Authors: Claudy Conn
Tags: #FICTION / Romance / Contemporary
Books by Claudy Conn
Prince in the Mist (Novella)
Aaibhe—Shee Queen (Novelette)
Catch & Hold—Legend
Through Time Series
Hungry Moon Series
Hungry Moon: Quicksilver
Hungry Moon: Destiny
Hungry Moon: Jodi
Witches, Warlocks, and Dark Magic
Journey: The Reckoning
Oh, Cherry Ripe
Rogues, Rakes & Jewels
Taffeta and Hotspur
After the Storm
The Complete Legend Series
Through Time Series Box Set
Claudy Conn’s Bestselling Regencies
Collide & Burn
Collide & Burn
By Claudy Conn
Copyright © 2015 by Claudy Conn
Edited by: Karen Babcock
Artist: Dawn Sullivan
All rights reserved
This novella first appeared in
Mischief Under the Mistletoe: Holiday Hotties Just Waiting To Be Unwrapped
published October 2015
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Names, characters, and events depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Copyright © 2014 by Claudy Conn
Copyright © 2015 by Claudy Conn
I’M A MAN WHO deals in reality—the reality of making big money and all the practicalities involved with that. I have a PhD in finance and have used that to my advantage; I am only twenty-eight years old, and yesterday my accountant advised me my net worth is over two billion dollars.
Things were going as I planned, and then out of nowhere …
comes to mind when I think of that day—the first time I saw her.
From that moment on, I was on a collision course with myself.
I am a man who has always been in control.
being in control. It’s how I got this far, and it’s how I handle everything life throws at me. I suck it up, repair what can be fixed, cut away what can’t be fixed, and then move on to the next project.
My life is now spinning out of the mold I created, and I have no one to blame but myself.
I stand here, look back, and ask myself,
Oh, I know damn well how—it is because the one thing that can’t be controlled, the one thing you think you have shut off from the world, has a mind of its own. That one thing is the heart, and someone very wise recently told me the heart wants what the heart wants. I’m about to learn if I can live my life without attaining what my heart wants. Christmas is nearly here … the breaking point that takes me back to the beginning.
A warm day in early fall. The leaves had just begun to change. I was meeting with my real estate agent to look at three farms on Long Island, as I wanted a retreat, a plaything, away from my daily grind in New York City.
What turned my head was the sound of her laughter, and something happened to me when I saw her face. It was like an explosion went off in my head. My ears popped, my sight clouded, and when it cleared all I could see, all I could hear, was her.
I don’t do relationships. I tried that early on in college. Relationships don’t work for me. I don’t have the time, and I don’t want to have the time. Relationships take time and make trouble I don’t need.
Besides that, I have trust issues.
Maybe it’s because my parents split when I was a kid. Maybe. Maybe it’s because my mom cheated on my dad and then turned into a drunk. Maybe. Maybe it’s because my dad found another family to love and forgot the one he already had. Maybe.
I don’t do long-term. I like being single and free. It’s uncomplicated.
In business, the more challenging a deal, the more exciting, but when it comes to my personal life, I want it simple. So I look for easy.
is a word that makes me want to run.
It’s not because I don’t like women. Women are beautiful, mysterious, and delightful people, and I enjoy the chase, but when that initial spark dies, I know it is time to walk away. No one has ever inspired me to want more than that initial spark—a one-night, maybe two-night stand. I don’t want more than that.
I enjoy making money and put all my energies into doing just that.
I like what I do, and I’m good at it.
As a wealthy bachelor I’m in the news. The other day I saw a shot of me on some rag magazine that called me one of the most eligible bachelors on the planet. Unless it affects a business deal, I don’t give a crap about what the papers write about me. No time to waste on that, but it does attract the wrong kind of women to me. They want what I am, not who I am, which has always confirmed my belief in my ‘no relationship’ rule.
I don’t come from humble beginnings. My dad was what they call ‘old money’, and then he made additional new money. He owns hotels.
Yeah, and he’s always been on the go. I suppose that’s what made Mom what she is. I love her, but I don’t really like her.
