Money, charm and sensual skills don't make up for a heart colder than ice...
Wild parties, wanton women, relentless work--nothing helps tycoon Lucas Jackson escape his dark and haunting past. Arriving at his rural castle in a snarling snowstorm, he craves only complete isolation.... But it seems oblivion can take an unexpected and highly intoxicating form!
Personally delivering the vital file left on her boss's desk, secretary Emma Gray starts to seriously regret her dutiful overtime mission. She never expected the dark side of the usually controlled Lucas could generate such a primitive, powerful--and entirely inappropriate--reaction.
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It was the one night of the year he dreaded more than any other.
In the beginning he'd tried everything in a bid to escape it--wild parties, women, work--but he'd discovered that it didn't matter what he was doing or who he was doing it with, the pain remained the same. He chose to live his life in the present, but the past was part of him and he carried it everywhere. It was a memory that wouldn't fade. A scar that wouldn't heal. A pain that went bone-deep. There was no escape, which was why his favoured way of spending this particular night was to find somewhere he could be alone and get very, very drunk.
He'd driven the two hours from his office in London to the property he was restoring in rural Oxfordshire simply for the privilege of being alone. For once his phone was switched off, and it was staying that way.
Snow swirled in a crazy dance in front of the windscreen and visibility was down to almost zero. Huge white drifts were piled high at the side of the road, a trap for the nervous, inexperienced driver.
Lucas Jackson was neither nervous nor inexperienced and his mood was blacker than the weather.
The howl of the wind sounded like a child screaming and he clenched his jaw and tried to blot out the noise.
Never had the first glimpse of stone lions guarding the entrance to his estate been so welcome. Despite the conditions he barely slowed his pace, accelerating along the long drive that wound through acres of parkland towards the main house.
He drove past the lake, now frozen into a skating rink for the ducks, over the bridge that crossed the river and heralded the final approach to Chigworth Castle.
He waited to feel the rush of satisfaction that should have come from owning this, but as always there was nothing. It shouldn't have surprised him, he'd long since accepted that he wasn't able to feel in the way that other people did. He'd switched that part of himself off and he hadn't been able to switch it on again. What he did experience as he looked at the magnificent building was a detached appreciation for something that satisfied both the mathematician in him and the architect. The dimensions and structure were perfect. A gatehouse presided over the entrance, its carved stonework creating a first impression that was both imposing and aesthetically pleasing. And then there was the castle itself, with its buff stonework and battlements that attracted the interest of historians from around the world. The knowledge that he was preserving history gave him a degree of professional pride, but as for the rest of it--the personal, emotional side--he felt nothing.
Whoever said that revenge was a dish best eaten cold had been wrong.
He'd sampled it and found it tasteless.
And tonight Lucas wasn't even interested in the historical significance of the house, just its isolation. It was miles from the nearest hint of civilisation and that suited him just fine. The last thing he wanted tonight was human contact.
Lights burned in a few of the upstairs windows and he frowned because he'd specifically instructed the staff to take the night off. He was in no mood for company of any description.
He drove over the bridge that spanned the moat, under the arch that guarded the entrance and skidded the last few metres into the courtyard, his tyres sending snow spinning into the air.
It occurred to him that if he hadn't left the office when he had, he might not have made it. He had staff capable of clearing the roads in the estate, but the approach to the house consisted of a network of winding country lanes that were a low priority for the authorities responsible for...
A Night of No Return
By: Sarah Morgan