ON SALE DECEMBER 23
His heiress is off-limits… Their attraction is out of control!
Visiting an Austrian ski resort is the first step in Hope Harcourt’s plan to take back her family’s luxury empire. Having the infuriatingly gorgeous security magnate Luca Calvino follow her every move isn’t! Especially when their relationship begins to cross a line…
Protecting Hope from her unscrupulous rivals means doing the one thing Luca has spent a lifetime allowing someone to slip beneath his defences. Having let Hope in, can Luca bear the thought of ever letting his forbidden heiress go?
Hope was unprepared for the sudden press of people around her. She was jostled to the side before Luc could reach her and, tipped off-balance, she landed awkwardly. Suddenly she felt an ice-cold slap across her chest and heard the collective gasp from hundreds of journalists who had caught the moment that someone had knocked iced coffee across her cream cashmere top.
She was still reeling, not just from the spill but the sheer volume of paparazzi, when Luc pulled her against him and tucked her under his arm. He escorted her singlehandedly through the throng and into the foyer of Harcourts.
It was all too much. The flashbulbs, the sticky ice-cold liquid soaking into the fine wool, the heat of Luc’s body and the way he just…protected her. He didn’t stop in the marble foyer, instead pressing them forward, through to the staff-only area and the staff lifts where, thankfully, one had just arrived.
Luca ushered Hope inside the lift and slammed a palm on the buttons to close the doors before she could even speak. She looked up at him, horror, anger, shock and fury all vying for dominance, and cursed. Loud and furiously. Luca watched as she turned to the mirror lining the back of the lift and took in her ruined top.
‘Are you okay?’ he demanded.
She was staring at herself, the obvious damp stain spreading down her chest and across her stomach. Angrily, she pulled the ruined cashmere from her waistband.
‘Hey!’ Luca said, louder, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her around to face him. ‘Are you okay?’
‘No, of course I’m not okay,’ she replied, gesturing to her top.
‘That’s what you’re worried about right now?’ he said, wrestling his anger under control. He reached behind him to pull the stop button on the lift. The lights shifted from bright to a standby glow, casting them both in shadow.
‘No, Luc. What I’m worried about right now is Harcourts. This company means something to me. If I’m to go in there and put my support behind someone other than Simon then I can’t do it looking like I’ve just crawled out of a garbage bin!’
She spun round, turning her back to him, clearly trying, and failing, to get her emotions under control. She shook her head. ‘This company, this business, my family—they all deserve a better CEO than Simon Harcourt.’
In the reflection, he saw how her chest rose and fell with the sheer power of her anger. And then, when she caught his gaze in the mirrored wall, anger morphed into a heat that frayed the edges of his resistance to her. He braced against the way that her hungry gaze flicked down to his jaw and back. He slammed his eyes closed, hoping to sever the intimate connection he felt stirring in him when she looked at him like that.
Get. Your. Head. On. Straight.
He forced himself to think practically about what she needed. Her ruined sweater. Appearance was important to her—not through vanity, he knew, but as a tool.
‘Do you have time to get something from the store?’
‘Not now,’ she replied. ‘The press outside held us up.’
Frustration at the entire situation made his movements harsh and stiff. He flicked the button of his suit jacket and shrugged out of it, dropping it on the floor beside him.
Hope watched him with large round eyes.
‘What are you—’
Her words were cut off when his fingers reached to yank his tie loose, as he drew one silk strip from the other, pulling it from his neck and casting it aside onto his jacket. He angled his head slightly to flick the button at his neck and started on the next when she held up her hands between them.
‘Stop! What are you doing?’
Despite her words, her hungry gaze was locked onto the progress his hands had made, and damn if that didn’t send a thrill straight to his groin. He ignored her and the way his pulse pounded through his veins and his stomach tightened, tugging the shirt from his waistband.
He wished he couldn’t see the naked desire in her gaze dancing through her confusion. It was wrong—inappropriate—and somehow that only turned the screw tightening his arousal. For someone who spent his life watching others, making sure they were safe from harm, the feel of her gaze on him was like a weight, pressing against all the places she was looking. Pressing hard.
‘You need something to wear,’ he said, his voice like gravel, shrugging out of the sleeves and passing his shirt to her.
And, just like that, he felt her attention slam against his entire body. He felt it as she took in the breadth of his chest and shoulders, the musculature of his arms, the flare of surprise at the tattoo that wrapped around his bicep and disappeared beneath the white vest tucked into his suit trousers.
His skin was branded by the heat of her gaze, flames licking across his body burning hotter than he’d experienced before. His blood was thick in his veins, making every part of his body hot and heavy. He wasn’t into self-delusion. He knew what this was. He knew how dangerous it was. And that single thought sliced through the heat connecting him to her.
He pressed the shirt she still hadn’t taken towards her again and Hope blinked.