Surrender to the Past. Carole Mortimer

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Название Surrender to the Past
Автор произведения Carole Mortimer
Жанр Современные любовные романы
Серия
Издательство Современные любовные романы
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       ‘How did you find me, Ethan?’

      He looked at her from between narrowed lids. ‘When your father failed to do so in five years of searching?’ he taunted.

      ‘If that’s how long he looked, yes.’

      Ethan grimaced. ‘We really should go somewhere more private to discuss this, Mia.’

      Her mouth thinned. ‘I said no.’

      Irritation darkened his brow. ‘We are going to talk, Mia.’

      ‘Whether I like it or not?’

      ‘Yes.’

      About the Author

      CAROLE MORTIMER was born in England, the youngest of three children. She began writing in 1978, and has now written over one hundred and fifty books for Harlequin Mills & Boon®. Carole has six sons: Matthew, Joshua, Timothy, Michael, David and Peter. She says, ‘I’m happily married to Peter senior; we’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live in a lovely part of England.’

      Surrender

       to the Past

      Carole Mortimer

      

       www.millsandboon.co.uk

      To Peter

      CHAPTER ONE

      ‘MIND if I join you?’

      ‘Please do. I’m finished here, anyway.’ The warmly polite words had already been spoken before Mia looked up, but the friendly smile curving her lips froze in place as she instantly recognised the man standing beside her booth in the crowded coffee shop.

      How could she not recognise Ethan Black?

      Big. Dark. Forceful. Arrogant. Magnetically attractive. Still …

      Mia drew in a deep breath, chin tilting in challenge as she took in everything about him. It had been five years since she last saw Ethan, and his hair was still as dark as night, although it was styled much shorter than it used to be. Expertly so. His face was just as male-model handsome: wide, intelligent brow, penetrating grey eyes, sculptured cheekbones either side of a long straight nose, and a wickedly sinful mouth above a square and determined jaw. Although his mouth was unsmiling at the moment …

      The same, and yet not the same.

      Ethan would be thirty-one now, to Mia’s twenty-five, and that maturity showed in the cynical depths of his eyes that at the moment had all the colour and warmth of a bleak winter sky. His cheeks were thinner too, more hollow, and there were lines beside his eyes and mouth that hadn’t been there before either.

      He was dressed in a black—obviously expensively tailored designer-label suit, with a black cashmere overcoat that reached mid-calf and drew attention to the handmade Italian shoes in soft black leather.

      And he was nearly a foot taller than Mia’s own five feet four inches—she was getting a crick in her neck just from looking up at him!

      ‘Ethan.’ She nodded tersely, knowing her initial reaction would have been too obvious for her to even attempt to act as if she hadn’t recognised him.

      Or realised that his presence at this particular coffee shop—the coffee shop Mia both owned and ran—couldn’t simply be a coincidence …

      There was, Mia realised warily, a hardness about Ethan as he looked down at her—an unsmiling, haughty demeanour totally in keeping with those other changes she had noted in his appearance. A powerful arrogance that so reminded Mia of the man Ethan worked for. Mia’s father …

      She raised her brows. ‘You’re supposed to buy the coffee and a cookie from the counter before you sit down.’

      He shrugged, unconcerned. ‘And if I don’t want coffee or a cookie?’

      Mia smiled ruefully. ‘Then you obviously made a mistake coming into an establishment called Coffee and Cookies!’

      ‘There was no mistake, Mia.’

      ‘Of course not,’ she accepted smoothly. ‘The omnipotent Ethan Black doesn’t make mistakes.’

      Ethan eyed her coldly as he ignored the jibe. ‘Do you think we could go somewhere more … private and talk?’ He looked pointedly around the room, crowded with people laughing and chatting as they enjoyed their hot drinks and biscuits in the warmth of the cosy coffee shop.

      ‘’Fraid not.’ Mia’s light answer was completely bereft of apology as she closed the magazine she had been flicking through before his arrival. ‘My afternoon break is over and, as you can see, we’re a little busy right now.’

      He didn’t move, effectively blocking her in the booth. ‘And I’m sure that as the owner you can take a break whenever you want to.’

      ‘Then obviously I don’t want to.’ Mia wasn’t in the least surprised that Ethan knew she owned the coffee shop; if he knew where to find her at four-thirty on a Thursday afternoon, then he would also have made a point of knowing she owned the coffee shop in which she could be found!

      Ethan shrugged. ‘Then I’ll just sit here and wait until you finish work for the day.’

      ‘Not without buying coffee and a cookie, you won’t.’

      ‘Then I’ll do that,’ he retorted. ‘Or alternatively we can meet up somewhere once you’ve closed up for the day?’

      Once upon a time—in another life!—Mia would have been delighted at the idea of meeting up with Ethan. Any time. Any place.

      Once upon a time

      It sounded like the beginning of a fairytale. Probably because that was what her infatuation with Ethan had always been—nothing more than a complete flight of fantasy on Mia’s part!

      She sighed. ‘How did you find me, Ethan?’

      He looked at her from between narrowed lids. ‘When your father has failed to do so in five years of searching?’ he taunted.

      Her mouth thinned. ‘If that’s how long he’s looked, yes.’

      Ethan grimaced. ‘We really should go somewhere more private to discuss this, Mia.’

      ‘I said no.’

      Irritation darkened his brow. ‘We are going to talk, Mia.’

      ‘Whether I like it or not?’

      ‘Yes.’

      That was what Mia had thought! ‘Did my father send you?’

      Ethan gave a hard smile. ‘No one “sends” me anywhere, Mia.’

      ‘Meaning you volunteered to come and talk to me, or that my father doesn’t even know you’re here?’ She eyed him sceptically.

      ‘Both.’ He was obviously not comfortable with the latter.

      Mia eyed him warily. ‘If my father didn’t send you, then what possible reason could you have for being here, Ethan?’

      ‘I’ve already told you—because I want to talk to you,’ he muttered tersely.

      ‘And if I don’t want to talk to you?’

      ‘You appear to be doing so, whether you want to or not!’

      Yes, she did. And Mia had no intention of continuing to do so. ‘I’m busy, Ethan.’ She stood up.

      Ethan gave a glance around the café. It was designed to be as warm and cosy as someone’s sitting room, with comfortable armchairs grouped around low tables, and prints on the walls interspersed with plants trailing down from