Erin Lee Daniels is an editor and romance author. After receiving a degree in Political Science and International Relations Erin Lee worked in the private sector before pursuing her lifelong dream of authorship. She lives in NYC and enjoys travel, cooking, collecting fine china, keeping a handle on her American Girl addiction and spending time with family and good friends.
Excerpt from Blaque Beauty and the Billionaire (The Blaque Beauty Collection, Book 1)
Truth be told, however, Marc was anxious himself to head back to his suite and unwind. It had been a long day, and he wanted to turn the situation about Marlee over in his mind. So, was it a situation now?
This is not a situation, he thought. You simply met a charming young woman who happens to be working for you on a project. And who happens to be absolutely stunning. Okay, and she also happens to think you’re probably some dentist on a ski vacation from Boulder. Damnit.
Marc had undressed and crawled into bed, waiting for sleep to overtake him. But thoughts of a certain design assistant in ballet flats crowded his thoughts and made his night a fitful one. No matter how he tried, he found it impossible to fall asleep until well past midnight.
She was intriguing. It hardly mattered that their conversation had mostly revolved around a pair of doors. An image of her smiling came unbidden to him, and he ran a hand over his face, exhaling deeply. He sat up in bed and reached for the bedside phone to order his breakfast.
Breakfast. His hand froze midway to the phone. Would Marlee consider having breakfast with him? Idiot. He let his hand drop. She didn’t even know his name. He slid down until he was lying flat against the pillows and tugged the duvet until it covered his head.
Idiot. Thoughts of her pulled him under. There was something about the way she looked at him, with a certain expectancy. It was unnerving and endearing at the same time. Or maybe it was just his conscience. Maybe she looked trusting and sweet-natured because he was aware of his own deceit. That’s it. Marc rubbed his hand over his stomach. I’m projecting.
Suddenly, Marc wished he were a dentist from Boulder. How easy it would be to ask her to breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. They could spend every free moment together until she had to return to New York, and he could find a way to see her again.
You want to see her again?
Instead of going through his emails or familiarizing himself with his proposal outline for the Vermont meeting, he was having a mini existential crisis over a woman who thought he was a guest in his own lodge. What the hell?
Groaning, he sat up again and flung back the duvet. Screw this. He would ask her to have dinner with him.
Then would he tell her the truth? Hadn’t he tried to tell her just as Dorian had shown up? Did that count?
Marc had never been a liar. He learned as a child that it just never worked out in the end, no matter the reason, and although he told himself he wasn’t technically lying to Marlee, he also knew his rationalizations were utter and complete garbage. That’s what scared him the most – the fact that she would feel the same way if he tried to explain it to her.
Maybe it won’t matter, he thought, watching but not seeing the muted television screen. She’ll be gone in two days anyway, and it won’t matter. He just prayed she wasn’t in a relationship. There was no getting around that.
Marc closed his thoughts on the matter like the doors to a steel bank vault and went to take a shower. He would find a way to ask her out to dinner.
It wasn’t exactly a plan but it would get him what he wanted and what he wanted was to be near her again, for any reason and for however long. And what was the point of being Marc Ross if you couldn’t get exactly what you wanted?
* * *
Everything about this trip so far had been like an impossible dream. The work was unrelenting but exciting, and in such a beautiful setting.
This thought led her to the evening before, and the beautiful stranger in the main sitting room. My God, but he was a work of art. Marlee involuntarily closed her eyes at the thought of him, a rush of warmth washing over her and making her scalp tingle.
After her gaffe yesterday, she had all but fled from him like a budget Cinderella, just before the stroke of midnight.
Marlee groaned audibly. Idiot.
Just as she has done the night before, she forced herself to slow down her thinking so she could remember every detail of their conversation, but it wasn’t easy. Instead, images of his China-blue eyes and perfect mouth assaulted her mind, and tiny lightning strikes traveled up and down her spine. She hadn’t even asked him his name.
He hadn’t exactly offered it either, she thought ruefully. Could she blame him? She must have seemed invasive at worst and over-eager at best.
Hadn’t he told her she was beautiful, though? It seemed like he actually wanted to talk to her, but honestly, that didn’t really mean much. She was beautiful, and she knew it, but he was also a gorgeous man in a luxury après-ski lodge. Maybe he expected women to twitter and babble just because he paid attention to them. Ugh.
Marlee grabbed a pillow and pulled it over her face. Why did she feel so much energy when she looked in his eyes? Why did she get the feeling he was studying her, as if he were the one who was unsure and out of his league?
There was nothing intimidating about a chatty assistant who prattled on about doors, and certainly nothing mysterious. Mysterious, alluring – two qualities Marlee had always admired and wished she could pull off, but it never worked. She was just too energetic and open.
Am I basic? She had asked herself.
But he, on the other hand, was borderline amazing. Her thoughts found their way back to his solemn eyes – so mesmerizing and intense, the lips that didn’t seem to smile often, yet held a world of promise in their sensual curves.
Her mental reel slowed and stopped on the moment he’d grabbed her hand and encouraged her to sit down on the sofa beside him. The action seemed to surprise him as much as it did her, but it somehow diffused the crackling tension between them and created a sense of… intimacy? Was wishful thinking making her imagine things? Of course. She was surely projecting.
Marlee’s reverie dissolved like morning mist. She rolled onto her side and peered at the clock. With lingering thoughts of sexy scruff and molten blue eyes, Marlee shrugged off her robe, stepped out of her nightgown, and went to run a hot bath,
Dreaming about impossibly perfect strangers could wait, but real life and real responsibilities could not.