Authors: Ann Christopher
Attraction this strong can lead to only one thing…
Co-owner of New York’s most successful auction house, Marcus Davies meets the woman of his dreams on a flight to Wyoming. The attraction is instant and overwhelming. After they narrowly escape a crash landing, Claudia Montgomery disappears at the airport, and Marcus fears he’ll never see the sexy, headstrong Brit again. So he’s stunned when their paths cross at a rock star’s ranch and he discovers that he and Claudia are vying for the same glittering prize.
Ever since their fateful encounter on a storm-tossed plane, Claudia hasn’t been able to get Marcus out of her mind. Now, as fierce rivals, they have no chance of a future together…until fate steps in once more. From a sprawling Western estate to a magnificent Hamptons mansion, Claudia and Marcus soon realize they have no choice but to join forces in business—and in pleasure. But will it lead to lasting passion…and a love worth fighting for?
The plane banked sharply to the left.
Chaos erupted. Several people screamed and began to pray. Lights flashed overhead. Someone ran down the aisle. The captain’s voice, urgent now, came over the intercom and said something about assuming crash position.
Marcus blocked all of it out and focused on Claudia.
“I have a confession to make,” she said.
“I lied earlier. I would have slept with you. You’re wicked sexy.”
He made a wheezy sound, somewhere between a surprised laugh and a choked sob. “Glad you think so.”
To his astonishment, she pried one of her hands loose, cupped his face and leaned in, giving him a lingering kiss.
Her lips were firm. Sweetly tender. Promising.
“For luck,” she said, leaving him just dazed enough to cut through some of his panic.
“I feel luckier already,” he murmured.
Above them, the oxygen masks dropped down just as the plane went into a free fall.
Books by Ann Christopher
Harlequin Kimani Romance
Just About Sex
Sweeter Than Revenge
Road to Seduction
Campaign for Seduction
Seduced on the Red Carpet
The Surgeon’s Secret Baby
Case for Seduction
is a full-time chauffeur for her two overscheduled children. She is also a wife, former lawyer and decent cook. Between trips to various sporting practices and games, Target and the grocery store, she likes to write the occasional romance novel. She lives in Cincinnati and spends her time with her family, which includes two spoiled rescue cats, Sadie and Savannah, and two rescue hounds, Sheldon and Dexter. As always, Ann is hard at work on her next book, and hopes that—if you haven’t already—you’ll pick up the first two books in her Davies Legacy series,
If you’d like to recommend a great book, share a recipe for homemade cake of any kind, or have a tip for getting your children to do what you say the
time you say it, Ann would love to hear from you through her website,
Have you ever met an intriguing stranger on a plane?
Struck up a conversation with your seatmate, maybe, or made fleeting eye contact with a sexy someone in the next aisle over and wondered that delicious thought…
Well, Marcus Davies, the millionaire widower and co-owner of Davies & Sons Auction House, is about to meet his stranger on a plane, and little does he know he’s in for the flight of his life. From her taste in clothes (black only, please) to her interests (rare books and antiques) to her attitude (tart), Claudia Montgomery, a sexy Brit, is Marcus’s match in every conceivable way, even if she doesn’t realize it yet.
Luckily Marcus can be
persuasive when he wants to be.…
Special thanks to my lovely editor Maria Ribas, whose enthusiastic support means the world to me.
lowering as he rearranged his hold on his overnight bag and briefcase while trying not to drop his boarding pass and driver’s license, Marcus Davies, the last passenger out of the terminal, hurried down the Jetway and onto the plane. The minute he boarded, he was greeted by a perky and blue-suited flight attendant who didn’t seem to appreciate how grouchy he was at the moment.
“Looks like you’ve had a rough day,” she said sympathetically. After a quick check of his ticket, she pointed him to his seat, which was a couple rows down in the first-class section. “Maybe we can get you to relax a little.”
