The lies were no protection. Not anymore…
Anna Shrewsbury is trapped.
The whims of her sister control her life. She wants to be free…and she thought her brother-in-law had helped her find freedom with his last act. But instead, she seems to be the butt of one of his infamous jokes.She now has a half share in a company she doesn’t want, while her childhood home and her promised sanctuary is bequeathed to a man who hates her. And then there’s the deal. She has to live a week with him. A whole week with Zachary Quinn.For six years, a shield of lies has protected Anna. But in beginning a new life, she must break away from those lies. Be prepared to face Zach’s fury. And his passion…
Warning, this title contains the following: more sexual tension than you can shake a stick at…
(c)2007 Kim Rees
He hadn’t seen her in six years.
Zach winced. That wasn’t exactly true. He had caught glimpses of her, laughing, chatting, but mainly leaving. Yes, mostly he had the memory of Anna Shrewsbury’s back.
If he were sensible, that’s the way he should leave it. Today, however, he didn’t feel sensible. Anger knotted in his gut. He had just buried his partner and friend, Gregory Brabant, and he wasn’t in the mood to be tolerant.
Zach scratched a hand through his hair and watched her take the hand of another concerned mourner; give the same weak, tired smile she had given to every other man.
The knot in his gut twisted tighter.
Had it become so practised now that it was second nature?
He knocked back his whiskey and was striding across the room before he realised. “Where’s Sophia?”
Anna blinked, took a back step. Her hands tightened and her attention fixed on them. “She’s resting. I think the strain of the day is too much for her.”
Her voice was soft, shaky. Zach glared down at her but could only see golden strips of sunlight crossing her shining hair. He shoved his hand into his pocket. He would not touch her. His fingers curled tight. “So she left you here to sort everything.”
“He was more than a brother-in-law to me, Zach.”
Zach. His name on her lips stabbed an old pain through his chest. And that was just stupid. “Of course he was.”
Her head snapped up. Her pale skin had flushed and fire sparked in her dark brown eyes. “He was.” She stared around the room. Zach followed her gaze as it fell on the quietly murmuring mourners, most drinking one of Gregory’s favourite malts. The cinema room was thick with people, interrupting the view of Gregory’s beloved west garden. “I wanted to organise this wake. For…for him.”
She swallowed and the shine of tears coated her eyes.
“You don’t need to perform the act with me, Anna.” He stared at his empty glass, wanting more so the sour burn could mask the fire already scorching his gut. “I’ve seen it too many times this morning. It’s wearing thin.”
“You’re contemptible.” Anna gripped the wet handkerchief in bloodless fingers. “If Gregory hadn’t wanted you here, I’d throw you out, right now!”
“You do indignation so well.”
“Just leave me alone, Zach.”
“No.” He snagged another glass from the long, white-clothed table behind Anna. “I think it’s time I told you what I thought of you.”
“This is hardly the time—”
“This is exactly the time.”
He stared. She had just walked away, disappeared into the short stairwell that led up from the cinema room to the kitchen. Zach cursed under his breath and followed her.
“Anna.” He twisted past the caterers, dumped his glass on a countertop and grabbed at her arm in the hallway. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?”
“I am not having a fight with you in front of Gregory’s friends.” She wrenched her arm free.
“Then we’ll have it here.”
Her chin lifted. “If that’s what you want.”
Tension tightened his neck, his shoulders. What was he doing? He should leave her alone. He didn’t need the scandal of being seen with a woman like her. But this was Anna, even when he hated her all he could see was the soft redness of her mouth. The remembered taste of her seared his tongue and the same old fire burned through his blood.
No. She would finally know what he thought of her. And then he would be finished with the damn woman.
“Here is just fine,” he grated. He tugged the kitchen door shut. His gaze fixed on her. “You’re a leech, Anna Shrewsbury.”
She blinked and was silent.
“No denial? No little playacting to appeal to my better side?”
“You don’t have a better side.” She turned away from him again. “And if that’s all you have to say—”
“No. It isn’t.” He caught her, pinned her against the wall. That soft red mouth trembled and he was so close to covering it with his own. The press of his hips into hers almost made him groan. “I want…” He couldn’t speak.
“What, Zach?” Her dark eyes held his and he could see the need there. Her body was supple, pliant. Her hips moved, shifted tantalisingly against his. He groaned. “But can you afford me?”
The words soured his desire and familiar hatred replaced it. “It always comes down to the money with you.” He stood back from her and had the sudden urge to scrub away her touch. Her scent filled him.
“Yes, it does, doesn’t it?” Anna’s smile was sharp. “But then you don’t expect anything else.” She brushed a hand over the rumpled front of her black shift dress. “I think it would be better if you leave now. You’ve paid your respects.” Her fingers had found her handkerchief again and started to fold and refold it. “Thank you for coming.”
“So you are throwing me out.”
Her dark gaze narrowed on him. “I’m amazed you made it here at all, Zach. That precious business even kept you from his deathbed.”
Zach flinched. “I didn’t—”
“Whatever.” Anna looked grey, tired, and Zach had a twinge of unexpected guilt. Damn it, the woman made him insane. “Just go, Zach.” She disappeared back into the kitchen. “I avoid you for a reason.”
He just caught her fading words.
There was that tightening in his chest again.
Zach ignored it.