The day she buries her grandfather, Australian grade-school teacher Vania di Bergolo finds he has arranged her marriage to Indian business mogul, Devendra Jain. She’s appalled at the proposition. How could her grandfather barter her to the highest bidder? Despite her aversion to marrying a complete stranger, Vania agrees to the betrothal, but demands the marriage be in name only.
Deven is incensed when he finds out about the arrangement. Vania is a thoroughly modern western woman, and they share nothing in common. He has stayed determinedly single from choice, planning to take a wife from his own people when he is ready. Now, thanks to the secret scheming of two old men, and the sweet, innocent smile of a foreigner, his stubbornly held bachelor existence is set to change dramatically.
“Miss di Bergolo.”
For a moment she didn’t react. A small gust of wind blew and she felt a slight shiver along her skin. She was tempted to ignore the speaker, to pretend she hadn’t heard him, but good manners prevailed and she turned to face him. Vania felt as though her heart performed a complete somersault and she shivered again, feeling for a moment a finger of excitement touch her neck as she took in the compelling stranger she’d seen at her grandfather’s funeral.
"You are Vania di Bergolo?” It was more a statement than a question.
In polite acknowledgement of his Indian nationality, she joined her palms together and touched them to her bowed head, then heart. “Khamaghani.”
“You speak Hindi?” he asked in that language.
“Only a little.” For some reason she didn’t care to examine, she deliberately understated her fluency in a language she had learned from the cradle. The smile she gave him was socially polite. “Have we met?” she asked, pretending ignorance of their earlier encounter.
He inclined his head in a courtly kind of nod. “I’m Devendra Jain.”
Vania savored his name.
In all the times she’d dreamed of him, he’d spoken to her with heated lips and sweet caresses, sharing his body, but never the intimacy of his name. A little frisson ran down her spine, whether from fear or pleasure she wasn’t sure.