Victoria Parker.

The Woman Sent to Tame Him






Let me be the first to tell you the good news.

Crossing one bare foot over the other, Finn leaned back with more of the insolence hed doubtless been born with. Somehow I dont believe you mean good in the literal sense.

Oh, I dont know. We could learn a lot from each other, you and I.

The true meaning of that statement lay between them, gathering momentum with every passing second. It would take time, of course. To get him to talk. To unearth his secrets. To make him crack. Thankfully Serena had all the time in the world.

I doubt that.

The lack of innuendo suffused her with pleasure and a heady sense of power. It seemed she was finally getting somewhere.

Why dont you enlighten me, Miss Scott? Your excitement is palpable and I find I can barely stand the suspense.

She deflected that sarcasm with a breezy flick of her hair off her shoulder. I would love to enlighten you, Mr St George. Me and you? Were about to be stuck like glue.

A shadow of trepidation passed over his face before he cocked an arrogant brow. And the punchline is ?

Musing that the word babysitter didnt quite have the right ring to it, she let her impetuous mouth stretch the truth, not really giving a stuff.

Youre looking at your new boss.

VICTORIA PARKERs first love was a dashing, heroic fox named Robin Hood. Then came the powerful, suave Mr Darcy, Lady Chatterleys rugged Loverthe list goes on. Thinking she must be an unfaithful sort of girl, but ever the optimist, she relentlessly pursued her Mr Literary Right, eventually found him lying between the cool, crisp sheets of a Mills & Boon and her obsession was born.

If only real life was just as easy

Alas, against the advice of her beloved English teacher to cultivate her writers muse, she chased the corporate dream and acquired various uninspiring job titles and a flesh-and-blood hero before she surrendered to that persistent voice and penned her first Mills & Boon romance. Turns out creating havoc for feisty heroines and devilish heroes truly is the best job in the world.

Victoria now lives out her own happy-ever-after in the north-east of England, with her alpha exec and their two childrena masterly charmer in the making and, apparently, the next Disney Princess. Believing sleep is highly overrated, she often writes until three a.m., ignores the housework (much to her husbands dismay) and still loves nothing more than getting cosy with a romance novel. In her spare time she enjoys dabbling with interior design, discovering far-flung destinations and getting into mischief with her rather wonderful extended family.

A recent title by the same author:

A REPUTATION TO UPHOLD

PRINCESS IN THE IRON MASK

Did you know these are also available as eBooks? Visit www.millsandboon.co.uk

The Woman Sent to Tame Him
Victoria Parker


www.millsandboon.co.uk

For my Dad.

Always my anchor in the storm.

I love you.

Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE

Monte Carlo, May

Hold on to your hearts, ladies, because racing driver Lothario Finn St George is back in the playground of the rich and famous.

After sailing into the Port of Monaco with a bevy of beauties only last eve, the man titled Most Beautiful in the World donned a custom-fit tux and his signature crooked smile and swaggered into the Casino Grand with all the flair of James Bond. Armed with his loaded arsenal of charismatic charm, the six-times World Champion then proceeded to beguile his way through the enamoured throngdespite the owner of Scott Lansing advising the playboy to calm his wild partying and tone down adverse publicity.

Seems Michael Scott is still battling with threats from sponsors, who are considering pulling out of over forty million pounds worth of support for the team.

True, Finn St George has always danced on the devilish side of life, but of late he seems to be pushing some of the more family-orientated sponsors a fraction too far. Indeed, only last week he was pictured living it up with not one but four women in a club in Barcelonaapparently variety really is the spice of his life!

Though, with only two days to go until the Prince of Monaco launches this years race, we suspect Finns wicked social life is the least of Scott Lansings worries, because clearly our favourite racer is off his game.

While Australia was a washout, earning him third place, St George barely managed to scrape a win in Malaysia and Bahrain, leaving Scott Lansing standing neck and neck with fierce rivals Nemesis Hart. But when he crashed spectacularly in Spain last month, and failed to finish, racing enthusiasts not only dubbed him the death-defyer, but he slipped back several points, leaving Nemesis Hart the leader for the first time in years.

Has St George really lost his edge? Or has the tragic boating accident of last September, involving his teammate Tom Scott, affected him so severely?

Usually dominating the grid, it appears our much-loved philanderer needs to up his game and clean up his act, or Scott Lansing may just find themselves in serious financial straits. One thing is certain: while Monaco waits with bated breath for the big race tomorrow Michael Scott is sure to be pacing the floors, hoping for a miracle.

