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So Much More

So Much More

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So Much More

4.5/5 (4 avaliações)
342 página
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Lançado em:
Nov 9, 2017


He needs a woman to play the perfect wife—sex included, no emotions attached. She needs to pay off a debt before she ends up with broken legs—or worse.

Everyone knows about billionaire tycoon Markus Blackthorn’s wild love life—it’s all over the tabloids. It’s also why he’s lost custody of his four-year-old daughter. But he has a plan to get her back—if only he can find the perfect wife-for-hire.

No one knows Hannah Kristensen is drowning in debt—except one dangerous loan shark. Losing her job is only the latest catastrophe in her life. Markus Blackthorn's insane offer might be exactly what she needs to save herself—if only she can keep from falling for the last man she should love.

SO MUCH MORE is a tantalizing contemporary standalone romance that will delight fans of authors Danielle Steels, Helen Hardt, and Barbara Freethy. Begin this incredible series by USA Today bestselling author Cristiane Serruya by one-clicking today!

Lançado em:
Nov 9, 2017

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So Much More - Cristiane Serruya


United States of America

New York, Manhattan

Saturday, October 27, 1984

9:00 p.m.

No. I’m not going to sleep. He huffed, and crossed his little arms over his chest. Mom and Dad are arriving any minute now.

The nanny’s eyes were full of pity as she looked at the five-year-old boy who had been wandering from room to room in the elegant apartment the whole day, hoping his parents would appear even if for a one minute hug.

She hadn’t the heart to tell him his parents were on the other side of the state right now on a last minute campaign stop for his father, the Senator. Tell you what. Why don’t you put your pajamas on and get in bed? We can watch some TV while we wait for them.


She took the boy to his room decorated with The Super Friends theme, helped him into his blue and red Superman pajamas, and tucked him into bed. At the shelf beside the TV, she selected two VHS tapes and held them up for him to see. "Should we watch Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island or Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore?"

He merely glanced at the movies and offered her a shrug.

Okay. Then I get to choose, she said, smiling. Daffy Duck it will be. She turned on the TV and VCR, got the movie started, then sat beside him on the bed.

As they watched the movie, she was glad to see that it had the desired effect, distracting him and making him laugh now and then, but as soon as it ended, the little boy looked up at her.

They forgot again, didn’t they?

The woman caressed his hair. She was tired of making excuses for his parents, but for the sweet boy’s sake she knew she must. They were probably just held up by traffic. Tomorrow, they’ll be here with many presents, I’m sure. Why don’t you sleep now?

His lips trembled but he swallowed his tears. His father had told him men didn’t cry and he wanted to make his father proud. Okay. Goodnight, Elsie.

Goodnight. Before the nanny turned off the bedside lamp, on an impulse she brought the boy to her ample chest and gave him a tight hug and a kiss. Happy birthday, Markus.

Chapter 1

Manhattan, Fifth Avenue

The Blackthorn Corporation headquarters

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

12:30 p.m.

No one would think there was anything missing in Markus Blackthorn’s perfect life.

At thirty-four years old, he was a successful businessman. Tall, broad-shouldered, more fit than many men younger than him, and handsome as few could ever be; revered—and equally envied and hated—by many, not only because of his success, fortune, and good looks, but also because of his cold and successful business ways.

Only-child to parents who had already given up hope of ever having kids, Judith and Senator Elijah Blackthorn loved him—in their own way.

In high-school he had been the popular linebacker every girl desired and the student all the teachers praised. He went on to Harvard Law School, graduating summa cum laude, finishing his student life with an MBA from NYU.

With a loan from his mother and big dreams to push him on, Markus started Blackthorn Corporation with two of his university best friends as small partners and never stopped expanding it. Now, eleven years later, he had only to sign the deed in front of him to become one of the most powerful men in the United States.

Unscrewing his Cartier fountain pen, Markus suppressed a smile as he signed his name on the deed, passing control of Haskell & Sons, the most coveted pharmaceutical company on the market, to his corporation.

