Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер - Secret Passion Carole Mortimer Читать онлайн любовный роман

В женской библиотеке Мир Женщины кроме возможности читать онлайн также можно скачать любовный роман - Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер бесплатно.

Правообладателям | Топ-100 любовных романов

Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер - Читать любовный роман онлайн в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net
Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер - Скачать любовный роман в женской библиотеке LadyLib.Net

Мортимер Кэрол

Secret Passion

Читать онлайн

Аннотация к роману
«Secret Passion» - Кэрол Мортимер

Carole Mortimer is one of Mills & Boon’s best loved Modern Romance authors. With nearly 200 books published and a career spanning 35 years, Mills & Boon are thrilled to present her complete works available to download for the very first time! Rediscover old favourites – and find new ones! – in this fabulous collection…A desire too powerful to resist…Aura Jones knows that she and successful financial businessman James Ballantine could have something special going for them. But falling in love with him is a risk she can't allow herself to take. James has been disillusioned in the past—he needs a woman who has a spotless reputation, not one fuelled by scandal, like Aura’s. Somehow she must call off their affair before things go too far. But is it already too late…?
Следующая страница

Secret Passion Carole Mortimer

Table of Contents

Title Page















THE man seated behind the imposing desk was not the one Aura had come here to see, and the light of battle began to fade from her eyes.

She turned sharply to the secretary who had been about to show her into the office. ‘I think there has been some sort of mistake——’

‘No mistake, Miss Jones.’ The man behind the desk stood up as he spoke, and Aura immediately understood the reason for the dark, solid furniture in the room; this man would have looked ridiculous against any other background.

He was very tall, well over six feet, with a lithe body not usually seen on a man who worked behind a desk all day, the superbly tailored suit he wore emphasising his lean masculinity. Just to look at him was to get a feeling of power, of barely leashed strength.

Aura took in his appearance in a matter of seconds, even acknowledged that he had an attraction that was as powerful as his body: thick dark hair neatly styled to his ears and collar, its slight inclination to curl ruthlessly kept in check, brilliant green eyes that looked her over speculatively as she stood poised in the doorway, his mouth a sensual slash beneath an arrogantly jutting nose, his jaw square and firm.

But it wasn’t what he looked like that concerned her, but who he was!

‘Thank you, Moira.’ He smoothly dismissed his secretary as he strode across the room to close the door behind Aura. ‘Please, sit down,’ he invited softly.

She had come prepared to do battle, and instead she had been greeted by a complete stranger. Where was Adrian? She looked about her awkwardly.

‘Please,’ the man prompted again, his eyes narrowed at her apparent reluctance to stay now that she was here.

Aura sat down in the chair that he had indicated facing his desk, wishing she had thought to telephone to make an appointment before rushing over here. But she had been so angry …!

Her mouth tightened as she remembered the reason for her anger, sherry-brown eyes sparkling warningly. ‘I came here to see——’

‘Mr Mayhew,’ the man finished as he moved softly around the desk to resume his seat.

Mr Mayhew? She hadn’t called Adrian anything that formal for weeks!

‘I’m afraid he isn’t here at the moment,’ the man excused lightly. ‘And as you said, the matter you need to discuss was of some importance … My name is Ballantine, Miss Jones,’ he added briskly as she still looked uncertain. ‘Mr Mayhew and I are business partners.’

Her eyes widened. James Ballantine; he wasn’t at all what she had expected Adrian’s partner to look like!

Adrian gave the impression that he worked with a much older man, and yet Aura was sure this man couldn’t be much older than his mid-thirties, possibly a little younger, which would make him only four or five years Adrian’s senior. Adrian spoke of the other man as if he were Methuselah!

Her mouth tightened as she remembered her reason for being here, and the fact that Adrian couldn’t be relied upon to be completely honest about anything, let alone admit that his partner was really a powerfully attractive man.

‘I really would prefer to see Mr Mayhew,’ she bit out tautly.

