Friday, 29 May 2020

Blinded by Desire - Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 1

            Blinded by Desire

Blinded by Desire

Arabella Sheen

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 1

Beth Ashton was on the point of stepping out of the lodge house when the ring tone on her mobile phone stopped her dead in her tracks. Although reluctant to answer the call, Beth flicked the mobile open, only to find that the caller ID had been blocked.
It had been one of those days when nothing was going her way and everything seemed to be conspiring to delay her departure for Devon.
Tossing back her hair, she put the mobile to her ear, and listened. She was determined to keep the conversation short.
Beth knew she ought to be on the motorway beating the queues of holidaymakers that were heading south. It was a bank holiday weekend, and if she left now, she might be able to miss the heavy traffic.
“Hello, Beth Ashton here,” she answered.
She hoped her voice sounded business-like because she was feeling anything but cheerful.
“Ashton?” A male voice asked with impatience.
“Ah-ha, yes,” she answered.
“What kept you? I was beginning to wonder if I’d been given the right number.”
And you’re lucky I’m answering at all, she almost barked back.
Instead, Beth took a deep, calming breath, and asked, “What can I do for you?”
He was lucky she was listening to him. She didn’t have the time to talk to arrogant, bad-mannered strangers with no phone manners. Whoever he was, he seemed to be in a foul temper. He was obviously foreign, and his accent sounded Mediterranean―but she could be wrong. His English was fluent, almost faultless. And although the deep, husky voice on the other end of the line sounded cool and sexy, it was clear he was very male and very rude.
Beth was in a hurry to get away, so, pulling the door of the lodge house shut behind her, she picked up her luggage in one hand, while awkwardly juggling her mobile in the other, and headed toward the waiting Land Rover.
The deep voice on the mobile bellowed and barked at her again.
“I’d like to speak with your husband. It’s about work. If I leave my number, could you get him to contact me as soon as possible?” Sarcasm and boredom were dripping from the man’s tongue.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think that would be a good idea―”
“Why?” he asked, before she could finish what she was saying.
Her first impressions were right. She had not been mistaken. Whoever he was, he was definitely overbearing and insufferable. She could even imagine him glancing at his watch and counting the seconds for her to put her non-existent husband on the phone. It was this man who was wasting her time, not the other way round.
Beth didn’t have a husband, and although the man on the phone wasn’t to know that, she detested arrogant and assuming people at the best of times. Especially men.
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence as each of them waited for the other to speak.
“Your husband,” he demanded. “This is his number isn’t it?”
There was no way she was going to be spoken to in this manner.
“I’m sorry, but I think you’ve got the wrong number Mr?” Beth stopped and waited for him to give his name. He didn’t.
“I’d like to speak with Ashton…the gardener,” he said. “I’ve recently been shown some work he’s done for Clifton Hall, and I’d like him to landscape a garden for me in Greece. He’s come highly recommended.”
Beth’s last name was Ashton, and she happened to be a landscape gardener but, she wasn’t a man.
“Well?” He was waiting for a response.
She still wasn’t sure who the caller was.
“Look,” Beth said as calmly as she could. “I’m sorry you’ve had a bad day and you’re in a foul mood Mr?”
“Andre. I’m Jason Andre.”
The name sounded familiar but she couldn’t place it.
“Mr. Andre, I’m not here for you to shout at,” she told him. “And again, I think you’ve got the wrong number because I don’t know who you are or what you want.”
She heard him take a deep breath of irritation followed by a long sigh of frustration.
It was almost as if he’d had enough of the conversation, yet was willing to reason with her like he would reason with a four-year-old child to get what he wanted.
He sounded annoyed, and Beth wondered what she’d done to cause such a negative reaction. She hadn’t met the man and already she disliked him.
“No, you’re quite right,” he said. “You don’t know me and we haven’t met…yet. But, I believe you know Sophie and her husband, Charles. They’re the Fitzgeralds of Clifton Hall.”
Yes, of course, she knew Sophie. And because of this, she realised she would have to be polite to Jason.
Beth was staying as a guest with Sophie and Charles in their lodge house while she finished landscaping their gardens at Clifton Hall. It was a convenient arrangement for all concerned. She was on-site and within reach if she was needed.
Hearing Sophie’s name dispelled some of her worries. Jason Andre couldn’t be a total lunatic. Could he? Not if he was a friend of the Fitzgeralds.
Perhaps her first impression of him was wrong and he wasn’t the ill-tempered, discourteous individual she thought him to be.
Putting two and two together, Beth realised where she’d heard an accent that was similar to Jason’s. It was a Greek accent―the same as Sophie’s.
