A temptation too far...
The only way Luc MacAllister can get his hands on his inheritance is to spend six months on a Pacific island with his stepfather's alleged mistress. Joanna Forman could tempt a saint, but if Luc wants to keep his sanity, and his secrets, he should keep her at arm's length.
Taking her inheritance would confirm Luc's belief that she's a gold digger, but turning it down would cost Joanna everything. So she must stand toe-to-toe with the powerful tycoon and hope that until the end of the long, hot summer she can fight the attraction that burns between them....
Plus a Robyn Donald reader-favorite story: The Billionaire's Passion
Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
As a child books took Robyn Donald to places far away from her village in Northland, New Zealand. Then, as well as becoming a teacher, marrying and raising two children, she discovered romances and read them voraciously. So much she decided to write one. When her first book was accepted by Harlequin she felt she’d arrived home. Robyn still lives in Northland, using the landscape as a setting for her work. Her life is enriched by friends she’s made among writers and readers.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :
In a voice that iced through the solicitor's office, Luc MacAllister said, 'Perhaps you can explain why my stepfather insisted on this final condition.'
Bruce Keller resisted the urge to move uncomfortably in his chair. He'd warned Tom Henderson of the possible repercussions of his outrageous will, but his old friend had said with some satisfaction, 'It's time Luc learned that life can mean dealing with situations you can't control.'
In his forty years of discussing wills with bereaved families Bruce had occasionally been shocked, but he'd never felt threatened before. The familiar sound of the traffic in the street of the small New Zealand town faded as he met the hard grey eyes of Tom's stepson.
He squared his shoulders, warning himself to cool it. MacAllister's formidable self-possession was a legend. 'Tom didn't confide in me,' he said steadily.
The man on the other side of the desk looked down at the copy of the will before him. 'So he refused to give any reason for stipulating that before I attain complete control of Henderson Holdings and the Foundation, I must spend six months in the company of his—of Joanna Forman.'
'He refused to discuss it at all.'
MacAllister quoted from the will. '"Joanna Forman, who has been my companion for the past two years."' His mouth twisted. 'It wasn't like Tom to be so mealy-mouthed. By companion he presumably meant mistress.'
The solicitor felt a momentary pang of pity for the woman. Thanking his stars he was able to be truthful, he said austerely, 'All I know about her is that her aunt was your stepfather's housekeeper on Rotumea Island until she died. Joanna Forman cared for her during the three months before her death.'
'And then stayed on.'
The contempt in Luc's voice angered the solicitor, but he refrained from saying anything more.
Whatever role Joanna Forman had played in Henderson's life, she'd been important to him—so important he'd made sure she'd never want for anything else again, even though he'd known it would infuriate his formidable stepson.
MacAllister's broad shoulders lifted in a shrug that reminded the older man of Luc's mother, an elegant, aristocratic Frenchwoman. Although Bruce had met her only once he'd never forgotten her polished composure and what had seemed like a complete lack of warmth. She couldn't have been more different from Tom, a brash piratical New Zealander who'd grabbed the world by the neck and shaken it, enjoying himself enormously while setting up a worldwide organization in various forms of construction.
Bruce had done his best to convince Tom that this unexpected legacy was going to cause ructions, possibly even cause his will to be contested in court, but his friend had been completely determined.
Anyway, MacAllister had no reason to be so scornful. The solicitor could recall at least two rather public liaisons in his life.
A just man, Bruce accepted that a relationship between a sixty-year-old and a woman almost forty years younger was, to use his youngest granddaughter's terminology, icky. Involuntarily his mouth curved, only to vanish under another cold grey stare.
Luc said crisply, 'I don't find the situation at all amusing.'
In his driest tone, Bruce said, 'I realise this has been a shock to you. I did warn your stepfather.' 'When did he finalise this will?' 'A year ago.'
MacAllister pushed the document away. 'Three years after he had that ischaemic stroke, and a year after this Forman woman moved in.'
'Yes. He took the precaution of having a thorough check—both physical and mental—before he signed it.'
In a clipped voice MacAllister said, 'Of course he did. On your recommendation, I assume.' Without waiting for an answer he went on, 'I won't be contesting the will—not even this final condition.'
The solicitor nodded. 'Sensible of you.'
MacAllister got to his feet, towering over the desk, his arctic gaze never leaving Bruce's face.
Bruce rose also, wondering why the man facing him seemed considerably taller than his height of a few inches over six feet. Presence…
Luc MacAllister had it in spades.
MacAllister's lip curled. 'Presumably this Forman woman will play along with Tom's condition.'
'She'd be extremely stupid not to,' Bruce felt compelled to point out. The other man's intimidating glance made him say bluntly, 'However difficult the situation, both you and she have a lot to gain by sticking to the terms Tom set out.'
