According to airline tycoon Jackson King, business always triumphed over romance, and babies were best appreciated from afar. That was, until the beautiful stranger with whom he'd shared a mind-blowing tryst revealed he had fathered her baby daughter. If Casey Davis thought she could drop a bombshell like that and just disappear, she didn't know Jackson. For a King would never deny his own flesh and blood. He was determined to have his daughter under his roof...even if it meant marrying a near stranger.
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from Falling for King's Fortune by Maureen Child
"I've been stood up." Jackson King closed his cell phone with a snap. Setting his empty glass down on the lustrously polished bar top, he signaled the bartender, Eddie, an older man with knowing eyes, to fill it again.
"Well," Eddie said, "I think this is a first for you, isn't it? You losing your touch?"
Jackson snorted a laugh and leaned deeper into the cushioned back of the dark red bar stool. Swiveling it a half turn, he glanced over the dimly lit room behind him. The Hotel Franklin, the only five-star hotel between the tiny town of Birkfield and Sacramento, boasted one of the best bars in the state.
It was also conveniently close to the King family airfield where Jackson spent most of his time. He kept a suite in the hotel for those nights when he was too tired to drive home and thought of the elegant bar almost as his office.
"Oh hell no. That's never going to happen. Wasn't a woman who blew me off, Eddie," Jackson said with a grin.
"My cousin Nathan canceled on me. His assistant was driving his car to his mountain place and had problems. Nathan to the rescue."
"Ah." The bartender nodded. "Good to know you're not slipping. Thought maybe it was a sign of the apocalypse or something."
He did have good luck with women, Jackson mused. Or at least, he always had. Soon enough, all of that would be over. He frowned a little at the thought.
"Something wrong?" The bartender asked.
Jackson shot him a look. "Nothing I want to talk about."
"Right. Another drink. Coming right up."
While he waited, Jackson let his gaze slide around the elegantly appointed bar. The room gleamed with a warm glow as discreet lighting reflected off the wood walls and marble floors. The mahogany bar itself curved around the room in a sinuous bend that was nearly artistic. Tall, high-backed red leather stools were pulled up to the bar inviting patrons to sit and stay awhile. Small round tables spotted the floor, each of them boasting flickering candlelight. And the soft, lazy strains of jazz piped in through overhead speakers.
In this bar a man could relax and a lone woman could enjoy a quiet drink without being hassled. At the moment, the place was practically empty. There were two couples at the tables and at the far end of the bar, a woman sat alone, like Jackson. Instinctively, Jackson's gaze fixed on the blond woman and he smiled. She gave him a long, sly look that fired his blood before returning her attention to her martini.
"She's a looker all right," Eddie muttered as he refilled Jackson's glass with his favorite, Irish whiskey.
"The blonde." The bartender risked a quick look himself. "Saw you spot her. She's been sitting over there for an hour, nursing that one drink and acting like she's waiting for someone."
"Yeah?" Jackson took a longer look. Even from a distance there was something about the woman that made his blood start to hum. He began to think that maybe Nathan not showing up was a very good thing.
"Can't imagine anyone standing her up," Eddie said as he moved off to fill another order.
Jackson couldn't either. This was a woman who demanded a man's attention. He watched her long fingers move up and down the stem of her martini glass in slow strokes and his body jerked to attention as strongly as if her hand was moving across his skin.
She looked up and her gaze slammed into his. He couldn't see her eyes from here, but he had a feeling there was a knowing gleam in them. She knew he was watching her. Had probably done the whole stroke-the-crystal thing on purpose to get his attention. Well congratulations, babe, it worked.
Picking up his drink, Jackson casually walked the length of the bar, slipping from lamplight to shadow, his gaze continually fixed on the blonde who watched his approach. As he got closer, he could appreciate the view even more.
She smiled, and a blast of something hot and driving roared up inside him. He hadn't felt anything like that in...well, ever. Instantaneous heat. Even from a distance, she was affecting him in ways he never would have expected. Possibilities opened up in front of him as he closed the distance between them.
She swiveled on the bar stool as he approached and Jackson took that moment to size her up completely. She wasn't very tall, maybe five foot five, but she was wearing sky-high, black-heeled sandals that would give her an extra few inches. Her blond hair was short, cut close to her head, and small gold hoops in her ears twinkled in the light as she tipped her head to look at him. Her sapphire-blue dress had long sleeves, a full, short skirt and a V neck that dipped low enough to showcase breasts that were just the right size.
Her big eyes were blue and focused on him and one corner of her mouth was tipped up in an inviting smile as he stopped beside her.