Dark brows rose over speculative green eyes, deep slashes of displeasure grooved into his lean cheeks as his mouth firmed. ‘I believe I just told you my partner isn’t available at this time.’ His voice had hardened too. ‘I can assure you, Miss Jones, that anything you wished to say to Mr Mayhew you can now say to me.’ Those grooves in his cheeks disappeared as his mood relented a little, although his impatience was barely concealed behind the polite façade.

Aura gave an inward sigh. She certainly couldn’t say any of the things to this man she had intended saying to Adrian!

But there was still the problem of the letter; that wouldn’t go away, no matter which of the partners she talked to.

She looked closely at the man facing her; had Adrian told his partner about her, had they laughed together as Adrian made one of those man-to-man jokes about her? James Ballantine returned her gaze steadily enough, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t completely aware of Adrian’s ‘personal’ interest in her the last few weeks.

But what choice did she have, it was either talk to this man or no one. And there was always the possibility that she had misjudged Adrian. Although she didn’t think she had.

She opened her clutch-bag to take out the official-looking envelope. ‘I received this this morning.’ She thrust the unfolded letter across the desk at James Ballantine, normally tranquil brown eyes snapping with anger.

Long lean fingers took the letter from her grasp, while the other hand lifted black-rimmed glasses that had rested on the desk top, to place them high on the bridge of his nose. He briefly scanned the letter, his brows raised questioningly as he once again looked up at her. ‘This seems very straightforward.’ He placed the letter down on his desk, regarding her through the slightly tinted lenses of his glasses.

She was well aware of the ‘straightforwardness’ of the letter, knew the exact wording on the single sheet of paper without needing to read it again.

The lawyers who acted for Ballantine and Mayhew had written to inform her that the lease that ran out on her shop next month would not be open for renewal, and could she please have the premises vacated by the given date!

The letter had been waiting for her just inside the door of the shop this morning, and after making a few telephone calls she had left her assistant in charge while she went to see Adrian. The last thing she had expected was that Adrian would be out and that she would have to deal with his partner instead. Did this man have any idea of the vindictiveness behind the letter? He wasn’t a man who revealed his thoughts easily, and the glasses acted as another shield to his emotions.

‘The wording of the letter is very clear,’ she acknowledged tightly.

He frowned at the admission. ‘Then what appears to be the problem?’

‘The problem, Mr Ballantine,’ she bit out tautly, ‘is that when I signed the initial lease two years ago it was with the understanding that it would be renewable at the end of that time.’

‘Subject to both parties’ approval.’ He nodded slowly.

‘Yes. But——’

‘Obviously, from this letter, you can see that we don’t approve,’ he reasoned impatiently, obviously wondering why she was wasting his time over something that was already so clear.

Gold sparks flashed among the sherry-brown of her eyes, the below-shoulder length of her pale blonde hair seeming to crackle with anger. ‘Why has my lease been singled out for refusal of renewal?’ she rasped. ‘I’ve checked with your other tenants at Cooper Mews, and all of them have renewed their lease in the last twelve months.’ Telephone calls to the neighbouring shops were the only reason she hadn’t been here earlier this morning, needing to be sure of her facts before confronting Adrian.

James Ballantine raised dark brows. ‘You’ve checked?’ he repeated mildly.

Aura wasn’t fooled by that mildness for a minute, knew that, despite his politeness to her so far, the lines of hardness around his eyes and mouth indicated he could be a very dangerous man to cross.

‘Of course I checked,’ she confirmed impatiently. ‘We aren’t just talking about my livelihood here, I also happen to live in the flat above the shop.’


He seemed as surprised by the question as she did, his gaze suddenly challenging.

Surely if Adrian had told the other man about his involvement with her James Ballantine wouldn’t have needed to ask such a question, Aura reasoned.

‘No,’ she bit out, not enlarging on the statement, deciding that if Adrian hadn’t already told this man about her, her living arrangements were none of his business; her lease didn’t say anything about listing the occupants of the flat above the shop.

‘I see.’ His tight-lipped disapproval was tangible as he picked up the letter to read it once again. ‘Have there been any problems with payment on your part to precipitate this move by us?’ he murmured frowningly.

‘Certainly not!’ Her eyes flashed her indignation.

