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Bargaining with the Billionaire: The Blackmail Bargain / The Billion-Dollar Bride / How To Marry a Billionaire

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The Blackmail Bargain by Robyn Donald Arrogant Curt thinks Peta is a gold-digger – so blackmailing her into the role of his mistress seems the perfect revenge. But in reality Peta is a penniless virgin trying to survive. Can the tall, dark billionaire persuade her to keep up her end of the deal?The Billion-Dollar Bride by Kay ThorpeGina has inherited a fortune on the condition that she wed aloof and domineering Ross. Ross proposes a marriage of convenience, no strings attached. Easy enough – until Gina realises that her devastatingly handsome husband is impossible to resist!How To Marry a Billionaire by Ally BlakeCara Marlowe’s new TV job could make her career. So it’s bad news that billionaire Adam Tyler wants the show stopped, and it’s worse that Cara can hardly concentrate with the gorgeous tycoon around!
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Bargaining with the Billionaire

Bargaining with the Billionaire

He’ll make her his own – no matter how high the price!

Three thrilling, contemporary romances from three beloved Mills & Boon authors!

Bargaining with the Billionaire



Robyn Donald



Kay Thorpe



Ally Blake



Robyn Donald

Robyn Donald can’t remember not being able to read, and will be eternally grateful to the local farmers who carefully avoided her on a dusty country road as she read her way to and from school, transported to places and times far away from her small village in Northland, New Zealand. Growing up fed her habit; as well as training as a teacher, marrying and raising two children, she discovered the delights of romances and read them voraciously, especially enjoying the ones written by New Zealand writers. So much so, that one day she decided to write one herself. Writing soon grew to be as much of a delight as reading – although infinitely more challenging – and when eventually her first book was accepted by Mills & Boon she felt she’d arrived home. She still lives in a small town in Northland with her family close by, using the landscape as a setting for much of her work. Her life is enriched by the friends she’s made among writers and readers, and complicated by a determined corgi called Buster who is convinced that blackbirds are evil entities. Her greatest hobby is still reading, with travelling a very close second.

Don’t miss Robyn Donald’s exciting new novel, Rich, Ruthless and Secretly Royal, available in September 2009 from Mills & Boon® Modern™.


HARD blue eyes narrowing, Curt McIntosh surveyed his sister. ‘All right, you’ve hedged enough. Tell me straight, is Ian having an affair with this Peta Grey?’

Gillian flushed. ‘Don’t you look down your nose at me like that! You remind me of Dad when anyone dares to contradict him—high-handed, intolerant and dictatorial!’

His voice stripped of everything but the authority that underpinned its deep tone, Curt stated, ‘Nothing you say is convincing in itself. Do you have proof that Ian is sleeping with this woman, or is he just being a good neighbour?’

One glance upwards blocked Gillian’s first impetuous response. Not a muscle had moved in Curt’s formidable face, compelling in its bold, predatory beauty, but she chose her words carefully. ‘I shouldn’t have said that—about Dad.’

‘It doesn’t matter.’ He pinned her with a steely gaze. ‘And you’re still avoiding the subject.’

She flounced around to stare at the view outside his office window. In summer Auckland was thick with jacaranda trees, and the one in the Domain over the busy city road was an airy dome of lilac-purple. Its beauty did nothing to relieve the sick turmoil inside her.

With a spurt of defiance she exclaimed, ‘Peta! What a ridiculous name for a girl! I’ll bet her father wanted a son.’ She gnawed on her lip before finally admitting, ‘I know Ian’s not just being a good neighbour. There’s something else between them.’

Her brother’s straight black brow shot up. ‘What?’

‘Awareness,’ she retorted, temper flashing for a second.

‘Is this the intuition women are so famous for,’ he said drily, ‘or is your fear based on something concrete?’

Gillian reined in her anger. It wasn’t fair; she was four years older than Curt’s thirty-two, but the extra years had counted for nothing since he’d turned fifteen and shot up to well over six feet. Those extra inches had given him an edge that his intelligence and tough ruthlessness had honed into a formidable weapon. Although most of the time he was an affectionate brother, when he went into intimidation mode she took notice.

She said unsteadily, ‘You might not know much about love, Curt, but don’t try to convince me you don’t understand sizzle! You were only sixteen when you seduced my best friend, and you haven’t been wasting any time since then—’

Shrugging, he broke in, ‘Is that all you’ve got to go on? An awareness of sizzle?’

She flushed at the satirical note in his words and shook her head.

Dispassionately he said, ‘It happens, Gillian. It’s the way men are; we see a beautiful woman and the hormones begin to stir. An honourable man doesn’t follow it up if he’s already committed. I’ve always believed Ian to be honourable.’

