Unlocking the millionair.., p.1

Unlocking the Millionaire's Heart, page 1

 

Unlocking the Millionaire's Heart
 


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Unlocking the Millionaire's Heart


  He’s locked himself away...

  Can Jemma find the key to his heart?

  Working with Jemma Harrison on his novel is the last thing millionaire Nate Thornton wants. After his harrowing experience as a war reporter, Nate prefers to be alone. He certainly doesn’t want Jemma reawakening his desires—or his dreams! But soon Nate can’t deny the light Jemma brings to his life. Could she be the one woman to open his heart again?

  Nate wrapped his fingers around her upper left arm, as if caught up in her narrative, and drew her body to his, causing her fingers to tighten on the printed sheets. She struck his left shoulder, and in an instant, playacting ceased.

  She was hauled against him and kissed with an ardency that scattered every coherent thought in her head. The papers fell from her hand as he released her arm, wrapped his around her and crushed their bodies together. Her fingers gripped his shoulders, then slid across his neck and into his thick, surprisingly soft hair.

  Heat flowed through her veins, his heart pounded against her chest, and hers beat with a similar erratic rhythm. She answered the pressure of his lips with a passion that shook her to her core. Scary. Exhilarating.

  There was no day, no night, only this instance in time. And the low, masculine growl mingling with her soft mews.

  With a harsh gasp, he broke the kiss and rested his cheek on her hair. Fighting for breath, she let her head fall to his shoulder, unable to speak, afraid any words would diminish the moment.

  “Jemma.” Her name had never sounded so special, so ethereal. So unique.

  Dear Reader,

  We all have strengths and weaknesses, and often let pride hold us back from asking for help to overcome the latter. So how does a literary agent solve the problem of having two authors who, alone, may never be published, but whose shared abilities could produce bestsellers?

  Former overseas reporter Nate lives near Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. His high-action novel is well paced, intriguing and highly marketable—apart from the personal interaction between the hero and heroine.

  Trust doesn’t come easily for him. Experience has made him wary of people he doesn’t know, and determined never to be duped by a woman again. So his immediate reaction to being asked to make his manuscript available to Jemma for revision is an absolute no.

  After Jemma is overshadowed by her older, glamorous sister and betrayed by the man she believed loved her, the quiet life is all she needs. Submitting her first finished novel to an accredited editor took courage. Being told her interactive scenes are page-turners but her bland story line won’t hold a reader’s attention was upsetting but still gave her some hope.

  Nate’s home near Katoomba, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, where they have to allow each other access to the precious stories they’ve created while discussing love scenes and emotions, is the perfect place for them to rediscover trust. And love.

  Bella

  UNLOCKING THE MILLIONAIRE’S HEART

  Bella Bucannon

  www.millsandboon.com.au

  BELLA BUCANNON lives in a quiet northern suburb of Adelaide with her soul-mate husband, who loves and supports her in any endeavor. She enjoys walking, dining out and traveling. Bus tours or cruising with days at sea to relax, plot and write are top of her list. Apart from category romance, she also writes very short stories and poems for a local writing group. Bella believes joining RWA and SARA early in her writing journey was a major factor in her achievements.

  Thank you to family, friends and fellow writers whose encouragement and support were invaluable during the highs and lows of this particular writing journey. To my husband, always willing to brainstorm when I’m stuck for a word or idea, always reassuring. To Kim for special insight. To Victoria and Laurie for their advice and guidance.

  Praise for

  Bella Bucannon

  “Bucannon never ceases to amaze readers with

  her romantic tales. She always grants us that special invitation to be swept away and dream about what it would be like if we were being courted by tycoons.”

  —RT Book Reviews on Captivated by the Enigmatic Tycoon

  Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Excerpt from Island Fling to Forever by Sophie Pembroke

  CHAPTER ONE

  NATE THORNTON SHOOK the rain from his hair with vigour before entering the towering central office block in Sydney’s city centre. He’d had to reschedule planned video meetings to make the train trip from Katoomba at Brian Hamilton’s insistence, and he’d been further frustrated by his evasive remarks.

  ‘It has to be Thursday the ninth. I think I’ve found a resolution for your hero and heroine interaction problem. And there’s a publisher who’s interested in seeing a revised copy of your book.’

  Late-night research had shown Brian Hamilton to be one of the best literary agents in Australia. After initial contact he had asked for, and read, Nate’s synopsis and first three chapters, then requested the full manuscript. His brutal honesty on its marketability had convinced Nate he was the contract negotiator he wanted.

  Attempts to rewrite the scenes he’d specified, however, had proved that particular aspect wasn’t his forte. And when he’d been tempted to suggest cutting them out, the feeling in his gut had told him it wasn’t that simple, and to ask if the agent could find a better solution.

  It wasn’t the possibility of income that drove Nate to his computer. Astute investment of an inheritance and a significant part of his earnings while working abroad meant he was financially secure for years. Or, as his brother claimed, ‘filthy rich’—a phrase he detested. Although he envied Sam the satisfaction he’d achieved as a pilot in the air force, currently stationed at Edinburgh, north of Adelaide.

