SHE'D WISHED TO BE A PRINCESS AND LIVE IN A PALACE. A HUSBAND WASN'T PART OF THE DEAL.
And being kidnapped was not on heiress Jordan Bishop's itinerary, either. Especially when the crazy scheme was her father's idea of matchmaking, and the hero was Jonathan Prince Patterson--tall, dark and deceptive. After all, what kind of man needed to kidnap a wife? She'd teach him--by faking amnesia and forcing his confession. But this prince had more charm than she'd bargained for. His slow, sexy smile begged her to succumb to seduction. But surrender would mean baring her heart...and confessing her own deceptions.
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An Heiress On His Doorstep
By Teresa Southwick
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSeptember 15, 2004
Jordan Bishop said goodbye to terror and went straight to furious. Being kidnapped was not the way she'd planned to start her first vacation in two years.
She looked at the guy who'd abducted her. He was hardly more than a kid, an average-looking young man. Average height, average looks and average brown hair. They'd been waiting on this deserted road for what felt like hours, and he'd refused to tell her why. Jordan was fed up.
"I have to go to the bathroom," she said.
He glanced over at her from the driver's seat. "Do you see one, sweetheart?" His voice was rife with sarcasm.
That does it, she thought.
She pressed her legs together. "I wonder how this leather seat would hold up in the event of an unfortunate accident."
That wiped the sarcastic expression off his face. "You gotta go in the bushes."
"Any port in a storm," she replied.
She'd been terrified when he'd grabbed her, expecting to be assaulted or murdered any second. But that feeling faded when he kept driving. After stopping, he hadn't made a single threatening move. It felt like he was waiting for something. And she didn't intend to be around when the wait was over.
He got out of the car and walked around to her side, opening the door with his keys in his hand. He unlocked the cuff hooked to the passenger handhold above her head. The other cuff was attached to her wrist. When he glanced away to put his keys back in his pocket, she swiveled in her seat and kicked out as hard as she could with both legs, making him stumble backward. If she'd known she would be in this mess, she'd have dressed more appropriately. Now was no time to worry about her tight skirt. At least it was short, giving her some maneuverability.
While the creep was getting his footing, Jordan jumped out of the SUV. She winced when a small rock dug into her bare heel. She'd lost one of her pumps when he'd first grabbed her.
He grinned. "Nice try."
"I thought so."
As he started toward her, she braced for her next move. She was about to find out if all those self-defense classes were worth the price. When he put his hands on her upper arms, she jabbed the three-inch spike heel of her remaining pump into his instep. He cried out, but before he could react, she raised her knee and rammed it into his groin. He grunted in pain and doubled over wheezing, then dropped to the ground groaning. This was the part where she was supposed to run like hell.
But where? Even if she knew which way to run, she was out in the sticks, with no sign of civilization in sight. She had to get the keys, but she didn't want to get in too close to him. Even though he was still rolling around and groaning. But how long did it take a man to recover from a knee to the groin?
"Bishop's not paying me enough for this," he muttered to himself.
Bishop? He couldn't have said what she thought she'd heard. "What did you say? Who's paying you?" she demanded.
He glared at her. "Your father."
"My father? I don't believe you."
"I couldn't make up something this weird," he said, sitting up. "He hired me to kidnap you."
"It's a setup. To find you a man."
"You?" she asked, shocked.
"No. And I resent your implication and your tone."
She didn't give a rat's behind what he resented. "Look, buster, my patience is wearing thin. You scared me out of my wits, you handcuffed me." She held up her wrist with the dangling metal still attached. "And you made me lose my shoe. It was my favorite pair and very expensive."
"You're an heiress. You can afford it. Bill your father."
"That's not the point. And none of your business. Start talking. I want the facts, from the beginning."
He held his head in his hands. "Your father has the perfect guy for you. Sir Galahad is due here any minute to waltz in for the rescue. You know, be your hero.
After that you're supposed to fall for him and get married. Happy ever after and all that crap. It's the truth. I swear."
"I don't believe this," she said, throwing up her hands.
But the statement was rhetorical, because the more she thought about it, the more she did believe him. It would certainly explain why her father had been so insistent that she have lunch with him today. The kidnapper knew where to find her because her father had set her up. "So when was this guy supposed to be here?"
"An hour ago."
"Figures. Apparently Daddy picks heroes as well as he picks kidnappers."
"It's my first kidnapping and not my sphere of expertise," he said defensively.
"So where did my father find you? Thugs-R-Us?"
"Very funny. I work part-time at Bishop, Inc. while I go to college."
He wasn't very tall, about five-six or five-seven to her five foot one. But he was beefy. If he hadn't surprised her when she'd been leaving her father's office, her self-defense moves would have been more effective. They wouldn't have been effective just now if he'd been a professional kidnapper. Why had he done it?
"Did you need the money? Is that why you agreed to this ridiculous Machiavellian farce?"
"I bet you think I don't know what that means." He looked up at her, his eyes narrowed. "It's hard to say no to your father. And he's my boss."
"You should get another boss." She couldn't get another father.
She tried not to feel sorry for him, but he really did look pathetic sitting in the dirt at the side of the road. Speaking of which, she hadn't seen another car come along the whole time they'd been here. What the heck was her father thinking? Rage expanded inside her.
"So who's the tardy Prince Charming my father is trying to hook me up with this time?"
"Didn't get his name."
"And no way to contact him," she guessed.
She was twenty-four-and-a-half years old. Her father had pretty much ignored her for the first twenty-four. But he'd changed in the last six months. Right after his heart attack when she'd been in New Orleans for her birthday. A near-death experience gives you a different perspective he'd said. From her perspective, he was acting just plain weird. His explanation was that he wouldn't be around forever, and he wanted to see her settled and secure before he kicked the bucket.
Excerpted from An Heiress On His Doorstep by Teresa Southwick Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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