Authors: Emily Mckay
He gripped her shoulders, resisting the urge to shake her. "Stop. Interrupting. Me."
Her chin bumped up and she glared at him through stormy eyes.
Suddenly he couldn't remember what it was he'd been about to say. All he could think was that this was what he'd wanted for the past two months. He wanted to sleep with her. To strip her clothes off, lay her bare before him in a proper bed and spend hours worshipping her body.
"Well?" she demanded again. "Is that the best you can do?"
"No," he said. "This is."
Cupping her jaw in his hands, he shut her up the best way he knew how. He kissed her.
Affair with the Rebel Heiress
is a very special book for me, not only because I love these characters and felt honored to tell their story (I always feel that way), but also because it marks an anniversary for me: it's my tenth book!
I've been reading romances since I was eleven. I literally grew up reading Harlequin Romance and Presents novels, Silhouette Desire books and the old Bantam Loveswept titles. I spent so much money at the bookstore that my parents actually complained about it. (How crazy is that?)
Every time I turn in a book, or see the cover for the first time, or hold my book in my hands, I get this electric shock of excitement. I love being part of the Harlequin family, and I can't tell you how proud I am to have my tenth book with them out this month!
Now, about that book...Some of you may remember Kitty Biedermann from
which was out in October 2008. She was Derek Messina's fiancee. She was the classic romance novel "other woman"--manipulative and self-centered. When I decided I wanted her to be the heroine of my next book, I knew I was facing a challenge. How could I transform her into a character people would love? I gave her plenty of spunk and sass along with a secret she'll go to great lengths to keep hidden. And of course, she had to have a great hero with whom to match wits. Enter Ford Langley, a charming business tycoon who's just not the type to back down from a challenge.
Did I pull it off? I think so. I hope you do, too!
Books by Emily McKay
Surrogate and Wife
Baby on the Billionaire's Doorstep
Tempted Into the Tycoon's Trap
In the Tycoon's Debt
Affair with the Rebel Heiress
has been reading romance novels since she was eleven years old. Her first Harlequin Romance came free in a box of Hefty garbage bags. She has been reading and loving romance novels ever since. She lives in Texas with her husband, her newborn daughter and too many pets. Her books have been finalists for RWA's Golden Heart Award, the Write Touch Readers' Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her debut novel,
Baby, Be Mine,
was a RITA
Award finalist for Best First Book and Best Short Contemporary. To learn more, visit her Web site at www.EmilyMcKay.com.
For my mother, Judy Beierle, who has taught me
over and over to smile in the face of adversity,
to meet challenges with bravery and hope, and to always,
always find something to laugh about.
itty Biedermann hated Texas.
That single thought had echoed through her mind from the time the flight attendant had said the words "unscheduled landing in Midland, Texas," until this moment, five hours later, when she found herself sitting in the bar adjacent the seedy motel in which she would be forced to spend the night.
The last time she'd been in Texas, she'd been dumped by her fiance. Of course, he hadn't been just any old fiance. He'd been the man she'd handpicked to save Biedermann Jewelry from financial ruin. So being dumped hadn't resulted in mere public humiliation or simple heartbreak. It meant the end of Biedermann Jewelry. So it was understandable that Kitty held
a bit of grudge, not just against Derek Messina, but against the whole damn state.
Since being dumped by Derek, her situation had gone from bad to worse to desperate. She had needed Derek.
From the time she was a child, she'd been raised with one purpose--to land a husband with the smarts and business savvy to run Biedermann's. When Derek hadn't wanted her, she'd remained undaunted. But now, after six months of working her way through every single, eligible straight man she knew, she was beginning to feel...well, daunted.
With this latest trip to Palm Beach, she'd been scraping the bottom of the barrel. Geoffrey barely had two functioning synapses to rub together, but at least he could read, write and looked damn good in a suit. But even as meager as his qualifications had been, he hadn't wanted her.
Biedermann's meant everything to her. It was slipping through her fingers and there didn't seem to be anything she could do to catch it.
Now, with her elbows propped on the suspiciously sticky bar top and her chin propped in her palms, she stared at the murky green depths of her salt-rimmed margarita glass. She gave the glass a little shake, watching as the ice cubes within tumbled to the bottom of the glass. A lifetime of planning had fallen apart just as quickly. Was this rock bottom?
Her throat tightened against despair. Immediately she straightened, blinking in surprise. She was not given to fits of self-pity. Certainly not in public.
She shook her glass again, studying the contents. Exactly what was in this margarita? After a mere two drinks she should not be succumbing to such maudlin emotions.
Maybe this was what she got for giving the bartender a hard time. When she'd ordered a Pinot Grigio, he'd asked, "Is that like a wine cooler?" Apparently she shouldn't have doubted him when he said he'd make her a drink strong enough to knock her on her pampered, scrawny butt.
