She's protecting her heart. He's numbing his pain. Will a tropical fling change their future forever?
Harrison Mackenzie refuses to make the same mistake again. Over a decade since the death of his high school sweetheart and their infant, he's locked his passion away to focus on work. But when a captivating woman without boundaries crashes through the billionaire's broken heart, Harrison wonders if he's worth a second chance after all…
Jade Irvine is done with lying, cheating men. But that doesn’t keep the Indonesian translator from the occasional no-strings-attached romp, especially with her handsome temporary employer. Surrounded by the beauty of Bali and fighting to open his spirit, she never expected that she'd fall so hard.
Struggling with intense emotions, Harrison and Jade try to keep things strictly physical until a shocking revelation forces the past and the present to collide.
Will a lovestruck couple break their own rules for a shot at true love?
Bali with the Billionaire is the second book in the irresistible Love in Translation contemporary romance series. If you like sizzling chemistry, fated destinies, and roller-coaster emotions, then you’ll love Alexia Adams’ second chance novel.
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Copyright © 2019 by Alexia Adams. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Excerpt From Bali with the Billionaire
Jade smiled as she took in the refined elegance of the hotel lobby. It was definitely an upgrade from where she normally stayed when she was working in Bali. Except she wasn’t working until tomorrow. Right now, she was on a hen weekend with her three best friends. And they’d be well on their way to partying, if Jules wasn’t having a “no, you hang up” Skype conversation with her boyfriend back in Australia.
“Oh, my God! Is that Henry Golding?” Lauren’s high-pitched question had Jade, Karly, and a few other women scouting their surroundings. A giggle welled in Jade’s throat. They probably looked like meercats to anyone who hadn’t heard Lauren’s question.
“Where?” Karly asked.
“Over there.” Lauren nodded her head rather dramatically to the left.
The three friends peered into the hotel bar. A lone man sat apart from everyone else, his index finger circling the rim of the glass in front of him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a gorgeous actor needing a little cheer from four women celebrating an upcoming wedding. Still, he looked familiar…
“Actually, that guy’s way hotter than Henry,” Lauren—a self-professed expert on the male hotness scale—declared. “Is he a local? Jade, do you recognize him?”
She shook her head, still trying to place him. If they’d met in person, she’d never have forgotten him. She searched his features. “He looks sad, though,” she said. “No one should be miserable in Bali. We should invite him to join us.”
“Jade…” Karly and Lauren said in unison, warning tones in their voices.
“What?” she asked, flipping her long, dark hair over her shoulder, ready to go into action.
“We came to Bali to party before Karly voluntarily puts a noose around her neck,” Lauren said. “Not so you can play Dr. Phil with a perfect stranger.”
“It’s a wedding ring, not a noose,” Karly interrupted. The first of their tight-knit group to marry, she was ever ready to defend her decision to tie herself for life to one man.
Jade ignored the green-eyed monster whispering in her ear. If Keith hadn’t been a lying bastard with a gangrenous heart, would she be as blindly hopeful heading toward the altar? Her eyes were automatically drawn back to the man at the bar. What was his story? Had his heart been shattered by a deceitful lover as well?
“I’m not playing Dr. Phil. But you have to admit he looks…lonely,” Jade replied.
“He’s not a koi fish that needs rescuing. Anyway, a guy that hot won’t be lonely for long,” Lauren said. As they watched, a scantily clad woman approached him.
“What’d I miss?” Jules asked as she arrived, her face all flushed. The Skype call must have gotten steamy before one of them had come to their senses and hung up. “I thought we were going to Sky Garden. Are we having a starter drink here?”
They were the pick’n’mix of women. Karly, the bride-to-be, was blonde haired and blue eyed with the face of an angel and a laugh that made men hard. Jules had brown hair and eyes, and legs that went on forever. Lauren was the group’s redheaded, hazel-eyed beauty with a legendary temper. But she was as fiercely loyal as a rescue dog. Wherever they went, they attracted male attention.
Karly exhaled a melodramatic sigh. “Jade wants to fix the guy at the bar.”
“I don’t want to fix him,” Jade said, while Jules asked, “What guy?”
They all turned back to the magnificent specimen who was once again alone. The woman who had tried to talk to him earlier was now chatting on one of the sofas with a balding guy dressed in shorts and a flower-print shirt. It seemed someone was working tonight.
“See, he’s alone again,” Jade said, unable to take her eyes from the man. There was something about him that called to her.
He reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a phone, giving the screen a long glance before he answered. Rotating in his seat, probably to hear better, he now faced them full-on. His eyes were distant, as though concentrating on the voice on the other end. But his countenance didn’t light with joy as it would if he were speaking with a loved one.
“Do not get involved, Jade.” Karly put her hands on her hips like some 1950s housewife scolding her child for tracking mud onto the freshly washed linoleum. Karly was always trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to mother the other girls.
“Remember the cake,” Lauren said.
“Come on, you cannot compare that man to a birthday cake,” Jade protested.
