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A selection from The Billionaire’s Bride


"Donde esta…? Donde esta…? What's the word?" she muttered. Glancing up at the clearly baffled cafe owner, she asked hopefully, "Bathroom? Um. Toileto? El johno?"

Okay, so it wasn't actual Spanish, but Marnie really had to use the facilities and it couldn't wait until after she'd rewound the Berlitz tape she'd listened to in the car on the trip south from Arizona and figured out the word for rest room.

Some detour, Marnie thought, as she thumbed through her Spanish/English dictionary in desperation. She hadn't planned this side trip to Mexico, but she'd felt so crowded at her parents' Yuma, Arizona, home. She was a grown woman of thirty-two, a mother herself to a precocious preschooler. But for four days they had hovered over her as if she were a wounded chick in need of nurturing. Finally she 'd decided to leave Noah in their care — he would appreciate the doting, after all.

She'd borrowed their car and driven south with no destination in mind.

Now, here she was a couple of hours or so beyond the United States border on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. And she really needed to relieve herself.

From behind her, she heard the deep rumble of masculine laughter. When she turned, Marnie wondered how she could have missed the man. He sat at one of the small round tables near the door, his hulking frame in silhouette thanks to the light streaming in from the window behind him. And yet she knew without clearly seeing his features that his expression was one of amusement.

At her expense.

"Do you speak English?" she demanded, squelching the urge to cross her legs and hop in place.

"Si, yo hablo ingles, muchacha," he replied smoothly. His pronunciation was so flawless it took her a moment to realize that while he'd said so in Spanish, he could indeed communicate with her.

She pasted on a smile — one that would have had her brother Mason wisely moving well out of her range. This man merely crossed his arms over his broad chest and leaned back until the front legs of his chair left the ground.

"Clever, Mr. — ?"

Where her lethal glare hadn't fazed him, her simple question apparently did. The chair bounced back to the ground with a thud. He hesitated a moment, as if he was reluctant to identify himself.

"Friends call me J.T," he said at last.

"J.T. Wow, that's funny."

He angled his head to one side, again seeming suspicious of her. "What's funny?"

"Just that we're barely acquaintances and I already have a pet name for you, too."

But she bit her tongue on the expletive that came to mind and asked sweetly, "So, J.T., could you tell me where the rest room is?" Her smile was really more a baring of teeth when she added, "Por favor."

"Donde esta el baño?"

"Yes, yes." She waved her hand impatiently. "I think we've already established that you're bilingual. And isn't that a wonderful trait? I know I now deeply regret taking Home Ec as an elective rather than a foreign language while I was in high school. Be that as it may, I'd really appreciate it right now if you could just answer the question. In English. Or maybe French. I did take two semesters of French in middle school."

He rattled off something that had her exhaling slowly. The man would have to be multilingual.

"Okay, not French. English. Eng-lish!"

"Well, then, by all means."

He stood and took a few steps toward her, bringing him close enough that she could now fully make out his features. Where she and Hal had been on eye level, this man had several inches on her, despite the thick wedge of her heel. He was blond to her dark hair, with eyes the same shade of blue as the flower of the wild chicory that grew alongside the highway back home. Every inch of him was tanned and toned, and impressively coated with some serious muscle.

Not her type at all, she thought, even as her pulse rate spiked and almost made her forget the fact that her bladder felt as if it were being stretched by the entire contents of the Great Lakes.

It had been a long time since she'd felt this way around a member of the opposite sex. The sensation was unwanted now, and, to Marnie's way of thinking, its presence was just another reason to dislike the handsome stranger.

"Down that hallway and to the right."

"Thank you."

"De nada."

She smiled and had just taken a step in the direction he'd indicated when he added, "For future reference, Donde esta el baño? is handy phrase should you find yourself in your, uh, current predicament again."

"Gracias," she replied with a roll of her eyes and hurriedly took her leave.

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