**Previously published as VANISHED IN VENICE** The cross is the key to a priceless treasure...will it secure their future, or doom them forever?
One year after being shot in Italy, Rachel Sanders travels to Venice in search of the jeweled cross that triggered a heartbreaking family betrayal. Determined to keep the treasure from her mother’s greedy hands, she’s caught off guard by the interference of an irresistibly charming rival. His unexpected offer to work together might be self-serving, but she’s thrown into a precarious situation where she can’t refuse.
Nick Marshall has a family legacy to recover and a score to settle. Anyone with the last name Sanders is fair game—until he meets Rachel. She’s gorgeous, smart, sexy, and doesn’t buy one word of his cover story. When their attraction combusts, each kiss makes his deception burn like acid, and he begins to question his end goal.
But they’re not the only ones after the cross. Ruthless players determined to recover the treasure first put Nick and Rachel’s lives at risk. Despite all the secrets and lies, lines quickly blur between the con and the real deal. Can love survive a double-cross when the mystery is unlocked?
Join the sexy fun of a treasure hunt through Venice – get your copy of CONNED today!
“*From the moment the book begins until its exciting conclusion, it’s all blood-pounding chases, near misses with death, and heart-stopping romance*.” ~ Adria’s Romance Reviews
“I’m serious, Nicholas, stop following me.”
“I prefer Nick.”
“Or we could go with creepy asshole stalker.”
He grinned. “Nicholas is fine.”
“Just leave me alone. It’s not like I’ve got anything you want anymore.”
She had plenty he wanted. And plenty more he shouldn’t. Hidden behind his own mirrored shades, he flicked his gaze down to her pink mouth, with its full bottom lip glistening in the morning sunshine. Succumbing to the urge to kiss those lips would give a whole new meaning to keep your enemies closer. For him anyway.
He shifted his attention back up, wishing he could remove her glasses. Would that answering glimmer of awareness darken her eyes again? The possibility sent a shot of heat through his veins.
Tempting though it was, tasting her was not a thought he should be entertaining. To distract his libido, he said, “I was hoping we could talk. Can I buy your caffe?”
“You already did.”
A smirk curved the corners of her mouth as she started across the square once more. He automatically reached to feel his pocket. His wallet was still there, but obviously he should have checked the contents—and definitely don’t bet the Bible where she’s concerned.
Nick caught up in three strides and kept pace with her. “Then the least you can do is let me sit with you while you drink it.”
“The least I can do? Really?” She didn’t stop walking until they reached the café. Then she swiped her glasses off and jabbed them at him as her blue eyes flashed. “You broke into my apartment, stole letters that have sentimental value, and then lost them to those two idiots last night. And you’re talking about the least I can do?”
“Whoa, easy now.” He held up his hands to placate her. And ward off the jab. “Before you go getting all worked up, maybe you’d like to hear my proposition.”
“Trust me, yes you do.”
“Trust you,” she retorted. “Wow, not only are you delusional, you’re hilarious.”
Quit trying to talk her into listening and just say it.
“I thought we could help each other.”
Her elegantly sculpted eyebrows arched upward as she tucked her glasses in her bag. “With what?”
“Finding whatever it is you came here to look for.”
Her eyes widened the tiniest bit. Then her eyebrows lowered, drawing together as she appeared to consider his words. “The only thing I might consider looking for are the personal mementos you stole and lost.”
So much for consideration. “I might have a lead on those letters.” He had shit, but she wouldn’t know that.
Ignoring him, she faced the barista and gave an order for a cappuccino. Then she looked at the pastry offerings and fumbled through a request for something similar to cornetto alla crema. Nick pointed out the bignè alla crema before requesting a caffe doppio for himself. He also advised in Italian they’d like to sit at one of the terrace tables so the cover charge could be added to their bill.
He reached for his wallet, but Rachel beat him to it by handing twenty euros to the man operating the register. “Don’t worry, you’re covered.”
“I’d say thank you, but I’d be talking to myself, right?”
His sarcasm was rewarded with a smug smile. While she accepted the change, Nick took their purchases to carry out to the table. After setting them down, he pulled out her chair and waited. She gave him a suspicious look before gathering her skirt with one hand and sitting with a graceful sweep of elegance. The movement was so smooth, the single, filmy ruffle along her modest neckline barely moved.
Like the last time he’d stood behind her at a restaurant table, the faint honey scent of her shampoo wafted up to fill his senses. A hint of sweet and a whole lot of sultry, just like the woman. He drew in a discreet inhale, then straightened with a mental admonishment to keep his focus.
When he dropped onto the chair opposite her, she lifted her cappuccino for a taste, then set her cup back on its saucer. She sat back in her chair with her gaze steady on his. “What makes you think I’d want, or even need, your help?”
Ah ha. She was thinking about his offer.
He considered what angle to play as he sipped his double espresso. Charming or blunt?
Yesterday, he’d have piled on the charm. She’d appeared more…innocent. Maybe not quite the right word, but the stylish dress, the shoes, her hair, and even the modest make-up she wore, all suggested a level of somewhat high maintenance. Or sophistication. Class.
However, her undetected pursuit of him last night completely contradicted everything on the outside. Coupled with her ambush this morning, he was seeing her in an entirely different light.
Class, some sass, and not one to have the wool pulled over her eyes.
He went with blunt. “Because I can help you find the cross.”
ITALY INTRIGUE SERIES
Kidnapped, book 1
*Winner* 2012 Write Touch Readers' Award, romantic suspense as Lost in Italy
Betrayed, book 2
Conned, book 3