“Yes, I know Sophie.” Beth waited, wondering what was coming next.
And then, Jason explained. “Sophie’s my sister. So, thank goodness we’ve got that sorted, and I’m not talking to the wrong person. Which is it to be then?” he asked. “Does he prefer to look at plans using the Adobe Reader or does he want the blueprint drawings?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Andre,” was all she could find to say. “It’s been a long day and I must be stupid or something because I still don’t know who you are or what you’re asking.”
Slowly, and somewhat wearily, she ran a hand through her hair. She had just completed a hard day’s work on the estate gardens and was tired.
Looking at her wristwatch, Beth was reminded she ought to be on the motorway battling with heavy traffic, and heading for home.
Instead, she was outside the lodge house, wasting time on her mobile.
“We seem to have our wires crossed Mr. Andre.”
“And it seems I’m wasting my time talking to you…Mrs. Ashton.”
There was a dry, disdainful tone in his voice.
“Goodbye,” she said as politely as she could.
“No wait,” Jason called out with urgency. “Let’s try again, and let’s see if I can explain the situation to you so that you’ll understand.”
“Go ahead.” She was unsure if he’d just made a derogatory comment about her intelligence, or not. But she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Sophie knows I'm in need of a gardener, and she’s recommended Ashton Landscaping. She gave me your husband’s number. I’m at the Hall this weekend and I thought your husband and I could get together and look over the plans.”
Beth was beginning to understand the situation. Jason Andre thought Ashton Landscaping was run by a man―her husband.
The husband she didn’t have.
Beth felt her blood beginning to boil. She was fuming. Why did all men assume garden landscapers had to be men?
If she had thought Jason Andre was rude and arrogant before, she now knew he was all those things and more. He was…sexist. If he wanted someone to work for him and check his garden designs for flaws, Beth knew it wasn’t going to be her. She wasn’t doing it.
As much as she liked the sound of his deep, sexy accent, she didn’t fancy working for someone who was a chauvinist.
“I’m sorry,” she said, determined to end the conversation as soon as possible. “I’m afraid Ashton Landscaping is not taking on extra work at the moment. The Fitzgerald project hasn’t been completed and we've other clients on our waiting list. Perhaps you could try another firm.”
Beth was being unusually diplomatic, and she hoped Jason Andre had got the message. She wasn’t interested in the work he was offering and she wasn’t interested in him. But it was as if Jason was deaf to her reasoning. He hadn’t heard a thing she’d said. He simply hadn’t been listening.
“I think it’ll be easier if I got Sophie to phone you,” Jason told her. “Sophie can explain how things are, and I’ll ask her to set up a meeting for this evening.”
Before Beth could tell him she wasn’t available that evening, he had cut her off. She'd been left holding the mobile and the buzz of the disconnected call was ringing in her ear.
Jason had ended the call without saying goodbye or giving a polite thank you. Shaking her head in disbelief, Beth wondered if all Greek men were as rude as the insufferable Mr. Andre.
Beth threw the mobile back into her bag. And with no one to hear her words of frustration, she said, “One thing’s for sure Mr. Andre, you won’t be seeing me this evening.”
Having loaded the luggage into the Land Rover, Beth was ready to turn the key in the ignition, when her phone started ringing again.
“Drat,” she muttered under her breath. “Am I never going to get out of this place?”
Beth reached for the mobile and looking at the caller ID, she saw Sophie Fitzgerald’s name displayed on the screen, and answered.
“Beth darling, it’s me, Sophie.”
Earlier that morning, Beth had spoken with Sophie to finalise some last-minute details concerning Clifton Hall gardens. Beth knew Sophie couldn’t be calling to talk business, but she was wrong. Sophie did want to talk gardening. Only it wasn’t Clifton Hall’s gardens that Sophie was worried about. The gardens Sophie wanted to discuss were Jason’s, and they were in Greece.
“Jason said he’s been in touch with you about his project. He seems to think there’s been some sort of a mix-up between the two of you, and he’d like to get together tonight, and talk things over.”
That was exactly what Beth didn’t want to do. She wanted nothing to do with Jason, and she felt herself beginning to dig her heels in. She would be happy if they never met.
Beth didn’t like others to make decisions for her at the best of times, and for some reason, Sophie seemed intent on arranging a meeting with Jason.
“Jason’s coming to stay for the weekend,” Sophie said. “He’s on his way and is driving down from London now. I thought it would be a good chance for the two of you to finally get together. Why don’t you come over to the house...tonight? Charles and I would really like it if you came to dinner.”
The more someone wanted Beth to do something she didn’t want to do, the more she tended to rebel. And something seemed fishy about this dinner date.
