Flat broke and desperate, Kate Hartley runs to her ex-husband for help. However, his help comes with a high price. One she can’t refuse.
The morning after a high society party finds Kate Hartley in her ex-husband’s bed. Just a stupid mistake; something to put behind her… Until she discovers that she is pregnant.
Mack had never wanted children; had only married her in a rush of lust. Kate knows this. Nothing would drive her to ask anything of him. Nothing. But she’s homeless and flat broke. And it isn’t only her welfare now.
However, Mack has his own agenda. Kate had fooled him once; married him for his money. Whored herself… It was why he had divorced her. But now his grandfather has threatened his mother’s home if Mack doesn’t marry and produce an heir.
He had vowed never to marry again. But Kate Hartley is his only choice.
And pay back can be sweet…
(c)2006 Kim Rees
“Note to self. Don’t drink vodka. Again. Ever.”
Kate rubbed at sticky eyes and dragged at her face with tight fingers. Her head pounded. She stared up at the white ceiling.
Something was wrong. She blinked. It was silly, ridiculous, but the ceiling seemed to be a lot further away. Her bedroom ceiling was low, had a damp patch and swirly patterns. Definitely not high and edged with intricate geometric moulding.
“Okay, still dreaming.”
Her hazy mind happy, she yawned, stretching her spine against the smoothness of the sheets. And froze. Sensation bombarded her. The light scent of lavender. A mattress that didn’t squeal and squeak with every movement. The soft weight of blankets, when she had a heavy duvet, and a sleek warmth to the sheets that caressed her very naked skin. Naked. She didn’t sleep naked. Couldn’t. It was too cold, what with the old heating.
Kate pulled in her scattering thoughts. Her heart hammered, eclipsing the pounding in her head. She remembered to breathe. “All right. Don’t panic.” She tried not to hear the fear in her own voice. “I’m in a strange bed and I’m naked. That doesn’t necessarily mean—”
Her attention shot to her right as the mattress shifted. Rich, woolen blankets slipped. Horror tightened her already nervous stomach and blood rushed into her face. A man’s tousled, sandy hair. Her gaze snapped away and fixed on the high ceiling. She had to get—
More movement. A heavy arm fell across her and Kate’s teeth dug at her lip, biting back the yelp. Too late. Too late to make an anonymous escape.
Her hands clenched. Maybe if she eased out of the bed, let that warm, strong arm slip, slide over her body…
Kate gasped. Memories of a touch, the fiery stroke of impatient fingers, a mouth sliding hot and wet over her skin. Arching under the weight of another body. The ecstasy of skin against skin. Oh God. She had…
With a complete stranger.
Her mind shot into the present. The stranger shifted. A large, warm hand splayed over her stomach and those clever fingers started to move. A gentle, almost sleepy caress sparked flickers of fire under her skin. How? This didn’t happen to her. Hadn’t since…him.
Kate closed her eyes, not wanting to deny the curl of heat low in her belly. Only Mack had ever made her skin burn. “Not him. Not now.” Finally, after years of misery, she could put the pain of that man behind her.
Even muffled by the blankets, the soft, deep voice made her toes curl. That and what his equally clever mouth—
“Nothing,” Kate gasped.
Kate became lost in her own rapid breathing. An involuntary little squeal escaped her. But then— “Don’t stop. Oh God, please, don’t stop.”
Blankets ripped back with a string of expletives. His eyes. Their burning anger slashed across her face and Kate flinched against it. All desire shriveled. Something sick lurched in her stomach. Not a stranger. Kate’s eyes crushed shut, blocking out the cold hatred in his dark brown gaze. She fought back the sting of tears, her hands covering her scalding face. “No!”
It was almost a wail.
Cold air washed over her skin. He snatched up the top sheet and Kate made a sudden scramble for anything to cover her nakedness.
“What a pleasant surprise to see you too, Kate.”
Her hangover burst back. She groaned. Unthinking, she stared at his naked torso, delaying on his arms. His smooth brown skin, still with beautifully sharp muscle definition. She had always loved—
No, not going there. This man had torn out her heart and stamped on it. “What the hell are you doing in my bed?” Good. Anger. Much better than the other feeling.
“Your bed?” He was on his feet, fingers bunching the white sheet around his waist. His hard glare swept over the clean, pale walls and then fixed on her. Steel bands contracted around her chest at the derision she found there. “Since when could you afford a room like this?” His voice grated and dark eyes narrowed. “Did you do this hoping for a handout?”
The blood burned in her face. Money. It always came back to money with Sean Mackenzie. A wife was only a drain. It was why she hadn’t taken a penny from him when they divorced. Her arms tightened convulsively around the blanket covering her breasts. Not a penny. “You haven’t changed, Mack.”
“Where you’re concerned? No. Never. Now get out.”
“Then turn around.”
A bark of harsh laughter made her jump. “You have nothing I want to see.”
“That wasn’t the impression you just gave.”
He smirked, and the callous glitter sharpened his eyes. “A naked woman in my bed? Offering herself?” Mack’s voice was a caress and Kate fought the shiver rippling over her skin. Fought and lost. “What’s a man to do?”
He could never resist. No, not going to that memory she had of Angela.
“Yes. I see.”
Kate pulled in her courage and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Her toes dug into the deep softness of the rug. Mack’s gaze prickled over her as she shuffled across the room. Clothes, underwear, both hers and his, were flung around the room. Her face reddened. Awkwardly, she pulled on her underwear, shrugged into her crumpled dress and tried desperately to keep as much of her body covered with the light blanket.
Mack, relaxing on the bed, his long, lean body barely covered by that white sheet, a cruel smile cutting his mouth, was obviously enjoying her struggle. “How was it for you, Kate?”
She watched her hands rub down the creases of her silver, sheath dress, preparing her face for the lie. “Not very memorable, Mack.” She looked up and gave him a sharp smile. “Sorry.”
“So you didn’t scream my name?” He picked at a piece of fluff on the sheet.
“Beg me to take you again?” An eyebrow rose. “And again?” His smile was to himself. “Maybe your acting is worth payment. My wallet’s on the dresser. Take what’s there.”
Kate stared. Fury had her shaking. For one moment, she’d thought he was another man, one who had broken Mack’s spell over her body. But no. Stupidly, she’d had sex with Sean Mackenzie. And he hadn’t changed. “No,” she grated. “And it’ll be a cold day in hell before I touch it, or you, ever again.”
Hot, angry tears blurred her eyes as she ran from his hotel room.