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One Real Man (Entangled Bliss)

By:Coleen Kwan

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.”

Her gray eyes widened in puzzlement before stunned recognition flashed through them. “O-Owen? Owen Bellamy?” Her arms tightened around her chest. Retreating a few steps, she flicked back her wet hair with a toss of her head. “What are you doing here? Surely you don’t still clean the pool?”

His mouth thinned. Despite being caught off guard, she’d found his weak spot, as always. But he wasn’t the caretaker’s son anymore; he wasn’t the awkward sixteen-year-old in awe of the owners’ gorgeous, pampered daughter. He was an adult—successful and wealthy—and he’d had plenty of beautiful women since her.

Folding his arms, he pinned her with a cool stare. “This pool happens to be mine now.”

“Your pool?” She let out a light, incredulous laugh.

He grimaced at her snicker. “Yeah, my pool and my house. You’re trespassing on my property, Paige.”

Arms still wrapped around her torso, she lifted one shoulder. “I’ve never heard such nonsense. My parents would never sell our home, not in a million years—”

“I’m renting the place.”


“Uh-huh. Signed a one-year lease just last week.”

“But—but—I don’t understand.” A dumbfounded expression gripped her face.

For a second Owen almost felt sorry for her. Obviously she’d been kept in the dark by her parents, or more precisely her mother, the dominant force in the Kerrigan family.

Paige shook her head forcefully. “My mother would never rent her home to you.”

She was right. As keen as Crystal Kerrigan might be to rent out her mansion, she would have balked at signing it over to her former caretaker’s son, the moody teenager who’d caused so much embarrassment to her precious daughter. But luckily, McCarthy Construction, the private company in which Owen now owned a share, was the lessee on the rental agreement.

“Too bad,” he retorted, “because she has.” The lease was watertight; he’d made his lawyer double-check every clause.

A deep line creased her forehead. Despite her scowl, he couldn’t help noticing that she looked amazing. Her teenage prettiness had matured into something dazzling. Her smooth ash-blond hair was slicked back, revealing an oval face with sculpted cheekbones, a straight, narrow nose, and lips with a perfect Cupid’s bow. Large gray eyes fringed with thick lashes studied him suspiciously. Her neck was slender, her shoulders and collarbones delicate. Her arms banded across her chest didn’t conceal the fullness of her breasts, while the semi-opaque water hinted at the rest of her body. What an incredible body

Heat seeped through him, a flickering trail of desire. Owen bit the inside of his cheek. Fourteen years ago, Paige Kerrigan had kept him tossing feverishly at nights, and tonight her effortless, haughty beauty was wreaking the same havoc. Why did she still affect him so much?

He stared down at her. “So are you going to tell me what you’re doing in my pool?”

Paige shivered, not just from the water cooling on her skin, or Owen Bellamy gazing down at her, but also the way her heart had lurched at his sudden reappearance.

Owen Bellamy. Oh my God. When she was sixteen, every glimpse of Owen had scrambled her wits. His father had been the caretaker, just one of the many staff employed by her parents, and Owen, the same age as she was, had helped out with his dad’s chores. He should have been practically invisible to Paige, but she’d found it impossible to ignore him, as much as she tried, and oh boy had she tried.

Soon after the school dance debacle, Owen had left Burronga, their quaint country hometown, and moved to Sydney to start a building apprenticeship. She’d prayed never to see him again, had made a huge effort to forget him, and she’d succeeded. She hadn’t thought about him in years.

But now, without warning, he was back in her life, a life that had gone spectacularly off course in the past year. And he’d just seen her naked boobs. God, could life get any better? These breasts had already caused too much mayhem in her life.

“Uh, do you mind if I get dressed before we talk?” she asked, rubbing her cold upper arms.

“Go right ahead. I don’t mind.” He stood there, not looking like he’d move any time soon.

Through his spread-out legs, she glimpsed her clothing next to her suitcases. “Really? You’re going to stand there and watch?”

One corner of his lips lifted briefly. “You used to like me watching, didn’t you?”

Oh God, why did he have to bring that up? Years ago, his clear green eyes had tracked her faithfully as she’d sauntered around the pool in her skimpy bikini, aware of the effect she had on him and excited by her strange new power. But even then, she’d sensed the force behind his reserve, and in the end she’d found out that she couldn’t tease him with impunity.

“But I’m not wearing anything,” she protested, flustered by his eyes, her memories.

“So I noticed.”

Oh, he was so infuriating she wanted to stamp her foot. Which was hard to do when she was in a pool, buck naked in front of her former pool boy.

She tilted up her chin. “You know, I’ve drunk about a gallon of coffee today and haven’t visited the bathroom for hours. If you keep me waiting here in your pool, I might just have to go here”

His eyes widened. “You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, I would. I can’t hold on for—”

“Yes, you can.” He pivoted on his heel and walked to the door, where he halted with his back to her.

Shivering, she hoisted herself out of the pool and hurried to her clothing. With no towels around, she had no option but to yank her clothes on over her wet skin. The jeans chafed her legs, and a whiff of chlorine clung to her hair. She really needed a warm shower, but if Owen was the rightful tenant, she’d have to leave. Where could she go at eight o’clock at night? She couldn’t afford a hotel, but—

“Are you decent yet?” Without waiting for her reply, Owen spun around. Those rapier-sharp eyes scanned her from top to toe. Did he like what he saw? Hard to tell Wait, why did she care at all what he thought of her?