THE MILLIONAIRE’S CHRISTMAS WISH Harlequin Desire by Shawna Delacorte reissued by Harlequin in ebook
G-EXCERPT #1: (opening-first kiss)
Marcie Roper shifted the weight of her packages and cradled them in her other arm as she stared at the slinky evening gown in the store window, each sequin shimmering an iridescent peacock blue. She allowed an audible sigh of resignation as she glanced down at her faded jeans. It was certainly a beautiful gown, but she would never go any place where such a dress would be appropriate. It was just not the type of life-style she had settled into. She sighed again as she moved along to the next window displaying a red silk cocktail dress. She noted that all the store windows were already decorated for the Christmas holiday season in spite of the fact that Thanksgiving was still a couple of weeks away. A moment of sadness touched her—even though she had friends, it would be another holiday season to be spent alone.
“Hey! Wait a minute!”
The shouted command grabbed her attention. She glanced down the street just in time to see a tall man—in his mid-thirties, she guessed—appear from around the corner. He headed in her direction at an easy, loping gait. His tanned good looks and athletic build were hard to ignore. She stepped closer to the building to clear a path for him.
As he ran toward her, he shrugged out of his red windbreaker, turned it inside out to a charcoal gray color and jammed his arms back in the sleeves. He stole a quick look over his shoulder, then pulled a baseball cap from his back pocket and covered his hair. He turned back toward her and for an instant their gazes locked. Then he came to an abrupt halt.
His sky-blue eyes twinkled with amusement. Her first thought had been that he was in some sort of trouble, but the mischievous grin that tugged at the corners of his mouth told a different story. He reminded her more of a little boy who was about to pull off a prank than of someone being chased by a person or persons unknown.
The tall stranger stared at her for a moment before once again glancing over his shoulder. Apparently satisfied that he was sufficiently ahead of his pursuer, he sidled up beside her and put his arm around her shoulder. He positioned himself so that he faced away from the corner, and extended an engaging smile. It was the type of smile that said, “Trust me,” even though the devilish twinkle in his eyes said something quite different.
“I’d sure appreciate it if you could spare me just a minute or two of your time.”
Chance Fowler tossed a furtive glance over his shoulder just as a short, balding man came huffing and puffing around the corner. The paunchy man had a camera bag slung over his shoulder, one camera suspended from a strap around his neck and another camera in his hand. There was no doubt in Chance’s mind that the man was yet another tabloid photographer in search of candid shots of the heir apparent to the Fowler family fortune and Fowler Industries.
It usually annoyed him, especially if he was involved in one of his personal projects. His upbringing may have been one of wealth and privilege, but that did not make him immune to the plight of the disadvantaged. With his mother’s encouragement he had decided as far back as college that he would give back to society in general what had been handed him simply as his birthright. As far as Chance was concerned, his efforts to provide disadvantaged older youth and high school dropouts with viable work skills and find opportunities for employment was no one’s business but his and the people involved in his training school. He had no desire to put a spotlight on those activities or those he was trying to help.
But every now and then, when he did not have any pressing matters dictating his actions, he liked to make a game of evading the photographers. And today was one of those days.
“Let me go this instant!” Marcie shook off the mesmerizing sound of this stranger’s smooth, dulcet tones and engaging smile. She struggled to escape the arm he had draped around her shoulder in the type of familiar manner that said they were longtime friends.
Chance pulled her closer to him and touched his fingertip to her lips to still her words. “Just as soon as this photographer goes away.”
Marcie glanced toward the camera-laden man. Her initial surge of fear settled as she realized she was not in any physical danger from this stranger, but was quickly replaced by a flash of anger. “I’ll do no such thing! You let go of me immediately or I’ll call for help.” She began to struggle again while trying to maintain a hold on her packages.
The set of the photographer’s jaw and his tight grip on his camera told Marcie of his determination to find his quarry. He looked across the street, into a side alley, then started down the sidewalk toward her and the handsome stranger who continued to hold her within the curve of his arm even though she still struggled to get free.
The stranger quickly enfolded her in a complete embrace. His words tickled across her ear, the hypnotic quality of his voice lulling her into a momentary state of submission. “I was hoping we could just stand here and pretend to be window-shopping together without any fuss, but I guess we’ll have to do it this way instead.” Before Marcie could react, he covered her mouth with his.
The photographer hurried past them without even slowing down. Shockingly aware of the heated sensuality of this stranger’s kiss—a kiss that literally took her breath away and left her weak in the knees—Marcie barely noticed the man as he rushed down the street. She was having trouble collecting her thoughts.
No one had ever kissed her like that before or totally swept her off her feet the way he just had. If it were not for the fact that he had been holding her, her legs surely would have buckled. She fought to gain control of the thousands of butterflies that flitted about inside her stomach and the increased palpitations of her heart.
As soon as the danger passed, Chance started to break off the kiss, but he allowed his lips to linger against hers a second longer before pulling back. He looked into the startled, uncertain eyes of the woman in front of him, holding her gaze trapped within his for what seemed like an eternity. He was not certain what he was seeing, but he knew in an instant that he liked it. He also knew that he wanted more of this tantalizing woman. His gaze drifted across her delicately beautiful features to the lush fullness of her slightly parted lips. He wanted to kiss her again, He wanted to continue to hold her.
He tried to swallow the lump that had lodged in his throat as soon as he had broken off the kiss. He wanted to kick himself for having done something so foolish as to have involved this delectable stranger in one of his little games. It had definitely been a rotten idea. It would have been better for everyone concerned if he had just let the photographer take his picture.
A flustered and embarrassed Marcie quickly stumbled backward a couple of steps. She ran her fingers through her short auburn hair in a nervous attempt to smooth it away from her face as she clutched her packages against her body with her other hand. Her legs still felt wobbly, but not so much so that she could not turn and run away from this very bizarre encounter and this incredibly tempting man.
And run she did, as hard and as fast as her legs would take her. It was almost as if her emotional existence depended on getting as far away from this man as quickly as possible.
“Hey! Wait a minute—”
THE MILLIONAIRE’S CHRISTMAS WISH, a Harlequin Desire by Shawna Delacorte, is an ebook reissues available at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com (do search for author name Shawna Delacorte). Also available at Barnes and Noble in NookBooks www.bn.com and Amazon for Kindle www.amazon.com Information is available on my website at www.shawnadelacorte.com
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS…
When millionaire Chance Fowler first kissed the pretty stranger in his arms, he’d only meant to dodge the photographers who’d tailed him. Then she ran off—but he couldn’t forget her tempting taste on his lips. So he sought out the tantalizing woman who’d ignited his long-dormant desire….
Lovely Marcie Roper was the first woman to close her eyes to Chance’s fortune. And though she’d captivated the jaded tycoon, Marcie yearned for what his wealth couldn’t buy—a man who would say “I do” and mean it forever. Could Marcie convince Chance that love—for the right woman—would last a lifetime?