Blinded by Desire
Back Cover Copy
Is Jason ready to give love a chance, and can he capture Beth’s heart?
Jason Andre is a successful billionaire architect who thinks he can get what he wants when he wants.
Beth Ashton is a feisty redhead with an up-and-coming career as a landscape designer. And she wants nothing to do with Jason.
From the outset, sparks fly between them. She excites him and he infuriates her.
When Jason’s light aircraft crashes and he loses his sight, Beth steps in and does exactly what she promised she wouldn’t do…she works for him.
Are Beth and Jason destined to love or is passion and desire the only thing on offer?
Chapter One - Excerpt 2
Standing under the power shower, Beth had soaped her scalp and was washing her hair. Having rinsed away the shampoo, she then reached out her hand and turned off the flow of hot, steamy water. The spray of water halted, and a haze of mist was left hanging in the cubical.
Towelling her damp skin dry, and leaving the steamy bathroom behind her, Beth made her way into the bedroom. She still had to dress and get ready for the evening ahead.
Delving into one of the wardrobes, she retrieved the one and only evening dress she had brought with her.
When Beth was staying away from home and working on a project, she usually wore everyday workwear or casual clothing. Things like her jeans and sweatshirts, or heavy workman's boots.
Normally, she was constantly working from dawn to dusk, so she didn’t expect to go out of an evening. But there had been the odd occasion when she’d been put on the spot by a client, and now, as a safety measure, she always brought along something dressy to wear.
She called it her…‘just in case dress.’
Holding the dress up and looking at it, she wondered what had made her pick this dress in particular. And the more she looked at it, the more she wished she had packed another.
The dress was a black silk tube made from stretchy soft material. And when she put it on, it clung tightly in all the right places to the curves of her body. Nothing was hidden from the eye, and all her womanly curves were revealed.
The dress had definitely been a bad decision, but it wasn’t as if she’d chosen this dress with Jason Andre in mind. She hadn’t known she would be meeting him this weekend.
With no other evening dress to wear, she decided it would have to be this one, or nothing. She couldn’t go dressed for dinner in jeans and Wellington boots, could she?
Beth’s alabaster skin was blemish-free and had a sort of natural beauty. She was the type that didn’t need to wear make-up. So, pulling her magic wand from the make-up bag, she quickly added a coat of mascara to her eyelashes and a splash of plum lip gloss to her lips, hoping it would give her some sort of bravado against Jason.
Then, giving her dark auburn hair a hurried brush before pinning it into position with a diamante clasp, she was finally ready.
The result was stunningly glamorous.
Looking in the full-length mirror, Beth saw a stylish, young woman reflected back, and felt ready to face the evening ahead with anyone. Especially the daunting tycoon architect, Jason Andre.
She pulled the clinging material of her dress down around her hips and up over the full, roundness of her breasts.
Maybe I’ve overdone it, she thought. But she needn't have worried. She wasn’t aiming to impress, and she was most definitely not striving to make an impression on Jason.
Beth had already come to the conclusion he was out of her league and beyond reach.
Collecting her pink cashmere wrap from a nearby chair, she threw the wrap on, draping it casually about her shoulders. The wrap was to ward off the cool breeze of the autumn evening as she made her way over to the main house.
Carrying her clutch bag and wearing high heels, she walked with care along the tree-lined drive following the gravelled pathway toward the bright lights of the big Hall. It was only a short walk from the lodge house, but it seemed like miles.
As Beth stumbled on the uneven surface of the path, she realised she shouldn’t have worn her heels. She ought to have driven the old Land Rover the short distance. But vanity, and the thought of her dress being soiled by the muddy seats in the Land Rover, had stopped her.
If she wanted to arrive in pristine condition, walking to the Hall on foot was her only means of travel.
For goodness sake, she thought. I’m only having dinner. Tonight’s not a proper date. I’m here to discuss landscaping with a professional architect. I’m not here to flirt with a sexy billionaire.
Reaching the large, heavy oak doors, she let herself in. The days of servants had been and gone at Clifton Hall. These days the Fitzgerald’s employed staff.
Beth tossed her wrap onto a nearby chair and waited, expecting someone to emerge and welcome her. No one appeared.
Voices were coming from the drawing-room at the end of the long carpeted hallway, and as she walked toward them, she carefully adjusted the stretchy black tube of her dress into a more secure position.
She wondered if Sophie had invited other people to dine at the Hall, but she needn’t have worried. Beth found only her clients―Sophie and Charles Fitzgerald, in the room.
Sophie was sprawled on a sofa, and Charles was leaning casually against the large fireside inglenook with a glass of whisky in his hand.
They were having pre-dinner drinks.
Seeing Beth framed in the doorway, Charles came toward her and leant in to give her a kiss on the cheek.
