THE PRINCESS. . .
One reckless teenage night, well-to-do April Hollis tempted a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and it changed her life forever. Motorcycle riding, leather jacket-clad Jesse Cawthorne was everything her family forbade: poor, dangerous, with no future that they could see. A man who would only break April’s heart. But April couldn’t resist Jesse, and they spent a lost, tempestuous summer together.
THE PAUPER. . .
As summer turned to fall, however, Jesse realized April was playing with his feelings, and his terrible pride forced them apart. He believed she was what he’d always thought: a spoiled, little rich girls from Windsor Estates. And knowing he would never fit into her wealthy world, he fled.
THE RECKONING. . .
Now, ten years later, Jesse was back, and he and April were forced to confront the same impossible passion that had once held them in thrall . . . and damn the consequences.
She was certain her eyes were playing tricks on her – until he turned her way: dark blond hair, golden eyes, sober expression . . .
April stopped dead in her tracks. The man staring at her with undisguised surprise was Jesse Cawthorne himself.
“Hello, Princess,” he drawled.
She felt that same roaring in her ears, that same heart-stopping fear. She couldn’t find her voice. She could only stare at him, shocked, utterly stupefied. What struck her the most was how little he’d changed. Time had literally stood still for him. He wore disreputable jeans, black boots and a black motorcycle jacket; a black t-shirt was stretched taut across his lean stomach. His hair was long, and a three-day growth of beard covered his hard jaw. He looked tough and smart and mean. Had she not known him, she might have been frightened. As it was, she was simply dumbstruck.
He regarded her stonily. Neither he nor she moved one iota closer.
April did a quick mental calculation and decided he must be around thirty-five. What in the world had he been doing with his life?
“You—you—haven’t changed,” she managed to choke out the words.
Jesse glanced at the security guard employed by Hollis’s department store. “I suppose that’s debatable,” he said. “Are you working here now?”
April nodded jerkily. “I’m the store manager.”
“And my brother works for you?” He obviously found that impossible to believe.
“Will wonders never cease?”
His mouth curved into the sardonic smile of April’s dreams. Memories crowded into her head. She could feel his smooth skin, his hard, blood-stirring kisses — and the terrible yearning that had enslaved her that long-ago summer. Tears built behind her eyes, blurring her vision. Her lungs filled to bursting.
She turned on her heel, intending to run, but his hand caught her gently by the upper arm. “Don’t,” he commanded quietly.
April wanted to pry his fingers from her arm, hating the spreading heat that enveloped her.
“I need to talk to you.” His voice was as smooth as brandy. She’d forgotten its persuasive quality.
“Leave me alone.”
“Give me five minutes. Please.”
Slowly she turned her head to meet his gaze. Something shimmered in those golden eyes, something needy and dangerous. She didn’t want to talk to him. They shared a history that had nearly destroyed her life.
As if from a great distance she heard herself say, “Five minutes.”