After two years in prison, Summer Delaney is determined she’s never going back. While she had good reasons for doing what she did, it’s time to move on to a new life and earn an honest living. Unfortunately, there’s a glitch in her plan, and he’s waiting at the gate as she comes out.
Nik isn’t above using blackmail to make Summer work for him until he decides just how he’ll get his revenge. But this time they’re both determined to keep their distance. Right until the inconvenient attraction explodes between them…
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She looked like she’d seen, or heard, a ghost.
Her hand came out to rest on the roof of the car, and the blood drained from her face, leaving her even paler than before.
And she’d been pretty pale already, like she’d spent the last two years in…prison? She’d always been delicate, almost ethereal. Now she looked fragile, as though he could snap her in two with a hard touch. He’d been doing some reading on the effects of prison. He didn’t think Sarah, or rather Summer, was the type to take it well.
Nik slid across, opened the door, and climbed out to stand beside her. He hadn’t remembered her being so small. Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, sneakers on her feet, she appeared younger than her twenty-six years. She was staring at the pavement as though she might find answers there, but as the seconds passed, she finally lifted her head. Her long silver-blond hair was loose around her shoulders, and she raised a shaking hand and looped it behind her ears, revealing the smooth line of her cheek. Her eyes darted left and right before settling on him, and even then, he couldn’t read her expression. It was somehow shuttered, as though she’d managed to hide the shock away and lock it down tight.
“I’m not Sarah Daniels,” she spoke softly. “I think you must be mistaken.”
As she made to move away, he reached out and rested a hand on her arm. A frisson prickled across his skin. The blankness in her face vanished to be replaced by a brief flare of…anger? More than anger—pure unadulterated rage. What the hell had she to be angry about? He was the one in the right here—she’d stolen from him.
She spoke through gritted teeth. “Get your hand off me or I’ll call the police.”
She glared at him.
“Go ahead, Summer.”
At the use of her name, the fight drained from her. She sagged, and he felt… guilty? He forced the emotion away. He was doing this for her own good. Well, ultimately for both of them. He fully intended that somewhere down the line, they would finish what they started that night. But maybe he’d give her a little time to get used to him first.
Then she stood up straight, and he could almost see the core of iron running through her. He had to keep reminding himself that she was no pathetic victim. This was someone capable of going into a workplace, lying to everyone she came across, pretending to be someone else…and stealing.
Had he been the first? Somehow, he found it unlikely. Harry had done an investigation into Summer Delaney, and while he’d found no evidence of wrongdoing, there were a couple of big holes in her life from the age of twenty-one until she’d been arrested. Presumably she’d started doing her little jobs around that age. She had no formal education or qualifications, so she was clearly self-taught.
Sarah Daniels, on the other hand, had plenty of qualifications, and they’d been convincing enough to fool his HR department.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“My money back.” That wasn’t entirely the truth. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what he wanted. Closure maybe.
“I don’t have your money.” She gave him a quick smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “So, can I go now?”
At her words, something tightened inside him. Maybe deep down—okay, not that deep—he’d hoped she’d be…repentant. That she’d say she was sorry, beg for forgiveness, tell him she needed the money for a…life-saving operation? He’d put a lot of time and energy into thinking up scenarios where he could forgive her because she was genuinely remorseful.
It looked like that wasn’t about to happen.
He studied her from head to toe, finally settling on the flutter of her pulse beneath the skin of her throat. That long-ago night, he’d pressed his lips to that pulse, tasted her skin. He knew she wasn’t as cool as she made out. “You really think it will be that easy?”
She glanced away, then back at him, licked her lips, and heat washed through him. He wished she wouldn’t do that; it did queer things to his insides.
“Look,” she said, her voice softening, taking on an earnest quality he was sure would take in most people. “I’m sorry for what I did. But I really don’t have your money. And if it makes you feel better, I’ve changed. Totally. I’ll never do it again.” She blinked up at him so solemnly, he almost believed her.
“Get in the car, Summer.”
She frowned. “I don’t want to get in the car.”
He patted her arm. “This is just a little bit of advice from me to you—free of charge. Get yourself ready for a whole lot of things you don’t want to do.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of nine-to-five work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina writes all types of romance, often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.