I've been reading through PROPOSITIONING THE PLAYBOY. Maybe that seems weird, but I like to do that on occasion, read through one of my books once it's published. It's different, 'cause I'm no longer editing, so I'm not reading with an eye for typos or problems, but just allowing myself to enjoy the story.
Well, I came across a bit yesterday that made me smile all over again. So when "hunt" came up as today's #1LineWed theme on Twitter this morning, I knew exactly what I wanted to share. Thought I'd expand a bit for you guys...
Set-up: It's a birthday party for Jake's daughter, Addie, and Liam has just arrived.
A little behind the scenes: I didn't plan this. When I was letting Liam describe what he sees when he first walks in, Hunter informed me this was where he was going to be. lol
On the other side of the space, five other little girls sat around the dining room table, all wearing various colored frilly dresses. They appeared to be working on a craft of some sort. Jenna stood chatting with several women he didn’t recognize—the mothers, he assumed. Max and Jake stood off to the side, laughing about something or other.
October is here! I'm a die-hard summer fan (because I like being warm!), but this will always be one of my favorite months. Fall has begun (well, in most places), Halloween is coming. The energy just changes, like there’s magic in the air. I may have grown up, and so have my boys, but there will always be something special about October.
It's also mine and my grandmother's birth month. She's been gone a while now, but I remember her the most this time of year. I was born five days from her birthday, so October was always special to us. She loved fall, loved decorating, one of those people who had a definite knack for it. Unfortunately, like cooking, that knack didn't get passed down to me. lol
Happy October, everybody!
Well, release week is officially over, and you know, I consider it a success. The week went off without a hitch, I sold books and I got some great reviews. Which is mostly why I'm here. I wanted to take a moment to say thank you. To the bloggers who took time to help me get the word out, the reviewers who took the time to read my book...and the readers who picked up copies. Even though this was book number 15 published, it's a still nerve-wracking experience. It's like sending your baby out into the world. So all the love and support is very much appreciated. I wouldn't be here without you all. Thanks everyone.
Congrats to Sherry S, who won the giveaway. Thanks to everyone who participated as well. Have a good weekend, everybody!
It's release day! I'm so excited to finally be able to share SEDUCING THE BILLIONAIRE with you. I hadn't intended for the story to end up as emotional as it did, but you know how it goes. Characters become real and then they take over. lol I love where they led me, though, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
In celebration, I'm sharing the entire first chapter (below), because it's self-published, and I can do that. ;)
I'm also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter via the rafflecopter below, put together by Xpresso Book Tours, who's handling the blitz tour.
Thanks for celebrating with me!
Seducing the Billionaire
She’d expected something a bit more dark and ominous, given what went on inside this house.
Jenna Mancini tipped her head back to take in the mansion in front of her. It wasn’t at all what she’d expected when Selene described the place to her last night. With long verandas, wrought iron railings, and huge stone columns, it resembled an old southern plantation. Nestled among a copse of tall evergreen trees on a private beach on Bainbridge Island, Washington, however, it seemed out of place.
She turned her gaze to the long staircase. Near the double-doored front entrance, a man wearing a black suit stood with a clipboard tucked in one beefy arm. The bouncer, she assumed.
Selene, her best friend and the reason she’d come tonight, stepped from the limo that had picked them up from the ferry terminal. “So, what do you think?”
“I’m nervous, truth be told. Like butterflies in the stomach, feel like I’m going to throw up, nervous.” Jenna lifted a brow as she looked over at Selene. “Remind me again why I’m doing this.”
Selene let out a quiet, musical laugh and threw an arm around Jenna’s shoulders, hugging her.
“Because what you need is a real man, sweetie. You said so yourself. Think of it this way.” Selene leaned toward her, her voice lowering to a conspiratorial murmur. “Somewhere in that house is a hunk waiting to ravish you.”
“Ravish. Who even uses that word anymore?” Jenna waved a hand at Selene, feigning nonchalance, but her stomach knotted. Selene’s casual suggestion was what made her so damn nervous about this trip.
The Blue Room was a high-end sex club. She’d heard rumors you had to either be somebody or know somebody to get in. Tonight she’d come as Selene’s guest. It seemed her best friend had been coming here for over a year.
“Ravish is the perfect word for what one of these gentlemen is going to do to you. And you want it, and you know it. They don’t bite, I promise. At least, not unless you want them to.” Selene winked, amusement twinkling in her blue gaze.
Jenna let out a soft laugh. “And that right there is why I love you so much. You always know what to say to pull me out of the funk in my head.”
She and Selene had become friends when Selene hired her two years ago to test and review products from her adult toy shop. Back then, Jenna had just gotten out of a bad relationship, and the idea had sounded like fun. Much better than the stress of a man. Over the last two years, she’d amassed several boxes worth of “entertainment,” but battery-operated bliss no longer satisfied. She craved the real thing. Firm muscles. Warm skin.
