THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE
Silhouette Special Edition #1838
FROM BILLIONAIRE BACHELOR TO DEDICATED DADDY?
Wild child and wealthy heir Lucas Chandler used to dance with starlets and socialites-until he had to dance at his own wedding! New York society was stunned when the former playboy announced his sudden marriage to the beautiful and mysterious child-care worker Alicia Sanchez-and his newly acquired title of daddy to their adopted little boy.
Some said the marriage only occurred because Papa Chandler had ordered Lucas to settle down responsibly-or else lose his stake in the family fortune. Yet when the seemingly happy couple went about town, it was easy to see that love was blooming. Had the handsome prince found the perfect Cinderella?
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Excerpt from THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE
As the man with the camera enclosed her hand in warmth, Alicia's heart kicked at her chest. It'd been doing that since the first instant she'd seen him, and she still hadn't recovered.
Unable to get enough of looking at him, she noted every detail: fancy tie, shirt, shoes. Well groomed. His jacket smelled good, too, like spicy soap, clean and heady.
He was a lot taller, so much that she was forced to lift her chin to meet his gaze. The color of his eyes startled her-a deep violet, just like the flowers that had grown in the small garden of her abuelita 's house back in San Diego . His light brown hair was a little long and ruffled, carefree in the breeze. His body.
Alicia tried not to look, but she couldn't help noticing that he was strong, wide-shouldered and muscled like an athlete.
His grip tightened, and she realized that she'd been staring, her skin goose-bumped and flushed from the inside out.
Quickly, she let go of him, gaze trained on the ground. She shoved the hand that had been holding his into a jacket pocket, wishing it would stop blazing with heat.
Then, donning a civil expression, she distanced herself from the visitor. Right away, she saw the glimmer in his eyes fade a little, as if he was second-guessing something. Then he also took a step backward.
"You're with the billionaire?" she asked, making conversation. Easy enough, with his affable personality.
It was obvious that he was here with Lucas Chandler. She knew the reporters were out in front now, taking pictures and asking questions before they all came inside the Refugio Salvo orphanage. But why wasn't he with the rest of the crowd?
He gave her an odd glance, then sent her a high-wattage smile in answer. She just about pooled into herself right then and there. What was happening? Dizziness, flushed skin, a giddiness she couldn't explain..
"I'm looking forward to meeting him," she said, ignoring the blasts of heightened awareness shooting through her.
"Because he's so handsome?" He was teasing.
"Well, that's what the female cooks here say, among other things."
Cocking an eyebrow, he sat on a bench, looking pretty entertained with her comment. "They say that, do they?"
"It's not all that important. I'm not one for TV or tabloid nonsense anyway. But still." She blushed, laughing at her all too human curiosity. "I am wondering about him."
Especially because he had money. Wait-that sounded wrong. It wasn't that she wanted any of it. If Mr. Chandler were in another charitable mood, the orphanage itself would be much better off after another donation.
He was smiling at her again. Dimples. My, my.
They were such nice, deep dimples. Semi trucks could park in them.
Yet.was this man sort of flirting with her? Alicia wasn't sure, but she should put a stop to it. Now. No, really, now. She wasn't one of the nuns, but she might as well have been with all the promises she'd made to herself. No sex before marriage-never again. As a volunteer who worked side by side with the women of Our Lady of the Lost Souls at the orphanage, she did her best to be a good role model for the children.
And then there was also a very personal need to remain chaste..
"So the nuns volunteer at the orphanage, too?" he added, interrupting her musings.
Press time. She put on her best PR voice. "Yes, the order teaches academics and sees to the boys' spiritual needs. Regular workers"-like her-"run the facility and oversee the ranch work since each boy, whether they're just old enough to start chores or mature enough to work with the horses, has scheduled responsibilities and training."
"You're all a very caring group of people."
Why did he suddenly seem so.sad? Or did he look guilty? Alicia couldn't be sure.
The splashing of the fountain became the only sound. She rushed to cover the tension, wanting everything to run smoothly.
"It's our pleasure," Alicia said. "We're really happy to love and be around these children."
Months ago, she had volunteered to work here, renting a small house off the profits from the impetuous sale of her deceased grandparents' home. She had pleaded with the orphanage's director to be the one who played hostess to the billionaire, to be the one who secured a bundle of money for their needs.
She had to succeed in her goal for the orphanage today, to do whatever she could to be a decent person and fight for their requirements. Had to. The more money she raised, the more she could forget about the stain on her soul left by her abuelo's dying words.
"So you've met him?" she said to the visitor, testing the waters. "Lucas Chandler? Do you think he's a kind-hearted sort of guy?"
The man seemed taken aback, but then he fought a smile, clearly knowing something Alicia didn't. "Kind hearted? I suppose that depends on when you catch him."
"Oh." Heaviness settled on her shoulders.
He leaned forward, encouraging her. From just his smallest movement, Alicia's pulse kicked, sending a swirl of scrambled yearning to her chest. But passion wasn't on her daily schedule. Not when it was so important for her to wait for a respectable marriage; it was the only way to experience what came between a man and woman. Marriage made sex pure and right.
She drew the jacket closer around her body. "Truthfully? We were hoping that he's one to part easily with his money."
Well, that had come out wrong. Maybe she was just too flustered around this man; Lord knew she was more articulate than this. She'd meant to say that she hoped he would be generous to the children, that's all.
And she could tell that she'd surprised him with her words-her greedy-sounding, awful words. Well done, muchacha, well done.
His shoulders had stiffened. She rushed to correct herself, but was interrupted.
She turned around to find Guillermo Ramos, head of the orphanage, rushing toward her. His crown of salt-and-pepper hair fluttered with the speed of his gait, and his slender mustache twitched. Someone was in a snit.
"It's not quite time to start the greeting," she said in English, not wanting to leave their visitor out of the loop. "The children should be ready in a few more minutes."
"No, we are clearly starting now." Guillermo stopped suddenly, hand to heart. "Mr. Chandler, I am Guillermo Ramos. We have talked on the phone."
Alicia glanced at the stranger, who had gotten to his feet, hand outstretched toward Guillermo.
Good heavens, she was crushing on the billionaire?
"Good to see you, Senor Ramos," he said.
Alicia anxiously fiddled with the charm bracelet she always wore, but Guillermo was all smiles.
"I see Senorita Sanchez has been entertaining you during our delay-which I apologize for profusely," he said.
"Our future Sister Alicia's been doing an exceptional job." The stranger.no. Lucas Chandler, the billionaire, turned to her. Now, with the title and money, he seemed.different. More imposing and definitely even more off limits. "We were just small talking."
Yes, she thought. Due to her ill-chosen words at the end of their conversation, she had obviously gotten smaller and smaller in his estimation.
And.future Sister Alicia? Who did he think she was?
"I am glad to hear it," Guillermo said. "But you must know that Senorita Sanchez is not with Our Lady of Lost Souls." Here, he laughed a little. "Yet we are fortunate that she is working here nonetheless."
That's when Lucas Chandler's eyes lit up, changing him from an average visitor to everything the other orphanage employees had been whispering about:
Playboy. Ultimate Bachelor. Devil in disguise.
"Excellent." He leveled that lethal, dimple-edged smile at Alicia once again. "That's some excellent information to know."
She swallowed hard, feeling as if he'd whipped her jacket right off of her.
Exposing everything she'd been covering up.
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From the book: The Playboy Takes a Wife
By: Crystal Green
Imprint and Series: Silhouette Special Edition
Publication Date: 07/07
Copyright C: 2007
By: Chris Marie Green
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.com