Authors: Noelle Adams
Playing the Playboy
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Noelle Adams. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means.
Edited by Kristin Anders,
The Romantic Editor
Laurel Grayson had a Master Plan.
She’d spent weeks researching the ruthless Damon family and calculating every detail of her strategy for saving the inn they were trying to steal from her.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t calculated
Two elderly Greek men were standing far too close to her on the side of the winding road out of Oia, Santorini, arguing over which of them would get the privilege of changing her flat tire.
She was desperate now to get rid of both of them, since Andrew Damon, the nephew of the CEO of Damon Enterprises, would be driving by at any moment.
He was the one who was supposed to help Laurel change the tire she’d flattened an hour ago on purpose.
A friend who worked at the airport had told her what time his private plane was scheduled to arrive on the island. If her timing was correct, he should be passing by on his way to her inn within the next half-hour. His appointment with her wasn’t scheduled until tomorrow, but she’d discovered the Damons had a habit of arriving a day early so they could catch property managers unaware.
She wasn’t surprised by the offers of help, since Santorini was a laidback, old-world island, but she’d thought they would be easier to dismiss. She’d already run off two other Good Samaritans, who had stopped to help the damsel with tire distress, but she couldn’t get rid of these last two.
They were shouting at each other now, with the passionate ferocity she’d discovered was common among the Greeks who lived on Santorini—for whom arguing was a recreational activity.
“Thank you,” she interrupted loudly in Greek, flustered and glancing back in the direction from which Andrew’s rental car would approach. “Thank you. I am fine. I am
After living for seven years on Santorini, her Greek was passable, although nearly everyone she interacted with could speak English. “You are both very kind to help, but I would rather do this myself.”
They didn’t believe her, evidently, since one of them knelt down with the wrench he’d requisitioned from her and started turning the nuts.
The wrong way.
“Hey,” she exclaimed in English. “You’re going to—”
Her words were drowned out as the second man tried to wrest the wrench from the other’s hand.
Laurel had been changing her own tires since she was sixteen, so she could easily have changed the tire herself.
She’d always done everything on her own, since she was raised by her grandparents in a rural county of West Virginia. They were kind but dirt poor, so she’d worked every day of her life, doing whatever she needed to make enough money, including getting a job at a sleazy bar with a fake ID, since she could make more money there than anywhere else.
She was only playing the helpless female now out of desperation. Damon Enterprises was a billion-dollar international conglomerate of hotels and restaurants spread out across four continents. Laurel was a twenty-nine-year-old widow with nothing to her name but the inn on Santorini that her husband, who’d died in bankruptcy, had given her as a wedding present.
She was so frustrated she was almost in tears as she tried to get rid of the two men, who were now arguing enthusiastically about the proper method of removing her flat tire.
All of her work. All of her planning. Everything she had in the world. All of it rested on one first step—Andrew Damon’s stopping to help her.
The four Damon nephews were well-known for being handsome and chivalrous. Laurel was sure Andrew would stop if it looked like she needed help.
But he might not stop if she had two other willing knights-errant at her disposal.
She tried to talk over their shouting, half in English and half in Greek, since she couldn’t concentrate enough to remember all of the correct Greek words.
Then she gave an embarrassing jerk of surprise when a mild, male voice came from behind her. “Do you need any help?”
Laurel whirled around and was stunned speechless by the sight of Andrew Damon, looking casually handsome in khakis and a white dress shirt. He eyed her with raised eyebrows and barely suppressed amusement.
She hadn’t even seen his car approach.
She knew what Andrew looked like.
, she knew what he looked like. She’d scrutinized photos of him online, trying to find everything she could possibly learn about the man the Damons were sending to deal with the dispute over her little inn, which they were irrationally claiming legally belonged to them.
She knew Andrew had dark hair, a clean-cut face, striking green eyes, broad shoulders, and a lean, fit body. She wasn’t expecting him to be
attractive, though—with something warm and charismatic emanating from every pore.
She also wasn’t expecting him to appear without warning, before she could put on the pretty, feminine persona she’d been planning to use to attract him.
“I—” Unable to think of anything strategic to say, she gestured stupidly to her car and the two elderly Greek men who had now almost come to blows.
“Hey,” Andrew said, stepping over with leisurely assurance and taking the wrench out of the one man’s hand. “I’ve got this.”
Laurel had no idea how he’d done it. He hadn’t sounded angry, stern, or even particularly loud, but both of the other men backed off immediately.
Honestly, it annoyed her—that he’d made something happen without even trying that she hadn’t been capable of.
She’d always been self-sufficient, helping her grandparents with money every week for expenses from the age of fourteen and dealing with every difficulty—from a sprained ankle to a Sheriff who wouldn’t stop coming onto her—without anyone else’s help. Her husband had been the only person she’d relied on for years, and that had ended up as a disaster. She was safer being self-sufficient.
Andrew wasn’t any sort of power-player. He’d only recently gotten involved in the family business at all, and he was mostly known for extreme sports and chasing women.
He shouldn’t be able to accomplish something she hadn’t been able to do herself.
She forced the unreasonable response down and tried to remember the detailed script she’d prepared for exactly this moment.
“Thank you,” she said breathlessly, trying to smile at him prettily. She was hot and flushed and exasperated, though, so she was afraid it wasn’t very effective.
