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The Billionaire's Runaway Bride

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Blurb

Emily Danzi has been stalked by a deranged man for most of her adult life. She thought she had left him behind when she moved to the west coast of Canada, but one rainy night, he catches up with her. Emily finds a temporary solution by having a complete stranger pose as her boyfriend.

Byron Pomeroy, the man who was about to end his own life by jumping off a bridge scares off her pursuer but brings complications when she learns how deeply troubled he is, despite his enormous wealth. Emily wants to help him in return, but she must contend with Byron’s domineering mother and a devious journalist who wants Byron for herself and will destroy the reputation of anyone who gets in her way.

“This might not be easy,” Byron began, “considering what I can safely call our mutual attraction for each other.”

As she sat at the table across from him, Emily could not deny it. It was good that the table separated them because she was tempted to reach out and stroke the beautiful outlines of his face. She wondered what it would feel like to kiss him. Suddenly she realized Byron was saying something, while she was completely distracted by his god-like appearance.

“...so, maybe you would like to make any suggestions?” he asked.

“Suggestions?” she echoed.

“About our new arrangement.”

“Oh, of course,” she said, flustered, “No, you go first.”

“All right.” He smiled as if he knew she had been admiring his looks. “Let’s start with public displays of affection. How far are we willing to go?”

“Um...” Emily had not considered this.

He took her hand and stroked it with his thumb, a light and teasing touch.

“Would this be okay?” he asked.

Emily nodded, wondering how she was going to be able to stand this without surrendering to his charm.

“What about hugging?” he went on.

“Hugging...” Emily cleared her throat nervously.

“We need to proved something for the journalists to talk about,” he said, though Emily suspected it was not the only reason he wanted to get closer to her.

“Hugging would be fine.”

“I guess kissing would be out of the question?” His eye glinted mysteriously as his lips bent in a wicked smile.

“I... haven’t thought about it,” Emily said. “Kissing on the cheek might be allowed.”

“No kissing on the lips then?” he asked. His whole look seemed to say, “try it, you might like it.”

Her body melting with desire, Emily stayed firm on this point. “No kissing on the lips.”

The Billionaire's Runaway Bride is created by Carolee Croft, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.

WARNING: This novel contains depictions of suicidal depression and stalking.

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Chapter 1: The Stranger on the Bridge
“Don’t ever call me again!” Emily yelled as she got out of a car belonging to a guy who turned out to be the worst date ever. He had offered to give her a lift home in his Mustang, but instead of driving he seemed more focused on sliding his hand under her dress. Emily was not looking for a serious relationship, but she also didn’t want some average one-night stand with a guy who seemed interested in her only in the sense of her being a warm female body. The wind blew cold, slapping tiny drops of rain onto her face. She did not regret escaping from that creep’s car, but now she had to walk home. She was in the middle of downtown Vancouver, and it would be nearly impossible to catch a taxi. She walked quickly to avoid being stopped by other smarta**es like the guy whose car she had just jumped out of. It’s not like she had extremely high expectations, Emily thought moodily as she walked past drunk and excited nightclub goers. She wanted what every girl in her twenties probably wanted: someone she could have some laughs with, who liked her personality, who made an effort... and she wouldn’t mind if he good in bed. Why was it she only met men who were either obsessed with her or just wanted to use her for s*x? Was there no happy medium? And speaking of men who were obsessed with her, who was that tall figure walking behind her? No... it couldn’t be. This night had already turned out disappointing, and there is no way it could get worse. She was just being paranoid. Josh wasn’t here. He was miles away. The echo of her high-heeled boots grew louder as she left the towers and clubs of downtown and began to cross the long bridge that stretched across the bay. She looked back just to reassure herself that it wasn’t Josh following her. She nearly lost her footing. It was him. The boy she thought was cute when they were in high school, but now five years later did not seem so cute anymore because he never stopped following her. She recognized his spiky hair and slightly hunched posture. Emily tried not to panic even though her heart rate sped up to what seemed like a million beats per minute. She was already on the bridge, and she decided to cross it. Maybe Josh wouldn’t approach her this time. If she could just keep walking at the same pace, it would be fine. Some drunk girls ran past her, giggling loudly. She looked back again, and this time it seemed like Josh was catching up to her. Had he been waiting, watching her all this time just to catch her alone? He had never been violent yet, but Emily suspected he could snap once he finally realized she was not interested in him. No matter how much she tried to avoid him, he never seemed to get the message. If only she could have caught a taxi, she would have been halfway home by now, but none of the yellow cars passing by had their light on to signal that they were available. Emily really did not want to talk to Josh. Maybe even riding in the creep’s car would have been preferable. There was something so frustrating about the way Josh wouldn’t leave her alone, wouldn’t take no for an answer. Her anger drover her on to walk faster. Josh made his way onto the bridge and was getting closer. She could almost make out his facial features in the yellow overhead lights. Even if she ran now, she might not be able to get away fast enough, but anyway she hated the idea of running. She was so tired of feeling like the frightened victim. There had to be another way to deal with him. Then she saw the lone man standing in the middle of the bridge, looking out over the water, and a brilliant idea struck her. At least she hoped it was brilliant. About as tall as Josh but with a broader frame, this man looked like he could kick some a**. Not that he would have to do anything. Just the sight of him alone would probably scare Josh away. Men seemed to respect other men more than they respected women. Once they saw that a woman was ‘taken’ they would usually back off. The man did not react when Emily stopped beside him, so she touched his shoulder, acting as if they were old friends. His fashionable wool coat was actually really pleasant to the touch. “Hey, great to see you!” she said, making big gestures that Josh would be sure to perceive even from a distance. When the man turned towards her, the look of unbearable pain and despair in his eyes actually frightened her for a moment. She had rarely seen anyone look so vulnerable, and she realized she must have caught him deep in thought or completely consumed with his suffering. The beauty of his eyes, green with just a hint of blue, stunned her almost as much as his anguished expression. It seemed a contradiction that such a remarkable-looking man should have such a terribly sad gaze, his dark brown hair speckled with raindrops and his long lashes unmoving as if he was too tired to blink. She almost forgot about Josh as she grew mesmerized by the stranger’s handsome face. The man didn’t say anything as he looked at her, probably still deep in his own world. Emily wasn’t sure if he was just crazy or on drugs, but at this point she had few other options, and she tried to press on with her plan. “I’m sorry,” she said, “could you do me a really big favor? I need you to act like you know me. There’s a guy following me. Please?”

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