Tyler McKay has had enough…
Going to his fourth sister’s wedding without a date will only encourage his female relations to “help” him find romance. Ty’s ready to wait for Ms. Right and is busy enough as the finance guy for F5. When he learns that the cute woman who works in his building is in the same predicament, he’s sure that fake dates are the perfect solution. She agrees, but Ty soon realizes that there’s far more to Amy than meets the eye. When she enrolls in a bondage class at F5, he finds himself taking a disguise as dangerous Matteo to keep her safe. How far will he go to win the heart of a woman he finds…simply irresistible?
Amy Thornton can’t get enough…
Amy can’t resist another romance about a hot hero and the woman who steals his heart away with naughty games. When she decides to write her own book, she knows she needs to do research. Her fake date, Tyler, is gorgeous but too nice to play naughty games—unlike Matteo, Amy’s mysterious personal instructor at F5, who plays them so well. When Amy has to choose, will she pick the nice guy or the promise of the forbidden pleasures she finds…simply irresistible?
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An Excerpt from Simply Irresistible
There he was.
Better late than never.
Amy peeked over the lip of her book and watched the guy from the wealth management firm upstairs come into the common area, just the way she did five times a week. Her heart was beating faster, even though that was stupid. She was too old to have a crush on a stranger.
Even one who looked like this. The object of her attention could have stepped out of the pages of one of the books she gobbled up like candy. Tall, athletic, handsome, wearing yet another killer suit that probably cost as much as she earned in a month at her day job. No pretension. He was totally at ease and moved with that athletic grace that made her salivate. Confident. Maybe even masterful.
Amy bit her lip. He was almost too good to be true. She devoured the sight of him, yet again, seeking the inevitable flaw. She didn’t find it on this day either.
Perfectly knotted silk tie, French cuffs, Italian shoes. There was no casual Friday in this guy’s world, and Amy liked it.
Of course, if he had been like her recent book boyfriends, he’d be emotionally scarred, hiding his wounds from the world. He’d be ruined inside, a wreck of a man who could only be cured by the love of the right woman. She’d see past his scars and trust him sufficiently to surrender fully to his darkest fantasies. To his needs. He’d give vent to his deepest desires because of that trust, and by the end of the book, he’d be healed.
True love would conquer the obstacles and win the day
Amy sighed at the perfection of it all. It was a story she never tired of reading. Beauty and the Beast, with a little pain and a lot of pleasure.
In reality, this guy would never notice her, except maybe to excuse himself if she were in the way. He’d certainly never talk to her, and maybe it was better that way. She wouldn’t have to lose the fantasy.
She knew he worked at Fleming Financial, the private banking and investment firm on the top floor of the building, not because she’d stalked him or anything, but because she’d been in the elevator with him once. Fleming Financial was on the top floor of the building. They had expensive offices, presumably to encourage the sense amongst their clients that they could be trusted with the management of enormous sums of money.
She’d nearly had heart failure when she’d realized they’d be the only two and forgot to push her floor. He’d reached past her to push nine, giving her a delicious whiff of sexy masculinity. She’d been achingly aware of how rare that scent was in her life, frozen to the spot savoring it, when he’d cast her a questioning look. She’d hurried to push five, nearly falling over her own feet, and blushed like a teenager for being an idiot.
That he’d bitten back a smile had only made her feel like more of one. The silence had been painful and the ride eternal, especially since she’d been too mortified to breathe. She wasn’t usually an idiot with other people, or even with gorgeous guys. Maybe his aura of power had unnerved her.
No, it was what he did in her imagination that made her blush.
Amy propped her chin on her hand and kept reading about Melissa’s misadventures with her new dom. These books were like crack. Amy couldn’t get enough of them. The erotic romances were vicarious sexual adventures, ending with the promise of eternal happiness. She wrapped them carefully in book covers, the way she’d done in school with her textbooks, to disguise her reading taste.
That meant she could read anywhere.
She liked print books too much to use her e-reader, even though the keepers had taken over her bookshelves at home. So many of them had a great juicy bit—or twenty. Amy’s particular weakness was when the master said something tender and hot that it turned his submissive’s knees to butter, and her own knees got a bit weak. She liked the descriptions of pain mingling with pleasure. She liked the trust and capitulation—and the transformation. It was magical how the characters gave each other just what was needed.
Who could resist a happy ending? Not Amy.
