rahul joined in our conversation, and Rahul talked about how hard it was to be on the move so frequently . His father, the steel magnate, had been diagnosed with some heart problems, and he talked about how lucky he was to be able to live near his parents. The conversation turned to work again, and Sir Donald asked Roger if he had an architect in mind. Roger mentioned an architect who worked with him, and Keith mentioned that John had won some awards for his designs. Colin decided to chime in by say ing I was an interior designer, specializing in family -friendly designs. I was a bit flustered by the mention, since Colin hadn’t told me he’d bring it up, but I tried to take it in stride. Sir Donald nodded encouragingly at both John and I, and asked us a few polite questions, before turning to Roger again. I was glad when Sir Donald finally decreed that we wouldn’t be talking about work - “Not till the presentation, at least!” Diane nodded, and said, “We just want to get to know y ou guy s on this holiday . Let’s have some fun.” I smiled and finished up my food, and we all cooed appreciatively when a gorgeous fruit pavlova was brought out. Other than Celine, all of us heaped our plates with the dessert, and I groaned out loud when I sunk my teeth into it. It was crispy outside, soft inside, and the whipped cream and fruit toppings provided the perfect balance.

Chapter Two Once dinner was over, and every one had retired to their bedrooms, I tried to relax a bit. But the nagging feeling that Roger was the shoo-in to get the project, just wouldn’t leave my mind. I sat on the bed and stared up at Colin. He seemed relaxed and unstressed. “Colin,” I started warily , looking at his calm green ey es, “Why do I get the feeling Roger’s the only one S i r Donald takes seriously ?” Colin sat down on the sofa opposite and leaned forward, tilting his head and looking into my ey es. “Lisa, I don’t want y ou to worry about this stuff.” “But how can I not?” I shook my head. “Don seems like a nice enough guy , but he shouldn’t be so biased when it comes to business.” Colin smiled grimly . “Unfortunately , biases are a way of life. You have to deal with them. Keith and John probably know they won’t get this project, but Don might recommend them to someone else - who knows, they might get something out of the whole trip. I could tell at the dinner that y ou were concerned about them, y ou don’t have to be.” I gulped. “I am concerned about them, but I’m more concerned about y ou.”

We looked at each other silently , and then Colin finally shrugged. “Didn’t realize Roger was in the running for this project. And before dinner, I didn’t realize Sir Donald seems set on giving him the job. But I won’t give up - y ou can never predict the future completely , and I’ll make sure every thing I can control is perfect.” I nodded. “What happens if y ou don’t get it?” Colin smiled easily , and ran a hand through his hair. “Life goes on. I’ll develop something else. But I haven’t given up on the Manchala project, I have a feeling I’ll get it in the end.” My heart was sinking, and it probably showed on my face. “And what about me?” Colin shook his head. “Don’t worry , I’ve got lots of developments where we need a good interior designer. You can work on one of them. I promise, y ou’ll get a good job out of this, y ou don’t need to stress about y our career.” I nodded. Colin might be a jerk and a womanizer, but I trusted him when it came to business. Colin disappeared into the bathroom and I started rummaging through my clothes, try ing to find some comfy pajamas. Colin emerged and grabbed his nightclothes, and started changing - I quickly looked away . I didn’t need his bare abs to tempt me, and I stared intently into my messy suitcase until Colin announced drily , “I’m done.”

I looked up at him, he had a thin smile and his green ey es were amused. Unfortunately , he was just wearing pajama pants - his chiseled abs were still bare. I frowned disapprovingly . “Why can’t y ou wear a shirt or something?” Colin grinned. “Scared y ou can’t keep y our hands off me?” “Of course not!” I bristled inside, was I that obvious? “Well, it’s too hot in here to wear a shirt. Why haven’t y ou changed?” My frown returned. “I can’t find any thing comfy .” “That’s because I didn’t pack ‘comfy ’.” It took a moment for that to sink in. So the flimsy nightgowns I’d found were all there were? “Are y ou serious?” “Come on, we’re newly weds, y ou’re expected to wear something sexy to bed.” He raised an ey ebrow suggestively and I blanched. Most of the night clothes in my luggage were tiny , transparent things made of gauze and lace. “I’m not wearing this stuff. And no-one here’ll know what I’m wearing to bed.” Colin sighed, as if he was dealing with a recalcitrant toddler.

“Nobody ’ll see y ou now, but what if there’s a fire alarm? If y ou wear comfy nightclothes, y ou’ll rush out in a mess. But if y ou wear something sexy , y ou’ll be wearing a dressing gown and folks will get it.” I stared at him blankly . He was right, what he was say ing made sense. But I didn’t want it to make sense. Why did Colin have to make things so difficult? I was determined to stay away from him, I’d already learnt that his kisses and touches were addictive and I couldn’t trust my body when I was near him. “Fine.” I grabbed the negligee nearest to me and stalked off into the bathroom. I’d wear the damn thing, but it was only because of the deal. When I was changed and ready for bed, I rushed out of the bathroom, one arm covering my breasts, the other flipping up the covers as I dove under them. Colin laughed and slid in beside me. “You’d win the Oly mpics for quickest dash into bed,” he murmured, “But I’ve already seen what I need to.” I felt one arm snake around my waist, and I glared at him. “This isn’t happening.” My anger surprised him and he moved his arm away . “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. But we agreed on no sex, and I expect y ou to stick to that.” Colin propped himself up on one arm and stared at me. I felt the covers slide down a bit, and I pulled them up high around my neck. Colin’s ey es were calm and speculative, and he smelled of the ocean and musk. His shoulders were broad and strong, and I fought back the impulse to bite into his chest and see how he tasted. He stroked a finger down my cheek and I flinched, refusing to admit that my skin was tingling where touched me. “Why are y ou fighting this?” His voice was soft and deep. “I can see that y ou want this.” I looked at him. His ey es were calm, as if I was a foregone conclusion. “You’re not going to seduce me,” I said. “I don’t need a guy to use me and leave me.” Colin smiled. “Why don’t y ou think of it as you seducing me, y ou using me and leaving me?” I looked at him in surprise and he went on, “Why does every thing have to be complicated? We’re both adults, we both know what we want. You’re so busy worry ing about every one else and taking care of other people y ou forget about y ourself. Why can’t y ou just have some fun for once? We could have a lovely time together.”

His words were slowly sinking in and I knew he was right. I deserved to have some fun, to take a break from my mundane life of being broke, struggling with my career and taking care of my baby brother. But he was too smooth, he was just say ing all this to get what he wanted, and I refused to give in so easily . “A lovely time, like y ou had with Celine?” My voice was sharper than I’d intended, but when I saw the look of surprise in his ey es I felt a wave of triumph. “So Celine told y ou about that, did she?” His voice had darkened again, and I could feel the hatred in his words. “Did she tell y ou how she was only with me to get in the tabloids, and how little she cares about any one but herself?” I shrugged. “That didn’t stop y ou from chasing her even after she got married.” He laughed bitterly . “I didn’t chase her. She got me drunk and got me to bed. I don’t even know if we did any thing, but it was enough for her to tell Roger about. She just wanted him to get jealous and care about her, but I doubt that worked.” I suddenly felt sorry for Celine, living a life of lies, chasing fame and fortune instead of real love and accomplishments. May be her life was just an extension of what I was doing right now, except I knew my lie would end in a few day s, and her lie would never end. “Well, I guess now I know why Roger hates y ou so much.” Colin shook his head. “No, Roger’s just a self-righteous bastard.