Once before, Sophie had tried to get Beth on a date with one of Charles’s friends, and it had been a disaster. Now Sophie was trying to arrange a dinner with Jason. And having just spoken to the man, Beth couldn’t imagine anyone she’d rather not have dinner with.
“It’s kind of you to ask me, Sophie, and at any other time, I’m sure I’d be delighted to meet your brother, but right now, I’m on my way to Devon.” And to demonstrate the fact she was in the car and heading for home, she honked the horn on the Land Rover.
But Sophie was persistent.
“Jason’s an architect with Andre & Marsh. I thought his firm might be able to use your landscaping services. Beth, to be honest, I’ve more or less promised you would look over his garden designs. You see, Jason wants someone to plan his gardens in Greece, and I’ve recommended you.”
Beth now knew why the name of Jason Andre had sounded familiar. She’d only just put two and two together. Jason was the Jason Andre of Andre & Marsh Architects.
Everyone in the building development trade knew the name of Andre & Marsh. It was a multi-billion pound organisation with an annual turnover beyond her dreams.
Andre & Marsh employed thousands and subcontracted all over the world. There was no comparison to her business. Ashton Landscaping and Jason’s company were in different leagues. Jason was simply out of her orbit.
Jason Andre was always in the public eye. He was constantly pictured on the front cover of some newspaper or tabloid magazine and there was always a glamorous, alluring woman on his arm.
His reputation was that of a ruthless man, both in and out of bed. He was a sexy billionaire who handled his business and personal affairs mercilessly.
In business, there was none better than Jason. His reputation was excellent. Not only was he known to be one of the best architects in the country, he also had a name and status that had spread worldwide. But in affairs of the heart, it was another matter. He was known to be one of Europe’s wealthiest, jet-setting elite, but he was first and foremost a womanizer and playboy.
Jason worked hard and played hard. He discarded women like a man with a cold would discard used tissues from a box of paper handkerchiefs.
A relationship with him would get you nowhere. No…Jason was very much out of her league and very much not her type.
Beth knew from what she’d previously read about him that if Jason wanted something, he always got it. But he wasn’t getting her.
“It’s nice of you to consider me for Jason’s project in Greece, and normally I’d love to stay and meet your brother, but as I told you earlier, I’m travelling to Devon this evening. I’m going to be away for the weekend.”
“Somehow, whenever Jason’s visited, you’ve always missed one another,” Sophie explained. “And it would be nice if you two could finally meet.”
“Normally, I’m sure it would be a pleasure to meet him, but…” Beth diplomatically left unsaid what she really wanted to say.
In reality, she didn’t know how she kept the irony out of her voice.
Having just spoken on the phone to Jason, she doubted meeting him in person would be any sort of pleasure.
Beth was horrified at the prospect of having dinner with him, and after an exhausting week working on the gardens at Clifton Hall, all she could longingly think about was reaching her farmhouse in Devon.
She imagined herself sitting in front of a roaring fire having just taken a relaxing bath. There would be nothing for her to do except watch television the whole weekend. And it would be blissful.
But when Beth realised what Sophie was really offering was a business meeting with the renowned architect Jason Andre, she began to have second thoughts. It would be stupid to turn down such an offer, and she was on the verge of caving in.
As an established landscape gardener and businesswoman in her own right, at twenty-five, Beth wasn’t yet in the secure position to refuse offers from new clients. Especially clients like Andre & Marsh. She knew she would be a fool to refuse such a job opportunity. Anyone or any company linked with the name Andre & Marsh was automatically pulled along with them and would travel on the tidal wave of their success.
If she was to work for Jason on his project, Beth would more or less be on the road to realising her dreams. But in the process, she might lose her individuality and independence. If she joined his team, she would have to merge with the other smaller businesses he subcontracted to.
“This weekend, you could get together with Jason,” Sophie persisted. “Show him the work you’re doing at Clifton Hall and take him around the grounds. Especially the new lake.”
There was a brief silence while Sophie let Beth mull over the possibilities.
“What do you think, Beth?”
Sophie sounded as if she was offering a treat, but in reality, it was a treat Beth didn’t want. Could she run the risk of snubbing an offer that came from the almighty, all-powerful, Jason Andre? He could crush her fledgling business with one negative word. And it was beginning to look as if a meeting with Jason Andre was becoming more and more inevitable.
Eventually, and with great reluctance, Beth gave in.
“Yes, of course, I’ll come to dinner,” she said, before she had the chance to change her mind.
Switching off her mobile and turning off the Land Rover’s engine, she sat with her head held in her hands, wondering if she’d made the right decision. Would it be a decision she would come to regret?

