His for the Taking [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Julie Cohen
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: His mistress--for one night? When New York cabdriver Zoe Drake finds a dark, brooding man on her doorstep, she doesn't know what to think--does he want something, or has Christmas come early this year? Nick Giroux is looking for his long-lost father--not a newfound woman! But as she helps him in his search, there's something about him that makes Zoe let down her ice-cool defenses. The simmering attraction is too much, and for one night only, she's his for the taking... But after a night like that, can Nick ever let her go?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2008
13 Reader Ratings:
HE'D BEEN SITTING here so long his rear end was starting to go numb.
Nick shifted his weight, stretched his legs in their lightweight outdoor trousers, settled his back more comfortably against the tastefully neutral-coloured wall, and then he was motionless again.
There was a clock on the wall down the corridor from him, near the creaky elevators. It ticked in the emptiness, a constant artificial monotony that dragged on Nick's nerves. It wasn't the noise that bothered him. He was used to noise back home: the constant rush of the ocean and the whirr of leaves and the bickering of birds. Those were timeless sounds. But this tick was a precise measurement of time passing. Every second ticking by was another second he had to wait for the mysterious Ms Drake and the answers he'd waited far too long for already.
He glanced at his watch; it was over two hours since he'd spoken with the uniformed concierge in the fancy lobby downstairs.
If Nick hadn't known he was in New York already from the traffic and the blare and the buildings and the stink, he would've known from that guy. Surely nowhere else in the world could someone whose job it was to welcome people to a building be so hostile. As soon as Nick had walked in the building the concierge had been glaring at him.
Nick had ignored it, of course, striding across the marble floor straight to the art deco elevator and punching the up button.
'Can I help you, sir?' The words dripped with condescension, especially the last one.
'No. I know where I'm going.' Nick stared straight ahead at the bronze elevator grille.
'Staying for a while, are you?'
Nick didn't answer. Maybe if he ignored the man he would go away.
No luck. The man's next words came from behind his shoulder.
'That's a very large backpack.'
The large pointer above the elevators crawled slowly down the dial from the tenth floor towards the ground floor.
'What apartment are you visiting? Or are you moving in?'
The sarcasm made him finally turn to face the concierge. Nick was a good half a foot taller than the guy and much broader and he knew for a fact he was radiating anger. The concierge didn't blink an eye.
'Forty-three,' Nick growled. 'I'm looking for Ms Drake.'
That, for some reason, did make the concierge blink. 'Ms Drake?'
Nick was a patient man, but not today. He saw no point in repeating something that had been perfectly clear in the first place. He watched the hand crawl from five to four.
'You won't find Ms Drake,' said the concierge, and there was something in his voice that made Nick look away from the dial and at him again. His thin lips were pursed, his blue eyes practically bugging out of his head. If Nick didn't know better, he'd think the little glaring guy was close to tears.
The elevator dinged. 'I'll wait,' Nick said, pulled the grille aside, and stepped into the elevator.
'You'll be waiting a while,' the concierge said, but Nick pressed the button for the fourth floor and the doors were closing.
Over two hours later, Nick had to admit the concierge had been right. Irritatingly right. Nick rubbed his hand over eyes that felt as if they were full of sand and considered his options.
He could stay in this corridor easily for several days, as far as food and drink were concerned. But unless he used one of his water bottles, he was going to need a break soon. He very much doubted that the concierge would direct him to a restroom in the building, and it would be just his luck if his quarry returned while he was searching Manhattan for a public convenience.
Nick closed his eyes. He wasn't going anywhere. He was sticking it out. He was good at waiting. He'd waited sixteen years for this day, after all.
If only that damned clock would stop ticking.
The elevator dinged and Nick opened his eyes. Without moving from his position on the floor outside apartment forty-three, he turned his head towards the elevator.
If a man stepped out, would Nick even recognise him? Were his memories that clear? What would have changed in sixteen years?
The bronze grille slid open and a woman stepped out into the corridor and headed his way. The feeling in his stomach was, strangely, like both disappointment and relief. He watched her approach.
She was medium height, in her twenties, with blonde hair in a short style tucked behind her ears. Within a split second Nick could tell she wasn't Ms Drake. He didn't know much about Ms Drake, but knew she used heavy, high-quality writing paper, expensively embossed with her return address, which was a corner apartment of one of the most exclusive buildings in the upper west side of Manhattan. Ms Drake did not wear a huge ill-fitting ancient black leather jacket, a black skirt even Nick could tell was out of fashion, and battered running shoes.
Probably a cleaner or a nanny or something. Nick began to look away, but the blonde caught his eye with her own. She nodded a slight greeting, her chin high, her broad mouth unsmiling.
Nick nodded back and shifted his gaze to the tasteful wall across from him. No point antagonising the neighbours' hired help.
'Looks like you could do with a cushion,' she said. Her voice was surprisingly low and throaty.
'I'm okay. It's a lot more comfortable than the top of a mountain,' he replied, and exchanged half a smile with her before dropping his gaze again.
Copyright © 2007 by Julie Cohen.