He shrugged, throwing the letter down on top of the other papers littering his desk. ‘Then perhaps there has been a mistake made by our legal department,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘I don’t believe we have any other plans for any of the properties we own at Cooper Mews.’

Aura was sure they didn’t, was equally sure that Adrian was behind this move to deprive her of her shop and her home. The old saying warned ‘beware of a woman scorned’; no one seemed to consider that it was a warning that should also apply to a man scorned. One man anyway.

James Ballantine looked at the rapidly changing expressions on her face with piercing eyes. ‘If you would just leave this matter with me——’

‘I’ve always dealt with Mr Mayhew in the past.’ It was because of a contractual problem concerning the roof that she had first met Adrian, having received no help from the legal department here. After that first meeting Adrian had made a point of calling round to the shop from time to time to make sure things were running smoothly. Then a few weeks ago those visits had ceased to concern the shop …

‘I can assure you, Miss Jones, that I am quite capable of dealing with this matter myself,’ James Ballantine informed her glacially. ‘If you would just leave this with me I will get back to you.’

She knew he was furious at her persistence, but her shop was just one of hundreds of properties the partnership of Ballantine and Mayhew owned. ‘When?’ she demanded abruptly.

He drew in a ragged breath, as if he weren’t accustomed to having his movements questioned. And maybe he wasn’t, but Aura couldn’t afford to have him put the problem of her lease—and her—to one side, and just forget about them.

In the almost two years since she had opened ‘Health is Wealth’ she had built up a steady clientele, adding new customers to their number all the time as more and more people became aware of healthy food as a way of being healthy.

The shop had become her salvation, occupying her time and thoughts completely, and she wasn’t about to lose it because a man she had stupidly considered charming had found that he couldn’t control his libido!

After weeks of casual visits from Adrian to the shop the flowers had begun to arrive. Daily. Until Aura had broken all her own rules and agreed to have dinner with the sort of charmingly wealthy rogue she had sworn never to be involved with again.

That first dinner together had been followed by yet another, and then another, until she realised she had been seeing him at least a couple of times a week. He was pleasant company, attractive enough in a rakish fashion, and if his goodnight kisses at her door could become a little too demanding on occasion, he never made any effort to get beyond the door. A week ago she had realised that was all part of his strategy, a strategy he had soon tired of when her curiosity hadn’t become piqued and she had been the one to do the inviting.

Her twenty-fourth birthday had loomed bright and clear, and she had been thrilled with the lovely red roses that arrived for her from Adrian, less than pleased with the diamond bracelet he presented to her over dinner that evening.

Her refusal to accept such a gift from a man she considered a friend had resulted in the rakishly attractive man becoming viciously nasty as he informed her he had no interest in being her ‘friend’, that he wanted to be her lover. And soon.

She had cursed herself, and him, on her taxi-ride home, for not seeing sooner that he had deliberately lulled her into a false sense of security before revealing what he really wanted from her.

His retaliation to her rejection of him as a lover had arrived in the letter she had received from the lawyers of Ballantine and Mayhew today, she was sure of it. Just as she was sure that if she agreed to let Adrian into her bed after all, the matter would instantly be dropped.

Maybe it was lucky after all that Adrian wasn’t here at the moment and she was dealing with James Ballantine; his involvement could be her only way out of this situation. Even if this man knew of her past friendship with his partner, she couldn’t believe he would approve of Adrian’s harassment of her. She needed this man on her side.

‘Miss Jones,’ he began slowly in answer to her terse demand. ‘Our acquaintance has been a short one, but I was not aware that I had done anything during that time to make you doubt my ability to carry out the simple task of checking the contents of this letter with my legal department.’

Aura flushed at his unmistaskable sarcasm. Maybe she was being unfair to him, but after Adrian’s underhand methods of persuasion, who could blame her!

‘I’m sorry,’ she muttered awkwardly. ‘I’m just—a little anxious.’

His expression softened slightly, although his mouth remained forbidding. ‘I can understand that,’ he soothed. ‘And I really will get back to you as soon as I know anything.’

