One Night With the Enemy

By: Abby Green

CHAPTER ONE


MADDIE Vasquez stood in the shadows like a fugitive. Just yards away the plushest hotel in Mendoza rose in all its majestic colonial glory to face the imposing Plaza Indepencia. She reassured herself that she wasn’t actually a fugitive. She was just collecting herself … She could see the calibre of the crowd going into the foyer: monied and exclusive. The elite of Mendoza society.

The evening was melting into night and lights twinkled in bushes and trees nearby, lending the scene a fairy-tale air. Maddie’s soft mouth firmed and she tried to quell her staccato heartbeat. It had been a long time since she’d believed in fairy tales—if ever. She’d never harboured illusions about the dreamier side of life. A mother who saw you only as an accessory to be dressed up and paraded like a doll and a father who resented you for not being the son he’d lost would do that to a child.

Maddie shook her head, as if that could shake free the sudden melancholy assailing her, and at the same time her eye was caught by the almost silent arrival of a low-slung silver vehicle at the bottom of the main steps leading up to the hotel. Instinctively she drew back more. The car was clearly vintage and astronomically expensive. Her mouth dried and her palms grew sweaty—would it be …? The door was opened by a uniformed hotel doorman and a tall shape uncurled from the driving seat.

It was him.

Her heart stopped beating for a long moment.

Nicolás Cristobal de Rojas. The most successful vintner in Mendoza—and probably all of Argentina by now. Not to mention his expansion into French Bordeaux country, which ensured he had two vintages a year. In the notoriously fickle world of winemaking the de Rojas estate profits had tripled and quadrupled in recent years, and success oozed from every inch of his six-foot-four, broad-shouldered frame.

He was dressed in a black tuxedo, and Maddie could see his gorgeous yet stern and arrogant features as he cast a bored-looking glance around him. It skipped over where she was hiding like a thief, and when he looked away her heart stuttered back to life.

She dragged in a breath. She’d forgotten how startling his blue eyes were. He looked leaner. Darker. Sexier. His distinctive dark blond hair had always made it easy to mark him out from the crowd—not that his sheer charisma and good looks wouldn’t have marked him out anyway. He’d always been more than his looks … he’d always carried a tangible aura of power and sexual energy.

Another flash of movement made her drag her eyes away, and she saw a tall blonde beauty emerging from the other side of the car, helped by the conscientious doorman. As Maddie watched, the woman walked around to his side, her long fall of blonde hair shining almost as much as the floor-length silver lamé dress which outlined every slim curve of her body with a loving touch.

The woman linked her arm through his. Maddie couldn’t see the look they shared, but from the smile on the woman’s face she didn’t doubt it was hot. A sudden shaft of physical pain lanced her and Maddie put a hand to her belly in reaction. No, she begged mentally. She didn’t want him to affect her like this. She didn’t want him to affect her at all.

She’d wasted long teenage years dreaming about him, lusting after him, building daydreams around him. And that foolish dreaming had culminated in catastrophe and a fresh deepening of the generations-old hostility between their families. It had caused the rift to end all rifts. It had broken her own family apart. She’d realised all of her most fervent fantasies—but had also been thrown into a nightmare of horrific revelations.

The last time she’d seen Nicolás Cristobal de Rojas had been a few years ago, in a club in London. Their eyes had clashed across the thronged room, and she’d never forget the look of pure loathing on his face before he’d turned away and disappeared.

Sucking in deep breaths and praying for control, Maddie squared her shoulders. She couldn’t lurk in the shadows all night. She’d come to tell Nicolás Cristobal de Rojas that she was home and had no intention of selling out to him. Not now or ever. She held the long legacy of her family in her hands and it would not die with her. He had to know that—or he might put the same pressure on her as he’d done to her father, taking advantage of his physical and emotional weakness to encourage him to sell to his vastly more successful neighbour.

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