A man who’d worship every inch of her body exactly the way it was.
By day, she wrote technical manuals for a local software company. Her job was boring but safe. At night, though, she could be her truest self. The single girl trying to make her way in the world. Her blog, Curvy, Single, & Sexy, had started with her exploration of herself after she’d broken it off with Elliott. Namely, could a plus-size girl still be sexy? Were there really men out there attracted to women with curves? The way she figured it, if she got nothing else out of coming to The Blue Room, her experiences would make excellent fodder for her blog.
Except now she had to face going inside, with having a “date” for the first time in over two years.
“Do I look okay? I haven’t worn anything this skimpy in a long time.” Jenna glanced down at herself, smoothing trembling fingers down the skirt of her dress. Selene had helped her pick it out. The scoop neckline showed off her ample cleavage without being too revealing, but the material clung to her every curve. This dress wasn’t her usual style.
Hell, who was she kidding? This whole night wasn’t her style anymore.
“Oh, honey, stop worrying. You’re stunning.” Selene gave her shoulders another gentle squeeze. “Forget Elliott. He was a jerk. Real men like women with curves. Trust me. These guys will eat you up.”
“I sure hope you’re right, because I feel like I’m wearing a great big neon sign inviting everybody to stare at my ass.” Jenna turned her head, eyeing Selene, who, of course, looked beautiful and calm. Her candy apple red dress, with its plunging neckline, matched her personality: fun and flirty. And she owned it.
She’d had Selene’s confidence once upon a time. Until Elliott. To this day she bore the scars of dating that career-oriented, perfectionist putz. At first, he’d seemed perfect. Didn’t they all? His nitpicking and subtle putdowns had started slowly and had been all about control. The subtle form of abuse had cranked her low self-esteem and made her feel fat and unattractive. Sadly, she hadn’t seen him for who he really was until she’d caught him cheating on her. And with a woman who’d made her look—and feel—like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, no less.
Shoving thoughts of Elliott aside, she returned her gaze to the bouncer by the front door. Selene had been scarce with the deets about this place. “What, exactly, happens in here?”
“It’s little more than a lavish party, sweetie. Only here, everyone is expecting to get laid.” Selene let out a quiet laugh. “They hold the parties on Friday and Saturday nights, and you can stay for the whole weekend or just this one night. If you find someone you click with, there are rooms available.”
“So, it’s a giant one-night stand party.” The idea of it made her pulse skip and her nipples tighten. After Elliott, she didn’t think she’d ever be ready to date again, but this place was exactly what the doctor ordered. Meeting a stranger for a wild night of uninhibited sex, no strings attached? Yeah. She was all over that.
“You make it sound tawdry. I promise it’s not. Consider it more a place to…let your hair down a little.” Selene waved a hand in the air and climbed the steps. “Come on. Let’s go inside. You’ll see.”
Jenna followed, stopping beside Selene in front of the guy manning the door. He looked like he’d stepped off the cover of a men’s exercise magazine. Gorgeous deep blue eyes. Thick dark hair. Luscious broad shoulders that filled out his suit jacket and bulging biceps. Her long-ignored girl parts whimpered in delight.
“Evening, Selene.” He smiled, pleasant and friendly. “Looking gorgeous as usual.”
“Evening, Liam. You’re not looking so bad yourself.” Selene flashed a charming smile and laid a hand on Jenna’s arm. “I’ve brought a friend. Is Hunt here?”
“Inside, where he usually is. You know him. Always keeping watch but never participating.” Liam’s mouth formed a thin, grim line. He eyed Jenna for a moment before turning a grin on Selene and shaking his head. “Whatever it is you’re thinking, you know it won’t work, right?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Selene hiked her chin a notch, but her lips twitched, betraying her. “She’s nervous, and he’s low key. I just thought I’d introduce them. Thought maybe he’d make her feel more comfortable. Ease her into it.”
“Uh-huh. Good luck with that one.” Liam chuckled and tossed his head in the direction of the door beside him. “Go on in. Party’s already jumping.”
Selene moved into the house but stopped two steps in and glanced over her shoulder. “You are coming inside, aren’t you, Liam?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” Liam winked at Selene, then turned his head and met Jenna’s gaze. He gave her an obvious once-over and let out a low whistle. “And if you have any problems finding a date tonight, you come see me.”
Jenna stilled, unable to help staring. It had been too damn long since a man had looked at her like that. Like he wanted to eat her for dinner. Maybe Selene had been right about this dress.
Well, she was here to step outside of herself. Time to pull her inner vixen out of the closet.
She flashed her flirtiest smile and winked. “I might just do that.”
