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Hidden Gems [Secure eReader]
eBook by Carrie Alexander

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: A True Gem Concealed! ... "No more bad choices, no more mistakes." High-octane lawyer Marissa Suarez is determined to make that her new personal mantra after drop-kicking her latest manipulative boyfriend to the curb. Why can't she just learn to love the good guys for once--like her best friend (and hottie) Jamie Wilson? When a chance encounter at the airport leaves Marissa in possession of the exotic White Star amulet, she and Jamie are swept under its heady influence ... and give in to their hot fantasies. But someone else is interested in Marissa's charm. Someone who will stop at nothing to regain what was lost.

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Blaze
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2006


17 Reader Ratings:
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1

"I HAVE NOTHING to declare," Marissa Suarez told the customs agent in a voice like broken glass, "except that my boyfriend's a swine."

A snicker rose from the crowded line behind her.

The bored official merely stamped her customs declaration form without looking up. "You can't bring pork products into the country, ma'am."

Marissa squinted. "Oh, don't worry. I left his bacon miles behind."

Paul Beckwith, forthwith known as Cheating Slime, was still in the Cayman Islands hobnobbing with his clients. If he'd missed Marissa it was only because she wasn't there to slather sunscreen on his perfectly trapezoid shoulders and back. But any bunny off the beach could handle that duty. Paul would have no objections. When he hadn't been ditching her for "vital" meetings, he'd been drooling over every pair of bouncing breast implants on Seven Mile beach.

Marissa Suarez was not a woman who put up with that kind of bullshit.

She was, unfortunately, a woman who chose the kind of man who shoveled it.

Every…damn…time.

With a clenched-teeth smile, she took the card from the customs official and tucked it into her passport. She truly had nothing to declare. Returning five days early from a supposedly romantic getaway, she was not only sans boyfriend, but minus the promised toasty tan and post-coital bliss, too.

However, she had acquired a resolution during the flight into JFK: no more bad choices, no more mistakes.

Next time—because, let's face it, she wasn't going to swear off men altogether—she would pick a guy who was the antithesis of the handsome, career-driven charmers she usually went for. Someone sweet, tender, laid-back.

So what if she wasn't sweet, tender or laid-back herself? Opposites were supposed to attract.

New arrivals jostled into the roped-off customs line. A fat woman with a bad sunburn and a floppy hat jarred Marissa's elbow just as she'd twisted to tuck her official papers into the straw bag hanging off her shoulder.

The documents flew from her hand. When she bent to reach for it, the woman beaned her in the head with a bulging carry-on.

Marissa bounced off the cordon and pitched forward in her spike-heeled sandals, falling onto her hands and knees. "Ouch!"

"Let me help," said a deep male voice. The French accent seemed to be authentic, but in Marissa's current state of mind she was prone to doubt the sincerity of the entire male species. "These people have no manners."

The stranger knelt near her suitcase, smoothly offering one hand to help her stand while swooping up the passport with his other. He was dark and slight, with a seriously I'm-too-French-for-razors stubble happening below his gaunt cheekbones. He reeked of tobacco. Smoky sunglasses concealed his eyes, but she sensed he'd evaluated her in one lizard-like blink.

Marissa rose and brushed away the strands of hair that had come free of her ponytail. Her knees stung. "Thank you, but please let me have that," she said, being politely firm as she reached for her passport.

The Frenchman had maneuvered her around so that her back was to the bustling meet-and-greet area. His eyes crawled over her photo ID and return ticket. Marissa steeled herself to deflect a suave compliment on her ebony hair or exotic eyes—she'd heard them all—but he simply handed over the passport without comment.

After a glance past her shoulder, then the faintest twitch of a smile, he melted away into the nattering crowd of arrivals who'd cleared customs. "Good day."

Odd. Marissa snapped the passport shut and pressed it to her breastbone, feeling the way she did when a shadow passed over the sun. She checked her luggage, half expecting that he'd lifted her wallet. But all was intact, including the tagged and processed bag sitting at her feet.

"Outta my way, supermodel," said the fat woman in a Bronx patois that hacksawed through the moment of unease. She trundled by with a large stack of luggage.

"Pardon," Marissa trilled. Thankful that she'd traveled light, she reached for the small suitcase that was packed with little more than damp bikinis, shorts, tanks and a couple of sundresses. The big straw carry-all she'd purchased on the island held a stash of Evian, her wallet and passport, makeup bag, camera, the current issue of French Vogue and five crumpled sheets of stationery from the Grand Cayman Beachcomber.

Paul—Sorry, but I'm leaving. I was annoyed when you abandoned me at the hotel bar, but to ditch
Paul,
Next time you invite a girlfriend on a business trip, don't claim it's a romantic getaway.
Dear Paul,
Clearly, we are not working out. It was a mistake to get involved in the first place, so I'm sure we can agree to pretend that this never hap
Dickhead—I'm so out of here!
Dear Paul—I've booked an earlier flight with my return ticket. First class. Don't worry, I paid the difference myself. Enjoy the rest of your midnight "business" meetings.
Your ex,
Marissa

THE FINAL VERSION of the letter was the one she'd stuck on the mirror in their suite, then removed at the last moment. She was better at face-to-face confrontation. But there'd been no time to wait around for that, and, anyway, he'd deserved to be left in the dark about her sudden departure.

She'd swept the wadded-up notes into her bag so he wouldn't find them, grabbed her swimsuits off the shower curtain rod and hurried to the lobby to catch the late airport shuttle. After making a couple of calls to friends to let them know she was on her way home, she'd turned off her cell phone for the duration of the trip.

Copyright © 2006 by Carrie Antilla.


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