‘Oh, how you testosterone brigade stick together!’ She forced herself to be calm because he distrusted emotional outbursts. Eventually she said in a more temperate voice, ‘Curt, I’m Ian’s wife. I love him, and I know him very well. Trust me, whatever it is that Ian feels for Peta Grey it’s more than a quick, easily forgotten flash of lust. I’d accept that if she was gorgeous, but she’s not. She’s not even pretty.’

‘Then what are you worrying about?’ Curt demanded, adding with cool logic, ‘Ian’s not likely to throw everything away on a plain woman. What does Peta Grey look like?’

‘She’s striking,’ Gillian admitted resentfully, ‘if you like tall, broad-shouldered, strong women. And that’s one of the reasons I’m worried—she’s not Ian’s type at all.

The only times I’ve ever seen her in anything smarter than a T-shirt and jeans and gumboots have been when we’ve invited the neighbours around for drinks or a barbecue. She scrubs up pretty well then, but she’s so…so rural. All she can talk about is her stock and the measly few hectares she calls a farm.’

She paused, then added with bleak honesty, ‘Which is more than Ian and I seem to have to talk about now.’

Curt examined her closely. Small and slight, his sister breathed urban sophistication; on her own ground she’d hold all the weapons. ‘So what does Ian see in her?’

Eyes glittering with frustrated tears, Gillian snapped, ‘She’s tall, and I imagine her mouth and green eyes make her sexy in a kind of earthy, land-girl way. Apart from that she’s got lovely skin, brown hair usually dragged off her face and tied with string in a ponytail, and a reasonably good figure.’

Curt inspected his sister from the top of her expertly cut hair to the slim Italian shoes on her narrow feet. ‘She doesn’t sound like competition. Why would Ian fall for her?’

‘Oh, you know Ian—he’s always had a soft spot for people who work hard. Probably because he had to haul himself up by his bootstraps.’ After a short hesitation she said reluctantly, ‘And she’s a battler—she’s only got a few acres besides the land that Ian leased her, but she manages to scrape a living from it.’

Curt had thought nothing of his brother-in-law’s decision to lease a small area to his neighbour. Cut off from the rest of the station by a large gully, the land hadn’t been fully utilised. Now he wondered why it hadn’t occurred to him to suggest it be planted with trees…

He said judicially, ‘You’re sophisticated enough to know that men don’t fall in love with every woman they admire. There must be more than that to it.’

Her desperation showing, she retorted, ‘She’s at least ten years younger than I am—she can’t be much over twenty- three or -four. And a couple of months ago I noticed that whenever he talked about her—which he no longer does, and that’s a bad sign too!—something about his voice set every alarm off.’ She looked her brother full in the face. ‘You’re not the only one in the family with good instincts. I know when my marriage is threatened, and believe me, Peta Grey is a threat.’

Curt’s brows drew together but he tempered his voice. ‘If you want me to do something about it you’re going to have to give me proof, Gilly. So far, you haven’t.’

She spread her hands in a gesture that held elements of both appeal and despair. Elegant, manicured hands, he noted, with Ian’s engagement and wedding rings making a statement on one long finger.

‘I don’t think they’re lovers yet,’ she admitted, ‘but it’s only a matter of time, and I want us out of Northland before— before it happens. A few months ago Ian was talking about a job in Vanuatu managing your rice plantation there. He seemed intrigued…’

The words trailed away as Curt said quietly, ‘Gilly, be reasonable. I can’t just move him on without some proof that it’s necessary. He’s doing a good job on Tanekaha; he’s hauled the station into profit under budget, and he’s a skilful manager of staff.’

Tears welled in her eyes, but even as he found his handkerchief she fought them back with a flare of anger. ‘Oh, see for yourself! I hate showing you these—I’m ashamed I even looked at them!—but if you want proof, here it is.’

She groped in her bag, hauled out a couple of photographs and hurled one onto the big desk. ‘Now tell me I’ve got nothing to worry about!’

Curt picked up the photograph. His brother-in-law stood facing a woman, a hand lifting to her face.

‘Check out this one too,’ Gillian said savagely, plonking another down on the desk.

If he’d had any doubt at all, the second shot banished it. This time both the people in the picture had turned towards an out-of-focus blur that might have been a bird swooping low, and the guilt stamped on Ian’s face would have convinced anyone.

Frowning, he examined the woman’s features. Certainly no beauty, but deep in his gut something stirred, a primal appetite that hardened his voice. ‘Who took the shots?’

‘Hannah Sillitoe—Mandy’s daughter. She got a digital camera in her Christmas stocking. Mandy dropped in to see us on their way back to Auckland after the holidays, and of course Hannah spent every moment outside taking photos of anything that would stay still long enough.’

Curt dropped the shiny images onto his desk. ‘How did she get these?’

