The Forbidden Touch of Sanguardo

By: Julia James

Her heart rate was raised rapidly. And she knew exactly what had caused it. Rafael Sanguardo…

Celeste Philips’s night was meant to be about raising money for charity. Not trying to douse the flames of attraction between herself and self-made millionaire Rafael Sanguardo, a man who always gets what he wants.

Celeste knows she shouldn’t fall for Rafael’s practiced charm, yet the more her head tells her to walk away and protect her fragile heart…the more she craves his forbidden touch!

“Good night, Mr. Sanguardo,” Celeste said, her smile flickering uncertainly.

For a moment she just went on standing there, looking at him.

Letting the impact he made on her retinas absorb into her.

“Good night, Celeste,” Rafael answered. He gave her a brief nod of farewell and got back into the car. The chauffeur slammed the door, and went to the driver’s seat.

Celeste stepped inside the entrance hall, shut the door and went upstairs. Her heart rate was raised, she knew.

It’s the stairs, just the stairs, because I’m hurrying too much!

But it was not the stairs. For as she turned the light on in her flat, and went to the living room windows to pull the curtains, and looked down onto the pavement at the car starting to pull into the road now that she was safely inside her flat, she could feel its hectic beating.

And she knew exactly what had caused it.

Rafael Sanguardo…

His name echoed in her head. Circling around. Not letting her go.


CELESTE STOOD POISED at the head of the long curving flight of marble stairs that led down into the great hall below. It was already crowded with people in black tie and evening clothes, and servers were circulating with trays of champagne and canapés. Her fellow models for the evening were mingling in evening dress, prior to the charity fashion show that was about to start. She had arrived slightly late at the stately home in Oxfordshire that was the evening’s venue, but had seized the last-minute opportunity to be here tonight, well away from London—and from Karl Reiner.

Celeste’s expression tautened even just from her thinking about the man. She had known when she became the new face of Blonde Visage, one of the skincare ranges belonging to Reiner Visage—one for each complexion type—that Karl Reiner liked to have a more than professional relationship with the Reiner Visage models, but because he had been preoccupied with another ‘face’—Monique Silva—Celeste had felt it safe to allow herself to be tempted by the lucrative contract. Making good, regular money was, even after years in the fickle and intensely competitive modelling business, not something to turn down lightly.

A bleak expression lit the back of her eyes.

There was never, ever, any such thing as easy money—

She of all people should know that...

For now Karl had tired of Monique and was turning his attention to Celeste—and he assumed she would be as willing as Monique had been.

Celeste’s expression hardened. Karl Reiner could assume what he liked, but he would not get what he was after from her. Not even now he had flown in from New York this weekend specifically to pressure her to extend her contract—and pay the price he wanted her to pay for it.

Well, she would not be extending it. Yes, the money had been good, but these days making money was not the be all and end all of her preoccupations. A cold miasma seemed to touch at her skin. Not any more...

Her refusal was a message Karl Reiner didn’t want to hear, and he had demanded she make herself available to have dinner with him in London tonight. To evade him Celeste had been obliged to volunteer at a late hour for the charity fashion show that was shortly to take place in the grand salon.

Just thinking about Karl Reiner and what he wanted of her—what he thought she would provide—intensified the feeling of a cold miasma on her skin. It was penetrating into her like a toxic memory, fetid and foul...

With effort, she pushed it from her mind.

No! She would not think—would not remember.

She had dealt with those memories long ago! Paid the price for dealing with them—a price she was still paying, must always pay—and it was a price she paid because there was no alternative. Could never be.

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