Title: Something New #2: The Winner Takes It All
Author: Jennifer Dawson
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
For two stubborn people…
Corporate mogul Shane Donovan sees the ultra-cool, collected Cecilia Riley as an ice queen—even if he can’t deny that, on the surface, she’s a work of perfection his body can’t ignore. Forced to spend two weeks in the same house for his sister’s upcoming wedding, Shane senses that deep down Cecilia mirrors his need. And he’s determined to draw her into a sexy game that will melt away her reserve...
Losing is not an option…
Career-driven Cecilia Riley has just enough free time in her schedule to head out of town for her brother’s wedding. But her agenda is thrown for a loop by the presence of Shane. Though his over-confident attitude leaves a lot to be desired, his insanely hot body has kept Cecilia up nights. Unsure what game Shane is playing, Cecilia takes the bait, bent on resisting him at all costs.
Other books in this series
Shane rubbed his gritty eyes in the silent, dark kitchen, illuminated by the screen of his laptop as he sent off another e-mail. Twenty-five more to go.
He glanced at the digital clock on the stainless steel microwave. Five after eleven. He’d been working through his e-mails for the last couple of hours and the list of problems from his battle with the new head of city planning was growing exponentially. He really should be in the office, dealing with the city contract from hell, but he refused to disappoint his sister. It wasn’t her fault she had to get married at the worst time.
He opened an e-mail from his VP of Communications. After the first sentence his eyes blurred and his mind drifted to other things . . . namely Cecilia.
Where had she disappeared to?
She’d gone upstairs after their interlude this afternoon and he hadn’t seen her since. It seemed unlikely she’d avoided him—Cecilia Riley wasn’t the kind of woman who tucked tail and ran at the first sign of a little challenge. So why hadn’t she shown up at dinner?
When Mitch asked Charlotte about her daughter’s whereabouts, the other woman just got a troubled expression on her face and said she didn’t know. Mitch shrugged it off and the conversation moved on.
Shane had wanted to probe but held his tongue. He wasn’t ready to explain his interest to anyone. He’d waited, none too patiently, for one of them to go find her, but neither of them moved from the dinner table and Maddie hadn’t seemed inclined to track down the missing Riley. Didn’t they see something was going on with Cecilia? It was clear as day. But her family seemed unconcerned with her well-being.
It bothered him on some deep level he didn’t quite understand.
When she hadn’t shown up by eight thirty he’d lost patience and texted her, but unlike before, she hadn’t texted him back with one of her sassy remarks. While his phone cheeped, beeped, and rang at a steady clip all night, it had never once been her.
The sleek, gunmetal-gray Mercedes she drove still sat in the driveway and hadn’t moved.
As far as Shane could tell she’d locked herself into her room and hadn’t come out.
The question was: Why?
He pinched the bridge of his nose and squinted, wondering if he was going to need fucking reading glasses soon. He kept meaning to make an eye doctor appointment, or at least tell Penelope to make him one, but he conveniently kept forgetting until he stared at a screen for four hours straight.
It wasn’t that he cared about getting old; he didn’t. But his age reminded him everything else had aged too, and he didn’t know quite what to do with himself. It was like he was still going Mach 10 while the rest of the world had gone into slow motion.
Since his dad had died he’d been working his ass off. From the second he’d received the call about the car crash he’d been in crisis mode, fixing the mountains of problems left behind by two ill-prepared people, taking care of his siblings as his mother focused on Maddie’s recovery and struggled with her grief, paying off debt after debt. He’d barely breathed all those years. Barely thought. He’d just put his head down and bulldozed through every obstacle that came into his path.
Then one day he’d finally looked up and realized he’d done it. He’d saved them all. His mom would never have to work a day in her life. His brothers and sister were grown. And, somehow, after all his years of being a slacker, a fuckup, he’d built a company that employed thousands of people with a bottom line that still staggered him.
Everyone was finally safe. Finally secure. If he died tomorrow they’d be taken care of. He’d made sure what happened before would never happen again.
Only, he couldn’t seem to break out of panic mode. That feeling of being one step from disaster still plagued him.
He frowned, not liking the direction of his thoughts.
He had a company to run, a contract to straighten out, and e-mails to answer. This wasn’t the time to turn introspective. He refocused on the message from his VP, shot off his comments and opened the next e-mail.
Twenty-four to go.
The kitchen door swung open. He expected Mitch or Maddie, but instead it was Cecilia.
She screamed, her hand flying to her chest as she pulled a silky robe tightly around herself. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!”
He grinned. Instantly the vague unease troubling him disappeared. “Sugar, I was here first. You walked in on me, not the other way around.”
She tied the sash around her waist, cinching it far too tight than he thought necessary. “Don’t call me sugar, that’s despicable.”
He chuckled, wondering what she had on under those clothes. “Where have you been hiding all night?”
