With his phone clutched to his ear, he listened to his sister drone on about Riley Grant, her favorite romance author. He had been too kind, offering to pick up a signed copy from the author herself. His sister Rosie didn’t live in New York City and so she had called her older brother and begged for him to stop by the small local independent bookstore during the signing.
“What’s the name of the place again?” Martin asked, half paying attention to Rosie and also having his mind wander; it had been a trying day.
“Wonderland Emporium,” Rosie said, sighing. “Can’t you write it down or something, Marty? It shouldn’t be that hard to remember. All the tech stuff you do for work, and you can’t handle a pen and paper?” She sounded frustrated and Martin ran a hand through his unkempt sandy brown hair trying not to hang up on Rosie. Sometimes he wanted to, and he couldn’t explain his frustration other than she was his little sister and annoyed him to no end. Here he was, doing her a favor and she was giving him crap. Typical of his sister really.
“Sorry, it’s just been a bad day. I spent my morning with Tom Blackwood, trying to work out the logistics of a potential deal for the business.” He didn’t further elaborate on the specifics knowing it would bore Rosie, she hadn’t been interested in his business, she was every bit a country girl.
“And by the sounds of it, the meeting didn’t go so well,” Rosie said. She always had the ability to read him.
He scoffed under his breath. “Understatement of the century.” Martin stared ahead at the pavement, the throngs of people in New York City was overwhelming at times. He missed the easy life of living on the ranch, tending to the horses, the quiet outdoors and no one insight for miles. His job in the big city was high stress but even higher pay. He’d done well for himself and wasn’t too keen on giving it up, even if he envied his sister’s layback attitude and lifestyle. He wasn’t ready to put it all behind him or return to Montana anytime soon. There was too much pain back at his family’s ranch.
“Try me,” Rosie said, offering a sympathetic ear or maybe she was just waiting for Martin to find the bookstore and purchase her a copy, autographed by the author.
Martin crossed the street, barely paying attention to traffic. In a daze he followed the other pedestrians, answering his sister. “Tom thinks I’m too much of a playboy for the board to accept the deal and the merger to take place. He doesn’t want my name in the tabloids, complained that I’m not a family man, nor will I ever be.” He could still hear the gruff words by the bald man echo in his mind. A part of him had felt angry and resentment at Tom’s words. Martin could get any girl he wanted, he’d certainly done that repeatedly, bedding practically half of the women over eighteen and under thirty in New York City. His good looks helped and along with his suave personality and handsome bank account, he could get anyone he wanted. The problem was, he didn’t have an interest in marriage. He’d never had an interest in settling down. The women he’d slept with were all interested in being eye candy on his arm, stealing the spotlight at every opportunity, especially the models he’d dated, which lasted all of three weeks. It was easier to sleep with a girl and then find a new one the next night.
“You need a fake fiancé,” Rosie said, her voice chirping with enthusiasm.
Martin paused, his footsteps coming to a halt as he glanced at the mirrored reflection in the glass beside him, the tall building not a bookstore and as he tried to recall the address, he knew he’d gone too far. “Shit,” he muttered under his breath.
“What? It’s not that bad of an idea,” Rosie said. “It’s not like I’m suggesting you marry the next girl you see.”
It wasn’t her words that caused him to curse, it had been the fact he hadn’t been paying attention to where he had wandered or how far he’d gone. Crossing the street again, he breathed a sigh of relief, finding the quaint little bookstore as he backtracked his steps.
Rosie’s words long forgotten as silence enveloped the conversation. “I have to go, I found the bookstore,” Martin said, hanging up the call before his sister could impart any more knowledge or wisdom on him. She was his little sister, she wasn’t supposed to be dishing out advice to him, it should have been the other way around. Grabbing the door handle, a small set of bells jingled on the inside as he opened the door.
Behind him a young woman followed, her golden blonde hair halfway down her back. She looked familiar, in a way that tugged at his heart and as he glanced down toward the dip in her shirt revealing a glimpse of her breasts, he felt his cock harden.
He almost always remembered the women he slept with. His stomach roiled trying to mentally sort through his catalog of conquests. Having her name would help. “Have we met before?” Martin asked, his hand brushing hers as he shut the door. There was a part of him that felt nervous, excited, in a way he hadn’t experienced in quite a long time. He couldn’t fathom what was different in the moment, but she stared back at him with her green eyes sparkling from the light shining in through the windows.
He barely paid attention to the clerk behind the counter that had politely welcomed them into the store. The shop was small, tight in fact, if you considered his bathroom at home was larger. Then again, Martin owned the penthouse suite of a building overlooking Time’s Square. He had the entire floor, which granted him extra security and privacy. It was just one of his many properties, the luxury of being wealthy.
A few feet away sat an empty and lonely table, with a stack of books to be signed, but no author in sight. What was her name again? Already he’d forgotten it, not having ever read a single romance novel in his lifetime. Had she left for the day? The shop certainly wasn’t crowded. It was the three of them, Martin, the mysterious girl behind him, and the gentleman at the counter.
“I doubt it,” the young woman said. “I’m not from New York.”
“Me either. Well, not originally,” Martin said. The few words exchanged, and he could hear the slight drawl of her accent. He’d missed the western dialect, as he’d grown more accustomed to New Yorkers and how they spoke, living amongst them.
“Where are you from?” she asked.
Glancing her fully over he smiled at the blue cowboy boots with silver rhinestones glittering under the overhead lights. Without a doubt he felt like he knew her, recognized her, but couldn’t place it. “I grew up in a small town in Montana.”
