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       The One For Me (Danver #8), p.1

           Sydney Landon
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The One For Me (Danver #8)


  SWEET DREAMS

  She landed on the floor with a thud and a jarring of limbs. Ouch. She couldn’t remember her carpeted floor being this hard and cold. What happened next convinced her that she must still be dreaming. Light suddenly filled the room and a man who looked a lot like Mark DeSanto stood looking down at her in concern.

  Instead of screaming in terror, she began laughing hysterically. Couldn’t she have just one hot sex dream? Maybe her riding Mark while he told her how perfect she was? Heck, she’d even be happy with a plain old missionary fantasy. But no, even in her dreams, she was awkward and always managed to embarrass herself. “Sorry about this,” she mumbled to her dream Mark. “Just let me get back in bed and fall asleep. If I’m lucky, you’ll be back and we’ll try this again.”

  Also by Sydney Landon

  The Danvers Series

  Weekends Required

  Not Planning on You

  Fall for Me

  Fighting for You

  No Denying You

  Always Loving You

  Watch Over Me

  SIGNET ECLIPSE

  Published by New American Library,

  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  This book is an original publication of New American Library.

  Copyright © Sydney Landon, 2016

  Excerpt from No Denying You © Sydney Landon, 2014

  Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

  Signet Eclipse and the Signet Eclipse colophon are trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

  For more information about Penguin Random House, visit penguin.com.

  ISBN 978-0-698-19850-0

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  Contents

  Sweet Dreams

  Also by Sydney Landon

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Epilogue

  Excerpt from No Denying You

  About the Author

  As always, for my husband, who will always be The One for Me.

  Chapter One

  There are just days that suck, Crystal Webber thought as she used one hand to rub her aching head and the other to clutch her cramping stomach. Why in the world had she come to work this morning? True, she hadn’t felt quite this sick when she’d left home, but she had been nauseous. She’d attributed it to skipping dinner the night before since she had fallen asleep on the sofa hours before her usual bedtime.

  Now, though, she could no longer avoid the fact that she was ill. Her boss, Lydia, had gone to lunch, so Crystal sent her an e-mail explaining the situation before getting shakily to her feet. She quickly grabbed the edge of her desk and held on until the room stopped spinning. “You can do this,” she mumbled under her breath as she put one foot in front of the other. She was grateful for her recent promotion to assistant to the director of marketing at Danvers International. Otherwise, she would be struggling to make it through the cube farm where her last desk had been located. There was little to no privacy there and someone would have certainly noticed that she was weaving as if she’d had one too many drinks. Thank God, things were quieter on the management side of the hallway.

  She was relieved when the elevator doors opened as soon as she hit the DOWN button. The next few moments passed in something of a daze, and she had no idea that she’d actually made it to the sidewalk outside the building until the bright sunlight blinded her. As she blinked her eyes quickly to adjust, her stomach roiled alarmingly. The realization that she was going to be sick before she made it home had her so focused that she didn’t notice anyone standing beside her until a hand touched her arm. “Are you okay?” Crystal jumped aside in shock at the sound of the voice, whirling around to see Mark DeSanto looking down at her with concern-filled eyes. Please, no. Fate couldn’t be evil enough to throw the coworker she’d lusted after for months into her path at this moment. Not today of all days.

  Using the last reserves of her strength, she pushed her shoulders back and attempted to give him a bright smile. “I’m fine,” she replied in a voice that sounded scratchy, even to her own ears. He gave her a skeptical look and then, before she could do anything to stop it, the unthinkable happened. Her body went into a full revolt, and almost in slow motion, she threw up on a pair of shoes that likely cost more than her Volkswagen Beetle. Words of apology rose to her lips but before she could utter them, her world dimmed and then turned black.

  As consciousness slipped away from her, all she could think was that she’d met the man of her dreams face-to-face and she wasn’t going to live long enough to do a damn thing about it.

  • • •

  Mark DeSanto stood on the sidewalk in shock with the now-limp body of the woman who had just moments before ruined his favorite pair of Tom Ford shoes in his arms. He knew the effect that he had on most women. Hell, he’d had more than a few swoon at his feet, but the whole throwing-up thing was completely new. He had no idea what to do now with the unconscious woman whose weight he was supporting. It wasn’t as if he could just lay her on one of the nearby benches for someone else to find—could he?

  No, he discounted that option, despite how appealing it sounded.

  When he’d seen her staggering out the door, he should have turned the other way and left her to be someone else’s problem. He had walked out the doors of Danvers just steps behind her. Normally he preferred tall blondes with the occasional redhead thrown in for variety, so she wasn’t his usual type. However, as if drawn by some unseen force, he had found himself reaching out and touching her arm, wanting a glimpse of the face that belonged to the enticing body.

