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Before meeting Joe Mendez, Rachel was a single mom coping with a difficult daughter and an irresponsible ex-husband.
After meeting Joe Mendez, Rachel's life has been turned upside down! Joe's irresistible charisma, dark good looks and searing, raw sexuality have brought her out of her shell—and into a world of exquisite pleasure! She's his very willing mistress...but will she ever be his wife?
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'He was everything a woman might ever want in a man: tall, dark, ruthless good looks masking a dangerous will that had made him a millionaire before his twenty-fifth birthday. He sat beside her on the sofa, too close for comfort, and oozing the kind of blatant sexuality that weakened her defences. Power and determination had made him successful in business, but Lavender had no intention...'
'I don't have to go if you don't want me to, Mum.'
Rachel had been lost in the intriguing love life of her latest heroine when Daisy appeared in her office doorway, but her daughter's words brought a crushing end to that imaginary world.
'Oh, Daisy!' Rachel exclaimed, getting up from her desk to give the girl a swift hug. 'When did I say I didn't want you to go?'
'You didn't,' said Daisy, recoiling from her mother's embrace with all the youthful independence of a thirteen-year-old. 'But I know what you think of Lauren. I don't like her much either. And the last time I visited them they were still living in England.'
Rachel sighed. She was always amazed at Daisy's capacity to understand her feelings. She wasn't always amenable. Like any teenager her age, she and her mother didn't always see eye to eye. But where her father was concerned, there was no contest.
Daisy had known that his invitation to spend at least two weeks of her summer holidays with him and his second wife at their home in Florida could prove controversial. For the first three years of his marriage to Lauren, Steve had only seen his daughter a handful of times, even though Rachel had agreed to share custody. But suddenly, since Steve's move to the company's headquarters in Miami last year, he'd been eager to have her spend every holiday with him.
Rachel hadn't voiced any objections. She wanted Daisy to know her father. But there was still a twinge of apprehension at the thought that Daisy might find life in the United States far more exciting than living here in Westlea, a quiet English country town.
'Look, I don't mind,' she assured Daisy now, refusing to consider how she would feel if Daisy did decide to live with her father. Rachel's unexpected success in recent years as a romantic novelist had proved satisfying, but it certainly wouldn't compensate for the loss of her daughter as well as her husband.
'Well...' Daisy still looked doubtful, and Rachel wanted to hug her again. 'If you're sure?'
'You'll have a lovely time,' said Rachel, unable to resist tucking a strand of dark hair behind her daughter's ear. She paused. 'I just wish your father hadn't arranged for you to travel across the Atlantic with some strange man.'
Daisy laughed then. 'He's not a strange man, Mum,' she protested. 'I have met him before. When Daddy lived in London. He's his boss, actually. His family owns Mendez Macrosystems. Lauren really likes him. I know she thinks he's hot.'
Rachel's jaw dropped. 'Hot?'
'Yeah.' Daisy stared at her. 'Duh. As opposed to boring? Honestly, Mum,' she grimaced, 'if you're writing for a modern audience you ought to know these things.'
'I know.' Rachel was defensive. 'But what makes you think Lauren regards this man as hot?' She pulled a face. 'For heaven's sake, she and your father have only been married for four years.'
'And your point is?' Daisy was sardonic. 'Oh, Mum, get real, will you? Women like Lauren are always on the lookout for the next good thing.'
Rachel shook her head. 'I don't think we should be having this conversation, Daisy.'
'Well... because Lauren is your father's wife.'
'You were Daddy's wife when she decided she wanted him,' pointed out Daisy shrewdly. 'Honestly, Mum, I don't know what you're worried about. If she and Dad get a divorce, you and he could get back together.'
Rachel didn't answer her, aware that that option was no longer as attractive as it might once have been. Experience had taught her that Steve Carlyle was not and had never been the man she thought she'd married. Lauren Johansen hadn't been the first female to attract Steve's attention during the nine years of their relationship. She'd just been the richest, and the most determined.
'Anyway, you'll get to meet him yourself before we go,' Daisy went on, reverting back to their earlier discussion. 'Mr Mendez, I mean. When he picks me up to take me to the airport.' She dimpled. 'Wait until I get back and tell Joanne. She'll be so hacked off. I can't wait.'
Rachel groaned. '"Hacked off"? Daisy, what kind of language is that?'
'Okay, green with envy, then, is that better?' Daisy pulled a face. 'Like I say, Mum, you really need to update your vocabulary.'
'Not with words like that,' said Rachel a little prudishly, and then, realising she wasn't going to get any more work done that morning, she switched off her computer and followed her daughter out the door. 'Anyway, it's lunchtime. Do you want an omelette or a salad?'
