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When Siena sees Nick again she can't stop the ache of painful memories. Years ago he crushed her innocent heart before disappearing from her life. Since then, Siena's chosen the safe path: a fiancé who might not make her pulse race, but who'll surely never hurt her.
But it's to Nick that she turns in her darkest hour. However, the brooding tycoon is no safe option.
He sweeps her off to exotic Hong Kong on his private jet, determined to seduce his way back into her heart. This time forever...
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As a child books took Robyn Donald to places far away from her village in Northland, New Zealand. Then, as well as becoming a teacher, marrying and raising two children, she discovered romances and read them voraciously. So much she decided to write one. When her first book was accepted by Harlequin she felt she’d arrived home. Robyn still lives in Northland, using the landscape as a setting for her work. Her life is enriched by friends she’s made among writers and readers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Lifting a glass of excellent French champagne, Siena Blake said, "Mum and Dad—here's to your next thirty years together! May they be even happier than the ones you've already had."
Diane Blake smiled, serenely elegant in the unfamiliar surroundings of an extremely upmarket London hotel. "Darling, if they're only half as good as the past thirty years they'll be wonderful."
Siena's father gave his wife a look that combined pride and love.
"They'll be better," he said confidently, "and one reason for that is our great good luck with our children. So I'll return the toast—here's to our twins, Siena and Gemma, for making our lives much fuller and more interesting."
He raised his glass, adding slyly, "Although at our advanced ages I suppose we're now expected to be eagerly waiting for grandchildren."
Sparks flashed from the diamond in Siena's engagement ring as candlelight danced across her taut fingers.
Her voice rang a little false in her ears when she said, "Well, I shouldn't think Gemma has any maternal ambitions. She hasn't yet found a man she'd like to marry, and you'd better give Adrian and me a few years yet." Ignoring a nagging, unwelcome doubt, she took a sip of champagne and set her glass down. "Anyway, the important occasion right now is your anniversary."
A little wistfully her mother said, "The only thing that would be more perfect is if Gemma could have been here too." She smiled. "But she can't, and your arrival yesterday was such a wonderful surprise. I'm only sorry Adrian couldn't make it with you."
Siena thrust aside her strange ambivalence. "He sends his love and best wishes, but he just couldn't take time off work."
Her parents understood. Together they'd built a business from nothing to a modest prosperity, and with their daughters had lived through times of hard work and sacrifices.
Swiftly Siena added, "Anyway, in a few weeks you'll be home again in New Zealand, and we can celebrate again with Gemma and Adrian and all your friends." She lifted her glass again. "So here's to safe journeys. And a truly fantastic cruise for you both."
As long as she could remember her parents had dreamed of cruising—of taking a leisurely trip through the Caribbean Sea and central America. After years of saving they'd finally set out on a round-the-world odyssey, first touring the United Kingdom before flying out early the next morning to join their ship.
A subdued flurry at the entrance caught her attention. Looking past her mother, she noted with hidden amusement the stately maitre d'hotel increase pace perceptibly as he made his way across the room to greet some newcomers.
Clearly important newcomers. He'd barely acknowledged Siena when she'd arrived to join her parents.
At the unexpected sight of the man who'd just walked in, Siena's heart performed a swift jig in her chest. Setting down her glass with a sharp little movement, she asked abruptly, "Is Nick here to celebrate with us?"
Her parents' surprised looks told her he wasn't. Diane said, "Our Nick?"
"Nicholas Grenville," Siena said, the sound of his name on her tongue tinged with bitterness and shame.
Flinching at her mother's surprised look, she composed her face and disciplined her voice into a steadiness she was far from feeling. "He's just walked in with a stunning woman."
Without turning, Diane asked, "An ash-blonde? Tall, coolly exquisite, superbly dressed?"
"That certainly sounds like the same person." Although all Nick's lovers had been blonde, coolly exquisite, sophisticated, et cetera.
All except one...
Banishing that extremely unwanted thought, she said hastily, "You know, it seems so unfair I should be barely five foot four inches high when everyone else in our immediate family is tall and elegant."
Even Nick. Unconsciously her gaze flicked across the room as Nick and his partner were shown into an area hidden from most of the diners by a screen of greenery.
Of all the unwelcome coincidences! At least he hadn't seen them.
Smiling, her voice teasing, she said, "Are you sure the nurses in the maternity unit didn't confuse me with another baby?"
Her parents laughed. "Positive," Diane said comfortably. "Apparently you're very like your father's grandmother, who died young. According to family lore she was little and practical and sensible and very forthright. And she had your black curls and those stunning blue eyes."
"I'm glad you still think of Nick as part of our family," Hugh said thoughtfully.