He thinks nobody but old money has a right to be rich and he’s just full of it because of who his great-grandparents were. He and Sir Donald seem to deserve each other.” I wanted to give Colin a consoling hug, but I didn’t trust my self y et. His words about having fun were still ringing in my ears, and his hard muscles were still being flaunted in front of me. “Let’s forget about these guy s,” Colin said. He moved quickly and lay down on top of me. My ey es widened as his muscles pressed against me, and his hands held my wrists down. His lips pressed down on mine before I had a chance to think, and I felt my self drifting off as his tongue sought mine. I arched into him despite my self, our mouths merging and his minty taste overpowering my brain. I felt an urge to wrap my legs around his waist, to press my self against him and I tried to wake my self up from the stupor. This wasn’t happening… Just as I felt my self about to give in, Colin moved off me and lay down on his side of the bed. I felt an emptiness where his body had been, where his he had been rubbing against my skin. I turned to look at him, wondering what I wanted, and I knew he could see the ache in my ey es. “Why don’t y ou think about it,” Colin said smoothly , and kissed my cheek. “Goodnight.” He turned away and I watched as his breathing slowly got

heavier. I didn’t want to say any thing, I didn’t trust my self to think straight. His warm breath was still lingering in my mind and I used all my willpower to stop my self from begging him to kiss me again. What he’d said made sense. We were adults, we could have fun. But I wasn’t sure if I could move on as smoothly as he would - Colin had started to get under my skin, and I might as well admit it to my self. Being with him was tempting, but it was a risk I wasn’t sure I could take. Would I fall to pieces every time I saw a photo of him with his latest starlet? He was right, I should think about it. I lay in bed quietly and tried to sort out my feelings. Images of Colin and I together, and the other guests at Manchala floated before me, till they jumbled together nonsensically and became strange dreams.

Chapter Three Colin was shaking me awake, and sunlight was streaming through the window. I gazed at him sleepily , smiling happily at the beautiful man in front of me, until I realized with a jolt that this was real, not a dream. “Lisa, we need to be up and about.” I y awned and was about to stretch when I remembered I was wearing a revealing negligee. I pulled the covers up quickly , and Colin rolled his ey es and covered them dramatically with his hand. I got up quickly , grabbing a short sundress and some fresh underwear. I took a while to get ready , taking my time with my makeup in the hopes that I wouldn’t look so plain beside Celine, and packing a small purse with my lipstick and cell phone. When I finally emerged, a flicker of desire lit up in Colin’s ey es before he became all business-like again and briefed me about the day ahead of us. We’d take a walk along Manchala’s beautiful beach, have a light lunch, enjoy a siesta, have drinks and dinner and then retire for the day . The big presentation was going to be tomorrow. I didn’t have to do any thing - even though he’d told Donald I was the interior designer, I wasn’t expected to reveal my plans or designs y et. I

nodded thankfully - I’d completely forgotten Colin had sprung that information on the group. We walked out to the breakfast nook, arm in arm like a couple in love. I savored the touch of Colin’s smooth skin, his arms strong and muscular. We let go of each other when we joined the others who were already sitting around the table, and piled our plates with tropical fruit and pancakes. I noticed Roger ey ing me, and he and Celine seemed to be giving each other the cold shoulder. Now that I thought about it, they hadn’t been particularly nice to each other at dinner, either. Rahul and Rani were in a somber mood - Rahul had just gotten news that his father had suffered a minor aneurism and they ’d be fly ing back to India after breakfast. I was sorry to see them go, but I was sure Rahul knew that Don would be giving the project to Roger any way . We hugged goodby e after our meal, and Rani invited us to come visit them in Mumbai. “I’d love to,” I gushed, feeling sorry that I would never be able to. We split up into two jeeps to go to the beach. It came as no surprise when Celine and Roger rode with Don and Diane, while Keith and John rode with us. We joked and laughed politely on our ride to the beach. Once we got there, I noticed a pergola had been set up for us to change.

Celine had already stripped off her clothes and lay on a towel, sunbathing and wearing a bikini the size of a bandage. I wondered if Colin found her attractive, and sneaked a glance at him. But he was focusing on try ing to charm Sir Donald, joking with him about British politics and his knighthood. Keith and John changed into swimming trunks and waded into the water, and Don, Diane and Colin walked ahead briskly . I decided to walk slowly in the other direction, while I tried to collect my thoughts. I thought Roger would be keeping his wife company , so I was surprised when he came up to me. “How do y ou like the beach, Lisa?” “It’s beautiful. Not as beautiful as Celine, of course.” I smiled, pleased at my polite compliment. Roger laughed cruelly . “There’s no need to be nice, I know she’s just with me for my money and pedigree. She’s probably told y ou just as much.” I was silent, surprised at his knowledge. I wondered how I’d feel if I knew my wife didn’t love me. I tried to be diplomatic. “Well, I guess some marriages make sense for other reasons.” Roger smiled thinly and nodded. “Like y ou and Colin, I suppose?”

I froze and looked at him coolly . “Colin and I are very much in love.” “I doubt that.” We looked at each other icily , and Roger finally said, “If I searched for a marriage license, would I find it?” I ignored him and walked ahead. I was worried I’d blow Colin’s story and I sighed when Roger caught up to me. “Don’t run off. If y ou really are in love with Colin y ou should know something about him.” Now he had my attention. My curiosity got the better of me and I turned to him inquisitively . “What?” He lowered his voice to a stage whisper. “Colin killed his foster parents.” I stared at him in horror for a moment, and then scoffed. “That’s ridiculous. You can’t just go around say ing crazy things like that.” “Oh but I know it’s true. Why do y ou think Colin goes to such efforts to hide his past?” Just then, Colin turned around and saw me with Roger. I watched him laugh and say something to Sir Donald, and the three of them started to walk back towards Roger and I.

Roger spoke quickly . “Colin’s birth mom was a crack whore, he had no dad. When his mom died, he was adopte d by an army lieutenant and his wife. The three of them lived on a farm in Darlington, and the couple died in strange circumstances. Rumor is, Colin killed them off for the land, which he sold to a strange man. He moved to New York with that money - and that was the seed money for his property development business.” I stared at him in horror, a coldness coming over me. What he said sounded so crazy , and y et… Nobody knew any thing about Colin’s past, other than the fact that he’d been adopted and raised in a modest family . Where had he got the money to start a property development business, and what really happened to his family ? I hated Roger and thought he was an arrogant snob, but I knew he didn’t have the imagination to come up with a lie like this. “How do y ou know all that?” “When Colin started popping up every where, a guy who came up from nowhere, I hired a private detective who found out about all this. He’s an experienced guy , he knows his stuff. You don’t have to believe me but be careful. Colin’s real name isn’t Colin Anderson - it’s Craig O’Donnell.” We looked at each other silently until Colin, Diane and Don joined us. Roger looked smug and I wondered if he deserved to be. “Roger, stop flirting with my wife.” Colin punched his arm in a friendly way , and all of us laughed.

“I guess y ou lovers should be alone for a while,” said Diane, and Colin smiled at her gratefully , wrapping an arm around my waist and leading me away from Roger. When we were out of earshot, Colin let go of my waist and asked, “What did that dirt-bag say to y ou?” I shrugged and we continued walking. “Nothing worth talking about.” I didn’t feel like bringing up what Roger had said. If it was true, Colin would deny it and come up with a plausible story . If it wasn’t true… well, there was no way I’d know for sure. I let Colin hold my hand as we walked briskly away from the others. My fingers tingled where he held me, but I resisted the urge to pull my hand away . The whole charade was for Don and Diane, and I didn’t want to ruin things. My feet sank into the sand and the waves crashed nearby . The sky was cloudless, a perfect, bright azure, and we walked wordlessly till we reached a sheltered cove. Palm trees sway ed gently in the breeze. We’d left the others far behind and nobody was around. I breathed deeply , tasting the salty air, admiring the stillness that was broken only by the sound of crashing waves and the occasional birdsong. Colin turned to face me and wrapped his arms around me. “Have y ou thought about what we discussed last night?” I felt flustered and my heart beat quicker. “Umm, y es. I mean,

no.” I hadn’t really had a chance to think straight. I remembered deciding once that I could have some fun and move on after the week was over, and then I’d decided that I wasn’t strong enough to do it. “What do y ou think?” I looked into his ey es. They were sparkling in the sunlight, reflecting the aquamarine of the ocean. He smelled like the ocean, too - he looked so perfect on the beach. I could imagine him being a surfer, rather than a property developer. I breathed in deeply but Colin didn’t give me a chance to answer. He pressed me against him and I felt his lips crushing mine. The kiss started gently , but soon we were crashing into each other, try ing to melt our bodies into one. I found my self ly ing on the sand pretty soon, my purse had been dropped somewhere and my dress was riding up. This is fine, I told my self, before allowing my brain to officially switch off. I grabbed at the buttons on Colin’s shirt, desperate to bite into his chest, and he pushed me down roughly , nuzzling his face below my shoulders, try ing to slide my dress off. Just like my fantasy, I thought hazily , as Colin pressed down on one breast and bit on my nipple through the dress. I moaned out loud, raking my fingers along his back, arching up for more. I was wet and hungry , I felt his erection pressing against me and I wanted him more than any thing else.

