The Millionaire's Deception

By: Wendy Byrne

He’ll close the deal, at any cost...

Rafe McCall has a reputation as the Closer. He rakes in serious cash to make deals happen. Convincing small restaurant owner Frankie Ritacco to sell his business for property development should have been a piece of easy, profitable cake. So Rafe blows into Wilcox, Iowa on his Harley, convinced that the deal is all but done. But he is so, so wrong...

For starters, “Frankie” is a woman. A stunning, stubborn woman who wants to preserve her idyllic small town. Despite her pitiful prospects for marriage and children, the Crossroads Café is part of Frankie’s family’s legacy. There’s no way she’s selling, even if she is tempted by a super-hot bad boy millionaire. Or if said bad-boy millionaire actually seems to genuinely want to help. But with Frankie’s café in serious trouble, Rafe must decide if he can close the deal...or if he’s found the deal breaker of a lifetime.

The Millionaire’s Deception

a Men of the Zodiac novel

Wendy Byrne

Chapter One

He walked into Crossroads Café looking like sex and sin with a chaser of trouble. Chiseled cheeks covered with stubble, a black T-shirt tucked into worn Levi’s hung low on his hips, a weathered leather jacket tossed over his shoulder: he looked like he’d ridden something, or someone, hard over the last few days.

Frankie peeked out the window and spotted the Harley parked in front and couldn’t decide if she was disappointed or intrigued. A steamy hunk of bad boy was not what she needed in her life right now. But it looked as if she didn’t have much choice when he ambled inside and gave her a panty-melting smile.

“What would you like?” She noticed the long dark lashes first, but tried not to look at his eyes because she knew she’d find a mischievous sparkle that said you want some of this, dontcha?

“Some coffee would be great.” He gave her another one of those smiles. “And maybe a menu.”

Duh. Of course he came into a café to eat. A handsome face and she leaked brain cells. She plunked a menu in front of him and contemplated scooting away to avoid the deadly vortex of maleness.

But before she could make her getaway, he touched her hand. “Unless you want to give me a recommendation.”

“Well…” Again with the soulful looks. Geez, would the guy knock it off. “I hope you like Italian, because that’s our specialty. Anything from frittata to lasagna to sausage and peppers.”

“Italian, huh? I wouldn’t have figured that with the name Crossroads Café.” When he shrugged, his shoulders moved in a way that every muscle was visible. Yowza, she needed a fan to keep the pheromones from exploding around her. He examined the menu for a few seconds. “A mushroom frittata with home style potatoes.”

“Anything else?”

“Unless you want to sit down and chat.” He gave her one of those heated looks that squirmed through her until she wanted to beg for mercy.

And she almost slid into the seat next to him. Bad. Bad. Ms. Francesca. Not getting laid in a while was clearly affecting her rational mind.

It didn’t hurt that he was the only guy under sixty who’d walked through that door in a long time. The town of Wilcox needed a serious gentrification if it hoped to fight the takeover from those slimeballs at Probst. Which reminded her, she had a stack full of protest signs waiting to be assembled in the back. Volunteers were coming in around four, and it was already a little after three.

But it appeared Mr. I-Dare-You-to-Resist-Me had other ideas to occupy her time until then. Of course, that might very well be her imagination on overdrive.

She hovered outside the booth, ready to do the smart thing and bolt. Instead, she decided to play with fire and engage him in conversation. “What brings you to Wilcox?” Could she get any lamer? Apparently not, since it’s what her shriveled-up brain came up with for conversation. At least she didn’t slide into the booth next to him and ask him his astrological sign.

“Road trip. Thought I’d take the bike out and see a bit of the country.”

Dead silence filled the air.

Say something, you dolt. She was Italian. Born in Italy, in fact. Engaging in conversation was something she excelled at. She opted to take the intelligent way out of the situation. “I’ll get going on that frittata.” Phew. At least she had an excuse to hole up in the kitchen and collect her thoughts.

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