The really intriguing thing about Mr. Private Banking was that he read, too. Scottoline, Grisham, Cornwell, Patterson—pretty much always a mystery or suspense story, but she liked that he read women authors as well as men. Was it the violence? The mystery? The knowledge that justice would triumph? Did he see himself as the serial killer or the intrepid hero, putting villains in their place? It was easy to imagine that he was living vicariously too, having an adventure with his choice of fiction. She wanted to ask him why he read what he did. It would have told her a lot about him.
It was reassuring that at least one other person was as rabid a reader as she was. It generally took him two days to read a book. She liked that he didn’t cover his up, so she could spy on his tastes. She peeked again to see what today’s choice was, but he was in the line at the sandwich bar.
Weird. He usually brought a lunch, just like she did.
Maybe the staff at the mansion had called in sick.
She smiled at that, and returned to Melissa’s cries of agony and ecstasy. The poor girl was in major trouble this time, having been locked in the dungeon in her master’s house. No one knew where she was, and he had her blindfolded and shackled in nothing flat.
At his mercy. Mmmm. Amy already knew this master didn’t have much of that commodity, but Melissa was loving it. Who wouldn’t?
Oh, the nipple clamps. Amy bent over the book, fascinated by the description of how they felt. Would he use the riding crop? She tried to savor the sensual build-up, admiring that the author had done a good job, but she turned the pages all too quickly, gobbling it up. God, the master was doing that tender-tough thing that just about finished her! Would a man ever talk to her in a gravely voice? Amy shivered at the prospect and turned the page.
“Is this seat taken?”
Amy jumped to find none other than Mr. Hot standing behind the seat diagonal to hers, sandwich and book in hand. (It was the newest Patterson.) In the common area and food court, the seats were bolted to tables in fours. She had claimed her usual seat by the fountain, where she could see a patch of sky through the atrium overhead. The other three seats were available, as usual.
She was astonished to find him watching her, waiting on her, but forced herself to be practical. She pushed up her glasses and cleared her throat. The food court was really full. He just needed somewhere to sit. It wasn’t personal.
“No. Go ahead.” Amy gestured, trying to make it look like a casual invitation. She thought her move looked clumsy or, worse, indifferent.
“That’s what I get for being late,” he said with an easy smile, then sat down. He had a great voice, just growly enough to make her tingle, even when he said something pedestrian. Amy decided to imagine him saying other things later, when she couldn’t give herself away. He put down his book, gave the sandwich a skeptical glance, then started to unwrap it. The corner of his mouth tightened in a way that made her want to reach out and touch him.
Gotta flog that mansion staff, spank a few maids, get lunch made on time.
She’d get his lunch packed on time.
Or maybe she wouldn’t, just to be naughty and be punished.
Amy fought her urge to giggle.
He cracked open his book, conversation over, and Amy returned to the torment of Melissa. Thank God for book covers. My master has such powerful hands, Melissa thought, stealing a glance and nearly swooning…
Amy took a covert look at his hands. They were excellent, as men’s hands went. Strong, slightly tanned, long-fingered. No rings.
Maybe he was the kind who didn’t wear one.
His cell phone rang and she locked her gaze on her book as if she hadn’t noticed.
Of course, she was listening. Any human would have done the same.
“Hi Mom,” he said, his patient tone making Amy smile. “No, Mom, I’m not busy.” He sat back to listen, his gaze fixed on the distance, a study in tolerance and patience.
Control. Oh, he had it, that was for sure.
Amy could hear his mom’s chatter coming through the phone. Even without being able to discern the words, she could tell that his mother was wound up about something.
“I think it will be fine, Mom,” he said firmly.
Mom clearly disagreed, her voice rising a little higher.
“I’m sure Adrienne doesn’t expect any different, Mom.” His tone became soothing. “You’ve done it three times now and beautifully. The fourth will be easy.”
Mom declined to be convinced. Her voice rose another notch, although Amy couldn’t make out the words.
Her lunch companion straightened ever so slightly. He’d had this conversation before. Maybe a lot of times.
He was becoming vexed.
What was he going to do about it? His eyes flashed a little and his lips tightened. Amy crossed her ankles tightly.
“I don’t want to talk about that, Mom.”
Mom clearly did. She was talking faster.
Mr. Yum inhaled sharply and frowned a little.
Amy could have eaten him up with a spoon.
She stared at her book, but read the same sentence eight times without understanding it.
