FALLING FOR THE ENEMY by Shawna Delacorte
Silhouette Desire #1455
Original release: August 2002
eBook reissue: February, 2011
eBook ISBN #978-1-459-20068-5
Available at: http://ebooks.eharlequin.com
Available at: www.bn.com for Nook Books
Available at: www.Amazon.com for Kindle

A Dangerously Desirable Boss:
Paige Bradford intended to expose Bryce Lexington for the ruthless shark he was. But when they started working together, the sparks they gave off jettisoned her best intentions... Paige knew this corporate hunk wasn't what he seemed -- but was she losing her heart... to the enemy?

Hiring oh-so-sexy Paige might have been the biggest mistake Bryce had ever made, but he had to learn what she was after. Especially since she had Bryce -- the man with everything -- wanting something far more precious: Paige's love.


Read G-rated Excerpt inside front cover
Read Excerpt #1 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #2 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #3 (G-rated)
Read Excerpt #4 (G-rated)


G-Rated Excerpt inside front cover:

The look on Bryce Lexington's handsome face said it all. He liked what he saw, liked it very much. Paige felt an inexplicable tingle of excitement as he continued to stare at her. She quickly pulled the beach jacket on, covering her body from shoulders to midthigh.

"Tomorrow, Bradford... " Bryce paused to take a calming breath. "Tomorrow bring your own swimsuit." He quickly turned and left the pool house without even pausing to look back.

Paige closed her eyes. The look of smoldering intensity that Bryce had greeted her with popped back into her mind. A tremor of sensual desire made its way through her body, then settled low inside her.

Paige was not sure what she wanted anymore or why she was still there. She probably should have resigned as she had originally planned, but now it was too late.


G-rated Excerpt #1


"Paige Bradford? I'm Bryce Lexington." Bryce rose from his chair and held out his hand as she entered his office.

Even though he had seen her photograph in her personnel file, this incredibly beautiful woman was not what he had anticipated. Her firm handshake showed confidence. She appeared composed and at ease. Everything about her was a surprise and he instantly liked everything he saw. An unexpected tightness constricted his chest when their hands touched. He took a deep breath in an attempt to break the sensation. This unmistakable physical attraction toward her was both ill-timed and unacceptable considering the circumstances.

According to Joe Thompkins, his corporate head of security, Paige had been surreptitiously prying into Bryce's personal life for the past six months and two weeks ago had procured a job at his corporate headquarters in Santa Monica, California. Now she stood in his office on the other side of his desk looking as desirable as any woman he had ever met. What was her game? What was she after? Again, a quick rush of excitement darted through his body. He shoved it away and focused on the business at hand. He indicated a chair for her, then sat down behind his desk.

Paige settled into the chair he had indicated. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Lexington."

She had seen hundreds of pictures of him and read every word she could find that had been written about him -- magazines, newspapers and even the Internet. None of it had prepared her for a face-to-face meeting with this dynamic man. Paige had accepted his handshake, then quickly withdrawn her hand from his grasp. An intimate warmth had traveled up her arm and spread through her body, leaving her momentarily unsure about her chosen course of action.

She clenched her jaw and rallied her determination. She would not allow his good looks and some errant twinge of unwanted desire to divert her from the all-important task she had set for herself. She would see to it that Bryce Lexington was held accountable for his actions. That the world would know he was nothing more than an unprincipled shark who was responsible for her father's suicide.

"Your personnel file shows that you possess the educational background, skill level and computer experience necessary for the position as my administrative assistant. Our corporate policy is to promote from within whenever possible. Since you agreed to come in for the interview, I'll take that to mean you're interested in the position."

"Yes, Mr. Lexington. I feel that -- "

"Call me Bryce."

"All right...Bryce. I'm extremely interested in the position and would consider it an honor to work as your administrative assistant. I have long admired your dedication to charity and your hard work in that regard." She smiled, doing her best to project as much sincerity as she could muster and thankful that she hadn't choked on the audacious lies.

"Do you have a current passport?"


Without warning, he rose from his chair and moved to the office door. "That's it, Bradford."

His abrupt action startled her. "That's what?"

