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A shiver runs down my spine at the commanding, deep voice that sounds in my ear. I keep myself still, trying my best not to react considering we’re surrounded by at least a hundred people, but oh, how I want to.
If I could, I’d throw myself into the arms of the man who’s standing far too close to me. He’s demanding to know my name as if I owe him some sort of favor, which I can’t help but find hot.
Irritating, but hot.
“Tell me yours first,” I murmur in return, turning my head in the opposite direction, so it appears I’m not even talking to him. He stands behind me, tall and broad, imposing in his immaculate black suit and crisp white shirt—the silvery tie he wears perfectly knotted at his throat.
He watched me for long, agonizing minutes. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I felt his hungry eyes rake over my body, and for a terrifying moment I wondered if he could see right through me. I shifted the slightest bit, inwardly cursing myself for coming tonight, but I held firm. I refused to react.
I still refuse to react.
“You don’t know who I am?” He sounds amused at the notion, and I’m tempted to walk away without a word. My earlier nerves evaporate, replaced by a steely spine and an even steelier attitude. He’s so confident, so arrogant, I’m sure he believes he has me.
He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with then, does he?
We’re at a local wine- and brewery-tasting, and I’m here representing the bakery my family owns. The one I was recently allowed to take over and run since I’d graduated college. The business they all believe is going to fail. So why not give it to Marina? She can’t screw it up too badly.
Finally I chance a glance at the man behind me, drinking in his thick brown hair tinged with gold, the way it tumbles across his forehead, his twinkling green eyes, the faint smile that curves his full lips. The combination gives him a boyish appearance. It’s a complete illusion because there is nothing boyish about this virile man before me.
“Perhaps you can enlighten me.” I offer a carefree smile and turn to face him, the nerves returning tenfold when he takes a step toward me, invading my personal space. His scent hits me first: clean and subtle, a mixture of soap and just . . . him. No cologne that I can detect.
Rather unusual. Most of the men I know slather themselves in expensive scents all with the purpose of drawing us silly women in. Instead, they end up choking us.
With the exception of this man. I find the uniqueness refreshing.
A slow smile appears, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. “Gage Emerson.” He thrusts his hand toward me. “And you are . . .?”
Not caring in the least that he’s forever changing the landscape of the very place I’ve grown up in. And devastating my family in the process.
“Marina Knight,” I say. God, I sound breathless, and I want to smack myself. I’m not here tonight because of him. I came for other reasons. To promote the family bakery, to mix and mingle with local business owners, many I consider friends. My life in the Napa Valley is all I know.
And this gorgeous man standing in front of me is trying to take what I know away from me for good.
Excerpt from TORN ©2013 by Monica Murphy. All rights reserved.
Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (November 26, 2013)
Marina Knight came to this party for one thing only: to slap Gage Emerson in the face. Poised to snatch up her family’s real estate empire, the sexy tycoon is on the verge of making an enemy for life—even if he can make her melt with a single kiss …
When Gage discovers that the alluring woman before him is the key to his latest acquisition, claiming her as his suddenly doesn’t seem quite so cut-and-dried. To get what he wants, he must get to know the fierce woman willing to face him down—as she steadily steals his heart.
Gage’s persistence and intense passion war with Marina’s determination to protect her family. As they delve deeper into an affair they didn’t see coming, Marina’s torn: Will she lose her heart to Gage—or everything she holds dear?
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