In fact, Joanna Forman had the power to deprive Luc MacAllister of something he'd worked for all his adult life—complete control of Tom Henderson's vast empire.
Which was why the younger man's face looked as though it had been carved out of granite.
Once more MacAllister glanced down at the will. 'I assume you tried to persuade Tom not to do this.'
Bruce said crisply, 'He knew exactly what he wanted.'
'And like a good solicitor and an old friend, you've done your best to see that this is watertight.'
Luc didn't expect an answer. He'd get his legal team to go through the will with a fine-tooth comb, but Bruce Keller was a shrewd lawyer and a good one. He didn't expect to be able to challenge it.
He asked, 'Does Joanna Forman know of her good fortune yet?'
'Not yet. Tom insisted I tell her in person. I'm flying to Rotumea in three days.'
Luc reined in his temper. It was unfair to blame the solicitor for not preventing this outrageous condition. His stepfather was not a man to take advice, and once Tom had made up his mind he couldn't be swayed. He'd been a freebooter, his recklessness paying off more often than not until that tiny temporary stroke had messed around with his brain.
Which was the reason, Luc thought grimly, he and Joanna Forman would be forced to live in close proximity for the next six months.
Not only that, at the end of the six months she'd make the decision that would either hand him the reins of Tom's empire, or deprive him of everything he'd fought for these past years.
One thing he had to know. 'Will you tell her that she'll decide who controls Henderson's?'
And watched closely as the solicitor expostulated, 'You know I can't reveal that.'
Luc hid a bleak satisfaction. When required, Bruce Keller could produce a poker face, but Luc was prepared to bet that Tom had stipulated Joanna Forman not be told until it was time for her to make her decision.
Which gave him room to manoeuvre. 'And if her decision is against me, what will happen?'
Keller hesitated, then said, 'That's another thing I can't divulge.'
Well, it had been worth a try. Tom would have organised someone he trusted to take over, and Luc knew who that would be—Tom's nephew.
He'd fought Luc for supremacy in various overt and covert ways, culminating a year previously in his elopement and subsequent marriage to Luc's fiancée. Who just happened to be Tom's goddaughter.
Damn you, Tom.
Jo stood up from the desk and stretched, easing the ache between her shoulder blades. After two years in the tropical Pacific she was accustomed to heat and humidity, but today had left her exhausted.
The last thing she wanted to do was play gooseberry to a pair of honeymooners, but her oldest friend had brought her new husband to stay one night at Ro-tumea's expensive resort so her two favourite people could meet…
And Lindy and she had been best friends since they'd bonded on their first day at school in New Zealand, and it would be lovely to see her again.
Also, she was eager to meet the man who'd generated Lindy's rave reviews during the past year. A nonexistent bank balance had prevented Jo from accepting her friend's request to be maid of honour, and the current recession meant there wasn't much chance of things improving financially for her for a while.
Not that she was going to dim the couple's happiness with any mention of her business worries. But the sooner she got home and made herself ready, the better.
Several hours later she realised she was wishing she'd made an excuse. The evening had started well; Lindy was radiant, her new husband charming and very appropriately besotted, and they'd sipped a champagne toast to the future as the sun dived suddenly beneath the horizon and twilight enfolded the island in a purple cloak shot with the silver dazzle of stars.
'You're so lucky,' Lindy had sighed. 'Rotumea has to be the most beautiful place in the world.'
Before she'd had a chance to do more than set down her glass, Jo heard a familiar smooth voice from behind, and the evening immediately lost its gloss.
'Hi, Jo-girl, how're things going?'
Jo froze. Of all the people on the island, Sean was the one she least wanted to see. Only a few days after Tom's death she'd refused his suggestion of an affair. His reaction had left her nauseated and furious.
However, she wasn't going to let his presence spoil the evening for her friends. She turned, wishing she'd chosen to wear something a little less revealing when Sean's gaze immediately dropped to her cleavage.
'Fine, thanks,' she said calmly, trying to convey that she didn't want him there without making it obvious to her companions.
Sean lifted his eyes to give the other two a practised smile. 'Hi. Let me guess—you're the honeymooners Jo's been looking forward to seeing, right? Enjoying your stay in the tropics?'
Seething, Jo wished she'd had the sense to realise what sort of man he was before she'd told him about Lindy.
Sure enough, her friend beamed at him. 'Loving everything about it.'
His smile broadened. 'I'm Sean Harvey.' Glancing at J...
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Mills & Boon. État : New. 2013. Paperback. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. N° de réf. du libraire KEX0240543
Description du livre Mills & Boon, 2013. État : New. 2013. Paperback. . . . . . N° de réf. du libraire KEX0240543