Millionaire of the Month: Nathan Barrister
Source of Fortune: Hotel Empire
Dominant Personality Trait: Always gets what he wants.
When grumpy, rich and gorgeous Nathan Barrister arrives at the Lake Tahoe lodge, all he can think about is how soon he can leave. His one-month commitment feels like solitary confinement--until a snowstorm traps him with lovely Keira Sanders. Suddenly a thirty-day affair sounds like just the thing to pass the time...if Keira agrees to his no-ties arrangement.
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March 13, 2007
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Excerpt from Thirty Day Affair by Maureen Child
"Hunter," Nathan Barrister muttered as he stared at the mammoth wood-and-stone mansion on the shores of Lake Tahoe, "if you were here right now, I'd kill you for this."
Of course, Hunter Palmer wasn't there and Nathan couldn't kill the man who had once been his first--and best--friend, because he was already dead.
The ice around Nathan's heart thickened a little at the thought, but he used his long years of practice to ignore that tightening twinge. Regrets were a waste of time.
"As big a waste as the next month is going to be." He climbed out of his rental car and stepped into a mound of slush he hadn't even noticed.
With a disgusted sigh, he kicked the dirty snow off the polished toe of his shoe and told himself he should have listened to the clerk at the rental agency. She had tried to tell him that renting a four-wheel-drive car would make more sense than the sports car he preferred.
But who the hell expected snow in March for God's sake?
A wry grin curved his mouth briefly. He should have expected it. He'd grown up back east and should have remembered that snow could hit anytime, anywhere. Especially this high up in the mountains. But he'd spent so much time trying to forget his past, was it really surprising that even the weather had the ability to sneak up on him?
The air was cold and clean, and the sky was so blue it made his eyes ache.A sharp wind whipped through the surrounding pine trees, rustling the needles and sending patches of snow falling to the ground with muffled plops.
Nathan shivered and shrugged deeper into his brown leather jacket. He didn't want to be here at all, let alone for a solid month. He never stayed anywhere for more than a few days at a stretch. And being here made him think about things he hadn't allowed himself to remember in years.
Reluctantly, he headed for the front of the house, leaving his bags in the car for the moment. The crunch of his shoes on the ground was the only sound, as if the world were holding its breath. Great. Fifteen minutes here and his brain was already going off on tangents.
He shouldn't be here. He should still be in Tahiti at his family's hotel, going over the books, settling disputes, looking into expansion. And next month, he'd be in Barbados for a week and then Jamaica. Nathan moved fast, never giving himself a chance to settle. Never risking more than a few days in any one place.
And if there had been any way at all of getting out of this, Nathan would have taken it. God knows, he'd tried to find a loophole in his friend's will. Something that would have allowed him to keep both his own sense of duty in place and his sanity intact. But even the Barrister family lawyers had assured him that the will was sealed nice and tight. Hunter Palmer had made sure that his friends would have no choice but to honor his wishes.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Nathan whis-pered to his long-dead friend. And when the wind rattled the pine trees, damned if it didn't sound like laughter.
"Fine. I'm here. And I'll try to make the whole month," he muttered. Once he'd completed Hunter's last request, he hoped to hell his old friend would stop haunting his nightmares.
A long white envelope with his name scrawled across it was stuck to the heavy wood front door. Nathan took the short flight of snow-dusted wooden steps, stopped on the porch and tore the taped envelope free. Opening it, he found a key dangling from an ornate keychain and a single sheet of paper.
Hi, I'm your housekeeper, Meri. I'm very busy, so I'm not here at the moment, and chances are you won't be seeing me during your stay. But here's the key to the house. The kitchen is stocked and the town of Hunter's Landing is only twenty minutes away if you need anything else. I hope you and the others to follow enjoy your time here.
Without thinking, he crumpled the short note in his right hand and squeezed it hard.