Will Callie learn the rules of the game or will Tariq take all?
Go or lose her job. Callie Baxter has no choice, but then does her heart have a choice when forced to face her nemeses, the man she blames for her father’s death and whom she is determined to destroy. The man, who also tugs at her heartstrings. Her mind says one thing, her body another.
Home for Sheikh Tariq bin Ahmed al Sulamein is La Isla Perfumada, an island paradise his family have ruled for 800 years. Callie’s public tirade via her newspaper column is threatening to tear all he holds dear.
For Tariq, facing Callie is a fatal error. She is the one woman who could change his future, force him from his protective world, and make him place his needs above those of his country. But Tariq is determined to control the game and play it his way, and not lose his country, or his heart.
But is there really any choice when the heart is involved? Can paradise seduce estranged hearts?
They say you don’t know when your life changes. Callie Baxter knew. Exactly. It was right now. Right here.
Because of him. The man across the room. The man with eyes the color of purest sapphires and hair as black as a moonless night.
There had been an awareness of someone seeking her out, a presence that flared from him to her the moment their eyes locked.
Just one darkly challenging stare from him and Callie’s nerves fluttered alive, her belly doing somersaults with a heady tension of excitement...and fear.
Fear, because she’d never felt like this. Never allowed herself to.
Everything about him bespoke exclusivity. From the finest fabric of the obviously designer suit that molded his broad shoulders, to the onyx and gold-rimmed cufflinks glinting under the arc of light from the chandeliers above.
An implacable aura of authority emanated from this stranger. All power and autocratic masculinity, a man who knew what he wanted.
Unable to keep from returning his gaze, Callie swallowed hard. One wary shiver after another chased down her spine and her instincts knotted and screamed leave now.
Saturday nights were nights where she was happy with a good book. Sad, but true. She should have stayed home.
Instead she sequestered herself in the corner of the up-market art gallery, observing the stranger—her stranger, she’d so quickly named him—as he deftly thwarted attempts by gallery patrons to engage him in conversation. His stony expression brooked no intrusion, no hint at humor. Simply disdain. This man wanted to do battle. And his attention focused solely on her.
Callie dragged her gaze away and scanned the crowd with one intention in mind. Escape. She needed to.
All she had to do was turn and walk away.
Fool. Already it was too late.
With the agility and sleekness of a panther ready to pounce, her stranger sidestepped guests and moved towards her. Callie's throat closed over. She prayed she was wrong, fanciful even, but as the hairs on the nape of her neck stiffened with every step that brought him closer, she knew her time was up.
She choked for breath, witnessing the suspicion laid bare in his arrogant gaze. A burgeoning flame stroked her fear second by second. Who was he? And why did he affect her so?
This shouldn't be happening. She didn't want it to. Yet her body betrayed her, while her mind questioned futilely. Callie prided herself on her poise, outwardly frustrating would-be admirers, but this man was different. She knew it. Instinctively. He wore his power blatantly. A power she doubted she could deflect.
He spelt danger.
And still closer he came.
She had a fleeting hint of recognition, though it disappeared before it even had time to register.
Time was up.
"You waited for me. I hoped you would," he said.
Callie’s jaw dropped, as his voice rippled over her, catching her by surprise in one singularly sensual wave.