Feel the Fire
Book 3 in Unforgettable Series
Harlequin Arabesque
November 2007
ISBN-10: 037383022X
ISBN-13: 978-0373830220
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A woman he can't resist

In this stunning sequel to the The Beautiful Ones, business mogul Jonas Hinton has learned to stay clear of gorgeous women and the heartbreak they bring. A chance meeting with confident, sexy attorney Toni Wright stirs a longing he tried to deny. but when Toni strides into his office months later, delivering a lawsuit, Jonas can't hide his attraction.

A love he can't ignore

Tired of waiting for Jonas to make a move, Toni begins dating his younger brother, Sterling. But sexual tension sizzle every time she and Jonas are together. Torn between loyalty to his brother and overwhelming desire, can Jonas find a way to win the woman who could be his real-life Ms. Wright?

READ AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE HERO, JONAS HINTON



Prologue

Raleigh, South Carolina

It was going to be a beautiful wedding.

Too bad, thirteen-year old Alyssa Jansen was going to miss it. Being the daughter of the hired help meant a lot of things, but it didn’t mean one was automatically invited to the social event of the year.

Far from it.

However, she could still enjoy the magic drifting in the air. Weddings inspired such hope and wonderment about the future and this one had Alyssa dreaming about her own.

One day Quentin and I will walk down aisle.

Sighing dreamily, Alyssa twirled around with her arms stretched high above her head. Quentin Dwayne Hinton, her real life prince charming. True all the Hinton men were handsome; but Quentin had something extra-something special.

Dizzy, she giggled aloud and then bumped into her father. “Oh,” she gasped. “Sorry, dad. I didn’t see you.”

Alfred Jansen, the Roger Hinton’s personal chef was a six-foot four robust man with a long, silver mane of hair and matching goatee that made him look more like a mountain lion than a man. His commanding presence garnered immediate respect and he certainly ran the Hinton’s kitchens with iron authority; but underneath, everyone knew this lion was nothing but a kitten at heart.

“Alyssa, honey. You have to get out of the way. We’re trying to get ready for the wedding.” Alfred smiled despite the reprimand. He’d always found it difficult to scold his daughter and everyone knew it.

“I’m sorry, dad. I’ll get out of the way.”

The florist and her assistants rushed around the father and daughter, setting up the arrangements, while one guy ran past with a cage of doves.

“Oh, daddy, look. They’re going to release birds.”

“Uh, huh.” He grabbed her by the hand. “Too bad you’re going to miss it.”

Alyssa poked out her bottom lip. Why did he have to remind her?

“Do me a favor,” her father said, directing her back toward the kitchen. “Stay out of the trees.”

“What?” she asked horrified. She was a natural monkey when it came to climbing and she already had her mind set on perching in her favorite Southern Red Oak tree with her binoculars and a bag of Cheetos. “But I wanted to see the wedding.”

“You can listen to it from your bedroom.”

“Listen to it? That’s not the same thing. One doesn’t listen to a wedding. You see a wedding. You experience it.”

Her father shook his head and remained firm. “You fell out of that large oak last week and almost experienced a broken neck,” he reminded her. “Case you haven’t noticed, I have enough to worry about around here. Like trying to feed twelve hundred guests.”

Alyssa clamped her mouth shut.

“Promise me,” he said.

She groaned, wishing he hadn’t added that. What girl could resist watching a fairy tale wedding in her own backyard? Didn’t he know he was asking the impossible?

“Ally.” He stopped and spun her around by the shoulders. “Promise me,” he insisted.

Alyssa sighed and dropped her head. “I promise,” she mumbled to her feet, but kept her fingers crossed behind her back.

“Hmm. Something smells wonderful in here.”

Alyssa and Alfred turned to see Quentin enter the kitchen and make a beeline toward one of the long silver trays.

Alyssa froze.

Quentin, Q as his friends called him, wasn’t as tall as her father; but at six-foot-two, lean, and with a beautiful butterscotch complexion, it was no wonder why women practically drooled whenever he was around.

Alyssa included.

“What’s in here, Alfred?” Q asked, lifting a tray cover.

“Ah, ah, ah. Master Quentin. Those Lobster pot stickers are for the wedding.”

Q quickly swiped one and plopped it in his mouth with a wink.

Alyssa stifled a giggle at his playful antics.

“Mr. Hinton, please,” her father begged. “Everything must be perfect or Sterling will have my head on one of these silver platters.”

When Q laughed, Alyssa thought it was the most beautiful sound on earth.

“Oh, loosen up, Alfred. Knowing you, everything will be more than ‘perfect’. Relax. Personally, I can’t believe Jonas is crazy enough to give this whole marriage thing another try. Who knows? This time we might even reach the ‘I do’ part.” Q laughed heartily and to Alyssa’s amazement, his eyes landed on her.

“Oh, hello, Alice.” He headed toward her.

Alyssa’s eyes bugged and her tongue glued itself to the roof of her mouth.

“My, my. Aren’t you a tall weed?” He looked her over. “How old are you now?”

