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About the author:
Fun, light, happy, inspirational romance books are my focus. My characters may be troubled, but they are never unkind…and they all fundamentally have loving hearts.
What inspired you to write your book?
Well, many years later, I heard my Grams’ voice ringing loudly in my ears and decided to write romance novels…because a person has to have a reason to live!
Here is a short sample from the book:
“She’s what?” Rio roared incredulously into the phone. His late afternoon meeting with business associates had not gone smoothly, and his patience was at an all-time low.
“Sleeping, boss,” Gustav answered, glancing at Anna’s sleeping form on the back seat of the limousine.
“Well, wake her up!” Rio blasted.
“I’ve tried. I slammed the door several times and called out her name, but she hasn’t moved.”
Rio paced the floor in his suite. “Surely you can wake a sleeping woman. Give her a shake!”
“I cannot do that, as well you know.”
“Of course you can do it. You have my permission to do so. Forget the normal protocol, Gustav. This woman does not merit the respect you usually extend to my lady friends.”
Indeed, Gustav thought. This one deserves ten times more respect than all the others put together. For the first time in the four years Gustav Albarran had been employed by Vittorio Paez, one of his employer’s lady friends had actually treated him as a human being, and Gustav had taken to Anna Thornelowe, not to mention her mother—but of course, he did not tell his employer that.
“Gustav…what are you doing?” Rio hollered into the phone.
“I’m waiting for you to come down and wake up your date.”
After releasing several oaths, Rio ended the call. Moments later, he stormed out of the hotel lobby. “Really, I don’t know why I employ you,” he said in a steely undertone. “I should fire you for your incompetence.”
Gustav shrugged. “So be it.”
Rio turned thunderous eyes on him. “Has it been so long since you’ve had to wake up a woman, Gustav?”
Gustav smiled. “I have yet to have a date fall asleep on me.”
Rio’s eyes widened. “Don’t push your luck, old man.”
Without ceremony, Rio swung open the limo’s back door, stilling at the sight that met his eyes. Anna—snuggled up in a quilt, her red hair coming out of some fancy hairdo, her lush, raspberry lips enhanced by her paleness—caused unbidden feelings to stir within him. As his libido soared, he vented another oath. It just went to show that even the most barbarous criminals could look innocent in sleep, he thought distastefully. “Anna!” he barked. “Wake up!” When she didn’t move, his temper skyrocketed.
“Boss,” Gustav murmured. “People are looking.”
“Por amor de Deus,” Rio exclaimed. “This is ridiculous!” In a quick move, he got into the limo and closed the door. To calm himself, he took a deep breath, but the scent of flowers caused another stirring of unwanted urges—and a further escalation of his temper. What was the matter with him? It was inconceivable that he could be attracted to the infernal creature! He ran a rough hand through his hair. He had been too long without the company of a woman, that was all.
In a fit of irritation, Rio whipped off Anna’s quilt, but she remained oblivious. How was it possible to sleep so soundly? The thought made him uneasy. Perhaps Anna had some illness. Was she a diabetic? Despite his dislike of the woman, he began to worry. With an impatient hand, he shook her, but all he got was a few mumbles. Panic gripped him. In haste, he pulled out a card from his wallet and punched Anna’s home number into his mobile phone.
“Hello,” a woman answered.
“Am I speaking to Mildred Thornelowe?” Rio asked.
“Mrs Thornelowe, this is Rio Paez speaking. I find myself in an unusual situation. Your daughter is asleep in the limousine, and I cannot wake her. Has she a medical condition?”
The blasted woman laughed.
“Oh dear,” Mildred exclaimed. “What a thing to happen. No, Mr Paez, Anna has no medical problem you need be concerned about. Since she was a child, she’s slept like the dead, especially when she’s tired or stressed. The only trick that has ever worked for me is a cold cloth placed on her forehead.”
Rio breathed a sigh of relief; although he wouldn’t be fully at ease until the impossible woman was awake. “Wait on the phone line, if you will, Mrs Thornelowe. I shall give it a try.” After putting down the phone, he removed a silk handkerchief from his pocket and poured some cold water from the bar fridge onto it. With a hand that he was ashamed to see was shaking, he pressed the cloth to Anna’s forehead. In moments, she groaned and shifted slightly. When emerald eyes met his, Rio got a jolt—caused by relief, he assured himself. Giving Anna a cool look, he said, “You fell asleep.”
