THE FALCON DYNASTY SERIES
- FEBRUARY 2012 -
- FEBRUARY 2012 -
The Book Depository
(free delivery worldwide!)
Amazon North America
Mills and Boon
~ MISS PRIM AND THE BILLIONAIRE ~
Tycoon Marcel Falcon appears to be a man who plays love like a game. But deep in his heart lies a despair that has never left him since he was betrayed by Cassie, his one true love.
In Paris Cassie learns about Marcel’s life. He won’t admit that he has recognised her, but she suspects that he does. At a dinner with his friends she realises that the men find her attractive, and their attention has fired Marcel’s jealousy. When she returns to her own room there is soon a knock at the door. Unable to stop himself, he has followed her.
“I have things to say to you,” he snapped.
“I think we both have things to say.”
He nodded. “Yes, and they’ve waited too long, Mrs Henshaw.”
For a moment she didn’t speak. Then she said quietly, “Are you sure that’s what you want to call me?”
“I don’t want to call you anything. I thought you were safely out of my life, just a bitter, evil memory that I could kick aside. But now – ” he checked himself and looked her up and down, breathing hard with the emotion that threatened to overwhelm him.
“It is you, isn’t it?” he said at last.
It was the question he’d promised himself not to ask, because that would be a sign of yielding. But now he knew there had never been a choice.
“It is you,” he repeated.
“You’ve known that all along.”
“I thought so – sometimes I wasn’t sure – it didn’t seem possible that you could be – ” He broke off, breathing harshly. “I’ve tried not to believe it,” he said at last.
“So you didn’t want it to be true?”
“Of course I didn’t,” he said with soft violence. “Why should I want to meet you again? I can still hardly comprehend – what evil design made you come after me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she cried angrily. “I didn’t seek you out. Our meeting was an accident. I didn’t want to see you again. There was just too much – ”
Suddenly the words choked her, and she turned away with a helpless gesture.
“Yes,” he growled. “Too much. We could never have met peacefully.” He took hold of her and twisted her around. “Don’t turn your back on me. You flaunted your charms tonight, and I endured it, but no more! Did it please you to taunt and jeer at me?”
“I wasn’t – ” She tried to free herself but he gripped her more tightly.
“Don’t lie. You knew exactly what you were doing to me. What kind of twisted pleasure did it give you? Or don’t I need to ask? You played your games, the way you’ve always done – ”
“I never played games with you,” she said desperately.
“Oh, but you did. You just weren’t so frank about it in those days. Sweet, loving little Cassie, wide-eyed and innocent, honestly in love. And I believed it. Until I discovered that you were a heartless bitch incapable of honest love. That was a useful lesson. Once learned, never forgotten. That’s the Cassie I knew. So tell me, who is Mrs Henshaw?”
“She’s who I am now,” she cried. “At least I thought so. I thought Cassie had died a long time ago.”
“But tonight she rose again, didn’t she? Because some creatures never die. You showed me that nothing had changed, and stood back laughing at the result. I hope I didn’t disappoint you.”
“Can that be true?” she challenged him. “That nothing has changed?”
She heard his swift intake of breath, saw the wild look in his eyes and knew that she’d hit a nerve. He didn’t reply. He couldn’t. So she answered for him.
“Of course it isn’t true, Marcel. It can’t be true.”
“You said yourself that Cassie hadn’t really died,” he reminded her coldly.
“But she’s not the same Cassie. She’s seen things she never thought to see, things she didn’t want to see, but can’t forget. She’s trapped in her own memories. What about you?”
His terrible expression was her answer. It was the look of a man struggling to get free, knowing he was doomed to fail.
“I can cope with memories,” he said. “If only you hadn’t come back – but I guess you were bound to. From some things there’s no escape.”
She had pursued him in dreams and fantasies, visions and nightmares. He’d tried to drive her off, crying out that he hated and despised her; that if they met again he would take revenge. But her ghost laughed at his rage, jeered that she was stronger than he, and haunted him so relentlessly that when she’d actually risen before his eyes it was as though he’d summoned her by the force of his will.
He knew he shouldn’t tell her this. It would give her too much power, and her power was already alarming. But he couldn’t stop himself saying,
“You were always there. A million times I tried to make you go, but you wouldn’t. Now you’re really here, and I’m no longer a callow boy to let you trick me and run.
“Why must you think the worst of me?” she cried.
“Haven’t I reason? Didn’t you desert me when I was almost at death’s door?”
“No, I didn’t desert you,” she cried. “I did it for you – ”
“Surely you can think of something better than that,” he sneered.
“It’s true. I had no choice.”
“You’re lying, you scheming bitch. It’s not even a clever lie. Anyone could see through it.”
“Listen to me – ” she screamed.
“No, you listen to me. I hate you, Cassie, or Mrs Henshaw, whoever you are today. I shall hate you as long as I live because you’re a scheming, selfish little whore. There’s only one thing about you that I don’t hate, and it’s this.”
He pulled her hard against him and looked down into her face. She felt his hands move away from her shoulders, to take her head, holding it in the right position so that she couldn’t resist. She knew what he was about to do, but nothing could prepare her for the feel of his lips on hers after so long.
“Marcel,” she gasped.
“Shut up!” he said fiercely. “You’ve been trying to drive me insane all evening, and now you’ve done it. Are you pleased? Is this what you wanted?”
It was exactly what she wanted and only now did she admit the truth to herself. All her anger and defiance had been heading for this moment, trying to drive him to take her into his arms. Her body, her senses and, if she were honest, her heart, had been set on this, and if he’d resisted her it would have been an insult for which she would never have forgiven him. A sigh broke from her, and her warm breath against his mouth inflamed him more. He deepened the kiss with his tongue, seeking her response, sensing it, driven wild by it.
Her arms seemed to move of their own accord, gliding up around his neck, holding, drawing his head fiercely against hers, sending him a message with her lips and tongue.
But suddenly he drew back as though forcing himself with a great effort.
“Tell me to stop,” he growled. “Tell me. Let me hear you say it.”
“How can I?” she said huskily. “You never took orders from me.”
“You never needed to give me orders. I did what you wanted without you having to say it.”
“You were always so sure you knew what I wanted,” she murmured, looking up with teasing eyes that were as provocative as she meant them to be.
“You never complained.”
“Perhaps I was afraid of you.”
“You?” he echoed in a voice that was almost savage. “Afraid of me?”
“Perhaps I’m afraid of you now. I’m in your power, aren’t I?”
“Then tell me to stop,” he repeated with grim emphasis.
For answer she gave him a smile that tested his self control to the limit. She felt the tremor go through him, and smiled again.
“Tell me to stop!” he said desperately.
“Do you think you should stop?” she whispered.
“Damn you! Damn you!”
From the book MISS PRIM AND THE BILLIONAIRE by Lucy Gordon.
Copyright 2011 by Lucy Gordon
Cover Copyright © 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. ® and tm are trademarks of the publisher. The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
~ a taste of italy at home ~