His hotel is in danger.
Celise Markam, a spoiled and pampered heiress, doesn’t want the life her family planned for her. After breaking her engagement, she moves to Monterey, California to venture into the restaurant business. But spending the night with a handsome stranger changes everything.
Jason Carrington struggles to keep his dream alive. But Cupid has other ideas for him. As he tries to find the person responsible for sabotaging his hotel, Celise Markam walks into his life and rocks his world.
Inexplicably drawn to each other, they ignite a fire bound to burn until someone gets hurt.
Read an Excerpt
She set her Louis Vuitton luggage down beside her leg, reached into her matching purse and pulled out her wallet. Delicate hands retrieved a credit card, and she waited while Marsha passed it through the machine.
Jason Carrington had been coming off the elevator, about to go into a meeting in the Apollo conference room when he saw her. In all honesty, he had to admit, it was like a scene out of one of those chick flicks his mother watched all the time. The man enters the room, the female appears, and the connection is made. They stand staring at each other, entranced, enamored…
CUT! CUT! CUT!
He closed his eyes, opened them and refocused. She couldn’t be as beautiful as he first thought.
She couldn’t possibly be appealing to him this way from clear across the room. But when she pushed her long, straight, coal-black hair over her shoulder and leaned down to sign her name to the room receipt, his stomach plummeted, and he felt like he had the week before when Jerald had elbowed him during their weekly basketball game. Only this time the pain was replaced by longing, a sensation he hadn’t felt in years, but recognized as something that would not be ignored. He moved slowly, deliberately, because if not he’d break out into a run to get to her before she vanished. Surely she was a dream, a figment of his imagination.
Oh no, those long legs—bare if he wasn’t mistaken—that short skirt, with the flirty little split up the side, the fitting white blouse that was just transparent enough to give a glimpse of plump breasts were very real. He grew hard instantly.
Then she spoke. Jason was close enough to hear her voice.
“Thank you,” she said as she replaced her credit card into her wallet and repositioned her purse on her shoulder. She bent slightly to pick up her bag, but was stopped before she could lift it completely.
“Let me get that for you,” Jason spoke before he could help himself. He was a reputed ladies’ man with an image to uphold. Only those close to him knew how he carefully considered any woman before approaching her. Just this once, however, he’d have to concede to the rumors. He wasn’t about to let her get away without finding out who she was and how soon he could have her in his bed.
Celise Markam looked up into sinfully dark eyes and froze. His scent hit her soon after she’d fallen into his gaze. He was strong, powerful, expensive and all man, although she doubted that was the name of the cologne. Quickly regaining her senses, she straightened and managed a shaky smile.
“Do you have your room key?” he asked while lifting her bag.
She raised her hand, the white key card clenched between her fingers. He was a few inches taller than her, so she found herself looking up into his magnetic eyes. He was bald. That alone she found terribly enticing. His creamy complexion highlighted only by the dark hair of his goatee was wreaking havoc on her already frayed senses.
“The elevator’s this way.” Jason lightly touched her elbow, guiding her across the room. He was close to her, but not close enough. His fingers itched to touch her bare skin, but her blouse was long sleeved. His gaze fell to her breasts again, and he imagined them in his hands, his mouth.
The tightening in his groin increased.
Celise walked beside him, wondering why he felt the need to escort her to the elevators, which were in clear view and boldly marked so she could have just as easily found them on her own. Still, she didn’t pull away from his light grasp. She didn’t grab her bag and tell him that she could carry it herself, nor did she chastise him for assuming that she was some damsel in distress, all things that were normally her style.
Instead she found herself assessing him out of the corner of her eye. Besides his height, he had broad basketball player shoulders, and that designer suit fit as if it were made especially for him.
Beneath his jacket, she just knew his waist would be tapered, giving six-pack abs an entirely new definition. And beyond his waist…she allowed herself a second to wonder then dismissed the thought entirely.
What the hell was she doing? She didn’t know this man from Adam, yet she had allowed him into her personal space and was now fantasizing about the way he would look unclothed—well, at least without the jacket. This was not on her agenda. She pressed the elevator button and reached for her bag. “Thanks, again. I think I can handle it from here.” She used her professional voice, the one that had most people backing up and out of her way.
Jason didn’t move. In fact, he pulled her bag just out of reach. “You shouldn’t have to carry your own bags. I’ll be happy to escort you to your room.”
Celise raised an eyebrow. “Do I need an escort?”
The elevator door opened, and Jason eased her inside. “Yes, you do. What floor?”
Intrigued by his casual answer, and all too aware that they were the only two people on this seemingly too small elevator, she rattled off the number. “Did you say I do need an escort?”
He stared at her a moment then seemed to gather his thoughts before replying. “Yes,” he said, taking a deep breath, “you definitely need an escort.”
Celise watched him watching her through the mirrored doors and felt waves of heat moving from her ankles—where his gaze started—all the way up to her bared neck, where he was staring. He was impressive, dressed in all black except for his starched white shirt and bright yellow silk tie.
“Why—” she stopped mid-sentence. She’d thought he looked familiar and now was sure from where she remembered him—well not exactly him, but what had to be his long-lost twin. She’d watched Brown Sugar the night before, and she’d be damned if she wasn’t staring at the spitting image of Boris Kodjoe. Good gracious, it had gotten just a bit smaller in there. “Why would I need an escort?” she finally managed to stammer.
Jason grinned. He’d seen the way she looked at him and agreed that she was feeling the same undeniable heat simmering between them that he was. Never had he felt an attraction so potent, so quickly. “There are a lot of men in this hotel. I’d hate for there to be a stampede.”
Celise laughed. “Okay, as lines go, that has to be the worst I’ve heard in a long time.”