Immersion magnetic desir.., p.1
Immersion (Magnetic Desires), page 1
Copyright © 2015 by Misti Murphy
Edited by PageCurl
Cover Design by Double J Graphics
This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity to real events, people, or places is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without the permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations used for review. If you have not purchased this book from Amazon or received a copy from the author, you are reading a pirated book.
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About this book
Leo Barclay plans on having a fling, okay lots of flings. He does not plan on falling down on his knees in front of the first girl he sees and proposing to her. So how the hell does he find himself in that exact position?
Lola Albricht is looking for money, a holiday fling with a pay out. When Leo offers her marriage, she decides he’ll be an easy target. Only he’s stealing her heart in the process. How is she supposed to pay off her boss if she can’t cash out and walk away?
Table of Contents
About This Book
About The Author
To my husband and that damn neon, flashing sign that told me you were the one.
Thank you for supporting me in this crazy journey called life.
I shoved a hand in my pocket and leaned against the bar. "Hey Norah, you still stocking that beer I like?"
"Oh my God, Leo Barclay, is that you?" Norah stood up and dusted herself off. "How long has it been?"
"Three years. I can’t believe you’re still doing this run." Pulling out a stool, I took a seat while she poured beer with an expert hand. Not much had changed since my last voyage on the Queen, including Norah. She still sported the same thick, brunette bob, but there were a few more lines on her tanned face.
"I thought about going back on land, but I feel more grounded on the sea." She pushed the beer in front of me and rested against the wood paneling. "How’s the gallery?"
"Doing well." I cradled the ice-cold pint. "I’m heading down to San Juan to talk to a friend of mine about putting some of his paintings up."
"Oh, good for you." A quick affectionate pat to my forearm reminded me how much she'd helped form the man I was today. "So you’re killing two birds with one stone and taking a holiday as well?"
"Yeah. I thought I’d see what it was like on the other side."
"Well don’t be one of those asshole customers." Passengers filtered in for pre-launch drinks and Norah swatted my shoulder before going back to work.
"Never," I muttered under my breath. I’d spent two years dealing with passengers as the photography manager. Part of the reason I’d walked away when I did was the customers. Of course, the main reason was to open the gallery. I swiveled around and leaned on the bar, scoping out the talent entering the Stag. There were so many women who came on these cruises looking for a little holiday fling, and this time I didn’t have to follow employee procedures.
The passengers milled about, chatting in loud and excited voices as the Stag, which had been empty when I arrived, filled to capacity. Picking a girl to share my time with wouldn't be difficult, but I wasn't sure that one would keep my interest the whole trip. An entire two weeks at sea on a giant cruise ship meant the possibilities were endless. If I wanted to get with fourteen girls in two weeks, it was totally doable. It wasn't like I'd run in to the type of girl who'd put me in my place while on holiday.
Draining my pint, I caught a glimpse of a Grecian goddess covered in diaphanous blue. Her blond hair cascaded down her back, glinting with copper highlights where the light hit it. Damn, she looked good.
She scanned the room, and I followed her gaze, scoping out whether she was on board with friends or a boyfriend. A girl like her had to have a man who’d want to beat the shit out of me for thinking about her the way I was. Rubbing her arm absently, she dropped her gaze to the floor.
First night fun targeted, all I had to do was use a little charm, and my evening looked set. I made my way toward her, side stepping the people milling around. Fully intent on my target, I wasn’t prepared. She pushed her shoulders back as she brought her head up with determination, and her gaze collided with mine. Hazel eyes cycled from gray to vivid sea blue, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the light, or a shifting in her persona, but whatever it was, they slammed into me, scorching a heated path to my heart. Oh, hell no, this wasn't possible. Apparently she had her own type of charm. One look and I was trapped, her gaze somehow bending me to her whim. People didn't fall in love like that. What a weird thought to have.
Colliding with one of the other passengers, I stumbled and tried to right my balance, but couldn’t halt the forward motion. How was I supposed to stop myself from moving when I hadn't realized I was? I landed on my knees right in front of her. Shit!
If I’d been a psychic and known how much trouble this cruise was going to cause me, I would have flown to San Juan instead. Oh, but I would have kicked myself if I had. "Hello."
"Hi." Her lips parted into the sexiest pout I had ever seen, and all the while, her gaze locked with mine intimately. If her eyes were lips, then this would be the hottest damn kiss I’d ever experienced.
"Marry me, gorgeous?"
Wide eyes took up most of her face, the rest covered by one of her slender hands. Funny, I didn’t have the same reaction. If anything, I took it as a sign that she was the one I wanted enough to put all the others behind me. I glanced at my fingers, which instead of trying to stop such crazy words from coming out of my mouth, had searched out her hand. Slim fingers with long painted nails displayed a lack of jewelry I wanted to rectify. A hand like that deserved a big rock, but I wasn’t sure what shape.
