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Authors: Sarah Mayberry

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Hot Island Nights

BOOK: Hot Island Nights
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She should look away now…
Right now, before Nate got the wrong idea.

He lifted an eyebrow. Then the corner of his mouth curled up.

She tore her gaze away. As if she’d be foolish enough to take up with a man like him. A man who wanted nothing but to get her naked and take his pleasure.

A wave of heat rolled over her.

Be honest with yourself at least, Elizabeth Jane. He fascinates you. You look at him and see every fantasy you ever had, every dirty thought you never dared share with anyone.

It was true. She found Nathan Jones sexually attractive. Extremely sexually attractive.

And he knew it. He knew she’d been struck speechless by her first sight of him in all his bare-chested glory this morning. How images of his big body had been slipping into her mind against her will all day. How hot and sticky she felt just thinking about touching his firm, brown skin.

Crazy. This was crazy. She’d never felt so overheated in all her life. It must be the beer. Had to be. Otherwise—

A hand curled around her forearm and tugged her toward the dance floor.

“Come on, Elizabeth,” Nate murmured, “let your hair down….”

Dear Reader,

Who hasn’t had the fantasy of locking eyes with a hot guy across a room and just
knowing
that he’s yours for the taking—if you want to take him? I’m sure it happens to some women all the time in real life, but for Elizabeth in
Hot Island Nights
it’s a bolt from the blue. She’s been so damned
good
all her life—well behaved and polite and always, always a lady. Then she meets Nathan, and suddenly the temptation of exploring the other side of herself—the not-so-well-behaved, not-so-polite, not-so-ladylike part of herself—is overwhelming. Of course, what she doesn’t realize is that Nathan is a lot more than a hot, hard body.

When I was growing up, my family spent a lot of time at the beach, and often we would go out on my father’s catamaran and pretend to crew for him when in fact we were simply joyriding. They’re great memories, and I tried to tap into that store of sun and sand and surf when writing Elizabeth and Nathan’s story—I hope you get a whiff of suntan oil as you read!

Hearing from readers makes my day, so please drop me a line via my Web site at www.sarahmayberry.com if you feel so inclined.

Until next time, happy reading!

Sarah Mayberry

Sarah Mayberry
HOT ISLAND NIGHTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Mayberry lives in Melbourne, Australia—at the moment! With something like eight moves in the past ten years under her belt, she always keeps the cardboard boxes and packing tape within easy reach. When she’s not moving or planning to move, she’s writing, reading, cooking or trying to get motivated to do some exercise. Oh, and she loves a good movie night. By the time you read this, she also hopes that she will have become a dog owner.
Books by Sarah Mayberry
HARLEQUIN BLAZE
380—BURNING UP

404—BELOW THE BELT

425—AMOROUS LIAISONS

464—SHE’S GOT IT BAD

517—HER SECRET FLING

HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE
1551—A NATURAL FATHER

1599—HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

1626—HER BEST FRIEND

Huge thanks go to Pamela Torrance for giving up her time in the midst of her own upheaval to offer me pointers on what English people sound like. Thanks for the reality check, Pamela—consider the front end “your” part of the book!
As always, this book would not exist without the support of Chris, the heart, backbone and brain of my life. And, of course, Wanda, who never fails to knock me into shape and curb my excesses and cheer me toward the finishing line.
Bless you!
Contents
1
E
LIZABETH
M
ASON STARED
at the wedding registry in her hand. Printed on expensive linen paper beneath the green and gold Harrods logo, it was a roll call of prestigious brand names: Villeroy & Boch, Royal Doulton, Lalique, Noritake, Le Creuset. There were two dinner sets listed—one for everyday use, one for entertaining—cookware, stemware, cutlery, a champagne bucket, various pieces of barware, vases, platters, table linens…
If their wedding guests bought even half the items listed, she and Martin would have a house full of finely crafted, beautiful things with which to start their married life. Their home would be a showpiece, perfect in every detail.

Elizabeth pressed a hand to her chest. The tight feeling was back. As though she couldn’t get enough air. She lowered her head and concentrated on regulating her breathing.

In, out. In, out.

A delicate piano sonata trickled over the sound system. A salesman brushed past, directing a customer to the Royal Worcester display. A bead of perspiration ran down Elizabeth’s side.

