This book releases in print next week, and is currently available in e-book from Samhain Publishing. It’s a wonderful romance, not erotic, and one of my absolute favorites (I know, I say that about all my books. But really, it is :giggle: )
It was nothing personal, just a business arrangement.
Ryan McKay is a multi-millionaire with a problem. He needs a bride to fulfill terms of his grandfather’s will. Unfortunately, the one he chose just bailed on him and he’s hours away from losing his company. Enter Faith Lewis – his shy, devoted assistant. Ryan convinces Faith to step in and marry him, assuring her their marriage is merely a business deal. Ryan is certain he can keep this strictly impersonal. After all, he’s the product of a loveless marriage and for years has sealed his own heart in an icy stone. Despite Faith’s warmth, compassion and allure, he’s convinced he’s completely immune to her charms.
Faith will do anything for her boss, but marry him? The shy virgin sees herself as plain and unattractive, a product of a bitter mother who drummed it into her head that she wasn’t worthy of a man’s love. But she agrees to help Ryan fulfill the terms of his grandfather’s will, hoping she doesn’t lose her heart to him in the process.
But love rarely listens to logic, and what follows is anything but business.
EXCERPT: (after the jump)
Don’t wait up for me. Ryan’s words stayed with Faith the rest of the day and well into that evening. She paced the expansive bedroom, casting frequent glances toward the clock on the bedside table. When she wasn’t looking at the time, she was contemplating Ryan’s bed. No, not Ryan’s bed. Their bed. The one she had to share with him tonight.
She would not hyperventilate. She simply refused to let a simple thing like sleeping with Ryan cause her throat to go dry and her heart to run a marathon.
It was after midnight and still no sign of him. Did he think she’d just go to sleep, knowing that at some point he’d come in and slide under the sheets with her? Maybe it wasn’t a big deal for him, but it was for her.
For a woman who’d barely had a handful of first dates her entire life, she’d certainly made some major leaps in the past couple days.
It wasn’t like she had to have sex tonight. Their agreement was quite clear. All she was going to do tonight was sleep with him. Ryan had promised to honor her wishes for a little time, so there was no reason for her to panic. She should just relax and quit pacing a hole in the carpet.
Oh, right, like that was going to happen. The word relax wasn’t even in her vocabulary.
She glanced at the king-sized bed, its pale amber coverlet pulled back. Her fingers traced an absent pattern over the satin sheets beneath.
Okay, no sex. But still, she’d be closer to a man than she ever had been before. A man who was also her husband. A man who, despite her bargain with him to wait, she’d eventually have sex with.
Forcing her breathing to slow down, she pushed away the queasy feeling, chalking it up to nothing more than a simple case of indigestion.
She was being ridiculous and naïve. It was time to grow up. She’d agreed to this marriage. It really wasn’t a big deal. Besides, at twenty-six years old it was way past time she found out what she’d been missing all these years.
“What have you been missing all these years?”
She stopped dead in her tracks and turned to see Ryan at the doorway. His entrance sure made her breathing slow down. In fact, she was certain she’d stopped breathing altogether. Really, she must try to stop thinking out loud.
“And do you always talk to yourself?” He threw a stack of papers on the desk before stopping in front of her.
“Sometimes.” Wonderful. Not only did he catch her talking about sex, but out loud. To herself.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
Didn’t he ever look sloppy? Past midnight and he still looked fresh and oh-so-handsome. The black cashmere sweater accentuated the silvery glint in his dark eyes.
“What question?” she asked.
“What have you been missing all these years?”
“Oh, that one.” The one she hoped he’d forget he’d overheard. Obviously not. “Did you get all your work finished?”
“Yes, I did, and you’re avoiding my question.” He slid his index finger down her arm.
Faith yawned. “Wow, look how late it is. I’m tired.”
He smiled. “I’m surprised you’re not already in bed. And you’re still dressed.”
After her shower, she’d been afraid to change into pajamas. Pajamas meant bed, and that she couldn’t wrap her mind around just yet. She looked down at her too-big sweatpants and oversized sweatshirt. “Oh. I was reading and lost track of time.”
“I see. Well, I agree with you. I’m beat. Think I’ll take a shower and get ready for bed.” He sat on the bed and removed his shoes.
As he headed into the dressing area Faith sat on the long brocade chaise against the wall, her head resting in her hands. How was she going to handle this? This intimacy, this sharing of personal space?
She paused as the sounds of running water and the shower door closing riveted her attention. A crystal clear image of Ryan naked popped into her head. He’d be turning his face to the shower spray, letting the steamy water sluice over his dark hair. He’d grab the soap and lather his hands, then run his palms over his chest and lower, until—
With desperate effort she tried to push the vision from her mind.
Said traitorous mind refused to cooperate. And then she heard new sounds. Beautiful, melodic sounds. She stepped closer to the door and listened.
It was Ryan. He was singing in the shower, his tenor voice perfect and unflawed. What was that song?
Oh, God. No wonder it was so familiar. He sang one of her favorite love songs, his clear, beautiful voice loud and sharp despite the running water.
“Ohhhh, my love, my darling, I hunger for your touch, this long, lonely night.”
The haunting lyrics from “Unchained Melody” swept through her. Ryan’s voice touched her as if his hands blazed a fiery trail from her trembling lips to her frantically beating heart.
He mesmerized her with his singing, capturing her in a spell. When he belted out “I need your love” at the top of his voice, her body melted. Without thinking she entered the dressing area, aching to step into the bathroom and listen to him, see him, touch him.
So what stopped her? She was his wife. What would be the harm in going to him, in allowing him to touch her, to let him take her in his arms and kiss her, hold her like she’d waited her entire life to be held? To feel a man’s touch, to finally experience a joining so intimate that poets struggled to find words to describe it.
She made it as far as the bathroom door, her hand on the knob, ready to turn it and fling open the gateway to the unknown. Then she remembered her mother’s warning.
Don’t ever fall in love, Faith. Men only want sex. If you give them your heart, they’ll crush you and you’ll never know a stronger pain.
Even years later those words influenced her, held her back, made her stop.
And look at you. You have no beauty—you’re plain, just like me. Men will use and discard you like your father did to me.
She could already envision Ryan laughing at her. He was the picture of the perfect male. Gorgeous, intelligent, well-educated, able to pick and choose women of the highest caliber.
Beautiful women, with social standing equal to his.
Instead, he had married his assistant. Not a glamour girl, or a socialite. Just plain and simple Faith. Not love, but a business deal.
She jerked her hand back from the doorknob and fled. As quickly as possible she donned her pajamas and retreated to the bedroom.
To be eligible to win a print copy of NOTHING PERSONAL, post a comment here about what you’re currently reading, what you just read, or what’s on your To Be Read or To Be Bought pile. I’ll draw a winner sometime Sunday night. The winner will need to check back here to see if they’ve won and will have 7 days to contact me to claim their prize or I’ll draw another winner. Good luck!