The Real Romero (Harlequin Presents)

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9780373133239: The Real Romero (Harlequin Presents)

The Secret Billionaire  

Billionaire Lucas Romero is many things—brooding, talented and a consummate womanizer. The one thing he's not? The "ski instructor" beautiful, innocent Milly Mayfield thought she was giving herself to in a sumptuous, secluded French ski chalet! And now she's livid! 

Arrogant playboy Lucas is bewildered by Milly's decidedly unusual reaction to the revelation of his substantial wealth—he's never had complaints before! But even Milly cannot ignore the sexual chemistry between them. So when a family emergency means he needs a willing woman by his side, Milly suddenly finds herself whisked away to Spain...and engaged!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Cathy Williams is a great believer in the power of perseverance as she had never written anything before her writing career, and from the starting point of zero has now fulfilled her ambition to pursue this most enjoyable of careers. She would encourage any would-be writer to have faith and go for it! She derives inspiration from the tropical island of Trinidad and from the peaceful countryside of middle England. Cathy lives in Warwickshire her family.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

'Amelia? Is that Amelia Mayfield?'

Milly pressed the mobile phone against her ear, already regretting that she had been stupid enough to pick up the call. How many more instructions could Sandra King give about this job?

She was going to be a chalet girl! Two weeks of cooking and looking after a family of four! Anyone would think that she was being primed to run the country. It wasn't even as though she hadn't done this before. She had, two years ago, for three months before she'd started the hotel job in London.

'Yes.' She sighed, allowing her eyes to drift over the pure, dazzling canvas of white snow all around her. It had been a fantastic trip, just the thing to clear her head and get her mind off her miserable situation. She had travelled in style and she had enjoyed every second of it. It was almost a shame that she was now in the back seat of the chauffeur-driven SUV with her destination only half an hour away.

'You haven't been picking up your phone!' The voice down the other end was sharp and accusatory. Milly could picture the other woman clearly, sitting at her desk in Mayfair, her shiny blond hair scraped back with an Alice band, her long perfectly manicured nails tapping impatiently on her desk.

Sandra King had interviewed her not once but three times for this job. It was almost as though she had resented having to give the job to someone small and round with red hair when there were so many other, more suitable candidates in the mix: girls with cut-glass accents, braying laughs and shiny blond hair scraped back with Alice bands.

But, as she had made clear with unnecessarily cruel satisfaction, this particular family wanted someone plain and down to earth, because the last thing the .señora wanted was a floozy who might decide to start flirting with her rich husband.

Milly, who had looked up the family she would be working for on Google after her first interview, had only just managed not to snort with disbelief because the husband in question was definitely not the sort of man any girl in her right mind would choose to flirt with. He was portly, semi-balding and the wrong side of fifty, but he was filthy rich, and she supposed that that was as compelling an attraction as being a rock star. Not that she was in the market for flirting with anyone, anyway.

'Sorry, Sandra...' She grinned because she knew that Sandra didn't like being called by her first name. It was 'Ms King', or 'Skipper' to the chosen few. The other girls in the exclusive agency that dealt specifically with part-time positions to the rich and famous called her Skipper, one of those silly nicknames that Milly guessed had been concocted in whatever posh boarding school they had all attended.

'The service has been a bit iffy ever since I left London...and I can't talk for long because my phone's almost out of charge.' Not strictly true but she didn't need yet another check list of the various things the special family ate and didn't eat; or the favourite things the special little kids, aged four and six, insisted on doing before they went to bed. She didn't need to be reminded of what she could and couldn't wear, or say or couldn't say.

Milly had never known people to be as fussy with just about everything. The family for whom she had worked two years previously had been jolly, outdoorsy and amenable.

But she wasn't complaining. They might be fussy but the pay was fabulous and, more importantly, the job removed her from the vicinity of Robbie, Emily and heartbreak.

She had managed to push her ex-fiancé, her best friend and her broken engagement out of her head, but she could feel them staging another takeover, and she blinked rapidly, fighting back tears of self-pity. Time healed, she had been told repeatedly by her friends, who had never liked Robbie from the start and, now that she was no longer engaged, had felt free to let loose every single pejorative thing they had thought about him from day one.

On the one hand, their negative comments had been bolstering and supportive. On the other, they had shown up her utter lack of judgement.

'In that case,' the well-bred, disembodied voice informed her, 'I'm afraid I have to inform you that the job has been cancelled.'

It took a few seconds for that to sink in. Milly had been busy being distracted by the unfortunate turn of events that had catapulted her life from sorted and happy to humiliated and up in the air 'Did you hear what I just said, Amelia?'

'You're kidding, aren't you? Please tell me that this is a joke.' But Sandra King was not the sort who had a sense of humour. Any joke, for her, would be foreign territory.