She blinked while her mind went blank beneath his twinkling brown eyes.

After a lengthy silence, Quentin frowned. “Alfred, I think there’s something wrong with your daughter. She’s not a mute, is she?”

“No...uhm. She’s shy.”

“Oh.” His gaze raked over her bony legs, flat chest, and large eyes. “You better watch out for this one,” he told Alfred. “She’s going to break plenty of hearts when she grows up.” He tweaked her right cheek. “Mine included,” he added for her ears only.

Never!

“Don’t I know it.” Her father winked at her from over Q’s shoulder, oblivious to the youngest Hinton’s teasing.

“There you are!” Sterling Hinton burst into the kitchen. “I’ve been looking all over the place for you.”

Quentin swung his arm around Alyssa’s shoulders before turning to face his older brother. “You know me, I can’t stand to be apart from beautiful women.”

Alyssa’s face flushed with heat. His arm is around my shoulder!

“Don’t you think Alyssa is a little too young for you?”

She frowned at Sterling. Who was he to come rain on her parade?

“First of all,” Q’s said, waving a finger. “Her name is Alice. Second of all...well, there’s no second.”

“Have you been drinking?” Sterling asked, suspiciously.

“There’s no law against it and it’s well past noon. At least five minutes or so.”

Fire lit behind Sterling’s eyes and Alyssa cowered. Sterling it didn’t explode often; but when he did, watch out.

“If you ruin this day for Jonas,” Sterling seethed, jabbing a finger into the center of Q’s chest. “I swear I’ll kill you.”

Q’s arms fell from Alyssa’s shoulders as he smiled in an attempt to tame a dragon. “I resent that. I was on my best behavior at Jonas’s last wedding and I will be so again tonight; but if there’s a third one, all bets are off.”

“Smart ass.”

“Hey, hey. Watch the language in front of young Alice.” Q looped his arm around his brother and directed him out of the kitchen. “The poor girl is painfully shy.”

When the Hinton brothers disappeared out of the kitchen, Alyssa’s small shoulders slumped forward as her tongue finally unglued itself. “My name isn’t Alice.”

“Tough break, sweetheart.” Her father tugged her fat pigtail. “At least this time he paid you a compliment.”

“Some compliment.”

“He basically said one day you’ll be so beautiful you’ll have your pick of any man, if my heart can take it, and the ones you don’t choose will be heart broken.”

“Then I choose Quentin.”

“Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll have him.” He sighed. “But you should keep your options open. Wide open.”

Alyssa knew her father didn’t approve of Quentin, but he never came right out and discouraged her from her lofty claims to marry the man.

Mainly because Q was a playboy. Yes, she knew what a playboy was. Thirteen didn’t mean she was naïve. Besides, it didn’t matter. When she grew up, Q would only have eyes for her. She would make sure of it.

A line of servers bowled through the kitchen’s swinging doors and nearly knocked Alyssa over.

Her father cocked his head and gave her a pleading look.

“I’m going. I’m going,” Alyssa said, dejectedly and shuffled out of the kitchen with her head down. She headed out the main house by the back door, hoping to catch one last look at the beautiful preparations.

Her frown drooped to an all time low as she crept across the yard toward the servant quarters. However, to get there, she had to pass her favorite oak tree. As she approached, a pair of male voices drifted on the afternoon air.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this again, son?”

Alyssa recognized her father’s employer, Roger Hinton’s, voice and she crouched down behind a line of shrubbery to eavesdrop.

“There won’t be any surprises at this wedding, will there?”

“I can only hope not,” Jonas joked with a nervous titter. “I think this time I picked someone who really wants to marry me.”

“Good. Good.” Mr. Hinton encouraged. “That’s always a good strategy. Well, at any rate. I’m glad you chose to have the wedding here at the house. I can’t tell you how much it means to your mother. Of course, she’s hell bent on getting the other two married off.”

Jonas’ gruff laughter rumbled around the men. “Good luck with Quentin. Mom might have to hog tie him and drag him down the aisle.”

“True. The boy is stubborn as a mule. He inherited that from your mother’s side of the family.”

Offended for her future husband, Alyssa rolled her eyes. There was no one more hardheaded than Roger Hinton. A man who built a Real Estate empire by never accepting the word ‘no’ and greasing a few pockets to make sure that he never would.

“You know, son. You never did tell me how you come to meet this new bride of yours.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No.” A long puff of his cigar trailed his clipped answer and then, “There’s even talk around the house that she dated Sterling for a minute.”

Alyssa’s eyes widened at that revelation.

“I didn’t you know you listened to idle gossip, dad.”

“I’ve always found there’s a little truth to gossip and I have to say I’m mighty curious. Me and your mother. Who is she? Where did come from? And please tell me you had the bride sign a prenuptial agreement this time around. There are rumors you don’t like those things as well.”

Jonas chuckled. “I’m not going to answer the prenuptial question, dad. But it is sort of an interesting story on how Toni and I met...”

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