It was a dismissal, she knew that, and after her forceful behaviour she couldn’t really blame him for wanting to get rid of her as soon as possible. ‘I am sorry.’ She looked at him appealingly, her eyes warm, her full mouth curved stiffly above her pointed chin, the freckles that covered her nose and cheeks more noticeable against her pallor, due to the tension she was under. ‘But to you it’s just another piece of property, whereas to me——’

‘I do understand, Miss Jones, and I—excuse me,’ he rasped impatiently as the intercom buzzed on his desk. ‘Yes, Moira?’ He spoke tersely, all the time looking at Aura, as if her tenacity were a little beyond him.

‘Your luncheon appointment is here, Mr Ballantine,’ he was informed.

‘I’ll only be a few moments longer,’ he told his secretary before turning his full attention back to Aura. ‘I have to go,’ he said abruptly, taking off his glasses to dazzle her with deep green orbs while he placed the glasses in his breast pocket.

Prudence warred with necessity as she considered meekly accepting this second dismissal in as many minutes—and the latter won! ‘You won’t forget about my lease during your—lunch-break?’

Anger flared in the dark green eyes, to be replaced by incredulity—and finally humour. ‘Miss Jones——’ he glanced down at the letter on his desk. ‘Aura,’ he amended. ‘You are without doubt the most outspoken young lady I have ever met.’

She winced. ‘I am?’

‘You are,’ he drawled, smiling slightly, this time the grooves in his cheeks not looking at all menacing, ‘I am on my way to a business luncheon, not my mistress’s bed!’

A delicate blush coloured her cheeks. ‘I’m sure I didn’t imply——’

‘Yes, you did,’ he mused. ‘And I suppose I should be flattered,’ he added drily.

She didn’t know why. He was undoubtedly a sensual man, despite that rather unapproachable air he wore like a protective cloak; a man didn’t reach his mid-thirties without realising his sexuality was a tangible thing, no matter how well he tried to subdue it. ‘I just assumed——’

‘Too much,’ he put in softly. ‘I don’t have a mistress, Aura. Or a girlfriend. Or even a casual date.’

She couldn’t tear her gaze away from his, sherry-brown locked with emerald green. Why had he told her that, for goodness’ sake? He surely didn’t think that she——! ‘Your personal life—or lack of it— holds no interest for me, Mr Ballantine,’ she snapped coldly. ‘It’s your business interests that concern me.’

He gave a weary sigh, rubbing his temples with long sensitive fingers as his elbows rested on the desktop. ‘The day started out so well, too …’

Her mouth tightened. ‘I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to ruin that for you——’

‘No, you aren’t,’ he derided. ‘You had something to say, and you would have said it no matter who you upset.’

‘Yes,’ she grimaced.

He laughed softly, his eyes warm, the amusement remaining in his smile. ‘I’m not upset, Aura,’ he murmured thoughtfully. ‘Intrigued, perhaps, but certainly not upset.’

She stood up abruptly; the last thing she needed was a complication like this man in her life! ‘I’ve taken up enough of your time.’ She moved determinedly towards the door.

Somehow he was there before her, having crossed the room with a stealthy grace that was unnerving at the same time as his suddenly close proximity sent a shiver of awareness down her spine.

‘You haven’t taken anything I wasn’t willing to give,’ he told her softly.

Aura looked up at him with alarm, that alarm increasing at the unmistakable warmth in sensual green eyes. ‘I have to go,’ she insisted sharply.

He nodded slowly. ‘I’ll be in touch.’

Now what did he mean by that, she puzzled irritably all the way down in the lift and on the walk out to her car. The last thing, positively the last thing she needed, was for Adrian’s partner to become interested in her.

Unless the two men had discussed her, she worried on the drive back to the shop. James Ballantine didn’t seem the type of man to indulge in locker-room gossip, but that didn’t mean Adrian hadn’t told him about the obstinate woman he was dating who refused every move he made to share her bed. Maybe he had even challenged his partner to see if he could do any better with her!

She wouldn’t put that sort of challenge past the type of man Adrian had proved himself to be, but she was sure James Ballantine wasn’t like that. She was letting her insecurities of the past colour her judgement.