She was still contemplating the contents of her drink when she happened to glance toward the door and saw
It was as if someone tossed a bucket of icy water on her. Every cell in her body snapped to life in pure visceral response. The stranger was tall and lean, somehow managing to look lanky but well-built all at the same time. He was dressed simply in well-worn jeans and a T-shirt that stretched taut across his shoulders, but hung loose over his abdomen. No beer belly on this guy. A cowboy hat sat cockeyed on his head, but he wore scuffed work boots instead of the cowboy boots she expected.
Her first thought--when she was capable of thought again--was,
is a cowboy. This
was what women the world over romanticized.
was a man at his most basic. Most masculine.
Even from across the room, her body responded to him instantly, pumping endorphins down to the tips of her curling toes. Funny, because she'd always pre
ferred her men sophisticated and suave. As well-groomed as they were well-educated.
She was, in fact, so distracted by this mystery cowboy who'd just sauntered in that she didn't see the other guy sidling up to her. The rough hand on her arm was her first clue someone had claimed the stool beside hers. Swiveling around, she realized that hand belonged to a guy who could not have been more different than the cowboy who'd snagged her attention. This man was short and, um...plump. He was bald except for a few wisps of hair grown long, combed over and plastered down with what she could only hope was some sort of styling product. His cheeks were rosy, his nose bulbous. He looked vaguely familiar, though she couldn't possibly have met him before.
"Well, hello there, little lady." He stroked a hand up her arm. "Whadda say we getcha some'tem cold to drink and we scoot on out to that there dance floor?"
"Pardon?" She--barely--suppressed a shiver of disgust at his touch. She tried to wiggle free from his grasp, but he had boxed her in between the bar and the woman on the stool beside her.
Why was he rubbing her arm like that? Did she know this man? After all, he
"You wanna take a turn around the room?"
"A turn at what?" she asked, genuinely not understanding him. She spoke four languages, for goodness' sake, but Texan was not one of them.
The man frowned. "Are you makin' fun a me?"
"No," she protested. Unfortunately, it was then that
she figured out where she knew him from. "Elmer Fudd!" she blurted out. "You look like Elmer Fudd!"
Normally, she would not have said anything, but she'd already gulped down two of those wicked margaritas. And all she'd eaten since lunch was a packet of airline peanuts. So her tongue was looser than normal.
Indignation settled over his pudgy features. He leaned toward her, scowling. "Whadja call me?"
"I...I didn't mean it as an insult."
makin' fun a me." The man's face flushed red, only increasing his resemblance to the cartoon hunter.
And there it was. She, who almost always knew exactly what to say and who could talk herself into and out of almost any situation, for better or for worse, was speechless. Horribly so.
She'd unintentionally insulted and offended a man who was probably armed right now. This was it. She was going to die. Alone. Miserable. In Texas. Murdered in a fit of rage. By a man who looked like Elmer Fudd.
Ford Langley could see trouble coming the second he stepped into The Dry Well, his favorite bar in Midland.
The Well was the kind of seedy dive that rednecks and oil rig workers had been coming to, through boom and bust, for sixty years or so. Since the Green Energy branch of FMJ, Ford's company, leased land for their wind turbines from a lot of the people in here, he
figured they all knew who he was and how much he was worth. They just didn't care. Frankly, it was a relief places like this still existed in the world.
It was not, however, the kind of place women wore couture suits and designer shoes. Ford had three sisters with expensive taste. He knew a five-hundred-dollar pair of shoes when he saw them.
The woman sitting at the bar looked startlingly out of place. He'd never seen her there before. He came to The Well almost every time he visited Midland, and he definitely would have remembered this broad.
filtered through and stuck in his mind, because that's exactly what she looked like. The sexy broad who ambles into the PI's office in an old film noir movie. Lustrous flowing hair, long silk-clad legs, bright red lipstick, gut-wrenching sex appeal. With just enough wide-eyed innocence thrown in to make a man want to be the one to save her. Even though he knew instinctively that he would get kicked in the teeth for his trouble.
To make matters worse, she was talking to Dale Martin, who, Ford knew, had been going through a rough divorce. Dale had undoubtedly come in looking for what The Well provided best: booze, brawls and one-night stands. Given how completely out of his league the woman was, Ford could already guess which Dale was going to get.
When Ford heard Dale's distinctive drawl rising above the blare of the jukebox, Ford moved through the crowd, closing in on the brewing conflict, hoping he could cut trouble off at the pass.
He approached just in time to hear Dale accuse her of making fun of him. Hiding his cringe, Ford slung an arm around the woman's shoulders.
The stubborn woman tried to pull out of his grasp, but he held her firm. "I will--"
"Dale, buddy," he continued before she could ruin his efforts. "I see you met my date." He sent the woman a pointed look, hoping she'd take the hint and stop trying to squirm away. "Sugar, did you introduce yourself to my buddy, Dale?"
