Authors: Heather Peters
Tags: #Debt, #Contemporary Erotic Romance, #erotic romance, #florist, #flowers, #gardens
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Surrender Copyright 2010 Heather Peters
Cover Art by Fiona Jayde
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without written permission from the publisher. Contact Noble Romance Publishing, LLC at PO Box 467423, Atlanta, GA 31146.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The characters are products of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.
Florist Isabella Chandler, through no fault of her own, is about to lose her business. She might as well lose her soul. With no other options she turns to Lyon Sauvage, a man she dismissed from her life five years earlier. But is she willing to pay the unexpected price of ultimate submission?
Enigmatic millionaire Lyon Sauvage lost Isabella once. He has no intention of opening his heart and suffering that mistake again. When she appears on his doorstep desperate for help, Lyon presents her with a proposition she has no choice but to accept. But will his revenge get her out of his system? Or condemn him to greater heartbreak?
"Excuse me, sir. There's a young lady here who says she needs to speak to you on a matter of great urgency."
Lyon Sauvage dropped his pen and rubbed his temples in an attempt to ease the pounding in his head that had plagued him since earlier that morning. With the long holiday weekend approaching, he just wanted to complete his work and to leave for the peace and quiet of his mountain retreat.
This had better be good.
He heard his assistant mumbling to someone
I'm not in the mood for this today.
"I told you no interruptions, Bev. Who is she and what does she want?"
"A moment, sir."
He'd been put on hold. Fuck! He drew a weary hand through his hair and waited.
A click from the intercom a second later told him Bev was back. "Her name is Isabella Beaumont and she says—"
"Send her in." The sound of her name knocked the wind from his lungs.
Isabella? Here? What did she want? And Christ, after all these years, why had he agreed to see her, just like that? He remained in his high-backed, leather chair even after the soft rap on his door.
"Yes," he said, his voice sounding raspy in the attempt to hide his resentment toward the woman who slowly opened the door to his office.
"Thank you for agreeing to see me, Lyon."
He didn't stand at her approach, but he did take in every inch of her as she crossed the expanse of his cavernous office. He could size up a person in one glance. Determining intentions and motives had always been a gift.
A stunning, petite woman with curves lush enough to make a grown man cry, she wore a business suit that matched her expressive eyes, the color of a stormy, grey sky. Her high cheekbones and porcelain skin lent credence to her European heritage and her breasts rode high and full. In spite of any reservations Lyon held, he ached to touch the softness hidden beneath her suit.
Isabella Beaumont was as breathtaking as the day they'd met over five years before, before all hell broke loose and before she'd walked away. He cleared his throat, attempting to dispel the odd combination of anger and a sudden hard-on.
"I must admit I'm surprised to see you here, Isabella." He slipped his hands from the arms of his chair and clasped them together on the smooth surface of his marble desk. "Please, sit down."
"Thank you." In a single, graceful move, exhibiting style and poise, she slid into the chair and crossed one leg over the other.
"I know you're not here to make small talk so let's get straight to the point. What do you want, Isabella? I'm busy." With impatient fingers, he tapped on his desk.
"I'm fine, how are you?" She leaned toward him with a sultry grin. He caught the scent of roses and woman and fought to stay in control as the softness of her voice wrapped around his cock like a silken thread. "Cut the pleasantries, Isabella. You waited five years to ask. I'm sure how I fared after you left is the least of your concerns." He intended his brusque tone to make her understand; he made no bones about being interrupted.
"Lyon, I'm sorry for what happened."
He slammed one palm on the desk. Though his hand stung, his mind rallied in seeing her wince. "Sorry? Is sorry all you have to say? You never left word. I didn't know if you were dead or alive. Not a letter or a call."
"I didn't realize I had to account for living my life." Her sour expression was not lost on him.
"I told you then I couldn't give you what you needed—what you wanted. So, I left."
"Only to bring yourself back here today. Seems we've come full circle, haven't we?" His jaw tightened as his impatience grew.
"This was a bad idea. I'm sorry to have disturbed you. I'll go now." She rose from the chair.
She stopped mid-motion. "Pardon me?"
"I said, sit down." Her eyes blazed hot at his demand. He'd unnerved her. Good.
"You told my assistant that you've come here on a matter of
, so let's get on with it." He sighed and gestured to her chair. "Please." She hesitated, and then, with a slight nod, retook her seat. "I'll get right to the point. My father and I own a small florist shop down on Amore Street
—A Rose is a Rose.
Her head hung low as she wrapped her fingers around the handle of her handbag. She took a deep breath, lifted eyes, which were filled with sadness. Lyon swallowed but otherwise didn't react. "Yes, go on."
"Unfortunately, my father's weakness for gambling has grown into a monumental problem. Our business is now in danger of going under." He watched her breasts rise as she inhaled. Her cheeks were flushed. "It's all we have."
He leaned forward, hating himself for having the slightest degree of sympathy for her.
Send her away. Don't listen.
"How much does he owe?"
"I'm thinking of selling my car, but it won't be nearly enough . . . ." When she stalled, he laced his fingers together to keep from clenching his fists.
"How much do you need, Isabella?"
Her eyes shut then reopened before meeting his gaze. "Two hundred thirty-five thousand. I have to deliver the money to an unsavory character named Al by Monday. They've threatened to hurt my father if I don't. Lyon, can you help me?"
Tell her to get out. This is not your problem. Tell her . . . oh, damn.
