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The Girl Nobody Wanted
Stop the Press: Jilted Bride Stranded with a Notorious Playboy!
Anna Constantinides, publicly humiliated when her long-time fiancé announced his engagement to someone else, might have thought things couldn’t get any worse…. Until her private jet crash-landed on an uninhabited island, leaving her stranded with billionaire hotel magnate Leo Jackson.
Renowned playboy Leo’s reputation is legendary, and if the smoldering looks they were fighting to contain when rescued are anything to go by, there can only be one question on everybody’s lips: just how long did it take wickedly sexy Leo to undress buttoned-up heiress Anna?
Read an Excerpt
His shirt was plastered to his chest, delineating every ridge and curve of smooth muscle. She hadn’t been able to tell from the tuxedo last night, but Leo was in spectacular shape. His father had once been a famous footballer, she recalled, and Leo looked as if he’d spent quite a bit of time on the field himself. He had the leanly muscled form of an athlete.
“We need to find shelter,” he said, and a hard knot formed right below her breastbone. They were stranded, alone, with nothing and no one to help them get home again.
“You were able to tell someone what happened, right?” she said. “They’ll be looking for us soon.”
His expression remained flat. “We were out of radio range. I activated the emergency beacon on the plane. They’ll know approximately where we went down, but it may take some time since they won’t be looking for us yet.”
She turned back toward the plane. “If I had my mobile phone…”
“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “There are no cell towers out here. You’d need a satellite phone to make a call.”
“So we’re stuck.”
“For the time being,” he replied, hefting the orange pack onto his shoulder again.
“How long will we be here, Leo?”
He shrugged. “I really don’t know. Which is why we need to find shelter.”
“What about food? Water? How will we survive if we don’t have water?”
He gave her a long look. “We have enough water for a couple of days, if we ration it. Everything’s in this pack.”
Anna blinked. “You have water?”
“It’s an emergency survival kit, darling. There’s a bit of everything. Dried food, matches, fuel, blankets—enough to survive a few days in the wild.”
He turned and started walking toward the other end of the island where she’d seen the copse of trees. Anna scrambled after him. Her feet were bare since she’d lost her shoes in the sea. She felt a momentary pang for the beautiful suede Manolos that were no doubt at the bottom of the Med by now, but it was truly the least of her worries.
Part of the going was rocky, but Anna climbed after Leo and never said a word when the rocks sliced into her feet. She fell behind, but she did not call out. Why should she? He couldn’t disappear. The island was small and she knew where they were headed. But Leo glanced over his shoulder at one point, stopping when she wasn’t right behind him.
He frowned as she approached, his gaze on her feet. “You’ve lost your shoes.”
“They wouldn’t have been much use anyway,” she said. “They were five-inch platforms.”
Her one concession to impracticality.
He closed the distance between them, and then hooked an arm behind her knees and lifted her into his arms before she realized his plan.
“Leo, put me down!”
His face was close to hers. Too close. Oh God. She wanted to tilt her head back, wanted to nuzzle her face into the crook of his neck and breathe in his scent. And then she wanted to lick him.
Heat flashed through her. The hot Mediterranean sun beat down on them from above, but it wasn’t the sun that made her skin prickle or her core melt.
“Once we’re over the rocks,” he said. “I don’t want you cutting your feet.”
“Too late,” she replied.
His coffee eyes were so beautiful as he stared down at her. There was heat in them, and something darker and more intense. Something so elemental it frightened her. “You should have told me sooner.”
“You have the pack,” she said, dropping her gaze. Her heart hammered in her breast. Why did he affect her so much? He was completely, utterly wrong for her. He was the kind of man she should definitely avoid, and yet he thrilled her in ways she’d never expected.
He’s thrilling because he’s dangerous, a voice whispered. Bad boys are always thrilling.
“You barely weigh more than the pack does,” he said. “If it gets too much for me, I’ll put one of you down. Honest.”
He winked on that last, and began striding toward the trees again. Anna clung to him, ashamed, miserable, grateful, and oddly excited. She had to wrap her arms around his neck, had to press her face in close to his. His fingers splayed over her rib cage, dangerously close to her breast, and she held her breath for a long moment.
Would he touch her there? Did she want him to? What would she say if he did?
But they reached a sandy area and he set her down again. She tried not to be disappointed as he strode away. The sand felt good on her feet, warm on top and cool if she dug her toes down. She scrambled after Leo, catching him right as he reached the trees.
It was cooler here, and the ground was flat and somewhat sandy. Leo kept walking until he found a spot he liked, and then he sat the pack down and opened it. Anna watched in amazement as he pulled out a variety of items—a heavy-duty plastic sheeting with grommets, a knife, and rope—before he stood and began to peel the wet shirt from his body.
If she’d thought the navy shirt molded his chest, she’d had no idea what molding meant until he stood there in a wet t-shirt and jeans. But then he yanked the t-shirt off and his chest was bare and tanned. Her gaze dropped, halted in surprise. He had a dragon tattoo low on his abdomen—
Anna gulped. And turned away. Automatically she reached for her pearls, relieved they were still there as her fingers toyed with them.
“Do I make you nervous?” Leo asked from behind her. She could hear the laughter in his voice. Deliberately she turned, dropping her hand away from her neck. Calm, cool.
“Of course not,” she said.
He winked. “Good. Because I’m afraid the jeans are next, darling. Can’t abide wet clothing.”
October 12, 2012