Acquiring a new company always gave him a sense of pride and satisfaction. He’d studied Haskell & Sons for a long time, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, when they were at their weakest. All he had to do was wield his power dispassionately and make an offer they couldn’t refuse, even if it was much lower than they would’ve preferred. Not that he cared, really. It was the way of the business world, and it was not him who was going to change it.

Later, he’d feel some measure of regret regarding the changes he’d inevitably make to the company. A great number of people would lose their jobs as he replaced them with his own trusted people.

Putting the pen back in the inner pocket of his suit, he passed the stack of papers along for the others to sign and leaned back in his chair.

After all the contracts had been signed and handed over to the lawyers, he rose and greeted everyone in the room with a smile on his face, accompanying them to the door and to the private elevator which served only his floor.

The steel door reflected the image he projected to the world, yet despite all his successful appearance, there was a black hole in Markus’s chest.

It had started as a dull pain about three years ago when he had discovered the ex-miss Venezuela Nicola Gonzalez, whom he married five years ago on a stupid impulse, in his bed with another man.

His heart and his life had fundamentally changed. No one saw it. And he had not even allowed himself to acknowledge it.

He had filed for divorce and custody of their daughter, now four-year-old Victoria, whom he loved to distraction. Nicola was awarded custody, and left the marriage with a luxury apartment and a fat monthly allowance. Markus petitioned for a change in custody and Nicola was currently fighting him tooth-and-nail. Not that she was desperate to be with the girl. She just wanted a way to manipulate his money.

There had been no shortage of beautiful women to warm his bed since the divorce but none had thawed his heart. Not that he was interested in love. He had sworn that off as the stuff of romances. The women were for nothing more than sex, a way to de-stress.

And the pain had been consuming him whole since Nicola questioned his ability to be a good parent and began violating the terms of his visitation, after Victoria’s nanny bailed from her position alleging his never-ending stream of women was not a good example for a young child.

Still no one saw that.

Markus was linked with opulent wealth, power, and success, and those assumptions were the way everyone perceived him. And he liked that.

Before he re-entered his office, his secretary, Thomas Deacon, said, Mr. Blackthorn, Ms. Kristensen will be arriving momentarily.

Ms. Kristensen? he asked, not recognizing the name.

Thomas looked at his notes. One of the candidates for the new position for Victoria’s tutor.

This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, he replied distractedly.

It wasn’t exactly a tutor that he needed despite the ad he had taken out saying such. Yes, he needed someone with enough class and education to accompany him as Victoria’s nanny, but after his father’s proposition of finding a fake fiancée—and his high-priced lawyer agreeing with the idea and furthering it to a fake wife—he thought there were some benefits to the idea. He had personally interviewed five candidates who had passed a vigorous screening by his attorney, but so far none had struck him as the one he would like to share his home with for at least a whole year. And he was still not completely convinced of the brilliance of the idea. Intelligent men did not go around hiring fake wives without sounding like bastards.

Although he was a cold businessman and an unrepentant ladies man, he had enough woman problems in his life.

2:50 p.m.

As Hannah Kristensen crossed the air-conditioned lobby, men turned their heads in her direction. Once, she would have been flattered by such attention, but not anymore.

At only twenty-six years old, she had no time for men—and not much interest in relationships. Her life was a total mess and she blamed all the men who had crossed her and her mother’s paths for it.

Hannah Kristensen for Mr. Blackthorn, she said, handing her ID to the receptionist.

Returning the ID after consulting with Thomas and taking Hannah’s photo, the woman instructed, Last elevator, to the right. It will take you directly to the top floor.

As the steel doors shut and the elevator began to rise in a smooth movement that shrieked big money, Hannah gathered her thoughts around what was about to happen and resisted the urge to check her reflection in the mirror. Whatever Markus Blackthorn thinks of my appearance doesn’t matter. But she knew that wasn’t true and the cast on her left arm reminded her of the fact. She needed him to like her.

The small ad she had answered a few weeks ago was oddly concise: Family seeking full-time young female applicants for long-term position as a child home-educator. 1 year minimum contract with possibility of renewal. Must be willing to work seven days a week, long hours, and travel abroad. Must have no other commitments. Age between 25 and 30. Salary 500k per year, plus expenses.