Muzzy-headed, Anna sat up. Heavens, Rio looked massive in the confines of the limo. At such close quarters, she couldn’t help but notice his shiny jet-black hair, high cheekbones, severe eyebrows, full lips… Anna squeezed her eyes shut. How could she possibly entertain such thoughts about a man who seemed determined to torment her?
“I only meant to take a cat nap,” she told him.
Rio held out the phone. “Your mother. She may want to know that you’re still alive.”
With a puzzled look, Anna put the phone to her ear. “Mum?”
“Hello, sweetheart. I think you gave Rio Paez quite a fright. He phoned me to see if you had some medical condition.” Her mother chuckled. “I know you won’t be fully awake for a while yet, dear, so I won’t keep you on the phone.”
“All right, Mum. I’ll see you later.” She handed back the phone to Rio.
“Mrs Thornelowe, thank you for your help,” Rio asserted brightly. With a wry twist of his lips, he added, “Is there anything else I should know about your daughter?”
Mildred laughed. “She gets frightfully moody when hungry, Mr Paez, but other than that she’s a fairly standard unit.”
Rio scanned Anna from her face to the tips of her toes—an action that caused her to blush furiously.
“I think you are pulling my leg, Mrs Thornelowe,” Rio declared. “For I cannot believe there is anything standard about this unit.”
What on earth were her mother and Rio Paez talking about, Anna wondered.
“Indeed,” Mildred countered with good humour. “You may be right, Mr Paez. Enjoy your evening.”
Reclining in his seat, Rio stared at his companion. “I was just wondering what I could expect for an encore,” he said.
Still groggy, Anna remained silent.
“Are you resuscitated enough to make your way up to my suite?” he asked, watching as the troublesome woman brushed a few loose tendrils of hair behind her ear. Por Dios! he growled inwardly. She looked like she had just been made love to—her hair tousled, her clothes ruffled, a far-off look in her eyes…
“I’m ready if you are,” Anna answered. Now what was the man’s problem? He looked positively tense.
Walking through Rio’s penthouse suite, Anna found it difficult to fully appreciate the surroundings. Oh, the decor was stunning enough, with chandeliers, gorgeous tile and wood floors, Persian rugs, huge, luxurious sofas and chairs, and fancy artwork, but all she craved was somewhere soft and horizontal to lie down.
After excusing himself, Rio crossed over to one of the suite phones to inform someone that they were ready for dinner; then he escorted Anna to a small round table laid out with a white tablecloth, red linen napkins, crystal glasses, and ornate cutlery. The whole room was decorated with red and white roses. As Rio dimmed the lights, several lit candles became apparent, as did London’s city lights through the room’s ceiling-to-floor windows. Anna smiled. One would almost think they were on a date. Looking across the table, she realized that Rio had dressed up for the occasion. In a dark brown suit the colour of his eyes, a black shirt that highlighted his jet black hair, and a green tie, he was sinfully attractive. Anna felt a swirling of some deep emotion spiral within her. Drat! Tired as she was, she really could have done without her body’s unwanted reaction. She would have to work hard to keep her wits about her if she was going to survive the evening in one piece.
Rio gazed at his companion. How many times had he sat at just such a table with a woman across from him, he wondered. Of course, on previous occasions, it had been sexual tension, not anger, that had kept him on edge. But then, this woman was different from any other woman he had kept company with: she was a viper. Unabashedly, he let his eyes travel from her face to her breasts and back again, enjoying the colour that swept over her high cheekbones. What had been her part in her family’s villainous plans over the years? No doubt she used her looks to seduce unsuspecting men to their downfalls. Feeling his temper rise, Rio quelled such troubling thoughts, for he could not afford to let emotion enter into tonight’s discussion. Famed for his chameleon’s ability to change his emotions, his business tactics—his very persona, if need be—he did so now. Although, in the end, it mattered little how he handled Anna Thornelowe, for he had the woman exactly where he wanted her…whether she knew it or not.