'Couldn't I have a ham-and-cheese toastie?' asked Daisy wheedlingly. Lately, since she'd got her period, she was inclined to put on weight rather too easily, and Rachel was trying to wean her onto a healthier diet.
'I suppose so.'
Rachel was pragmatic. Daisy was unlikely to stick to eggs and salads while she was on holiday, so what was one sandwich more or less? Which reminded her, they only had five days before Daisy left for Florida. A depressing thought.
Daisy was due to spend the following day with her grandparents. Steve's mother and father had never approved of their son's behaviour, and as Rachel's parents had died in a car accident when she'd only been a teenager herself, she and the elder Carlyles had always been very close. It meant Rachel would have a whole day to try and catch up with her deadline, which had definitely floundered since Daisy had accepted her father's invitation.
Consequently, she was irritated when the doorbell rang just after eleven o'clock that morning. She wasn't expecting any visitors. There were no edited manuscripts on their way back to her for approval, so it was unlikely to be the postman. And her neighbours knew better than to interrupt her before twelve o'clock.
Getting up, she went across to her office window and looked out. She was seriously considering not answering the door, but the sight of a powerful black SUV standing at her gate caused her to revise her opinion. Who on earth did she know who owned a vehicle like that?
And then a man stepped back from the shadow of the overhang and looked up directly at her window. A dark man, she saw, with hair cut so short it was barely more than stubble over his scalp. It was difficult to judge how tall he was from this angle, but Rachel got the impression of height and power, broad shoulders encased in an age-scuffed leather jacket.
She stepped behind the curtain automatically, not wanting him to think she was spying on him, but it was too late. He'd seen her. The second peal of the bell proved it, and with a rapidly beating heart she left her office and hurried downstairs.
As she unlocked the door, she wondered if she was being entirely wise. After all, she was alone here. She didn't know this man, and he certainly looked as if he was no stranger to trouble.
But that was her novelist's imagination taking over, she thought impatiently. He was stranger, yes, but he'd probably picked the wrong address. He might be looking for someone. Julie Corbett, for example. Her flirtatious neighbour two doors down definitely attracted a lot of male attention. The kind of male attention this man had in spades.
She opened the door a few inches, making sure to keep most of her body hidden. Her strappy vest and shorts were not for public consumption, not when she was sure her hips spread every time she sat down at her desk. 'Can I help you?'
The man—she'd been right, he was tall: easily six feet, with a lean, muscled build—grinned at her. His face was darkly tanned, almost swarthy, with well-defined cheekbones, dark, hooded eyes, and a nose that looked as if it might have been broken at some time. He wasn't handsome, as the men she wrote about were handsome, but she had to admit that tough, masculine features and a hard thin-lipped mouth were infinitely more sexy. He was also younger than she was, she decided. But that didn't prevent him from embodying the kind of power and authority that made her catch her breath.
'Rachel,' he said, shocking her still further by his casual use of her name. 'It is Rachel, isn't it?'
Rachel swallowed. 'Should I know you?' she asked faintly, sure that they'd never met before, and he pulled a wry face.
'No,' he said, his accent definitely not English. 'But I know your daughter. Daisy?'And when that aroused no immediate recognition, 'I'm Joe Mendez.'
Rachel felt weak. This surely couldn't be the man who owned Mendez Macrosystems—Steve's boss! It didn't seem possible. Weren't company executives supposed to wear three-piece suits, and ties and lace-up Oxfords? Not black leather jackets over tee shirts and jeans, and sockless loafers that had seen better days.
'I—Daisy's not here,' she said lamely, and Joe Mendez propped a hand against the wall beside the door and regarded her with the same look of tolerance her daughter sometimes employed.
'I didn't come to see Daisy,' he said, glancing behind him at the SUV. 'Is it okay leaving the car there?'
Which seemed to denote an expectation of being invited in. Rachel hesitated. 'It's a quiet road,' she said. Indeed, few unfamiliar vehicles entered the cul-de-sac. 'Um—what can I do for you, Mr Mendez?'
'Joe,' he corrected her evenly. He glanced pointedly over her shoulder. 'May I come in?'
'Oh...' Well, why not? she argued frustratedly. It wasn't as if he was a complete stranger, and she owed it to Daisy to be polite. She stepped back, remembering, as her bare feet protested the chill of the hall tiles, that she was hardly dressed for visitors, but it was too late to think of that now. 'Of course.'
Joe stepped into the hall, immediately filling it with his presence, and, leaving him to close the door, Rachel led the way into a rather formal sitting room. It was rare...
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Book Description Hardback. Condition: Good. The book has been read but remains in clean condition. All pages are intact and the cover is intact. Some minor wear to the spine. Seller Inventory # GORX008893034