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Authors: Kathryn Taylor

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Grace is young and has led a sheltered life. She hasn’t yet taken much of an interest in men. It’s only while doing an internship in London, where she meets the alluring Jonathan Huntington, that our sleeping beauty is awoken from her slumber. Jonathan is rich, incredibly attractive, and stems from British royalty—but he is a far cry from Prince Charming. He lures Grace ever deeper into his world of sinister passion, and she is sucked further and further into the maelstrom of her own growing desires. But when Jonathan demands she do the unthinkable to prove her love for him, she realizes just how dangerous her feelings for him are.

About the Author

Kathryn Taylor has been a writer since childhood—publishing her first story when she was eleven years old. From then on, she knew that she wanted to be a professional author one day. After a few career detours and a happy ending in her personal life, her dream has finally come true:UNBOUND — COLORS OF LOVEis her first novel.

Kathryn Taylor

UNBOUND

Colors of Love

Translated byIona Italia

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

Digital original edition

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

[Agenturvermerk, falls vertraglich vereinbart]

Copyright © [Jahr] by Bastei Lübbe AG, Köln

Written by Kathryn Taylor

Translated by Iona Italia

Edited by Sonya Diehn

Cover design: Sandra Taufer, Munich, featuring images from © shutterstock: fuyu liu

E-Book production: UrbanSatzKonzept, Düsseldorf

ISBN 978-3-7325-0417-6

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

For M.,who makes my world sing

1

I’m so nervous that my hands are shaking. To stop others from noticing, I’ve been keeping them buried in my lap or play absentmindedly with my seat belt buckle, snapping it open and closed. We’re almost there. It’s not long to go now. At last …

“Miss, you need to keep your seat belt fastened. We’ve started our descent.” The flight attendant, who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, is tall, blond, tanned, and incredibly thin. She points at the illuminated sign on the console above our heads. I nod quickly and reinsert the metal latch. She doesn’t notice my apology, but smiles briefly at the man sitting next to me in the window seat. He looks up from his newspaper and—as he does whenever she comes by—beams warmly at her. Then she goes on her way. The man watches her go. When he notices that I’m looking at him, he frowns reproachfully and gives me an angry look, as if it were a crime to annoy the flight attendant, before immersing himself in his newspaper again. I think it’s the first time since we took off from Chicago that he’s really noticed me at all.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, since I don’t really care whether he finds me attractive or not. It’s just frustrating somehow, because even if I did find him attractive, I wouldn’t stand a chance against the tall blond—as usual. I’m the exact opposite of her—short and pale. Well, actually, I’m blond too—but a strawberry blond, more of a redhead than a blond, with the emphasis on the red. That’s actually the only striking thing about me. But I have that kind of redhead coloration that makes me go as red as a lobster in the sun and never really tan. So frankly, it’s a distinguishing feature I wish I didn’t have after all.

My sister, Hope, always tries to see the bright side of things by saying I look like an English rose. But she’s probably just trying to make me feel better because she herself is one of those golden-haired, tanned beauties who make a much stronger impression than I do on men—just like the one in the seat next to me. I’m watching him surreptitiously out of the corner of my eye. Actually, he’s rather good-looking—dark hair, nicely groomed, with a well-tailored suit. He took his jacket off at the beginning of the flight and, when he lifts his arms up, I can smell the sweat beneath his aftershave. But, luckily, I won’t have to put up with it much longer because we’ll soon arrive. My hands begin to play with my seat belt buckle again. I’ve forgotten the man in the window seat and, instead, am staring at the blue fabric of the seat back in front of me. My heart starts beating faster again because I’m so nervous.

I’m finally on my way to England! I can’t quite believe it yet. It’s my first trip abroad—well, except for a week’s vacation in Canada with my family when I was thirteen—but that doesn’t count. And this time it’s not just for a few days but for three whole months.

I heave a deep sigh. I was sure that it was going to be a great experience, but the fact that I am now so far away from everything I’m used to is making me feel a bit scared. It’s going to be fine, Grace, I tell myself, soothingly. Of course it will be …

“Didn’t you hear what the flight attendant said, love? You need to keep your seat belt fastened.”

The nice old lady in the aisle seat has jolted me out of my reverie. She pats my hand affectionately as I hurriedly fasten my seat belt again. She looks at me questioningly.

“Are you really that nervous?”

I bite my bottom lip and nod. I’d love to tell her the whole story again, all about my journey and what’s in store for me at my destination. But I’ve already kept her awake listening to it for the past few hours, so I keep quiet. She told me that she could never sleep a wink on planes anyway. But perhaps that’s just her British politeness, and she’s actually really tired and thinks I’m out of my mind.