“Doubtful,” he muttered, softening his grumbling with a smile. It wasn’t her fault he had to drop everything and fly off to Jackson-freaking-Hole in the middle of the week. “But a Scotch on the rocks would help. When you get a minute.”
“You got it,” she said, heading off toward the galley.
He edged down the aisle, still mad at the world.
Marcus was irritated by the following things, in no particular order:
The guy back in the crowded terminal who’d jostled him and caused him to spill almost an entire Starbucks coffee down the front of his perfectly starched black Armani shirt, thereby creating a wet and puckered spot.
Flying, especially any flights over an hour.
Flying, particularly in stormy weather, like today’s.
The driver from the car service, who’d yakked Marcus’s ear off the whole ride from Manhattan to LaGuardia.
The construction workers who’d made such a mess of the FDR parkway, and right at rush hour, too.
The crazy rainy-day traffic on the FDR, which, when combined with the construction, nearly caused Marcus to miss his flight.
His assistant, who’d booked him a rush-hour flight in the first place.
And Judah Cross, the longtime client and aging rock Hall of Famer who’d insisted that Marcus personally fly out to Wyoming and explain why Marcus’s family auction house, Davies and Sons, should be the one to handle the sale of the various costumes, guitars, pieces of jewelry and God knew what-all that he’d accumulated during his long and drug-fueled career. This was even though Davies and Sons had already handled several auctions for him over the years, making a ton of money each time. It was a demoralizing development, like being forced to audition after already winning several Oscars.
His frown deepened.
Maybe, Marcus thought, searching the overhead bin for an inch or two of spare space into which he could squeeze his overnight bag, the drink and a short nap would revive him and sweeten his mood.
He could hope, right?
As long as he wasn’t seated next to some clown who wanted to pass the time by talking. Marcus always wore noise-canceling headphones when he traveled, but every now and then he got stuck with a row mate who insisted on striking up a lengthy conversation, as though there was a possibility they’d become BFFs by the end of the flight. Yeah...no. The mere thought made him cringe as he hefted his overnight bag up into the bin and slammed the door shut. Normally he was as sociable as the next guy, but he’d been working sixty-hour weeks for the past month or so, and he was running on an unhealthy combination of fumes and caffeine. But a nap would restore him to his charming self in no—
Someone elbowed him in the kidney from behind, causing him to drop his driver’s license and wince in pain. “Hey!” he said.
“Sorry, buddy.” A huge guy who looked like he had the juice to be a sumo wrestler eased out of his seat and into the aisle, clapping Marcus on the back as he went. “I gotta go before they turn the seat-belt light on, you know?”
Marcus worked up a don’t-worry-about-it smile. “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
“Ain’t that the truth?”
Chuckling, the guy headed for the restroom, leaving Marcus to try to locate his driver’s license. Stooping, he peered around at the dark floor until he saw a telltale plastic rectangle. The thing was, naturally, halfway under an occupied seat. This, naturally, meant that he had to drop to his knees—so much for his perfectly creased black wool slacks, eh?—and reach for it.
That was when he saw them.
A pair of long and shapely legs stretched out in front of him.
Confronted with a pair of sexy legs at eye level, what else could a man do but stare and thank God for the view?
These particular legs were crossed at the knees and encased in a pair of those sheer black tights with a lacy crisscrossing pattern. Since he was a leg man, this sight alone was enough to empty out his head and make his skin tingle. But there was more. She was wearing a pair of pointy black Christian Louboutin heels—he recognized the red soles—that had probably come directly from some Paris runway and cost a thousand dollars or so.
Yeah, he knew his fashion. Men’s and women’s.
He also knew a world-class set of pins when he saw one.
