The Marriage Takeover
Cassandra was determined to impress Lang Dalton, her fiance's high-powered boss– and his glamorous party seemed the perfect opportunity. Only it turned out to be a setup– Lang wanted Cassandra for himself!Cassandra refused to let Lang hijack her wedding plans, but he had a seductive hold over her: he was gorgeous, sexy– and he was blackmailing her.
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âI want my ring on your finger without delay.â
Lang took her hand as he continued, âSo whatâs your answer? Are you going to marry me?â
Cassandra snatched her hand away. âI donât understand why you want to marry meâ¦. And donât mention sexâ¦.â
Blue eyes laughing, he said, âI wouldnât dare.â
âIâm sure there are dozens of women who would be prepared to keep you happy in bed.â
âOh, Iâm sure youâre right. But I donât want a succession of bed partners. I want a wife.â
LEE WILKINSON lives with her husband in a three-hundred-year-old stone cottage in a village in Derbyshire, England. Most winters they get cut off by snow! Both enjoy traveling, and previously joined forces with their daughter and son-in-law, spending a year going around the world âon a shoestringâ while their son looked after Kelly, their much-loved German shepherd dog. Leeâs hobbies are reading and gardening and holding impromptu barbecues for her long-suffering family and friends.
The Marriage Takeover
LANG DALTONâS silver-grey, chauffeur-driven limousine had been waiting for them at San Francisco International Airport. Ensconced in the purring luxury, Cassandra Vallance sighed and glanced at the dark-haired, good-looking man by her side.
In response to the apprehension in that glance, Alan Brent took the hand that was wearing his diamond cluster, and patted it with a there-there gesture that was meant to calm and comfort.
Safely cut off from the driver by a glass partition, he said, âI know this weekend was sprung on us, but try to relax, darling. Lang Dalton may be a multi-millionaire and the Great I Am, but thereâs really nothing to worry about.â
âI know so little about him. Has he a wife?â
âYes, he married a woman the media once described as âAmericaâs most beautiful socialiteâ. I gather she comes from one of Californiaâs top families, the kind who hobnob with film stars and presidents.â
âHave they been married long?â
âAbout a couple of years.â
âDoes he know weâre getting married?â
âYes. I told him myself. Though I probably didnât need to. He seems au fait with everything that goes on. Where he gets all his information is a mystery.â
âHow well do you know him?â
âAlthough Iâve been working for him for over four years, Iâve only met him once,â Alan told her. âThat was about eighteen months ago when he came over to England.â
âWhatâs he like?â The question came in a rush. Until now, for some odd, unaccountable reason, she had been loath to ask.
âHard, autocratic, ruthless, a bit of a cold fish, just as his reputation suggests. Not the kind of man to get on the wrong side of.
âMost people seem to be a bit in awe of him. There was a story going around that even his own PA was afraid of himâ¦
âBut, on the plus side, heâs known to have firm principles, to care for the environment, and to be both honest and scrupulously fair, even generous.â
Seeing she still looked far from happy, Alan added, âSo what if he is something of a despot? He canât eat us.â
âThatâs what I keep telling myself, but my instincts wonât buy it. I feelâ¦â
She came to a halt and glanced away, unable to tell him exactly what she did feel. Coming from a woman who was regarded as being intelligent, efficient and level-headed, it would sound ridiculous to say, âI have a kind of foreboding. A premonition that something disastrous is going to happen and my life will never be the same again.â
His eyes resting on her lovely profile, Alan pressed, âHow do you feel?â
âThreatened,â she confessed.
âOh, come on!â He laughed, unable to understand her fears. âLang Dalton isnât an absolute ogreâ¦ And itâs not like you to be so melodramatic.â
âI donât know whatâs come over me,â she admitted. âBut I canât get it out of my head that nothingâs going to go right.â
His brown eyes growing impatient, Alan urged, âThink positive. All you have to do is take care not to get on the wrong side of himâ¦â
She bit her lip, knowing quite well this feeling of being threatened wasnât rational, but unable to dismiss it.
âLook at it this way: in the unlikely event of you incurring his dislike or disapproval, the worst he can do is dispense with your services. Iâd hate to part with you, youâre the best PA Iâve ever had, but it wouldnât be the end of the world.
âNow for goodnessâ sake stop worrying and enjoy the chance to see something of California. The Big Sur is one of the most scenic stretches of coastline anywhere in the world, and when we head south weâll have an ideal opportunity to see it from the air.â
When she said nothing, Alan added, âWeâre really very lucky. This kind of social get-together is unprecedented. Usually Dalton keeps his business affairs and his private life totally separate.â