A Cinderella Affair
2008 Finalist Best Kimani Romance
Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards
2008 3-EMMA Nominations
Clothing designer Camille Davis is sophisticated, ambitious, talented…and riddled with self-doubt—except when it comes to selling her father’s home. No deal, no way. But Las Vegas real estate mogul Adam Donovan’s negotiating skills are leaving Camille weak in the knees…and maybe, just maybe, willing to compromise?
Adam, the youngest of the “Triple Threat” Donovan brothers and the bachelor in town, is drawn to Camille’s seductive mix of vulnerability, sweetness and strength. As for her take-it-or-leave-it deal—he’s in. He’s willing to see how this gamble plays out, because his heart says there will be no losers in Vegas on this bet.
Read an Excerpt
He heard the ding signaling that the elevator was there and stopped directly in front of it. The doors opened and his heart gave a staggered beat.
Camille stood against the wall her eyes closed tightly, her hands gripping the handrail until her knuckles turned white. Of course he rushed to her side and of course he touched her, it would have taken an army of men to prevent him from doing otherwise.
His hands covered hers as he tried to pull them off the rails. “What is it?” he whispered.
Camille’s eyes shot open and searched his face for recognition. Adam felt the moment she realized who he was. It was a flash of heat, pooled in the center of her pupils. Then the heat melted away to be replaced by surprise and then indignation. “I am fine. Let me go,” she said in a voice that was way too shaky for his liking.
“You’re shaking. Who upset you?” She smelled delicious and looked fantastic. He’d noticed her stylish beauty that first night and then yesterday he’d watched her natural feminism blossom in front of him. Today, she was sophisticated, alluring.
“I am fi—”
“Don’t lie to me Camille,” he interrupted. He captured her gaze and held it letting her know he was serious and that her claims of being okay were not fooling him. “Tell me what’s wrong?” he said in a calmer tone even though his body shook with anger that he couldn’t quite place.
“I was just thinking of something that made me sad. That’s all. I am really fine now.” She tried to move around him when the elevator doors closed. “Great,” she said in an exasperated tone as she pushed the button to try and open them again.
It was too late, the elevator was already moving again. She sighed and rested her forehead on the doors.
Adam walked up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Were you thinking of your father?”
She didn’t answer but he felt her shoulders tense.
“It’s okay to be sad about losing him, Camille. If something happened to my father I’d be crushed. You can cry, it doesn’t make you weak.”
“Crying won’t bring him back,” she said softly.
“No,” he said stroking her arms. “It won’t. But sometimes a good cry is just what a body needs to rejuvenate itself and move on.”
She inhaled and exhaled deeply. “I am not going to cry. I just want to get this meeting over with so I can go home.”
Adam reached around her and pushed the number to the floor the meeting was on. “Then we will make it quick.”
They stood in the quiet for a second or so then Adam took a deep breath himself, filling his body with her scent as he did. For a minute he was dizzy with wanting her then he shook his head to clear those thoughts. “What do you want to do about the house, Camille? Whatever you want, I’ll respect.”
Camille sighed. Her traitorous body had been on fire since the moment he’d stepped onto this elevator. She’d wanted to fall into his arms when she’d opened her eyes and saw him looking down at her. He was so close, his body offering a shield of protection she had always longed for. But then she remembered who he was and what he wanted and who she was and what she wanted. She did not need a protector and she did not want Adam Donovan feeling as if she were indebted to him in anyway.
But then he’d said something that once again had changed her thoughts where he was concerned. She’d come here today with the express intention of ending this deal. She would keep her father’s house and buy Moreen’s share if need be. She would not sell to this man who had already admitted to fixing up properties and selling them for profit. She did not want her father’s house in someone else’s hands. But, as Dana and Moreen had reminded her, she had no intentions of living in it herself. While she wanted the memory to exist in her mind, she in no way thought she could handle facing it on a daily basis.
So where did that leave her? What did she want to do with the house?
He would respect her wishes. What kind of businessman said that? And did he mean it?
She turned slowly until she was facing him. He was still very close, so much so that his silky gray tie was at direct eye level with her. She reached out and touched it because she had always loved a good tie. Her father wore expensive ties of the most original colors. Adam did not move and she was careful to keep her fingers from actually grazing his chest. She looked up into his eyes then and saw something there she hadn’t wanted to accept.
Adam Donovan had caring eyes to go along with this compassion that he’d shown her on two occasions now. He was dangerously handsome with his close cut curly black hair and cleft chin. His body was broad, like most of the male models she hired and yet he did not appear to be ruled by his good looks. That was a rarity in her world. In the world of fashion, people who looked like Adam knew they were the bomb and commanded healthy paychecks because of it. Adam already had a boatload of money and he looked too good to be true. But that wasn’t any of her business.
She pulled her hands away from him and asked. “What will you do with the house if I sell it to you? I mean, specifically, what will you do to it?”
“A complete renovation beginning with the main hall and extending all the way out to the landscape. It’s a great piece of land but it isn’t being displayed to its best advantage. I have several designers that I work with exclusively but I’m thinking of one in particular who is a master with Asian décor.”
Camille studied him. “The high ceilings,” she said slowly. “That is what I like best about the house. When I was a little girl I used to pretend it was my castle.”
He touched her chin then her cheek and she struggled not to lean into him. “The princess,” he whispered.
He looked at her as if she were the only person in the world and she liked it. She wondered what he saw, if it were the fat girl that couldn’t get enough of her father’s attention or the businesswoman who spent her time dressing other females because she was so ashamed of her own body. Those where her therapist’s words. Questions she’d asked Camille. Questions Camille still could not answer.
“I was never a princess,” she responded. “More along the lines of Cinderella, I would say.”
“Cinderella was a princess, a beautiful one who was rescued by the dashing prince at the ball.”
He still touched her face and this time Camille did lean her head into his touch. Just for a moment she’d allow herself the fantasy.
Then the elevator dinged and the doors opened again. She pulled away from him then and stepped off. She heard him behind her and turned back to face him.
“I won’t sell you the house.”