Avon Impulse
November 19, 2013
New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy mixes business with pleasure in the second book of her sexy Billionaire Bachelors Club series … Marina Knight came to this party for one thing only: to slap Gage Emerson in the face. Poised to snatch up her family’s real estate empire, the sexy tycoon is on the verge of making an enemy for life—even if he can make her melt with a single kiss … When Gage discovers that the alluring woman before him is the key to his latest acquisition, claiming her as his suddenly doesn’t seem quite so cut-and-dried. To get what he wants, he must get to know the fierce woman willing to face him down—as she steadily steals his heart. Gage’s persistence and intense passion war with Marina’s determination to protect her family. As they delve deeper into an affair they didn’t see coming, Marina’s torn: Will she lose her heart to Gage—or everything she holds dear?
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“So what brings you here tonight, Gage Emerson?” Marina repeats the question I asked her earlier, that same little mysterious smile curving her lips. There’s a natural sultriness to this woman that calls to me. I can’t explain it. I want to lean in closer to her and inhale her scent. Touch her soft cheek, take her hand and press my palm to hers. Something, anything to make that instant connection between us I’m suddenly looking for. Her lips drive me to distraction; they’re such a lush, seductive red.

I bet she tastes fucking amazing.

Keep your head straight, asshole.

“Business,” I answer firmly, sipping from my bottle of beer. It’s from a local microbrewery that’s become a recent favorite. That’s why I came, that and—as always—to make business connections. Archer got me the invite. The more properties I buy in the area, the more inclined I am to stay here.

I like it. The countryside is beautiful, the people seemingly friendly until you want to take over their turf, and it’s not too far from San Francisco, my home base.

I keep my eyes trained on Marina the entire time I drink, noticing how she jerks her gaze away from mine, her chest turning the faintest shade of pink, as if I might’ve made her uncomfortable.

Yep, I’m such a goner. And when I know I shouldn’t be. I’m completely entranced. The women I’m normally drawn to are sophisticated, confident. My equals in age, status, and earning capability. I appreciate more of a powerhouse couple ethic. I sound like a complete jackass in my own damn brain, but I can’t help it. I’m drawn to intelligent, confident women.

This one is young, pretty, and seemingly shy . . . with that air of innocent, yet sensual mystery that has me eager to get to know her better, despite my current aversion to the fairer sex.

“And what sort of business are you involved in?” I swear she just batted her eyelashes at me.

“Real estate.” I take another drink, giving her the side eye as she casually averts her gaze, seeming to scan the crowd from over my shoulder. I glance behind me, seeing no one familiar in the room before I turn to face her once more. Of course, I’m the outsider here. And they’re all watching me as if they expect me to grow five heads or something. I feel out of place.

Napa is small and everyone notices a new face. At least back home in San Francisco, it’s pretty damn easy to get lost in the crowd when you want to. “I’ve recently made some purchases here in the area.”

“Is that so?” Her lips curl into a knowing smile and I frown, trying my best to figure out who the hell she is.

But I don’t know. Not for lack of trying.

“It is. There are a few more that I’m interested in too. That’s why I’m here. I’m hoping to find out some information.”

She lifts an elegant dark blonde brow and my gaze is drawn to it. So she’s a natural blonde? There’s a rarity. “What sort of information?” she asks carefully.

“Well, I was hoping to run into someone from the Molina family.” I’ve tried to contact many of them already, but they won’t return my calls. “I know they still own a substantial amount of property and businesses in and around the area. And that they’ve slowly sold off a few pieces they felt didn’t fit into their real estate portfolio over the years.” I clamp my lips shut, afraid I might’ve revealed too much. What is it about this woman that makes me . . . forget?

Marina remains quiet for long, tension-heavy seconds. Pressing those sexy-as-hell lips together, she blows out a shuddery breath, her gaze narrowing. “So what you’re saying is that you’re a vulture.”

Cocking my head, I frown. “What did you just call me?”

“You heard me. A vulture.” Her voice drips with contempt. She scrunches her mouth into a sexy pout, her eyes coldly assessing. “You swoop in when someone is vulnerable and desperate for money. Then you take everything from them.”

I never said any such thing, though she’s right. The Molina family is vulnerable and looking to sell off their assets, considering they’re land rich and cash poor. “I wouldn’t call myself a vul—”

“No need to explain yourself.” She holds up a hand, stepping away from me. As if she needs the distance. The seductive smile, the sparkling interest in her pretty blue eyes, it’s all gone. Doused like a flame under water. “I understand your type. It was nice meeting you.”

My type? What the hell is she talking about? “Wait, Marina!” I call her name but she’s already walking away, not once bothering to look back as she exits the building and disappears completely.