She had to get a grip on these panic attacks. This was supposed to be a happy time. In eight weeks she would be marrying the man she’d been dating for the past six years and starting a new life with him. She shouldn’t be feeling panicky or anxious.

“These are lovely, Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth looked up to see her grandmother holding a glass from the Waterford Crystal collection. Light fractured off the highly polished surface of a champagne flute that appeared to be an exact replica of the set her grandparents had at home.

“They’re beautiful,” Elizabeth said. “But I think Martin prefers a more modern look. He’s very keen on the Riedel flutes.”

She could feel heat creeping into her face. She’d always been a terrible liar.
She
was the one who preferred the more modern design—Martin didn’t give a fig about glassware. But she could hardly come right out and state her preference.

“Have a closer look, see how they feel in your hand,” her grandmother said, gesturing for Elizabeth to join her.

Elizabeth opened her mouth to reiterate her objection—then closed it without saying a word. She knew what would happen once her grandmother realized Elizabeth didn’t share her taste. Grandmama wouldn’t say anything, of course, because it wasn’t her way to express displeasure so directly, but her mouth would turn down at the corners and she’d be withdrawn for the rest of the day. She might not come to dinner, or perhaps there would be some mention of her heart medication.

It was emotional blackmail, of course, something Grandmama was a master at. Over the years she’d shaped Elizabeth’s decisions and actions—major and minor—with the merest flutter of a hand or the mention of a headache or a doctor’s visit. Even though Elizabeth understood the manipulation behind the behavior, she’d always given in. It was easier that way—and, really, at the end of the day, did it matter if she and Martin drank from the Waterford glasses instead of the Riedels if it made her grandmother happy?

So instead of standing her ground, she joined her grandmother and held the glass and agreed that it had a very pleasing weight in the hand, perfect for special occasions. Her grandmother collared a saleswoman and began asking questions about the manufacturing process and whether it would be possible to order replacement glasses in the future should any breakages occur.

Elizabeth stood to one side with a small, polite smile on her face. Around her, sales staff glided amongst the displays, talking in hushed, reverential tones. Everywhere she looked there were exquisite, fragile, priceless things, arranged to appeal to even the most fastidious eye.

Her gaze fell on a nearby table of cut-glass whiskey decanters. She had a vision of herself grabbing the table and upending the whole damn thing, sending the decanters smashing to the ground. It was so real her hands curled as though they were already gripping the table edge, and she could almost hear the crash of breaking glass and the shocked cries of the staff and customers.

She took a step backward and gripped her hands together.

Not because she thought there was any danger of her actually upending the display. There was no way she’d ever do such a thing.

She took another step away.

It’s just prewedding jitters,
she told herself.
Nothing to worry about. Every bride feels this way before her wedding.

Except this wasn’t the only reckless, anarchic impulse she’d had to quell recently. At last week’s Friends of the Royal Academy luncheon she’d had to stifle the urge to throw back her head and scream at the top of her lungs when old Mr. Lewisham had droned on about the quality of the napkins in the Academy’s coffee shop and what it said about “society’s declining standards.” And yesterday she’d found her steps slowing outside a tattoo parlor near King’s Cross station, admiring the tribal rose motif snaking up the arm of the girl behind the counter. She’d actually taken a step inside the store before common sense had reasserted itself and she’d remembered who she was.

“Elizabeth. Did you hear a word I just said?” her grandmother asked.

Elizabeth snapped into focus. Both the saleswoman and her grandmother were watching her, waiting for her response.

“Sorry, Grandmama, I was daydreaming,” she said.

Her grandmother patted her arm fondly. “Come and have a look at the Wedgwood.”

Smile fixed firmly in place, Elizabeth allowed herself to be led away.

I
T WAS LATE AFTERNOON
by the time she returned to her grandparents’ Georgian town house in Mayfair. Her grandmother had come back after lunch for her afternoon rest, leaving Elizabeth to keep her appointment with the florist on her own. Elizabeth had dropped in to visit her friend Violet’s boutique in Notting Hill on the way home and the hall clock was chiming six as she entered the house. She let her bag slide down her arm and started pulling off her scarf and gloves.
BOOK: Hot Island Nights
6.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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