How long could she deny him?
She was the cook's plain-Jane daughter.
He was the estate owner's privileged son. But now Anna's beloved mother and Reynaldo DeLeon's wealthy father were gone, their clandestine affair exposed. And Anna, who'd secretly loved the gorgeous DeLeon heir, suddenly owned a piece of his family's estate. Which Reynaldo wanted back at any cost. He upped his price with every no that came from Anna's lips. Until her lips could refuse him no longer...
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October 09, 2007
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Excerpt from Seduced for the Inheritance by Jennifer Lewis
"What are you doing here?" A commanding voice and a pair of black eyes pierced the evening gloom from inside the tiny cottage.
It was him.
She'd known she'd see Reynaldo De Leon sooner or later--it was his estate, after all--but she'd wanted to be psyched up and dressed for success, not sweaty, disheveled and emotional from a day of sorting through her beloved mother's belongings.
Anna Marcus's fingers tightened around her bag of greasy take-out food.
He stared down at her from his impressive height.A crease appeared between black brows. "Have you come to clean?"
He looked huge in the cramped kitchen, the single dim bulb illuminating his arrogant features, his wide, sensual mouth tilted with disdain. "If you're getting paid by the hour I'll reimburse you for tonight, but you must tell your employer to get in touch with me before any property is removed."
He thinks I'm a cleaner? Did he not recognize her? Suddenly it was all too much to bear. Her gentle mother dead at only forty-eight, with no warning at all, just a late-night phone call about an accident on a Florida interstate--
"Well?" He crossed his arms over his expensive shirt. Tears welled in her eyes. Don't cry now. In the last year she'd survived bankruptcy, divorce and now the loss of the one person in the world she could always count on. She'd made it this far....
The bag in her hand crinkled as she clutched it tighter, biting hard on the inside of her mouth.
"No habla ingles?" He raised a black brow.
"I speak English," she blurted.
"That bag is leaking."
"What?" She followed his gaze to the brown paper bag in her hand. "Oh, it's my dinner."
His hard expression softened. "Go ahead and eat it." He gestured to the Formica-topped table. "No sense letting food go to waste."
Maybe she could play along until he left? Let him think she really was some minimum-wage cleaner. What did it matter? Neither he nor his high-and-mighty father had bothered to come to her mom's funeral, despite the fact that Letty Marcus lived on the estate and cooked all their meals for more than fifteen years. Working stiffs like her and her mom were nobody to these people.
Yes, she had a college degree, and had briefly owned a successful real estate company, but right now she was flat broke, with no place to call home, so his assessment of her wasn't all that wide of the mark.
As she grabbed a plate off the counter and sat at the table, she could feel his eyes on her. Eyes that had haunted her teenage dreams and driven her into frenzies of pathetic hope that one day he'd...
What a joke. She lifted her big Quarter Pounder with cheese out of the bag and plopped it on the plate.
She sat in the chair and picked up the burger, then realized her stomach had shriveled to the size of a peanut. His imperious gaze made her skin prickle. "Are you going to stand there watching me?"
"Of course. I can't leave a stranger unattended on family property. Surely you understand."
A stranger? She wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry or scream.
Just one more insignificant person on a large estate. No one special. He probably hadn't spared a thought for her since the last time they faced each other on the tennis court.
She'd thought about him, though. Far more than she cared to admit.
Dropping the burger on her plate, she rose onto unsteady legs. "I have to go."
Naldo reached into his back pocket and took a twenty-dollar bill from his money clip. "Here. You can come back tomorrow."
After I've found what I'm looking for. "I don't want your money." She kept her head turned away from him. "And I'm not hungry. You can eat it."
Naldo fought a smile at the thought of eating the cleaner's greasy take-out dinner. There was a fresh-boiled lobster waiting for him back at the house.
Not that he had any appetite today.
He looked around for a piece of paper to write his number. If he could put off the cleaner for one more day he'd be fine. He'd find what he was looking for tonight. The cottage was tiny.
The girl hadn't bothered to respond, so he simply scribbled the number on a heart-shaped notepad next to the phone and held it out to her. A bead of sweat balanced like a tiny pearl above her pursed pink mouth.
As she took the pink paper, her soft fingertips brushed his palm, sparking a strange sensation. Her eyes met his, wide and blue, and recognition swept through him like a clap of thunder.
Her chin jerked up.
He stared at her for a moment, not quite able to trust his eyes. How could this skinny, nervous woman be the feisty tomboy he'd once known? "It's been a long time."
"Apparently so." Her pale lips pressed together.
"You look so different." The words flew out before he had time to consider their prudence.