The Blackmailed Bride's Secret Child. Rachel Bailey
MILLS & BOON
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She sounded breathless, as if she’d been running.
“Good morning, Beth. I’ve come to offer you the family’s condolences on the loss of your husband, and to talk about some inheritance issues.”
Her eyes slid to the windowpane in the door then back to him. “Surely any paperwork can be handled by attorneys? You didn’t need to travel all this way.”
“Oh, but I did. I’m here only for the weekend, so we’ll talk today, in one hour. At my hotel room.”
Despite his best efforts, he’d never managed to control his craving for the woman who betrayed him. He’d volunteered to finalize the paperwork in person regarding his dead brother’s share of the family vineyards because he had to see Beth one more time.
To have her in his bed one more time.
About the Author
RACHEL BAILEY developed a serious book addiction at a young age (via Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck) and has never recovered. Just how she likes it. She went on to gain degrees in psychology and social work, but is now living her dream—writing romance for a living.
She lives on a piece of paradise on Australia’s Sunshine Coast with her hero and four dogs, and loves to sit with a dog or two, overlooking the trees and reading books from her ever-growing to-be-read pile.
Rachel would love to hear from you and can be contacted through her website, www.rachelbailey.com.
There’s something about a tortured hero, something I find irresistible. And my heroine Beth finds Nico Jordan quite irresistible too—so I knew she’d need a very good reason to have left him seven years ago (though he wasn’t tortured back then, just the plain old garden variety irresistible!). Luckily Nico finds Beth just as tempting.
As for their setting … a couple of years ago, I visited the Marlborough region of New Zealand, famous for its vineyards and wineries. With its landscape of endless rows of vines, and its huge supply of wine-tasting rooms, it’s such a romantic location—the perfect backdrop for Nico and Beth’s struggle to come back together.
I spent quite a bit of time tasting wine … er, researching … for this story, so I hope you enjoy reading Nico and Beth’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
To my mother, Noela.
For her support and indefatigable belief in me.
Diana Ventimiglia and Jennifer Schober for their
wisdom and guidance.
Barbara Jeffcott Geris and her gorgeous
husband, George, for the wine information
(though any mistakes are mine).
Lisa, Robbie, Sharon and Barb for their
encouragement and brilliance.
Nico Jordan surveyed the front of the ranch-style house where his half brother’s widow lived, and scowled into the frosty morning air. She’d left him for Kent and this pretentious piece of real estate?
Well, to be fair, Kent’s personal fortune had probably bought Beth several houses besides this one, and jewels by the bucket—things Nico wouldn’t have been able to afford back when he was twenty-four.
Things had changed in the last five years.
More things than he cared to remember.
But Kent was dead, Beth was now a widow and Nico had a job to do. He rolled up the pages in his hand and knocked on the door with a clenched fist. He’d volunteered to finalize the paperwork in person regarding his dead brother’s share of the family vineyards because he had to see Beth one more time. To have her in his bed one more time.
Despite his best efforts, he’d never managed to control his craving for the woman who’d betrayed him.
He lifted his fist to knock again but the door opened with a whoosh of warm air and then Beth stood there, more beautiful than he remembered, her so-familiar Cupid’s bow mouth open, her sapphire blue eyes wide.
Suddenly he was transported back five years to the last time they’d made love among the pinot noir vines on his family’s estate in Australia. They’d both pledged undying love that day—the day before she’d left the country to marry his brother.
“Nico.” She sounded breathless, as if she’d been running, but there was no flush on her cheeks. In fact, she looked pale.
Her strawberry blond hair was shorter, in a pixie cut now, which only made her heart-shaped face sweeter. His gaze swept down—she’d lost some weight, leaving her a little too thin, but that didn’t stop the pull of dark desire that flooded his system.
Yet he offered her no more than a cynical smile. “Good morning, Beth. I’ve come to offer you the family’s condolences on the loss of your husband, and to talk about some inheritance issues.”
Beth’s eyes darted to the side and she turned, hurriedly scanning the lavish room. He could see through to a living room beyond—also decorated in tasteful elegance. Then she stepped out onto the porch, closing the door firmly, but quietly behind her. “Thank you for the condolences. That was thoughtful of … your family.”
There was no love lost between his family and Beth—his father blamed her in part for Kent moving here to New Zealand to manage these minor vineyards and cutting most family ties. That wasn’t the crime Nico held her accountable for, however. “No trouble at all for the widow of our dear Kent.”
She had the grace to look unsettled. Though she should feel worse than merely “unsettled” after the anguish she’d caused him.
Her eyes slid to the windowpane in the door then back to him. “Surely any paperwork can be handled by attorneys? You didn’t need to come all the way from Australia.”