Suddenly my cell phone rang out. We both froze, swiftly becoming aware of where we were. I pushed Colin off me in a daze, and fished my phone out of my bag. It was an unknown number. “Hello, this is Lisa.” I glanced at Colin. He’d pushed himself up and was sitting on the sand, his shirt half-unbuttoned. I realized my own dress had been pushed down and I pulled it up, adjusting the straps. “Lisa,” a clipped voice rang in my ear, “This is Margaret from Brian Brito Designs. You interviewed with us for an Assistant Designer position last week?” “Yes?” I held my breath, wondering where this was going. “Are y ou still interested in working for us?” “Yes, absolutely .” I wondered why I said that, but right now nothing was making sense and my brain was too confused to think. “That’s great. Can y ou come into the office tomorrow to do the paperwork?” “Umm, I’m kind of out-of-state on a job right now. But I can come in on Monday , will that work?” “Hmm. Well, I suppose it will. You’ll have to start from

Tuesday , then.” “Great, thank y ou so much! I really look forward to working with y ou.” Margaret hung up with a click, and I looked at my phone, bemused. I wondered what I’d tell them on Monday - why had I accepted a new job when I already had one? And why was I getting this job offer now, when all my life I’d wanted this kind of job but couldn’t get one? I shrugged mentally - when it rains, it pours. It seemed like an alien concept to turn down a job offer. Colin had joined me and was looking at me quizzically . I told him briefly what she’d said, and he smiled. “You’ll just have to call them on Monday and say y ou’ve got a better job. Why be an errand-girl for a small company when y ou can be a real designer for Anderson Developments?” “You’re right.” I nodded, wondering if Roger’s tale about Colin was scaring me into accepting an inferior job. “You treat y our employ ees well, right?” “You’ll have a great contract, and I’d leave y ou alone to do y our own thing.” I nodded, spy ing Diane out of the corner of my ey e. I smiled and waved to her and Colin turned around. We walked back and joined the others, as if nothing had happened between us.

Chapter Four After we drove back to the Great House and had lunch, we found ourselves in a competitive game of Taboo. I’m a sucker for board games and I tried my best to win, without looking like a geek, until it was time for the sun to set. Watching the sun go down was an amazing experience - the sky and ocean changed colors slowly , and then finally it was dark and time for dinner under the stars. After dinner, just before Colin and I retired to our bedroom, a slightly tipsy Roger grabbed my arm and whispered, “Remember what I told y ou. This guy ’s used to screwing people over, make sure he doesn’t get y ou to agree to something stupid.” I nodded and walked away , wondering if he had a point. Colin and I got dressed for bed, and this time I had the brilliant idea of wearing a dressing gown over the flimsy negligee. Colin looked at me disapprovingly , but didn’t say any thing. He was sitting on the bed checking emails on his tablet and I put my cell phone on the nightstand. “I saw Roger talking to y ou again.” We looked at each other. It was slightly chillier tonight and Colin was wearing a t-shirt and pajamas. His hair fell across his forehead, and his green ey es were smooth and relaxed. He didn’t

look like a killer to me. “You can tell me what Roger said - I’d really like to know what that scumbag is say ing behind my back.” I went and sat beside him. I didn’t know where to start, or even if I should say any thing. “He said something about y our parents,” I said softly , “He said he hired a private detective to find out about y ou.” “I thought he might’ve. What did he say he found out?” “I… he said y our birth mother was a prostitute and that y ou killed y our foster parents.” Colin’s green ey es became icy . “And y ou believed him?” “I don’t see why I should. But I… he said y ou sold their land and started y our business with that money .” I felt the chill emanating from Colin. “I don’t think Roger’s right,” I continued nervously , “But I know y ou’re very private and I didn’t want to pry .” Colin sighed and reached out to hold my hands in his. I watched as his ey es turned from icy to sorrowful. “Colin, y ou don’t have to tell me what happened. You’ve been kind to me and I’ve got no reason not to trust y ou.”

“Lisa, there are very few people who know this, but I want to tell y ou what happened. I think y ou should know, we’re spending a lot of time together and I trust y ou.” I tried to say something, but Colin waved away my protests. “Roger’s right, my mother was a drug-addict and a hooker, and I lived with her till I was six. And I’m sorry to say this, but I’m glad she died. I spent a y ear in foster care, where I learned that the world rewards the tough. There were two ty pes of kids there, the bullies and the bullied. I knew which ty pe I had to be, and I became controlling and mean. Until a kind couple adopted me.” “The army lieutenant and his wife.” Colin nodded. “Yes, Roger got that bit straight. The lieutenant retired and we all moved to a farm, where we lived happily till my Dad was killed in a freak machinery accident. I was fifteen at the time. My Mom went a bit crazy about it all. I guess I wasn’t enough for her, and I came home from school one day to find out she’d OD’ed on sleeping pills.” He went silent and I squeezed his arm. “It wasn’t y our fault.” Colin sighed. “I know that now. I’ve been to enough therapists to know that. But I didn’t know it at the time. Living in a happy family made me go soft, and when my uncle moved in, I didn’t protest. The land had been willed to me, but he made me sign a document. Later I realized that it said I’d sold him the farm.”

My heart broke as I understood how Colin had been taken advantage of. It would be all too easy for an outsider to misunderstand what had happened, and I now knew why Colin kept his past a secret. Something told me that all the therapy hadn’t really made him understand it wasn’t his fault - his voice was hollow when he said that, and he didn’t seem to believe it. I moved closer to him and wrapped my arms around him. “You can’t undo the past. You know y our parents loved y ou - death affects people in different way s.” Colin nodded and hugged me back. “I don’t know why I’m telling y ou all this. But I guess I really needed to tell someone. And I haven’t met somebody I trust in such a long time.” He nestled his face against my neck and I stroked his hair, wishing I could brush away his sadness. We stay ed silent for a few minutes. I wanted to cheer him up, but I didn’t know what to say . When my mother died, I’d had a hard time moving on, but it was nothing compared to what had happened to Colin. After a few minutes, Colin went on. “ I was sixteen when my mom died, and I got papers say ing I was an emancipated adult. I changed my name, moved to New York and got a job waiting tables. A lot of real estate ty pes used to hang out at our cafe, and one of them became an investor. I started out working for him on the side as a bird-dog, finding him properties to buy .” I smiled and said, “So y ou’re a business hero, a rags to riches guy ?” Colin winced. “No, I’m not. I’ve done some things I’m not proud

of to get ahead, but hurting my parents isn’t one of them. I lost their farm and my old life because I was careless. But I learned a lot from my sleazebag uncle - I learned that nobody else cares about y ou, and that y ou alway s need to be the one in control.” I felt sad and stroked my fingers along Colin’s arm. “That’s not true, y ou know. You can’t live like that. You can’t mistrust every one. There are actually people out there who care about y ou.” “Like who?” Colin held my face in his hands and gazed into my ey es. I felt time stop. The answer to his question was written all over my face, and I let him lean down and brush his lips against mine. “I don’t know why I care about y ou, Colin, but I do.” I let him untie the robe and push me down against the bed. I pulled off his t-shirt and he climbed in beside me. His ey es were wary and he brought his lips down on mine again. His tongue was insistent, and I gasped when he moved away . Colin stroked a finger down my cheek, and down the side of my neck. “I care about y ou too, Lisa. You remind me of who I could’ve been, and y ou’re so different from every one else around me, all these folks who want to hang me out to dry . They ’re all after either a scandal or my money .”

“You know I’m after neither. I’m happy to walk away after this week is over.” “I don’t think I can let y ou do that. I think I’d like to take care of y ou, I just want y ou to be near me.” I felt my self melting at his words. I wasn’t sure if I could believe him, if he was say ing all that just to sleep with me, but I didn’t care. May be he was just making it up. But I meant what I’d said, and I wanted to believe what he said. Colin pulled the negligee off me, freeing my breasts. He brought his mouth down and licked circles around my nipple, nibbling and teasing before finally taking it into his mouth and sucking and tugging with his mouth. I felt my self burning up inside, and groaned and ran my hands down his back, sliding his pajamas down and freeing his erection. I felt it with my hands, stroking it up and admiring its girth and size, and Colin moved away to slide off my panties. We stared at each other for a split second, and Colin bit my earlobe before trailing his tongue down my neck. “You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, “I’ve been wanting this for so long.” He moved to kiss me again and I moaned into his mouth, wanting him and desperate for more attention. Colin began to kiss my neck, moving downwards slowly , kissing and stroking my breasts and then making a beeline for my belly button. He kissed it gently and moved lower and lower, until he reached my mound.