To her surprise, he picked up the cellophane from his sandwich and began to crush it in his hand, making a crinkly noise. Amy peeked to find him holding it close to the phone. “Lots of static all of a sudden, Mom,” he said, sounding concerned. “Can you still hear me?”
Amy gaped that he would lie like this to his mother.
Although she could totally understand it. Her aunt was infuriating when she was worried about something and wouldn’t abandon the issue.
“I can’t hear you.” Their gazes met for an instant and she saw the wicked twinkle in his eyes. “Look, if we get cut off, Mom, I’ll call you back tonight.”
Green eyes. He had green eyes. Thick lashes. A little gold halo around the iris. Amy swallowed and forced herself to look down at her book again. She had a full body blush going on, and hoped he didn’t notice.
She noticed that he also had firm lips, the kind that look like sculpture when one corner lifts in laughter. Like his was doing right now. Bitable, sexy, kissable lips. God, she was a sucker for crooked smiles.
Amy gripped her book, her palms damp.
Even though she wasn’t looking, she was aware that he frowned, mostly because he crackled the cellophane louder and simultaneously dropped his voice. “Yes, yes, I know why you’re worried…”
Then he abruptly ended the call, turned off his cell phone and dropped it into his pocket. He looked at his sandwich as if he’d rather eat road kill, then picked up his book with a sigh.
Acting like he hadn’t just hung up on his mom.
Amy couldn’t keep silent. “You did that to your mom?”
“An act of desperation,” he confided with a grimace. “Don’t worry: I’ll pay for it later.”
“But she’s your mom!”
“She’s also driving me insane.”
“Some people say it’s part of the job description.”
His smile was quick and genuine, a flash of perfect teeth that caught Amy off guard. Her heart skipped, then he leaned closer, his eyes sparkling. Amy was transfixed, and that was before he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. It gave her shivers, that whisper. “My sister is getting married,” he confessed.
“So’s my cousin,” Amy said, because apparently she couldn’t keep her mouth shut. “Stressful times for moms.”
He held up four fingers. “My fourth sister is getting married.”
“All younger than me, one married every spring for the past three years. My mom has been in wedding preparation mode non-stop for almost five years.”
“Ouch,” Amy said, unable to imagine how she’d endure her own aunt’s agitation for any longer than the remaining two weeks until Rachel’s wedding.
“The thing is that it doesn’t take a psychic to know what comes after that.” He gave Amy a steady look, inviting her to guess.
She did. She had, after all, been there and done that. “You’re the last one.”
“And the oldest.” He sighed again and picked up his book. “I’ve had a crappy morning, and just don’t have any spare patience for unfounded concerns about the weather four Saturdays from now. It’ll be what it is, even if the plan is for the ceremony to be in the garden.” He flicked her a look. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll call her after lunch and apologize, then listen patiently to the whole monologue again.”
Amy liked that he told her that. “Perfect son?” she found herself teasing.
“Far from it.” That smile made a brief return appearance. “But since there’s only one son, she has to make do with my shortcomings.”
He started to read, no doubt finding Alex Cross’s adventures more intriguing than Amy found Melissa’s predicament to be in this particular moment. She was amazed that he’d not only talked to her but she’d been reasonably coherent.
It was because he seemed nice, nicer than one would expect a billionaire master book boyfriend to be. Unscarred. Not tormented beyond getting annoyed with his female relations in the last days before a wedding, which Amy could completely understand.
He was still gorgeous. His interest in her was clearly non-existent, so she could continue to employ him in her fantasies.
The strange thing was that living vicariously through Melissa was a lot less interesting than it had been just ten minutes before. She was intrigued that Mr. Yum had sisters and family tensions, because that made him more real than the men in her books.
Of course, he was real.
Even more incredible, she and he had something in common. Weddings on the horizon, and moms knotted up with concern. But he was reading and the conversation was done, and Amy couldn’t think of a clever way to get it started again.
Rachel would have known exactly what to say, which was why she both loved and hated her cousin. In contrast, Amy would think of the perfect comment in about five hours or maybe in the middle of the night.
She checked her watch, realized she was due back upstairs, and packed her book away. He was so engrossed in his book that he didn’t even glance up as she did so, which proved all her predictions true.
That might have been the end of it, if Amy hadn’t dropped her book.
It slid out of the protective cover when she made a grab for it, as slippery as a fish, then landed face up, right on his shoe.
The cover image left no doubt of the contents.
Amy was sure she’d die of mortification.
But then he smiled.
Excerpt from Simply Irresistible ©2015 Deborah A. Cooke