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Excerpt: Zoe & The Tormented Tycoon (Zoe’s Lesson in the UK)

‘Impressive,’ she murmured. ‘Do you ever grow tired of the view?’

‘No.’ He spoke so flatly Zoe wondered if she’d said something wrong.

Max moved around the apartment, flicking on a few lamps, bathing the room in a warm glow. Zoe glanced at the austere furnishings: all high-end bachelor pad with sleek leather sofas and uncomfortable-looking chairs made out of chrome, a designer glass coffee table she thought she’d seen featured in a decorating magazine, and a glimpse of a spotlessly stainless steel kitchen that looked to have every gadget and appliance and was clearly never used.

Her heels clicked against the Brazilian cherry wood floor as she came to stand by a window. Actually, Zoe saw, it was a door, made so seamlessly it looked like a window except for a discreet metal handle that led out to a wide terrace.

She heard Max cross the floor, felt him stand behind her. It amazed her how attuned she was to his movements, so that even before he reached out she knew he was going to touch her, was waiting for him to touch her.

He lifted his arm slowly—so slowly—and Zoe tensed, ready for his touch. Yet when it came it still shocked her, the heaviness of his hand on her bare shoulder sending ripples of awareness along her arm and through her body, deep into her belly. Neither of them spoke.

His hand slid along her shoulder, down her arm, as if he were slowly, languorously learning the landscape of her body. His fingers twined with hers as he pulled her around so she was facing him, his eyes dark and fathomless, his face seeming harsh in the yellow light cast from the buildings behind her, a sea of sightless skyscrapers. He moved so her back pressed against the glass and she could feel his heat, the hardness of his chest and thighs.

Her heart hammered with slow, deliberate thuds and her knees actually felt weak. She’d never had such a reaction to a man—to anyone, anything—before. And he hadn’t even kissed her.

Yet he was going to, Zoe knew that, felt it. She wanted him to, and yet she could hardly believe this was happening, that she’d come here, found him. Her nerves leaped to life and she opened her mouth to say—what? Something, preferably something light or clever, to diffuse the intensity of the moment, of him, but before she uttered a word—and she wasn’t even sure she could—she was prevented by his mouth coming down on hers.

His lips were hard, the kiss urgent and even a little angry, as if this moment was all either of them might ever have. His fingers slipped from hers, his hands sliding under her top to cup her breasts, and Zoe gasped at the sudden, intimate touch.

Her senses reeled, her body jerked into an instinctive and powerful response, and she found herself answering him kiss for kiss, the sorrow and despair of the last few weeks overflowing from her soul into this one caress. The intensity of Max’s kiss, as well as her own response, surprised her—this wasn’t even like her. She wasn’t used to feeling this much, had been keeping it at bay these last weeks, maybe forever, and yet—

Yet she couldn’t stop herself from responding, from her hands travelling up Max’s hard, muscled shoulders to his hair—surprisingly soft—pulling him closer, as if she could take him right into her skin, fuse their bodies and melt into one.

It frightened her, this feeling so much. Wanting so much. From somewhere she summoned the strength to pull away—or try to, for she was trapped against the wall of glass. She arched her head back, her hair cascading down her back, so she could look at his face. Colour stained his cheekbones; his eyes were closed, his breathing ragged.

‘In a hurry, are we?’ she finally managed, but if she’d meant to sound light and unaffected, she failed. Her voice came out in little more than a gasp, and her body shook with the aftershocks of emotion.

Excerpt From: ZOE & THE TORMENTED TYCOON by Kate Hewitt
Copyright © 2010 by Kate Hewitt
Permission granted by Harlequin Books S.A. All rights reserved.

January 2008