But no matter what conclusions she came to about James Ballantine, it didn’t alter the fact that Adrian had repaid her rejection of him by refusing to renew her lease, or that once Adrian returned to the office later today he might manage to convince his partner that he had acted that way for a good reason, and James Ballantine might just decide to go along with that decision …

It wasn’t the most relaxing day she had ever spent, expecting a furious Adrian Mayhew to appear in the shop at any moment, at the very least anticipating a telephone call from James Ballantine to tell her there was nothing he could do about renewing her lease.

Neither of those things happened. Each ring of the bell over the door as it opened brought in only customers, and the only two telephone calls she received were from other customers with queries. By five-thirty, as she and Jeanne, the middle-aged lady who helped her run the shop, closed up for the day, Aura’s nerves were frayed to breaking-point.

‘Everything all right?’ Jeanne took time out from the mad dash she always had at the end of her working day to get home and cook the dinner for her invalid husband and their three young children. ‘You seem very tense,’ she explained her concern.

Aura sighed. ‘It’s just been one of those days,’ she evaded; the other woman and her husband had enough trouble meeting their bills as it was, without worrying them with the fact that Jeanne might soon be out of a job because the shop was having to close. ‘I’m sure it will be better tomorrow.’ Oh God, she hoped so. If James Ballantine didn’t call her first thing tomorrow morning she was going to call him, and damn the fact that that was sure to make him angry straight away!

Once Jeanne had left to hurry to the nearby supermarket before it closed she paused while cashing up to look around the shop that had become her pride and joy. It was light and airy, the shelves well stocked and varied. It was hers, damn it, and she refused to lose it because Adrian didn’t like to hear the word no! She would take him to court over it if necessary—no, she wouldn’t do that, she admitted to herself dully. She wouldn’t do anything that would draw attention to herself, and claiming sexual harassment by her landlord would certainly do that!

But all the anger and frustration of her situation faded as soon as she looked at the gentle face of the woman waiting upstairs for her in the flat. No one, least of all she, was able to resist this delicately lovely woman’s vulnerability, Aura feeling protective as soon as she looked at the other woman.

‘Hello, Mummy.’ She greeted her mother softly so as not to startle her.

Vague brown eyes focused on her with effort as her mother looked up from the television set showing a popular children’s cartoon. ‘Is it that time already, dear?’ She frowned as she saw the till-roll and books in Aura’s hands.

‘Yes,’ she confirmed indulgently, kissing her mother on the cheek before glancing at the television screen. ‘Has the cat been put out for the night yet?’ she mused.

‘No, dear.’ Her mother patted her cheek. ‘And talking of cats, have you seen Marmaduke today?’

‘He came in with me and went straight for his food bowl in the kitchen,’ Aura assured her, knowing how her mother fretted about the wandering tomcat. ‘Just give me five minutes and I’ll get our dinner started.’

‘I’ll get it, shall I, dear?’ her mother offered, but her attention had already wandered back to the television programme.

Aura smiled as she went up to the next floor to her bedroom, knowing her mother would still be immersed in the cartoon—or another programme like it—when she went through the lounge in a few minutes on her way to the kitchen. Every night her mother offered to get dinner for them, and every night she either forgot or wandered off to do something else.

At only forty-five, with the sort of beauty that had only increased with the years, her mother had retreated into a world where pain didn’t touch her, where she saw only good in everything, because to see things any other way would be to see reality. It had been like this since Aura’s father died.

Her mother had never been a forceful personality, but the death of the man she loved had somehow pushed her into a world where she took responsibility for nothing, and where no one expected her to do so. When she wasn’t watching the childishly uncomplicated programmes on television she would just sit and daydream, and from the faraway tranquility of her expression when she did that Aura guessed her thoughts were as childishly unfettered by reality.

Shock, the doctors had diagnosed her condition, at the sudden death of Aura’s father. They had all predicted she would as quickly recover from the shock, that it was something that occasioanlly happened to the deeply grief-stricken. They had been wrong, and despite constant counselling, her mother still lived in that state where she knew the man she loved had gone, but where she preferred to think he had just briefly left their lives.