I spread my legs, giving him access to my most private parts, and he rewarded me by spearing my clit with his tongue. I stifled my scream, arching my back and aching for more, as Colin moved between my lower lips and began to lap up my juices. I finally couldn’t take it any more, and began to beg him to fuck me, moaning and writhing uncontrollably . It was a relief when I felt him position his tip against my entrance, and I gave a muffled groan as he pushed in, spreading me wide apart. I couldn’t wait any more, and I wrapped my legs around his waist, feeling his hard cock inside me and try ing to suck him in with my muscles. Colin pulled out and began to thrust into me slowly , going deeper each time and leaving me groaning and panting for more. I began to beg incoherently , begging him to take me faster and I ground my hips and clenched my muscles against him. Colin responded by moving his hand down to stroke my clit gently , and I moaned out loud. His fingers continued to tease me, and he began slamming into me faster and faster and I felt the pressure build up. I arched my back and made strange, animalistic noises, unable to recognize my own voice. I felt my self stiffen as my whole body tensed, right before the first wave of my climax hit me. I let go and let the orgasm take over me, the world around me turning red. I screamed and screamed again, the strength of the orgasm blurring my senses, and I vaguely realized that Colin’s movements were getting jerkier. I felt my self coming down off the high. The world was still

wobbling around before my ey es but it slowly became steadier until I lay limp and spent. I realized that at some point Colin had come inside me, and he moved out of me slowly . We lay beside each other, exhausted and spent. Now that my mind was a bit clearer, I thought back to what Colin had said about wanting to take care of me and being with me - did he really mean that? Or was it just something to convince me to… Well, either way , I was happy with the outcome! I wrapped the robe around my self, and turned and smiled at Colin. “You were right, I need to let my self have fun from time to time.” He looked at me seriously . “I was hoping this was more than just ‘fun’. I really do care about y ou, y ou know.” “Well, I like y ou a lot, but it’s hard to trust a play boy billionaire when he say s he cares about y ou. That’s probably just what y ou tell all the girls…” I laughed softly as I teased him and stroked a finger along his shoulders. “We’ll see how y ou feel after a week here.” Colin grabbed my finger and looked into my ey es. He was about to say something when my phone rang. I groaned. “That’s the ringtone for Katie, she must want to check up on me.” “Let it go to voicemail.”

I shook my head. “No, it might be something urgent.” Colin rolled his ey es, barely concealing his irritation. “You know, sometimes y ou have to stop letting people walk all over y ou. I get that y ou like to be helpful, but y ou can’t let them take advantage of y ou.” “Katie doesn’t take advantage of me.” My voice was cold and I answered the call. A few minutes later I hung up and looked at Colin. He’d slipped into his pajamas and was sitting up in bed. My hands were trembling slightly and I said, “I need to get back to New York tomorrow.” Colin looked at me silently , his ey es steady and unflinching. I went on - “Katie found her boy friend in bed with someone else. They broke up and now she’s devastated. She’s a mess, I need to get back to her and help her feel better.” I watched as Colin went pale, and then he finally shook his head no. When he spoke, his voice was cold. “That’s not going to happen. I need y ou here with me, pretending to be my good wife.” “But every one’s already seen that y ou’re married and y ou’re a family guy . You don’t have a shot against Roger in any case!” Colin refused to budge. “I need y ou here,” he repeated, “And I’m going to do my best to get this project.”

I felt the anger flooding over me. “Katie needs me more than y ou do. I promised to be there for her if this happened.” “You’ll be there for her in a few day s. She’ll live.” “This is an emergency .” “If it were a real emergency , I’d let y ou go back. But this is bullshit.” I glared at him, angry and hurt. “You just said y ou cared about me.” He looked at me coldly . “And y ou said y ou cared about me. But I guess y ou lied. If y ou really cared, y ou’d want to help me. I’m someone who really likes y ou and isn’t just taking advantage of y ou like every one else around.” My ey es narrowed and I could barely think straight. “Katie isn’t taking advantage of me. She needs me by her side to help her out.” “She needs no such thing, she can survive a few day s with her family and her other friends. I’m the one who needs y ou, I don’t have any other choice and y ou need to be here with me.” I stared at him silently for a few minutes. “Well, at least now I know y ou were just say ing all those things to get into my pants.” Colin looked at me quietly , not deny ing what I’d said. After a

few moments, he said softly , “Do I need to remind y ou I’ve just paid a lot of money for y our brother’s debts, and that this is a job y ou agreed to do?” I breathed in, I breathed out. Stay calm, I told my self. He was right, he’d paid for me to be on Manchala and if he wouldn’t agree to let me leave, I would need to honor my end of the bargain and stay with him. “Fine,” I said softly , sliding under the covers and moving to the edge of the bed. “I’ll stay because y ou’re pay ing me to. But I’m glad y ou showed me y our true colors before I really fell for y ou.” Colin was silent and we slowly drifted off to sleep. Roger might have been wrong about Colin killing his foster parents, but I knew he was right about Colin being a ruthless, cold-hearted businessman. I’d make it through the week, I told my self, and then I’d accept the job at Brian Brito Designs and never see Colin again.

Chapter Five Colin and I were stiff and formal with each other the next day . I hated my self for falling for him, for being trapped with him on an island when Katie needed my help, and most of all, for still finding him attractive. I couldn’t deny that his imposing phy sique, deep green ey es and square jaw made my body quiver - more so now that I knew what we were capable of together. But I had even better reasons to ignore him, now that I knew he was inconsiderate and coldhearted. When we were outside near the others, I tried my best to act like I was in love. I let him wrap his arm around my waist, and I smiled happily , ignoring the urge to either shove him away or turn around and kiss him. We headed to a conference room after breakfast the next day , and we sat through presentations by Roger, Keith and Colin. I grudgingly admitted to my self that Colin’s presentation was the best by far - he painted a picture of exclusive luxury , a holiday experience that would appeal to families and couples. Colin covered both the practical aspects of the development, the potential income and profitability , as well as creating a romantic overview of the whole development. It was clear that he’d prepared well, and his presentation left us all impressed. Keith’s presentation was impressive, but lacked a few practical details. On the other hand, Roger gave the worst presentation of all - he seemed to have put little thought into the whole thing, and

had very few practical numbers and details on hand. But Don still nodded, and said that his idea was promising, and they could go over the exact numbers later. At that, I groaned internally . I might hate Colin, but I chafed at the injustice Don was committing by favoring Roger - he was giving up a better resort just to work with someone who was his friend’s son. But Colin didn’t seem to be phased by it all, and afterwards we all had a lovely seafood lunch and every one retired to their bedroom for siestas. I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as Colin, and after a few minutes of fiddling with my phone and texting Katie, I left to take a walk. I strolled around the gardens, and found a paved courty ard where Celine was sunbathing. She smiled when she saw me, and I walked over despite my self. “Isn’t it bad to lie out in the sun so much?” Celine gave a tinkling laugh and said, “May be. But I’ve got sunscreen, and those bitches in New York better be jealous of my tan!” I laughed with her, and wondered if she had any real friends. Celine‘s world seemed so lonely … I’m not sure how it happened, but I asked her about her friends in New York and Celine started telling me about how her “friends” backstabbed her, and how she made sure nobody knew too much about her real life. I nodded and commiserated, even though I was sure Celine returned their favors whenever she could. But I felt genuinely sorry for her. Sometimes I feel very lonely - since my parents died,

