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Authors: Alberts, Diane

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Adult, #celebrities, #Try Me, #sexy, #hollywood, #novella, #diane alberts

Captivated by You

CAPTIVATED BY YOU

Book One in the Superstars in Love Series

DIANE ALBERTS

This eBook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction including brands or products such as: Maserati, Gucci, Prada, People Magazine, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Coke, People's Choice Awards, TMZ, Nike, Prada, Gucci, Apple, iPhone, and Entertainment Tonight. The author also acknowledges the fictional inclusion of real people including Angelina Jolie, Pink, and Julia Roberts.

Copyright © 2012 by Jennifer McLaughlin.

Captivated By You by Diane Alberts

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Swoon Romance.

Swoon Romance and its related logo are registered trademarks of Georgia McBride Books, LLC.

No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Edited by Georgia McBride

Cover design by Su Kopil

Cover art copyright©: Swoon Romance 2012

eBook formatting by Studio 22 Productions

This one goes to Cynthia and Tina, my older sisters. You're the best sisters a girl could ask for, and I wouldn't have fallen as in love with writing as I did if not for our nights spent reading together as kids. Love you both!

Author Acknowledgements

To my kids, I love you all so much. Thanks for letting me close myself up in my office to write, and for never getting mad when I take longer than I’d planned. I couldn't do this without you.

To my husband, thank you for encouraging me on every step of the path I've chosen, and for never losing faith in me. You listen to me rant, rave, and worry nonstop over things I can't control, and never lose patience. You're a real life hero, and I love you.

To my sister, parents, and grandparents (both on my side and my husband’s), thank you for always rooting me on. Every time you ask me for updates on my progress, it shows me how much you care. Love you all!

To my editor, Georgia, thank you for enjoying this story as much as I did, and for encouraging me along every step. It's been a pleasure working with you, and you're allowed to poke around in my brain anytime you want. You're a rock star!

To my agent, Lauren, thank you for everything you do. It's nice having someone in your corner to look after your best interests time and time again.

Chapter One

Mark Delaney tossed his phone in his pocket, threw the car door open, and climbed out of his Maserati. Damn it all to hell. Not even the tow truck company would venture out in this mess native Coloradans called
snow
. He was officially stranded. Perhaps he’d been spoiled by the California sunshine, but his tolerance for the cold flakes falling on his Prada suit was gone.

Blowing out a puff of steamy breath, he kicked the snow, not even caring when the grayish white stuff soaked through his Gucci shoes upon impact. The snow hit his driver’s side door, sliding down the red paint, leaving a path of dirt and filth in its wake. Dragging a hand through his hair, he glowered up at the dark sky.

He was supposed to be at a movie premiere tomorrow night, but he was stuck in fucking Colorado. Tomorrow night was also the night he was supposed to walk the red carpet with Sylvia Day, his latest love interest, on his arm. Not like he was actually seeing her or anything so exciting as that.

His publicist always said being single was the fastest way to kill a career in Hollywood, and the second fastest was being married. The Hollywood solution? Publicity relationship. The up-and-coming actress got to use him to further her career, and Mark had an excuse to avoid relationship drama. But if he didn’t show up on time, then the whole deal would be off. Apparently, Ms. Day didn’t like to be stood up, even by a fake boyfriend.

With this deadline hanging over his head like an anvil, he’d rushed to the airport, hoping against all odds he would beat the snowstorm and get back to California. When the gate agent told him all flights were cancelled, he decided to hop into his Maserati and take matters into his own hands.

A lot of good
that
had done him.

What would his agent say when he didn’t show up to the premiere? Even worse, what would Glory Productions have to say about their missing star? And the damn starlet who was counting on him to make her famous …

Dragging a hand down his face, he looked around for any signs of life. He would get somewhere warm, then see what he could do about chartering a private jet. Down the road a bit, he could almost make out the outline of a familiar house with its lights still on. Drudging through the snow, he shoved his hands into his pockets and made his way down the road. His agent had told him not to go home for Christmas, but Mark couldn’t miss his little sister’s big announcement. She was getting married, and it was the biggest news their family had heard since Mark was nominated for a People’s Choice award two years ago.

So he’d gone back home, against Gary’s wishes, and now he would have to deal with the repercussions of his actions. Hell, he hadn’t even made it more than four miles from Eve’s house before he’d slid off the icy road and into the damn ditch. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear Gary conjured up this storm just to prove he was right. Mark should’ve stayed in L.A.

He wouldn’t put it past him. For his first red carpet film premiere, Gary paid two hundred screaming girls to throw lacy undergarments at Mark. One pointy brassiere had caught him in the left eye, making it sting like hell throughout the next day. Shaking his head at the direction his thoughts had turned, he stepped up to the porch of the house then knocked on the door. If he was lucky, the Robertsons still lived here and would take pity on him. He’d spent enough afternoons in their kitchen, studying with their daughter.

