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«Da Rocha's Convenient Heir» - Линн Грэхем

An heir for the da Rocha legacy…Secured with a ring!Tycoon Zac’s wedding to innocent waitress Freddie is pure convenience. Dark-hearted Zac will help keep Freddie’s family together, if she provides him with a Da Rocha baby! He’s confident their insatiable passion will soon burn out. But when Freddie falls pregnant, Zac realises he craves more than just an heir. He wants to keep Freddie in their marriage bed—forever!
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An heir for the Da Rocha legacy...

Secured with a ring!

Tycoon Zac’s wedding to innocent waitress Freddie is pure convenience. Dark-hearted Zac will help keep Freddie’s family together, if she provides him with a Da Rocha baby! He’s confident their insatiable passion will soon burn out. But when Freddie falls pregnant, Zac realizes he craves more than just an heir. He wants to keep Freddie in their marriage bed—forever!

LYNNE GRAHAM was born in Northern Ireland and has been a keen romance reader since her teens. She is very happily married to an understanding husband, who has learned to cook since she started to write! Her five children keep her on her toes. She has a very large dog, which knocks everything over, a very small terrier, which barks a lot, and two cats. When time allows, Lynne is a keen gardener.

Claimed for the Leonelli Legacy

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The Italian’s One-Night Baby

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The Secret Valtinos Baby

Castiglione’s Pregnant Princess

Da Rocha’s Convenient Heir

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Da Rocha’s Convenient Heir

Lynne Graham


ISBN: 978-1-474-07213-7


© 2018 Lynne Graham

Published in Great Britain 2018

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

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Back Cover Text

About the Author


Title Page







html#litres_trial_promo"> CHAPTER SIX







About the Publisher


ZAC DA ROCHA, the Brazilian billionaire, powered towards his father’s office on long muscular legs. He was in a rare state of surprise because his stuffy, rigidly formal half-brother, Vitale, the Crown Prince of Lerovia, had just matched the facetious bet Zac had made him earlier that morning. Zac enjoyed yanking Vitale’s chain but he had not expected a retaliation. He raked his hand impatiently through the long, luxuriant dark hair falling onto his broad shoulders and grinned with sudden appreciation, flashing perfect white teeth in the process. Maybe Vitale wasn’t such a narrow-minded bore after all. Maybe he had more in common with his half-sibling than he had assumed.

As quickly as that idea occurred to him, Zac suppressed it again because he wasn’t looking for a family connection. He had never had a family. He had looked up his long-lost father, Charles Russell, out of pure curiosity and had lingered on the edge of the family circle out of pure badness, thoroughly entertained by the immediate animosity of his two half-brothers, Vitale and Angel. The emergence of a third son had shocked and unsettled them and Zac had made little effort to foster a sibling relationship. But then what the hell did he know about blood ties? He had never had a brother or a sister and, what was more, he had had a mother he had seen only once a year if he was lucky, a stepfather who hated him and a birth father whose identity he had only discovered the year before when his mother had finally told him the truth she had long withheld because she was dying.

Yet when it came to his birth father, for once in his life he had landed lucky, Zac conceded grudgingly, because he actually liked Charles Russell. Zac was more accustomed to people who tried to use him and he trusted very few people. His light grey-blue eyes hardened. Fabulously rich from birth and raised like a little prince, surrounded by fawning servants, Zac was very cynical about human nature. But from their first meeting, Charles had taken a genuine interest in his third and youngest adult son, despite the fact that, at twenty-eight and six feet four inches tall, that son was already a man grown.