'I never joke,' the other woman said, on cue. 'The Ramos family has pulled out at the last minute. I only took their phone call a few hours ago and, if you had picked up your phone instead of letting it ring, you would not have wasted your time travelling.'

'Why? Why is it off?' Visions of slinking back into the flat she had shared with Emily, risking bumping into her one-time best friend clearing her stuff before she took off to America with Robbie, were so horrifying that she felt giddy.

'One of the kids has come down with chicken pox. Simple as that.'

'But I'm only half an hour away from the lodge!' Milly all but wailed.

They had left the exclusive village of Courchevel behind and the car was wending its way upwards, leaving the riff-raff of the lower slopes behind as it entered the rarefied air of the seriously rich. Hidden, private lodges with majestic views; helipads; heated indoor swimming pools; saunas and steam rooms by the bucket load...

There was an elaborate sigh from the end of the line. 'Well, you'll have to tell the driver to swing round and head back, I'm afraid. Naturally, you will be compensated for your time and trouble.'

'Surely I can spend one night there? It's getting dark and I'm exhausted. I have a key to the place. I can use it and make sure that I leave the lodge in pristine condition. I need to sleep, Sandra!'

She couldn't get her head round the fact that the one thing that seemed to be working in her favour, the only thing that had worked in her favour for the past couple of horrific, nightmarish weeks, was now collapsing around her feet like a deck of cards, kicked down by one of the odious rich kids from the family who had bailed at the last minute. A wave of hopeless self-pity threatened to engulf her.

'That would be highly irregular.'

' So is the fact that my job here has been cancelled at the last minute, when I'm fifteen minutes away from the lodge—having spent the past eight hours travelling!'

She could see the lodge rearing up ahead of them and for a few seconds every depressing, negative thought flew from her head in sheer, wondrous appreciation of the magnificent structure ahead of her.

It dominated the skyscape, rising up against the blindingly white snow, master of all it surveyed. It was absolutely enormous, the largest and grandest ski lodge Milly had ever seen in her life. In fact, it was almost an understatement to classify it as a 'lodge' It was more like a mansion in the middle of its own private, snowy playground.

'I suppose there's little choice!' Sandra snapped. 'But for God's sake, Amelia, pick up when you hear your phone! And make sure you don't touch anything. No poking around. Just eat and sleep and make sure that when you leave the lodge no one knows you've been there.'

Milly grimaced as she was abruptly disconnected. She leaned forward, craning to get glimpses of the mansion as it drew closer and closer to her, until the SUV was turning left and climbing through private land to where it nestled in all its splendour.

'Er...' She cleared her throat and hoped that the driver, who had greeted her at Chambery airport in extremely broken English and had not said a word since, would get the gist of what she was going to say. 'Oui, mademoiselle? '

Milly caught his eye in the rear-view mirror. 'Yes, well, there's been a slight change of plan...' 'What is that?'

She sighed with relief. At least she wouldn't have to try and explain an impossible situation using her limited French, resisting the temptation to fill in the gaps by speaking loudly. She told him as succinctly as possible. He would have to stay overnight somewhere and return her to the airport the following day. Sorry, so sorry for the inconvenience, but he could phone.

She scrambled into her capacious rucksack and extracted her wallet and from that the agency card that she had not envisaged having to use for the next couple of weeks.

She wondered whether he might stay at the lodge, it was big enough to fit a hundred drivers, but that was something he would have to work out for himself. She suspected that she had already stretched Sandra's limited supply of the milk of human kindness by asking if she could stay overnight in the place.

It was a dog-eat-dog world, she thought. As things stood, she was rock-bottom of the pack. She had been cheated on by her fiancé, a guy she had known since childhood and, as if that wasn't bad enough, she had been cheated on by her best friend and flatmate.

To top it off, she had been told that the reason he had become engaged to her in the first place was because his parents were fed up with his twenty-four-seven lifestyle of living it large and womanising. They had given him a deadline to find himself a decent girl and settle down or else he could forget about taking over the family business that had just opened a thriving branch in Philadelphia and was going places.

Banished from the family fortune and a ready-made job, he would have been faced, she assumed, with the terrifying prospect of actually buckling down and finding himself a job without Mummy and Daddy's helping hand. And so he had plumped for the slightly less terrifying prospect of charming her into thinking that they really had a relationship, proposing marriage whilst playing the field with her much taller, much skinnier and much prettier flatmate.

His parents had approved of her. She had passed the litmus test with them. She was his passport to his inheritance. She was small, round and homely; when she thought of Robbie and the angular Emily, every insecurity she nursed about her looks rose to the surface at the speed of light.

The only thing worse than catching them in bed together would have been actually marrying the creep, only to discover once the ring was on her finger that he had zero interest in her.

She gazed mournfully at her finger where a giant diamond rock had nestled only a few weeks ago.