* * *

A MIRACLE...

With a flick of her wrist, Serena Scott tossed the crumpled newspaper across her fathers desk. Well, she was wrong about one thing. Youre not pacing the floors.

On a slow spin the black and white blur landed in front of him, hitting the glass with a soft smack. Then the only sound in the luxurious office on the Scott Lansing yacht was Serenas choppy breathing and the foreboding thump of her heart.

No pacing. Yet, he grated, dipping his chin to lock his sharp graphite eyes on hers.

Well, now... She had the uncanny notion that after hours of musing over the true genesis of her three a.m. wake-up call she was about to discover exactly why shed been dragged from her warm bed in London to globetrot to the C?te dAzur. And if the suspicion snaking up her spine was anything to go by she wasnt going to like it.

I have no idea what youre worried about, she said, perfectly amiable as she folded her arms across the creased apple-green T shrouding her chest. Finn is performing to his usual sybaritic standards, if you ask me. Fraternising with God-knows-who while he parties the night away, drinks, gambles, beds a few starlets and crashes a car for the grand finale. Nothing out of the ordinary. You knew this two years ago, when you signed him.

Back then he wasnt this bad, came the wry reply. Its not only that. Hes...

That familiar brow furrowed and Serenas followed suit.

Hes what?

I cant even explain it. He goes on like nothings happened but its like hes got a death wish.

She coughed out an incredulous laugh. He hasnt got a death wish. Hes just so supremely arrogant he thinks hes indestructible.

Its more than that. Theres something...dark about him all of a sudden.

Dark? A sinister shiver crept over her skin as the past scratched at her psyche, picking at the scab of a raw wound. Until she realised just who they were talking about.

Maybe hes been overdoing it on the sun deck.

Youre being deliberately obtuse, he ground out.

Yes, well, unfortunately Finn St George brought out the worst in herhad done since the first moment shed locked eyes with him four years ago...

Serena flung her brain into neutral before it hit reverse and kicked up the dirt on one of the most humiliating experiences of her life. Best to say lesson learned. After that, what with her engineering degree, working alongside the teams world-famous car designer in London and Finns thirst for media scintillationwhich she avoided like the bubonic plagueface-to-face contact between them had been gratifyingly rare.

Untiljust her rotten lucktheir formal welcome to the team introduction, when hed struck at every self-preservation instinct she possessed, oozing sexual gravitas, with challenge and mockery stamped all over his face. Hateful man. She didnt need reminding she was no femme fataleespecially by a Casanova as shallow as a puddle.

Add in the fact that his morals, or lack thereof, turned her stomach to ice, from the outset theyd snarled and sparked and butted headsand that had been before hed stolen the most precious thing in the world from her.

A fierce rush of grief flooded through her, drenching her bones with sorrow, and she swayed on her feet.

Look, her father began, tugging at the cuff of his high-neck white team shirt. I know you two dont really get along...

Wow, wasnt that an understatement?

But I need your help here, Serena.

With an incredulous huff she narrowed her eyes on the whipcord figure of Michael Scott, also known as Slick Mick to the ladies and Dad when in private, or when she was feeling particularly daughterly, as he rocked back in his black leather chair.

Nearing fifty, the former racing champion reminded her of a movie icon, with his unkempt salt and pepper hair, surrounding a chiselled face even more handsome than it had been at the peak of his career. The guy was seriously good-looking. Not exactly a father figure, but they were friends of the best kind. At least they usually were.

This is your idea of a joke, right? It was hard to sound teasing and only mildly put out when there was such a great lump in her throat. Because, let me tell you, I have more of a chance to be Finn St Georges worst nightmare than his supposed...saviour.

The idea was ridiculous!

Visibly deflating, he shook his head tiredly. I know. But I find myself wondering if you have a better chance of getting through to him. Because, honestly, Im running out of ideas. And drivers. And cars. Up came his arm in a wave of exasperation and the pen in his hand soared over the toppling towers of paperwork. Did you watch that crash last month? Zero self-preservation. The guy is going to get himself killed.

Let him. The words flew out of her mouth Serena-stylethat was before she could think better of it or lessen the blow. One of her not-so-good traits that landed her in trouble more often than not...

You dont mean that, he said, with the curt ring of a reprimand.

Closing her eyes, she breathed through the maelstrom of emotions warring in her chest. No, she didnt mean that. She might not like the man, but she didnt want anything bad to happen to him. Much.

Whats more, I refuse to lose another boy in this lifetime.