After only a few hours in the older man’s radius, Zac had realised how much better he would have done had his mother, Antonella, chosen to stay with Charles rather than choosing to marry the playboy fortune hunter, Afonso Oliveira, the love of his mother’s life. Unhappily, while being engaged to Antonella, Afonso had got cold feet and dumped her for several weeks. Heartbroken, Antonella had succumbed to a rebound affair with Charles, then in the process of divorcing a wife who had been cheating on him throughout their marriage with another woman. But then, Afonso had returned to Antonella to ask for her forgiveness and Antonella had followed her heart. When soon after the wedding she had realised she was pregnant, she had fervently hoped that she carried Afonso’s child and had refused to acknowledge that Zac might not be her husband’s son. Sadly, for all of them, Zac’s very rare blood group had become a ticking time bomb in his mother’s marriage.

As Zac strode into his father’s office he was rewarded by an immediate smile of warm welcome and acceptance. He might be a tattooed guy clad in jeans and biker boots with diamond studs in his ear but Charles, the grey-haired older man who greeted him in an immaculate business suit, treated him the exact same as his other sons.

‘I did think of putting on a suit to surprise the brothers,’ Zac murmured deadpan, his strikingly light eyes glittering with self-mockery against his bronzed skin. ‘But I didn’t want them to think I was conforming to expectations or competing.’

‘No fear of that, I think.’ Charles laughed, wrapping his arms round his very tall and vociferously different son in a whole-hearted embrace before stepping back. ‘Any news yet from your lawyers about your chances of breaking the trust?’

The internationally renowned Quintal da Rocha diamond mines had been locked into a trust by Zac’s great-great-grandfather to protect the family heritage. Since his mother’s death, Zac had been in possession of the income from the mines but he would not have the right to control the extensive Da Rocha business empire until he produced an heir of his own. It was an iniquitous arrangement, which had sentenced previous generations to a deeply dysfunctional family life, and Zac had long been determined to break the cycle. Sadly, the answer his legal team had given him was not the one he had sought.

He could not be truly independent or free until he had met the terms of the trust one way or another. Hedged by restrictions throughout childhood and adolescence, he had railed against the trust when he had finally understood how it would limit him. He was the last da Rocha and he enjoyed enormous wealth but until he fulfilled the conditions imposed by that trust he had no more rights than a child to control the diamond mines and the vast business empire built on the back of their profits. He felt sidelined, powerless and dispossessed by his current weak position and there was little he would not have given to be free of it.

‘My lawyers tell me that if I marry and fail over time to produce a child they think there would be little problem breaking the trust,’ Zac revealed grimly, his chiselled cheekbones taut. ‘But that would take years and I’m not prepared to wait for years to run what is mine by right of blood.’

Charles expelled his breath in a slow hiss. ‘So, you’re going to get married,’ he assumed.

Zac frowned. ‘I don’t need to get married,’ he countered.

‘Any heir will meet the terms of the trust, boy or girl, legitimate or otherwise.’

‘Legitimate would be better,’ Charles protested quietly.

‘But the ensuing divorce settlement would cost me a fortune,’ Zac responded with resounding practicality. ‘Why marry when I don’t have to?’

‘For the child’s sake,’ Charles supplied with a grimace. ‘To protect the child from growing up as both you and your mother did, isolated from normal life.’

Zac parted his lips as though he was about to say something and then thought better of it, swinging restively away. His grandfather had found himself married to a barren wife. He had then impregnated a maid in the household, who had given birth to Zac’s mixed-race mother. Antonella had been whisked away to be raised at a remote ranch, separated from her mother and never acknowledged by her aristocratic father once her arrival had refuelled his wealthy lifestyle. She had been an heiress but one from the kind of humble background the rich and sophisticated delighted in despising.

Initially, Zac’s stepfather, Afonso, had assumed that Zac was his child and he had married Antonella, willing to turn a blind eye to her embarrassing background if he could share her riches. When Zac was three years old, however, his need for a blood transfusion after an accident had roused Afonso’s suspicions about his parentage and the truth had emerged. Zac still remembered Afonso screaming at him that he was not his child and that he was ‘a dirty, filthy half-breed’. After that fallout, Zac had been transported to the ranch to be raised by staff, out of sight and out of mind while Antonella worked on repairing the marriage that meant so much to her.