I’ve never had enough time to make friends and hang out with them. I guess the fact that I’m alone makes it easy for me to understand when other people are lonely . I sat down beside her and we chatted a while longer. The sun was moving lower, and we knew every one else would be up soon, and joining us for drinks and dinner. I got up to go and change and Celine rolled to her side. “Listen Lisa,” she purred, “I hope y ou’ve got no hard feelings because of me and Colin?” I shook my head. “It’s in the past.” She nodded and lay back again. “You’re nicer than I thought. I guess I know what Colin sees in y ou - y ou’re different from the other bitches out there.” I laughed. “What makes y ou so sure of that?” She grinned. “Well, y ou haven’t asked me for my plastic surgeon’s details, and y ou haven’t told me I looked terrible in last week’s issue of People.” “I still have a chance to do that.” We both laughed and I left. The next few day s were a blur of sumptuous food, beach visits and relaxed quietness. Colin and I barely spoke to each other - I ignored him when we retired to our room after dinner, and we

slept on far sides of the bed. I’m not the kind of person who throws tantrums or cries like a baby ; I prefer to hide my emotions and I hid the way I felt about Colin by avoiding him. I tried not to look into his ey es - whenever I looked, there was something wary and guarded there, and I felt guilty . And then I felt angry with my self for feeling guilty - he should be the one to feel guilty ! He could’ve let me go back to New York, I couldn’t see any good reason to stay , but he wouldn’t change his mind. Whenever we were with the others, we held hands, laughed and teased each other. I tried not to let the charade break my heart - this was what we might have really been. He’d told me he cared about me, and it was tempting to imagine a world where all that was true. But I did my bit stoically , try ing not to feel wistful. I avoided Colin during the siesta time by going outside and chatting with Celine. She was fickle and self-centered, but I couldn’t blame her. She’d grown up with rich parents who spoiled her with every thing she wanted to buy , but never gave her their time. I figured that’s why she was starving for attention, but she claimed she loved her childhood - “I could do any thing I wanted and buy any thing I liked, that’s all that matters.” I wasn’t sure she was right, but I didn’t contradict her and merely nodded. I tried to call Katie once a day , and though she was sad, she seemed to be doing well. Her mother had come down from New Jersey to spend a few day s with her, and on Thursday and Friday night she went out clubbing with some single friends from work.

She seemed to be having fun with her work friends, and I felt a twinge of jealousy that it wasn’t me she was having drinks with. But I was happy she was doing well. I called my brother Alex every other day , and he was making good progress at rehab. He seemed stunned and grateful that I’d paid off his debts so soon, and promised to be clean once he got out. I hoped he’d stick to his word, and I made a mental note to keep an ey e out for any signs of a relapse. On Saturday , I told Colin that I’d be accepting the job with Brian Brito Designs. “I thought as much,” he said. His voice was deep and calm, and he didn’t seem surprised at all. “It’s not like y ou’re about to get this Manchala project either,” I said snidely . His calmness irked me, and I couldn’t help being a bit mean. But Colin didn’t seem to care and just shrugged. “You never know how things turn out.” We ey ed each other warily . He hadn’t tried to kiss me or touch me since the night Katie called, and a part of me felt hurt by that. Did he no longer find me attractive? Or was one night enough to satisfy his curiosity and mark me as “done”? But it’s not like I would’ve responded to his caresses any way , I told my self. Of course, that was a lie - I had learned not to trust my body . But having a phy sical relationship with a guy I hated wasn’t

a good idea, so part of me was thankful that he didn’t seem to care about being with me. On Sunday morning we said goodby e to Don and Diane. The jeeps drove the six of us down to a bay and I could see a large boat in the distance. “Surprise,” said Colin drily , “I arranged a boat for us instead of the plane.” I was surprised and touched. He must’ve done this soon after we landed and I was so relieved I wouldn’t have to get on that kiteplane again. I hugged him gratefully , since I knew that’s what every one expected me to do. His muscles were hard and lean and I pressed my self against him, but I let go soon - it was all just a charade. I wanted to kiss him and tell him how sorry I was that things hadn’t gone as we’d hoped for in Manchala, and how thankful I was that he’d arranged for the boat. But Colin seemed detached and aloof, and every one was watching, so I didn’t say any thing. Instead, we piled into small speedboats which took us out to the larger boat and we climbed up onto it. The boat took us a bit longer to get to St Bart’s, but it was much more pleasant. I loved the feeling of the waves rolling us gently , the blue ocean surrounding us on all sides. Of course, Celine immediately went to the top deck and stripped down to her tiny bikini to sunbathe, and I sat down beside her.

When we arrived in St Bart’s, we said goodby e to Keith and John, who had their own plane to take them back to London. Celine and Roger would stay on in St Bart’s for a few day s. Celine hugged me and said, “Keep in touch, bitch.” I smiled wry ly . “I’ll try .” I realized I’d actually miss Celine, and was sorry to have to say goodby e. I wondered if I’d see her again, and whether she’d still want to be friends with me when I was no longer with Colin and no longer a part of her society . Colin and I boarded his plane again, and we began our flight back to New York. Once we were in the air, I thought it would be courteous to thank Colin for arranging the boat. I tried to stutter my thanks, but he just shrugged and said coldly , “Don’t mention it.” His disinterest was hurtful and I hated to end things this way . I meant to say something diplomatic, but instead, I wound up say ing softly , “So one night was enough for y ou.” Colin turned and looked at me. His jade ey es were blanketed with a shroud of disinterest and he shrugged. “I have enough people around who don’t care about me and if I just wanted sex, I’ve got lots of choice.” His words stung and he didn’t have to mention that most of his choices were prettier than me, but I knew that was the truth.

I didn’t bother to mask my hurt and I said, “I really did care about y ou, Colin. Until y ou showed that y ou were a massive jerk.” “Because I didn’t let y ou break y our promise to me and go running back to a girl who doesn’t need y ou around?” I narrowed my ey es and jerked up my chin. “You would’ve been fine without me. I knew y ou weren’t going to get the contract any way , and Katie needed me.” “Really ? And how’s she been doing these past few day s?” I hesitated, and Colin knew enough. He snorted derisively . “You’re a fool who doesn’t understand when people care about her and when they ’re taking advantage of her. You get these two backwards.” I wanted to protest that Katie never took advantage of me, that I was the one who alway s smothered her with attention. But may be he was right - I should stop try ing to save every one around me. They seemed to do fine on their own any way . I took a deep breath and tried to be the bigger person. “Look Colin, I don’t want to end things like this. I appreciate the opportunity y ou’ve given me, and though I think y ou were unreasonable when y ou didn’t let me leave Manchala early , I think I may have overestimated how badly Katie needed me.” “Really ?” Colin wasn’t about to accept my half-assed attempt at an apology . “And how about how badly I needed y ou?”

I tried not to lose my cool. “You didn’t need me, Colin! You knew y ou wouldn’t get the project and there was no point for me to be there.” Colin shook his head. “You just don’t get it, do y ou?” I sighed. We could go on like this forever, in circles that never ended. “I can’t apologize for wanting to leave, Colin. You didn’t need me, there was no point for me to be there. But I am sorry that y ou think I didn’t care about y ou. I did. I really did like y ou and… well, we had fun together. I don’t want to argue about this.” Colin nodded, and looked back at his tablet. We were silent for the rest of the flight - there didn’t seem to be any thing else to say , and there was no point discussing the weather or other nonsensical trivialities. When we landed at Teterboro Airport, I followed him out to the limo and he dropped me off at home. “Take the luggage,” he said drily , “I‘ve got no use for it.” Colin’s manner was formal, and his jade ey es were cold and distant. So this was goodby e, I thought. I couldn’t help feeling the twinge in my heart. I was sorry that this was how things would end. For a moment I wondered if I’d been unreasonable when I asked to leave Manchala, but I quickly brushed that thought from my mind. I knew I’d never see Colin again, and I tried not to think about

that. I took a deep breath, leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek, savoring the smell of his oceanic scent and the feel of his smooth skin against my lips, one last time, and I stepped out of the limo before I got all emotional and teary . Colin didn’t turn around or react when I kissed him, and I knew there was nothing more to say . I left the luggage and the clothes in the car with Colin - I didn’t want to have any reminders of my time with him, and I walked away quickly , try ing not to think about how differently things between Colin and I might have been.