“It was your idea that nearly burnt down the school,” Lauren continued. “You just had to make a cake for the gardener, even though we weren’t allowed in the kitchen and none of us had the slightest idea what we were doing.”
“His mother had just died. No one else was going to give him a cake.” And she wasn’t the one who’d left the tea towel near the lit burner. Although it was her idea to cook the cake on the stovetop. With her culinary inexperience, she’d figured it had to be way faster than baking it in the oven.
“And the filing fiasco?” Jules added, unhelpfully.
Jade huffed. “I don’t appreciate you bringing up all my minor mishaps.”
“Mrs. Kiddy lost an entire year’s lesson plans and the manuscript she’d been working on for five years. It was hardly a minor mishap.” Karly raised her hand as Jade was about to interrupt. “I know your intentions were good. Yes, she was stressed and couldn’t find anything on her messy desk, but sometimes, sweetie, you do more harm than good when you help.” Karly put air quotes around the last word, eliciting a snort of laughter from Jules.
“My favorite Jade misadventure was the bubble tsunami,” Lauren added, like they were competing for the best disaster story.
The three other women dissolved into laughter. Karly wiped her cheeks as a few tears fell. “Only our Jade would have replaced the liquid laundry soap with bubble mix so the housekeeper’s job wouldn’t be so boring.”
“There is no evidence I did that,” Jade said. Although she had. The poor woman had needed something to brighten her day. At least by then Jade had learned to cover her tracks in case things went sideways, as they inevitably did.
But this was different. The guy at the bar was a grown man. What harm could there be in inviting him for a drink and maybe a dance? “I still think we should ask him.”
The four women peered into the bar again. The subject under discussion had completed his phone call and once more stared morosely into his drink.
“For once, I agree with Jade. I vote we bring him with us,” Jules said.
For once, my arse. None of you girls need any convincing to follow me into trouble.
“You already have a boyfriend,” Lauren reminded Jules.
“Yeah, but sad-man can watch our drinks while we get our groove on,” Jules said. “Anyway, I was thinking maybe you could do with the company, Loly. It’s been a while…”
Lauren made a face at Jules. “I’m focusing on my career at the moment, thank you very much. And what about Jade? She’s unattached as well.”
All three friends turned pitying eyes on her. “Jade’s still in recovery,” Karly said quietly, like they were discussing a potentially fatal diagnosis at the bedside of an unconscious relative.
Jade squared her shoulders. “I’m not in recovery. I’m over the scumbag. But for the record, I’m not looking for love, just a good time.”
“A guy that hot… I’d put money on him being a good time,” Lauren said with a nod toward the man at the bar.
Jade moved a little closer to the entryway to get a better view. “Crikey. Now I know why he looks familiar. I think that’s my boss for the week.”
“You’re going to translate for him?” Karly asked. “Good luck with that. I doubt I’d even be able to speak English standing next to him.”
Jade shrugged, feigning a bravado she definitely didn’t feel. After years of faking it, though, few could tell the difference. “It’s a tough job. But someone has to do it. Watch my back, ladies. I’m going in.”
Her friends laughed as she strode into the bar to introduce herself. What were the chances she could manage it without saying something inappropriate?
Harrison sipped his scotch and glanced around the bar. This upscale Indonesian hotel had managed to combine the local architecture with western touches so a traveler felt both at home and on holiday. Dark teak wood furniture was lightened with bright blue and red cushions. Tropical plants overflowed stone pots decorated with intricate Balinese carvings. Chrome lights and shiny glass surfaces gave a modern edge to the place. But not even the ever-swirling ceiling fans could dissipate the salty essence of the sea and the smell of coconut-scented sunscreen.
Too bad he wasn’t on vacation. Although this was the last place he’d go to get away. Beaches and wild nightlife didn’t appeal. He’d rather spend his off-work hours reading about ancient history. If he were to go abroad, it would be to an archaeological dig or someplace like Machu Picchu. He wouldn’t hang out in a place known for the wild partying of its tourists. How the locals coped with the clash of cultures, he couldn’t fathom.
“I could have gone in your place.” Caleb’s distant voice brought Harrison back to the phone conversation. “I know how tough Monday’s date is for you.” His friend must have forgotten that by crossing the date line, Harrison’s Monday was tomorrow.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. I…needed to get away this year.”
Long pause. It could have been a problem with the connection from Canada, or maybe Caleb was figuring out what to say. “All right. But if you need me, I can be on the next plane out,” Caleb said.
As if Harrison was going to ask his friend to hold his hand while Caleb’s pregnant wife waited at home. He wasn’t that selfish. Besides, marriage may have made his friend more open about his emotions, but that didn’t mean Harrison was going to jump on that itchy hayride. As long as he didn’t let himself feel, everything would be okay.
Convincing Malee to marry him was the best negotiation Caleb had ever concluded. She was perfect for him, and his friend and business partner had never been happier. But sometimes Harrison longed for the time when the deepest thing Caleb said was, “Want another drink?” Not everyone got a happy ending to their story.
