VICTORIA'S GOT A SECRET by HelenKay Dimon

VICTORIA’S GOT A SECRET
HCI Vows
March 2011
ISBN 9780757315572

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When Canada’s Naked News lead anchor chose her stage name as "Victoria Sinclair" and debuted her risqué take on global headlines, little did she know that millions of viewers would soon tune-in to watch her alter-ego artfully disrobe in front of the camera. But behind every alter-ego is a real person, often carefully hidden from public view, and there’s much that ‘Victoria’ is hiding …

Raised in a family of artists and intellectuals, the young Victoria-to-be excelled in school—as well as in the tutorials of her exotic grandmother who felt she should know how to hold court in a salon . . . and a bedroom, when the time came. Which it does in high school, compliments of a handsome, talented scrapper named Paul who gives his heart, body, and soul to her—only to be devastated when he loses the girl he’s crazy for to dreams and ambitions too big for their small Canadian town to contend with.

Those ambitions are realized in Toronto as she climbs the corporate ladder—and falls under the seductive spell of an older, worldly man who orchestrates her transformation from a shy brainiac in a business suit into a sensual siren named Victoria Sinclair. With a come-hither voice and seemingly nothing to lose but her clothes, Victoria isn’t as easy in her own skin as a growing legion of fans believe her to be.

Victoria’s got a secret–actually a few. So when a twist of fate brings Paul back into her life, will he even recognize the girl she once was? Will she?

"Who doesn’t love a happy ending between high school sweethearts?" – I Just Finished Reading…

The doorbell rang right as Jennifer finished her drink. Her insides raced, begging her to run to the door and drag him inside. The only thing that stopped her was her grandmother’s voice in her head telling her not to make it too easy.

She threw the door open anyway. Even stopped by the mirror in the entry to make sure her hair wasn’t sticking out in ten different directions first.

Paul smiled the instant he saw her. "Hey."

He stood there, his tawny hair only a few inches off his shoulders. And what great shoulders they were, broad and falling to a trim waist. The faded blue jeans and white button-down shirt showed off the muscles he’d developed while they were apart. Whatever he had been doing for the last few years included a lot of activity because she couldn’t see an inch of fat on him.

"Paul."

"You weren’t expecting someone else?"

"How are you?" She wanted to say so much but only a lame bit of nonsense came out.

"At the moment?" His gaze did a quick tour of her face. "Pretty damn good."

Her hand tightened on the side of the door where she leaned against it. "I was hoping you’d finally come here."

Heat rushed to her cheeks. She knew without looking she was blushing, and not from embarrassment. No, it came from the excitement ramping up inside of her. From the realization that after all the time that had passed, Paul still had the power to make her stomach flip flop and her knees turn to mush.

"Jennifer?"

"Yeah."

His eyebrow lifted. "Any chance I can come inside?"

She waved her hand in front of her face. "Of course."

For her, the question had really always been whether she’d ever be able to let him leave if she needed room. Seeing him now brought back a rush of desire and longing. The want mixed with the deep sense of coming home.

She pushed it all out of her mind and tried to concentrate on the now. "It just so happens I’m alone this weekend."

He shot her one of those sexy you’re-all-mine grins she remembered so well. "Now, isn’t that convenient?"

"I’m sure you didn’t have anything to do with Ted and Heather disappearing for a few days."

"I’d love to talk about that…" Paul leaned in, throwing a quick glance at her death grip on the door. "If you’ll let me come inside."

What was wrong with her? Jennifer shook her head and stepped back. "Sorry."

"You’re not alone. I feel it, too."

"What?"

He slid inside and closed the door behind him. "It’s like I’m ten seconds away from breaking into a million pieces."

He understood.

"But yet I’m not afraid," she said.

"Didn’t think you were."

"I’m not sure what’s happening or why I’m acting like I’ve lost my mind." She wasn’t sure she liked the vulnerable feeling either, but she didn’t fight it for now.

He crowded in, bringing his head close enough for their noses to touch. "If I don’t kiss you soon, my head will explode."

Like that she stopped shifting her weight from foot to foot and the awkwardness fled. "Well, we can’t have that."

"Thank God." He closed the few inches separating them.

She threw her arms around his shoulders and plunged her fingers through his hair. The utter rightness of holding him flooded through her. He smelled like the woods after a rain.

The years passed into nothing and all that mattered was the feel of his strong hands on her back and his chest pressing against her breasts. When his mouth covered hers, all resistance melted. Lips slanted and taunted. His tongue dipped inside and the kiss pulled even deeper.

After a few minutes of hot mouths and wandering hands, he raised his head. "That’s quite a greeting."

"The Duchess trained me to be a good host."

"Always liked your grandmother."

"She told me you were dashing."

His smile grew impossibly wide. "I get that all the time. All the grandmothers think I’m hot."

"I’m not responding to that." Jennifer’s fingertips traced the outline of his mouth as he joked. "It took you long enough to get here."

"I had to finalize some things."

"You hang up a phone, you grab a toothbrush and get in your car. How hard is that?" She tried to keep her tone light even though it ticked her off that he could stay away after all those calls. She hadn’t shared the same sense of restraint.

"There was a bit more to my plans than that."

"Why?"

"Not to be rude, but do you really want to talk right now?"

She could feel him press against her stomach. At five-nine she was only a few inches shorter and they fit together so well. "You poor thing."

"I’ve waited a long time to get you alone, in a bed…" He rubbed his hands up and down her arms. "Do you need me to be more specific about where my mind is going?"

"I thought we’d sit down, have some coffee and talk."

His face turned an odd shade of green. "I…uh…"

She could actually see his eyes widen. He clearly was too far gone to pick up the sarcasm. "Paul, I’m kidding."

"Well, I mean, I can tolerate some talking if you want."

"About what?"

"I have no idea."

"The talking has been going well for you for the last month."

The sickly green around his mouth faded a bit. "Have I thanked you for that?"

"Yes."

He blew out a long breath and wiped a hand through his hair. "Look, it’s not that I don’t want to talk-"

"It’s okay. You can stop fumbling around now. I don’t want mindless chit chat either."

He threw his head back. "Thank you!"

"Though it was pretty cute to watch you panic."

"I was trying not to sound like a jerk on a booty call."

"You’re coming across more like a guy who is inches away from getting something he wants."

He glanced down. "Inches. Yeah, that’s one way to look at it."

She toyed with the idea of torturing him a bit longer but since she wanted him as much as he wanted her, she abandoned the thought. This wasn’t a test. If it were, he’d already passed long ago.

She slipped her hand in his and stepped back until there was enough room for air to move between them again. "I think we should start with a tour of the house."

His shoulders fell. "Jennifer… You’re killing me here."

"We’ll start with my bedroom."

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