“I’d better call you back, love,” said the woman, and it came as no surprise that her voice was throaty and amused, as blatantly sexy as her legs. What did surprise Marcus was the cultured and vaguely bored British accent, as though she—and a long line of her ancestors—were regularly invited to Buckingham Palace for tea with the queen and said event was nothing to get worked up about. “Yes,” she said to the other person on the line, “a man’s just dropped to his knees before me, so I assume he’s about to propose. Or perhaps he needs medical assistance. So I’ll ring you back when we land. Love you, too. Goodbye.”
Marcus, who was beginning to experience a dizzying sensation between his ears, as though someone had clanged his head with a pair of cymbals, stood in time to see her click a button on her phone, lower it and glance up at him.
he thought, inventorying her features even as total paralysis set in. As a New Yorker, he appreciated beautiful women of all stripes: tall, short, American, Asian, African, Latina, thick, thin, curvy, willowy, long-haired, natural-haired, fake-haired and any other variations the universe had to offer up. If a ship of green-skinned and tentacled Martian women one day landed in Central Park, he was sure he’d find something attractive about them, as well. Women enthralled him on a regular basis.
And yet he was quite sure he’d never seen a woman as striking as this one.
Her skin was wonderfully rosy and as richly smooth as the caramels behind the counter at Godiva. Sleek ebony hair, so black that it had blue highlights, was cut in sharp, chin-length lines, and her bangs lay perfectly flat across her forehead, as though they’d been created with a razor and a laser level. Beneath the bangs were a pair of delicate winged brows, and beneath those were a pair of bright silvery-gray eyes. Her eyes were...
he thought, swallowing hard and trying to get a grip on himself.
Her eyes were frankly appraising and crinkled at the corners with silent laughter, as though she knew exactly the way his pulse thudded and his blood heated at the sight of her. Her nose was straight, her cheekbones high. Her lush mouth curled with wicked secrets he wished she would whisper in his ear one delicious night as they twined their bodies together on satin sheets.
And her body...
His gaze drifted lower, in a swift once-over as discreet as he could make it.
She seemed to favor black, like he did, and was dressed in a tailored leather jacket and the female version of his starched button-down shirt. All similarities ended there. A perfect hourglass from what he could see, she wore a wide belt that emphasized a tiny waist and thrillingly curvy hips. There was, he now realized, a slit in her black skirt that revealed a long stretch of thigh and—his belly swooped with excitement—the lacy tops of her tights and a garter belt’s black strap.
As he glanced back up the length of her body, his attention snagged on her cleavage and the glittering gold chain that disappeared in the valley between her spectacular breasts. Said breasts were restrained behind her shirt and inside the lacy cups of a black bra but seemed determined to escape. A hazard to be expected, he supposed, when you left the top three or four buttons undone and were built like
“Oh, dear,” she murmured in that voice that danced over his skin like the velvet touch of a feather duster.
Remembering himself, he snapped his gaze back to her eyes.
“I thought you were determined to look up my skirt before.” She stared him in the face, unblinking and unabashed. “But now it seems you’re much more interested in staring at my bosom. Not very gentlemanly, is it?”
He bowed his head. “I’m sorry.”
He kept the slow grin off his face, but only just. He couldn’t remember when he’d been this intrigued. A beautiful woman was one thing, but a beautiful woman who was also smart, direct and had a scathing sense of humor? He felt as though he’d been gifted with a handful of flawless rubies.
“Am I really sorry?” he replied. “Not really. It’s a very fine bosom.”
Several beats passed, during which her color rose, her eyes narrowed and the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed sped up a telltale amount. He couldn’t tell whether she wanted to hit him or screw him, but either option would be fine with him.
Anything that showed he affected her as strongly as she affected him would be perfectly fine with him.
She blinked first. Flicking her manicured hand the way she might shoo a persistent fly, she tried to shuttle him on his way. “Don’t let me keep you. We’ll be departing soon.”
“Oh, you’re not keeping me,” he said, double-checking his boarding pass. “This is my row, too.”
“It’s not,” she said sourly.