‘He’s my husband and he comes first. He has to come first,’ Antonella had told Zac when he’d asked to go home with her after one of her fleeting visits to see him.

‘I love him. You can’t come to Rio. It will only put Afonso in a bad mood,’ she had argued vehemently years later with tears in her beautiful eyes.

Yet Afonso had enjoyed countless affairs during his marriage while Antonella struggled to give him a child of his own, suffering innumerable miscarriages and finally the premature birth that had claimed her life when she was already well beyond the age when child bearing was considered safe. Afonso had not even come to the funeral and Zac had buried his weak-willed but lovely mother with a stone where his heart should’ve been and the inner conviction that he would never ever marry or fall in love, because love had only taught his mother to reject and neglect her only child.

‘I married two very beautiful women, neither of whom was the least maternal,’ his father, Charles, told him heavily, pulling Zac suddenly back into the present. ‘Angel and Vitale paid the price with unhappy home lives. Right now you’re at a crossroads and you have a choice, Zac. Give marriage a chance. Choose a woman who at least wants a child and give her the opportunity, with your support, to be a normal mother to that child. Children need two parents because bringing up a child is tough. I did the best I could after the divorces but I wasn’t around enough to make a big difference in my sons’ lives.’

It was quite a speech and it came from the heart; Zac almost groaned out loud because he could see where his father was coming from. Although marrying would cost him millions when it inevitably broke down, that legal framework would provide a certain stability for the child. It would be a stability that he had never enjoyed but then, unlike his grandfather, he had always planned to be involved in his child’s life, hadn’t he? Even so, if he wasn’t married to the mother of his child, his freedom to be involved would be dictated by her. He already knew those facts, had worked through all possible options with his legal team and preferred not to think about those facts because they only depressed him. After all, the odds of him having a good relationship with his child’s mother were slim, he reflected impatiently.

Women always wanted more from Zac than he was prepared to give...more time, more money, more attention. But all he had ever wanted from a woman was sex and once that was over, he was done. He was an unashamed player, who had never been in a real relationship, who had never pledged fidelity and who could not bear the sensation of being caged by anyone or anything. In many ways, he had been caged most of his life, raised on a remote ranch before being placed in a stiflingly strict boarding school run by the clergy and forced to follow endless rules. He hadn’t known a moment of true freedom until he reached university and it was hardly surprising that he had then gone off the rails for a while. In fact, it had been a few years before he got back on track and completed his business degree.

And what had brought him back? The discovery that at heart he was a da Rocha and that he couldn’t run away from his birthright. A workers’ dispute in which he was powerless to intervene on their behalf had persuaded him to start attending business meetings and, although he still couldn’t legally call the shots, he had discovered that the directors were very wary of making an outright enemy of him. Like Zac, they looked to the future.

‘How long will you be away?’ Charles prompted, aware that Zac was leaving London to check out the diamond mines in South Africa and Russia.

Zac shrugged. ‘Five...maybe six weeks. I’ve a lot to catch up on but I’ll stay in touch.’

Leaving his father’s office, Zac headed back to The Palm Tree, the small, exclusive and very opulent hotel he had bought in preference to an apartment of his own. His thoughts immediately turned in a more frivolous direction, escaping with relief from the serious ramifications of his father’s sage advice. He had bet his brother that he couldn’t find an ordinary woman and pass her off as his socialite partner at the royal ball to which he had also been invited. Unsurprisingly, Vitale, who didn’t have a humorous bone in his entire body, had been unamused by the challenge but, on emerging from his meeting with their father earlier, Vitale had startled Zac by not only accepting the bet but also by making his own. And what had followed had had very much an ‘own goal’ feel for Zac...

Remember that little blonde waitress who wanted nothing to do with you last week and accused you of harassment? Bring her to the ball acting all lovelorn and clingy and suitably polished up and you have a deal on the bet.

