Author: Dani Collins
Genre/Age: Contemporary Romance/Adult
Series: Sweet Dreams Series (Book One)
Synopsis: Paige Fogarty never believed Liebe Falls’ golden boy, Sterling Roy, could want a No Good Fogarty, but one magical night, they kissed—ruining her already murky reputation. Fifteen years later, she’s still shunned, now as a professional accountant auditing Roy Furnishings. It’s a daunting task even before she’s forced to work with him.
Sterling made a fool of himself over Paige once. Never again. He only returns to the factory his mother calls his ‘legacy’ to ensure Paige doesn’t pull a fast one. When their chemistry blazes hotter than ever, he wonders if he misjudged her, but secrets come to light, including an embezzler she tries to protect, proving she’s still the wrong girl. So why does holding onto her feel so right?
Paige has come to the hospital where her father, Grady, is recovering from his third heart attack. She overhears his business partner, Walter, wishing he had died, since that would make things so much easier. As she confronts him, Sterling comes up behind her.
She didn’t need this. She could walk away.
And would have, if a man hadn’t come up behind her.
“Excuse me,” he said, touching her shoulder lightly to indicate he’d like to get by.
Her bones turned to sand as recognition of that particular voice dawned. Sterling Roy. Walter’s son.
The battered box of Scrabble in her hand, the one she’d forgotten she was even holding, tilted. She’d meant to tape the end, but there hadn’t been any in the house, not without venturing into Lyle’s shop and monsters abided there. But maybe she should have risked her life and gone looking because the end of the box opened and letter tiles spilled all over the hospital’s green lino.
Maybe she could spell, Terrific, while she was down here, groveling at the feet of these grade-A a-holes.
“Oh hell, I’m sorry.” Sterling crouched with her.
She glimpsed a dark gold crew cut of tousled spikes and a suit that put the other men’s to shame, then lowered her gaze to the scattered game pieces.
“I can do it,” she muttered, opening the box on the floor and thinking the whole thing would have to go into the incinerator. Hospital germs. Gross.
“It’s my fault. I didn’t mean to startle you.” He gathered up x’s and o’s and offered them to her.
What the hell was he doing here?
Apparently Walter found it equally questionable.
“What are you doing here?” He moved to stand above them.
“Plane was late.” Sterling’s voice had grown deeper, developing a hint of North Carolina ease. “I called Mom. She said you were here, seeing Grady. I thought you might need an exit strategy—”
Rude. Paige stopped what she was doing to look at him.
He met her gaze and shock froze his gorgeous features, giving her time to note that his all-American looks had matured into sculpted, Prince Charming perfection. His strong jaw was stronger, the cleft defined and lightly coated in brown-gold stubble. His straight nose was more arrogant, his lips full and sensual without being pretty. His brows had darkened enough to frame his eyes.
Those eyes were that kind of painful, mid-winter blue that was so intense it hurt to look into them. A cloud of scent surrounded him that was clean like rain, but warm and welcoming, masculine and enticing.
When did anyone ever feel their blood moving in their arteries? She did. Right now. Her whole body came alive with subtle throbs and a generation of heat that would embarrass her to death when it hit her cheeks.
“Paige.” His expression smoothed to something more neutral and polite while his gaze took in the hood that she’d pulled over her hair and the way the oversized hoodie hung off her narrow shoulders so much more loosely than it did on her fifteen-year-old nephew.
“I’ve seen Grady. We can leave now,” Walter urged.
Paige heard the tension in Walter’s voice and understood his impatience stemmed from Sterling being this close to Paige.
Because she was so irresistible to him.
Slapping the lid on the box, she stood, being careful to keep her hand over the broken end.
“Always a pleasure to see you, Sterling,” she said as he rose in front of her. She punctuated with a brilliant smile that she conjured purely to annoy his father.
It died on contact. Sterling wasn’t easy to lie to. His gaze traveled from her to his father and back.
Then he returned her killer smile with his own, letting his gaze linger as he surveyed her face as if he had every right to take a long perusal of her lack of make-up and dismayed scowl.
“Likewise,” he said, super friendly and edging toward charismatic, punishing her, she supposed, for daring to attempt to use him in a power play.
Rich and good-looking wasn’t enough for him. He had to be perceptive, too. Jerk.
He hadn’t changed much from the few times she’d spotted and avoided him, when they’d both been in town over the last fifteen years. He had filled out the way some men did in their thirties, from lanky to perfect, but he still had the celebrity air that made him the alpha-male just by showing up.
While she felt like the ultimate scullery maid, standing here with her broken board game, tongue-tied in the presence of the Homecoming King.
“No time to catch up,” she said with an edge of mockery. “I’m just saying ‘bye to Dad before I get on the road back to Seattle. Nice to see you.” Die.
“I hope he recovers quickly.” Sterling was better at sounding sincere than she was. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
Sarcastic ass. She wanted to show him her finger.
He looked to his father as a signal they leave.
She turned toward the corridor that would take her to her father’s room, but she hadn’t gone two steps before she heard, “Whoa, there.”
And why was part of her oddly pleased that he was calling her back?
From: Dani CollinsFun Fact # 1:
I originally wrote this as a murder mystery, and completed it about ten years ago. I had an agent at the time, but she wasn’t able to place it. I wound up selling a different book to Harlequin Presents and they’ve kept me busy, but I’ve been anxious to go back and revise this book along with its mate, Only In His Sweetest Dreams.
By the time I got back to it, I had learned a lot about writing and, more importantly, that it’s tough to make murder work in a romantic comedy, especially if the victim is the heroine’s father. So I resurrected him and kept the mystery about the embezzler along with the elements I really loved, which is the dynamic between Paige and Sterling. She’s trash and he’s from the best family in town. Ne’er the twain shall meet. Or shall they?
Fun Fact # 2:
I come from blue collar roots, so one of the dynamics that feels very real to me, and comes up often in my books, is trash talk between men. Sometimes it’s good-natured, sometimes it’s dead serious. Among the men I know, it’s almost always entertaining.
In Only In Her Wildest Dreams, Paige’s family is from the wrong side of the tracks. She has a terrible crush on the town’s all-star, Sterling. Sterling and her brother, Lyle, loathe each other. They were rivals when they were young, took different paths—Lyle became quite the ne’er do well—and Sterling still blames Lyle for all that went wrong the night he kissed Paige.
Fifteen years later, Paige is auditing the factory owned by their two fathers. Sterling returns to protect his father’s interests and guess who works as a millwright and gets implicated in the embezzling? These two men are headed for a clash and, spoiler alert, it happens. I won’t say more, but some of my favorite dialogue is between these two.
USA Today Bestseller Dani Collins is the author of thirty romances for Harlequin Presents, Montana Born and herself. Dani lives in Canada with her high school sweetheart. Join Dani's newsletter and receive Cruel Summer, a short ebook romance, as a welcome gift:http://danicollins.com/free-book/
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