One Real Man

By: Coleen Kwan

a Real Men novel

She’s right where he wants her…

Amidst an ugly divorce and an even uglier scandal, Paige Kerrigan has returned to her parents’ estate to hide out until things blow over. While she’s enjoying a late-night naked swim, however, she’s shocked to find Owen Bellamy— her family’s former cute pool boy—standing poolside. Now he’s all hot, grown up, and renting the Kerrigan property…and he’s definitely not forgiven Paige for how she used to treat him.

Once, the beautiful but spoiled Paige Kerrigan was everything Owen wanted. Now she’s broke and Owen finally has his offering her a place to stay as his housekeeper. Yet Paige isn’t the person he remembers. Instead, she’s far more than he imagined, and far more irresistible than is safe. But the last thing Owen can afford is to give his heart to the same woman who once broke it.

Chapter One

Someone had broken into his pool conservatory.

Owen Bellamy’s soft-soled sneakers made no sound as he moved down the darkened corridor that linked the main house with the conservatory. Arched metal columns and soaring panes of glass enclosed a twenty-meter pool. A golden trumpet vine twisted around one of the columns. With the only illumination coming from the underwater lights, shifting shadows filled the cavernous space. The intruder swam down the length of the pool at a brisk pace, making no attempt to mask his or her presence.

Too stupid or too brazen?

Owen eased through the open door. The crisp evening outside wasn’t exactly swimming weather, but the water in the pool was kept at a steady 82 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Many years ago, a lifetime ago, it had been one of his chores to keep the water temperature of this pool steady. He’d been bawled out a couple of times for neglecting to do so, and his father had had to apologize for him.

He stopped just inside, in the shadow of some potted ferns, as he caught sight of two huge suitcases, bulging at the seams, and next to them a large handbag and a pile of clothing. Jeans, white T-shirt, lace bra, white G-string, flat leather sandals. A young woman’s clothes. Expensive, too, judging by the shoes and handbag. So he had a rich girl skinny-dipping in his pool. She’d probably wandered into the wrong house. But how could she have gotten in when he’d locked up earlier? Had she broken in just for the hell of it? Whoever she was, he wasn’t going to put up with any crap from her. He knew all about spoiled princesses.

His gaze zeroed in on the woman freestyling toward him. She swam head down, the wake from her strokes blurring her body. He couldn’t make out her features, but there was something very familiar about her… Then, as she tilted her head sideways to gulp in air, recognition slammed into him, driving all the breath from his lungs.

Paige Kerrigan. Rich, beautiful, spoiled Page Kerrigan—the owners’ daughter who’d once ruled this pool house, the princess who’d mocked him in front of her friends, the tease who’d kissed him behind these same ferns and then rejected him for someone else—was swimming naked in his pool.

Memories roared in his brain, sending painful spasms through his muscles. Her splashing thrummed against his eardrums. His eyeballs felt hot and tight as he tracked her progress. Soon, very soon, she would reach the end of the pool, and she didn’t have a clue who was waiting for her.

He strode over the bundle of clothing and stopped at the edge of the pool. His chest thumped hard.

She reached the wall of the shallow end at full speed. Stretching out, she slapped her hand onto the pool edge, breathing hard as she stood. As her upper body rose out of the water, moisture sluiced down her curves, turning her skin smooth and slick like liquid honey.

Oh God… Owen’s lungs seized at the sight of Paige’s wet breasts. For the life of him, he couldn’t wrench his gaze away. Then her earsplitting shriek broke the spell as she flung her arms around her torso.

“Who the hell are you?” she yelled. “Get the frig out of here before I call the police.”

Owen blinked. That wasn’t the reaction he’d expected, but then again he’d never been able to read Paige. “Funny,” he drawled, “that’s exactly what I was about to say to you.”

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