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‘You’re not the only one who can read people, you know.’
‘You can read me?’ Chase leaned forward, his eyes glinting in the candlelight.
She saw the golden-brown stubble on his jaw, could almost feel its sandpaper roughness under her fingers. She breathed in the scent of him: part musk, part sun, pure male.
‘What am I thinking now?’ he asked—a steely, softly worded challenge.
Millie didn’t dare answer.
She knew what she was thinking. She was thinking about taking that hard jaw between her hands and angling her lips over his. His lips would be soft but firm, commanding and drawing deep from her. And she would give—she would surrender that long-held part of herself in just one kiss. She knew it—felt it bone-deep. Soul-deep. Which was ridiculous, because she barely knew this man. Yet in the space of an hour or two he’d drawn more from her than anyone had since her husband’s death, or even before. He’d seen more, glimpsed her sadness and subterfuge as no one else could or had. No one had seen through her smoke and mirrors. No one but Chase.
And he was a stranger.
A stranger who could kiss her quite senseless.
About the Author
KATE HEWITT discovered her first Mills & Boon® romance on a trip to England when she was thirteen, and she’s continued to read them ever since. She wrote her first story at the age of five, simply because her older brother had written one and she thought she could do it too. That story was one sentence long—fortunately they’ve become a bit more detailed as she’s grown older. She has written plays, short stories and magazine serials for many years, but writing romance remains her first love. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, travelling and learning to knit.
After marrying the man of her dreams—her older brother’s childhood friend—she lived in England for six years, and now resides in Connecticut with her husband, her three young children, and the possibility of one day getting a dog.
Kate loves to hear from readers—you can contact her through her website: www.kate-hewitt.com
Recent titles by the same author:
THE HUSBAND SHE NEVER KNEW
THE DARKEST OF SECRETS KHOLODOV’S LAST MISTRESS MR AND MISCHIEF (The Powerful and the Pure)
Did you know these are also available as eBooks? Visit www.millsandboon.co.uk
Veil of Paradise
WAS she ever going to start painting?
The woman had been sitting and staring at the blank canvas for the better part of an hour. Chase Bryant had been watching her, nursing his drink at the ocean-side bar and wondering if she’d ever actually put brush to paper, or canvas, as the case might be.
She was fussy; he could see that straight off. She was in a luxury resort on a remote island in the Caribbean, and her tan capris had knife-edge pleats. Her pale-blue polo shirt looked like she’d ironed it an hour ago. He wondered what she did to relax. If she relaxed. Considering her attitude in their current location, he doubted it.
Still, there was something intriguing about the determined if rather stiff set of her shoulders, the compressed line of her mouth. She wasn’t particularly pretty—well, not his kind of pretty anyway, which he fully admitted was lush, curvy blondes. This woman was tall, just a few inches under his own six feet, and angular. He could see the jut of her collarbone, the sharp points of her elbows. She had a narrow face, a forbidding expression, and even her hairstyle was severe, a blunt bob of near black that looked like she trimmed it with nail scissors every week. Its razor-straight edge swung by the strong line of her jaw as she moved.
He’d been watching her since she arrived, her canvas and paints under one arm. She’d set her stuff up on the beach a little way off from the bar, close enough so he could watch her while he sipped his sparkling water. No beers for him on this trip, unfortunately.
She’d been very meticulous about it all, arranging the collapsible easel, the box of paints, the little three-legged stool. Moving everything around until it was all just so, and she was on a beach. In the Caribbean. She looked like she was about to teach an evening art class for over-sixties.
Still he waited. He wondered if she was any good. She had a gorgeous view to paint—the aquamarine sea, a stretch of spun-sugar sand. There weren’t even many people to block the view; the resort wasn’t just luxurious, it was elite and discreet. He should know. His family owned it. And right now he needed discreet.
She finished arranging everything and sat on the stool, staring out to the sea, her posture perfect, back ramrod-straight. For half an hour. It would have been boring except that he could see her face, and how emotions flickered across it like shadows on water. He couldn’t exactly decipher what the emotions were, but she clearly wasn’t thinking happy thoughts.
The sun had begun its languorous descent towards the sea, and he decided she must be waiting for the sunset. They were spectacular here; he’d seen three of them already. He liked watching the sun set, felt there was something poetic and apt about all that intense beauty over in an instant. He watched now as the sun slipped lower, its long rays causing the placid surface of the sea to shimmer with a thousand lights, the sky ablaze with myriad streaks of colour, everything from magenta to turquoise to gold.
And still she just sat there.
For the first time Chase felt an actual flicker of annoyance. She’d dragged everything out here; obviously she’d intended to paint something. So why wasn’t she doing it? Was she afraid? More likely a perfectionist. And, damn it, he knew now that life was too short to wait for the perfect moment, or even an OK moment. Sometimes you just had to wade into the mire and do it. Live while you could.
Pushing away his drink, he rose from his stool and headed over to Miss Fussy.
Millie did not enjoy feeling like a fool. And it felt foolish and, worse, pathetic, sitting here on a gorgeous beach staring at a blank canvas when she’d obviously come to paint.
She just didn’t want to any more.