  But he’d caught glimpses of the woman he followed down the sidewalk in the hallways and lobby of the office many times in recent months. For some reason, she was always turning away by the time he became aware of her presence. He’d recognize her ass anywhere because that was the body part usually facing him as she walked in the opposite direction. She was petite but had curves in all of the right places. Her long brown hair hung in loose waves that stopped just inches from her delectable backside. Today, she was wearing a black skirt that reached her knees, but the slit in the middle had shown shapely thighs as she’d moved unsteadily. When she had lifted an arm, rubbing her neck, the top she wore had edged up, revealing a hint of skin. She seemed to be ever
ywhere lately, and he was ready to meet his mystery woman so that he could move on.

  Anything beyond that was doubtful. He didn’t like to muddy the waters where he worked. That was not to say he’d never made an exception, but he tried not to.

  When she’d jerked around to face him a few moments ago, he’d felt a jolt of electricity shoot through his body. He wasn’t a man prone to romantic foolishness, but there had been songs written to describe women like her. Wide eyes close to violet in color. Plump pink lips that made a man’s cock sit up and take notice, and a flawless peaches-and-cream complexion that some paid millions for but never achieved.

  He had still been gaping at her as she’d assured him that she was fine before she further shocked him by vomiting and promptly passing out. She had been seconds away from her beautiful face meeting the unforgiving concrete when he’d caught her. As he stood with her light weight in his arms, a black Bentley sedan pulled to the curb. His driver, Denny—who was also his cousin on his mother’s side of the family—got out of the car gawking as if in disbelief of what he was seeing. As far as the employer/employee relationship, theirs was very informal. They’d grown up together, and although Mark’s family had money from the DeSanto side, Denny’s did not. So years ago Denny had proposed that he become Mark’s driver and assistant when Mark had taken over the family business, and it had worked well for both of them. Mark compensated Denny more than probably anyone employed in a similar position, but he trusted him implicitly.

  “I’m almost afraid to ask what you did to that girl, but if I’m going to become some kind of accessory, then I guess I need to know.” Denny sighed in resignation.

  Walking toward his driver in shoes that sloshed with every step, Mark shook his head helplessly. “I have no idea. She was weaving as she walked, and then she got sick and fainted.”

  Denny wrinkled up his nose as the smell finally reached him. “Shouldn’t we do something with her? I mean, do you think she’s drunk?”

  “How in the hell am I supposed to know?” he snapped. “I didn’t smell any alcohol, and it’s barely midday. Also, she just left Danvers, so it seems unlikely.”

  “Then we need to get a doctor. She obviously has something wrong with her,” Denny pointed out.

  Rolling his eyes, Mark said, “You think? Open the car door so I can get her inside.” Denny jogged ahead and had the door ajar when Mark reached him. “Here, you’re going to have to hold her for a minute. Then you can give her back to me when I’m inside.”

  Denny held his hands up, trying to back away. “She’s got puke on her. Can’t you just get in with her? There’s no need to ruin both of our clothes.”

  “Oh, for God’s sake, Denny, I’ll get you a new suit. Just take her for one second.” Mark couldn’t believe how hard it was for two men to juggle such a tiny woman. Finally, as Denny gently handed her off to him and shut the door, Mark slumped against the leather seat with her curled against him. Since he had no idea of her name, he rubbed his hand along her leg as he said, “Angel, open those eyes and look at me so I’ll know you’re okay.”

  He continued to say variations of the same thing as Denny started driving. He had almost given up when she finally shifted in his arms.

  Suddenly, the violet eyes that had captivated him earlier were staring at him with an expression that was hard to decipher. He was too stunned to react when she lifted her hand and stroked it down the side of his face. “Oh, Mark, it’s you—can we please have sex this time before I wake up?” No sooner had she finished the question than her head dropped back to his chest. If not for the soft snore that emitted from her mouth, he would have been checking her for a pulse.

  He was chuckling at her words when it hit him. She’d called him by name. His angel wasn’t deliriously asking for sex from a stranger. He had no idea who she was, but for the first time in so very long, he was interested in knowing more. This beauty seemed different from most of the women he’d met and with whom he had enjoyed a few hours of pleasure. As soon as she was conscious and coherent, he intended to find out who she was.

  She’d already accomplished something that no one had in years.

  Chapter Two

  Crystal rolled over in bed, wincing at the wave of pain that one movement seemed to have caused. The glow of the clock on the bedside table showed that it was four in the morning, which would explain why the room was still pitch-black. Her limbs were heavy with fatigue as she curled around a pillow—and then she froze. She sniffed again just to make sure she hadn’t imagined it—but no, her bedding smelled like a man. Considering she hadn’t slept with anyone since her divorce, this was a very strange occurrence. Jerking upright, she fumbled on the bedside table for her lamp—but it wasn’t within easy reach as it should be. She stretched farther until, with a shriek, she was falling out of the bed.

