What came first? The princess or the shoes? And does it really matter?
My name is Margaux Asher. Don’t be afraid to ask how it’s spelled though I may enlighten you, anyway. Yes, I’m that Margaux Asher. The attitude icon. The bitch in the latest heels. The princess of the PR game. Just don’t bring up the queen. Mommie and I aren’t on comfortable terms. Last winter, I learned a secret that Andrea Asher has hidden from me since my birth–by another woman. And my real father? Josiah Stone, one of the world’s richest men. Dream come true, right? There’s a lot of baggage attached to that answer. And now, Michael Pearson wants to help me open it.
Michael. My six-foot-three, golden god of a dilemma. He’s patient, indulgent–anddon’t get me started on his passion–but he wants too much. He wants all the secrets. What would he say if he knew my birthright was only the start of my life’s mess? What would he do if he learns…I’m no perfect princess? Someday, my princess will come… The apple never falls far from the tree? Depends on who you ask. I’m Michael Pearson. Son of an apple farmer. First family member to graduate college, move to the big city, and work for one of the most prestigious PR firms in the country. I’m the success, the star– And the sap who’s fallen for the boss’s daughter. So technically, Margaux isn’t Andrea’s daughter anymore. Doesn’t matter to the rest of the company–and the world–who vilify her as they always have. But where they see a she-snake, I see a terrified girl in the woods, yearning for a place where she’s accepted, loved. Every time I volunteer my arms to be that place, she ducks deeper into her shell, pushing me away with more fear and anger. Her facade thickens every day, making me more determined to learn what magic kiss will set her free, so she can finally see the truth…
I don’t want her to be perfect. I just want her to be mine.
“See anything you like?”
Oh, that had to have sounded as ludicrous as it felt.
“I see a whole lot of things I like.”
Thank God Claire had forced me to watch a few rom coms lately. Borrowing another “sexy” move from Reese, Jennifer, or Cameron—don’t think I even remembered which one—I slid my hand up the molding of the door frame. Well. Guess they called this one a classic for a reason. It actually felt a little sexy—and helped stabilize the spinning of the room, which intensified with every heated sweep of Michael’s stare up and down my body.
“Then I’m all yours,” I told him. “And I want to make every single second count.”
He raised a finger. “I’ll second every word of…that.”
The last of it was nothing but a strangle from him, as I turned and pressed my back to the jamb. The move forced my breasts and hips out in a pose that dropped his jaw—then brought him sprinting close. Closer. Ohhhh, yes.That was it…
He pressed in, hovering just inches away, staring down with those fantastic eyes of his. When his nostrils flared and his lips parted, the demon turned all man again. All desire. All need and hunger and desire he couldn’t restrain any longer. Thank God. Thank God. Finally. Finally.
He pressed in more. Our hips formed to each other. The heat beneath his underwear pressed into the wetness beneath mine. He curved one hand to my waist. Raised the other to the jamb over my head. Leaned in. Kissed me. Again. Ohhh, again.
He began softly, flicking in only the tip of his tongue, rocking gently against me. Pulled back, just out of reach, when I reached for him. Let out the devil’s own chuckle. “So impatient, little one.”
“Impatient?” I shot both brows up. “Who you working that line on, mister? I’ve waited six damn months. I should be suing you for torture.”
His eyes glittered—right before he surged back in again, with one word spilling off his lips in a growl. “Torture.”
No more teasing. Forget about gentle. He slammed our mouths together, opening me up, filling me. It was invasion more than kiss, mind-bending with passion and force. Skyrockets. C-4. Implosions in my blood—and beyond. Every stupid, silly, romantic classifier that I’d ever made fun of now lined up to bite me in the ass. Kind of hilarious, since even my ass trembled. I had no idea how my knees didn’t buckle.
Ohhhh Christ, could this man kiss.