Freddie? Lovelorn and clingy? That was the challenge to end all challenges when he couldn’t even get her to join him for a drink! His even white teeth clenched hard in frustration. Zac had never before met with an outright rejection from a woman and it had infuriated him, his innate need to compete making him persist. But Freddie had interpreted persistence as harassment and had burst into tears in Vitale’s presence, a fiercely embarrassing moment that had frozen Zac where he’d sat in all male horror at what he had unleashed on himself in a public place. Even more gallingly, Vitale had stepped straight in to defuse the scene with all the right soothing words until another waitress had arrived to rescue them. But then that was Vitale, all smooth, slippery and refined in a way Zac was distinctly aware that he himself was not. The most formative years of Zac’s life had been the dropout years when he had belonged to a biker club, not rubbing shoulders with the rich and sophisticated in polite society.

In polite society, Zac was mobbed by women seduced by his great wealth and he avoided such women like the plague, well aware that they would’ve been equally enthusiastic even if he were old, bald and unpleasant. That he was none of those things simply made him more of a target. He had loved the male brotherhood in the club, the easy acceptance, the loyalty and the complete lack of rules that had enabled him to be himself. He had enjoyed women equally happy to enjoy him in bed, women without an agenda, only looking for pleasure. But after a while, even that had got old and as soon as the Brazilian media had discovered his hideout and exposed the story of the billionaire biker boy, he had moved regretfully on, knowing that phase of his life was over.

He revelled now in the anonymity of his life in London and had avoided his siblings’ social gatherings out of a strong desire to preserve it. Spoiled, privileged young women with cut-glass accents didn’t do it for him because they saw him as a prize trophy to be won. He had met with more sincerity and honesty in people his brothers would probably snobbishly deem to be vulgar and uneducated. And even conservative Vitale had conceded that Freddie was a real looker.

Zac only knew that he had never wanted a woman with such instantaneous lust. Lust at first glance, he conceded grimly, thinking it ironic that out of all the many women who wanted him back his libido had had to focus on one who not only did not want him, but also actively appeared to dislike him. He couldn’t accept that he had done or said anything to incite that reaction from her and the injustice had outraged him, encouraging his damaging determination to change her attitude. Meu Deus, after her outburst, he would scarcely be looking in that direction again, which meant that Vitale had won the bet outright and as the loser he would have to hand over his cherished sports car. Exasperation and growing annoyance gripped him. He would now be gone for weeks in any case.

One last try...

When he got back to London next month, what would he have to lose? He could attempt outright bribery, Zac decided with sudden savage cynicism...use the power of money to persuade for once in his life. Freddie had refused his first generous tip and then had just as swiftly changed her mind and accepted it, he recalled with a sceptical curl of his full sensual mouth. She would turn out to be like every other woman he had ever met: she would surrender for money. After all, she wasn’t working all day on her feet as a waitress for fun.

* * *

Freddie was having a dream about a man with eyes the colour of crushed ice, a wealth of silky blue-black hair and a full sensual mouth.

It was a wonderful dream until a little hand shook her arm and a little voice said, ‘Bekfast? Auntie Fred...bekfast?’ while one warm little body pushed for space in her single bed and another warm little body crawled up over the top of her.

With a groan, Freddie woke up and checked her alarm in case she had slept in. Some hope of that with her nephew and niece around, she thought ruefully, with three-year-old Eloise pinning her up against the wall and ten-month-old Jack lying on top of her in a happy baby sprawl.

‘You don’t lift Jack out of his cot,’ she told her niece for the tenth time. ‘He could get hurt. It’s not safe if I’m still asleep—’

‘You wake now,’ Eloise pointed out cheerfully as Freddie scrambled over her with Jack in her arms and went to change him.

A vague recollection of her dream flushed her triangular face and her soft mouth tightened, her brown eyes sparkling with self-loathing. Loser alert, loser alert, she chanted inside her head in exasperation. Eloise and Jack’s father, Cruz, had been a very good-looking guy as well, beautifully dressed and polite, but he had turned out to be a terrifyingly violent drug dealer and a pimp. Her older sister, Lauren, had died of a drug overdose within days of Jack’s birth, utterly destroyed by the man she had loved, who had not only refused to acknowledge his children but had also so far escaped paying a single penny towards their support.