She peeled her other hand away from her mouth and scowled at me like I had lost my mind. "No. Could you let go of my hand, please?"
Did she really say no? That would make her the first woman in a long time to turn me down. Okay, I was acting a little crazy, but still, she’d said no and that just didn’t happen. "Are you sure that's the answer you want to go with?"
"My answer is definitely no." Despite my reluctance to let her go, she disentangled her hand from mine.
Asking her to marry me made me look insane, but with her still staring at me, I didn’t know how to extricate myself from the situation. "Um." Damn, this tie was constrictive. Fingers inside my collar, I tugged at the noose and got up. "How about dinner instead?"
She darted glances around the room, and for the first time since she’d captured me with those eyes of hers, I noticed we’d drawn a crowd.
"Right." Heat prickled in my neck as my blood rushed to my face. Gathering my scattered wits, I sidestepped her and raced out of the bar.
What the hell had happened in there? Did I really propose to a complete stranger? Yeah, I had. I traversed the ship to find the smoking area. I’d spent most of my free time in this part of the Queen of The Seas while I’d been working. Shuffling a smoke free from its pack, I held it between my lips while I fished a Zippo from my pocket and lit up. The end flared and I drew in the smoke, centering myself.
That girl wouldn’t be a stranger by the end of the trip. I didn’t know how I knew she was mine, but she was. And the fact she’d said no — I shook my head — that was the final nail in the coffin of my bachelorhood.
If I hadn’t heard the story of how my parents had met, I might have worried I was losing my mind, but my parents had been the picture of a perfect marriage. Dad had joked about how they’d met on a Thursday and married on the Tuesday. For both of them, they had known they were meant to be together as soon as they laid eyes on each other. Mom had a saying for it.
"When you know, you know," I muttered to the ocean below.
His eyes were so blue. I’d never seen anything quite like them. The dark rings around his irises only enhanced how pale a blue they actually were. My reflection had been mirrored in them when he’d asked me to marry him, and I’d almost forgotten why I was here. That would have been a mistake, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, I’d almost found myself saying yes. If I stared in a mirror all day, I would still not see myself as clearly as I did in his gaze. Too much saliva mixed with an inability to breathe had me sputtering while I remembered my surroundings. The other passengers gawked at me after what could only have been an entertaining showdown to any onlooker, but I needed to focus on remembering what Tempest had told me.
Now, what had that been? Oh, right. She’d said you could tell a man’s wealth by their appearance. But apparently, you couldn’t tell a crazy man by his appearance. My legs were shaking as I made my way to the bar and ordered water. The bartender passed me a glass, her brow furrowed a little while she stared at me.
"Do things like that happen often?"
She shook her head, her lips pursed. "I can’t say I’ve seen that particular thing happen before."
"Oh, good." Still shaken up, I plunked down on a stool and sipped my drink.
"He’s not crazy by the way... in case you were thinking you needed to hide in your room the whole trip."
"You know that guy?" I glanced over my shoulder at the entrance to Stag.
"He used to work on the Queen." She moved down the bar.
Condensation made the glass slippery as I turned it in my hands. If I’d had to hole up in my cabin for the whole trip, I wouldn’t have had much luck sticking to the plan. To think I’d been scoping him out as a target until the second he’d asked me to marry him. A quick glance over my shoulder yielded no sign of him, though I wasn't surprised. Not many would hang around after a stunt like that.
All the signs Tempest had told me to watch for had been there. Of course, that didn’t mean he had money lying around, but it was a good starting point. Professional tailoring would be a necessity to get a suit to hug a man that well, and mark free leather-soled shoes had completed his ensemble. Plus, that had been no cheap silk tie. Enough of those had graced the edge of the stage at work for me to be able to tell the difference. His aftershave hadn’t been overbearing either, but a mouth watering concoction of sandalwood, chocolate, and blackcurrant, and the fact he was surprised when I said no made me think he was used to having people say yes to him. That had to be a good indicator of class. I let the flicker of a smile cross my face. The man wanted me and I’d said no.
"Hey," I called out to the woman behind the bar. "The guy—"
"Yeah, him. Do people say no to him often?"
She cackled. "I believe that might have been the first time I've seen it happen."
So he wasn’t the type to take my answer and disappear. Not after I’d presented him a challenge. I let the grin take over my face. When he made another play, and he would, I'd be ready for him. All I had to do was establish whether he had the money I needed or not. If he didn’t, I’d find someone who did, but he’d be a much easier target to take down than anyone else I’d seen on board so far. In two weeks, I’d be free of Brady and starting a new life. The guilt of what I was about to do to the poor schmuck after what I’d gone through for the past six years was something I could live with. Besides, I couldn’t go back without the money. Running had been risky, but to finally be free I was willing to do anything.