"End of the interview. The job is yours effective immediately." He glanced at his watch. "You have three hours to pack. We're going to London and we'll be gone for five days. Meet me at the company hangar at the airport. Get the directions from Eileen." He opened the door and stepped aside, indicating that she was dismissed.

"I...uh, I appreciate this opportunity -- "

"I have another meeting, Bradford. Eileen will provide you with what you need."

"Yes...thank you." She hurried out of the office, a little uncertain about exactly what had just happened. The office door closed behind her. She was momentarily irritated with his brusque manner, which had almost bordered on rude.


Bryce watched from his office window as Paige walked down the sidewalk. As soon as she was out of sight he picked up the phone and called Joe Thompkins. A minute later his security chief arrived in his office. Bryce settled into his chair, leaned back and propped his feet up on his desk. He listened intently as the forty-two-year-old ruggedly handsome man opened a file folder and gave him a quick rundown.

"Paige Bradford, maiden name Franklin. Thirty-two years old. Daughter of Stanley Franklin, founder of Franklin Industries. Mother deceased. Following a divorce one year ago from Jerry Bradford, Paige moved from St. Louis back to her father's house in Los Angeles. She's the one who discovered his body after he shot himself. That was six months ago. It was shortly after that when she began tracking down information about you."

Bryce took the folder from Joe and looked over the contents as he slowly shook his head. "If she hadn't tried to pass herself off as a writer doing an in-depth biography of me, then called one of my business associates, Herb Fenwick, to set up an interview with him we probably wouldn't have known about her activities. Fortunately, Herb called me after she'd contacted him."

Bryce scanned the folder again. "I'm not sure what type of person I was expecting, but she certainly wasn't it. I wonder what she wants with me. It can't have anything to do with my purchase of Franklin Industries. Surely she knows about her father, what he did and why the deal went down that way."

"The real kicker was her procuring a job right here in corporate headquarters with access to your entire computer network. You have a copy of her personnel record, don't you?"

"Yes." Bryce reached in a desk drawer and withdrew another file folder. He looked through the pages, his gaze lingering for a moment longer than necessary on the photograph that did not do her justice. It did not show her beautiful smile or her sparkling hazel eyes. He let out a sigh of exasperation. "I suppose the sensible thing to do would have been to just ask her what she was up to. There could be a perfectly logical reason for her running around prying into my life and business."

"Oh, really?" Joe's expression and tone of voice said he found Bryce's suggestion totally ludicrous. "And just what do you suppose that perfectly logical reason might be?"

Bryce shot him an exasperated look. "All right, let's say she does have some sort of ulterior motive for her actions. We don't want to make any accusations without some type of proof." Bryce suddenly sat up straighter, his tone of voice taking on a sense of urgency. "She hasn't done anything detrimental to the company, like compromising sensitive corporate information, has she?"

"Not that I'm aware of. Her investigations seem to have been limited to publicly available information...so far."

Bryce studied her file a moment longer, then closed it with a finality that said the discussion was finished. "I've transferred her to my personal staff as my administrative assistant effective today. According to her file she's fully qualified for the job. That way I can keep my eye on her until we figure out what she's up to -- if she's up to anything at all -- and she won't know we're suspicious of her. I don't want to tip our hand and frighten her off before we find out what this is about."

"I don't like it, Bryce. She seems to have some sort of personal agenda she's pursuing and you can bet it's not to your benefit."

Bryce opened the file and stared at her photograph again. "You know -- " he flashed a grin " -- it's worth a little bit of inconvenience to have someone around who looks like this. Eileen Draper is a dear and I couldn't get along without her management skills, but she is old enough to be my mother." He stole a guilty look toward the office door, then turned a sheepish expression to Joe. "And don't you dare tell Eileen I said that."

Bryce closed the folder and tossed it onto the corner of his desk, his manner once again turning to serious business. "I'll play it by ear, take it one day at a time. We'll see where things progress from here."

"You want her working directly with you where she would be free to pursue whatever she has on her agenda up to and including doing you physical harm?"

"In all fairness, Joe, we don't know that she has anything in mind that's damaging to me or to the corporation."

