Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!
Today we have a retro smooch from The Blackmailed Bride's Secret Child by Rachel Bailey, but first ...
the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Marybelle!
Congratulations, Marybelle! Can you please contact Helen Lacey via the contact form on her website and she'll send you a copy of Made For Marriage.
And now for today's Retro Sunday Smooch from The Blackmailed Bride's Secret Child by Rachel Bailey...
Nico Jordan is about to face the woman who ripped his heart out.
When he was twenty-two, he loved Beth utterly and completely – and she left him without a word, for his older, richer half-brother. In the intervening seven years, Beth has borne his brother a son, and Nico has become wealthy in his own right, and a renowned playboy. But the torment of knowing she belongs to his brother, Kent, has never dimmed.
Beth Jordan is relieved when Kent, the man who blackmailed her into marriage, dies – she’ll finally be free. Unfortunately her freedom won’t extend to reclaiming her lost love. Seven years ago, she left the only man she’d ever loved, Nico, to protect him. But now Nico has arrived on her doorstep, wanting to see his nephew for the first time. How will she face him once he realizes he’s the father of her son?
[Set up: Nico and Beth are attending the launch of a new wine at the family winery. When Beth needs some air and wanders out on the balcony, she finds Nico sitting on the balustrade in the darkness.]
She moved down, to within a few feet of him. “Tell me about the limelight.”
Even this close, she couldn’t see him clearly in the blackness.
“I think here is just fine.” She wrapped her free arm around her middle and lifted the wine to her lips, taking the last sip.
“For now,” he conceded and she could see the moonlight glint on his teeth as he smiled. “I don’t seek the limelight the way Kent did. I don’t hate it, either. I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or another.”
“If you don’t hate it, why not stay inside tonight and make use of it for Jordan Wines?”
He held out his hand for her empty glass and placed it beside his. “I had something on my mind and wanted space.”
“Kent?” she whispered.
His eyes were strangely reflective, the predator that had lurked there earlier absent. “You.”
He reached out and snagged her hand, dragging her closer, until she stood in the vee made by his thighs. A rush of heat pooled low in her belly, goose bumps erupted across her skin.
Head cocked to the side, he looked up into her eyes, his expression pensive. “Why are you on my mind so much?”
Their gazes held for an eternity and her breathing quickened. There was an honesty in his eyes that reached out to her heart, as if in the darkness of the balcony, the world could disappear and leave them cocooned in shadows. It was that dangerous illusion at work again.
Attempting to break the spell, Beth casually shrugged a shoulder. “Because you’re here in New Zealand to see me.”
“Not just now,” he said quietly. “Always.”
How she wanted to believe it was because he’d never stopped loving her, but if that had been true, he’d have come for her. Would have at least checked on her after Kent took her out of the country. It was a senseless fantasy she’d only let herself have on dark, lonely nights—she knew if he’d come for her, her sacrifice would have been for nothing. It was far better that he’d stopped loving her when she left.
So instead she smiled and offered the only plausible reason. “Probably because I’m the only woman to walk away from you.”
His mouth hooked up at one corner. “Maybe.”
He laced his fingers in hers and tugged her closer still, onto the circle of heat that surrounded his body. A shiver raced over her skin, as if her flesh recognized his was close.
“Nico, what was between us is long over,” she said, knowing it was to convince herself as much as him.
“Really?” he asked lazily, and abruptly the reflective mood morphed into an electric simmer.
Beth began to step away, but he held her hands firm. “If it’s over,” he said, “why are you standing here in the dark with me?”
She could smell his clean scent, wanted to bury her face in his strong neck, but kept her voice even. “Because we were talking.”
“Would you be standing this close to any of the men inside if you were talking to them?”
“No,” she admitted.
“Would you let them do this?” He encircled her in his arms and brought her flush against his seated body, his chest against her stomach, his face in line with her breasts. Her breath caught at the hard, erotic feel of his erection pressing against her thigh.
“I’d say no, probably slap them.” Her eyes drifted closed.
A hand crept up the back of her neck and brought her head down. “Tell me no,” he said against her lips.
“No,” she said and kissed him.
The Blackmailed Bride's Secret Child was a 2010 Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Award Winner and is still available in eBook from eHarlequin, Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble. To be in the draw to win a copy, tell me have you wanted to have a second chance to do things again, the right way? Maybe a lost love, or career choice, or the time you didn't buy those purple shoes that you wished you had?
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from One Perfect Night by Rachael Johns will be posted!