Blinded by Desire
Copyright © 2012 by – Arabella Sheen
ISBN: 9780957569829
Publisher: priceplacebooks
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.

About Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen - Author

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.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Welcome to Fantasy Author - Jessica Thorne

I’m delighted to welcome Jessica Thorne to my blog.

Jessica Thorne - Author

Hello Jessica – Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, today. I’ve been looking forward to hosting you and uncovering some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your latest release, Nightborn, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.

Arabella: Are there any organisations, writing, or reader groups, you belong to? And, how do they support or help you in creating such wonderful, inspirational novels?
Jessica: I’m an enthusiastic member of the Romantic Novelists Association and have been for some years now. I am also one of the organisers of the Irish Chapter which meets quarterly for informal chats and a social afternoon. I find the RNA to be enormously supportive. The annual conference is a highlight of my year and it was such an honour to be nominated for the annual fantasy award this year for The Stone’s Heart (writing as Jessica Thorne). I work within a couple of informal writing groups too, my friends and fellow authors who are endlessly helpful. We chat more or less every day. I’m also involved with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community in Ireland and since we had Worldcon in Dublin last year, internationally.

Although writing is largely a solitary occupation, it’s really important to have the support of those around you, and those who understand what you’re up to, and also those who are just happy to cheer you along. It’s fantastic to have groups you can turn to if you have business or creative questions, or even if you’re just worried about something. No writer really works alone.

Arabella: Where do you read? Sofa or bed or ____?
Jessica: Honestly? Wherever I can. I got into the habit when my kids were small or grabbing every moment I could to read and write. I was once reading Peadar Ó Guilín’s very scary The Call in the car outside my daughter’s school and was so caught up in it that when she opened the door I screamed out loud. Nowadays it’s a bit easier – I love to read in the garden, or curled up on the sofa and I usually read in bed before going to sleep.

Arabella: In your latest release, Nightborn, who is your favourite character and why?
Jessica: That’s a tough question. Nightborn is the sequel to Mageborn and all the characters from that are back. I am incredibly fond of all of them, the good and the bad. But in Nightborn we also get more insight into some of the minor characters and I think Ellyn, the wisecracking, badass, best friend and teammate of my main character Grace, is still one of my favourites. We learn more of her history in Nightborn, and see more of the secrets she keeps. She doesn’t suffer fools and is always quick to defend those she loves. And her lovelife is about to get quite complicated.