She received a call few days after filling out the online form and sending the required documents to a P.O. box. They wanted face and full-body photographs, ID and passport copies, recent and through exams, and her résumé—which only included two years as a kindergarten school teacher, besides one year as a private teacher for a disabled child, and a twice-a-week babysitting job, both for wealthy New York families.

Appointment set, with a confidence she was far from feeling, Hannah went to Manhattan and found the address—with a long line of women already waiting. All of them looking much more qualified than her, and what struck her as weird, they were all beautiful and elegantly dressed, but she didn’t think much of it. One by one, the women were ushered into a room, and after about half an hour, they walked back out. Some had bemused expressions, others were clearly confident, and a few had eyed the remaining applicants as if they had no chance at all.

Mr. Jones, a middle-aged well-groomed man wearing a sharp business suit and no hint of a smile on his face, called her into his expensively decorated office. He asked her a thousand and one questions but didn’t elaborate at all on the job.

Her desperate need for the position made her ask, What exactly is the job about?

If you make it to the next level, you’ll be given more details.

The interviews had gone from odd to bizarre, and had brought her to this place.

The elevator doors opened, cutting off her reminiscences. Her instincts screamed for her to run but she didn’t give herself any chance to hesitate. She headed straight out across the impressively long reception area.

Good morning. I’m Hannah Kristensen, she said to Markus’s assistant.

Mr. Blackthorn is waiting for you. Thomas consulted his watch. He has another meeting in less than thirty minutes, Ms. Kristensen, so please make this brief.

She felt her blood begin to simmer. The Blackthorn family had always treated others as if they were annoying flies. Her mother—and she—had once suffered from their lack of concern for their fellow humans.

I will take however long I need. Pushing away the painful memories, she slowly turned and pinned the short man with the full force of her stare. What did you say?

I… Thomas’s voice waned. Nothing, miss.

I thought so, she muttered, and not waiting for him to help her, she knocked and turned the knob, pushing open the door to Markus’s office.

Thoughts about how to deal with Haskell & Sons flew out of Markus’s head when the door was firmly pushed open and a young vision let herself in.

Exquisite and lush, so unequivocally feminine and yet aloof, even in the classical serious-cut dark-gray suit, she called to his every masculine instinct, making him want to strip her of the stern clothes, undo the perfectly coiled French twist to shake loose the flaming-red hair, and lay her down on the sofa to discover if she tasted as good as she looked.

It’s unfair. He’s become even more… Hannah couldn’t find the term she needed. Handsome was too calm a word to define him. He was intensely masculine. He was sexual.

Her steps faltered for a second as Markus’s mouth opened in the slow, seductive grin that was so his, exuding confidence and animal magnetism. He stretched his hand in her direction. Ms. Kristensen.

Not knowing if she should be disappointed by him not recognizing her, Hannah took off her dark glasses. Hello,she stopped herself from calling him by his first name. He is going to be your employer.—Mr. Blackthorn.

Markus halted mid-stride, did a double take, and his arm fell to his side as her heavily-lashed emerald-green eyes bore into his. He frowned. What the fuck?

He was aware of his own eyes widening and that he was staring. He was equally aware of the way her shoulders squared back.

The movement drew his attention downward to a figure with the elegant curves of what he could only qualify as a contemporary, tall, and slim statue of Venus, just to snap back to her face in something akin to shock.

Markus hadn’t recognized her at first and that was not a surprise in itself. The last time he had seen her she hadn’t been more than a bookish, shy, and pretty nineteen-year-old. She was also the daughter of his father’s housekeeper, and someone with whom he’d once considered having an affair.


Markus low, smooth voice slid over her and got under her skin to curl low in her belly.

As he contemplated her, he pushed his fingers through the strands, mussing the mane of chopped black hair which would appear too long if he wasn’t so tall and large.

But whatever softness the disarray might have imparted to his appearance was countered by his eyes. They were sharp and dark, a piercing ebony, like the night with no stars, nor moon; a pitch-black well she once thought she wouldn’t mind falling into.

Those eyes landed on her beautiful heart-shaped face and wandered over those full, soft, plum-rich lips.

Fuck! Recomposing himself from the most powerful reaction his body ever had to a woman, he held his hand out to her once more. It’s been a while.

