USA Today bestselling author Susan Mallery returns to the idyllic setting of her sensual Marcelli sisters trilogy -- California wine country, where love and laughter flow, and where an unlikely couple discovers the one thing their hearts hunger for most: a place to call home.
The rebel of the Marcelli family, Joe never joined his sisters Katie, Francesca, and Brenna in running the winery business. Instead, he chose a life of military service. But now that this handsome, headstrong former Navy SEAL has received a new, undercover assignment -- protecting none other than the commander in chief's daughter -- he finds himself stationed back at the California vineyard he defiantly left behind. First-daughter Darcy Jensen has been placed in hiding at the Marcelli Winery after surviving a kidnapping attempt . . . and now it's Joe's job to keep the fearful, fiery beauty out of harm's way. Begrudgingly, Joe heeds his presidential order -- until "babysitting" Darcy proves to be the greatest pleasure he's ever known. How can Joe protect Darcy from danger, when he's falling dangerously in love? And can Darcy trust that Joe's intentions are true -- when no one else's have ever been?
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April 24, 2006
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Excerpt from The Marcelli Bride by Susan Mallery
If Darcy Jensen had known she was going to be kidnapped, she would have worn better shoes. Or at least more sensible shoes. As it was she'd dressed in black strappy sandals that weren't all that comfortable for walking, let alone being dragged across a parking lot and thrown into the back of a van.
She did her best to resist. Screaming was out of the question because they'd already gagged her. And the resisting part went badly, what with her hands tied behind her back, although she did nail one guy with a decent head butt.
Even as she landed hard on the metal floor of the van, she wondered how it all had happened. She'd been in Ann Taylor checking out the new clothes for fall. She'd told Drew she needed to use the restroom.
Traveling with two Secret Service agents meant rarely using a public restroom. Drew had consulted with the manager of the store, who was all too happy to have the president of the United States' daughter peeing in her private bathroom. Darcy had done her business, washed her hands -- not only because she always did, but also because people checked on things like that when one was in the public eye -- and had started back through the stockroom toward the dressing rooms, where she had a pile of clothes waiting for her.
That's when the men attacked. Four guys in Halloween-type demon masks grabbed her. Before she knew what was happening, they'd slapped tape on her mouth. The hand tying came next, then the dragging.
One of them even remembered to pick up her purse, she thought grimly as she stared at her now-scratched Maxx bag bought on QVC lying next to her on the floor of the van.
The rear doors slammed shut, and the vehicle sped out of the parking lot.
Darcy braced herself as best she could on the ribbed floor as the van bounced, swerved, then turned onto what felt like a main road. Two of her abductors had taken the front seats -- she could see them through the small grille -- while the other two must have had their own transportation. She was alone in the back of the van.
Alone with her purse.
There were no windows, no way to get anyone's attention. And no one to watch her retrieve the panic button that would signal the Secret Service and send them rushing to rescue her.
She inched her way toward the purse, only to have the van take another corner, causing the bag to go sliding out of reach. Two more slip-slides across the dirty metal floor and she was within reaching distance of her purse . . . except for the small problem of her hands tied behind her back. Could she open the zipper with her teeth Probably not with the gag in place.