Playing the Billionaire

By: M.K. Meredith

 (International Temptation)

To Paula, aka Puala Bear.

It is an amazing feeling to be loved by a soul sister who mirrors my heart.

I am forever grateful to the universe for bringing you into my life.

I love your smoochie face.

Dear Reader, Hello, my lovely friends! I just wanted to fill you in on a little something to save you any confusion or frustration thinking I’d lost my mind and didn’t double check my Spanish. Both the Catalan and Spanish languages are common in Barcelona. They have similarities but are two separate languages. The use of each often depends on who one is speaking with. You will see my hero and his family use mostly Catalan throughout the book, though a few Spanish words are used here and there, depending on the scene. For example, ‘Mateu’ is Catalan for ‘Mateo’ and ‘miss’ is Senyoreta in Catalan but Señorita in Spanish.

Enjoy Barcelona! I fell in love.


Chapter One

An afternoon at the Erotic Museum de Barcelona.

Going to a nude beach—if she could find the nerve.

A real Barcelona vermouth barhop.

Kissing a Spaniard.

Ticking through her once-in-a-lifetime vacation agenda was the only thing keeping London Montgomery sane in the middle of the sardine can that was Barcelona’s train station. She tightened her hold on her luggage to thwart yet another bump-and-spin ploy by a pickpocket and breathed a sigh of relief her passport, driver’s license, and credit card were all safely tucked away inside her bra.

Good luck getting in there without an invitation, boys.

Braver have tried, better have failed.

Though this trip did ensure the potential for finding the perfect sexy invitee. Nothing fit her midnight fantasies better than tall, dark, and Spaniard. A little one-night stand might just be what the doctor ordered to decompress—no better prescription than one that read slam, bam, and thank you, man.

Truth be told, she’d been too effective at keeping the men away the past few years. She wracked her brain to remember the last time she’d been open for business, but the memory was too faded and too fleeting to recall. Well, now was her chance. After years of working nonstop to take care of her mother’s medical bills and build a reputation as a sought-after luxury hotel inspector for Elite Travel & Life Magazine…

She. Was. On. Vacation.

A string of unbreakable migraines and endless weeks of insomnia had landed her in the clinic more than once. Her doctor warned her if she didn’t take care of herself, she wouldn’t be able to take care of her mother. And that would never do. She would take care of her mother, just like her mother had always taken care of her—on her own.

London could just barely see the doors to outside through the crowd. She weaved around travelers, businessmen, and other vacationers toward the daylight, with her rolling suitcase tight in her grip. Her research about traveling in beautiful Barcelona had taught her a lot, but one thing was paramount: keep your possessions close and your wits closer.

A sharp tug on her sleeveless pantsuit had her grabbing the handle of her luggage tighter to keep from losing her balance. A panicked little girl shook London’s hand, tears streaming down her smudged face. The child spoke rapidly, pulling at London to follow and pointing with quick, anxious thrusts of her dirty finger.

London lowered to the little one’s eye level and held her gently by the shoulders. “Honey, it’s okay. I’ll help you.”

Large brown eyes welled with more tears and stared back, hopeful and attentive. London’s chest tightened. She could only imagine how terrifying it would be to get lost in such a crowded place so young. Using a soft, calm tone, she reassured the little sweetling that she’d help, though there was a good chance the child didn’t know English, and she scanned the crowd for anyone who might be able to assist them. The distress in her new friend’s eyes shifted, and her attention flitted over London’s shoulder before a sly grin stretched wide across her face. She wrenched from London’s light grasp and disappeared between the bodies of the crowd.

“Wait,” she called after the girl.

Straightening, London tried to see where she went, but there was no chance of finding the child in the sea of casually dressed tourists. With a small shake of her head, she dropped her hand to her rollaway only to meet thin air. “No!”

She spun around, clutching her chest.

Her luggage was gone.

She swallowed against the hot burn crawling up her throat. Pins and needles pricked her fingertips. She wasn’t going to cry; she wasn’t going to panic. Or so she tried to tell herself.

All her smack talk about the pickpockets was nothing but a false sense of bravado, because she was neither braver nor better at this point. She was a putz—duped by a six-year-old and now luggageless on the dream vacation she’d saved years for. Now that did make her want to cry.

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