Her friends had all told her that it was a monumental mistake to have chucked it back at him, that she should have kept it and flogged it at the first available opportunity. After all, she deserved it, after what he had put her through.

And the money would have stood her in good stead, considering she had jacked in her hotel job so that she could play happy families with him in Philadelphia. It was galling to think that he had had the nerve to tell her that he hoped she understood and that she could count on him if she ever needed anything!

As things currently stood, she was out of a job, banished from her flat until Emily cleared out and with a shockingly small amount of money saved.

And she had no one to turn to. Her only living relative, her grandmother who lived in Scotland, would have sold her cottage had she known about her granddaughter's state of near penury, but Milly had no intention of filling her in on that. It was bad enough that she had had to pick up the pieces when she had been told fifteen days ago that the fairy-tale wedding was off the cards.

As far as her grandmother was concerned, Milly was taking time off to work as a nanny for a family in Courchevel, where she would be able to do what she loved most, namely ski... She had glossed over the trauma of her breakup as just one of those things, nothing that a couple of weeks in the snow couldn't cure.

Milly had painted a glowing picture of a cosy family, practically friends, who would be there for her on her road to recovery. It had helped her grandmother to stop fretting. Furthermore, she had embroidered the recovery theme by announcing that she had another job lined up as soon as she was back in London, far better than the one she had jettisoned.

As far as her grandmother was concerned, she was as right as rain, because the last thing Milly wanted to do was worry her.

'Shall I call...er...the agency and see if you could stay overnight at the lodge...?' Her better instincts grudgingly cranked into gear and she resigned herself to another awkward conversation with Sandra, who would probably spend a ridiculously long time telling her that being let down was all her fault because she should have just answered her phone, having confirmed that the driver would not, definitely not, be allowed to sully the mansion, no way But, no; Pierre, the driver, was a regular at one of the hotels in Courchevel, where one of his relatives worked, and he would be fine there.

Milly was tempted to ask whether being let down by the special family came with the job. Maybe he had a permanent room there for when he got messed around.

She didn't. Instead, she allowed him to help her with her luggage, the luggage containing the clothes that would never be worn, and he only drove off when she had unlocked the imposing front door to let herself into the lodge.

It was blessedly warm and indescribably stunning, a testimony to the marvels of modern architecture and minimalism. The entire space was open-plan, with two sitting rooms cleverly split by a wall in which a hightech, uber-modern fire caught the eye and held it. Beyond that, she could glimpse a vast kitchen, and beyond that yet more, although she was drawn to the floor-to-ceiling windows that captured the spectacular views of the valley.

She gazed out at the untouched, pristine snow, fast fading as night descended. It had been an excellent ski season so far—good accumulation of snow, which had collected on the roofs of the lodges lower down the mountain and lay there like banks and banks of smooth, marzipan icing.

Having no idea of the layout of the lodge, she decided to take her time exploring. She wasn't going to be there long, so why not enjoy the adventure of discovery? Her flat was small and poky. More than four people in the sitting area constituted a traffic jam. Why not pretend that this place belonged to her?

She explored each room exhaustively, one at a time. She admired the sparse, expensive furnishings. She had never seen so much chrome, glass and leather under one roof in her life before. Much of the furniture was white, and she marvelled at a couple confident enough to let loose two small children in a space where there was so much potential for destruction.

The kitchen was a wonder to behold: black granite counters, a table fashioned from beaten metal and an array of gadgets that made her culinary fingers itch.

She decided that she was glad she no longer worked at the Rainbow Hotel. It boasted three stars, but eve...

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Book Description Harlequin Presents, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Secret Billionaire Billionaire Lucas Romero is many things--brooding, talented and a consummate womanizer. The one thing he s not? The ski instructor beautiful, innocent Milly Mayfield thought she was giving herself to in a sumptuous, secluded French ski chalet! And now she s livid! Arrogant playboy Lucas is bewildered by Milly s decidedly unusual reaction to the revelation of his substantial wealth--he s never had complaints before! But even Milly cannot ignore the sexual chemistry between them. So when a family emergency means he needs a willing woman by his side, Milly suddenly finds herself whisked away to Spain.and engaged!. Bookseller Inventory # BRD9780373133239

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Book Description Harlequin Presents, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The Secret Billionaire Billionaire Lucas Romero is many things--brooding, talented and a consummate womanizer. The one thing he s not? The ski instructor beautiful, innocent Milly Mayfield thought she was giving herself to in a sumptuous, secluded French ski chalet! And now she s livid! Arrogant playboy Lucas is bewildered by Milly s decidedly unusual reaction to the revelation of his substantial wealth--he s never had complaints before! But even Milly cannot ignore the sexual chemistry between them. So when a family emergency means he needs a willing woman by his side, Milly suddenly finds herself whisked away to Spain.and engaged!. Bookseller Inventory # BRD9780373133239

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