Coming June 21, 2016
This was a detour worth taking . . .
For as long as she can remember, Meilin Wu has had her life mapped out, and she's well down her chosen path--which had no warning signs about a tall, golden Brit who would bowl her over the night before her arranged marriage engagement became official. . .
Drew Robinson has nearly finished his formal education and is ready to face the world when he meets Meilin, an exquisite beauty with Chinese ancestry. He doesn't mind she's ten years older, and the fact she knows Mandarin only makes her that much more a perfect fit for his upcoming adventures in China. He just has to get her to dump her fiancé and convince her that a trip in China will only enhance her established design business.
Easy for a guy who's known for seeing sunshine wherever he goes. Right?
Meilin picked up her drink and downed a healthy sip. Thank God she’d put aside enough cash for a cab home. She intended to crawl out of this place at closing time and not a moment before. After this, it would be one party after another so everyone in Chinatown could toast the soon-be-wed couple. She faced three months of invitations, thank-you notes, and wedding planning. Her mother already had the California Ballroom at the St. Francis Hotel booked, as well as the nave at Grace Cathedral. Both large enough to accommodate the four hundred estimated wedding guests. A number large enough to make her head hurt.
Movement from the doorway caught her eye and she turned her head to see Jack Ling enter and stop to survey the room. Second cousin so many times removed they were hardly related, he’d been a pest to her most of his life. She’d spent more family gatherings tasked with keeping track of the brat than she could count until she’d escaped to college.
Ready to dismiss him, she paused to note the blond couple with him. The tall man towered over Jack by a good five inches, not that Jack was tall, but this guy had to be six-one at least. The blue oxford shirt and pressed khakis spoke of a man used to dressing with care, or at least in expensive clothing. The revolving colored lights bounced off his golden blond hair, making it look artistically colored. He surveyed the room, but had his hand on the back of the girl beside him. A girl who could have been his twin, although she was shorter than him; In heels she was about even with Jack. Both of them extremely attractive. The girl also dressed with style, but with more glitz, ready for a night of dancing much like Meilin’s friends. And they both looked as young as Jack. Too bad. The blond man looked interesting. Sort of like Alex Pettyfer but with a better haircut. Next to Jack, who vibrated like a raw nerve as usual, the blond oozed calm reserve, giving the impression of being a high-born Brit. The girl was pure Californian with her long sun-streaked hair, wholesome, smiling face, tank mini-dress in neon blue, sparkly heels, and swinging earrings. Interesting.
However, Meilin tore her gaze from the group and turned to face the dance floor once more, not interesting enough. Jack’s friends were always too young for her and tonight was all about being with her girls. A pre-bridal shower party. A pre-engagement blow-out. Let Jack and his friends find their own table, preferably far, far away from hers.
When the couple at the table next to hers got up to leave, she had a sinking feeling. It was confirmed when a hand landed on her shoulder.
“Cousin! Didn’t expect to see you here.”
Meilin sighed and carefully set down her drink before looking up at Jack. “Jack Ling. Fancy seeing you here. Finals over already?”
“Graduation is a week from tomorrow, which I’m sure you know. Hope you buy me an appropriate gift. Come, Meilin, let me introduce you to some friends of mine.” His hand on her shoulder urged her to turn on her stool until she faced the young couple. “I’ve been teaching Drew here some phrases in Chinese.”
Internally, her muscles tightened. Jack had done this before, taught a white friend a ghastly phrase while saying it was nothing more than a greeting.
“Meilin, may I present to you, Drew Robinson and Courtney Ferguson. Brother and sister raised far apart. Long story but very entertaining.”
She extended her hand to the girl first. “Pleased to meet you, Courtney.”
“Likewise,” the girl replied with a wide-open friendly smile and gentle handshake. Warm and exactly appropriate, she didn’t cling a moment longer than necessary.
Next, Meilin extended her hand to the man called Drew. “Drew, pleased to make your acquaintance. Do you both know my cousin from the university?”
Drew’s large hand enclosed hers, and the flash of heat that surrounded her hand before zipping up her arm stole her breath. Enough so her eyes blinked wide open. In response, his blue eyes dilated in a flash, and his hand flexed a little, almost as if he wanted to pull her closer. Not that she’d mind, she was surprised to realize. The feeling left her disconcerted and breathless. She tugged her hand from his grip.
“Meilin. Did I say that correctly?”
“Yes, yes you did. You both may call me Mei, if you like.” Flustered, she folded her hands in her lap, her gaze politely on his when she wanted to look anywhere but at his too handsome face. That was a lie. She wanted nothing more than to gaze upon his beautiful, perfect features now that she had a clear view, up close and personal. Blue eyes, golden hair, strong chin, chiseled jaw, perfectly shaped lips, hard body. This man was the total package.
His large hand rose and rubbed his perfectly sculpted chin. “Let me see if I have this right… Wo hen gaoxìng dài qiánbao.”
Holding back the smile and chuckle so desperate to break free, she replied, “I am sure, but the contents of my purse will remain where they are. You should slap Jack for playing such a trick on you.”
The flush burning Drew’s cheeks as he dropped his hand was almost disguised by the low lights and the flashing dance spotlights. Almost. The wicked twinkle in Jack’s eyes was merely enhanced while Courtney lifted a hand to muffle her giggles.
“Xièxie, at least I’m pretty sure that means ‘thank you.’ I just may have to cause Jack some harm,” Drew said easily. “I meant to say I was honored to meet you. Guess that’s not even close, and I probably should forget the rest of the phrases he’s been teaching me.”
“No doubt.” Meilin allowed her smile to break free. “Don’t trust a word that trickster says. Especially when it comes to Chinese lessons, either language or culture. However, you did get ‘thank you’ right.”
Jack held up his hands. “No harm intended, just a little fun for me.”
The dark glance Drew directed at her cousin promised some sort of retribution. The twinkle in his blue eyes reduced the severity. He had a sense of humor. That endeared him to her more than she expected.
Available for Pre-Order. Release Date June 21, 2016
Copyright Shea McMaster 2016