The thought of Lacey sitting across the table, painstakingly teaching him about parabolas, made his heart race. It had been years since he’d last seen her, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t been on his mind. Far from it. The door swung open. Mark blinked at the captivating creature in front of him. Lacey.

She wore nothing but a tight tank top and a pair of black yoga pants. Gone were the t-shirt and jeans she wore when they studied. He cleared his throat and tore his gaze off of her barely-covered breasts. She was obviously cold, but Mark forced himself to not focus on that small detail. Or, uh,
two
small details. “Um. Hi.”

Hi? Was that all he had? Pathetic.

“Well, if it isn’t Mark Delaney. Town star.”

Sometimes he wasn’t so sure he was that Mark anymore. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked at her from the protection of his lashes. “Yeah, last time I checked.”

As he studied her face, he wondered if she could see his secret written all over his face. Did she know that her blue eyes haunted his dreams after all this time? Lacey had been his math tutor … and yet so much more. It was just his luck that she would be the one he’d need to get through this ordeal.

He hadn’t seen her since he graduated high school and headed to California. She looked different, mature, womanly. Sexy. Her soft curves made his mouth water. Somehow when he pictured her in his head, she’d remained seventeen and innocently sweet. Now, instead of conjuring images of equations in his head, she brought on thoughts of cold winter nights spent gloriously naked, rolling around in bed all night, as the snow fell outside.

She cocked her head. “What are you still doing here? Eve said you were going back to LA tonight.”

“Ah, yeah. Eve—informing everyone of everyone else’s life since she came out of my mother’s womb in nineteen eighty-seven.”

Her lips twitched. “She likes to talk about you. Can you blame her? Her brother’s a star!”

“Lotta good my star status is doing me now,” he mumbled, shifting on his feet. If he didn’t get inside the house soon, he’d be in danger of a few vital parts freezing and then what kind of star would he be?

Lacey studied him, her eyes soft, inviting. Everything about her, from the tips of her green and red toenails to the soft blond hair was real and touchable. Not like the girls in Hollywood he normally hung around. And yet … he couldn’t think of a damn thing to say to her.

Mark Delaney lost for words? Doubly pathetic. Shoulders hunched, he shoved his hands deeper into his pockets. “I didn’t expect you to be here, Lacey. I thought you’d moved.”

“Well, lucky for you, I am here.” She smiled at him, her pouty red lips parting to reveal the dimples he’d always loved. He eyed her ring finger. It was blessedly bare.

“Well then, I guess I am lucky.”

Rubbing the bare skin on her arms, she looked past him. “You walked here? In this weather?”

“No, I just left Eve at home with Drake, celebrating Christmas with his parents.” He pointed at the road behind him. “I was on my way to California, but didn’t make it very far. Sports cars and snow don’t mix. I’m in a ditch, and need a place to stay until I can get a tow truck to pull me out in the morning. I was hoping your mom would let me spend the night until someone came to get me.”

“Oh, well, come on in.” She opened the door all the way. “You must be freezing.”

“A little bit, yeah.” He stepped inside and blew on his closed fists, hoping to return some feeling to them before next year rolled around. “Are your parents asleep already?”

She closed the door and leaned against it. “They’re not here, actually. They decided to spend their holiday in the Caribbean. I’m house sitting for them.”

His mouth dried out when she reached up to tuck her bangs behind her ear. His fingers twitched with the need to touch her hair. To see if it felt as silky as he remembered. There was no one home to stop him from acting out on the urge to pull her into his arms. No one to stop him but himself. He was screwed. “So you’re … alone?”

“Yeah.” Her cheeks turned pink, and her hand tightened on the doorknob. “All alone on Christmas. Pretty pathetic, huh?”

“You?” He shook his head. “I’m alone on Christmas, too. So I’m right there with you.”

She looked up at him in surprise, but lowered her chin. “I don’t think anyone in their right mind would call you pathetic.”

“You’d be surprised.”

She walked past him into the living room and held up the magazine on her coffee table. “
People Magazine
calls you the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood—for the second year in a row. We all know that magazines are never wrong, so you can’t argue with them.”

“That doesn’t count.” He snorted. “They only say those things about me because they don’t know the real me.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, I used to know you. Does that count?”

She did know him. She knew him better than anyone else on this planet, whether she realized it or not. With her, he’d let his guard down. She’d been his only real friend growing up, maybe ever. He had lots of friends nowadays, but none could be trusted not to share his secrets with the tabloids.