But Lucas is in for quite a surprise when he confronts clever, sexy Devon Gallagher. Sparks fly as they each fight their primal attraction.
Can they work together until true love finally stakes its claim—or will his sultry ex-lover drive a wedge between them forever?
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
Lucas knew he should be leaving soon—Chicago and Cassandra were waiting. But his feet remained frozen to the floor while he watched Devon chat easily with another bright-faced old lady.
She’d done something to her hair, he suddenly realized. It was curled back, feathered away from her face. It made her look just a little less like his favorite late-night fantasy, gorgeous Hollywood starlet Samantha Brooks…and yet, somehow, it didn’t. He could still see the uncanny likeness, even from where he was standing.
Damned if she didn’t look even sexier in that long colorful sarong and gauzy peasant blouse! Who’d have thought anything could be more alluring than those tight, raggedy shorts, or the trim navy slacks and vibrant blouses she normally wore? His pulse began to triphammer.
Cassandra was waiting for him.
He couldn’t remember a time when he’d ever cared less.
As if his turbulent thoughts were a magnet, her startled eyes darted in his direction—and all the noisy clamor faded away. If there was anyone else in the market besides just her, he didn’t see or hear them.
A hot flush of color stained Devon’s cheeks as he sauntered over. He was here! She’d been thinking of him, guiltily wishing she could see him again—and hating herself for that treacherous longing—and he was here!
How long had he been standing there, watching her?
“Sam.” His lazy, insolent greeting made every warm, wistful thought vanish like mist. “You clean up pretty good.”
Damn it, she hated it when he called her ‘Sam’!
Devon’s eyes glittered with suppressed irritation. “Coming back to slum it with the little people?” she sneered.
He couldn’t help it; he simply had to laugh. Devon was so full of energy, so gutsy and daring, that he was enchanted by her snappy rebuttals. “Not for long, more’s the pity. I’m due at a trade show in Chicago this afternoon.”
She raked him with a single derisive glance, taking in his expensive tailored business suit and gleaming black shoes. “Overdue,” she retorted. “And overdressed. You’re going to melt in those fancy duds if you stay here much longer.”
The garrulous retirees made way for him, until he was standing close enough to breathe in her delicate scent.
His guts began to churn with sudden fierce need.
“Want me to bring you anything?”
Devon had to tilt her head back to meet his mocking gaze. Something in his vivid eyes paralyzed her, and made her heart pound in triple-time. It was only reflex that had her answering, “Proof that you’re moving back there for good?”
His grin widened. Then, before she could do more than gasp in shocked outrage, he caught her in a tight embrace, and his mouth covered hers in a heady, dizzying kiss.
“Try to miss me a little, Sam!” he whispered in her ear when he finally released her. Then he was gone again, swaggering through the cheering crowd, which parted around him like the proverbial Red Sea.
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
Mariah stared in blank horror as the plane’s shattered nose sank beneath the choppy storm-darkened waves, leaving behind only a trail of shimmering bubbles. “Mac!”
Someone was holding her back, pleading with her, clutching her arms in a fierce paralyzing grip. “Let me go!” she yelled, wrenching free despite the blazing pain in her shoulder. “He’s my partner!”
Saltwater stung her lacerated forehead as she plunged headfirst into the churning waves. She barely even noticed. “Mac, where are you?” she shouted, awkwardly treading water. “Mac!”
The bubbles were slowly fading away. She had to act now, or it would be too late!
She dove, kicking hard, following the plane’s lazy descent. Icy darkness enveloped her. Her lungs began to ache and fiery spots danced before her eyes, yet still she struggled deeper. She couldn’t give up, she just couldn’t!
More rising air bubbles suddenly exploded in her face, blinding her. Then her groping fingers brushed against something slippery. Mac’s leather jacket!
One last frantic surge of energy moved her weakening legs, propelling her upward again, dragging his heavy weight behind her.
She couldn’t give up, she couldn’t…
Please, Mac, don’t die!
Cold rain suddenly lashed against her upturned face. Sputtering, she sucked in deep breaths of precious air. Lightning flared overhead, painfully bright against her dilated eyes. The iron bands constricting her chest slowly eased as she fought to keep Mac’s sagging head above the waves.
“Over here!” Reuben’s lilting voice cut through the howling wind, and she caught a brief glimpse of his pale face through the churning spray. “We’re over here! Hurry!”