“Come and make yourself comfortable, Beth,” he said.
Tucking an arm around her waist, he gave an enthusiastic squeeze before steering her toward the drinks table situated against a wall.
“We’re waiting for Jason to come downstairs and join us,” Sophie explained. “He’s in his room, changing. He shouldn’t be too long.”
Sophie then shifted position on the sofa.
“In the meantime what can I get you?” Charles offered, pointing to the drinks table.
As a man, Charles was too smooth and too debonair for Beth’s taste. She supposed it was because she was accustomed to the rugged, outdoor type of man. And Charles wasn’t that by any stretch of the imagination. Charles simply didn’t press any of her buttons.
Shaking her head in his direction Beth declined the offer of a drink.
“Nothing for me thanks, Charles. But if you don’t mind, I’ve just remembered something I have to do, and I’d like to make a note of it before I forget.”
“Go ahead. You know where everything is,” he said, pointing to an ornate Chinese screen at the far end of the room.
Beth crossed the room and behind the screen was a writing desk obscured from view. She sat down and taking a notebook and pen from her evening purse, she started to jot something down. She was in the middle of writing her memo when she sensed someone had entered the room. And looking between the cracks in the screen, Beth could see a man standing just inside the doorway.
He walked further into the room and went to stand near the hearth, next to Charles. He hadn’t seen her, and appeared unaware of her presence.
With her pen poised in hand, hovering over the sheet of paper, Beth turned in her seat to get a better view. She could only see the man’s profile.
Jason Andre looked much like the pictures she’d seen of him in the newspapers and tabloids. And if she wasn’t mistaken, this was the indeed man she’d been summoned to meet and dine with.
He was tall…very tall. At least six-foot-two. And he was dressed in a classic, black dinner jacket which had been faultlessly tailored.
The jacket showed off his broad shoulders to perfection, and beneath, he wore a crisp, white evening shirt.
Jet black hair fell stylishly onto his collar, and his dark tan had obviously not been gained from the English climate. It was evident Jason had recently been somewhere hot or somewhere bathed in sunshine. He looked in peak condition, and that was only viewing him from a distance.
“Jason,” Sophie smiled, welcoming her brother and confirming his identity. “It’s good to see you again. How was your journey from the city?”
“It was fine. And how are you? I can see you’re looking well.” Jason then said something in a language which Beth didn’t understand.
“It’s been ages since Charles and I saw you. How long has it been…six months?”
Jason dipped his head from his great height and planted an affectionate kiss on his sister’s cheek.
“Don’t exaggerate Sophie. It’s only been a couple of weeks. But it’s nice to know someone has missed me.”
Beth was thankful she was sitting down. She felt sure that if she’d been standing the sound of his Mediterranean accent would have made her bend at the knees.
It wasn’t as if she knew Jason, although what she did know about him, she didn’t like. But his husky, sexy drawl was doing something to her. It was causing warm feelings to stir deep inside, but then again, she imagined his voice would have that effect on any woman.
Jason still hadn’t looked in her direction. And from where she was sat, half-concealed from the room behind the Chinese panel, she’d had the leisure to study him without being discovered.
“How was your journey, and how long are you staying with us?” Sophie patted the vacant seat next to her on the sofa.
Jason sat beside his sister, stretching his long legs out in front of him.
“I’m here for the weekend if you two will have me. And the journey was good. The car ate up the miles in no time, but the further south I came, the heavier the weekend traffic was getting. Only a fool would hit the motorway tonight.”
His words reminded Beth that she ought to be on the road travelling home to her farmhouse cottage in Devon. And she would gladly be called a fool if it meant she could be on the motorway that evening. Even if the traffic ground to a halt, it would be better than sitting through a dinner party she didn’t want to go to.
As if bored with Jason being the centre of attention, Charles moved away from the fire, and went back to the drinks table to pour another drink.
“Which is it this time, Jason?” Charles asked. “The BMW or the Porsche?”
Sitting on the sofa, Jason looked relaxed and like a man of leisure. His evening jacket was unbuttoned and his hands were thrust deep into his trouser pockets, pulling the fabric tight across his bulging thigh muscles.
Jason looked as if he had the freedom to do as he liked. He was laid-back and stress-free, and yet that evening he was the most commanding presence in the room. All eyes were focused on him. And everyone was waiting for his answer, including Beth.
“The Porsche of course.”
The simplicity of his reply concerning the status symbol was effective. It was as potent as the man himself.
Blinded by Desire
Copyright © 2012 by – Arabella Sheen
Electronic Publication: May 2012
Cover: Fantasia Frog Designs
eBooks are not transferable. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
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Arabella Sheen Website: http://www.arabellasheen.co.uk/
About Arabella Sheen
Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.
Facebook Author: https://www.facebook.com/ArabellaSheenAuthor
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