Home > The Tycoon's Defiant Southern Belle

The Tycoon's Defiant Southern Belle
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Tycoon's Defiant Southern Belle

The Tycoon's Defiant Southern Belle
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

The glare of the flashlight could barely cut through the heavy darkness. Was it possible that the night was thicker here in this house? The beautiful, Spanish style mansion was rumored to be haunted and as Jade walked through the long, spooky hallways, she understood how the eerie rumors could have evolved. There was an unnerving, mysterious presence here. Something that just didn’t feel normal.

Jade shook off the feeling, thinking she was being ridiculous. There was no such thing as ghosts or spirits or anything like that. Just a stubborn, obnoxious cat that continuously seemed to be running away lately. “Jasper! Where are you?” She wasn’t sure why she was whispering since the house had been vacant for several decades. “I swear you’re not getting any peanut butter for a week!”

She froze as a strange, ominous sound came to her. Was that laughter? Or was it just her imagination? She felt her heart rate increase, her blood pounding in her veins and fear started to clog her throat. Impossible! No one had lived in this house for decades! She was just imagining things.

Jade shivered again, wishing she were back in her comfortable cottage instead of here in this dark, cold, creepy place. No matter how fascinated she was with the house during the daylight hours, she couldn’t deny that something abnormal was here right now. There was a sense of….something alive. And despite the heat of the day, the house felt freezing! How in the world could a house be cold in the middle of summer? It had been over ninety degrees today! But inside this house, her bare arms were covered with goose bumps from the strange temperature.

She continued through the house, but her steps faltered when she saw the peculiar glow coming from the main living area. Her body froze, her mind racing as she tried to figure out what the light could be. Fire? Her heart skipped a beat at the idea of the beautiful place being destroyed by the merciless talons of fire. Her pace picked up as she hurried down the long hallway, her mind frantically trying to figure out a way to stop the fire, if it really was a blaze.

Despite her constant reassurances that there were no such things as ghosts, in the back of her mind, she couldn’t stop the possibility from creeping up on her. The cold, the darkness, the odd light…they all roused her imagination, terrifying her as the adrenaline suddenly surged through her body.

She couldn’t slow down, she couldn’t stop! Jasper was in here somewhere and this gorgeous house couldn’t be destroyed by fire! No, it just couldn’t!

“Talk to me Jasper. What’s going on?” she called out, knowing in her mind that the cat couldn’t talk. It still made her feel better to say the words, to hear her voice as it echoed against the vacant hallway.

She skidded to a halt in the doorway of the great room, her eyes scanning the area. The first thing she saw was the fire. There truly was a fire and it was enormous, but thankfully, it was contained within a massive, stone fireplace with beautiful tiles surrounding the floor, making the glow actually shine upwards and reflect off of the ceiling and as she took it all in, she realized that the ceiling was painted in some amazing mural with cherubs dancing in the clouds.

But only a portion of that part of the scene broke through her consciousness since every cell in her mind and body was focused on one thing. And it wasn’t the fire.

There was a very large, very scary man sitting in the wing-back chair.

Or was he a man? Was he even human?

There was a darkness that surrounded this man that had nothing to do with the night wrapping around the outer glow of the fire. As she stared, she knew that the darkness wasn’t caused by the tight, black shirt and black pants. It wasn’t even the black hair or the man’s eyes that were shaded somehow even though the fire seemed to be illuminating all the other hard planes of his face. And it wasn’t the being’s enormous size, although that definitely contributed.

As she halted just inside the large, elaborately decorated room, she stared at the person sitting in the old, wing-back chair, her eyes taking in every detail, her lips parting with amazement and her body shivering, but this time for a completely different reason.

No, there was something dark about this man, something….broken. Something painfully sad. Jade didn’t know what it was that told her that but she knew it with a deep down instinct that reached out to her and squeezed her heart.

And then her eyes moved downward and she caught the large, elegant hands gently caressing her cat. “Jasper!” she admonished with a hint of nervousness in her voice.

Angelo had heard the footsteps approaching but didn’t bother to get up. With the cat purring away on his lap, he listened carefully to the tread of the steps coming down the hallway to his new home. He wasn’t overly concerned about whoever had invaded the reputedly haunted, almost destroyed house. With the fire burning in the fireplace and the fur covered feline on his lap, he simply relaxed against the cushions of the relatively comfortable chair and waited, wondering who might have the courage to enter this building at night. He’d heard the stories about the ghosts, knew that the rumors plus the overgrown gardens, broken concrete and shattered windows generally kept people away. There was a peculiar essence to this place that helped incite one’s imagination towards the macabre.

Besides, the steps approaching the great room were soft, too light to be a danger. An intruder would have to be pretty big to concern Angelo since he was a large man himself, a fact which had terrified others in the past. Or was it the look in his eyes, the one that warned people to stay away?

Either way, he wasn’t overly concerned about whoever was coming towards him. It simply broke the monotony of the night and pulled his black gaze away from the fire as he awaited whoever was coming down the hallway to appear.

He had to chuckle when the soft, feminine voice chided the cat, threatening him with punishment but had she really told the cat that he wouldn’t get peanut butter? Angelo wasn’t sure that peanut butter was the best thing for animals, but what did he know? Except for his two best friends, Zayn and Dominic, he pretty much kept to himself out of necessity. And perhaps habit.

As the woman approached, Angelo was astounded by how soft and round her delectable body was, but slender and adorable in all the right places. His eyes took in her lush, full breasts and her slender, sleek arms. She was short, he could see, but her legs were long and strong but still feminine. His mind instantly pictured those legs around his waist, his interest increasing tenfold as she stood there staring at him.

And why the hell was she wandering around at night in that outfit? Her camisole was thin with just those spindly spaghetti straps to hold everything in place while her draw string pants were soft and loose, resting low on her hips. There was even a small gap between where the camisole ended and the pants began, showing him her lean, flat stomach.

Jade suddenly realized that she was staring and her conscience broke through her fascination with the tall, gorgeous and definitely dangerous stranger. She shook her head, but her eyes remained wide as her mind took in the details of the sad but strikingly attractive man.

“Goodness!” Jade exclaimed as she came closer, pushing her irrational fear aside. The man had been in shadows but as she approached to retrieve Jasper and introduce herself to her new neighbor, she was stunned by the man as he became clearer to her. “I’m so sorry that Jasper intruded on your night,” she said, but the sound came out as a whisper, her mind freezing at the astounding strength and breadth of his arms and shoulders, slowly revealed as her eyes adjusted to the light.

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