Her shoulders squared. “I haven’t been hiding, you arrogant ass. If you must know, I fell asleep.”
“And woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I see.” He stretched his legs and watched her with avid interest, wishing for much better light so he could see more of her.
“What are you doing?” she asked in a haughty tone, taking another couple of steps into the kitchen.
He waved at the computer. “Answering e-mails.”
“Oh,” she said, tugging the lapels of the robe closer together. “Don’t let me disturb you. I just came for some water.”
He gestured toward the cabinets. “Third door on the left.”
She moved across the floor with the practiced, studied grace of a rich girl.
Coming from a humble background, he’d never thought that was something he’d be attracted to, but she made it work. He’d bet dollars to doughnuts she’d taken years of ballet.
She reached for a glass, her back arching, her calves flexing as she stood on tiptoes to grab what she wanted. The moonlight streamed in from the window, casting her in its glow, and his breath caught. In the pale light her face was still soft from sleep, her hair rumpled, and she lost all that polish.
Goddamn, she was beautiful. His cock stirred. It was more than her face; there was something about her, something that reached inside of him and squeezed.
One day in her presence had rid him of all his delusions that he could keep her at arm’s length. She was a mystery that had gotten under his skin and now he had to figure her out.
He wanted her and intended to have her.
She moved to the fridge and filled her water from the automatic dispenser before lifting it to her lips and taking a long drink. The delicate cords of her neck worked and he remembered earlier this afternoon when her pulse had hammered under his thumb, belying her cool nature.
When she was done, she turned and looked at him, one hip cocked. “You’re staring.”
He’d thought a lot about his strategy with her, and in the end, he’d decided brutal honesty would be most effective. He shrugged. “You’re a gorgeous woman, of course I’m staring.”
Her brow furrowed, as though the statement perplexed her. “Even though you don’t like me?”
He flipped the lid of his laptop down. “Maybe I misspoke earlier. I don’t know you well enough to like or not like you. I think you work damn hard to keep yourself at a distance, and until now, it’s worked.”
She glanced at his computer, then took another sip of her water and placed the glass on the newly installed granite.
“Don’t you need to get to your e-mail?”
He gave her a slow, easy once-over. Gaze skimming down her body, over the swell of her breasts and curve of her hips covered in powder-blue silk. “What are you wearing under that robe?”
She laughed, shocking him. It was full and throaty, matching that porn-star mouth of hers. The sound vibrated straight to his balls, sending a jolt of powerful lust through him. “As if I’m going to tell you.”
He knew a challenge when he heard one. “You don’t have to tell me. I can come over there and find out.”
She tilted her head to one side, her expression speculative. “What exactly is your game here, Shane?”
He liked the sound of his name on her lips. Liked the way she didn’t skirt around the issue even better. “My plan is to take you to bed. It’s just a matter of when.”
She straightened for a fraction of a second before relaxing back against the counter. “Isn’t that a bit presumptuous?”
“Hell, it’s a lot presumptuous,” he said, meeting her eyes in the eerie moonlit glow. “But it doesn’t make it any less true.”
“You’re very crass,” she said, still looking completely unruffled.
It was an act, he was sure of it. He didn’t know exactly what lurked under that cool exterior, but he knew she wasn’t unaffected. If he touched her, she’d be hot. Ready.
As easy and casual as she, he smiled. “If I was being crass I’d say, ‘I’m going to fuck you’ and call it a day.”
She sucked in her breath, just a quick little intake. “The words don’t matter much, but the fact that you act like I don’t have a say, does.”
He took a step around the table.
Her gaze darted to the kitchen door before shifting back to him.
He stopped, giving her a chance to run, not the least bit surprised when she didn’t.
They were alike that way, unable to resist a dare.
He advanced. “You have a say. You asked me my plan and I told you. What you do with the information is your choice.” When he reached her, he put his hands on either side of the counter, trapping her.
She looked up at him with those storm-blue eyes. “I don’t recall giving you permission.”
He laughed. “I’m more an ask-for-forgiveness-not-permission type of guy.”
She swallowed hard but said nothing.
Kensington Zebra © 2014 Jennifer Dawson
Jennifer Dawson grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a degree in psychology. She met her husband at the public library while they were studying. To this day she still maintains she was NOT checking him out. Now, over twenty years later, they’re married and living in a suburb right outside of Chicago with two awesome kids and a crazy dog.
Despite going through a light FM, poem writing phase in high school, Jennifer never grew up wanting to be a writer (she had more practical aspirations of being an international super spy). Then one day, suffering from boredom and disgruntled with a book she’d been reading, she decided to put pen to paper. The rest, as they say, is history.
These days Jennifer can be found sitting behind her computer, writing her next novel, chasing after her kids, keeping an ever watchful eye on her ever growing to-do list, and NOT checking out her husband.