"That's your final decision in the matter?"

"Yep. That's the way I intend to play it."

"I want to go on record as being dead set against this, Bryce."

"Your objection is duly noted."


G-rated Excerpt #2


A classically beautiful Italian girl in her early twenties came up behind Bryce, slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. "Papa said you were out here."

"I'd know that sultry voice anywhere." He twisted around in his chair, took her hands in his and extended a warm smile. "Angela, how have you been? Last time I was here you were one month away from motherhood." He slipped his arm around her slim waist and pulled her close to him. His smile quickly shifted to a teasing grin that matched his tone of voice. "Look at this! I can actually get my arm around you now."

"Twins." She beamed at him, her total and complete joy covering her face. "A boy and a girl. We named the girl Sofia, after Grandma. And the boy -- " the smile faded from her face and tears formed in her beautiful brown eyes " -- we named Bryce..." She quickly blinked the tears away and recovered her enthusiasm. "Bryce Antonio Roberto Vincent -- "

"Stop, already!" Bryce broke out in an easy laugh. "The poor kid will be an adult before he gets all of his names memorized."

Paige saw the surprise and the unconcealed emotion dart across his face before he could hide it. She had thought he was merely a good customer over the years, that this very close family were friends of his. But it was now obvious to her that there was more to it than that -- much more.

"Bradford, this is Angela. She's the fourth of Antonio and Maria's children. Angela, this is Paige Bradford, a business associate of mine." The two women shook hands.

Angela's enthusiasm bubbled to the surface. "It's time for Papa to go home and rest. If I don't chase him out of here he'll stay until closing." She gave Bryce another affectionate kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you later." She turned her warm smile to Paige. "It was nice meeting you." With that, she hurried off toward the kitchen.

Before Paige had an opportunity to make any subtle inquiries, Rudy returned with the first course of what turned out to be a complete seven-course meal. As Bryce had promised, the food was excellent and there was plenty of it. Somewhere between the fourth and fifth courses Bryce excused himself from the table, saying he wanted to have a word with Maria. She watched as he disappeared into the kitchen.

The fact that he had twice introduced her as a business associate rather than an employee had not escaped her attention. It seemed to demonstrate a sense of equality where others were concerned. It was the same concept as his personal friendship with the French ambassador and also a working-class Italian family who owned a small restaurant. Her preconceived notions about Bryce Lexington were beginning to crumble. Paige was not happy about it, but was not sure how to stop it. She didn't have any idea where to place her trust, that little bit of trust she was able to muster. Should she trust her firmly entrenched beliefs or her subsequent observations of this man?

"Quite a remarkable man, no?" It was Angela's soft voice that captured Paige's attention.

She wasn't sure exactly how to respond to Angela's comment. "He's definitely unlike anyone I've ever met before."

"You're a business associate?" Angela flashed Paige a warm and friendly smile. "So are we. Bryce owns twenty-five percent of this restaurant."

The pride, and it seemed to Paige something almost akin to gratitude, showed on Angela's face. Paige immediately latched on to the twenty-five percent that Angela had quoted. Angela must have been mistaken. A ruthless shark like Bryce Lexington would not be involved in a business if he did not own controlling interest. She tried to maintain a casual tone of voice as she subtly probed for answers. "How did your family come to be in business with him?"

"Bryce had been coming into our restaurant for many years, he knew the whole family. Eight months ago Papa had a heart attack, he needed bypass surgery. Things became very bad financially. Our creditors were after us for past-due bills, we were in danger of losing the restaurant. Then on top of everything else, Grandma became very ill. She was still in Italy. Papa wanted very much to be able to see her before she died but there was no money for a trip and Papa had just had the surgery and all. That was when we became business associates with Bryce."

Angela looked around to make sure no one could hear them. "He took care of all our past-due bills and paid for Papa and Momma to go back to Italy to see Grandma. She died a few days after they arrived. They never would have been able to see her for one last time if it hadn't been for Bryce. When they got back, he sent Papa to a heart specialist in the United States to make sure everything was okay."

