Danger. Passion. Obsession.
Heir to a worthless title, Christophe Marchand knows the only way to build an empire in the twenty-first century is with single-minded focus and cold, hard pragmatism.
Which means no distractions.
But that's before he lays eyes on Charlotte Duval.
Charlotte Duval is no man's arm candy.
An expert in antique furniture, Charlotte is in Paris to close up her recently deceased father's antique store. Her plan? Finish the job as quickly as possible, preferably without touching the still-tender wound of their estranged relationship, and return to L.A..
And even the enigmatic Christophe Marchand can't tempt her to stay.
Then the discovery of an elaborate ring hidden inside a 16th century writing desk sets off a chain of events that sends her to Christophe for protection. Soon the pair are traveling to Vienna in search of answers to an unsolved theft that once rocked the art world. But when their hunt intersects with an ominous takeover of Christophe's business, it becomes clear that their common cause will either destroy them -- or force them to come to terms with the true price of love.
This is not your mother’s mob.
The air was warm, fragrant with the grassy smell of the Danube and the faint scent of the city’s bakeries, already setting their morning pastries to rise. They stopped to lean against the railing overlooking the river. Her arm brushed against his jacket, and she had to resist the urge to lean on him, to rest her cheek against the soft wool. She was looking out over the water, watching the lights play across its surface, when she felt his touch on her shoulder.
She didn’t dare look. Didn’t trust herself to turn her head, look into his fathomless eyes. Her breath caught in her throat as he traced a line from her bare shoulder down her arm.
“You’re cold,” he said softly.
He straightened, removing his jacket and draping it over her shoulders. She should look at him now. She should thank him for keeping her warm.
But she couldn’t. She didn’t dare. She wasn’t ready it. For what might happen if she did.
He tucked a loose piece of hair behind her ear. “Are you afraid of me?”
“No,” she said, still looking out over the water. “I'm afraid of myself.”
He turned her to face him. “Fortune favors the bold.”
It was a quote from yet another old Latin proverb, and it did nothing to calm the waters of her fear. She was on the precipice of something big and dangerous.
A rogue wave that would leave her gasping for breath.
A strong wind that would send her over the edge of a cliff.
A fire that would burn her from the inside out.
But looking at him now, his face only inches away, his body so close she could feel the heat emanating from him, she knew it didn't matter whether she was afraid. She would give herself to him. She’d always intended to give herself to him.
He reached out to stroke her cheek with the back of his hand, and she was surprised to find that his skin was soft and warm. He lifted her chin, dropped his gaze from her eyes to her mouth. Then he was lowering his head, his lips touching hers so softly she wondered if the kiss would be chaste. If he would walk her back to the hotel, see her into her own room alone.
Be a gentleman.
She let herself sink into the softness of his lips. Then he parted her mouth with his tongue and she knew she’d been wrong.
There would be nothing gentlemanly about what he would do to her tonight.
About the Author
Michelle St. James aka Michelle Zink is the author of seventeen published books and seven novellas. Her first series, Prophecy of the Sisters (YA), was one of Booklist's Top Ten Debut novels. Her work has also been an Indie Next selection and has appeared on prestigious lists such as the Lonestar List, New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age, and Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and translated into over twenty languages. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.