Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life.
Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help.
Or the perfect match?
They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?
Well, look at that. Prince Charming. Malorie should have known she’d stumble over him the instant she set foot back in his kingdom. The man was the bane of her existence even when she was halfway around the world.
She put her hands on her hips and looked down at him, so peacefully dozing out in the open that he hadn’t even stirred at the sound of her feet in the great white pebbles by the river.
Tristan Rosier asleep looked exactly how Malorie had always imagined. Gorgeous. Insouciant. Not vulnerable in the least, except to being over-kissed by the sun. A wicked little smile curving his mouth as if that sun was a woman and he was quite used to this kind of treatment.
Shirtless and completely ripped, the definition of his muscles visible even relaxed in sleep. He’d probably just come down from that beautiful limestone cliff face rising on the other side of the gorge and his muscles were still pumped from it. One hand held a half-eaten apple, the other a small white paperback—Giono’s Hussard sur le toit—and they had both slumped to his torso when he dozed off. In full sun.
She sighed. It would serve Tristan right to have his nose peeling for a week, but then forty years from now, if he got skin cancer, it would be all her fault, and the last thing a Monsard needed was more lives on her conscience.
Plus, knowing Tristan, a peeling nose would probably improve his ability to flirt with hot actresses, not weaken it—he always managed flips like that. And his ability to flirt with hot actresses was already freaking annoying.
Fine. She dipped her hands in the milky green river, high from the recently melted snow in the peaks, limestone giving it that beautiful color. She carried the water back across the round white pebbles, tightened herself and double-checked her buttons to make sure her clothes weren’t going to melt off as soon as he winked at her, and then tossed the icy water over his bare torso.
Muscles flicked like a cat’s—powerful, lean, surging awake—and he opened his eyes, blinking sleepily at her as if she was all shadow in too much light. “Malorie Monsard,” he said, with a sensual, lazy pleasure, as if he’d just woken up on a Sunday morning and was quite happy to see that she was the woman draped in his bathrobe bringing him coffee in the hopes he would ask her to stay.
She had to dive fast into irony to protect herself, as she always did with him.
“You make a good Sleeping Beauty, Tristan.” She used the masculine beau au bois dormant. “Or should I say Snow White?” A nod to the half-eaten apple resting against his washboard abs.
Tristan sat up, blinking, his eyes clearing. “Malorie Monsard.” His voice flattened. He shifted to sit on the rock against which his head had been resting, cushioned by his backpack. “Trust you to replace the kiss in the story with ice water on a man’s skin.”
Yeah. Tristan had been as friendly to her as to any other female on the planet when they were in high school, but when they met again in New York, it had not gone well. For him.
Supple, expressive eyebrows that could lilt up subtly in amusement, invite a woman in with laughter, tease her wickedly, did what they always did when she was around. They drew together. “Malorie,” he said for the third time, looking around them at the limestone cliffs and the rushing spring river as if finally processing it. “What the hell are you doing here?”
© Laura Florand, 2016