His husky laugh and the twinkle in his eye made her chest swell with pride. Yeah, she could totally do this.
“Come on. The Blue Room is technically the ballroom.” Selene tossed her a warm smile and moved further into the house, walking past a gorgeous spiral staircase.
Jenna glanced around in awe as she kept pace with Selene. “There’s a ballroom in this place?”
The inside of the house screamed old school luxury and made up for the lackluster white of the home’s exterior. White and gold area rugs warmed the dark, polished hardwood floors. The peach colored walls brightened the space and the crown moldings were old-fashioned yet elegant. A couple of gray marble-topped end tables holding colorful floral bouquets sat either side of the hallway, and elaborate, gold-framed paintings of nature scenes dotted the walls.
“You should see the rest of the house. There’s a billiard room and a library, and each of the guest bedrooms have gorgeous claw-foot tubs. It’s like a dream in here.” Selene laughed as she stopped in front of a set of double doors halfway down the hallway.
Music drifted from within the room, accompanied by the murmur of voices. Jenna’s heart tripped over itself.
She jerked her gaze to Selene. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”
Selene gripped her hand and squeezed her fingers. “You’ll do fine. Come on. I want to introduce you to someone. Then you won’t feel so out of place.”
Selene didn’t give her time to accept or deny, but pushed open the door and pulled her inside. She strode through the room like a woman on a mission, tossing the occasional smile at people they passed.
Jenna took a quick glance around as she all but trotted in order to match Selene’s brisk pace. Inside wasn’t as tawdry as she’d expected. Not an orgy at all. Intimate and elegant, it reminded her of a formal function. Wall sconces illuminated the space in a soft glow, enough to see by without being too bright. Upbeat music played through speakers set high on the walls, creating atmosphere but not so loud people had to shout to be heard.
At one end was a bar and standing behind it, serving drinks, was a hunky, dark-haired man wearing a navy suit jacket and white shirt, similar to the guy at the front door. Small groups of couches and overstuffed chairs sat interspersed throughout the room. Her entire studio apartment could’ve fit inside the long, rectangular space, but there couldn’t have been more than fifty people total.
The color of the walls caught her attention. She’d expected the club’s name, The Blue Room, had some secret meaning, but nope. It was literally a blue room, with walls painted a beautiful shade of navy, lending the whole space a calm elegance.
Selene headed for a set of couches to the left of the bar, where a lone man sat with his arms folded, watching the crowd. Selene’s conversation with Liam by the front door flitted through her mind. I just thought I’d introduce them.
Heart hammering, Jenna grabbed Selene’s hand and planted her feet, forcing Selene to stop with her. When Selene looked back, Jenna drew her brows together. “Hunt. You mentioned him. Who is he?”
Selene smiled. “A friend, and he’s nice. I think you’ll like him.”
Jenna frowned. “You’re playing matchmaker.”
Selene sighed and faced her. “His name is Hunter, and he reminds me a lot of you. He’s quiet and low-key, and he’s getting over someone, too, so he needs this as much as you do.” Her utter embarrassment and disapproval must have shown on her face, for Selene let out a soft laugh. “It’s just an introduction. He’s nice. I promise. Come on.”
Once again, Selene didn’t give her a chance to deny but turned and resumed her trek. She stopped in front of the man on the couch. “Good to see you tonight, Hunter. We missed you last weekend.”
He looked up, flashing Selene a pleasant smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Evening, Selene. Business, I’m afraid.”
Okay, so he wasn’t bad on the eyes. His dark blue sweater clung to a broad chest and well-rounded biceps. The dress shirt and tie beneath gave him an Ivy League appearance, but his dark blond hair contradicted the image. It flopped over his forehead and ears, the back grazing the collar of his shirt, and had a tousled look, as if he’d merely run his fingers through it after a shower. The way he held himself, though, relaxed yet restrained, told her he didn’t feel comfortable, either.
His gaze shifted to her, his rich brown eyes skimming her body, to her feet and back up. Given where they were and why they’d come, his glance ought to have made her nipples tighten with awareness. Instead, that single glance gave her the sensation of being weighed and measured.
As suddenly as the look came over him, he smiled, polite and warm, if not a tad reserved. “I see you brought a friend with you this evening.”
Selene hooked Jenna’s elbow again, as if to keep her from running off, which was precisely what she wanted to do. “She’s a first timer, and she’s nervous. I thought I’d introduce her to someone who’d make her feel comfortable.”
Hunter let out a quiet rumble of a laugh that hit Jenna low in the belly. His initial expression had suggested he didn’t laugh often.
“Uh-huh. I appreciate the gesture, but I’m just here to help Max keep an eye on things.” He braced his hands on his knees and pushed to his feet, unfolding his lanky frame, and held out his right hand. “We go by first names around here. I’m Hunter.”
