The Italian Tycoon's Bride [Secure]
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by Helen Brooks
Description: He wants her--so he'll wed her! Maisie Burns is a nice girl, with little experience of the world. But that doesn't stop tycoon Blaine Morosini from wanting her! Maisie doesn't see the effect she has on the enigmatic Italian--she thinks she's far too plain for a man like him to notice her. But the longer they spend together, the more their mutual attraction grows. Though Blaine once thought he didn't do commitment, now he realizes that if he's to have Maisie he'll have to put his playboy past behind him and make her his wife!
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents,
eBookwise Release Date: December 2007
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [292 KB]
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MAISIE sat staring at the navel ring of the spiky-haired girl sitting opposite her on the tube train. It was a very nice piece of jewellery but definitely flamboyant, encrusted as it was with tiny, different coloured stones. Then again its owner was flamboyant; the purple and red striped hair below which sparkled a pair of blue eyes surrounded by panda make-up was meant to catch the attention. This is me, take it or leave it. No compromise.
Maisie shifted in her seat, her eyes still locked on the little ring and the tanned flat stomach surrounding it. The girl certainly hadn't pigged out on pizza and toffee doughnuts the night before; in fact Maisie doubted if she had ever pigged out in the whole of her life. The ultra-long legs encased in strategically torn jeans were as thin as any model's, and the cropped vest top showed slim arms heavily weighed down with bangles and beaded bracelets. She looked gorgeously slender and brimming with the joy of life. Technically the girl was very different from the tall willowy blonde whom Jeff had just waltzed off with, but the pair were definitely sisters under the skin.
The thought of Jeff and Camellia—apparently the name meant perfection, one of Maisie's not-so-good friends had taken covert pleasure in informing her—brought tears stinging at the backs of her eyes, and Maisie fumbled for a tissue. She couldn't cry here, not on the tube in the middle of a Saturday morning, she told herself fiercely, turning her head and staring at her reflection in the tube window. This wasn't a good idea. It reminded her that her wavy brown hair and brown eyes were fairly nondescript and that her face was definitely of the round variety.
Possibly because she was concentrating extremely hard on not glancing at the girl across the way again, Maisie realised in the next moment or two that she had missed her stop. Great. Now, on top of acknowledging that everyone probably thought they were sharing the carriage with a fat little munchkin, she was going to be late for her weekly coffee date with Sue and Jackie. And they would be bound to assume it was because she'd been howling over Jeff.
Poor Maisie. They might not say it out loud but that was what they would be thinking. She could read it in everyone's eyes. Well, it was up to her to show them that she wasn't poor Maisie, wasn't it? That she didn't give a damn, in fact? She bet the ringed beauty across the way wouldn't. Not that a girl like her would have her fiancé walk out on her a few weeks before the wedding in the first place.
Determinedly keeping her eyes from straying but employing her brain into the bargain, Maisie alighted at the next stop, eventually emerging into the bright sunlight of a busy Oxford Street. The June sun was hotter than she had expected it to be, and she found herself wishing she had worn something other than her calf-length denim skirt and long-sleeved top as she battled her way through Saturday shoppers.
Why was she breaking her neck to get to a meeting she had no wish to be at?
As the thought struck, Maisie's frantic pace slowed. She was going to arrive at the coffee bar looking like something the cat wouldn't deign to drag in at this rate, and ten to one Sue and Jackie would be sitting there all cool and relaxed, sipping iced water or something non-calorific.
Not that the pair of them weren't dear friends, Maisie assured herself as she continued at a more measured pace past John Lewis. They had all been inseparable from primary school, but Sue was a successful fashion buyer and Jackie a beautician with her own business, which had come on in leaps and bounds since she'd started it three years ago.
She, on the other hand, had followed her heart and not her head—or, more to the point, her prospective bank balance—in her choice of career. On leaving sixth-form at eighteen with three quite presentable A-levels in chemistry, maths and biology, she'd had to accept that the grades were not the straight As needed for the veterinary degree course she had aspired to. With only six universities in the UK having veterinary schools, and five applicants for every one of the three hundred or so places, she had been presented with the unpleasant truth that she could try for ever and not obtain the necessary qualifications.
Maisie was nearing the coffee bar now and guilt at being late speeded up her feet even as her mind meandered on.
And so, in spite of encouragement from her teachers and even stronger encouragement from her mother to apply for a degree course in biochemistry or animal physiology or even agriculture, she had opted for veterinary nursing. The money was poor, the hours long and, since there was no equivalent to the nursing service within human hospitals, there was no formal career structure and promotion prospects were limited. And she loved every minute. Or she had done until two weeks ago.
'Whew.' She breathed out a sigh as she dived off Oxford Street into the side street in which the coffee bar was situated, standing by some iron railings as she smoothed her hair back from her hot face, pulled down her top and wished she didn't feel so sticky. After energetically fanning herself with a leaflet for vitamin pills she'd found in her handbag, she conceded it just made her more over-heated. She glanced at her watch. It wasn't the expensive little silver beauty Jeff had given her for Christmas, because that was now the pride and joy of her local charity shop, along with every other gift which had come from him in the two years since she had known him; the ring she had flung back in his lying, cheating face. No, this watch was a sturdy plastic thing from a market stall. Which summed up her entire life at present really.
Copyright © 2006 by Helen Brooks.