His tenor voice conjured a number of disturbing images in Hannah’s mind: heavy velvet pulled over naked skin; steel sheathed in satin. Definitely a mass of contradictions she wanted nothing to do with coupled with a bedroom voice and a commanding tone. Hannah found herself wanting to lean closer, shock him into kissing her, just to slap that handsome face, hard. But the kisses would come and she would not slap him.

Not a while, but seven years. To Hannah it felt like a lifetime. Since Senator Blackthorn had dismissed her mother from his household, her life had turned upside down. It was ironic she was going to be working for—and helping—the son of the man who had fired her mother.

She looked at his hand as if it were a snake and involuntarily, her tongue moistened her lips.

His gaze zeroed in on her mouth, but nothing else gave away the vulnerability he had briefly glimpsed.

Stop. You are here for the money. She pulled herself back from the torrent of sensual feelings. Under her steel will, her face went blank and her fingers curled around his hand, firmly and detached. In an even voice, she said, Yes, it has been a while. How are you, Mr. Blackthorn?

Chapter 2

Please, sit down. He motioned to the sofa and stepped back, allowing her to pass him. Coffee? Water?

She gave him a smile and slid purposely and gracefully into an armchair. Water. Thank you.

He poured water for both of them, then grabbed the thick envelope his lawyer had sent, and sat by her on the sofa.

Hannah watched him as he flipped through the documentation she had provided. He hadn’t changed much in those seven years. Sure, he looked more mature and sophisticated, and there were a few lines around his eyes and that scruffy, devil-may-care beard, which she was sure demanded permanent care. It all made him much more manly, attractive, and unattainable than when she and her mother lived at Senator Blackthorn’s Connecticut residence.

When he finished re-reading all the background checks that his lawyer had run through all the usual—and unusual—security protocols, he still didn’t—couldn’t—understand why a woman like Hannah would be applying for the position. She was much more qualified than any other woman who had applied for it so far. From what he recalled, her mother had raised her well, but he would not complain if she wanted to share his bed. Much to the contrary.

He took his Cartier pen out of his inner jacket pocket and held it between his large hands, his long fingers stroking it slowly, and fixed her with his dark eyes.

Hannah watched the gliding movements, the light touch pushing and pulling. She flicked her gaze to his and it told her he was thinking of stroking—and doing—other things. The thought caused liquid fire to race, singeing every nerve, and then pooling in her stomach, rekindling long-ago dormant dreams and forgotten teenage infatuation.

Focus, Hannah! She drank the water to wet her dry throat and broke the lengthy silence. Your lawyer gave me all the details. I’m interested.

He leaned back and sipped his water. This fake wife idea hadn’t seemed so brilliant when his father and lawyers first suggested the idea, but now that he was face-to-face with his prospective bride, Markus liked it a lot. Why should I hire you?

I have an ECE bachelor degree from Rasmussen College and the New York Teaching Initial Certificate. I speak Spanish fluently and my French is passable. The Dawson’s letter of recommendation is more than enough reason to answer your question. I am qualified to take care of your daughter while passing as your wife and making you look like a…stable family man. She shrugged. And, I need a job.

"Yes, you are more than qualified if you were applying for a tutor position. But this is not a job, honey."

She raised her eyebrows. And what is this?

You are here for the money. He put his glass down on the center table and leaned back on the sofa. And half a million dollars is a fucking hell of a lot of money. What do you need it for?

None of your business.

Of course it is. He frowned. I must insist.

She glanced back at him, not avoiding his stare this time. Listen, Mr. Blackthorn—

Markus. He would have sworn he saw some kind of angry spark in her eyes. Even as a blossoming young woman, she had always possessed an almost haunting quality in her wide emerald-green eyes. But when he looked again, he could see nothing in them—nothing at all.

"This deal is good for both of us. Your daughter gets the best education a home tutor can provide and you get a woman to pass as your wife while I close my eyes for whatever lover you might have. All that for only half a million dollars."

Says here,—he tapped her file, suppressing his smile at her prideful squaring shoulders,—you are available to start immediately.

