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A Tycoon in TexasA TYCOON IN TEXAS

Silhouette Special Edition #1670
The Fortunes of Texas
March 2005
ISBN: 0373246706

Christina Mendoza is all business-especially when it comes to men. Too many broken hearts and dreams have convinced her that work is better than play. But then, just as she is getting back on her feet from a devastating career blow, Derek Rockwell comes along.

A playboy tycoon, Rockwell is used to setting hearts aflame, and he expects the same reaction from his new business analyst at Fortune-Rockwell Investments. Yet when the beautiful, brilliant Christina resists his charms, he sets out to win her over-no matter what it takes.

But Rockwell is in for a bigger battle than he imagined when he finds out that Christina has a bet going with her two sisters: They've all vowed not to date men for one year and that definitely includes heartbreakers like her new boss.even if it is impossible to resist him!

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Excerpt from A TYCOON IN TEXAS

He could hear the place before they actually arrived. Salsa music, with its driving rhythm woven through with percussion, piano and bass, mixed with the night air.

Bandini's. It almost looked like a shack floating on the San Antonio River , with red chile and white fairy lights shining over the low glow of fiery lanterns. Many of the rickety wooden seats were empty, but that was only because everyone was having a great time on the roomy, planked dance floor.

Christina, obviously moved by the steamy atmosphere, grabbed his hand and led him to the bar, where they each took a stool and ordered drinks. A margarita for her, a bottleneck beer flavored with lime for him.

Then they drank and watched the dancers: The women in their red dresses, gyrating, flirting. The men responding in a musical counterattack.

Leaning toward him, Christina spoke in his ear to be heard over the song. Her words tickled, warming him.

"See the couple in the upper right corner of the floor?"

Derek spied them, two particularly good dancers.

"They're here every time I come," she said. "Champions or something."

Bending over to talk in her ear, Derek caught a whiff of her hair's herbal fragrance, the perfume of her skin. He shuddered, getting used to taking her in.

"There are such things as salsa competitions?"

When she maneuvered her mouth near his ear again, he turned aside his head to accommodate her, but not soon enough. Her lips brushed his cheek, and she drew back, laughing at the unexpected contact.

Even though her mouth had left a burning imprint on his skin, he couldn't help laughing, too, connected to her by the awkward, incidental touch. Back in the office, this would've been a big deal. But here, in a salsa bar with the moonlight and music, it was more of an icebreaker.

A peek into how happy they could make each other if they'd both let down their defenses for a night.

And that's all it'd be, he told himself. A night.

Never anything more.

She tried again to speak into his ear, this time bracing a hand on his shoulder. Her touch was light, enough to quicken his pulse.

"Competitions are what some of these people live for," she said.

Before she could move away, Derek took a chance, cradled the back of her head with his hand, kept her in place. All he had to do was turn his face to speak into her own ear.

Some of her hair had come loose during the course of the night. This time when he talked, his breath moved a few of those strands. They caressed his face, adding further heat to his yearning for this woman.

"You must come here a lot," he said.

She didn't move from their intimate pose. Encouraged, he trailed his fingertips from the back of her head to the side of her neck--casual but not demanding. Once there, he rested his thumb in the moist dip separating her collarbone, his fingers coming to linger in the crook of her neck and shoulder.

He thought he heard her breath catch.

"I come by every so often," she said. "I live close. And they serve good enchiladas here. Amazingly healthy."

So she wasn't a barfly. That was no surprise. But still, Derek could detect a loneliness similar to someone who sat drinking, waiting for a stranger's company night after night.

He lightly coaxed his thumb up the center of her throat, and she swayed in her seat, anchoring an open hand on his thigh. Longing tightened his belly.

"Did you really bring me here for a drink, Christina?"

When she didn't answer, he coasted his hand upward, using his thumb and forefinger to frame her chin. Guiding her face toward him, he met her gaze.

Hazel eyes, dark in the low, red light. Liquid in the way they were asking him to keep touching her.

He traced her full lower lip, entranced by its softness, and she closed her eyes.

This couldn't be happening, Christina thought.

Sure, she'd invited him here, but she'd been warring with the don't-do-it chiding of her common sense the entire way.

Now, as he caressed her mouth with his thumb, the long-dormant desire to be loved again crushed her barriers, told her it was all right to give in.

Just a little.

Hesitating, she parted her lips, allowed the tip of his thumb inside her mouth, where she sucked, then let him loose.

A sense of pure delight consumed her. Oh, that had been a bad-girl move. And it was addictive.

But she shouldn't go any further, not even an inch more.

The seductive gesture had Derek reaching out with his free hand to take a fistful of her skirt.

"Do you know what you're doing to me?" he asked.

Encouraging you to kiss me again, she thought. And to have you admit that you want me this time.

A slow, sexy song came on, the volume waning, the pace of the dancing slowing to a hush. Waves of motion from undulating bodies both calmed the room and turned up the temperature at the same time.

The feverish heat was getting to her. That had to be it. Why else would she be asking herself if she could manage to get back at him--even a little--for rejecting her?

At the same time, why shouldn't she be the kind of woman who danced under the spell of a salsa, just as she'd wanted to for so many lonely nights while she'd sat at a corner table eating dinner and watching all the couples?

Holding her breath, Christina pulled Derek off his stool. He followed her to the floor.

She turned to him and started a more deliberate version of the dance she'd been doing last night in the deserted conference room, right before the kiss. Swirling her hips, shoulders. Smiling at the freedom of losing herself in the salsa tempo.

Through her eyelashes, she saw him standing there, watching, an obvious longing building up in the clench of his fists, the quickened pace of his breathing.

You don't want to kiss me again? she thought, almost embarrassed to be playing this game.

But, much to her surprise, she was so good at it.

Taking both of his hands, Christina imitated what she'd seen the dancers do a thousand times, arranging his palms on her waist, then sliding them down to her hips.

Oh, this felt right. And it would never have to be mentioned again between them. Not if she stopped in a few more decadent seconds.

But that's clearly not what he had in mind.


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From the book: A Tycoon in Texas
By: Crystal Green
Imprint and Series: Silhouette Special Edition
Publication Date: 03/05
ISBN: 037324670-6
Copyright C: 2005
By: Harlequin Books S.A.
R and TM are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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