"I'll take care of the debt, Isabella."
He allowed himself a tiny smile when her face relaxed with relief and she exhaled a swift puff of air. The tip of her tongue darted out to lick her full top lip and Lyon caught himself staring. Her little tick, which had driven him crazy in the past, had the same effect on him now.
"Thank you, Lyon. I knew I could count on you."
"Not so fast, Isabella. How do you intend to pay me back?" She straightened in her chair. "Well, we can work out some sort of payment schedule, naturally. I have stocks, some jewelry, but I'm afraid it won't be enough."
"You're right. It's not."
Her brows furrowed. "I don't understand."
. "Keep your stocks and your jewels."
"Then what do you want?"
He leaned back, lacing his fingers behind his head and smiled. "You." Confusion marred her brow. "Me?"
He noted the soft blush that colored her cheeks. "Allow me to elaborate. You have until Monday to settle the debt, correct?"
Lyon leaned forward, catching the soft scent of roses and talc. He swallowed, cleared his throat. "We have unfinished business, Isabella."
"You're looking for revenge for what happened between us?" Her lips pursed as if attempting to control her surprise.
"You mean what
happen, which is exactly the point." He shrugged. "We started something and then, like a ghost, you disappeared." As she sat speechless, he continued. "All you have to do is agree to be my guest for the holiday weekend, starting tomorrow. You'll bring no cell phone, no Blackberry or laptop." He fixed her with a stern glare. "No communication with the outside world. Just you and me, do you understand?"
"I'm beginning to." She stood, straight as a rod, those soft grey eyes of hers turning dark and stormy. He'd always admired her sass, her courage. But he wanted more . . . .
Her complete surrender.
She shook her head. "Is this some sort of sick joke?"
"Am I laughing?"
She threw up her arms. "Why are you doing this? Can't you just lend me the money?"
Desperation clouded her voice, and, for a second, he was tempted to give her anything, everything she asked. He rose slowly from his chair and stood as steadfast as his pride. "Why should I?"
"I'm asking you, as a friend."
"Friend? You don't know the meaning of the word. You relinquished that title when you vanished." He walked around the desk and focused on her face, which was now red with anger. How he yearned to touch her. His hands opened then clenched at his sides.
"You knew I was not ready for more than friendship. I will always be grateful to you for—"
"For serving as an emotional replacement after the man you loved betrayed you?
Don't even attempt to deny it."
"Why are you acting this way? Who are you?" She grabbed the back of the chair in a white-knuckle grip.
"You had plenty of time to forget, didn't you, Isabella?" She blinked, but lifted her chin. "The Lyon Sauvage I remember was there when I needed him." She placed her palm over her heart. "My best friend, not this conniving, scheming person you've apparently become."
"You have something I want and vice versa. That's my offer. Take it or leave it." She stood stone still, her exquisite beauty evident, indecision weighing heavy in her eyes. He needed to draw her closer, to take in her scent, to challenge her.
"I think I'll leave it."
"Think again. Do you want your father hurt? Do you want your clientele to find out he nearly gambled away everything? I have the means to help you. I will help you."
"At what cost?" Her lips trembled as she spoke.
Lyon was unmoved. Almost.
"What do you want me to say, Lyon? That I'll drop everything, come home with you and jump into your bed? Will I be expected to perform a striptease, a lap dance?
Are you going to chain me to your bed?"
You've read my mind.
Her head tilted, her eyes widened. "Are you trying to humiliate me?" He slipped his hands into his pockets to keep from grabbing her and taking her, right there on his desk. He could sense her apprehension and her shock, but no fear. The only thing Isabella feared was her sexuality. At least she had, five years ago. And if she still did, he intended to put an end to those fears this weekend, if she agreed to his demands. Her cheeks bloomed with color. Would her body also flush pink when he had her writhing in his bed as well?
"No, Isabella. Think of this as a simple business arrangement. You want something I have and I want you."
"Why me, Lyon? Why?"
This foreplay had gone on long enough. "Why don't I demonstrate?"
Isabella gasped when she found herself gathered into his arms. The scents of spice and male surrounded her, and one of his large hands slid down to cup her ass, his erection pressed against her hip, hard and long. God, what he truly wanted was clear to her now.
"This is just a preview. I can make all your woes go away, Isabella. You have five minutes to decide." He stared into her eyes as if daring her to refuse. "Don't waste my time."
When she could find her voice, she pushed off his chest, stepped away from him.
"Please don't do this, Lyon. I-I need more time."
He looked at his watch, then back at her. "And I need to know what you intend to do. Four minutes, forty-five seconds, and counting."
She threw up her hands. "Have you lost your mind
?" No, maybe I've lost mine.
"You're the one who came to me for help. What's your answer?" She shook her head, swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. "I have no one else to turn to."
"I'll help you. But you won't walk away so fast this time." She could see the tiny creases fanning out from the depths of those sapphire eyes as he continued to speak.
"You left because you were afraid, not of me but of your own inhibitions." He cuffed her wrist within his grip.
"No, I left because I lost David to another woman and I had nothing more to give anyone, including you." She tried to wrench free, but every effort proved futile. "Why can't you just lend me the money and I will pay you back another way."
"But this is what I want. Your body." He pressed his palm to her rear. "Your kiss." His lips were warm and a tiny tickle erupted in her stomach. "Your submission." He wrapped his arms tighter around her and crushed her mouth until a groan of arousal escaped her throat.