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Taken for His Pleasure [Secure eReader]
eBook by Carol Marinelli

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Billionaire Anton Santini needs discreet protection ... but he's not expecting Detective Lydia Holmes! How can this staid, sober policewoman pose as his mistress? Lydia surprises herself when, made over for her new role, she's no longer plain and frumpy. Now she's beautiful, ripe and ready for Anton to pluck her for his pleasure....

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2006

38 Reader Ratings:
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'LUCKY YOU!' Maria shouted, holding the punch bag as Lydia boxed away, repeating the words like some kind of chant as Lydia thumped ever harder.

Lydia's red curls had long since worked their way out of her hair tie, and moved in time as she pounded the punch bag, her pale, slender arms delivering surprisingly strong blows. The rhythmic, vigorous exercise was wonderfully cathartic as, egged on by Maria, Lydia vented some of her anger and frustration.

'Lucky, lucky you! Come on, Lydia. Hit harder!'

'I'm done!' Lydia breathed, shaking her head and resting her gloved hands on her knees. 'And lucky certainly isn't how I'd describe myself, being stuck here for the next few nights—I haven't had a day off for weeks!'

Even though the place was deserted, mindful that someone could be listening, Lydia spoke in low tones as she pulled off her gloves and turned the sink taps on full blast to distort their conversation. She needlessly refilled her water bottle and took a few moments to splash her face.

'What are you moaning about? Being joined at the hip with Anton Santini is my idea of an absolute dream job. Imagine how I feel!' Maria grinned, offering Lydia her own water bottle to fill. 'Being lumbered playing assistant to his female PA! Why couldn't they have given me Anton Santini to guard?'

Lydia held up a long strand of red curls in answer and gave a wry smile. 'I don't somehow think I'd make a very good undercover Italian PA, when the only Italian words I know are the names of pasta!'

'I'd go ginger in a moment if it meant sharing a bedroom with Anton Santini.' Maria giggled. 'I still can't believe they chose you to pass off as his girlfriend!'

If it had been anyone other than Maria saying it Lydia would have thought the comment sounded catty, but Maria was simply speaking the truth—it was unbelievable that she'd been considered the most suitable person to serve as Anton Santini's girlfriend during his whirlwind visit to Australia.

Anton Santini liked his women petite, stylishly groomed and demure.

Lydia was painfully aware that she failed on all three.

Although her body was slender and toned, she stood five feet eight without heels—five feet ten if her mass of red curls was running particularly wild! Lydia wore jeans and T-shirts like a second skin, and as for demure—well, it wasn't exactly a prerequisite for a detective. Sure, she refused to buy into the beer-swilling, coarse language world of some of her colleagues, but she wasn't exactly afraid of expressing an opinion…

'Smile, Lydia! You're a real misery this morning,' Maria observed. 'This is one of the top hotels in Melbourne, we've been given full access to everything, and here you are moaning…' Catching Lydia's frown, Maria looked around and, seeing a yawning man staggering into the massive pool area outside the gymnasium, abruptly ended the conversation.

'Fancy a sauna?' Maria asked, and Lydia was about to shake her head—a sauna was the absolute last thing she fancied at this hour of the morning—but she knew it was the one room in the place where it had been agreed detectives could meet and talk unhindered.

After rolling her eyes in protest, Lydia gave a very sweet, very false smile. 'What a great idea!'

'How's Angelina?' Lydia asked, once they were wrapped in white towels with the door safely closed.

'Efficient.' Maria rolled her eyes. 'And extremely talkative! I can't believe his entire team travels ahead of him to ensure that everything is to his liking!'

'It's just as well that they do,' Lydia pointed out. 'It's thanks to Angelina's efficiency that we're even aware of the security threat.'

'Yeah, but it's not much to go on though,' Maria mused. 'A bunch of flowers sent to his hotel room before his arrival—they could just be from an old girlfriend—'

'I doubt it,' Lydia interrupted. 'Given that on the two previous occasions Santini was sent flowers he was involved in potentially life-threatening incidents! It's a bit of a coincidence, don't you think? Not forgetting all the abusive phone calls Angelina's been fielding. It's right the Feds are taking this seriously. Can you just imagine the negative publicity if something happens to him?'

'I guess.' Maria shrugged. 'It just seems a bit over the top—senior detectives acting as bodyguards. They've even got Kevin behind the bar fixing drinks—it just seems so extreme.'

'If this deal Santini's looking to sign up goes ahead, then it's going to be such a massive boost for tourism. I'm not surprised that all the stops are being pulled out to protect him!'

Cheerfully ladling water onto the coals and upping the already stifling temperature several degrees, Maria, unlike Lydia, was only too happy to veer off the subject of work. 'I love it here,' she rattled on happily. 'We're going to look fabulous by the time this assignment's over—can you feel your pores unclogging?'

'I can feel my hair frizzing,' Lydia replied, sitting down on the bench. Tears were appallingly close, and she wished she could snap out of her morose mood, surprised at how much Maria's 'misery' comment had stung.

Burying her face in the towel for a moment, Lydia closed her eyes and dragged in the stifling air. 'I really wanted the next couple of nights off,' she carefully elaborated. 'I had things to do.'

'What could you possibly have to do?' Maria smiled, her words laced with friendly sarcasm. 'You know that a detective's not supposed to have a life.'

'I just wanted a couple of days to myself.' Lydia gave a defeated shrug. 'You know—listening to music, eating chocolate, feeling sorry for myself…'

Copyright © 2006 by The SAL Marinelli Family Trust.

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