The hot air circling behind her ribs gushed past her lips and her shoulders slumped. Then, for the first time since shed barged in here twenty minutes ago, she took a good look at Michael Scotta real look. Her dad might be all kinds of a playboy himself, but shed missed him terribly.

Inspecting the grey shadows beneath his eyes, Serena almost asked how he was coping with the loss of his only son. Almost asked if hed missed her while shed been gone. But Serena and her father didnt go deep. Never had, never would. So she stuffed the love and the hurt right back down, behind the invisible walls shed designed and built with the fierce power of a youthful mind.

Yeah, she was the tough cookie in the brood. She didnt grieve from her sleeve or wail at the world for the unfairness of it all. Truly, what was the point? She was this mans daughter, raised as one of the pack. No room for mushy emotions or feminine sentimentality spilling all over the place.

So, even though she now had a Tom-sized hole in her heart, she had to deal with it like a manget up, get busy, move on.

It was a pity that plan wasnt working out so well. Some days her heart ached so badly she was barely holding it together. Dont be ridiculous, Serena, you can hold up the world with one hand. Snap out of it!

Anyway, you cant stay in London all season, fiddling with the prototype. I thought it was ready.

It is. Were just running through the final testing this week.

Good, because I need you here. The design team can finish the trials.

I need you. Wilythat was what he was. He knew exactly what to say and when.

No. You need me to try and control your wild boy. Problem is I have absolutely no wish to ever set eyes on him again.

It wasnt his fault, Serena, he said wearily.

So you keep saying.

But exactly which part of Finn taking Tom to Singapore on a bender and Finn coming back first-class on his twenty-million-pound jet whilst her brother returned in a box wasnt his fault? Which part of Finn taking him out on a boat when Tom couldnt swim and subsequently drowned wasnt his fault? He hadnt even had the decency to attend the funeral!

But she didnt bother to rehash old arguments that only led her down the rocky road to nowhere.

So you want me to...what? Forgive him? Not a chance in hell. Make him feel better? I dont. So why should he?

Because this team is going down. Do you really want that?

She let loose a sigh. You know I dont. Team Scott Lansing was her family. Her entire life. A colourful, vibrant rabble of friends and adoptive uncles and shed missed them all. But the entire scene just brought back too many memories she was ill-equipped to handle right now.

So think of the bigger picture. Read my lips when I say, for the final time, it wasnt Finns fault. It was an accident. Let it go. You are doing no one any favours quibbling about itleast of all me.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as if to stem one of his killer migraines and guilt fisted her heart.

He was suffering. They were all suffering. In silence. Let it go...

But why was it every time they spoke of that tragic day, when the phone had shrilled ominously through their trailer, she was slapped with the perfidious feeling she was being kept in the dark? And she loathed the dark.

It didnt matter how many times she asked her father to elucidate he was forever cutting her off.

Tom wouldnt want to see you like this, he said, irritation inching his volume a decibel higher. Blaming Finn. Doing your moonlit flit routine. Holing up in London. Burying your head in work. Youve done all you can at basenow its time to get back in the field. Quit running and stop hiding.

I havent been hiding!

He snorted in disbelief.

Okay, maybe shed been hiding. Licking her wounds was best attempted in peace, as far as she was concerned. But honestly...? How far was solitude getting her on the heart-healing scale?

Serenas heavy lids shuttered. God, she was tired.

Shed lost her brother, her best friend, and she kept forgetting she was supposed to carry on regardless. This was tough love and shed been reared on it. Admittedly the vast majority of the time shed appreciated Michael Scotts particular method of parentage. You needed skin as thick as cowhide to trail the world for ten months of the year in the company of men. Not the best way to raise two children, but shed genuinely loved her life. Honest.

If shed often stared at other children with their mothers, wondering what it would be like to have one of her own, to live in a normal house and walk to an actual brick-built, other-children-present school every morning, shed just reminded herself that her life was exciting. And if shed prayed for a mum all those years ago when her adolescence had been shattered, leaving her broken and torn, shed comforted herself that she had Tom. Tom had been her rock.

But now he was gone. Nothing was exciting any more and there was no one to hold her hand in the dead of night when the shadows loomed. You dont need your hand held. Youre stronger than that. Snap out of it!

She swallowed around the lump in her throat, forcing the overwhelming knot of grief to plunge into her chest. Buried so deep her stomach ached.

If what you say is true and there is a problem, she said dubiously, how can I possibly help?