  His compulsion to write had been driven by the need to put the hardships and traumas he’d witnessed as an international reporter where they belonged—in his past. Those harrowing images of man’s inhumanity to man were still in his head, though for the most part he managed to keep them buried.

  There was nothing he could do regarding the way he now viewed life and interacted with new acquaintances. The walls he’d built for his own emotional protection were solid and permanent.

  Frowning at the number of floors all six lifts had to descend before reaching him, he punched the ‘up’ button and tapped his fingers on his thigh. Okay, so he wasn’t so hot on the touchy-feely sentimental stuff. Hell, the rest of his hundred thousand words were damn good, and his target readers weren’t romantic females.

  No disrespect intended.

  The street doors sliding open drew his attention. The woman who came in brushing raindrops from her hair held it. He had a quick impression of black tights, then a flash of blue patterned fabric under a beige raincoat as she unbuttoned and shook it.

  His mind registered long brown hair, a straight nose and red lips above a cute chin—great descriptive characterisation for an author, Thornton—then, as their eyes met, he felt a distinct jolt in his stomach.

 
Dark blue eyes framed by thick lashes stared, then blinked. Her smooth brow furrowed, and she swung away abruptly to study the board on the wall. He huffed in wry amusement at having been dismissed as un-noteworthy—not his usual first reaction from women.

  The lift pinged and he moved aside to allow an exiting couple room. Another quick appraisal of the stationary figure of the woman, and he stepped inside.

  * * *

  Brian’s personal assistant had notified Brian of Nate’s arrival, and in less than the time it took her to hang his damp jacket on a stand in the corner the agent was greeting him with enthusiasm.

  ‘Punctual as always.’ He peered over Nate’s shoulder, as if expecting someone else. ‘Come on in. Coffee?’

  ‘Yes—if it’s going to be rough and take that long.’

  Brian laughed. ‘It all depends on how determined you are to have a successful publication.’

  He followed Nate into the well-appointed corner office, waved at the four comfy leather armchairs round a long low table and went to the coffee machine on a built-in cabinet.

  ‘Strong and black, right?’

  ‘Please.’

  Nate sat and studied the view of nearby commercial buildings: hundreds of glass pane eyes, letting in sunlight while hiding the secrets of the people behind them. He’d need to be a heap of floors higher to get even a smidgeon of a harbour view.

  ‘How was the journey down? Ah, excuse me, Nate.’ Brian walked over to answer the ring from his desk phone, said ‘Thank you, Ella,’ then hung up and went to the door.

  ‘I won’t be a moment, then we can get started. Your coffee should be ready.’

  Spooning sugar into the mug, Nate added extra, figuring he was going to need it. He heard Brian’s muted voice, and a quiet female answer. Distracted by the sounds, he drank too soon, letting out a low curse when the hot brew burnt his tongue. This day wasn’t getting any better.

  ‘Come in—there’s someone I’d like you to meet.’

  A second later he was experiencing the same reaction as he had a few moments ago on the ground floor. The woman who’d caused it stood in the doorway, her stunning eyes wide with surprise. And some other, darker emotion.

  The absence of her raincoat—presumably hanging up with his jacket—revealed a slender form in a hip-length, blue-patterned, long-sleeved garment with no fastening at the front. The black tights drew his gaze to shapely legs and flat black laced shoes.

  This close, he appreciated the smoothness of her lightly tanned skin, the blue of her irises and the perfect shape of her full lips. Not so acceptable was her hesitation and the glance behind her. An action that allowed him to make out the nuances of colour in her hair—shades of his teak table at home.

  One look at his agent’s satisfied expression and his brain slammed into full alert. This young woman seemed more likely to be a problem for his libido than a resolution for his fictional characters’ relationship. What the hell did Brian have in mind?

  * * *

  With Brian urging her in, Jemma Harrison had no choice but to enter the room, pressing the tips of her left-hand fingers into her palm. The man from the lobby seemed no more pleased to see her than she felt about him. Down there, with the length of the foyer between them, his self-assured stance and the arrogant lift of his head had proclaimed his type. One she recognised, classified and avoided.

  She’d dismissed the blip in her pulse as their eyes met, swinging away before her mind could process any of his features. Now, against her will, it memorised deep-set storm-grey eyes with dark lashes, thick, sun streaked brown hair and a stubborn jaw. Attractive in an outdoor, man-of-action way. The tan summer sweater he wore emphasised impressive pecs and broad shoulders. He’d teamed it with black chinos and sneakers, and she knew her socialite sister, Vanessa, would rate him as ‘cool.’

  ‘Jemma, meet Nate Thornton. Nate, Jemma Harrison.’ Brian grinned, as if he’d pulled off an impossible coup.

  Jemma stepped forward as Nate placed his mug on the bench and did the same. His cool eyes gave no indication of his thoughts, and his barely there smile vanished more quickly than it had formed.