  She landed on the floor with a thud and a jarring of limbs. Ouch. She couldn’t remember her carpeted floor being this hard and cold. What happened next convinced her that she must still be dreaming. Light suddenly filled the room and a man who looked a lot like Mark DeSanto stood looking down at her in concern.

  Instead of screaming in terror, she began laughing hysterically. Couldn’t she have just one hot sex dream? Maybe her riding Mark while he told her how perfect she was? Heck, she’d even be happy with a plain old missionary fantasy. But no, even in her dreams, she was awkward and always managed to embarrass herself. “Sorry about this,” she mumbled to her dream Mark. “Just let me get back in bed and fall asleep. If I’m lucky, you’ll be back and we’ll try this again.”

  “Are you all right? Did you hit your head when you fell?” He sounded so real, his question caused her to frown. Her eyes widened as he squatted next to her.

  Okay, this was officially freaky now. Dream Mark never talked this much. She quite liked this new development. He seemed so concerned for her. She decided to enjoy it while it lasted—or at least until she woke up. “I’m too weak to stand. Could you help me?” That wasn’t a complete lie, as her limbs were heavy, and she was sore already from the fall. Her breath hitched when he slid one arm under her knees and the other around her back before straightening with her in his muscular arms. “Wow, you smell good,” she moaned as she buried her face in the curve of his neck. When he didn’t protest, she took it one step further—and licked at the throbbing pulse she felt there with the tip of her tongue. He shuddered, freezing with her in his arms.

  Crystal felt like a kid in a candy store. Shouldn’t she be awake by now? This felt so real. . . . And he smelled just like her pillow. She was pondering her next move when her stomach cramped. “What—?” she murmured in confusion. Then a wave of nausea rolled over her and she clamped a hand over her mouth.

  “Oh no, not again,” dream Mark said, sounding panicked. He walked at a fast clip with her to the bathroom—only it definitely wasn’t hers. This one was opulent, with gleaming marble double sinks, a huge shower, and a Jacuzzi bathtub big enough to swim in. Crystal was still gawking when he lowered her to her feet in front of the toilet. He made no move to leave, though; instead, he kept a supporting hand on her back. “How are you feeling, Angel? Are you going to be sick?”

  “Um—I don’t know,” she answered absently. “I think I just need to sit here for a minute.” He helped her down to the floor then seated himself just inches away. She could only stare at him since this whole dream was beginning to seem more like a walk into the twilight zone. Hesitantly, she reached out to touch his chest. She paused as she felt his heart beating against the palm of her hand. Jerking back as if burned, she began to notice little things like the fact that she was wearing what looked like a man’s button-down shirt while Mark had on a pair of lounge pants and a T-shirt. When her eyes met his, she found him staring at her with equal parts concern and curiosity. It was then that his last words really registered. “‘Angel’?”

  The corners of his mouth turned up into a grin as he said, “Well, when you appeared to fall from the sky into my arms, I di
dn’t know your name, so I just called you what seemed to suit you best. Of course, now that I know who you are, I find that I still prefer ‘Angel.’ There’s something so innocent about you.”

  “Oh, my God,” she wheezed. “This isn’t a dream? I’m actually here with you. How—why?” Looking around frantically, Crystal desperately tried to remember what could have possibly brought her to Mark’s apartment. Shit, why couldn’t she remember something as monumental as being with Mark DeSanto? Then a horrifying thought occurred to her. “If we had sex, I’m going to kill myself!”

  A laugh erupted from his mouth, followed by a cough. “I must say, I’ve never had that reaction from a woman before.”

  She felt her face heating up as she imagined how he must have taken her comment. “No! Crap, that came out wrong. I just meant if we slept together and I didn’t remember it, I’d be so pissed off.” When he raised a brow in question, she quickly added, “You know, because I’ve been dreaming of doing that with you for so long—” Now he looked supremely amused as she continued to ramble, which only made the situation worse. Putting a hand over her face, she said from behind her palm, “Please forget I said any of that. I’d just like to know what I’m doing here.”

  Mark gave her an assessing look before saying, “I’d rather talk about that somewhere other than the bathroom. Are you going to be sick?”

  Thankfully, her bout of nausea seemed to have passed during their conversation. “I—think I’m okay now.”

  Her growling stomach caused him to chuckle as he got to his feet and extended a hand to her. “Let’s go find something to eat. You’ll probably feel better after that.”

  Not only was her body letting her know it needed food, but her bladder was also making its presence known loud and clear. “I—er, could you wait outside for a minute?”

  Looking adorably confused, he asked, “Why?”

  Could the man not take a hint? “I need to use the bathroom,” she mumbled, embarrassed to be having such a personal discussion with him.

 
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