But I still needed more. If he was simply using this as the precursor for more “making out” and dry humping, he’d have a full riot on his hands, proudly sponsored by my libido. One flick of my hand and the man would be naked, anyway—but no, too easy, too simple. I wanted to unspool him. Unglue him as thoroughly as he pried off all my moorings. Make him feel every pounding, exploding, hot, horny degree of desire tormenting the River Styx now doubling as my bloodstream…
I moaned softly into his mouth as our tongues continued to duel. He was winning, but only because I let him. And yes, dammit, I loved letting him. I never—never—let a man take the lead on this end of things. As if any of them knew what the hell they were doing, anyway.
But Michael Adam Pearson…
Was different. So beautifully, magnificently different.
And God, so arrogant. But self-aware of it. And so openly, brazenly sexy about his promise to deliver on that arrogance. Yeah, his golden gaze declared, you’re going to sample my sinful side tonight, sugar—and you’re going to fucking love it.
It was a bold promise, and not many had fulfilled it with me. But hell, I wanted to let him try. Craved a thorough, brutal unraveling at his magical hands. Needed him to solve my puzzle, piece by complicated piece…
He was off to an amazing start. His lips traveled across my jaw, under my ear then against it, suffusing me with the heat of his heavy breaths, his open-mouthed kisses.
“You want me to do filthy things to you tonight, don’t you?” he snarled at a volume meant only for me…and my throbbing body. “You want me to take this cock out, fit it into your aching pussy then ram it over and over until it hurts? Tell me, Margaux. Yes or no. Now.”
“Y-yes. Oh hell—yes!” I gasped for air, rocking my head back. Wow. Wow. I’d always known the guy had a wicked side to him, but this was—good. So damn good. Beyond anything I’d dared to dream.
He scraped his teeth along my jaw again, marking my skin with his stubble as he pulled my head to the other side, clearing my other ear for his dirty, delicious words. “I was holding back, thinking a woman like you needed to be handled like fine china…but you’re the china that likes to be shattered, aren’t you? Splintered into a thousand tiny pieces…then ground up again, until you dissolve into dust.”
I nodded, but realized that wouldn’t be good enough. Swallowing to get enough air into my throat, I rasped, “Yes. Break me. Hard. Hard.” I’d waited so long to hear these words—from him. Had damn near given up that I ever would.
Good things come to those who wait. And learn to live with a lover named Hitachi. And take a lot of freezing showers. For six goddamn months.
No more waiting. This was happening. My head whirled with desire. My body sizzled with awareness. I couldn’t wait for his next words…the next naughty thing my ears could translate straight to my clit, now grinding against his thigh in open, wanton need.
“I want you on my bed, Margaux.”
“Yeah,” I rasped. “Bed. Good…idea.”
“Go there now.” Incredibly, his voice dove deeper with command. “In the center. On your knees. Waiting for me.” He rocked back, scouring his gaze over every inch of me, rubbing his forefingers against his thumbs as if warming his fingers for what he wanted to do to me next. “And keep those shoes on. They’re fucking hot.”
At first, I didn’t move. Process. Process. Did he really just say…?
I lifted my head to meet his stare. He’d just questioned if I was an apparition from a dream but now I wondered ifhe’d invaded mine—especially since I cocked a glare of open sass, expecting to back him down with it, only to make his eyes narrow and his stance stiffen.
“What are you waiting for? Do it.”
Forget the Jell-O knees. Everything south of my navel turned to soup. I attempted recovery by tossing my head and pushing a finger into the middle of his chest. God, how I wanted to just slide it down, between the twin ladders of his abs, following that incredible V of muscle…
“Fine, fine. Just don’t expect me to call you ‘Sir’ and all that shit.”
His laugh was warm and full. “Not a chance, sugar. I don’t do all that shit, either. But putting you in your place every now and then will be my thorough pleasure. And yours.”
Behind every good man…is the love of an even better woman.
Those were just pretty words before I met Claire Montgomery. Before my fairy queen burst into my life, I didn’t recognize the bastard in my morning mirror—but her love has given me the strength to face the imposter, even embrace him. My tower in the clouds is no longer a sentence of isolation; it’s a jumping point to the stars. With Claire at my side, I’m the king I always wanted to be, the Killian Stone I always dreamed of becoming.