Arabella: When writing a novel, how do you work? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Jessica: I used to always be a pantser but in recent years I think it’s fairer to say I fall between the two. A Plantser perhaps. I tend to need some idea of where the story is going, but not how it is going to get there. Sometimes, if I’m really lucky, I have some key scenes in mind. But I try to leave things very flexible. I’m not very good at producing a synopsis in advance and in fact if I do I always have to add the warning that it’s more like guidelines. I try to write something every day and keep a very strict record of wordcount. I have a spreadsheet that calculates how much I’ve written each day, how much I have left overall and the percentage done which I find very helpful. The main thing I find is to allow myself to be creative and to listen to the characters in the story. If I ever find myself blocked it is usually because I am trying to force them to do something that doesn’t fit. The most magical thing is when the characters seem to take on their own lives and I’m just following along, writing up the incident report. This is a sign that my subconscious is more aware of what’s going on that the rest of me. There’s something of an instinctiveness to storytelling and when that happens, I know we’re going in the right direction.

Arabella: Which would you prefer to do: 1) spend a morning vigorously working out at the gym, 2) be pampered from head to toe at the spa and beauty salon, 3) indulge and pile on the pounds with a romantic dinner for two?
Jessica: Number 3 all the way. I love my food and I love spending time with my other half.

Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must read for you this season?
Jessica: Helen Corcoran’s Queen of Coin and Whispers, O’Brien Press, June 2020. It is an absolutely amazing YA fantasy full of intrigue, danger and romance. When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster—who took the job to avenge her murdered father—they realise all isn't fair in love and treason.

Arabella: Which would you rather wear: beach shorts and top, a long evening skirt and blouse, or pyjamas and slippers?
Jessica: Pyjamas and slippers all the way. I love my comfort.

Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?
Jessica: I have nothing immediately planned – it has been a very busy couple of years. But that said, while I’d love to say I’m taking a break, I know my writerbrain would never accept that. I like to be writing. I love the creativity and exploring new worlds and characters. I’m hoping to do something a bit different next. Not sure what just yet. But I’m always looking for a new challenge or a new way of looking at things. I have an enduring love of folklore and fabulism so I may see where that takes me.

Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Jessica. Your latest fantasy release Nightborn sounds amazing. I’m also intrigued by your spreadsheet that calculates how much you’ve written, how much has still to be penned and the percentage done. Where can I find such a marvellous app?
Best wishes and here’s hoping Nightborn makes it into the charts.

About  Jessica Thorne

Jessica Thorne - Author

Jessica Thorne watched too much Sci-Fi and read too much fantasy at an impressionable age. And it was amazing. Now she writes fantasy, sci fi, and everything in between.
Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long.

Twitter @JessThorneBooks
Instagram JessThorneBooks

Book Blurb   Nightborn

Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.

Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.

In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.

Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?

Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?

Combining sizzling romance, courtly intrigue, and heart-in-your-mouth action, this dark and addictive fantasy series is perfect for fans of Graceling and Emily R. King.
Release Date 26th May 2020

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Friday, 22 May 2020

Castell's Passion by Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 5

Castell’s Passion

Arabella Sheen

A night in his arms, but it comes at a price. Will her heart survive?

Billionaire Marc Castell, owner of the Castell Hotel Group, isn’t looking for love. His jet-set lifestyle means he’s a ‘love them and leave them’ type of guy…that is, until Kate McKenna walks into his life.
Kate is on the warpath. Her underage sister is planning to spend a weekend in Paris with Marc’s nephew, and she’s determined to put a stop to the affair before it begins.
Marc has a plan of his own. He promises to save Kate’s sister from his nephew, but there’s a condition attached. Kate has to travel to Cannes with him and play the part of his girlfriend―including spending the night in his bed. Marc hopes this will solve the problem of the unwanted advances he’s been receiving from his friend’s wife. But whenever Marc takes Kate in his arms his world is turned upside down, and he discovers he wants more from her than a casual weekend fling.
Kate has no time for sexy, powerful playboys. She’s too busy building her career and expanding her catering business. But when she gets to know the man behind the façade, she wonders if she can resist the sensual attraction growing between them. Will she be seduced by his charm and sacrifice everything she believes in for one night of passion in his arms?

Marc has a battle on his hands as he strives to win Kate’s love…and her heart.

