Zoe Underwood is one sexy disruption.
From the moment her father married Matt’s mother, Zoe has tempted Matt Cantrell with her seductive curves and driven him crazy with her flirting and provocative manner. The thing is they have no future because Zoe is his stepsister. Determined to dodge trouble, Matt leaves Auckland to live and work in the Gold Coast of Australia. A sea between them should do the trick and let him move forward without the “Zoe” distraction in his life.
Matt Cantrell is one stubborn dude.
No one presses Zoe’s buttons like the tall, dark and gorgeous Matt. In fact, every other man pales in comparison. One last play. Zoe decides to invade Matt’s territory and make her move before some other clever woman snaps him up. She’ll bust through emotional walls and push boundaries. By the time she’s finished, Matt won’t know what hit him. Yes. Good or bad, she’ll stir things up and take a chance on love.
Read an Excerpt
Matt Cantrell frowned when he pushed open the front door to his Gold Coast beachside house. He was certain he’d locked it before he left for work. Positive. But it wasn’t locked now. Adrenaline rising, he reached around the corner and flicked on a light, glancing around the wide spaces of the open plan room. The trail of feminine apparel littering the tiled floor erased the lines from his forehead. Marisa had apparently recovered from her sulk at him for having to work late and cancel their date. A slow, satisfied grin curled his lips as he shut the door. Maybe showing her where he kept the spare key hadn’t been a mistake. A bout of hot sex was just the thing he needed to unwind.
He took half a step toward the bedroom, pausing to scoop up a shoe. When he fingered the flimsy leather straps, his smile turned feral. Damn, he’d thought he was in for months of empty-bed syndrome. With his current workload, he didn’t have time to find a replacement. Matt picked up the shoe’s mate and set them down, out of the way. The hair scrunchy came as a bit of a surprise. Marisa didn’t like to wear her hair loose and always wore it up in a fussy style he wasn’t game to touch. He registered the bright jewel colors of the scrunchy next, and a soft whistle broke the silence. The visit was definitely impulsive. His cock pulled tight in pure anticipation and an appreciative grin bloomed. Impulse wasn’t normally Marisa either, but he was happy to go with the flow.
The phone rang. Matt detoured to grab it up impatiently, his gaze on his bedroom door.
“Matt Cantrell.” He toed off his shoes and juggled the phone while he bent to yank off his socks.
“Matthew, thank goodness you’re home.” His mother’s anxious voice poured down the line.
Alarm bells clanged. Matthew straightened in concern. The time difference between New Zealand and Australia meant it was late in Auckland . Too late for his mother to ring. “Mum? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Matthew. It’s Zoë. She’s gone!”
“Gone where?” Matt asked, his breath easing out in relief. A storm in a teacup. Zoë was always testing parental boundaries. This time wouldn’t be any different. He shook his head, thinking about his feisty sister. Stepsister, actually, since they weren’t related in any way. They’d become a blended family when his mother and Zoë’s father had fallen in love and married. Not that he’d spent much time with his new stepsister since he’d already left home when Zoë and her father came on the scene. Prior to his mother’s remarriage, he’d started work at a large accounting firm in central Auckland and had already moved into a flat with three of his friends.
“We don’t know. We haven’t seen her since the day before yesterday,” his mother wailed.
“She’ll come round,” Matt said, wondering how soon he could join Marisa in his king-size bed. He didn’t want to think about Zoë. Hell, he tried not to think about her. The eight-year gap was a big one despite his sister’s maturity. Stepsister , his mind reminded him tartly. They weren’t related. “She’s probably staying with university friends.”
His mother sighed. “That’s what we argued about. Zoë’s dropped out. Says she doesn’t want to be a teacher any more. And she’s running with a wild crowd. I’m sure she’s sleeping with one of them. She came home with bruises all over her neck.”
Hickeys? Matt’s hand gripped the phone so hard his knuckles whitened. He’d moved across the Tasman Sea to avoid temptation—the siren lure cast by Zoë. Matt snorted inwardly. And the joke was she had no idea. He cleared his throat. “What do you want me to do?”
“I wondered if you’d heard from Zoë.”
“Not since Christmas. She told me off because I couldn’t make it home.”
His mother laughed—a forced laugh, but at least she sounded more in control. “Zoë was furious with you. She sulked for days.”
“Which makes it unlikely I’d hear from her,” Matt said in an even tone, ignoring the fact that Zoë had filled his thoughts every day since.
“I know, but it was worth a try. Matt, I’m so worried. Since Christmas, she’s been acting very strangely. Ring me if you hear from her.”
“Sure, Mum. Don’t worry. Zoë is an adult. You have to let her make her own decisions. Her own mistakes.” Shit, he didn’t want to think of Zoë. And definitely not as an adult. Thoughts of adults led to thinking of the things they did. Together. Hell, he’d thought he’d got over this thing for Zoë. A hickey for God’s sake. A hickey implied more togetherness than he was comfortable knowing about Zoë’s love life.
“Matt? Are you there?”
“Yeah, sorry. I’m working long hours.” A yawn punctuated his statement.
“Go to bed, dear.”
“Good idea,” Matt said, relaxing a little at the idea of Marisa waiting for him. Naked. Warm, willing feminine flesh. Maybe he could hold his fatigue at bay for long enough to enjoy Marisa.
