The Highest Price to Pay

Mills & Boon
July 15, 2011
ISBN 9780263886825

The Highest Price to Pay

“While it has been reported that I’m missing my own soul, I have no interest in yours. This is about money.”

When Ella’s failing business comes wrapped up as part of Blaise Chevalier’s recent takeover, he plans to discard it – as is his usual way with surplus goods. Then he meets Ella! Cast from the same fiery mould he is, she makes an intriguing adversary. Perhaps he can have a little fun with his new acquisition…

As proud and strong as she is beautiful, Ella is determined to prove Blaise wrong about her business and her worth. As long as she hides her hint of vulnerability and denies the flicker of attraction between them when she catches her enemy’s eye….

Behind the Scenes!

Excerpt

“This is it?” The man, tall dark and handsome as sin, who had just walked into Ella’s small boutique gave his surroundings a dismissive glance.

She forced a smile. “Yes. All of the clothing here in the boutique is a part of the Ella Stanton line, and at the moment everything is quite scaled back as we’re working on a…” budget. “Local level.”

The fashion industry wasn’t a cheap one to operate in, and Ella was most definitely still working her way up. But she was able to have her line produced, and sell it in her own boutique, and that most certainly wasn’t a small feat.

“I was merely curious,” he said, taking a step toward her, “about my most recently acquired assets.”

Ella blinked. “And by that you mean?”

“The Ella Stanton label, and the boutique, such as it is.” His voice was smooth, husky as though he were issuing some kind of practiced pick up line, even though what he was really saying was far too ridiculous to be true. And yet, there was something else there, a hardness that lingered just beneath that suave accent. It was that hardness, that authority, that made all of the words that were swirling in her head get caught in her throat.

He took a step toward her and recognition punched her in the stomach with brutal force. Blaise Chevalier. Rogue investor, ruthless corporate raider and tabloid superstar. He was famous in Paris, or rather, infamous. Wealthier than Midas, beyond handsome with his deep mocha skin, and striking toffee-colored eyes, perfect bone structure, good enough to be a model, except he didn’t possess the androgynous quality many male models did. No, Blaise was utterly masculine, tall and broad shouldered with a physique that was meant to be wrapped in an expensive, custom suit.

She should have recognized him immediately. Her only excuse was that mere photographs simply didn’t do him justice. Three dimensional, in the flesh, he was something entirely different than he was in the paper. None of the carefree, playboy demeanor was present now. Just a dark intensity that made her insides tremble, a sensual energy that no photograph would ever be able to capture.

He reached into his jacket pocket and took out a thin stack of folded papers. It wasn’t cheap, bright white printer paper like she used in her office. This was cream colored, thick and textured. Official looking. A tremor skated down her spine and she shook it off, straightening her shoulders and holding her hand out.

He gave her the documents and stood there looking at her, his expression impossible to read. Ella looked down at the papers in her hand, skimming them frantically. Her stomach sank to her toes and the words blurred slightly.

“Would you mind translating? I’m not fluent in legalese,” she said, hoping her voice didn’t sound as echoey and distant to him as it did to her.

“Bottom line? I am now the lien holder on your business loan. A sizable amount.”

She felt her face get hot, the way it always did when she thought of the screaming amount of debt she’d gotten in to get her business off of the ground.

“I’m aware of that. How did this…happen?” If it had been anyone else, she simply wouldn’t have believed them. But she knew this man, even if it was only by reputation. And it wasn’t a good thing that he was here with bank documents that possessed both the name of her business and the stark truth of just how little actually belonged to her.

“The bank that originally held your loan has been bought out by a larger financial institution. They auctioned off most of the small business loans, including yours. I bought your loan in a bundle with several other loans that are of much greater interest to me.”

“So you own my business…and I’m uninteresting?” Ella pushed her blonde hair off of her face and sat down in one of the plush chairs reserved for her boutiques customers.

“That’s the summation.”

It didn’t get worse. It couldn’t. And at that moment she just wanted to fall to her knees and scream at the sky. Because hadn’t she been through enough? How much was she expected to overcome in her lifetime?

Blaise Chevalier had a reputation as a man who was self-indulgent, reckless and ruthless enough to betray his own brother in the coldest way imaginable. He crushed companies, large or small, if they passed into his sphere of power and he deemed them to be unprofitable.

And he was now the owner of her boutique, her workshop, her apartment…everything down to her sewing machines. Everything in her life that meant anything.

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