At times Aura felt her father’s loss so acutely she wanted to share her own pain with her mother, but as time passed and her mother continued to live in her world without pain the doctors had feared that the sudden jolt into awareness could result in permanent damage. Sometimes, as Aura watched her dreamily vague mother, she wondered if it weren’t already too late to do anything to help her.

Once she had changed into peach cotton trousers and a brown blouse, she went down to the kitchen, her mother, as she had predicted, still watching the television, having switched off the news in favour of a nature programme.

Aura didn’t know how her mother would react to the move if they had to make one. She didn’t seem aware of her surroundings most of the time, had made no comment when they moved here two years ago, and yet this flat was part of her mother’s security.

Her mother’s distracted, ‘I could have done it, dear,’ as they sat down to the dinner Aura had prepared, made her smile sadly.

Her mother had never been a forceful person, had always been content to go along with the will of the majority rather than argue her own point of view, but Aura did remember her as a woman whose complete happiness enveloped all around her; the way she was now, neither happiness nor despair touched her. It was heartbreaking for Aura to witness.

The fact that Adrian, when he had called for her here, had been unfailingly kind to her mother had only made her like him more; now she was sure that kindness had just been another part of his plan to persuade her into a deeper relationship with him.

Her sudden loss of appetite was due solely to Adrian Mayhew and what he was trying to do to her, and she refused her mother’s offer of helping her clear away, needing to be alone to try to work out what she would do if James Ballantine refused to reconsider renewing her lease. She would have to look for another property if that happened, and she wearily thought of the time it would take to find somewhere that was suitable. Why didn’t—who was her mother talking to? Oh God, she hadn’t started talking to herself too, had she!

Aura was hastily wiping her hands dry as she rushed into the lounge, entering the room just in time to see her mother inviting James Ballantine into the flat.

He looked over the top of her mother’s head at her flushed and dishevelled appearance, frowning at her suddenly fierce glare. ‘If I’ve called at an inconvenient time …?’

Any time would be inconvenient with him looking like that!

He ought to have a ‘Danger’ warning sewn onto the waistband of the faded denims he wore; the way they clung to his hips and thighs was positively indecent. He had no right to reveal how broad his chest was in the dark green shirt and black leather jacket, and he certainly had no right to have his hair falling rakishly over his forehead like that, ruffled by the gentle breeze outside!

Aura realised she had stopped breathing as soon as she saw him only because her starved lungs suddenly demanded air, her ragged breath audible as her mother moved to turn down the volume on the television set.

‘Not at all—Mr Ballantine, wasn’t it?’ Her mother gave him one of her vague smiles. ‘Aura has just finished clearing away. And I——’

‘Mummy,’ she warned as her mother picked up a book that lay open on the sofa.

‘—was just off to my room,’ she finished serenely as if Aura hadn’t spoken, dazzling James Balantine with another of her beautiful smiles before going up the stairs.

James Ballantine watched her go with vaguely disturbed eyes. ‘She’s very lovely,’ he said suddenly.

‘Yes,’ Aura snapped, suddenly in control again. OK, so out of the dark suit he had worn earlier today and wearing casual denims and a leather jacket instead, he looked devastating; that was no reason to forget that this man had to be here for a purpose, and she had to know what that purpose was. ‘Have you come to tell me——’

‘She seems a little—not quite of this world.’ He still gazed after her mother.

‘Yes,’ she bit out tautly. ‘Now would you——’

‘But so very beautiful,’ he said again dazedly, as if completely mesmerised.

‘Mr Ballantine——’

‘James,’ he corrected gruffly, crossing the room to her side in two strides. ‘Don’t expect me to be coherent when I’ve just seen what you’re going to look like in twenty years’ time,’ he murmured softly. ‘Aura …!’

She didn’t have time to prevent the contact as his head bent to hers and the mouth that she had classed as sensual on sight took possession of her. That was the only way to describe what happened to her, James not just claiming her mouth but branding the whole of her body with his touch.