After promising to contact them if Zoë rang, Matt hung up. He rotated one shoulder, aware of the tension inside. Matt groaned, a low, pained sound. He’d wanted Zoë in a sexual way since the day of her nineteenth birthday. Like a bolt of lightning, it had hit him without warning, bringing confusion and guilt. The feeling was just as strong three years later. And still forbidden.
A sea between them wasn’t helping. Perhaps he’d try London . Maybe an ocean or two would do the trick.
Matt stared at a silky black top. He picked it up and rubbed the sumptuous material between his fingers. Suddenly, his tiredness dropped away. He loosened his tie and tugged it off, draping it over the back of a cream leather chair along with Marisa’s top. Nimble fingers undid the buttons on his pale blue business shirt. The shirt joined the top and tie. Matt slipped into his bedroom.
The room was in total darkness, the whisper of breathing the only audible noise. Matt smiled. He stripped his trousers and boxer shorts off and placed them beside the bed. Matt tugged back the covers and crawled into bed. Marisa was lying on her side, facing away from him. Matt slid closer, smoothing his hand across her shoulder. Leaning down, he pressed a kiss to her bare back. She smelled of flowers—carnations to be exact. Nice. Different from Marisa’s usual spicy perfume. He liked this one much better.
Matt nuzzled behind her ear, and she stirred with a sleepy sigh. Smiling, he pressed a kiss to the smooth skin and stroked his hand down her arm and across her hip. She murmured again, starting to rouse. Good, cause he was definitely beginning to stir, his cock pressing insistently against her curvy backside. Time to rev up this interlude. Matt slipped a finger into the valley between her butt cheeks and traced a path toward her pussy. Her warm flesh parted. She sighed and spread her legs a fraction, just enough that he was able to graze his finger across her clitoris. She moved again, pressing her luscious ass against his swollen cock. Marisa had put on a bit of weight. He liked it. Matt massaged her clit with soft, gentle strokes until the tiny bud swelled. Marisa stirred again and froze. Then, she let out a shriek loud enough to wake the dead in the local cemetery and leapt from the bed.
“Keep away from me.” The note of fear told Matt she wasn’t playing games.
“I’ll get the light.”
“No! Just go, and I won’t tell anyone.”
Matt froze in the act of reaching for the light. His gut churned with acute apprehension. He knew that voice. Suddenly, all the new things he’d noticed about Marisa made sense.
With a sick and sinking sensation in his stomach, Matt stood and fumbled with the bedside lamp. Soft light bathed the masculine room. He swore, low with feeling. “What are you doing here, Zoë?”
Instead of answering, Zoë stared at him with big, brown eyes. When her gaze dropped, Matt cursed again and reached for his trousers, rapidly stepping into them and forcing the zipper over his erection.
“Put some clothes on.” There was a distinct snap in his voice. Self-loathing sat heavily in the bottom of his gut. His mother and John would die of shock if they found out. They weren’t going to find out. He sure as hell wasn’t going to confess to his monumental cock-up.
“I’ll make coffee.” He strode from the room but couldn’t resist a last look at Zoë. She caught him in the act, and he jerked as if touched with a hot poker. Matt swore. Zoë’s curvy image was seared on his retinas for life.
Instead of making coffee, Matt strode across the terracotta tiles and headed straight for his liquor cupboard in the ultra modern kitchen. He opened the door and pulled out the first bottle that came to hand. Whiskey. Unscrewing the cap, he drank straight from the bottle. A peaty flavor cut across his taste buds. He closed his eyes and swallowed. Mistake. Zoë’s sexy shape flashed in front of his eyes. He’d… Matt shuddered, still able to feel the warm, clinging flesh of her pussy even though he wasn’t touching her any longer.
“Do you grope every woman you find in your bed?” Zoë demanded.
“It’s my bed,” he snapped, his eyes flicking open. Zoë wore his robe belted around her trim waist. Shit, he wasn’t the one in the wrong here. He was the innocent victim in this… debacle. “You were naked.”
“Because the airline lost my luggage,” Zoë said, folding her arms across her chest. His eyes followed the move, noting in the years since he’d last seen Zoë, she’d filled out in a spectacular fashion. His cock jerked in displeasure, reminding Matt he required satisfaction. But that wasn’t going to happen—not with a woman at any rate.
“Why did you leave your clothes all over the place?’ Matt demanded, trying to wrest control of the interrogation from Zoë.
“Do you have sex with all the naked women you find in your bed?” The tip of her tongue darted out to moisten the plump curves of her lips. Matt followed the innocent move with avid attention. He’d forgotten how beautiful Zoë was with her tangle of long dark curls hanging loose around her shoulders, her deep brown eyes, olive skin and sexy, kissable lips. Wild child. Matt shook himself from the sensual spell, but his palms itched with the need to touch.
“What?” Concentrate, dammit. “I’m asking the questions here.”
Zoë ignored his question. “Touching me was no big deal. I’ve had sex before. I won’t tell tales.”
Matt realized his mouth had dropped open and snapped it shut. He’d lost control of this situation the minute he’d realized he’d had his hands all over his stepsister. “I thought you were Marisa,” he snarled. “What the hell else was I meant to think when I arrived home to find a trail of clothes leading to my bedroom?”
“Marisa?” Her bottom lip quivered.
“Looks like she stood you up.” The hurt expression disappeared, replaced by an enigmatic one. An impish smile glinted in her eyes. “I’m going back to bed. You coming?”