Chapter Two - Excerpt 5…

Marc didn’t need Kate to tell him that Nikki wasn’t reachable. He could tell by the defeated look on Kate’s face. It seemed he was right after all. Nikki was with Eduardo...and they were gone.
Marc supposed it would now fall on his shoulders to track them down, but if he was honest with himself he didn’t want to become entangled in something that was none of his business. He had his own affairs to take care of this weekend. He had places to be, people to see, and things to do. He didn’t have time to babysit two young people who had disappeared somewhere for a clandestine destination and were off playing lovebirds.
“You have to stop him. Tell Eduardo to bring Nikki home,” she demanded.
So, Kate was expecting him to instantly solve the problem of the disappearing couple. But he wasn’t being backed into a corner, and he wasn’t being told what to do.
“Why should I do that? I’m not Eduardo’s keeper. He’s old enough to make his own decisions.”
“Eduardo might be old enough to decide what he wants to do, but in many ways Nikki is still a baby. All right, I admit that since the loss of our parents I might be overly protective of her, but it’s so hard to let go of someone you care for. Even though I know at some point I will have to let her move on, I can’t. Not just yet. My sister’s too young to experience the disappointments of adulthood, and she’s never had any real, true experience with men,” she told him anxiously.
“I thought you said she’s almost eighteen.”
“But that doesn’t make her an adult. Just because she looks like a woman doesn’t make her a woman. You men don’t understand, or you don’t want to understand.” Kate let out a frustrated sound of anger. “All men are the same. You’re only out for one thing. And if Eduardo should harm her in any way, I’m warning you now...I’ll make him pay for it.”
“And how will you do that?” Marc asked with disdain, but Kate ignored his cynical question, dismissing it out of hand.
“It’s obvious you’re not going to be of any help to me,” she said, sounding vexed.
“What exactly is it you expect me to do?” he asked.
What happened between Eduardo and Nikki was of no interest to Marc. He didn’t care one way or another if the young couple had flown to France for a brief affair or not. His only concern was that the Castell fortune, and in this particular instance Eduardo’s fortune, remained intact.
“I expect you to stop him. Tell him to leave Nikki alone,” was Kate’s frank reply.
Marc shrugged and raised his hands as if powerless to do anything. It was a typical French gesture.
He was reluctant to listen to Kate’s problems. He simply didn’t want to get involved. Being gallant and helping a stunning, beautiful woman was one thing, but taking on the problems of that woman’s sister was altogether another ball game.
“I can’t. Or rather I won’t try and stop him,” he said with brutal honesty.
Marc had no desire to curb Eduardo’s extracurricular activities, but if he had to, he was willing to put a stop to Nikki’s exploits. He had no idea what her motive was in striking up a friendship with Eduardo, but from his own experience women generally got involved with a Castell for one reason and one reason only—money.
“You have to stop them,” Kate insisted anxiously. “If Nikki and Eduardo leave the country, they will soon be out of reach, and it will be beyond my power to stop the inevitable from happening. You have to do something.”
“I don’t have to do anything.” His reply was candid and to the point.
“Talking to you is like banging my head against a brick wall. It’s obvious you’re a stubborn man. Why won’t you do something?”
Marc always kept his involvement with Eduardo to a strict minimum. Only once, when a gold digger got her claws into his nephew, bleeding him dry of his money and threatening to accept Eduardo’s proposal of marriage, did Marc step in and call a halt to the affair.
Usually he never interfered, so he didn’t know why he was considering doing just that. But thinking about it he decided that perhaps it was because of the way Kate’s beseeching, dusky eyes were looking at him. Seeing Kate’s distress made him want to help.
He had a sudden undeniable urge to protect her from anything that could cause anguish. He wanted to shield her, safeguard her, and save her from any hurt that might come her way.
“If you won’t do anything to help, I’ll have to go to the airport and find her myself.” Kate waited, expecting a response.
When Marc saw her genuine concern and apprehension for her sister he knew he couldn’t stand on the sideline any longer. He decided he would have to step in and take action.
“All right,” he said. “Let’s suppose I’m prepared to do what you ask—what are you willing to do for me in return? What would you sacrifice to get your sister back?”
There was a long silence as Kate digested what he’d said. She then looked at him as if wondering if she’d heard correctly.