Yeah, well, I know some people assume that, as the son of Thurston Devon, I was given a widget factory for my twentieth birthday or that my father used his influence to make sure my business won lucrative contracts.
. In fact, good old Dad’s only contribution, the initial seed money for my first venture, was actually a loan at high interest. I think he wanted me to fail so I’d be forced to work in his hotel business. If so, he was disappointed: I paid him off ahead of schedule.
I always wanted to do something different, and his loan allowed me to go off on my own. I was able to sell an idea that paid off, and then I took the rest of my ideas and grew my little company, Devon Industries, Inc., into something not so little. Now, it seems, all we do is make money. I may have to go public, though I’m not really liking the idea, yet.
What I do is, I think, unique. I walk in, see what’s wrong with a company, and if I think I can turn it around, I make them a fair offer. If my offer is refused, and I want the company badly enough, I do what it legally takes to acquire the firm.
I balance that hard-nosed trait by making certain I don’t let any of the employees get laid off. I find ways, innovative ways, to ensure they can be productive. If someone gets fired from a company I own, it is because of poor performance, nothing else.
The last year, however, I’ve found myself needing something more. So I put an idea into motion. I needed an outlet, and I determined almost immediately what I wanted it to be. I love horses, and riding in Central Park wasn’t doing it for me anymore. So I decided to head on out to the Island and asked a realtor I’d worked with before to put together a list of properties I might be interested in.
He’d found three horse farms for sale in the area I’d specified.
Yeah, I had made up my mind to purchase a horse farm, renovate it to my standards, make it a success, and keep it as long as it amused me.
That was why I was there, in Syosset, away from the city.
We had just stepped out of his office, and he was describing the first horse farm he wanted to show me, when a sound caught my attention. The sound of a woman’s laughter tickled my senses and put them on the alert.
Her laugh had already intrigued me because it was delicious. Her laugh was infectious and made me smile as I took a visual tour of her body. That brought my dick to life.
Her red hair was long and blew in the breeze … thick and shiny. She reached up with delicate fingers and swept it away from her face.
absolutely stunning, but more than that caught me. There was a simplicity about her features that drew me at once. No make-up, and yet her features were vibrant. Her dark brows, her full lips … damn, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
I couldn’t do anything but stare at her.
Directly across the street, leaving a coffee shop with friends at her back, she turned and laughed again at something they’d said.
Her laugh came crashing into me like a beat of music you need to dance to, need to dance so much your feet move on their own.
Her laugh riveted me in place. I shook myself as though trying to wake up from a long, hard sleep. I have been with a great many beautiful women, but this one affected my senses immediately, differently, and I was captivated by the newness of the sensation she aroused in me.
Let me be clear: I am
. As wicked as it sounds, as bad as I know it is to have that attitude, it is what it is. I am a ‘find ’em, fuck ’em, and forget ’em’ player.
I mitigate the ugliness of that by being honest with any woman I pursue. I am always up front about what I am, what I will and won’t do.
Though my realtor was talking on and on, I didn’t really hear a word he said, and that isn’t like me. I am always focused on whatever I set myself to do. He was trying to present me with the facts, taxes on the properties, how many stalls—things that should have held my interest. But I couldn’t look away from her.
She simply took my breath away, and that hadn’t happened in a very long time. I am used to bedding models dressed in high fashion. This redhead was perfection in a jean jacket over a blue sweater, jeans, and boots. She had a way of swaying as she spoke with her friends that had me charmed and caused a throbbing vibration of need in my dick. For a moment I thought my cock was pointing at her like a water diviner.
She smiled at her friends as she got behind the wheel of an old green jeep and pulled away from the curbing.
I liked her smile. It appeared freely given, open, with nothing to hide.
Too many women have tried to hide too many things from me.
I wanted to taste her, right then, and as I said, I am used to getting what I want.
On the door of her jeep, emblazoned in gold, was the silhouette of a running horse and the name
“Didn’t you say Norcross Stables is one of the farms we’re going to visit?” I asked my agent.
“Yes, but it’s the smallest of the three farms I have to show you,” he said, frowning. “I thought we’d leave it for last.”
we’ll go there first
And that was how it all started …