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Force of Nature
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Winter Nobleman is complicated. To say the least.
It was supposed to be simple. Go to Paris, find a client’s daughter, and close a multi-million-dollar deal. Easy. Then I meet her. Stormy blue eyes, quick wit, and the secrets she keeps on the tip of her tongue make me forget my mission for a moment, or six, and why I’m in Paris in the first place—to bring her home.
Distracted by her beauty, I fail to notice the others lurking with missions of their own.
Bennett Everest is the twist I never saw coming. Talk about perfect timing.
He steals my breath the first time I see him and breathes hope back into my heart. He’s a giant in my eyes, a king among men with patience and love to share in spades. Six foot three. Whiskey-colored eyes. Solid gold on the inside.
Despite the dirty deeds of my past, he sees the person I am meant to be and not the person I have become.
If the lies don’t kill us, will the truth set us free?
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Our lips part the moment the shot rings out. A silent scream replaces the stars in her eyes, and she looks at me as if I’m the last person she’ll ever see.
The snap of another bullet punctures the air, and my body curls around, shielding her as we hit the ground. Debris cuts into my hands as I cradle her head to break the fall.
A car door swings open, and a familiar voice commands us to get in. With no time to think, I act. Hopefully . . . outwitting death.
Our eyes stay focused on each other while we speed away even as a gunshot ricochets off the bulletproof vehicle. Hovering over her, I stay steady. Her body trembles under my hands. “Breathe, Winter.”
Her sweet scent covers me in a succession of quick exhales and then slows when the words tumble off her tongue. “Are we safe?”
Paris is gray. Everywhere I look—gray skies, gray sidewalks, gray buildings. I don’t know what I expected before I arrived, but it wasn’t gray.
When I volunteered for the job, I didn’t realize I would be in the right city in the wrong season. I hear it’s nice in springtime. Maybe I’ll come back in six months and get something other than gray with the bonus from the deal I’m about seal.
To block the cool wind from hitting my neck, I pop up the lapels of my suit jacket and round the corner of the avenue. My feet stop when I see her.
Bourbon-colored hair that shines even under the light of the red bistro sign at dusk, a swan-like slope where her neck meets the top of her shoulders, a bright pink sweater clinging to her slender frame. Winter Nobleman is a burst of color on a cloudy day.
I pull the photo from my pocket and compare it to the woman sitting at the small table drinking coffee. It’s her, and although she’s attractive in the picture, it doesn’t do her beauty justice.
Her father worries about her safety but seeing her sitting contentedly at a sidewalk café makes me wonder why. I look around as if to find something other than peaceful in this scene. I’ve yet to detect any threat of danger.
There’s more to this story than I’ve been told. Typical. This seems too easy, which means it’s more complicated than I was told.
This deal won’t close unless I can get her home. How will I do that if she’s staying away on purpose? I’m a good-looking guy and the right one for the job, or so her father said. So why does this suddenly feel like a fool’s mission?
Get the girl.
So what is keeping this gorgeous brunette here? Maybe she’s purposely avoiding her family. But is that my concern? Not really.
Why she’s here isn’t my business, but closing the deal is. I’m confident enough to deliver this deal sealed with a kiss. So I’ll just be honest with her. My job here is done if I can give Mr. Nobleman the assurance that his daughter is fine (and damn is she fine . . .), so he can continue with business and sign this deal. Then if she wants to fly back to Paris the next day, she can. An eight-million-dollar contract is worth a quick trip to Paris, but now it’s time to close it.
I start walking, my pace slowing as I approach. The early evening still allows the last of the daylight to sneak in before night covers us in darkness. I watch her with rapt attention. Her lips understated and nude, long lashes painted black, drawing my eyes to hers and wondering if they’re violet or blue. It was hard to decipher from the photos, and even though the file says blue, I can’t help but want to see for myself.
My feet stop, and I turn to face a bakery, pretending to window shop. Whoa! What is the obsession with macarons? It’s a cookie, for fuck’s sake. Out of the corners of my eyes, I watch as a man with a half-eaten baguette in one hand and bottle of wine in the other makes himself at home across from Winter. Although the cadence of his French is not harsh, her tone is.
Since I took Spanish in high school, my basic foreign language skills are useless. So I spy on them instead, keeping a sharp eye on his body language. The waiter returns and attempts to shoo him away, but when he wobbles on his feet to get up, his body lags back into the seat.
I don’t have to speak the language to know the drunk is hitting on her. Fucker. The waiter returns, shouting a barrage of what sounds like threats, causing the asshole to stand. He leans over the table, making his motives more obvious despite her clear and definitive, “Non!”