"Is that when he took part of your business and made himself your partner?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth Paige wanted to bite her tongue. They sounded too caustic. This young woman obviously thought the world of Bryce, as did her entire family. The last thing she wanted to do was attract undue attention to her real motives and intentions.

Angela cocked her head and creased her forehead for a moment, her expression indicating her confusion over Paige's comments. "Not at all. It was Papa who offered half the restaurant to Bryce to repay the money he had spent on us. Bryce said they would draw up a formal contract for twenty-five percent rather than fifty percent. So far, he hasn't taken any of his profits out of the business. He says we should hold the money in the bank and use it as an emergency fund, in case Papa gets sick again."

Angela remained for a few minutes longer before hurrying back to work. Paige sat in silence digesting the conversation they had just shared. Was Angela confused about what had happened? The story Angela just gave her did not in any way resemble the actions of a ruthless shark preying on unsuspecting people. Not only had he made his twenty-five percent of the profits available to Antonio as an unrestricted fund, Bryce had reduced Antonio's taxable income by being a partner in the business. This meant that Bryce was actually paying part of Antonio's tax burden.

She didn't know what to make of this new and contradictory information. Could she have been mistaken about Bryce Lexington? She began to wonder if she really knew exactly who and what he was. She clenched her jaw and gathered her determination. No...she was not mistaken. Obviously Angela was the one who didn't have all the facts. Antonio's daughter was far too trusting, the type of mistake Paige would not make for herself ever again.


G-rated Excerpt #3


He made no move to release her hand and she made no effort to remove it from his grasp.

All the magic of the moonlit terrace at the French embassy stirred inside her, engulfing her in a sensual cloud. She again heard the music floating on the air, could almost feel the sensation of his hand sliding across her bare back as they slowly danced in each other's arms.

As if he had been reading her mind, he pulled her to him, slipped his arms around her and began to move to the music that continued to play through her mind -- the same song they had danced to the night before.

It was all she could do to keep from melting in his embrace. She had never felt this way before. She closed her eyes and moved with him. In her mind they were back on that beautiful terrace bathed in the silver glow, a place where time had managed to stand still if only for a few minutes. The line between reality and delicious fantasy started to fade. She nestled her head against his shoulder and allowed him to envelop her.

They slowly danced in each other's arms, moving to the silent music. Time lost all meaning and all reality. It could have been five minutes or it could have been two hours -- neither of them knew, neither of them cared.

Bryce reached his fingertips under her chin and lifted her face. It felt so right holding her in his arms again. Their being together felt so very right. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. All the feelings and emotions he had carefully stored away inside himself over the years flowed to Paige through his kiss. He had not intended to kiss her. He simply could not stop himself. It was something similar to kinetic energy -- once it had started, the action moved forward under its own volition. Her lips were soft, her mouth sweet. What began as a tender kiss quickly escalated as his aroused passions came to the surface. He wanted all of her.

Paige had not been prepared for his decision to kiss her. It was wrong, things should be strictly business. He was the man who had been the center of her vendetta for six months. He was the man she believed was responsible for her father's suicide. He was the man who had the power to put one hundred people out of work with the stroke of a pen -- one hundred people who had families to support -- by simply closing down her father's company.

His kiss deepened and her thoughts and fears melted away in a burst of incendiary desire as she responded to his sensual mouth and the fire that burned inside her.

Bryce forced himself to break off the kiss he had initiated. He cradled Paige's head to his shoulder for a moment as he took a calming breath, then he stepped back from her. Her kiss-swollen lips parted slightly as she looked into his eyes, bewilderment evident on her beautiful face.

He finally found his voice. "It's late, Bradford. Go to bed. We have an early appointment in the morning."

A shaken and confused Paige turned and hurried to the guest room as tears formed in her eyes, hurt and humiliation coursing through her. Her thoughts were on Bryce as she sat on the edge of the bed. She closed her eyes and touched her fingertips to her lips. She still felt the power and passion of his kiss. He had touched the very depths of her soul, stirred passions she had forgotten she even possessed. Why had he so suddenly pulled away from her and dismissed her as if nothing had happened? Unlike the embassy reception where Andre had interrupted them, there had been no reason for his sudden change.