One hand curved about her nape while the other one held her tightly about the hips, making her aware of the difference in their heights as the hardness of his thighs was crushed against her stomach, stirring a strange emotion there while the hand at her nape offered her mouth up to his like a sacrifice. Like a starving man he took and took, and still he hadn’t taken his fill. Not that Aura didn’t take too, standing on bare tip-toes to entangle her hands in the thickness of his hair as she matched the hunger.

She looked up at him with dazed eyes as he slowly put her back down on the carpeted floor, wondering how she had ever thought him unapproachable, his emotions held firmly in check; there was no mistaking the hunger displayed in his eyes—and it was all directed towards her!

She stepped back, swallowing hard. ‘You shouldn’t have done that.’ She should have sounded firmer and not quite so breathless! He shouldn’t have done that, had left her weak and dazed.

‘I’m going to do it again in a moment,’ he promised throatily. ‘But before I do we had better get business out of the way; I don’t think either of us will be capable of discussing it later on!’ he added ruefully.

She held up protesting hands. ‘What happened between us——’

‘Happens every time I look at you,’ he admitted softly, dark green eyes devouring her parted lips as his gaze rested upon them. ‘I want you.’

Aura was speechless. Men just didn’t say things like that, so bluntly it made her blush. They flattered, and cajoled, and coerced, they didn’t tempt. And that last description fitted exactly what James was doing to her, only having to look at him to feel a leap of her senses. But the first three exactly described what Adrian had tried to do to her.

Her mouth tightened at the thought of the other man. ‘You said you came here to discuss business,’ she prompted abruptly.

‘To start with,’ he drawled, reaching into the inside breast pocket of his jacket to hand her the envelope he had removed. ‘Your lease,’ he explained at her questioning look. ‘All it needs is your signature, duly witnessed, of course.’

Aura gaped at him, sure she couldn’t have heard him correctly, quickly opening the envelope to stare at the legal document. It was the lease to her shop, for the length of five years. It was more than she had hoped for. More …?

Her smile faded as she looked up at James warily. ‘What’s the price?’ she snapped.

He frowned. ‘The terms are in the agreement——’

‘I meant your price.’ She looked at him challengingly.

He became suddenly still, and if she had thought him unapproachable this morning she now knew what unapproachable was! His eyes were glacial, his mouth a thin angry line, those ominous slashes grooved into his cheeks. And Aura knew with certainty that she had completely misunderstood this man’s motives in helping her.

‘I’m sorry,’ she rushed into breathless speech. ‘I just—why did you—and your partner, change your minds?’ she frowned.

‘We didn’t,’ he rasped. ‘I had never refused to renew your lease, and Adrian obviously only made the mistake in his haste to be off on his holiday. I’m sorry you’ve had to be upset in this way, but that’s the only explanation I can give you for the mistake.’

She had really insulted him, and he wasn’t going to forgive her easily. But she had been so used to dealing with men like Adrian! ‘I really am sorry I thought— that, about you, James. I——’

He visibly relaxed. ‘I’ll forgive you—because you called me James for the first time.’

He had far from forgiven the slight, she could see that, but he was willing to forget it, for the moment. ‘I—if your partner is away, and unable to sign this document,’ she began slowly, chewing on her inner lip, ‘is it still legal? And binding?’

James smiled at her suspicion this time. ‘Completely,’ he drawled.


“‘Oh ye of little faith”,’ James mocked. ‘One of these days you’ll have to tell me why you’re so distrusting. But not now,’ he accepted ruefully at her silence. ‘OK,’ he sighed. ‘Well, whenever either my partner or I are away the other has complete power. My God, if I had to wait for Adrian’s approval to anything every time he took his wife on holiday I’d never get anything done!’ he scorned.

Aura felt herself pale. Wife? Adrian was married? Oh God, not again, she couldn’t go through that again!


Получить полную версию книги можно по ссылке - Здесь

Следующая страница

Ваши комментарии
к роману Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер

Комментарии к роману "Secret Passion - Кэрол Мортимер" отсутствуют

Ваше имя


Введите сумму чисел с картинки