Thunder rumbled in her ears as the heavy waves knocked her back and forth. Frigid water cascaded over her head, and she resurfaced with a strangled cough. Fresh pain lanced through her shoulder as she clumsily splashed toward the heaving orange raft. Her legs were going numb from the bitter cold, and she was so tired—but she had to keep trying! Mac’s life depended on her!
Something hard stung her flailing hand. A rope? She wrapped stiffening fingers around it, and felt the waves tug harder in protest as the raft suddenly jolted closer.
New energy surged through her aching frame when Reuben’s fingers locked around Mac’s limp arm, and pulled hard. “Hurry!” she shouted. “He’s not breathing!”
Esther leaned out perilously far to help, and slowly they hauled his long body into the raft. Then it was Conners’ turn, and she wanted to sob with relief as the ocean reluctantly loosened its death-grip on her thrashing legs.
Mac was sprawled face-down in the sloshing raft. “Help me roll him over!” she gasped, clutching her throbbing arm with bleeding fingers. Oh God, his lips were blue, and his open eyes were glazed. “He can’t die, not yet!”
Esther braced herself against the rolling waves, and pressed shaking fingers against his cold throat. “He still has a pulse!” she shouted. “It’s slow, but he’s still alive!”
Both teenagers looked shell-shocked, too dazed to react. Conners ignored them, and focused on her partner’s deathly pale face. “Come on, Mac, come on!” she chanted, thrusting hard against his inert diaphragm. “Breathe!”
Helpful hands steadied her as she bent to force air down his windpipe. Again. And again!
Breathe, thrust… Breathe, thrust… Breathe, thrust…
Suddenly his limp body convulsed, and a gush of salty water erupted from his open mouth. Conners tilted his head to one side and let the water drain. “Breathe, Mac!” she ordered, pushing hard against his ribs one last time. “Come on, damn it! Breathe!”
He jerked again, and this time she heard the sweet rush of air filling his lungs. His chest began to rise and fall in a slow, rhythmic cadence as his taut muscles relaxed.
Slowly his eyes flickered open, and he focused on her tear-streaked face. “Hey!” His pale lips twitched into a faint teasing grin as they formed soundless words. “You weren’t worried about me, were you?”
For one crazy moment, she didn’t know whether to hit him or kiss him.
Regulations be damned, this was a moment when she needed to touch him, just to reassure herself that he was still alive! “Jesus, Mac, I thought I’d lost you! Don’t you ever do that to me again!”
Lightning flashed overhead. He tried to push himself up on one elbow, but she laid a restraining hand on his chest. “Lie still! You need rest!”
Another huge wave crashed into the raft, drenching them with icy spray. Reuben wrapped his fingers tighter around the support rope, and leaned close enough to shout in her ear. “How long will this storm last?” His aging face was drawn with fear. “The raft is filling up with water fast!”
“Emergency rafts are built to handle a lot of water!” she yelled back. “Just hang on!”
Suddenly the black clouds and shrieking winds vanished. For one ageless, nauseating moment, the entire world seemed to whirl in dizzying spirals. Then a soft, warm rain began to patter down around them.
“Mac!” She bolted upright and stared wildly around. “What the hell…”
“I don’t know!”
It was impossible. Fierce squalls didn’t just appear and then disappear in the blink of an eye.
But the violent electrical storm was gone.
The gigantic crashing waves were gone.
And as they watched in stunned disbelief, the hazy gray clouds overhead simply melted away, and the golden sun began to shine down from a perfectly clear blue sky.
The ocean around them was calm, gentle…and empty. The other life raft was nowhere to be seen.
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
“Don’t you make a charming picture!”
Gwen was languidly brushing a long-haired pup when his bitter words rang out of the darkness. She knew that low, husky voice! And it was so achingly familiar that every nerve in her body went on instant alert, and her heart began to pound wildly. The brush fell from her numb fingers as she whipped around, hardly daring to breathe.
“Mitch?” His name emerged as a hoarse, disbelieving whisper.
“Don’t act so surprised.” Sneering, he emerged from the shadows, and balanced his long frame against the doorframe to keep it from tipping drunkenly back and forth. “You know very well that your loving husband arranged for me to keep you company on this delightful little pleasure cruise!