Her name is Elizabeth Armstrong and she’s from London. She’s just been to visit one of her three sons who lives in Chicago, but she’s very happy to be on her way back home now. I know even more about her than that—actually, I know everything about her. How many grandchildren she has—three, which is far too few, in her opinion—that she doesn’t like flying—who does—and that she still misses her husband, who died eight years ago. He died very suddenly, of a heart attack. His name was Edward.

Planes are cramped and transatlantic flights are long, which makes it impossible not to get to know each other well—if you are a talkative kind of person and not an antisocial type obsessed with blonds, like the sweaty guy in the window seat. So Elizabeth Armstrong knows everything about me, too—that my name is Grace Lawson, that I’m twenty-two, majoring in economics at the University of Chicago. And that I’m on my way to London because I got an unbelievably, monumental, totally inconceivable lucky break. Because I got the highly coveted internship at Huntington Ventures, which I had pinned all my hopes on.

I don’t even know how many times during the long flight I had recited the company’s profile, which I now know by heart, to my patient neighbor. That the company has been around for eight years and that, in that time, it had developed into one of the most successful investment firms in the world. And that their success is largely thanks to the company founder, Jonathan Huntington, and his innovative and very impressive idea—namely bringing together patents and fresh ideas in the fields of technology, industry, and commerce with the right financial backers to create profitable new products and projects. To be perfectly frank, I’m also very eager to meet the man behind it all: Jonathan Maxwell Henry Viscount Huntington, a member of the British aristocracy, always busy expanding his various business enterprises, and, according to the local tabloids, one of England’s most eligible bachelors.

I showed Hope a picture of him I’d found in a magazine, and she thought he looked handsome, but very arrogant. And she’s right about that. But that’s hardly surprising. If I were as successful as he, maybe I would be arrogant too.

I remember that photo well. He was with two beautiful, glamorous women, models with perfect, scantily-clad bodies draped all over him, worshipping him. But neither of them was his girlfriend, if what was said in the accompanying article is true, because he doesn’t have one. And he’s not married either, which comes as a surprise to me,because, with his dark hair and striking blue eyes, he really is incredibly good looking. Why is such an attractive man still unattached?

I heave another sigh. It’s not your problem, Grace, I remind myself. You probably won’t even meet him. After all, he’s the head of the company and will hardly have time to meet every intern personally, even if they have come from a long way away …

“Is someone going to pick you up from the airport, then?” Elizabeth Armstrong sounded quite concerned.

It takes me a moment to get back to reality.

“No. I’ll take the subway into town—or get a taxi.” If I have to take a taxi, it will make a big dent in my savings. It’s my plan B, just in case the subway thing goes totally wrong. I just hope that I can get my bearings quickly, get on the right subway, and get to my destination on time. Otherwise, I’ll have to take a taxi because time is short.

The plane I’m on was the cheapest possible flight from Chicago to London, but it’s scheduled to land at eight o’clock—in fifteen minutes—and at ten o’clock I have a meeting with Annie French, an employee of Huntington Ventures, who’ll be waiting for me at their reception to show me around and brief me on my job. And the company is based in the city of London, right in downtown. When you allow for the fact that I still have to wait for my suitcase at luggage claim, then I’m cutting it pretty darn close and I can only hope that the London rush hour isn’t really as crazy as everyone says it is.

***

We end up landing at Heathrow almost twenty minutes late and it takes an eternity for the plane to taxi to its final parking position. I drum my fingers impatiently on the arm of my seat and count the minutes slipping through my fingers. It’s a long way to luggage claim, too, and of course, we arrive to find that our suitcases haven’t made it out yet. The conveyor belt isn’t moving, and the screen showing our flight number is blinking.

I realize that I should use the time to freshen up and get changed, so I run to the nearest women’s restroom and examine myself critically in the mirror—something I have already done several times during the flight—while always coming to the same conclusion: everything’s still OK.

I slip quickly into one of the booths, take off the comfortable slacks I’ve been wearing, and change into the tight black skirt and silk stockings I’ve had in my carry-on all this time. I also change out of my green polo shirt into a black blouse. My only concession to flair is a brightly colored silk scarf, which goes with my red hair. I stuff the stale clothes back into my bag, which is so big I could probably fit half my wardrobe in there—which is exactly why it goes everywhere with me—and stand in front of the mirror. Perfect. My mother would find it too gloomy—she always wants me to wear something ‘cheerful’—but I like to look like this. I feel so grown up. And I’m colorful enough already, with my red hair. I really don’t need to draw any more attention to myself.

My hair no longer falls onto my shoulders in perfect waves as it did before take-off, but, with a bit of a touching up, I quickly get it to look nice again—thank God for styling mousse! And my makeup, which I applied pretty sparingly to begin with, can be easily touched up with a bit of powder, mascara and lip gloss—there, all done.

My green eyes look tired. It was a long flight and I’m beginning to feel it. But what the heck, I’m young and prepared to put up with a little lack of sleep for the two hundred dollars I saved by taking the red-eye flight.

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