“No problem.” He seemed to be hiding a smile. The glint of humor made him even more appealing, but it also roused her indignation.
Her entire life was on the line here. His ruthless family was trying to take away everything that was hers.
And Andrew Damon had the gall to think it was funny.
Before she could process her anger, one of the men—the one who’d been passing by on an old bike—came toward her, speaking very quickly in Greek.
She understood part of what he said. He was asking her if she wanted to buy any of the vegetables he grew.
He was right in her face, so she back away from him slightly.
Unfortunately, she backed into a rock and stumbled over it.
She fell on her butt, jarring herself painfully.
She sat, dazed and horrified, for a few moments until Andrew extended a hand to help her to her feet.
She’d taken care with her appearance this morning, since she needed to look her best for her Plan to succeed, but now her makeup was sweated off, her hair was a mess, she’d scraped up her bare legs, and her tank top was sticking to her chest.
She must look awful, and she felt like an absolute fool.
Her mind a blur of disoriented vexation, her only thought was that it was somehow all Andrew’s fault.
Andrew Damon didn’t want to do this job.
He liked the Greek islands, and he wouldn’t have minded the trip—but he didn’t like conflict, and he definitely didn’t like dealing with stubborn, spoiled, former-trophy-wives in illegal possession of property that rightfully belonged to the Damons.
He figured helping this gorgeous woman on the side of the road was reason enough to delay doing this particular job.
When his brother, Harrison, and his uncle had a falling out a month or so ago, Andrew had been more than willing to step up and help with some of the work Harrison usually did. Andrew had spent most of his life playing around, but he wasn’t afraid of hard work.
He just didn’t like
kind of work.
His appointment with Jerry Grayson’s wife wasn’t until tomorrow. He’d arrived today to claim an advantage by showing up unexpectedly, since that was normal Damon strategy, but there was nothing compelling him to actually go to the inn today.
This brunette was tall, slim, and sexy with slightly exotic features. She also was hilariously beset upon by two irate Greeks and had fallen into a tangle of long bare legs and long dark hair, her disarray making her even sexier.
Screw business strategy. Andrew was going to do
“Are you all right?” he asked, helping her to her feet
“I’m fine.” She sounded a little grumpy, and she pulled her hand away from his quickly, which didn’t bode well for his chances with her.
He hadn’t exerted any effort yet, however, so he didn’t let her response discourage him. He talked the two Greek men back to their bike and car, respectively.
When he turned around, the woman was brushing dirt off a very fine ass. “Do you want me to help with the tire?” he asked.
It looked initially like she was going to refuse his offer, but then she must have rethought her initial response and smiled at him instead. “Yes. Thank you.”
Andrew changed the tire quickly, conscious of a pair of lovely dark eyes on him as he worked.
She was obviously an American, and the car appeared to be a rental, so he assumed she was on vacation, but he was surprised that she was alone.
Not that there was anything wrong with a woman vacationing alone, but most of the young women of his acquaintance didn’t.
“Thank you so much for doing this,” she said as he was tightening the nuts on the spare he’d hauled out of the trunk. “I really appreciate it.”
“I’m sorry you got dirty.”
Andrew looked up at her in surprised and then noticed her eyes focused on the sleeve of his shirt, on which was a streak of grease.
He shrugged. “No worries.”
“I need to make a quick call,” she said. “Do you mind?”
“Of course not.”
As he finished the tire, he shamelessly eavesdropped on her side of the phone conversation. She tried to keep her voice down, but it was impossible for him not to hear.
She was telling the person she’d planned to parasail with today that she would be late, and evidently the person was annoyed and didn’t want to wait for her.
When she hung up, he’d finished with the tire.
He stood up, rubbing perspiration from his forehead with his sleeve. “Not a very patient friend, I guess.”
She lowered her dark lashes, looking deliciously shy for just a minute. “He’s got plans later in the day. I understand. I just have never parasailed before, and I didn’t want to do it alone. It’s no big deal.”
Parasailing for tourists was pretty tame as far as Andrew’s experiences went. He’d been cliff diving and skydiving, and he’d climbed Everest a few years ago.
But even tourist-style parasailing was better than paying a surprise visit, a day early, to an angry, entitled female who wasn’t going to be at all happy about getting kicked out of the inn.
“I’m Andrew,” he said with a smile, extending his hand.
She smiled back. “Nice to meet you, Andrew.”
He could tell she didn’t recognize him. His family was well-known, and most people recognized his last name, but he wasn’t any sort of celebrity, and strangers didn’t usually immediately know who he was.
“I changed your tire. Doesn’t that at least earn me the right to know your first name?”
She laughed. “If I’d known there were strings attached, I would have just changed the tire myself.”
“So what will it take for you to give me your name?”
“You don’t give up, do you?”
“Of course not.”
Andrew wasn’t lost to the irony of his words. The truth was he’d spent his life giving up. If anything became too hard, if anything got to be too much trouble, he just left and found something else to fill his time.
He’d never had to work particularly hard at attracting women, but he certainly had never wasted his time going after one who didn’t seem interested.
“What if I go parasailing with you?” he asked. “Would that earn me the right to know your name?”
Her lips parted in surprise. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
have somewhere to be. His uncle was counting on him to do this job and do it to Damon standards. Harrison was counting on him to take care of a lot of responsibilities. Recently, Andrew had decided to turn over a new leaf and try to make something useful out of his life.