“I appreciate the support,” Harrison answered. “Give my love to Malee.”
Harrison toyed with the idea of turning off his phone to avoid more awkward calls, more people asking how he was doing. But considering his father’s precarious health, he kept it on.
He barely had the device back in his pocket before another woman sauntered over to him. Her long ebony hair fell nearly to her waist. Well-rounded hips swayed in a provocative movement that struck a resonating tune within his body. The black dress she wore would give a thirteen-year-old boy wet dreams if he saw it on a hanger, never mind on the current wearer—a woman with generous curves in all the right places. It didn’t leave much to the imagination, except perhaps which sexual position to start with. She was everything he despised himself for wanting.
Without even a pause, she perched her gorgeous ass on the stool next to his, swinging a strappy-high-heel-clad foot so it almost brushed his calf. Up close, he could see that her eyes, which he’d expected to be dark like the rest of her coloring, were in fact deep green: pools of liquid emerald that lured him to forget the promises he’d made and drown in the desire she provoked. He shook his head to restart his brain, and her burgundy-stained lips parted in silent amusement.
“Are you waiting for your wife or girlfriend?” she asked without introducing herself. The middle finger of one hand was tightly pressed to her thumb, as though she’d been mid-meditation when she decided to proposition him.
“No, I have neither. I also don’t pay for sex.” Might as well move this encounter along so he could get back to nursing his whisky and going over his game plan for tomorrow’s meetings. This was the first project to hit a snag since he’d become a full partner in Caleb’s investment firm. No way was he going to be bested by a painted design on a fricking T-shirt.
“Good to know. Have you ever had sex—free or otherwise?” The woman’s Australian accent was a surprise. Until she’d opened her mouth, he’d pegged her for a local.
She flipped her hair over her shoulder, and Harrison’s eyes were drawn to the long column of her neck. What sensuous delights would he experience as he tasted his way from her lips to her ear and then down her lightly tanned skin to her collarbone so prominently displayed? Not to mention her glorious breasts, pushed to the top of her dress as though waiting for an opportunity to escape the confines of the black silk fabric.
“Why do you ask that?” He could feel himself rising to her bait, a floundering sucker about to be enticed to his doom. Never again. Marshalling his inner iceman, he allowed his gaze to roam over her body before meeting her eyes with cool detachment—a look he’d perfected after years as a corporate lawyer. The expression told his competitors they were about to lose everything.
“You’re so buttoned up. For God’s sake, you’re wearing a tie at a beach resort.” She slid one black-polished fingernail down his blue-striped tie. He held his breath, praying the thing didn’t catch fire. For a brief second, the urge to throw her over his shoulder and carry her upstairs to his suite flooded through him. But Harrison Mackenzie didn’t lose control. Not anymore.
“I’m here on business.”
She glanced around at the other patrons. Not one even wore a suit, never mind a tie. “I hate to break it to you, mate, but there’s no one here to do business with.”
“And you’re not working?” He raised an eyebrow.
Her husky laugh enveloped him as she slid off her stool, putting her within inches of his body. He breathed in the scent of some exotic flower with a hint of ginger and lemongrass. Damn the hunger that gnawed at him.
“Nope. Not tonight, at least. I’m here to have fun. Besides, you can’t put a price on this body.”
He had to agree with her there.
“Enjoy your business,” she said, and her husky voice was laced with humor. Before his brain could come up with a suitable response, she glided away, ignoring the ribald comments of a group of men drinking in the corner. He’d noticed them earlier, waving their money around and propositioning any woman who walked near. Harrison was perversely glad when the mystery woman kept walking. He’d hate to risk a tear in his suit jacket, rescuing her from their loutish behavior. Although given her confidence, she could probably defend herself.
At the door she glanced back at him once more, and he quickly turned away, annoyed that she’d caught him staring. Now he could get back to rehearsing his pitch for tomorrow. If it were a trial or contract negotiation, he’d be sure of his tactics. He knew exactly what he’d demand and where he could compromise.
This meeting, however, was different. He had to cajole and incentivize to get the project back on track. Find a way to get the other party to want to do more without offering anything in return. The venture was already bordering zero net, and they didn’t have time to move to another manufacturer if they wanted to meet their pre-sales commitments. Plus, the whole discussion would be in Indonesian, and he’d have to rely on a translator to convey not only his words but his meaning, without revealing his desperation.
Giving up his legal career had been a no-brainer when he got to choose start-ups to fund and see through to IPO—it was exactly the kind of challenge he needed to forget everything he’d lost. Work was the one area of his life where he was now free to follow his passions. It would have to suffice.
He slung the rest of his whisky down his throat and made his way through to the lobby. His eyes searched for the woman in the black dress who’d talked to him in the bar, while his brain tried to reason that it would be better if he never saw her again. She was bold and brash and the exact opposite of everything his wife had been.
He shouldn’t want to see her again—to run his fingers through her ink-black hair while he tasted her full lips.
But he did. Damn it.