Yes, she nodded. Her twice-a-week babysitting job for a wealthy yet thrifty New Yorker family could go to hell for all she cared. A few hours to pack and put my life in order. A day, at most.

There was something different in her now, and it was not her blossomed beauty or body, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. You’re aware you’ll be selling a whole year of your life—and more, if needed—to me. No days off—or nights, for that matter.

Yes. Her eyes returned to the expensive pen he was still caressing.

You’re aware of the contract terms, I take it?

She frowned. Are we going to sign a contract?

Apart from a pre-nup? No. It will be unenforceable.And a dangerous document in the wrong hands.I expect you will hold your part of our bargain, which I must remind you is strictly confidential.

I will, she nodded. His lawyer had made it clear at the last meeting she would be destroyed if she so much as mentioned a single word of it to anyone. I have a small request of my own.

Let’s hear it, he said curtly.

I don’t expect you to be celibate for the whole term of our contract. And I don’t care with whom you…fornicate,—she didn’t even blink, but she felt a burning inside her chest,—as long as it is done behind closed doors.

I like your candor. He wasn’t planning on staying celibate for a whole year, especially with such a beautiful woman as his wife. By the heat coursing in his veins, he would be very happy to have her in his arms.

I request you to be discreet in your liaisons.

Discreet. He laughed. When she opened her mouth again, he cut her off, Hannah. You do understand why we are making this…arrangement.

Yes, she nodded. You need a wife to present to society—and to the judge—as the perfect female model: a good wife who can be a loving stepmother. I have to make you look respectable and loving and get your ex off your back, so you can have the custody of your daughter. And I can do that.

He put the pen back in his pocket and leaned in her direction. I can’t afford to be caught with any other woman until I have everything settled with Victoria’s custody.

She nodded. That’s—

And I am paying you half a million dollars. Plus expenses. For that amount, I expect you to put up with my idiosyncrasies. Markus’s eyes lingered on her for a long, endless moment before he said, And who knows? Perhaps you can make it real.

Hannah frowned at the way he said the last word. "How…real?"

He slid to the edge of the sofa and put his hand on her knee. Real.

Hannah froze. His lawyer had made it clear she would have to make it real, but she thought the real part would be a few caresses and kisses while in public, nothing more. As her mother’s dying face swam into her mind, Hannah realized it wasn’t accepting Markus’s proposal that horrified her, but the certainty that her mother would be mortified with her decision to sell her body as a whore. She couldn’t do it—no matter how much the job was paying, no matter how much she needed the money.

Though he could see the realization of what he was proposing taking shape in her mind, she was clearly trying to conceal the shock. There’s a line of women who would literally kill to be in the position you’re in.

She wanted to tell Markus to find one of the many women in that disgusting line of his and go fuck himself. Instead, she said as coolly as she could, I need to think about it.

Well then, sleep on it and call me tomorrow. He rose and accompanied her to the door. There was something so mystifying about this grown-up, cold Hannah that his interest had been piqued.

He had talked to her as though it was a foregone conclusion that he’d hire her if only she were willing to agree to the terms.

It was impossible to be objective though.

He was almost determined to have

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  • (5/5)
    REVIEW: Markus was trying to get custody of his four-year-old daughter by contracting for a wife. Hannah was trying to salvage the disaster that was her life. Neither expected this crazy scheme to lead to the perfect future for all three of them. “All he knew was it had been something deeper, lovingly, and utterly terrifying.” Just the right amount of tension, suspense, and steamy romance. The story pulled me in quickly and kept me reading way past my bedtime! This is my voluntary review of an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.DESCRIPTION, NOT REVIEW: He needs a woman to play the perfect wife—sex included, no emotions attached. She needs to pay off a debt before she ends up with broken legs—or worse. Everyone knows about billionaire tycoon Markus Blackthorn's wild love life—it's all over the tabloids. It's also why he's lost custody of his four-year-old daughter. But he has a plan to get her back—if only he can find the perfect wife-for-hire.No one knows Hannah Kristensen's drowning in debt—except one dangerous loan shark. Losing her job is only the latest catastrophe in her life. Markus Blackthorn's insane offer might be exactly what she needs to save herself—if only she can keep from falling for the last man she should love.