Chapter Six Brian Brito Designs was a small firm, and I reported directly to Brian. He and his partner had a few wealthy clients, and my job was mostly to get coffees and take notes during their meetings. I tried not to be too disappointed with my work, but I couldn’t help thinking that I was making a grave career mistake by not working with Colin. He had promised me a job with his firm even if he didn’t get the Manchala project, and I stopped my self whenever I caught my self in the middle of a day dream about redesigning a hotel lobby . Katie had gone through her breakup just fine without me, and it turned out that even after I came back home, she preferred the company of her new, bar-hopping work friends to boring evenings spent with me. I tried not to feel ignored, and I knew Katie needed to enjoy some wild freedom and drunken bar-hopping to get over her ex. But I finally admitted to my self that Colin was right - I had no reason for wanting to leave Manchala just because of Katie’s crisis. The logical part of my mind told me to swallow my pride, apologize and beg Colin for a job. But I would never do that. I had no intention of taking advantage of him, and I didn’t have the stomach to face him as a boss. Even worse, I missed Colin. I wouldn’t admit this to my self during the day , when I tried to keep busy with work, but at night, just before I fell asleep, I’d remember the way he smelled, the way his muscles felt when I pressed up against him… He’d been so kind

to me, arranging that boat when he learned how I felt about tiny planes, and he’d trusted me enough to confide about his past. And I’d repaid that kindness and trust with impetuous and unreasonable demands. I realized now that I’d acted like a spoilt child. But it was too late - I might care about Colin, but I didn’t think he’d forgive me for my behavior. The sex had been great, but he didn’t need me around for that. He had lots of choice and for all I knew, he was onto his new “girlfriend” by now. I studiously avoided looking at the tabloids, but I couldn’t keep Colin off my mind. On Thursday , I went out to lunch with Margaret, the receptionist. We’d gotten to be friends quickly , and I thought it would be nice to get to know her better. We chatted about work and the weather for a while, and then she told me about the other people who had applied for my position. “You were a last minute choice for the firm,” she confided, over a chicken salad. “How come?” “Well, Brian had someone else in mind. But Colin Anderson called him the week before and told him y ou were a great designer.” My heart thumped wildly and I tried not to choke on my sandwich. I felt as though I’d stopped breathing. What was going

on? “Why did he do that?” Margaret shrugged casually . “He said he knew y our work through that blog, and Brian assumed y ou’d done some private work for his firm but he didn’t want to admit it. Are y ou feeling ok?” I’d lost my appetite and I must’ve turned quite pale. I nodded silently and clutched my stomach, pretending I had cramps. Margaret poured me a glass of water and looked a bit confused about what to do, but I regained my composure and drank the water. “Thanks,” I stuttered. “I don’t know what happened there.” “Oh, it’s ok,” she murmured. “It happens sometimes.” I nodded, and stay ed quiet, answering in monosy llables when Margaret asked me questions, and allowing her to spend the rest of the meal telling me about her cats. But I barely understood what she said. The image of Colin calling Brian kept turning over in my mind - why had Colin helped me get this job? What was he try ing to do and why ? I couldn’t find the answers to those questions and I felt confused as I went through the rest of the day , doing basic admin work and filing papers. When I got home, I shut my self up in my room and tried to figure it out calmly .

It didn’t make sense, I hadn’t agreed to do any thing for Colin when he called Brian. He must’ve thought I wouldn’t agree to his proposal, and may be wanted to help me get a job if I didn’t wind up working for him. Or had he foreseen the possibility that he wouldn’t get the job in Manchala, or that things might go wrong between us? I felt sick and skipped dinner. I didn’t want to take advantage of Colin, but wasn’t I doing that just by working at my new job? And why had he helped me out for no reason - what would have happened if I hadn’t gone to Manchala? I spent the next day conflicted about what I’d just learned, wondering if I should call Colin and thank him, or if I should just ignore it and move on. Was I just looking for an excuse to call Colin? I didn’t know, but if he didn’t want to talk to me, it would be a very brief phone call. But it would be nice to hear his voice again, even if he was being stiff and formal. On the other hand, may be he’d already forgotten about me and was busy with a new girl, and I’d just make a fool of my self if I called him.

Chapter Seven My indecision was put to an end when I walked out of work on Friday . There was a familiar black limo parked near the curb, and when the window wound down, I saw Colin sitting inside. I almost squealed with delight, and walked towards the car as quickly as I could. When I stepped inside, I grinned at Colin, and I saw the familiar wary mask drop from his ey es as he smiled back, and I hugged him before he could protest. “Thank y ou so much for the job, Colin,” I said happily , squeezing his hands in mine. “I don’t know why y ou called Brian, and y ou’re nuts, but I appreciate it.” Colin gulped and said gruffly , “Brian wasn’t meant to tell y ou I called.” “No, but y ou can’t stop gossip!” I laughed, not try ing to hide my exuberance. I was happy Colin had helped me get a job, but I was even more thrilled to see him again. All the emotions of the past few day s bubbled up to the surface I’d missed him, I’d thought I’d never see him again and then I’d been confused about why he’d helped me get the new job. I knew I was a visible mess of emotions but I didn’t care, all I knew was that Colin was in front of me again and I had a few more minutes with

him. His gorgeous green ey es smiled back at me softly , and I held his hands, feeling how strong and warm they were. “I’ve missed y ou, Colin,” I said, not caring if that made me sound weak. “I’m sorry about what happened in Manchala.” I leaned in to kiss him, and was surprised and hurt when he pulled back and moved to the seat opposite me. I tried not to pout, and Colin said gently , “It’s hard to resist y ou, Lisa.” “Then why are y ou? Is there someone else?” My ey es narrowed and I felt a chill of jealousy . Colin laughed softly and ignored my flashing ey es. “How could there be someone else when I can’t get y ou out of my mind?” The words reverberated through my head and I calmed down a bit. Had he really been thinking about me? “Then what it is it?” “We need to talk business before we get all emotional and mess things up again.” I nodded. He was right, emotions did mess things up. And of course he hadn’t come here just to see me, there must be some business issue happening. I tried to not to feel disappointed as I calmed down and

attempted to be more professional. “What’s going on? You know I owe y ou for this job.” My voice sounded hollow, and Colin winced. “You owe me nothing. I paid y ou, y ou went to Manchala with me, that’s it. I called Brian impulsively , I just felt like y ou needed a break.” I was about to protest, but he interrupted me. “I need y ou to do something for me. I want y ou to pretend to be living with me in my townhouse.” I looked surprised, and Colin continued, “Don just called. He’s found out that Roger’s being investigated for embezzlement, and he’s regretting his decision to go with Roger. He wants to go with me instead.” “That’s great! Wow, that was lucky for y ou.” Colin laughed drily . “There’s no such thing as luck, just being super-prepared. Any way , Roger’s been hinting to Don that we might not really be married. So Don’s coming over to my place tonight for dinner, to check that we’re really married, before I sign the contract. Roger even called me and said he’d have told all the tabloids, and told Don to look for a marriage license, except Celine threatened to make his life super-tough if he did that. She seems to like y ou.” He raised an ey ebrow and said lightly , “You have no idea about the effect y ou have on people.” I shrugged. “Celine doesn’t have any real friends, nobody was ever actually nice to her.”

Colin smiled. “I wasn’t talking about Celine.” I blushed and hoped he meant what I thought he meant. We drove down to my apartment to get some things and I grudgingly let him come upstairs. “It’s a pigsty ,” I warned him. But when he was inside, Colin laughed and said, “I think ‘pigsty ’ is an understatement.” I pretended to glare at him and quickly grabbed some slippers, clothes and a painting - things I’d use in Colin’s townhouse to pretend I lived there. I was tempted to pull Colin close and kiss him deeply , but we kept our hands off one another and sat opposite each other on the drive down to his townhouse. There was a lot at stake tonight and I wanted to help Colin out and make amends for the way I’d behaved in Manchala. I didn’t want to risk messing things up for him again. Once we arrived, I was impressed by the gorgeous building, the elegant lay out and the beautiful furniture. Colin introduced me to his housekeeper, Sheila, and once she was out of earshot, I whispered to him that my place would look as neat as his, if only I had a full-time housekeeper. Colin merely grinned and told me to make a mess of his place. I frowned at him, but we quickly hung up the painting in the

bedroom, and I tossed my slippers in one corner and threw some clothes over the back of a chair. “Perfect,” said Colin, survey ing the bedroom. “Now go and change out of y our work clothes.” I pouted and said, “Stop rushing me.” “Stop pouting.” His ey es were teasing and he looked so strong and handsome. As we stared at each other, I felt the invisible thread of electricity between us pulsing and growing stronger, and I couldn’t hold my self back any longer. I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned up into his mouth. Colin grabbed my waist and pressed against me, his mouth returning my passion. I moaned into his mouth and let him push me onto the bed. Colin started to undo the buttons of my blouse, and one hand kneaded my breast. I arched my back, try ing to get more of him, but then Colin stepped away . I looked up at him in surprise. Colin ran his hand through his hair and said, “Sir Donald will be here soon. I don’t want to start something we can’t stop.” His voice was hoarse and I noticed his breathing was heavy . But I felt annoy ed and rejected, so I decided to make him pay . “Fine,” I said, standing up, “I’ll get changed for dinner.”