"It's Kitty," she snapped.
Dale was looking from him to her with a baffled expression. Which was fine, because Ford figured confused was better than furious.
"Right, sugar." Ford gave her shoulder an obvious squeeze. Winking at Dale, he added, "Kitty here's one of those feminist types."
She blinked, as if having trouble keeping up with the conversation. "Insisting that I be called by my given name and not some generic endearment does not make me--"
"She's a bit prickly, too." Based on her accent, he made a guess. "You know how Yankees are, Dale."
"I am not prickly," she protested.
But with Ford's last comment, a smile spread across Dale's face and at her protest, he burst out laughing, having forgotten or excused whatever she'd said to offend him. After all, she was a Yankee and obviously couldn't be expected to know better.
With Dale sufficiently distracted, Ford tugged the
delectable Kitty off her stool and nudged her toward The Well's crowded dance floor. "Come on. Why don't you show me what you can do in those fancy shoes of yours, sugar?"
At "sugar" he gave Dale another exaggerated wink. She, of course, squeaked an indignant protest, which only made Dale laugh harder.
When they were out of Dale's hearing range, she once again tried to pull away from him. "Thank you, I'm sure. But I could have handled him myself. So you can't seriously expect me to dance with you."
"'Course I do. Dale's watching."
Before she could voice any more protests, or worse, undermine all his hard work, he stepped onto the dance floor, spun her to face him and pulled her close. The second he felt her body pressed to his, he had to ask himself, had he really orchestrated all of that to avoid a fight or had he been angling for this all along?
She was taller than she'd looked sitting on the stool. With her heels on, her head came up past his chin, which was rare, since he dwarfed most women. As he'd suspected, her boxy suit hid a figure that was nicely rounded without being plump. She was delectably, voluptuously curved.
He felt the sharp bite of lust deep in his gut. Maybe he shouldn't have been surprised. He lived a fairly high-profile life back in San Francisco. As a result, he picked his lovers carefully for their discretion, sophistication and lack of expectations. He had enough responsibility without saddling himself with a spouse.
Unfortunately, it had been nearly six months since his previous girlfriend, Rochelle, had gone out for lunch one day with a friend who had kids and came home dreaming of designer diaper bags. He'd been happy to dodge that bullet and hadn't been in a hurry to find someone to replace her. Which probably explained his strong reaction to this woman. Kitty, she'd said her name was.
As he moved her into a shuffle of a Texas two-step, he felt her body relax against his. If his instincts were right, Kitty was smart, beautiful and used to taking care of herself. In short, she was exactly his sort of woman. She just may be the most interesting thing that had happened to him in a long time.
Kitty had never before found herself in this situation. Naturally she often danced with men she'd only just met. But she kept very careful tabs on the social scene in Manhattan. As a result, she usually knew the net worth, family history and sexual inclinations of every male in the room.
What some might consider mere gossip, she considered her professional obligation. She was in no position to date, marry or even notice a man who couldn't bring his own personal fortune to her family coffers. Unfortunately, ever since Suzy Snark had caught Kitty in her sights, the business of finding a rich husband had become increasingly difficult. Derek--damn him--had been the perfect choice. Until he'd gone and fallen in love.
But the truth was, she was tired of planning every move she made. This stranger with whom she was dancing, this cowboy, this man she'd never see again after tonight, made her pulse quicken.
From the moment she'd seen him sauntering through the door to the instant he'd pulled her body against his, she'd felt more alive than she had in months. Years, maybe. Somehow the scent of him, masculine and spicy, rose up from his chest and cut through the stench of stale smoke and cheap beer. His shoulders and arms were firm and muscular without being bulky. He had the physique of a man who worked for a living. Who lifted heavy things and shouldered massive burdens. The hand that cradled hers was slightly rough. This was a man who'd never had a manicure, never taken a Pilates class and probably didn't own a suit.
In short, he was a real man. Unlike the pampered men of her acquaintance. Most of whom, she was sorry to say, were likable, but were just a little bit...well, that is to say...well, they were sissies. And until this moment, she'd never realized that bothered her. She'd never known she wanted anything else.
Her face was only inches from his shirt and she had to fight against the sudden impulse to bury her nose in his chest. To rub her cheek against his sternum like a cat marking her territory.
It had been so long since she felt this kind of instant sexual attraction to someone. Geesh, had she ever felt this kind of attraction? She didn't think so.
Not that she planned on acting on it. A one-night stand was
not part of her five-year plan.
"I don't even know your name," she muttered aloud.
"Ford," he murmured.
He'd ducked his head before speaking so the word came out as warmth brushing past her ear. She suppressed a shiver.
"Like the car?" she asked.
He chuckled. "Yep. Like the car."
Geesh, indeed. Even his name was masculine. Why couldn't he have had a name that was just a bit more androgynous? Like Gene or Pat. Or BMW.