“It is.” Fighting hard to keep the glee out of his voice—suddenly a long flight to Jackson Hole while flirting with this gorgeous creature seemed like the best possible use of his time—he tried to look appropriately apologetic. “And you’re in my seat.”
“That’s impossible. I always book the aisle seat.”
“Not always, apparently. My assistant always books the aisle seat for me.”
“We’ll see about that.” Leaning down, she rummaged in her purse on the floor, produced her boarding pass, checked it and flashed a triumphant grin that was as dazzling as sunlight hitting a diamond. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken. Aisle 5, Seat A. That’s me.”
“That’s not you,” he said, starting to feel a touch of impatience. His briefcase wasn’t getting any lighter, and he wanted to sit down and relax. Plus, where was his Scotch? “I’m in...” Giving his boarding pass a quick third glance, he felt his shoulders droop.
The hesitation gave him away.
“Seat B,” she supplied. “Window for you, then. What a shame. I do hope you won’t be hopping up and down going to the loo the whole flight. The only thing more annoying than that is a person who insists on talking the whole flight. Don’t you agree? In fact, why don’t we make a solemn oath right now? No talking for us. We will respect each other’s privacy—” she pronounced it “priv-ah-see” “—and refrain from mindless chitchat. Agreed?”
He frowned down at her. Two minutes ago, he would have agreed, yeah, but now he had no problems talking the whole flight. Namely because he intended to use that time to grill her on important topics such as whether she was married and whether she wanted to meet him for drinks later.
“No promises.” He pointed to the window seat. “Can I sneak through?”
“Of course.” She smoothed her skirt and uncrossed her legs, taking her time about making room for him to get to his seat. “Only you
visit the loo before you sit down, won’t you? I hate popping up and down to let people out during a flight. Don’t you? It’s such a pain.”
This one was seriously starting to get under his skin, only now her effect on him was tipping in the what-a-pain-in-the-ass direction.
“Don’t worry about me,” he assured her just as the seat-belt lights flashed and chimed. “I had a pit stop back in the terminal. Thanks for your concern.”
Her lips curled with an unsettling combination of disdain and amusement. “Delightful. And did you also decide to take a partial shower while you were in there?” she asked, pointing at the coffee slick on his shirt. “Or do you just like to splash around in sink water like a duck?”
“I was the unfortunate victim of a coffee mishap back in the terminal.”
“Splendid.” Eyeballing the stain the way she might look at a pool of pee on the floor, she stood and eased into the aisle so he could pass.
He couldn’t move, though.
Part of the problem was that now he had the full view, and her body was even more smokin’ hot than he’d realized. Her breasts didn’t quit. Her hips were juicy. Her ass was high and tight, so round and perfect that it should have been used as a model for art students worldwide. Another part of the problem was that she was quite tall in her heels, almost eye level with him, and he was six-two. He could, therefore, stare her straight in the face as he went by, and see that her cheeks were still stained with color. Her eyes, before she lowered her lids and hid them behind thick lashes, were unnaturally bright, and he heard—felt?—the tiniest little hitch of her breath.
Almost as though she didn’t want him to see how attracted she was to him.
Or were his suddenly overheated hormones poisoning his judgment?
“I’m Marcus Davies, by the way,” he told her quietly.
She continued to avoid his gaze, focusing instead on his collar. “Why ever would I need to know your name?”
This professed indifference should have produced an
in the center of his chest.
Maybe it was because he’d always loved challenges, and it’d been quite a while since he’d encountered a woman so eager to cut his admittedly healthy ego down to size. Maybe it was because his instincts told him that this one would give him an unforgettable run for his money. Maybe it was because, this close, her scent was an intoxicating cocktail of leather, something spicy—cinnamon, maybe?—and vibrant woman.
The hows and whys didn’t matter. The bottom line was that dormant nerve endings were firing to life inside him, as though he’d awakened from a years-long hibernation and was now poking his head outside his cave to glimpse the sun’s warm rays.