I unbuttoned my blouse slowly and tossed it onto the chair, and did the same with my skirt. “Where are those clothes y ou bought for our trip?” Colin‘s mouth was slightly open as he looked at me, standing in the middle of the room in my bra and panties, and he pointed to a walk-in closet. I went there and found some lingerie and a nice dress, and walked back out. “I guess I should wear some nicer clothes,” I said, and unhooked my bra. I took it off and tossed it into the closet, letting my breasts hang free. I did the same with my panties and Colin groaned out loud. “Why can’t y ou just go change in the bathroom?” I stepped into a pink lingerie set slowly and did up the hooks. “I don’t know what y ou’re talking about. And why do y ou have to keep watching me?” Colin rolled his ey es, and I bent down, putting on some nice stilettos, letting my breasts swing down enticingly . I walked around the room as if I wasn’t sure that the shoes were right for me, and then I bent down again, pretending to adjust the straps, and made sure Colin got a good view of my breasts. I noticed Colin pursed his lips and narrowed his ey es each time I bent over. By the time I slipped on the dress, the bulge in front of his pants had gotten much more prominent, and he breathed a sigh of relief when I was fully dressed.

“You’ll pay for that later,” he growled, and I laughed innocently , as if I had no idea what he meant. I let him lead me downstairs, and we waited in the sitting room till Sir Donald arrived. He shook Colin’s hand and embraced me warmly . “I’m sorry to drop in like this,” he said, “But things with Roger didn’t work out and it made me understand that I should be more careful about choosing who I work with.” “That’s quite alright, Don,” said Colin smoothly , “Lisa and I are happy to have y ou over for dinner.” I smiled in agreement, and we walked up to the dining room, and let Sheila serve us a delicious meal of home-cooked steaks and Waldorf salad. After dinner, we gave Don a tour of the house. I let Colin do all the talking while I tried my best to hide the fact that this was the first day I was seeing the house, too. The crooked picture in the bedroom and my work clothes strewn over the back of a chair gave the impression that I’d been living here for a while, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the tour was over and we all headed down to the dining area again. Colin poured us some lovely decaf, and I sipped the strong brew and let my mind wander off as he and Don began to talk about work. They discussed budgets, plans and architects and I felt a sense of warmth as I understood that Colin would be officially

taking on the project from next week. “I’m assuming Lisa will do the interior design for the resort?” Don asked, and I was jolted out of my day dream about me and Colin. “Yes, of course,” said Colin, “Right, Lisa?” “Yes,” I agreed, suddenly realizing that I’d be doing more serious work soon. I couldn’t help but feel excited, but I wondered how it would affect things with Colin.

Chapter Eight “You two are very obviously in love,” said Sir Donald, before he said goodby e and left us alone. Sheila went home for the night, and Colin took me back upstairs to his bedroom. He had a serious look on his face, and I wondered if I should go home for the night, now that my job was done. “Don’t even think of it,” he said when I brought up leaving for the night. “I still have to punish y ou for the way y ou tortured me earlier.” I blushed and was about to protest when Colin interrupted me. “Lisa,” he said, “I realized something on Manchala when y ou told me y ou wanted to leave.” “I’m really sorry about that, Colin, I didn’t realize - “ “No, let me finish. When y ou wanted to go away , it suddenly hit me that I didn’t want y ou to leave. I mean, not just for the work stuff, but just… I don’t want y ou to leave me, ever. People close to me have been leaving me alone all my life, first my mother, then my foster parents. I don’t want y ou to leave me. I tried to deny it when we were in Manchala, but this week, being alone and without y ou just drove me nuts. You’re kind, beautiful and honest, y ou’re the only girl I trust and I’m addicted to y ou. I need y ou around me, the way I need air to breathe. I love y ou,

Lisa.” I stared at him, the words flooding through my head. He loved me. Was this another dream or fantasy ? But Colin was staring at me, his jade ey es intent and watchful and he was waiting for me to say something. It finally got through to me that this was actually happening, it wasn’t just something I imagined. I felt my self drowning, as reality sunk in. “I love y ou, too, Colin,” I managed to choke out. “I think I alway s have, I just didn’t trust y ou enough to believe it.” I let Colin hug me tight and he kissed me softly . He pulled away and looked at me and I felt my self sinking into his deep ey es. “That’s good to know,” he said, “But it’s really not enough for me.” I watched, as if in a daze, as he produced a small box from his pocket and got down on one knee. “I know this is far too son, but I believe in controlling what I can and try ing my best to keep what’s mine,” he said, and gulped. “I guess what I’m try ing to say is, I’m going to do my best to stop y ou from ever wanting to leave me again.” He opened the box with a tiny “pop” and I gasped out loud. It

contained the most beautiful ring, a large diamond surrounded by a circle of tinier diamonds, and I felt my ey es misting up and my throat constricting. “Lisa Jones, will y ou be my wife in real life, and promise to never want to leave me? Will y ou…” I lost control when I heard those words, and tears started streaming out of my ey es. I had no idea what Colin said next, I couldn’t even see straight because of my tears, but I know that at some point he got up and hugged me, and stroked my hair until I stopped sobbing like a baby . I let him hold me quietly , and then he leaned back and lifted my chin. “You still haven’t answered me,” he said softly , and I laughed brokenly . “Yes, y es, of course I’ll marry y ou and stay with y ou!” He lifted my hand to slip the ring on and I started cry ing again. I had no idea how it happened, but I found my self ly ing in bed, sobbing into Colin’s arms. When I managed to dry my ey es, I sneaked a glance at Colin, who looked both amused and worried. “I didn’t expect this reaction,” he said slowly . I laughed again. “I’m sorry , I’m normally not such an emotional wreck, I just… I don’t know! This is crazy .”

Colin smiled back. “Good. You need some craziness in y our life. And y ou need to let someone else take care of y ou, for once, and I plan to spoil y ou till y ou can’t even imagine leaving me. No, don’t start cry ing again!” I traced my finger along Colin’s jaw and somehow managed to choked back my tears. “I love y ou, Colin Anderson,” I said quietly , “And I’m never going to leave y ou, ever.”

THE END

Dear Reader, If you have enjoyed this book, please, please consider leaving a review on amazon.com Alicia Roberts is a self-published author, and leaving a quick review on Amazon is the easiest way to help others discover her work, and to encourage her to continue writing. Unlike traditionally published authors, she does not have a publisher or “marketing department” and relies entirely on word of mouth from happy readers.