Get him to take an interest in the prototype or work on your latest designs... I dont knowjust get him to focus on something other than women or the bottom of a bottle.

Impossible.

Im a woman.

Only in the technical sense.

Gee, thanks. As if she needed reminding.

Then again, the last thing she wanted was to be like one of Finns regulars. They were the skirt to Serenas jeans. The buxom bombshells to Serenas boyish figure. The strappy sandals to Serenas biker boots. The super-soft, twice-conditioned spiralling blonde locks to Serenas wild mane of a hue so bizarre it defied all colour charts.

Which was wonderful. Inordinately satisfying. Exactly the way she liked it.

The last thing he needs is another bedmate, he muttered wryly. He needs a kick up the backside. A challenge. And, lets face it, you two create enough spark to fire a twin-stroke. Therefore I am askingno, you know what...? I am telling you to help. Youre on my payroll. You move back in here and you chip in.

Tough love.

Then his graphite gaze turned speculative. Calculating. An expression she didnt care for that nailed her to the wall.

Or you can kiss the Silverstone launch of your prototype goodbye.

A gasp of air hit the back of her throat. You wouldnt dare.

Wouldnt I?

Yeah, he probably would. He didnt believe the racing car shed designed would be anything special and shed do anything to prove him wrong.

That prototype was her baby. Three years of hard work. Her and Toms inspiration. Launching at Silverstone had been their dream. The only tangible thing she had left of him.

Low, Dad, she choked out. Really low.

Averting his eyes, he scrubbed a palm over his face. More like desperate.

Serena sighed. Nailed. Every. Time.

Fine. Ill try...something.

Unease began to hammer at her heartshe had no idea how to handle the man. None.

But I know Finn will make it up. He had a slow start last year. The sponsors will forgive and forget once he starts playing to his fans. Monaco is in the bag. He always wins here. What happened in qualifying sessions today? Hes in pole position, right?

Her fathers expression turned thunderousone that boded only ill. He screwed the engine.

He blew the engine? So hes at the back tomorrow? In one of the slowest and hardest circuits in the world?

Yep.

Pop! Up came a vision in her minds eyethe scene shed bypassed as shed hauled her motorbike along the harbourand her stomach fired, anger swirling like a tornado. Sparking, ready to ignite.

Raising her arm, she pointed one trembling finger in the general direction of Finns floating brothel. And hes along there, in that...that yacht of his. Engaging in some kind of...drunken debauched sex-fest to celebrate his latest cock-up?

One weary hitch of those broad shoulders was all it took to light the fireball raging in the pit of her stomach.

What in the blue blazes is he doing? Doesnt he care at all? In fact, dont answer that. I already know.

The man cared for no one but himself! And this was a newsflash? Obligation and decency had clearly been disowned in that gene pool.

Ive had it with him.

Bullet-like, Serena shot out through the door, her biker boots a clomp-clomp on the polished wooden floors as she raced through the galley. Im gonna kill him. With my bare hands.

Serena! Watch your temper. I need him.

Yeah, well, she needed her brother backand that was about as impossible as keeping her mitts off Finn St Georges pretty-boy face. Shed had enough of that man messing with her family. Her team. Her life. Her brother was dead, the championship was heading for the toilet, and her dad was aging by the second as Finn continued to yank at his fraying tether!

How selfish could one man be?

Well, she was stopping it all. She was taking control.

Right now.

CHAPTER TWO

SERENA DUCKED AND dived around the loved-up couples milling on the harbour, her sole focus on the Extasea, rising from the water, formidable and majestic.

Even moored among some of the finest vessels in the world, Finns super-yacht was in a class of her owna one-hundred-and-sixty-foot, three-decker palacereminding Serena of the resplendent seven-star hotels he favoured in Dubai and certainly more regal ocean liner than bordello.

Still, opulence aside, she had the acumen to know that appearances were deceptive, and the fact that shed been lowered to this chafed her pride raw. But there was no backing out now. She was going to say her piece and he was going to listen.

The bravado felt wonderful. Freeing. Cleansing. She should have done this months ago, she realisedhad it out with him instead of letting everyone sweep her under the carpet like some bothersome gnat, as if her feelings were of no importance. Her grief had been so all-consuming that shed allowed it to happen. Well, not any more.

Closer to the yacht now, she felt the balmy air cling to her skin and the thud of her boots become drenched by the evocative beat of sultry music. As she marched up the gangway the splash of water from the hot tub on the sun deck followed by intimate squeals of sexual delight made her trip over her size fives.





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