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Caroline broke off as Nicholas took another step forward, until they were now once again standing so close they were almost touching. She gave a determined shake of her head. "Mr Connelly," "Nick," he corrected, "Nicholas" "Nick," he repeated, Caroline was a bit frustrated, "Nick," she bit out, "if you’re trying to intimidate me then I think I should warn you—" "Warn me of what…?" Nicholas murmured throatily, even as he raised one of his hands to cup the warmth of her cheek, before moving the soft pad of his thumb over the softness of her lips, feeling the warmth of her breath against his fingers as he parted those lips in preparation for his kiss. His own arousal intensified at the feel of that sensual warmth against his skin. His shaft was hard and pulsing, demanding. Caroline's eyes were wide, deep amber pools as she stared up at him. "I should warn you—" "Yes…?" Nicholas prompted softly, holding that wide and startled gaze with his own as his head began to lower towards hers. She breathed softly. "I really should warn you—" "Warn me later, hmm?" he dismissed gruffly, before finally claiming those full and pouting lips with his own.

Chapter 1

"He stood in the shadows of the night. Dark. Dangerous. A lethal predator. Glittering black eyes stared in at the woman through the window as she moved about the bedroom wearing only a towel draped about her silken nakedness. A slight smile curved her lips and she remained completely unaware of the danger that lay in wait for her outside in the darkness."

Caroline Anderson felt a shiver down her spine as she looked up from the book she was reading to her own bedroom window, wishing now that she had thought to draw the curtains before getting into bed. Except, like the woman in the story, Caroline had believed no one would be able to see into the second storey bedroom window of this remote house, perched high on the rugged cliffs. The tide must be in, covering the sandy beach, Caroline realized as she heard the roughness of the sea pounding against the cliffs. She repressed another shiver before reading the next paragraph of her book.

"Shoulder-length dark hair framed a face of hard, sensual magnetism. Those intense black eyes focused on the long creamy column of the woman's exposed throat and he could see the blood pulsing hotly through her veins. He possessed harshly hewn cheeks, a fierce slash of a nose, and chiseled lips that now drew back in a hiss to reveal elongated incisors as the woman dropped the towel to reveal the naked perfection of her body—"

Crash! So intent had Caroline been on the description of the s*xy predator stalking the heroine that the sound of glass breaking somewhere downstairs made her gasp out loud, even as her fingers tightened about the book that had already succeeded in frightening the life out of her without this added scare!

What the f*ck was that? Not a good choice of words, Caroline admonished herself shakily as she clutched the book to her before slowly sliding out from beneath the bedcovers. There was something—or someone—downstairs! More than likely someone. Caroline didn't believe for a moment that her own intruder was a real live vampire; the reason she enjoyed books like the one she was reading was because she knew that the night monsters and predators in these stories were totally fictional. No, the intruder wasn't any monster or a demon. More likely a burglar.

There had been several break-ins in the area recently, and no doubt every burglar within a twenty-mile radius was aware by now that Frank Connelly, the owner of the House, wasn't around… He was hardly around as he only came down to the house whenever he wanted to 'get away'. What those burglars probably didn't know was that Caroline Anderson had arrived two days ago, employed by Frank to catalog the books in the Anderson library, and meet up with one of Frank's clients as she was also his personal assistant and he was busy with other projects. What should she do about the noise downstairs? What could she do? Mrs Cooper, housekeeper at the house, lived in a flat above the stable complex, to where she had disappeared once she had served Caroline her dinner and cleared away in the kitchen. Meaning the other woman probably had no idea that the main house had been broken into.

Caroline almost groaned in frustration when she realized that she had stupidly left her phone in the library earlier. She'd been working and had forgotten it there and now she was going to regret it. Caroline's heart began to pound as she heard more muffled sounds from the floor below. It sounded like a voice muttering. A male voice, its tone impatiently aggressive. Great. She couldn't just have a burglar break in; he had to be an angry one into the bargain! Well, Caroline couldn't just stand here and wait for the man to come up the stairs in search of valuables, only to find her cowering under the duvet in one of the bedrooms, hoping not to be noticed. Burglar or not, she would have to go down and confront him. But obviously not without a weapon of some kind!

Tucking her book distractedly under her arm, she moved stealthily across the bedroom to the door, opening it quietly to step out into the hallway, and pausing long enough to pick up the heavy brass ornament that stood on a table in the wide corridor. She made her way softly to the top of the stairs on the first floor so that she could look down into the huge reception hall. An eerie glow told her that someone had put a light on somewhere downstairs since she had gone up to bed half an hour or so ago. The house was a three-storey mansion, originally built a couple of centuries ago for the head of some now defunct titled family, and several doors led off the marble-pillared reception hall. All of those doors remained firmly closed, with no visible light showing beneath them, not even a flashlight.

Caroline leant further over the polished oak banister, able to see now that the light was coming from the back of the house. The kitchen, most probably. Although what a burglar would find of value to steal in there, she had no idea; the only things that weren't integral parts of the kitchen were a microwave and an electric mixer. But there was also a set of sharp knives on top of one of the work surfaces, Caroline remembered in alarm. Any one of which could do serious damage to a person who dared to disturb the burglar!

Get a grip, Caroline, she instructed herself sternly, and she straightened her shoulders determinedly. There was no way she could cower and hide and hope that the burglar would just quickly take what he wanted and then go away. Whether she liked it or not—and she didn't!— Caroline had to confront the man and hope that her presence here would be enough to scare him off. If it didn't… She wasn't going to think about what would happen if the situation backfired on her. She was an independent woman of twenty six and she had to protect herself. Had the wooden staircase always creaked like this? She wondered in alarm as she began to descend it. She hadn't noticed it before, but she did now, as every step she took seemed to make the stairs groan in an alarming way that might alert the burglar to her presence before she was ready to confront him!

Chapter 2

"Damn and double damn!" The curse came from inside the kitchen even as Caroline crept stealthily down the hallway and saw the door was slightly ajar, allowing her to look into the kitchen through the narrow crack between the hinges of the door.

She pressed herself urgently back against the wall as a dark-clothed figure moved across the brightly lit room. Of course the man was wearing dark clothing; didn't all burglars? Caroline drew in a deep breath, the shaking fingers of her left hand tightening about the brass ornament even as she reached out with her right hand to push the kitchen door inwards. She stepped inside the room, her blue gaze intent as she quickly scanned the kitchen, looking for the location of the intruder.

"Who the hell are you?"

Caroline was so shocked to hear the harsh but melodic voice coming from behind her that as she turned the brass ornament slipped from between her fingers. "Ow!" Straight onto the burglar's foot, she realized, as the ma


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