Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.
Nina writes all sorts of romance often mixing in elements of the paranormal and science fiction.
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New Year in Murtas
I’m Nina Croft, I write all sorts of romance, and my latest release is, Taking Control, A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint.
I’m English, but I live in the mountains of Southern Spain. The nearest village is Murtas, a tiny collection of white buildings that cling to the side of the mountain. It’s quiet and remote and I can’t help wondering what Declan and Jess, from Taking Control, would make of it. And what it would make of Declan and Jess.
Very conveniently at the end of Taking Control, Jess and Declan set off to explore the world, so it’s not inconceivable that they might turn up in Murtas on New Year’s Eve—but only if they got lost!
Just in explanation: here they have a tradition that on New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight, you need to eat a grape for each chime, which will guarantee you good luck for the coming year.
Jess and Declan…
“I am soo cold,” Jess murmured, pulling off her helmet, and stamping her feet on the frosty ground. “Isn’t this the south of Spain? Isn’t it supposed to be…warm?”
“Down there perhaps.” Declan waved a hand back the way they had come, toward the coast. They’d been climbing steadily for at least forty minutes, the road getting progressively narrower and more winding. Declan had finally pulled the Harley up on the side of the road, when it became obvious they were not where they were supposed to be. No luxury villas around here.
“We’re lost, aren’t we?” She stepped close, wrapping her arms around his waist, pressing close to the heat of his long hard body.
“Yes.” He rubbed his palms down her back, and she raised her head and kissed him. His lips were cold, but she pushed her tongue inside, searching out the warm, wet interior. Flakes of snow, landing on her upturned face, interrupted the kiss.
Their first New Year’s Eve together. A little shiver ran through her; she’d never expected to be this happy.
They’d been invited to a party, someone Declan had gone to Harvard with, who now lived in Spain, but somehow, she didn’t think they were going to make it. She pulled back and glanced at her watch, 11.45. They’d intended to set off hours ago, but had gotten distracted back at the hotel room and lost track of time.
The night was dark, the sky heavy with snow. Flakes swirled in the air, but as she watched the snow thickened, forming an almost impenetrable curtain of white. She peered into the darkness beyond, but could make nothing out. “Should we go back?”
“I don’t fancy driving on these roads if the snow gets any heavier.”
“And I don’t fancy staying here.”
“Let me try and get hold of Dave.” He pulled out his cell phone, tapped in a few numbers. “No signal.”
“What a surprise.” It was like a different world, as though they hovered on the edge of nowhere. Back in England, it was never truly dark, the lights from the towns and cities giving a perpetual faint glow. Out here was total blackness.
Then the night lit up, bright white light, and the staccato crack like gunfire from an automatic rifle. For a second, her old military training kicked in, and she almost dived for Declan, only stopping at the last moment.
“Fireworks,” she muttered.
“Yeah.” He grinned. “Did you think someone was shooting at me?”
“You mean shooting at you again?”
“Come on,” Declan said. “There must be a town over there somewhere.”
She put her helmet on, and climbed on to the back of the bike, wrapping her arms around his waist. Declan drove slowly, but within a minute they rounded a corner and saw the village ahead of them. In the dim light, the white buildings seemed to cling to the side of the mountain. They passed a sign that read Murtas. She’d never heard of the place.
Declan steered the bike down the narrow winding road between the buildings, and finally pulled up at the edge of the square dominated by a huge red stone church with a tall clock tower. Jess pulled off her helmet and winced at the constant cacophony of firecrackers ringing in her ears.
“We’ll find someone to ask.” Declan said. “There must be somewhere we can stay for the night.”
Jess wasn’t so sure, but she slipped her hand into his and they walked side by side down to where a marquee had been set up in the town square.
The sound of music poured out of the opening, and they ducked inside and out of the snow. Inside was an empty stage, a bar along one side, and a whole lot of people, who all stopped and turned to face them. Jess plastered a smile on her face and searched for someone they could talk to. Neither of them spoke any amount of Spanish, and she was guessing most of these people would have no English. They were in for an interesting time.
A man approached them, about six inches shorter than Jess, and somewhat rotund. “Buenos noches,” he said and pressed a plastic cup into each of their hands. “Feliz Año Nuevo.”
Jess opened her mouth, but he was gone before she could work out what to say. She glanced down, the cup didn’t contain wine as she’d expected, but grapes.
“What the hell?” she murmured to Declan.
Glancing around, she noticed everyone held the same plastic cups.
Suddenly, the sound of fireworks was cut off—silence. Outside, the clock struck midnight. Everyone ate a grape.
Then another chime of the clock, and another grape. Jess quickly stuffed two in her mouth, swallowed, was ready for the next chime. She ate the rest of the grapes in time with the clock.
When they were all gone, more silence.
Reaching up, she kissed Declan quickly on the lips. “Feliz Año Nuevo.”
Why play nice when you can be naughty?
Jessica Bauer is aces when it comes to security, but the PR side? Not so much. Now she has a chance to take over Knight Securities―if she plays nice with the next client. Unfortunately, that client happens to be Declan McCabe. And it's too bad someone wants him dead, because after he broke her heart ten years ago, Jessica would have cheerfully murdered him herself.
Declan has taken his dad's not-so-reputable company and turned it around, and in the process, he's attracted the attention of some vicious killers. The only perk is being reunited with Jessica, who Declan still wants so much he can barely see straight. But Jessica has a plan of her own. She'll protect Declan. She'll have unbelievably hot sex with him. And when the job is finished, she'll move on. Except that this time, Declan isn't so willing to walk away...
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