Cover links to Amazon.com
Written by Alexia Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Jeremy Lakewood is not afraid of a challenge. Rising from an impoverished childhood to the upper echelons of the corporate world has allowed him to live up to his vow to support his widowed mother and disabled sister. The one crater in his road to success is Lalita Evans, the one that got away and the only woman who has ever turned his blood to molten lava. She’s not only the woman he can’t forget, but also his boss’s daughter. Sent to Asia with her on business, her father’s warning echoes in his ears - seduce Lalita and his career is over. Will he risk his livelihood and all the success he’s achieved to win the woman who haunts his dreams?
Eight countries in three weeks, a quest to find a birth mother, and a mutual attraction as intense as it is inconvenient leaves both Lalita and Jeremy questioning what they really want in life - love or their careers?
No! It couldn’t be. Not him! Turn around, damn you, so I can see your face.
Although what she’d do if it was him, she had no idea. Run away? Rush over, kiss him till they both exploded and released five years of pent up frustration?
Lalita shook her head but the eerie sensation wouldn’t go away. The feeling of déjà vu she’d had since walking into the ballroom of Claridge’s Hotel intensified. Why did her younger sister have to choose the same venue for her engagement party that their older sister, Jane, used all those years ago? Lalita’s brain balked at any reference to that other evening. Her body, though, came alive at the memory and her heart rate increased.
Dragging in a few calming breaths, she pretended to sip her champagne. Her gaze riveted on the mystery man as he stooped to kiss one of her great-aunts. The frail old dear blushed to the tips of her snow-white hair. It appeared no age was immune to his charisma.
Perhaps he was a distant relative or a business associate she’d met once and that was why he seemed familiar. In general, her father didn’t invite company employees to family functions, preferring to keep his two worlds as separate as possible. But one or two always managed an invitation.
Or maybe he was a friend of her future brother-in-law? However, Lalita had managed to place most of them, fellow lawyers or friends from the elite social group her sister’s husband-to-be occupied. They each fit so neatly into a stereotypical pattern it was almost funny.
This man was different. Although dressed in the requisite black suit, even from a distance he appeared powerful, not caged and domesticated like most of the other men in the room. He prowled around the floor, as though deciding which prey was the tastiest.
Lalita wished he would turn around so she could be certain of his identity. His effect on the girls and women he had spoken to had been obvious. He was tall, well over six feet, and his exquisitely cut suit hugged a lean form. His jet black hair was thick and curly and skimmed his collar. And when he’d bent to kiss her grandmother in her wheelchair, Lalita had been able to admire his other fine assets.
Lalita lifted the champagne flute to her lips again to keep up the pretense she was enjoying the party. Truth was, she rarely drank alcohol these days. That night five years ago could have destroyed her future. If her father had discovered that she wound up in the rear seat of some eager junior manager’s car he never would have trusted her. And her first big break of running one of the far-flung outposts of his company may never have happened. In the five years she’d been away, though, she’d more than proved she was capable and held her position on merit and not nepotism.
“Laly, are you going to hide in the corner all evening? And how on earth did you manage to find a dress the exact same shade as the curtains?”
Lalita turned to find her older sister standing with her arms crossed above her distended belly. Jane’s petite frame was engulfed in a swath of pale green silk. Despite her enlarged waist, she still appeared delicate and almost ethereal.
“Luck, I guess. Taupe is all the rage in the orient.” Lalita hugged Jane tight until she felt a tiny kick from Jane’s stomach.
“Well, only you could carry off that shade. I’d look ghastly. The style suits you, you appear … exotic.”
Lalita glanced down at her sari-inspired dress; the color might be bland but it worked with her skin tone. It also did a good job of concealing her curvy figure, hopefully rendering her invisible to the charming, mysterious man she had been watching. Lalita had fallen for a charmer once, and she couldn’t let it happen again. She couldn’t lose her focus and give her father any reason to doubt she was capable of running his multi-national business.
“It’s so wonderful to see you. You are beautiful, pregnancy really suits you.”
“I look like Tinker Bell, who got herself in a little bit of trouble,” Jane replied with a laugh. “Come on, I’m not going to let you stand here all evening drafting quarterly reports in your head. I thought you’d be excited to talk to people you haven’t seen in ages. It’s almost as if you’ve been in exile.”
“I was in the UK a couple years ago and saw everyone I wanted to see then.” Lalita tried to peer around her sister to spot where the mystery man was now. He seemed to have moved on and she released a long held breath. When her attention returned to her sister, Jane had her hands on her hips.
“Two years ago, you were here for a company board meeting and you attended one small family dinner. One visit in five years is hardly enough. You didn’t even return for my wedding.”
“Jane, please. I’ve told you how sorry I was to miss your special day. It wasn’t my fault the biggest monsoon of the century shut down all air travel. I was at the airport for three days and by the time planes were flying again, you’d already left for your honeymoon.”
“We miss you, Laly. Family gatherings aren’t the same without your dry wit.”
Lalita put her hand out and ran it over her sister’s baby bump. “Glad to know I’m good for something. I miss being part of your and Jessica’s life too. I’m here for two weeks this visit and I promise I’ll be back for Jessica’s wedding. At least she’s not getting married in monsoon season.”
“Well, you can make it up to me now by taking the heat off me. If one more person asks if I’m carrying triplets I’ll kick them in the knee caps.”