Siena shrugged airily, and bent the truth. "Oh, well, while you were mentoring him Gemma and I saw him at least once a week for years and years, and every holiday while his mother was working. We thought he was wonderful. He was always lovely to us, although he obviously hadn't had much to do with small girls."
She'd managed not to look across the room again, but she couldn't help asking, "Who is his—the woman with him?"
His latest lover, she thought, a raw edge of old pain surfacing unexpectedly.
Diane exchanged a cryptic glance with her husband. "Portia Makepeace-Singleton. We had dinner in his apartment the night after we arrived in London, and she appeared at his door halfway through the meal. Unexpectedly, I'd say, although you know Nicholas—he gave nothing away."
"I presume she's his latest significant other," Siena said, hoping she sounded coolly dismissive.
Her mother shrugged. "Possibly. Naturally we didn't ask."
Siena looked from one parent to the other. "You didn't like her," she guessed.
Diane looked a little self-conscious and didn't answer directly. "Have they seen us?"
"No, they've been seated out of sight of us less distinguished diners."
But the evening was comparatively young—plenty of time to be noticed, and Nick always noticed.
She wouldn't let Nick's arrival spoil the evening. Defiantly she raised her glass, only to set it down when light scintillated again from Adrian's diamond.
Adrian was a darling. She was very happily looking forward to marrying him next year. He would never hurt her.
She drew in a sharp breath. Nick had almost shattered her.
At sixteen she'd successfully exorcised a crush on her father's protege. Even then she'd known that Nick was not for her. By the time she'd left high school he'd well outstripped his mentor, made his first millions, and based himself overseas for several years.
He'd stayed in contact with Hugh, sending cards on important dates, calling in to see the family on his visits to New Zealand.
Then, when she'd been nineteen, he'd returned to New Zealand for a few months.
And Siena had been forced to realise she'd been fooling herself. Far from being exorcised, that adolescent crush had metamorphosed into full-blown desire. Oh, she'd fought it, until he'd.
Jolted back into the present by her mother's puzzled voice, she lifted her glass again and drank a little too deeply of the champagne.
"Sorry," she said automatically. "I was daydreaming, I'm afraid. I'm overwhelmed by all this glitter and luxury. I wonder what it would be like to live like this?"
Hugh surveyed her with indulgent amusement. "It wouldn't be long before you'd be bored out of your mind. Why don't you ask Nick some day? It's his milieu now that he's a permanent figure in the world's financial pages."
"And described variously—depending on the journalist—as a buccaneer, a financial genius and an arrogant billionaire far too handsome for his own good," Siena commented, hoping her parents didn't notice the astringent note in her words.
"All accurate," her father said, his tone not entirely approving.
He didn't mention the gossip magazines, with their avid comments on Nick's various relationships. Allowing for the usual frenetic exaggeration, there had been several of those.
Siena wished fervently Nick hadn't come in.
Five years had gone by since she'd seen him last—she'd grown up from the naive nineteen-year-old she'd been then, abandoning her adolescent fantasies of the perfect hero to settle for a happy future with a lovely man.
It was stupid to be so affected by his arrival.
Not that she'd been the only woman in the room to notice him. His arrogantly handsome features and leanly muscled height gave him a potent charisma that had caught the eye of most of the women in the restaurant.
A very dangerous charisma.
Don't go there...
His presence added to a nameless unease that had been gathering in her for several weeks, a sense that her world—her life—was heading into a grey blandness.
Well, she was probably entitled to a certain concern about her future—a week ago she'd walked out of a perfectly good job.
And now was not the time to be thinking of that disaster. She set her jaw and pushed everything from her mind but the need to enjoy this evening with her parents.
To her relief, a band struck up the sort of music her parents loved. They'd met at a high school ball, and their shared love of dancing was the reason they'd chosen to celebrate their anniversary at this hotel, famous for its dinner dances.
Siena looked at her parents. "What are you waiting for? Up you get."
"Nonsense," her mother said robustly. "We're not leaving you by yourself."
"Mum, of course you must get up. I'm twenty-four! Sitting alone in a restaurant for a few minutes is not going to embarrass me. And I'd like very much to see you dance on your thirtieth wedding anniversary."
After a little more encouragement her pa...
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Book Description Harlequin, 2012. Mass-market paperback. Condition: New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 185 p. Harlequin Presents Extra, 186. Audience: General/trade. Seller Inventory # Alibris_0006475
Book Description Harlequin Presents, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M037352854X
Book Description Harlequin, 2012. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Seller Inventory # DADAX037352854X
Book Description Harlequin, 2012. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11037352854X
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