Zac whatever-his-name-was might not be either beautifully dressed or polite, but he had been staying for weeks in the very expensive penthouse suite in the exclusive hotel where she worked in the bar and, although he had been gone for over a month now, the suite was apparently being held for his return. How the heck was he affording that when as far as she could see he didn’t engage in any normal form of work? He also mixed with some very flash, international, business-suited men. He was dubious and up to no good, of course he was, she told herself angrily, furious that the Brazilian had invaded her dreams. It had been bad enough, she acknowledged, when she’d had to see him every day in the bar. And now that he was gone, why hadn’t she completely forgotten about him?

It was even more weird that he had shown such an interest in her in the first place, she reflected irritably. She had seen how attractive he was to women while she worked. Zac wasn’t a mere babe magnet, more a babe tornado. She had seen desperate women do everything but strip in front of him in an effort to gain his attention. They nudged up to him at the bar, tripped nearby, tried to strike up conversations and buy him drinks. And he acted as if they didn’t exist, behaving like a blind celibate monk in their radius. Weird and suspicious, right?

After all, Freddie knew she wasn’t a show-stopper. She was way too undersized to be one. Barely five feet tall and slender, with only a very modest amount of curves. She had dark blonde hair that fell halfway to her waist and plain brown eyes. So why would a guy with Zac’s attributes chase a waitress unless he was a weirdo? Or some kind of user who assumed she would be stupid enough to fall for whatever nefarious purpose he had in mind? Well, no, Freddie had never been stupid and she knew how to look after herself, particularly after having spent years watching her late sister make the very worst decisions possible.

Freddie made breakfast for the children quietly, striving not to wake up her aunt, Claire, who had come home in the early hours. Claire, her late mother’s youngest sister, was only six years older than twenty-two-year-old Freddie, so they had never had the traditional auntie/niece connection, being far too close in age for that, but they had always got on well. Even so, just at present Freddie was worried about the other woman’s mood. Claire was being evasive and quiet, not to mention going out a lot and using a babysitter without ever talking about where she was going. Freddie believed in respecting Claire’s privacy but, at the same time, she couldn’t help worrying herself sick that their little ‘family’ arrangement was somehow at risk.

At Freddie’s instigation, Claire had applied to foster the kids after Freddie was turned down for the job. That had been after Lauren’s death when the welfare services had wanted to remove the kids from Freddie’s care and put them into a foster home with strangers. Freddie had been deemed too young and inexperienced to take charge of the children she had been looking after from birth—for that was the unlovely truth about her late sister’s parenting skills. Lauren’s world had had only two focuses: drugs and her violent, threatening boyfriend. Freddie had long been the only person available to care for Eloise and Jack while trying at the same time to dissuade her sister from her worst excesses.

And there she had failed abysmally, she conceded sadly, having found it impossible either to get Lauren off drugs or to persuade her to break up with Cruz. Grief still filled her when she thought of the loving, light-hearted big sister she had grown up with and clung to in foster care. Their parents had died in a car crash when Freddie was ten and there had been no relatives willing to take them in. Five years older, Lauren had been more like a little substitute mother than a big sister, at least, until she had fallen under Cruz’s influence and every rule had been broken, every moral flouted, every evil permitted. Freddie had been stuck in the middle of all that horror from the day of Eloise’s birth, knowing that if she moved out her niece would be lucky to survive that chaotic household where only constant vigilance protected the weak and vulnerable. Claire had urged her to walk away and turn her back but she had loved Eloise too much to do that.