‘She thought she saw a native pigeon fly into the big puriri tree by the stockyards. She’s an adventurous kid so she climbed the tree, but she couldn’t see any sign of the bird. She was on her way down when Ian and Peta came out of the old barn and stopped to talk.’ Her hands clenched by her sides.

‘Hannah was intrigued by the way the sun caught Peta’s hair, so she snapped them. The flash must have startled the pigeon because it swooped from the tree and flew towards them.’

Curt nodded. ‘Go on.’

She indicated the second photograph and finished in a voice brittle with humiliation, ‘They both swivelled around. Hannah tried to get a picture of the bird, but got that instead. When Mandy saw them she thought I should know what was going on.’

Curt asked brusquely, ‘What happened then?’

‘Hannah said they went off in different directions.’

He examined the photographs again, reluctantly admitting they were pretty damning evidence. Everything about the two figures shrieked intimacy—their closeness, the way they inclined subtly towards each other, their unconscious mimicry of stance and posture.

And being a man, he could understand what Ian saw in Peta Grey. The faded T-shirt moulded breasts voluptuous enough to stir a eunuch’s blood, and beneath the faded jeans her legs were long and lithe. Her coolly enigmatic face challenged the camera, and her mouth was sultry enough to tempt a saint; what would it take to shatter that air of control and release the passion beneath?

Of course, you might find nothing but naked self-interest there.

Anger smouldered to life inside him. ‘Does Ian know you’ve got these?’

‘No, and I’m not going to tell him,’ Gillian returned with spirit. ‘I’m not that stupid.’

Curt noted the way the sun shone on Peta Grey’s hair. The elemental fire in the pit of his stomach burned hotter, transmuting into something more complex than anger. When Gillian spoke he had to yank his gaze from the photograph to focus on her.

‘Curt, why don’t you come up and see for yourself? Believe me, if I’m wrong I’d be so relieved and grateful.’

Her voice broke on the final word and the smile she’d summoned wavered, then tightened into a grimace as she fought back tears. ‘I’m sorry to lump you with this, but there’s no one else I trust enough. And no one I can talk to.’

Which was his fault; Gilly had supported him when he needed her, and her love and faith had been punished. Neither of them had spoken to their parents for ten years.

Curt slung an arm around her shoulders and drew her against him. She sniffed valiantly, but eventually surrendered to harsh, difficult sobs, clutching his shirt with desperate hands as she gave up the fight for control. Like him, she’d been conditioned to hide her emotions, so she was terrified at this threat to her marriage.

‘All right,’ he said quietly when her tears began to ease. ‘I can come up next week.’

He’d planned a tryst in Tahiti with his current lover, but this was more important.

Mouth quivering, she reached up and kissed his cheek. ‘Thank you,’ she said soberly. She stepped back and grimaced at his shirt. ‘I’ve made you all wet—and streaked with lipstick. Have you got a spare shirt here?’

‘It doesn’t matter, but yes, I have.’ He lifted her chin and met her eyes. ‘If I think you’re wrong, what will you do?’

‘Find a counsellor, I suppose,’ she said drearily. ‘I’ll need it, because…oh, because things have been going wrong since before Ian noticed Peta Grey.’

‘What things?’

Gillian paused. ‘Oh, you might as well know everything. Since we found out that the reason I can’t get pregnant is an infection I caught in my wild youth. I never pretended to be a virgin when we met, but as long as I didn’t rub his face in my love affairs Ian didn’t seem to mind. Discovering why I couldn’t conceive is rubbing his face in it with a vengeance, Curt.’

‘I don’t imagine he was a virgin either when he married,’ Curt said forcefully.

‘No, but he wasn’t careless enough to let himself be made sterile. Ian wants children, and once we got the results he started pulling away.’ She dragged in a deep breath. ‘He blames me, of course. And like all you men, he’s possessive.’

‘I don’t consider myself possessive,’ Curt said brusquely. ‘I don’t share, but that’s not possessiveness.’

‘You’ve never loved anyone enough to be possessive.’ His sister gave him a trembling smile. ‘Ian might even still love me, but he wants a family, and he—he might be looking for someone who can give him one.’ She pulled away and finished steadily, ‘Someone who isn’t infertile because she slept around.’

Astonished, Curt asked, ‘Are you telling me that this Peta Grey is a virgin? How do you know?’

‘I don’t. There has been gossip, but apparently her father was a very controlling man—he didn’t let her go out with boys. Her mother was delicate so Peta left school the day she turned sixteen, and acted as nurse, housekeeper and farmhand until her parents were killed in a car accident a few years later.’

‘You seem to have been gossiping to a purpose.’ Curt’s distaste sharpened his voice.