  For no fathomable reason her body tensed as he shook her hand, his grip gentle yet showing underlying strength. A man you’d want on your side in any battle. A man whose touch initiated tremors across her skin and heat in the pit of her stomach. A man she hoped lived a long way from her home town.

  ‘Hello, Jemma. From your expression, I assume Brian didn’t tell you I’d be here, so we’re both in the dark.’

  Against her will, she responded to the sound of his voice—firm and confident, deep and strong, with a hint of abrasion. The kind of voice that would stir sensations when whispering romantic phrases in a woman’s ear.

  Oh, heck, now she was thinking like one of her starry-eyed heroines, and feeling bereft as he let go and moved away.

  ‘Brian invited me to come in any time I was in Sydney. He didn’t mention anyone else being here today.’

  ‘I’ll explain once you have a drink,’ Brian said. ‘Coffee, tea or cold?’

  ‘Flat white coffee with sugar, please.’

  She settled into one of the chairs. Nate retrieved his mug and dropped into the one alongside. She was aware of his scrutiny as she scanned the office she’d been too nervous to admire during her first appointment here. It was furnished to give the impression of success with moderation—very apt for the occupant himself.

  Average in appearance, and normally mild-mannered, Brian let his passion surface when speaking of books, of guiding authors on their journey to publication and the joy of sharing their triumphs. In assessment he was never condescending, highlighting the positives before giving honest evaluation of the low points, and offering suggestions for improvement.

  Why had he invited Nate Thornton to join them? She’d bet he had no idea of the romance genre, and wouldn’t appreciate any relevant cover if she held it up in front of his face.

  Brian placed a mug in front of her, sat down with his and smiled—first at her, then towards Nate.

  ‘We have here an agent’s dilemma: two writers with great potential for literary success, both with flaws that prohibit that achievement.’

  Jemma turned her head to meet Nate’s appraising gaze and raised eyebrows and frowned. Why wasn’t he as surprised as she was at this announcement?

  Brian regained her attention and continued.

  ‘Discussions and revision attempts haven’t been successful for either of you. But, as they say in the game, I had a lightbulb moment after Jemma told me she was coming to Sydney.’

  He took a drink before going on, and Jemma’s stomach curled in anticipation—or was it trepidation? She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear any solution which meant involvement with this stranger by her side.

  ‘Nate has a talent for action storytelling—very marketable in any media. Regrettably, the interaction between his hero and heroine is bland and unimaginative.’

  That was hard to believe. Any man as handsome as he would have no trouble finding willing women to date and seduce. She’d seen the macho flare in his eyes when they’d been introduced, and her body’s response had been instinctive.

  ‘Jemma’s characters and their interaction make for riveting reading. But the storyline between the extremely satisfying emotional scenes has little impact and won’t keep pages turning. So, as a trial, I’m proposing we combine your strengths in Nate’s manuscript.’

  * * *

  Nate’s protest drowned out the startled objections coming from the woman on his right. It took supreme effort not to surge to his feet and pace the room—a lifelong habit when agitated or problem solving.

  ‘Oh, come on, Brian. You know the hours and the effort—physical and mental—that I’ve put into that book. I can understand bringing someone else in...could even accept an experienced author...’

&
nbsp; He struggled for words. Huh, so much for being a great writer.

  ‘You expect me to permit an unproven amateur to mess with my manuscript? Her hearts and flowers characters will never fit.’

  ‘Isn’t your “amateur status” the reason you’re here too, Mr Thornton? I doubt you’ve ever held a romance novel, let alone read the blurb on the back.’

  The quiet, pleasant voice from minutes ago now had bite. He swung round to refute her comment, so riled up its intriguing quality barely registered.

  ‘Wrong, Jemma. Every single word of one—from the title on the front cover to the ending of that enlightening two-paragraph description—to win a bet. Can’t say I was impressed.’

  Her chin lifted, her dark blue eyes widened in mock indignation and her lips, which his errant brain was assessing as decidedly kissable, curled at the corners. Her short chuckle had his breath catching in his throat, and his pulse booting up faster than his top-of-the-range computer.

  ‘Let me guess. It was selected by a woman—the one who claimed you wouldn’t make it through the first chapter, let alone to the happy ending.’

  Shoot! His stomach clenched as if he’d been sucker-punched. Baited and played by his sister, Alice, he’d read every page of that badly written, highly sexed paperback to prove a point.

  Brian cut in, so his plans for sibling payback had to be shelved for the future.

  ‘Relax, Nate. Your hero and heroine’s action stories are absorbing and believable. It’s their relationship that won’t be credible to the reader. I’m convinced Jemma can rectify that.’

  ‘You’re asking me to give her access? Let her delete and make changes to suit her reading preferences?’

  No way. Not now. Not ever.

  ‘No.’

  ‘No!’

  Their denials meshed.

  Brian was the one who negated his outburst.

  ‘No one’s suggesting such a drastic measure. To start with I’d like the two of you to have lunch. Get to know each other a little. If you can reach a truce, we could start with a trial collaboration on two or three chapters.’

 
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