So, when Claire had generously agreed to apply to be the kids’ foster carer even though she wasn’t really ‘a kiddy person’, as she put it, the agreement had been that Freddie would continue doing the lion’s share of the childcare. That meant that Freddie stayed home days to see to the children and worked nights in a bar, having readied the kids for bed before she left Claire’s tiny terraced home. Claire had confessed herself content to live off the foster-care payments but Freddie had had to find work to bring in some extra money.

And during Zac’s stay at the hotel, his tips had virtually doubled Freddie’s earnings. He had routinely tossed her two fifty-pound notes every time she served him and the first time, aware of his personal interest, she had taken umbrage and tossed them back, telling him she wasn’t for sale, only to be ambushed by another waitress who had angrily reminded her that their tips went into a communal pot, so she had had to go back to Zac’s table and apologise and pick up the discarded notes.

His unsought generosity had, however, reclothed Eloise and Jack, put some very nice meals on the table and now that little gold pile was almost gone it was time for a treat, she thought, determined to start being more positive and stop worrying about Claire, who, ultimately, would do what she wanted to do regardless of what anyone else wanted. Equally, why was she beating herself up about a stupid dream? Fantasies were harmless and, in the flesh, Zac was decidedly a fantasy, a traffic-stoppingly beautiful man whom women stood still to study until they recollected themselves and, blushing, moved on.

Of course, Freddie had done worse several weeks earlier when she had lost her temper with Zac and then burst into floods of tears. The stress of two sleepless nights with Jack running a fever had smashed all her defences flat. Claire had been so irritable about his crying disturbing her sleep and Freddie had been so exhausted, she had simply cracked down the middle and snapped when Zac had merely put a hand on her spine to steady her when she’d wobbled in the very high heels she had to wear for work. She had learned to be very averse to men touching her while she was living with her sister, whose home had overflowed with untrustworthy men. She had developed the habit of maintaining rigid boundaries and it had come back to haunt her at the worst possible moment.

But then, although she had been forced to apologise for the scene she had made to retain her job, she had still believed her hysterical outburst couldn’t have happened to a more suitable person. Zac’s very first words to her, after all, had been unrepeatably dirty and blunt, an invitation to spend the night with him but not one couched in polite or acceptable terms. She had had many such invites before but he was the first who had ever employed that kind of language to her face and she had felt soiled by it, besmirched by the simple fact she had to wear denim shorts, little tops and high heels to work in the hip hotel bar. After all, she was well aware that at least one of her colleagues took money to sleep with customers, and she had always been very careful not to give the wrong impression to the male clientele by being too flirtatious and she never ever gave out her phone number. In any case, for better or for worse, she had no time for a boyfriend in her life. Her life was full to overflowing from the moment she got up at six until she fell into bed worn out soon after midnight.

She checked into work punctually that evening, having earned several admonitions for being late when Claire failed to come home on time to take over charge of the children. Stashing her bag in the locker provided, she put on the shorts and the high heels that she had mercifully finally worn in and walked into the elegant black and white bar, with its eye-catching lighting and mirrored ceiling, to begin serving drinks. The black and white theme and the wonderfully opulent décor ran right through the boutique hotel, where no expense had been spared and where every comfort was on offer to those who could afford the high prices.

‘Mr da Rocha is out on the terrace,’ Roger, the bar manager, informed her.

‘Who the heck is Mr da Rocha?’ she asked.

‘That guy you don’t like. He’s back,’ Roger told her wryly and he lowered his head to whisper tautly, ‘A fairly reliable source tells me that Mr da Rocha bought this place a couple of months ago, so I would watch my step if I were you because if he decides he wants you out, you’ll be history.’

Freddie was drop-dead stunned by that piece of information and she stared wide-eyed after Roger as he moved off to attend to a customer at the bar. Zac owned the hotel? How was it possible that a foul-mouthed, tattooed guy in ripped jeans and biker boots had bought a hotel in one of the most exclusive areas of London? She clenched her teeth in thwarted disbelief. Yes, Zac was a huge mystery because, no matter what he wore or how carelessly he spoke, he emanated a force field of power and arrogance and contrived to appear totally at home in a very upmarket hotel. Practising her brightest smile, Freddie marched out to the terrace, which was unnervingly empty but for him.