Which means for once, I want the mask guarding my secret to stay right where it is.
If you want the grown-up fairy tale…learn to love the dark side.
Profound sentiment. Wish I could get on board with it but the prince in pinstripes has other ideas. Life has been a dream since Killian burst into the ball offering the perfect fit—his heart and mine, not the shoes, the car or the jewelry—but the treasures have become his armor, hiding the man I yearn to know. I refuse to open his little velvet box until he opens himself, letting me see even the dark hallways of his soul…
Until he lifts all his masks for me.
Master of the masquerade…
Fate has always bowed to my bidding. I should have known it was just picking its time to exact the best revenge, to reveal the secrets that will destroy everything. Without my disguise, am I still the man Claire fell in love with…or another penniless prince vying for an unattainable dream?
Mistress of his ruin?
He always told me to be careful what I wish for. By demanding his truth, have I not only demolished the dream we had…but the man I’ve loved more than any other?
“Once upon a time, there was a girl who dressed up and went to a big party at the palace. When she was there, she met a prince. They danced and fell in love…”
Damn good line. Too bad I don’t believe a word of it anymore.
My name is Claire Montgomery…and I’m not a princess. I’m a fighter. I worked hard to earn my place on the emergency image repair team for one of the biggest public relations companies in the country. We’ve been called to the renowned Chicago headquarters of Stone Global Corporation, where it’s our job to clean up a heap of the Stone family’s filthiest laundry. Our success will be the biggest victory of my career. I’m on my game. I’m ready.
Why doesn’t “ready” include a contingency plan for Killian Stone?
My name is Killian Stone…and they call me the “Enigma of Magnificent Mile.” That’s just the way I like it. Elite tycoons want into my bank account. Their wives and daughters want into my pants. They’ll all do anything for a piece of the enigma—until a crack in the castle is too huge for anyone to ignore. What they all don’t know is that I’m thrilled about the fissure. Their fascination with the scandal means nobody will look at the bigger secret of the Stone family. I’m safe.
Until Claire Montgomery walks through my doors.
Her honesty, her bravery, her humor…they pull me in, a prism against the gray walls of my tower. I’m captivated. For the very first time, I long to shed the enigma. To share my secret. But what the hell will that get me? Even if she fits the slipper I offer…I’m no Prince Charming.
Angel Payne: Hi there. I’m Angel: book lover, writing addict, hopeless romantic, pop culture geek and avid shoe lover. **I have a monthly newsletter now! Sign up for it right here: http://eepurl.com/LoNkz. It’s a cool way to get exclusive info, talk hot heroes, learn about new items in the Angel Payne store, talk hot heroes, further the pie or cake debate…and oh yeah, did I mention talking hot heroes? A bit about me… I’ve been hooked on books since I was a kid but it got worse in my twenties, when I discovered romances–the hotter, the better. Growing up in Southern California, with lots of surfer manliness surrounded me, was certainly a good boost for reading about delicious alpha guys and the women who adore them. When I learned I had a knack for telling these stories too, I guess you could say I was doomed–though my path toward romance novelist took a few detours via a concert-reviewing gig for my college newspaper (free show tickets…backstage passes…that was a no-brainer), artist interviews for a Beverly Hills dance music mag, personal assistant work for a record producer, dance club disc jockey, and a lot of fun in the hospitality industry. These days, I still live in California, and have found an amazing alpha guy of my own who was brave enough to marry me. We live on a street that looks like Brigadoon, with our beautiful daughter. I have the best life ever, and never forget to thank the Big Guy Upstairs for it, either.
Victoria Blue: Victoria Blue lives in her own portion of the galaxy known as Southern California. There she finds the love and life sustaining power of one amazing sun, two unique and awe inspiring planets and three indifferent, yet comforting moons. Life is fantastic and challenging and everyday brings new adventures to be discovered. She looks forward to seeing what’s next!