Author: Sariah Wilson
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Synopsis: This Cinderella didn’t plan on a prince . . .
Kat MacTaggart is a girl who has a plan for everything—including her holiday ski trip to Monterra with her best friend. Everything is going according to plan until she finds herself careening out of control down a mountainside and being rescued by a guy who looks like Superman’s hotter Italian cousin.
HRH Prince Nico is intrigued by the woman he saved on the slopes and her refusal to date him. He offers Kat a deal—let him show her his country and he’ll pay her to write articles that will help Monterra’s tourism industry. Kat agrees, but given her past and lingering distrust of men, she has one condition—absolutely no kissing.
Thanks to the claims of a jealous British noblewoman and the schemes of a meddling paparazzo, Kat’s rule doesn’t seem to be a problem at first. But the more Kat gets to know Nico and the people around him, the harder it is to remember her keep-your-distance plan. Should she stick to it or risk everything for a chance at happily ever after?
“A little light reading?” His accent was faint, and I couldn’t quite place it. Italian-ish. But I didn’t care enough to ask. I felt him standing next to my stuffed armchair, hovering, and sighed. What was it with European men? American guys didn’t give me the time of day. But over here I was like some kind of dude catnip.
I didn’t take my eyes off of my book. “Sorry, not interested.”
He moved away from me, sitting in an armchair next to mine. Well, I suppose this was what I got for hanging out in the lodge’s lobby. I should have stayed in my room until my best friend, Lemon, was ready to leave.
“You’re not interested in Shakespeare?” he asked. I could hear the amusement in his voice.
“I’m not interested in you.”
“Why not?” This guy just could not take a hint. I turned to look at him, ready to tell him off, and nearly choked.
Gorgeous was an understatement. Tall, athletic, high cheekbones, black hair, and blue eyes. Like Superman’s hotter Italian cousin. He was dressed for a day of skiing—a black turtleneck with an unzipped royal-blue winter coat. And he topped it off with a smile, a blinding, unbelievable smile that nearly did me in.
He leaned in conspiratorially, and I got a whiff of his cologne. He smelled as good as he looked. His glacier-blue eyes were full of intensity and fun, and I wanted to sit and stare into them all day. “I’ve been told I’m very charming.”
I didn’t doubt it. I would never have admitted it out loud, but I was very charmed. Like I was the snake and he was playing a hypnotizing tune that only I could hear.
And I didn’t like the way that made me feel.
Plus, I had to consider reality in this situation. No way could this guy really be hitting on me. He probably dated supermodels and I . . . didn’t date at all. Like, ever. He was so out of my league.
I’d never been so tongue-tied before. I was typically handy with the quips and comebacks. But I couldn’t respond. I had to look away from him and back at my book. The words on the page swam around in front of me, and I was unable to focus on a single one. I needed him to leave so I could regain my equilibrium. “Nothing personal. Italian men don’t do it for me.”
I was the lyingest liar who ever lied.
“How fortunate for me then that I am Monterran.” He had a deep, rumbly, smooth voice that felt like honey and laughter mixed together. I wasn’t immune, and he hadn’t been kidding. He really was disgustingly charming.
My mouth twitched, wanting to smile. I turned a page, pretending to be entranced. I was on Christmas break, I reminded myself. I was here in Monterra to ski with Lemon. It was the last time we would be together before getting our master’s degrees in a few months. I had priorities and plans, and SuperHottie was not on the list.
And if I were being truly honest—he kind of scared me. A guy like that would have expectations, and I wasn’t like other girls.
“I’m Nico, by the way.”
“That’s nice for you.”
But he again failed to parse out the subtext here (and I wasn’t being very subtextual). Short of blatantly telling him to get lost, what else could I do? Would I have to be rude? Because instead of realizing that I was a lost cause, he laughed. He laughed and it did funny things to my insides. I wanted to laugh with him. And crawl into his lap and beg him to be mine.
“And you are?” he prompted.
“Still not interested.” It was becoming a bigger lie as time passed. If some other guy had pursued me this way, I would have thought it was creepy and called for security to have him escorted off the mountain. Instead, I secretly hoped he would keep talking to me.
I thought he’d finally gotten the message as an entire minute of silence passed between us before he reached over to look at my book’s spine to see the title. I gulped in response—his hands were large and masculine, and I wondered how his long fingers would feel interlaced with mine.
I shook my head and let out a shaky breath. I had gone seriously crazy. Like jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch crazy.
“Macbeth? I would have guessed Romeo and Juliet.”
I couldn’t help myself. I had to look at him. “Two fifteen-year-olds who kill themselves in the name of love after only knowing each other for three days? No thanks.”
That smile. He was killing me. “You don’t find it romantic?”
“I don’t find anything romantic about suicide.”
“You don’t think love at first sight is romantic?” he persisted.
I’d never believed such a thing possible before this moment, but now I was sort of getting where Romeo had been coming from. Nico was literally the most handsome man I’d ever met in real life. If anyone could convince me to believe in love at first sight, he was the guy.
“Nope,” I finally managed. He smiled like he didn’t believe me.
Nico looked over his shoulder at a group of guys who were waving and calling out to him. He shouted something back to them, and they headed out the door, hooting and hollering as they went.
He stood up. He was taller than I’d first thought. Yummy tall. Way taller than me tall, and that wasn’t easy to find. “How long will you be in Monterra?”
It was such a personal question my gut reaction was to tell him to mind his own business, but to my surprise, I found myself saying, “For the next couple of weeks.”
“May I see your phone?”
I didn’t actually own a cell phone. I could barely afford food.
“No phone, and I’m not phone adjacent.”
Nico smiled again, and I wanted to melt into my chair. He reached inside his coat, pulled out a small white business card, and handed it to me. “If you do ever find yourself adjacent to a phone while you’re here, please call. I would love to take you to dinner before you leave.”
When I reached out he took my hand and turned it over, leaning down to kiss my knuckles. A lightning arc exploded inside my hand and zoomed around my entire body, all the way down to my toenails. I might have gasped, but I decided to pretend that I would never do something so lame.
He straightened back up to put the card in my shaking hand, closing my fingers around it. “I look forward to your call,” he said as he walked backward toward the exit. “Ciao, bella.”
He left and it took my eyes a second to adjust. Like I’d been staring at the sun and now had third-degree burns on my retinas. Who did that? Who just kissed people’s hands like that? This wasn’t the fifteenth century. So weird. And exciting. But weird.
The business card was white and thick. Obviously expensive. There was only a series of numbers, presumably his telephone number. I flipped the card over. Blank. Who had a card without a name on it? Just their phone number?
I’d tell you who. A guy who kissed your hand.
I closed my book and put it on the coffee table in front of me. I looked at the card again, turning it over a couple of times as I considered my decision.
I didn’t need this while I was here. And I couldn’t let Lemon see it or she’d hogtie me and force me to call him. I was here to relax, forget about my school troubles, and enjoy time with my best friend. Boys were not part of the equation.
A massive fire burned in the fireplace across the room. Decision made, I walked over and before I could change my mind, threw the card into the fire.
And informed myself that I absolutely, totally and completely did not regret it.
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