And like a juggernaut parked in a too small parking space, Zac overfilled it, his devastating effect all the stronger because it had been so many weeks since she last saw him. He was wearing all black, which was a change from his usual denim blue jeans. Black jeans, black shirt, leather cuff on one arm, his St Jude necklace gleaming gold at his bronzed throat. Patron saint of lost causes, very appropriate, she thought inanely. But he was so outrageously gorgeous standing there that her mouth ran dry and her nipples tightened and her entire body leapt in a response that maddened her because it happened every time she saw him, like an alarm clock shrilling in her ear, reminding her that she was as weak and hormonal around him as every other young woman she saw staring at him with longing. While she might not stare, she was, at heart, no different from the rest of her sex, and the reminder rankled like a stone in her shoe she couldn’t shake loose.

Lounging back against the boundary wall, Zac straightened the instant Freddie appeared, so tiny, so dainty she reminded him of a delicate doll. A doll he wanted to flatten down and spread on the nearest horizontal surface, he reminded himself, looking boldly into eyes that ranged from the colour of melted caramel to that of liquid chocolate. A wall would do perfectly well, he thought absently, so aroused at the sight of her he was threatening the fly in his new jeans, and the infuriating thing was that he didn’t know exactly what it was about her that so turned him on every time she was within view.

‘Mr...er da Rocha,’ she pronounced, startling him with both the name and the undeniably false smile she had pasted on her lips because, most pointedly, she was careful never ever to smile at him.

And he knew right then that somebody had been talking and that she was somehow aware that he was not merely a hotel guest at The Palm Tree. Exasperation shimmered through him. He had bought the hotel for convenience, not for any form of recognition.

‘I have a proposition for you,’ Zac murmured huskily.

He had the most lethal electric sensuality Freddie had ever heard in a man’s voice. He could make a drinks order sound like a caress that skimmed spectral fingers down her rigid spine.

‘I think I’ve already heard that one, sir,’ she tacked on tightly. ‘And I’m going to pass on it—’

‘No, you haven’t heard this one,’ Zac cut in with a raw impatience he did not even attempt to hide. ‘I will give you a thousand pounds to spend an hour with me. And no, not in bed if that’s what you’re thinking. An hour anywhere in any place of your choosing.’

Her lashes fluttered up on utterly bewildered eyes. ‘But why would you offer—?’

‘I want to get to know you,’ Zac lied. ‘A conversation is all I’m asking for, nothing else. So, are you up for it or not?’

‘Anywhere, any place?’ she double-checked, because she didn’t credit his desire to get to know her for a second.

‘Anywhere, any place,’ Zac confirmed.

Freddie straightened her stiff shoulders and thought fast. If he was fool enough to pay, she was bright enough to take advantage. ‘Give me your phone number and I’ll think about it,’ she told him jerkily, barely able to credit that she was willing to sell her scruples down the river to spend even five minutes with him, never mind an hour!

‘There would have to be no crude language and no touching,’ she warned him carefully.

‘I can handle that.’ Zac gave her a huge charismatic smile that flashed white teeth and sent her heartbeat racing.

It was a crying shame that a man with his looks and presence should be so cynical and rough round the edges, Freddie reflected as he strode off the terrace, visibly satisfied with the result of his barefaced bribery. Of course, he didn’t want to get to know her. He wanted to get into her underwear in the most basic way possible and her negative response had simply forced him to raise his game.

But how could she possibly turn down a thousand pounds with Eloise and Jack to consider? With that kind of money she could take them on a little holiday or finally establish a rainy-day fund for emergencies. Yes, she was being greedy and shameless to accept such an arrangement but, as long as he knew upfront that no sex would be involved, he only had himself to blame for his extravagance and his huge ego. And she knew that she was going to enjoy punishing him thoroughly for both flaws.


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