Greek tycoon Nikolaos Costas has a debt to collect from the Stefanopoulos family and he won’t leave until he gets his money. Stefanie Stefanopoulos has been tasked with entertaining—i.e. distracting—him while he’s in town, all in hopes of getting him to forgive the debt. She may not be an ugly duckling, but she’s a far cry from her petite stepsisters and she knows that the gorgeous playboy won’t even notice her. It doesn’t stop her from wanting him to, though.
Four months ago, Nick’s bachelor-style life was turned upside down. Now the sole parent to a seven-year-old daughter he never knew existed, Nick doesn’t have time for pleasure. But he hadn’t factored in Stefanie or the intense attraction he’d feel for her. As her seduction heats up, so do the stakes, both professionally and romantically. Can he let business go long enough to allow Stefanie into his heart?
The walk back to Stefanie’s was a quiet one. They reached Nick’s parked car just as a church bell tolled the midnight hour, “pumpkin time,” or so the fairy tale told. Flickering flames from the Gaslight-era-inspired streetlamps played upon his profiled features, making him seem princely indeed. He gestured toward her house on the other side of the street. “I will see you to your door.” Stefanie knew what that meant. At the very least, he was going to kiss her. More than likely he was going to ask her to invite him inside. She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted to invite him inside, not for a few minutes or an hour but for the night—all of it. And yet the lovely dinner hadn’t erased the facts. He was still the CEO of Costas International, still the man to whom her father owed 2.5 million dollars, who might very well choose to ruin them. He would be going home to Greece on Thursday—for good. Given those circumstances, how could she possibly go to bed with him? Even though she wanted to—a lot. She reached for her strength. “Thanks, but that’s not necessary.” He frowned. “I am Greek. You are a woman under my protection. It is necessary.” He was an alpha male to his core as well as absolutely swoon-worthy. By now Stefanie knew better than to argue. “O-okay.” They cut across the sidewalk to her front steps. Holding back for her to ascend ahead of him, he set a steering hand on the small of her back. The heat from his palm was searing, the gesture one of possession, claiming. She reached the porch on shaking legs. Floorboards creaked as Nick stepped up beside her. His hand slipped away. Feeling its loss, she turned to face him. “Thank you again for dinner. I had a lovely time.” The words scarcely did justice to the emotions roiling inside her—sadness and arousal, temptation and fear. The latter was as much for herself as for her father. Unlike Pete, unlike any of the men before him, if she wasn’t careful, Nick could break her heart. “Thank you for accompanying me.” He hesitated. His stark gaze searched hers in the shadows. A rare look of uncertainty weighted his handsome features. “Stefanie?” “Nick?” He swallowed hard, setting off a ripple along the corded column of his throat. “I should like very much to kiss you.” Stefanie’s heart beat so soundly she felt as though it might break through her chest, not because a kiss was out of bounds so far as her seduction mission went, it wasn’t, but because she finally acknowledged exactly where kissing Nick would lead—bed. Lifting her gaze to his, all pretenses of staying in control flew out the proverbial window. There was no way you could want someone the way she wanted him and still be in charge, at least she couldn’t. The game she’d played this past week was on par with messing around with firecrackers, fun for the moment but ultimately bad for you, even dangerous. And yet for once in her life, this once, she couldn’t resist putting caution on the back burner—and turning the front burner up to high, not for Acropolis Village or even her grandfather’s legacy but for herself. After twenty-eight years of being an ugly duckling, it was finally time to embrace her inner swan. Moistening her lips, she admitted, “I’d like that, too.” He reached out, cupping her cheek in the cradle of his big, square palm. His gaze fastened on her mouth. A smile played about the corners of his. “I had hoped you would agree.”
About the Author:
Award-winning author, Hope Tarr earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Education before coming to grips with the tough truth: she wasn’t especially interested in analyzing people or teaching them. What she wanted was to write about them! Today Hope is the author of more than twenty historical and contemporary romance novels for multiple publishers including THE CINDERELLA SEDUCTION, the finale to her Suddenly Cinderella Series for Entangled Publishing. Hope is also a co-founder and current curator of Lady Jane’s Salon®, New York City’s first—and still only—monthly romance reading series now with satellites in eight U.S. states. The Romance Writers of America’s New York City chapter recently honored Hope as their 2013 Author of the Year. She lives in Manhattan with her real life romance hero and their feline family members. When not writing, she enjoys running, hiking, martial arts—and browsing restaurant menus.
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