I wandered around the gallery studying the pieces on display. Normally, spending my time amongst the art was relaxing, but not today. With my mind on the vision of beauty from yesterday, I couldn't concentrate on the works of art in front of me. Unable to sleep while that first meeting ran over and over in my head, I'd struggled to doze off, and when I finally did, it was to dream of her in my bed, naked and begging me with those eyes of hers. Morning wood had turned into all damn day wood since I couldn't get my mind off her.
The poor girl had been terrified too, which didn’t help, since she would probably hide in her cabin for the rest of the trip in an effort to avoid me. She’d been shaking by the time I’d walked out on her. I didn’t regret asking her to marry me, though I probably should have. I’d come on too hard, and I was surprised she hadn’t run, but stood her ground while she shut me down.
I moved on to the next piece, but again it held no interest for me. Not when I had to work out how I was going to woo the girl and make her mine. I’d never had this issue before, and something stirred deep within me at the thought of having to chase her, but of course, I’d have to find her first.
Having given up on the art for today, I fidgeted with my Zippo and turned to leave the gallery to go for a smoke. She bumped into me, her gaze flying up to mine as she lost her balance. Déjà vu kept me from falling to my knees as I grabbed her around the waist, while she regained her balance.
Her eyes widened and then narrowed. "Oh, it’s you."
"Hello again, sweetheart." I wanted to ask her if she’d changed her mind. Keep it together. Remember the game. "Are you okay?"
"I’m fine." She stepped back, putting a little distance between us, but not so far I had to take my hands away. "You’re not crazy are you?"
Curved, taut hips filled my hands, begging to be squeezed. The energy flowing between us tingled in my palms and wound its way through my entire body.
Only around you. "I’m sorry about yesterday. I had too many drinks." I shrugged, hoping she would believe it. "Let me make it up to you?"
"No, no. That’s quite all right." One step took her out of my reach, and I squeezed and stretched out my fingers in an effort to shake off the physical feel of her.
There was that word again. No. I stepped forward. "I insist."
"Well… I guess." She started to walk, and I stepped into place beside her. "How do you propose to do that?"
Shy eyes glanced up at me from under thick eyelashes and made her seem even more luminous. A jolt went through my ribcage leaving me temporarily unable to speak. "Uh... dinner?"
She paused and turned to face me. "I don’t even know your name."
"It’s Leo." I shoved my hands in my pockets in an effort to keep them off her.
"Leo," she purred. "Like a lion?"
"Yeah." Did she have any idea how much trouble she was in? If I was a lion then she was a gazelle, and I'd run her to ground no matter what it took.
"Wherever you want." In my bed, in the shower, on the goddamn balcony. My imagination raced with images of her wrapped around me in various positions.
"How about The West End?"
"Huh?" Oh, she was talking about dinner. "I’ll meet you there at seven?"
The woman might not realize she was into me, but her body language spoke volumes. A little bounce in her step exaggerated the sway of her hips as she walked away, tossing one last glance at me over her shoulder. Shoving my fingers through my hair, I trailed out behind her. "Game on, sweetheart, game on."
"Game on," I muttered under my breath.
Steeling my spine, I made my way inside the restaurant. He sat at a table near the back of the room, staring out through the picture windows while he waited for me. I clutched my purse a little tighter and headed toward him.
Jumping up, he dragged a chair out from the table. I glanced at the chair and back at him.
"Your chair, sweetheart." He pursed his lips. "I won't bite, much."
"Thanks." Men didn’t pull out chairs, or at least, they didn’t in my experience. I took the seat and placed my purse on the table as he sat back down.
"Did you enjoy your afternoon?" He stretched his long legs out under the table and caught me off guard when his calf brushed against mine.
Electricity jolted up my leg and unfurled in my belly. I snatched my leg out of his way and crossed them under my seat. "I did."
One fist under his chin, he smirked at me and stretched his leg out further. "What did you get up to?"
"I explored the ship. How about you? Propose to any more girls?"
His lips twitched. "I’ve proposed to exactly one girl, and that’s all I’ll ever need to."
"A confirmed bachelor then?"
The server approached before he had a chance to reply, and I scanned the menu while he ordered and then added mine.
He handed our menus to the server and settled back in his seat. "Where were we?"
"You were telling me about how you’re always going to be a bachelor." I tried to squash the grin threatening to take over my face. Flirting with him was part of the job, but it didn’t help I was enjoying it so much.
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