“Or was it you?” His eyes narrowed suddenly as stunned heat flushed her pale cheeks. “By God, it was, wasn’t it? You arranged to have me here! He doesn’t have a clue what you did!”
The blank shock on her face was too real to be contrived. But ripe fury was overwhelming his common sense. All the long-suppressed anger and betrayal was churning in his gut, bubbling over, finding a handy and oh-so-perfect target. And nothing else mattered but letting it spew out in a hot, vicious torrent.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart?” He took an unsteady step forward, and clenched his big fists until the knuckles turned white. “Finally tired of your feeble old charity case? Isn’t he man enough to satisfy your needs?” Oh, how he’d love to wrap his long fingers around her lying little throat and squeeze, until she’d paid for every sleepless night since the day she’d run away from him!
Gwen scooted back against the wall as terror and elation warred for command. Outrage won by a narrow margin, and gave her the strength to scramble to her feet. “What are you talking about? You aren’t...I didn’t...”
She sputtered for a second, then backed away again when he advanced, with murder clearly visible in his dark eyes. How could she have forgotten how big he was? Those rugged hands could snap her into tiny little pieces!
“Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out?” His arms shot out to block her escape, and he deliberately loomed over her, forcing her to cringe against the sturdy wall. “I’m no Einstein, but even a moron could see through your flimsy motives!”
“You’re insane!” Her voice shook as she punched both fists against his wide chest. It was like hitting a granite boulder. “Mitch, let me go!” Rising panic made her voice shrill as he crushed her between his muscular body and the wall. Every nerve began to scream warnings as she felt his unbridled rage... and God help her, his fierce arousal.
This wasn’t the Mitch O’Neill she’d worshiped, the consummate lover she still dreamed about every night! This man was a terrifying stranger, bent on destroying her!
His harsh mouth descended on hers, choking off her frightened cry. So familiar, and yet not... And even so, some insane part of her own mind arched into the savage kiss with a wild passion she hadn’t even known she possessed.
But when his long fingers closed over her tender flesh, something snapped. Just as he’d taught her all those years ago, she twisted slightly to one side, then brought her knee up with explosive force.
He was drunk--but no man alive could be drunk enough to ignore that visceral agony!
The air exploded from his lungs, and he staggered back a pace. That was all the room she needed. Snarling, she brought her knee up again, and felt it connect a second time, squarely on target. And as his long body folded like a snapped twig, she clenched both fists together and swung them, like an iron mace, at his unprotected throat.
“And you taught me never to lower my guard!” Panting, she glared down at his writhing frame. Serve him right if he walked funny for a whole month!
“Gwen...” His contorted face was a sickly green. “Jesus, Gwen!”
“You deserved it!” Vigorously she wiped a hand across her mouth. “Remember that the next time you get stinking drunk, you two-timing...”
Kayla Farrell had been in a coma for three long years. Everyone had given up hope--except for one courageous nurse who was willing to try anything to revive her patient!
But waking up to the sound of her favorite actor’s voice was only the first step on Kayla’s long, arduous road to recovery.
Alex Matthews, lead star of the award-winning series "The Bureau," had heard all the rumors. How this unknown little writer had been in a three-year coma, how the sound of his voice had pulled her back from death’s door. How the first word out of her mouth had been his character’s name. And how, despite all her infirmities, she’d written the most amazing script ever to cross a producer’s desk. The entire thing sounded too weird to be true.
The prospect of dealing with a cripple scared the daylights out of him. So when Kayla and her devoted nurse actually arrived on the exotic "Bureau" set to watch her movie being filmed, Alex found himself being forced to confront his deepest fears.
Yet despite her confining wheelchair, Kayla Farrell was beautiful, vibrant, full of life. And try as he might, he couldn’t help being drawn by her clever wit, and her tenacious struggle to walk again.
But Alex wasn’t the only one who enjoyed Kayla’s vivacious company. He’d lost out to his co-star Tommy Anders’ boyish charm before--but never when it had mattered so much.
His timing for the camera was impeccable. But in his personal life, somehow he managed to botch it every time. Could he manage to overcome his fears, and win Kayla’s love, before their return to civilization separated them forever?
The second of two exciting new novelisations based on a story from The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring Elisabeth Sladen and airing on BBC One this Autumn - featuring some very special guest stars!
Perfect for reluctant readers.