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Paradise Disguised

By:Liliana Hart

Paradise Disguised
Liliana Hart

       Chapter One





Anna Hollis stood frozen as she watched her dream man walk by, utterly  oblivious to her existence on the planet. She wanted him in a way that  was completely at odds with her usual shyness and cautiously stole  another glance in his direction. From his dark hair with the sun  bleached tips that curled slightly over his collar to his hard, lean  body. A working man's body, with rough callused hands and muscles in all  the right places.

His eyes were a silvery shade of blue and the one time they had made eye  contact, she thought she'd pass out from their intensity. Everything  about him made her body tingle in areas she never thought possible.

She pushed her glasses up higher on the bridge of her nose and continued  stocking the circular saws that had just arrived early that morning.  Every box in the store sported a label she was proud of.

Hollis Tools: Three Generations Built to Last.

Her grandfather had started making his own tools sixty years ago, and  what had started as a hobby to the wealthy banker, quickly became an  enterprise so large that he'd had to open a hardware store to get rid of  some of them.

Her dream man had been coming in the store for months, and she'd been  lusting after him since the first moment she'd laid eyes on him. Not  that he'd noticed. Nobody noticed her.

He was at the checkout counter talking to her father, and she only  drooled a little at the way his backside fit into a worn pair of Levi's.  There was a small hole in the corner of the pocket, and if she stared  hard enough she was pretty sure she could see skin.

Her imagination went into overdrive as she pictured herself sitting on  the counter, his muscled body thrusting eagerly between her spread  thighs. Hell, she'd pictured them making love in every part of the  store. She never knew there were so many creative ideas hidden inside  her mind.

Her cheeks heated as she saw her father glance over the man's shoulder,  probably wondering what she could be thinking about that caused her to  have hot flashes on a busy Saturday morning.

She jerked herself back to reality, disappointed to hear the bells  jingle above the door that signaled his departure. She was already  looking forward to his visit next week.

Anna sighed wistfully and went back to stocking the saws. The smell of  fresh cut lumber and saw dust enveloped her in a comforting embrace, a  bouquet she'd grown up with and learned to love. It blended well with  the spicy scent of her dream man.

She was in sad, sad shape. Ever since he'd walked through the door, all  she could think about was sex. She'd had sex-once-but by the way her  body was tingling now she knew it hadn't been done right.

She was twenty-five years old for God's sake, and she read romance  novels. What she had experienced that one night had not even come close  to satisfying her expectations. Most people her age were married and  just starting their families, but she was still looking for basic  chemistry and mind blowing sex. And boy did she have chemistry with the  mystery man. Of course, that didn't mean he had it with her.

She was completely unappealing as a woman, and it was her own fault. Not  even the fact that she was an heiress to a multi-million dollar company  convinced men to ask her out. She was painfully shy, which explained  why she only had one close friend and few acquaintances. And that was an  almost impossible fete in a town the size of Paradise. She'd neglected  her looks to keep attention on anything but herself. She was wallpaper,  and she liked it that way. Most of the time.

Of course, every time her dream man walked in she wanted to rip off all  of her clothes and display herself like a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving  amidst all the power tools. Her nipples tightened painfully under her  flannel shirt, and she breathed slowly to get herself under control.

She had to do something if she wanted to have the wild night she'd been  dreaming about. She had style. She knew how to dress to her advantage  and apply the right makeup. It was something her mother had excelled at  and taught her daughter to use to her own advantage.

Anna had been outgoing as a teenager, popular in school, and she'd  always had all the right clothes. But then her mother had died.

Her dark brown hair was long, almost to her waist, and she kept it in a  long thick braid down the center of her back. It was a good color and  texture-she just never bothered to do much with it. She never wore  makeup and she wore dark framed glasses to cover her startling turquoise  eyes. It was time some changes were made.

She had no desire to get married or have a family. She wouldn't be able  to bear it if she lost someone else she loved, and the best way of  avoiding that was to keep her distance from any serious relationships.  But the one thing she did want with all her heart was one crazy night  with her dream man. And she was going to do everything in her power to  see she got it.                       
       
           



       

God . . . What if he was married? That would ruin everything.

"Why don't you take the rest of the day off?"

The sound of her father's voice snapped her back to reality. She turned  and smiled at him, knowing she could never have asked for a better man  for a father. They'd raised each other since her mother's death ten  years before.

Her father had worked hard to expand Hollis Tools from the small  hardware store her grandfather had started to a multi-million dollar  enterprise with dozens of stores all over Texas. Their goal was to  expand nationwide in the next ten years. And you could always find a  Hollis working in their flagship store in Paradise, Texas. They knew the  business inside and out.

"Why would I want to take a day off on the busiest day of the week?" She  asked, grinning, the dimple in her left cheek a stunning reminder of  her mother.

"I've been thinking that you've been spending too much time in the store  lately. You never go out and visit your friends, and when you're not  here, you're at home with one of your books."

"I'm here because I like to be here," she said.

"Do you know the man that was just in here?" her father asked.

Anna blushed at the mention of her dream man. Surely her father didn't  suspect the erotic visions that had played through her mind every time  he entered the store.

"N … No," she stuttered, looking at his chest instead of his eyes. "Should I know him?"

"You've probably heard of him," he said. "That was Dylan Maguire."

"You mean the Dylan Maguire of Maguire Homes?" Anna asked tentatively.  Maguire Homes was the best in the business. Every job got the owner's  personal attention, from drawing up the plans to the last brick set in  place. Now she had a name to add to her fantasies, and it put a small  hitch in her fantasies. Dylan Maguire was not exactly low profile. But  he sure was fine to look at. It might be worth it, she thought. Anna  blanked out momentarily at the thought of screaming his name in passion.

"That's the one. He told me that he's starting to have some breathing  room in his schedule. I thought you might like to pay him a visit and  see about building your own place."

Anna was a little hurt that her father wanted her to move out. They'd  shared the Hollis mansion for many years, just the two of them, and she  couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

"I don't know, dad." She did get lonely at times. The only company they  ever saw was the household staff or her best friend Mel. "I like the  seclusion our house provides." That wasn't always necessarily true, but  she told herself she enjoyed the solitude to ease the occasional ache  she felt deep within her breast.

"Anna, you need to do this for yourself. You're mother's been gone a  long time, and she wouldn't want to see you living the way you are now.  You act as if you've already got one foot in the grave, when you have an  entire lifetime ahead of you."

"Well . . . If that's what you want I can make an appointment with him  for next week," Anna said, hurt more than she wanted to admit at her  father's rejection.

"No, of course it's not what I want," Jack answered. "I'd love for you  to stay under the same roof with me until my last days, but I'm thinking  this is something you should do for yourself. Don't feel like I'm  trying to get rid of you. Think of it as a gentle nudge out of the nest.  You've got money. Why don't you go a little crazy and spend some of it?  Go shopping, and do all those things that other women do. Get a place  of your own, and stay out all hours of the night. I just want you to be  happy," he said. "You're a young woman, not an old geezer like me."

"I am happy, dad, and you know I love you very much. And besides, you're  not that old. I never see you go out and live it up on the weekends  either."

"Yes, but I'm set in my ways," he told her affectionately. "Why don't  you put that business degree to some use? There's no need for you to  come into the store every day. You've been running the business behind  the scenes for years anyway. You can work out of your own office, and  you'll get the chance to travel and see how all your hard work is paying  off at the other stores. I want you to have more freedom."

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