The sound of his voice from the other side of the door interrupted her thoughts. His words were soft.

"Bradford...are you awake?"

She hesitated a moment before answering. "Yes."

"I...I want to apologize for what just happened. I had no right to put you in that position. Making passes at my female employees is not the way I conduct my business and it's not part of your job description."

There was a very brief moment of silence, then he spoke again. "Good night, Bradford." She heard him walk down the hall, then heard his bedroom door close.


G-rated Excerpt #4


Paige and Bryce had already taken an early-morning run down the mountain and were on their way back up in the ski lift for a second run. The clear morning sky sparkled with blue brilliance, the snow glistened in the bright sun, the crisp air smelled of pine trees. The spring snow conditions were perfect and the midweek crowds were at a minimum, which made the lift lines short. It had been an exhilarating run they had both enjoyed.

There was just enough time for one more run down the slope before lunch. They stood poised at the top of the hill. They had decided on one of the side runs. It was a little more difficult than what Paige was accustomed to but, since no one else was on it, Bryce promised to take it easy and help her.

They pushed off. The pristine powder conditions made things easy and comfortable. It was a long run. Bryce was a little ahead of Paige so he stopped to wait for her to catch up. He watched as she came into view. Then he heard it -- the unmistakable roar as tons of snow broke loose from high up the mountain. The noise filled the air. The wall of snow gained momentum as it crashed down the mountain side, taking out everything in its path.

Paige heard it too and glanced back over her shoulder. Her heart pounded in her throat. Her mouth went dry. She saw it -- a huge mass of snow high above and headed down the slope. Her mind went blank for a brief moment, then something finally clicked in her head bringing her back to reality. All she could think of was sideways, she had to move sideways to get clear of the path of the onrushing snow. It was almost upon her. She turned, moving as fast as she could. The deafening noise filled her head. The rush of wind that preceded the wall of snow hit her hard. Everything went white as the snow crashed around her. Then everything went black.

Bryce saw it all as it unfolded. He struggled to move toward her, but it was impossible. The bitter taste of fear filled his mouth. Not fear for his own safety, but fear for Paige. He frantically clawed his way through the snow and debris. He had been far enough to the side to be out of the main path of the avalanche, but had still been tossed around. There was a bleeding gash on his arm where something had ripped through his clothes and his ankle felt tender as he tried to stand on it. None of that mattered. Nothing mattered to him except finding Paige.

He had seen her move as she tried to get out of the path of the crashing wall of snow. Then he lost sight of her. He scrambled up the hill toward the spot where he had last seen her. "Paige! Can you hear me? Paige! Paige!" He kept calling to her, hoping against hope that she had been thrown clear, that she could hear him, that she could answer him.

He finally made his way to the spot where he had last seen her. He searched the area, tugging at tree branches and digging through piles of snow with his hands as he searched for any sign. He refused to acknowledge the throbbing in his ankle or his bleeding arm. He finally forced a calming breath as he desperately tried to put some logic to the problem and to stop his frantic, scattered activities.

He looked around. She had been on the very edge, the main path of the destruction would have passed by her. He had seen her move even farther away. He again looked around, trying to get his bearings. Landmarks -- trees, bushes, rocks -- much of it had been ripped out and carried away or left covered by snow. He tried to focus his thinking. There had to be something, some way to --

The breath stilled in his lungs and his heart stopped for a moment. Off to the side, a hint of something bright red caught his eye. Paige had been wearing a red ski cap, red jacket and red pants. His heart started to pound like a jackhammer. He could taste the adrenaline. He rushed to the spot, half stumbling, half crawling. He reached for the bit of red. His hand closed around the knit fabric and pulled it out of the snow.

Paige's ski cap yanked free. He stared at it for a moment, then shoved it in his pocket. She had to be somewhere close. With the location of the ski cap as the center, he combed the surrounding area in an ever-increasing arc extending down the hill and out to the side following the direction of the avalanche. Doubts and fears plagued him. What if he had not searched thoroughly enough and passed her by? Or, what if he took too long searching in one place and would not find her in time? He angrily shoved the thoughts aside. There was no if. He would find her.