Know Your Heart: A New Zealand - Tracey Alvarez

Chapter 1

“I know who you are. What do you want?”

Savannah Payne blinked at the scruffy man in blue jeans filling up the front door of her hideaway house in Bounty Bay.

Granted, she hadn’t expected a warm Far North welcome, considering she planned to kick him off her property. She’d had an a-ha moment back home in Auckland yesterday as she packed her suitcases. Her cousin, Nate, had called a month ago when she was on location in the States, asking if an old university friend could stay in her house for six weeks to write his book. She’d agreed with a mi casa es su casa sort of thing, impatient to get back to filming the movie that would catapult her into the limelight once again.

But now, at twenty-seven years old, she found herself facing potential unemployment. And Nate’s friend was in her house.

A house she desperately wanted to curl up in and hide from the paparazzi who’d love the chance to snap a photo of Savannah Payne, failing actress.

Is there any truth to the rumors about the last years of your marriage? And Savannah, Savannah! How do you feel about being kicked out of your comeback movie role by an actress five years younger and twenty-five pounds lighter?

Karma, maybe?

Cue slathering on the charm, in order to get Nate’s friend out.

“Oh.” She slid up the oversized sunglasses onto her head and bared her teeth in what she hoped was an irresistible smile with enough wattage to turn the man’s frown upside down. “I’d like to have a little chat with you—I’m the owner of this property.”

“As I said, Savannah, I know who and what you are.” The man lounged in the doorway, making no move to invite her in or to come out to talk with her.

His pale-blue gaze skipped coolly up her length, from the tips of her suede boots to the long hair spilling over her silk shirt. Good thing after her latest humiliation she hadn’t succumbed to the ranks of the Sweatpants Brigade. Yet. Peering in the rear-view mirror a few minutes ago she’d taken the time to apply another coat of mascara and fluff up her travel-weary hair. If you look confident, her mother’s voice instructed in Sav’s inner ear, you’ll be confident—and when you were about to evict a stranger from your house, it seemed imperative to use every weapon at your disposal.

“So, Nate told you I owned the place?”

“Yeah.” Muscles flexed beneath his long-sleeved, grey Henley as he pushed his glasses up his nose.

The muscles were a surprise, but the tortoiseshell, hipster-style glasses on a guy supposedly writing a book? Please. What a stereotype.

“You’re friends from university days, aren’t you?” She kept her voice light and easy. Adopted a determined but pleasant we’re having a nice, friendly conversation kind of tone. “Nate and I spent a lot of time together back then, but I don’t remember you.”

Three years younger than her cousin, Savannah had still been in high school while Nate was off slogging away at his journalism degree. She’d often hung with him and his mates at his student flat. She caught another quick peek of impressive biceps as the man folded his arms. Wouldn’t she remember such a hottie amongst Nate’s friends?

“Why would you?” He huffed out a sigh. “Look, I’m right in the middle of something, so can we skip the school days memories?”

Behind her, in the thousands of acres of native bush surrounding the house, wind soughed through the trees, bringing with it the kiss of rain. She shivered in the spring air. She should’ve brought her coat from her hired four-wheel-drive, since apparently this guy had the manners of a man raised by jackals.

Savannah’s smile wavered. “Can I at least come inside? Gavin, isn’t it?”

A long pause. “Glen. Glen Cooper. And no, I’d rather talk to you out here.”

“But it’s my house.”

“Yep, it is.”

Yep? Yep, with folded arms and a thousand-yard stare? Surely, a guy supposedly writing a book could be a little more verbally forthcoming. “I’d like it back. My house, that is.”

“You’re asking me to leave?”

He had a voice like melted chocolate, the expensive Swiss kind. Rich, sinful, and liable to make a woman forget she was on a diet. She mentally shook her head. Nope. Not this woman anyway.

Obviously, she’d have to spell it out. “Yes. I’m asking you—very nicely, very politely—to leave my house. I need it.”

“Don’t you have a house in Auckland?”

“I’ve just had a hellish five-hour drive north to get away from it. I