“Why are we wasting time talking about what I would sacrifice? Surely it would be best if we both went to the airport and stopped the two runaways from leaving the country before it’s too late.”
“I’m still waiting for your answer. What are you prepared to forfeit to guarantee the safety of your sister?” Marc asked again.
“Anything,” she said innocently. “I’ll do anything. What is it you need me to do?”
“You promise to do anything? Are you sure you mean that?”
Marc wanted to make absolutely certain everything was clear between them. He needed to know Kate was willing to do whatever was necessary to get her sister back.
“Of course I’m sure. I would do anything for Nikki. She’s my sister.” There was a deep conviction in Kate’s voice as she said those words.
“Good. I’ll remind you of this conversation in a few hours’ time, but for now we’d better get moving.” Marc began clearing his desk of some papers and packing his briefcase. “We’ll stop off at your place to collect your passport. Where do you live?”
“Why do I need my passport?” she asked, puzzled. “Won’t we be able to stop them at the airport?”
“You’ll need your passport because if my guess is correct, they’re already on board the plane and on their way to Paris.”
“If we’re going after them—”
“No ifs,” Kate interrupted. “I’m following them even if you’re not. I have to go. You can stay here if you like. In fact, I’d prefer it if you stayed. I can manage on my own.”
Marc suspected Kate would be out of her depth when it came to reining in the two weekend elopers. He thought it best if he stepped in and tackled the situation, as he suspected his voice would carry more weight and effectiveness should there be problems.
He also thought it would be a good opportunity, during the flight, to get to know Kate a little better before presenting her with his proposal. And according to their agreement, and having promised she would do anything he asked, he knew it was a proposal she had no option but to accept. Little did Kate know what Marc had in store for her!
“You’re coming with me to Paris,” he told her, and his tone implied there would be no discussion on the subject.
“But I don’t want to go with you,” she persisted. Her protests fell on deaf ears.
“No buts. That’s the end of it. Now tell me where you live.”
He wasn’t going to back down. He was in business mode, and with an insistent look of determination in his eyes, Kate reluctantly conceded. She gave in.
“Our house is on the other side of London,” she warned as she went over to the sofa to collect the handbag she’d discarded earlier. “We’re in Eltham, which is south of the river. I’ll phone Patty, my assistant, and ask her to collect my passport and bring it to the airport. Which one are we flying from?”
“Heathrow. But it will be quicker if we drive over to your place. You can pack an overnight bag at the same time. Anything you forget we can always buy in Paris.”
Without ceremony he began ushering Kate out of the office, steering the way over toward reception.
“Would you have the car brought around, please, Clair? And would you phone the Anistons in Cannes? Tell them I’m delayed. Say I’ll be joining them sometime this weekend and that I’ll be there as soon as I can get away. You can also warn them I’m bringing someone with me.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
Marc looked pointedly in Kate’s direction as he spoke.
“For some unknown reason the document I was working on hasn’t been completed. It’s on my desk with the other papers. If you could lock them away in the safe that would be great, and I’ll sign them when I get back. You can also tell Cade to cancel the Italian meeting. Put the deal on hold.”
“Yes, sir.” Clair looked at Marc as if amazed that he was leaving the building without having signed the takeover contract.
Marc was a little surprised by it himself. Cade Knightley, the company’s accountant and a good friend of Marc’s, was waiting for the all clear on the Italian takeover bid before going ahead with the deal. Time was of the essence. But it seemed this afternoon Marc had other pressing priorities to take care of.
While Marc was busy issuing instructions to Clair, he could see Kate was impatient to be on their way.
“Miss McKenna and I will be upstairs in my apartment. You can buzz me when the car arrives, and we’ll come down. Oh, and should anyone wish to contact us, we’ll be staying in Paris tonight.”
“Together?” asked Clair discreetly.
“Yes,” Marc said with conviction. “We’ll be together.” And there was no mistaking his hidden meaning.

Castell’s Passion
Copyright © 2016, Arabella Sheen
ISBN: 9781944270384
Publisher: Beachwalk Press, Inc.
Electronic Publication: August 2016
Editor: Pamela Tyner
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.

About Arabella Sheen

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.

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