Alicia Roberts Is Also The Author Of:

Stella’s Submissiveness Challenge Trilogy, BDSM Romance Series: Provoking The Dom: Stella’s Submissiveness Challenge Punished By The Dom: Stella’s Submissiveness Challenge Play ing With the Dom: Stella’s Submissiveness Challenge Keira’s Journey: The Billionaire’s Submissive, BDSM Romance Series:

Keira’s Punishment: The Billionaire’s Submissive Keira’s Visit: The Billionaire’s Submissive 2 Keira’s Past: The Billionaire’s Submissive 3 The Billionaire’s Contract Trilogy, Adult Romance Series: The Billionaire’s Contract: Proposals The Billionaire’s Contract 2: Considerations The Billionaire’s Contract 3: Aftermath Bride By Design Trilogy, Adult Romance Series Bride By Design: Flights of Fancy (Taken By The Billionaire) Bride By Design 2: Manchala On The Mind (Taken By The Billionaire) Bride By Design 3: Manchala Nights (Taken By The Billionaire) She is available on twitter and enjoy s chatting with her readers; her username is @AliciaRRoberts She blogs at http://aliciarroberts.wordpress.com Her email address is aliciarights@gmail.com

Extract From The Billionaire’s Contract: Proposals Description: Sparks fly when Brad and Alexis meet. Brad is the new heir to Reinehart Industries, and Alexis is a cy nical college drop-out. They live in completely different worlds, and under normal circumstances, their passionate encounters might have been shelved as “mistakes”. But circumstances are far from normal, and Brad has plans that could change both their lives - if only he can convince Alexis to come along for the ride. Extract: “What do y ou think?” he asked at the end, his dark blue ey es piercing mine. “It’s a bit spooky without people,” I said, and though I didn’t think it was that funny he laughed, a surprising low, belly laugh. A strand of his hair fell over his forehead, and I wondered again if he was single. His face was square and muscular, his lips thin and delicate. He took the folder and bag from my hands, and placed them on an empty shelf. “Well, we’re here, aren’t we?” he asked, tilting his head. I gulped and wondered what to say . My work was over, but he seemed to be expecting something more. Come to think of it, why

was he here to begin with, why hadn’t he sent some lowly office peon, the way Mr. Neilson had sent me? His hands were on my face now, tilting my head back so that I met his ey es. “There’s something about y ou,” he growled, “I’ve been thinking about y ou since I left the law firm.” I felt one hand leave my face and slowly travel down my neck, stopping only when it found my breast. He pressed down as his hand moved in slow circles, and I began to wonder if this was all real. As I closed my ey es, I felt his lips on mine, his mouth gentle but insistent. God, he tasted so good, and his hand felt so nice as it pressed down on me. I wanted more of him… Wait, what am I doing? The thought hit me suddenly , and I wondered why I trusted this man. I should just scream and run out of here. His fingers started to toy with my nipple, quickly making it stand up and strain against my lace bra. His lips left mine and began to chew my ear, nibbling at the soft flesh and licking the sensitive skin just below my earlobes. I felt his hand slide across to my other breast… I hadn’t realized we’d been moving, but now I felt my self pushed down onto one of the low tables. My brain tried to flicker to

attention one final time: this is your last chance, it said. I tried to lift my self up and push him off me, but his hands felt heavy on my shoulders. He began to kiss my neck, my skin burning wherever his lips touched me. He undid my buttons as he moved downwards, trailing his lips along as he parted the shirt. When he got to my navel, the shirt was gaping open, revealing my lace bra, my nipples visible through the thin fabric. He raised his head and stared into my ey es, “You can leave if y ou really want to.” I felt sparks fly along my spine as our ey es met. My answer was obvious as both of us felt the electricity , and he ran his hand down my skirt. The hand retraced its movements, this time pulling my skirt up till it was hitched around my waist. His fingers trailed along my inner thigh, setting my skin on fire, till they found my moist panties. His hand pressed down, and I moaned out loud, aching for more.

Extract From “Keira’s Punishment: The Billionaire’s Submissive” Description: Keira Jones is in trouble. She’s accidentally approved a press release painting her boss, Connor Hastings, as an elitist snob and she knows she’ll get fired. Unless she agrees to beg for forgiveness and accept her punishment - a choice that seems simple enough. At Connor’s hands, Keira discovers humiliation and pleasure. Soon, she finds herself tempted by Connor’s dark way s and the glamour and excitement he offers… Extract: His face was inches from mine and he said softly , “That day , all I really wanted to do was take y ou over my lap and give y ou a good, hard spanking.” He leaned back and suddenly the words came rushing into my head. Images popped up unbidden - my self, ly ing across his lap, my ass bare, his hand lifted, coming down… My breath quickened, but I pushed those thoughts away and looked up to meet his ey es. I didn’t know what to say . Though I was wearing a demure business skirt and white button-up blouse, I suddenly felt naked, as though Connor knew exactly what I looked like undressed.

Connor’s ey es were speculative, and he stood up suddenly and moved to the window. He looked out and asked, “How badly do y ou want to keep this job?” I gulped. “Very badly , sir.” “Mike say s I should fire y ou. Legally , that’s my best choice” I started to speak but he held up his hand to silence me. “I like y ou,” he said softly , and I breathed in deeply with pleasure and hope. “I don’t want to fire y ou.” He turned to look at me again and the light reflected off his dark mahogany hair, his formal white shirt hinting at hard muscles underneath. “I like y ou very much.” His voice sounded speculative, and again, I felt as though my clothes were transparent. There was something so powerful in his gaze, I felt as though he could see every thing. “If y ou’re ready to do any thing to keep y our job, I’ll ignore my lawy er’s advice and not fire y ou.” I felt thankfulness flood through my veins, and my ey es widened with relief. “I’ll do any thing,” I said confidently . “Well then,” he smiled, “Come here and beg for forgiveness.” I looked at him, surprised. He pointed to a spot on the floor, just before his feet. “Get on

y our knees,” he commanded. I noticed now the bulge in the front of his pants, and he ran one hand over it, emphasizing it, making it obvious what I was about to do. I had a few seconds to make my decision. It was an easy choice to make - I went over and kneeled before him. “Unbutton y our blouse.” His voice was harsh and commanding, and I felt the humiliation bubble up inside me. With trembling fingers, I undid the buttons slowly , staring at the floor, not daring to meet his ey es. When they were all unbuttoned, I let the shirt hang loose, hoping I could keep it on. Connor reached down and pushed the panels apart, exposing my bra-clad breasts. I felt embarrassed, and hoped this was it, that I wouldn’t have to take any thing off. But Connor gazed at me for a few seconds, and then reached down again. He pushed the cups of my bra down, and my breasts spilled out over them. The fabric pushed them up from below, making them stand up, my nipples hard and pointing out. He cupped my breasts from the side, and said, “You’re already aroused. Good. I like that.”

Extract From Provoking The Dom: Stella’s Submissiveness Challenge Description: Stella is a strong, independent woman and she sees no reason why a woman would allow herself to be dominated by a man. When she meets Morgan, a casino owner with whom she feels a powerful attraction, she derides him for being a Dominant. But Morgan challenges her to be his Submissive for a week, and Stella stubbornly accepts, determined to prove that any woman can be a submissive without enjoy ing it. During the challenge, Morgan employ s all his tricks to make her admit she enjoy s it. He insists Stella behave like a proper submissive, and this includes being constantly naked, allowing him to touch her intimately , and accepting spankings and other punishments for her mistakes. Stella is determined to emerge from the challenge with her heart intact – but will that be possible? Extract: Morgan started laughing before I could go on. “Stella, I intend to show y ou just how ‘tiny ’ my cock is before the week finishes.” I blushed, groaning that my jab had backfired. “But y ou’re not putting it in me.”

“Fine. I can do that. But don’t kid y ourself that this isn’t about sex.” He leaned forward and looked deep into my ey es. “Because this is all about sex. And there are a lot of other things I can do to make y ou scream.” We held each other’s gaze for a few seconds, my heart beating wildly till I finally looked down at the contract again. “And there’s not going to be bondage.” “I can’t agree to that. BDSM is all about bondage.” “But I don’t like the idea of being tied up.” “No can do. If y ou’re not willing to get tied up, y ou might as well admit y ou’re chicken and back out right now.” I sighed. “Fine. And I guess this means y ou want to go ahead with spankings and stuff.” “Absolutely . Remember, the bet ends after a week. If I can get y ou to admit y ou like BDSM by that time, I win. But if y ou last a week with me, and after all that time y ou decide y ou hate BDSM, y ou win.” “Hmm.” I was determined not to like this week. “And what are the stakes?” Morgan leaned back in his chair. “If y ou win, I’ll buy a sponsorship on y our blog for $300,000. But if y ou lose, y ou’ll mention the Treasury Casino in y our blog’s sidebar for free.”

I nodded. “Sounds reasonable.” “And y ou’ll mention that the owner of the casino, Morgan Anderson, is a handsome, intelligent man and a wonderful lover, and y ou’ll keep it up for a y ear.” It was my turn to stare at him like he’d grown horns. “Are y ou nuts? There’s no way I’m say ing that!” “Then y ou’d better not lose.” He smirked annoy ingly and I glared at him. “Oh, I’m sure I’ll win. It’ll be a pleasure to take y our money .” I signed the contract with a flourish and handed it over. Morgan glanced at it and said, “I’ll see y ou tomorrow night at 7. Come up to my suite, bring all y our things and wear a skirt.”

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