Gillian shrugged. ‘I heard you say once, Know your enemy. In a way I feel sorry for the girl. She’s spent her life on that little farm working all hours of the day and night to survive.’ She looked up, entreaty plain in her lovely face. ‘I don’t wish her any ill; I just don’t want her to wreck my marriage.’

‘Has it occurred to you that if Ian wants her, you’ll be better off without him?’ Curt knew it had to be said, even though his bluntness drove the colour from her face. ‘He made vows. If he breaks them, will you ever trust him again?’

Trust Curt to voice her worst fear. Gillian had to stop her hands from twisting together in futile terror. ‘I need time,’ she told him intensely. ‘I love him, and if there’s any chance that he still loves me I’ll fight this—this fling. He’s a sophisticated mature man, and she’s a…well, she’s a nothing!’

‘If he thinks he’s in love with her, any hint of interference might persuade him to leave you.’

‘You always did make me face consequences,’ she said in a low voice, ‘and yes, I accept that. If he does leave, I— I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’ll deal with it. It’s the wondering and waiting and uncertainty that’s tearing me apart.’

‘I’m not a miracle worker,’ Curt warned her.

‘You’ll fix it,’ she said eagerly. ‘You’ve always done what you set your mind to. I have complete faith in you!’

That, he knew. Her faith had cost her dearly. ‘What exactly did you have in mind?’

Gillian rushed on, ‘Couldn’t you make a play for her? If she’s like ninety-eight per cent of womankind she’ll fall at your feet in worshipful delight.’

‘You grossly overestimate my effect on your sex,’ he said drily. ‘Is that what you want me to do?’

Her anxious eyes searched his face. ‘I—well, probably not. Nobody, especially not Ian, would believe that you’d find a girl like her attractive.’ She gave a twisted smile. ‘Your preference for beautiful women is too well known. But there must be some way out of this, because I’m certain she’s not in love with him.’

‘How do you know?’ Curt asked ironically. ‘And don’t tell me it’s women’s intuition.’

‘Ha! That’s rich coming from you!’ Now that he’d agreed she was confident again, her eyes gleaming and her smile reckless. ‘Everyone believes you dragged Dad’s sinking firm out of the mire and into the stratosphere with brilliance and sheer force of will, but you told me once that most of the time you followed your gut instinct.’

‘And sometimes I ignored it,’ he said sardonically.

‘Well, intuition’s got nothing to do with this. You got to the top because as well as being brutally clever you’re good at reading body language,’ she said crisply. ‘So am I. And her body language tells me Peta Grey is not in love with Ian. She wants out of being stuck away on a little farm miles from the nearest village, with no money, no prospects except hard work, and no chance of meeting a decent man. Except married ones!’ she finished bitterly.

Curt glanced down at the photographs, his gaze caught and held by Peta Grey’s challenging face with its lush, firmly disciplined mouth. His protective affection for Gillian warred with a darker, more subtle instinct that warned him of danger if he didn’t keep out of this.

But looking after his sister was a habit too strong to be broken. He leaned over and wrote something in his desk diary. ‘All right, I’ll see you next week.’

She let out a long sigh. ‘Thank you,’ she said in a voice that quivered. ‘I’ll be eternally grateful.’

‘I’m not promising anything,’ he said abruptly. ‘Can I take you out to lunch?’

‘I’d love to go out to lunch with you, but I’m already booked with a couple of old girlfriends. Besides, I bet you’ve got some high-powered meeting with important people.’

‘Guilty,’ he agreed, with the rare smile that dazzled even his sister. ‘But I’d have cut it short if you needed me.’

She came up to him in a small, scented rush and pulled his head down to kiss his lean cheek, then rested her head on his chest for a second. ‘I knew I could rely on you,’ she said, and gave him a gallant smile and left.

Frowning, Curt watched her go, then called his secretary. ‘Have John Stevens contact me as soon as possible,’ he said, hard eyes missing nothing of the traffic heading towards the magnificently columned Museum. Shining like a white temple in the summer sun, Auckland’s tribute to its war dead crowned a hill that commanded the city and the harbour.

At any other time he’d look forward to a week on Tanekaha, but even apart from the loss of time with Anna he didn’t expect to enjoy this stay. He swivelled and picked up the photographs again, gazing not at his brother-in-law but at the woman so nearly in Ian’s arms. The sun shimmered in lazy golden fire across her head; at her feet he could see a hat, as though an ungentle hand had pushed it off.

To make it easier to kiss that sensuous mouth?

Probably; there had been no kiss, but that didn’t mean one hadn’t been planned.

His mouth compressing, he dropped the photographs as though they burned his fingertips. Think possible gold- digger, he advised himself, and find out everything you can about her so you know which strings to pull.

If he had to he’d even buy her off, although it would go against the grain. Still, he’d part with anything if it would save Gillian’s marriage; apart from his natural affection for his sister, he owed her more than he could ever repay.


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