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145556821X (ISBN13: 9781455568215)
A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.
Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.
Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he’s forbidden.
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I kick my way through the piles of mail on the wooden floor, balancing a box in my hands as the door slams shut behind me. The vibrations dislodge two years’ worth of dust from the picture rails in the empty hallway, the fine particles bursting into the dim light before me and finding their way to my nose. I sneeze – once, twice, three times – dropping the box at my feet to rub away the tickle.
‘Damn it,’ I sniff, kicking the box to the side and heading down the hall in search of tissues.
Entering the lounge, I weave through the haphazard boxes in search of the one labelled BATHROOM. I don’t fancy my chances. Boxes piled five high surround me, all waiting to be unpacked. I don’t know where to start.
Circling slowly, I take in my new place – a ground-floor flat in a converted Georgian house on a tree-lined street in west London. The window in the lounge is huge, the ceilings high, the floors original. I wander through to the kitchen, grimacing at the stale smell and the layer of grime on every surface. The place has been empty for two years, and it shows. But it’s nothing a day with a pair of rubber gloves and a bottle of cleaner can’t sort.
Suddenly excited, envisioning how everything will sparkle after I’ve attacked it with a bucket load of detergent, I throw the double doors open into the courtyard garden to let in some air, then head to the master bedroom. It’s a massive space, with a huge en suite and an original ornate fireplace. I smile, backing up into the corridor, and enter the second bedroom, though I have other ideas for this space. I picture my desk beneath the window looking out onto the cute courtyard, and my workbench spanning the back wall scattered with technical drawings and files. It’s mine. All mine.
It’s taken me a year to find the perfect flat in my price range, but I’m finally here. I finally have my own place, as well as my own studio to work from. I always told myself I’d have my own business and my own home by the time I’m thirty. I beat my target by a whole year. And now I have this weekend to make it feel like home.
As if on cue, there’s a bang on the front door. I dash through the flat – my flat – and fling the door open, coming face to face with a bottle of Prosecco being thrust at me.
‘Welcome home!’ Lizzy sings, producing two glasses too.
‘Oh, my God, you’re a saint!’ I lunge forward, seize the goods, and stand aside, welcoming her into my new home. I have the biggest grin on my face.
She beams right back and charges in, her short black hair brushing her chin, her dark eyes gleaming with happiness – happiness for me. ‘First we toast, then we clean.’
I agree as I close the door behind her, following her into the cluttered lounge.
‘Holy shit, Annie!’ she gasps, coming to a stop at the doorway when she spies the mountain of boxes. ‘Where did all this stuff come from?’
I push past her and place the glasses on a box, starting to peel back the foil from the bottle of fizz. ‘Most of it is work stuff,’ I say, popping the cork and starting to pour.
‘How many books and pens does one architect need?’ she asks, pointing to the opposite side of the lounge, where there’s a line of plastic boxes running the length of one wall, all stuffed with various files, textbooks and stationery.
‘Most of the books are from uni. Micky’s stopping by tomorrow with a van to take the stuff I don’t want to the charity shop.’ I hand Lizzy a glass and chink it with mine.
‘Cheers,’ she says, sipping as she gazes around. ‘Where do we start?’
I join her, sipping while looking around at the mess that is my new home. ‘I need to get my bedroom sorted so I have somewhere to sleep. I’ll tackle the rest over the weekend.’
‘Ooh, your boudoir!’ She waggles suggestive eyebrows at me, and I roll my eyes.
‘This is a man-free zone.’ Knocking back another glug of Prosecco, I make tracks to my bedroom. ‘Except for Micky,’ I add, arriving in the huge space, mentally moving my bed, my wardrobes and my dressing table – which have all been dumped in the middle of the room. I hope Lizzy has stretched in preparation to shift all this hefty stuff.
‘Your life is a man-free zone.’
‘I’m too busy with work,’ I point out, smiling a satisfied smile. I love it. My new business has gone from strength to strength. There’s no better feeling than watching the vision in your head come to life, seeing a drawing turn into an actual building. From the age of twelve, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Dad bought me a rabbit for my birthday, and quite unimpressed with the hutch that it came with, I nagged my father into extending it to make better accommodation for my new friend. He laughed and told me to draw what I wanted. So, I did. I’ve never looked back. After two years acing my A levels, four years at Bath University, and seven years working at a commercial firm while powering through my three architect exams, I’m now where I always planned on being. Working for myself. Making people’s dream projects come to life.