Jenna couldn’t stop her mouth from dropping open as she tipped her head back to take him in. Tall was not the word for this guy. At five-foot-nine, she wasn’t short by any means, but he made her feel like one of the Lilliputians from Gulliver’s Travels.
“Holy crow.” Some part of her brain told her the proper response was to take his hand and introduce herself, but she couldn’t do much more than stare.
For the first time since Selene dragged her in front of him, a genuine smile stretched across his face, amusement dancing in his eyes. “Yeah, I get that a lot.”
Jenna let out an uncomfortable laugh and managed to kick her brain into gear. Her face heated as she shook his hand. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude. I just wasn’t expecting that. Anybody ever tell you you’re huge?”
“Never.” Hunter winked at her before turning to Selene. “I’ll keep an eye on her, show her the ropes. Go. Find Jake.”
Relief flooded Selene’s face, there and gone in the blink of an eye, but enough Jenna caught it. Selene turned an empathetic frown on Jenna and clasped her hands together. “Don’t hate me.”
Jenna couldn’t help her grin. So Selene had a guy. “Jake, huh? How come this is the first time I’m hearing about him?”
“Because I’m not allowed to kiss and tell.” A fierce blush seeped into Selene’s cheeks, but she pursed her lips and furrowed her brow. “House rules. I forgot to tell you those. What goes on here is to be kept secret, including the location. People value their privacy.”
Jenna folded her arms. “Uh-huh. And how long has this thing with Jake been going on?”
Selene darted an anxious glance at Hunter, who seemed unperturbed by the whole conversation, before meeting her gaze again.
“About a year.” Selene waved a flippant hand in the air. “And it’s just sex.”
Hunter chuckled and winked at Jenna. “That’s how come she shows up a half hour early every weekend, and why Jake rushes around like a madman before the party, trying to make sure set up’s done and all his bases are covered before she does.” His gaze shifted to Selene, amusement glinting in his eyes. “Last I saw him, he was heading to the cellar to pull out a few more bottles of wine. Something about a request for Pinot Noir.”
“Thank you.” Selene flashed Hunter a grateful smile before turning to Jenna. “Do you mind?”
Jenna waved a dismissive hand. “Of course not. Though I want details tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” Selene wrapped her in a tight hug then released her. She waggled her brows. “Have fun.”
She watched as Selene all but jogged through the crowd toward the entrance. As she disappeared out into the hallway beyond, Jenna’s stomach knotted. She was now alone at a sex party, and she’d been left with a giant of a man. A sexy giant, but he still made her nerves wobble.
She looked over at Hunter and flashed an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry. I had no idea she was going to do that.”
“It’s not a big deal. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s not the first time she’s tried.” Hunter tucked his hands in his pockets, and although the smile he flashed looked sincere enough, he held himself a little too stiffly, a slight wariness hovering in the depths of his eyes.
Two seconds later, it hit her. Jenna’s face heated. Of course. Her presence wasn’t welcome.
She straightened her shoulders. “Well, you don’t have to babysit me. I’m here to step out of my comfort zone. It’s about time I go do that. It was good to meet you.”
She turned, intending to head in the opposite direction, but halted two steps away. The promise of the evening had her clit already throbbing, but she hadn’t done something like this in a long time. In fact, scanning the crowd, she couldn’t even remember where to start.
Her gaze landed on the bar at the far end. Maybe she should start with a drink to soothe her frazzled nerves. Then she could head for the dance floor. Maybe she’d rub up against one of these hunks and nature would take its course.
“Don’t leave on my account. You aren’t bothering me.”
At the sound of Hunter’s voice, Jenna turned to find him still behind her.
“Told Selene I’d keep an eye on you, and I don’t go back on my promises.” He smiled, this one genuine.
Okay, for sure he’d charmed a few ladies with that smile, because the same reserved, almost wary man from moments ago disappeared somewhere and left a sun God in his place.
As she stared at him, an idea formed. She’d come here tonight to prove to herself Elliott was wrong. She could be every bit as sexy as a size six, right? Why not start with him? Seduce the one guy who came to a sex party and didn’t participate. Could she do it?
She let her gaze travel his body, from his broad shoulders, to his lean waist, and right on down his endless legs. Muscular legs his jeans did nothing to hide. Oh yeah. She could see herself climbing his luscious body, and she could use a bit of fun. To set herself free and find herself again.
Hunter nodded in the direction of the bar. “How ’bout we start by getting you a drink?”
Jenna pulled her shoulders back and flashed her flirtiest smile. “Got any beer over there?”
He grinned and clutched a hand to his chest. “A girl after my own heart. Not out here. We don’t get many requests for it. Most people want wine or champagne, occasionally the hard stuff. But I do keep some in the fridge, just in case. Come on. Kitchen’s around the corner.”