Her brow furrowed and she laughed. “Me too. Ravenwood.” Her eyes widened as she seemed to recognize Martin, but he still couldn’t place her. “Oh my! We went to high school together, didn’t we? I think you were a year older, but we had one class together.”
Martin tried to remember what class they shared but he came up blank. All he could recall was her striking beauty. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. I’m Martin Taylor.”
“I know,” she grinned. She held out her hand, shaking his in the process. “Samantha Bellamy.”
“No way.” He recognized that name, he knew a Samantha from high school, they’d even sat together during lunch in the cafeteria along with a hundred other students. She had changed, a lot. She’d been flat as a brick and had no curves whatsoever. He wouldn’t have wanted to call her the ugly duck in high school but well, she developed rather late, probably in her near college years after they had lost touch.
“How’s your sister, Rosie?” Samantha asked. “I haven’t talked with her in years.” Her eyes crinkled slightly.
“She’s good. Whatever happened between the two of you?” Martin asked. They had been best friends until one day Rosie swore she would never speak to Samantha again. He’d asked his sister about it years ago, but she wouldn’t say.
Samantha shrugged, not giving so much as a hint of what had transpired between the two of them either. Whatever it was, it must have been terrible.
“I can’t really say. It’s been so long. Does she live in the city too?”
A part of him wished that his sister lived in the city, then he’d be able to see her more often than a few times a year. At least he felt like he would, realistically with his work schedule and his busy nightlife of socializing with models and hot young single women, he’d probably never see Rosie.
“She’s back at home in Ravenwood. She actually lives on the old farm my parents owned. When they passed, she couldn’t see to sell it and I certainly didn’t need the money.” He grimaced realizing he’d said too much. He didn’t want to brag or flaunt his earnings. He’d done well for himself and though he was proud of such accomplishments, he didn’t need to have her interest in him – even as friends – be solely based on finances. He hated how the people he thought were his friends resurfaced when he’d become well known, begging for money, asking him to invest in their project or wild idea.
“I’m sorry about your parents,” Samantha said, her hand soft and delicate, grazing his arm and resting firmly on him as a show of support.
“Thank you,” Martin said, exhaling a soft sigh. He hated to break up this reminiscing session, but he had stopped at the bookstore for Rosie. “I guess she’s a no-show.”
“What’s that?” Samantha asked.
“Riley Grant. I’m supposed to pick up a copy for Rosie of her latest book. She’s a huge fan, reads every romance that’s ever been written by Riley Grant. Looks like she’s a no-show though. It’s just you, me, and the store clerk.”
Samantha’s cheeks reddened. Martin had forgotten how her creamy complexion had always flamed quite easily, especially with the dusting of freckles across her cheeks and nose. Martin couldn’t help but wonder if the freckles cascaded down her neck and across her breasts. She was the only woman that he would consider off-limits. She knew too much about him to be interested in him. He could get any girl he wanted and well, while his dick definitely wanted her, he couldn’t do that – he wouldn’t.
“I’m Riley Grant,” Samantha said, her eyes glancing down at the floor.
Was she embarrassed?
“No way.” He couldn’t believe it. “Rosie’s favorite author is her childhood best friend. You have to be kidding me.” It seemed surreal, to see her again, to hear how successful and accomplished she had become, Martin was happy for her. He stalked toward the signing table, waiting for her to come around the other side. “Then, I suppose I need two copies. One for Rosie and one for myself. I don’t usually read romance novels, let alone buy them, but if you wrote it, I’m going to have to read it.”
“Don’t!” Samantha blurted loudly, her eyes wide like a doe as she reached for the pen lying on the table. “I mean, I’ll sign one for Rosie, but you wouldn’t care for it, Martin. It’s romance.”
He couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed or honestly believed he wouldn’t like her book. It only made him more determined to read her writing. “I’m sure I will love it.”
Was that a hint of sarcasm he heard? “I believe it is,” Martin said, not letting her get away with being snarky toward him.
“How would you like it signed?” Samantha asked, holding the dark purple gel pen in her hand.
“With your name and phone number inside the book to me. The one to Rosie, you can sign it personally to her.”
Smiling, she stared down at the pages of the book, writing a note, one to each of them. “Don’t read yours until you get home,” Samantha said, her tone insistent though he couldn’t fathom why. He had seen her scribble a few digits and knew that at least he had won her number. Not that he couldn’t have dug it up if he had to.
He sensed her hesitation. “I promise I’ll wait until I get home, but that could be awhile.”
“Why’s that?” Samantha asked.
Martin glanced at his watch, it was nearing dinner and he knew she had to be done soon with the signing. Besides, the bookshop was pretty vacant. He doubted she’d be missed by anyone else. “I was hoping you’d accompany me to dinner this evening.”
Samantha stared at him, her expression unreadable. He had no idea if he’d offended her or flattered her. “How do you know I don’t already have plans or a husband for that matter?”
He laughed under his breath. “No ring,” he said gesturing toward her hand, “and you already wrote your number in my book, which I now have to purchase. Besides, who said anything about this being a date?” He turned the tables on her, wanting to gage her reaction.
Her eyes shined, smiling behind her facade. What was she hiding from him?
“All right Mr. Playboy of the month.” She reached for her bottle of water on the table, opening the lid to take a swig.
“I didn’t take you for a pornography reader,” Martin said, surprised she knew of his wild and carefree lifestyle, and yet she still gave him her number. That didn’t seem like the Samantha he knew growing up. Had she changed as much as he had?
She gasped, spitting and spilling the liquid from her mouth rather ungracefully onto Martin’s face and dress shirt. She soaked him good. “Oh my gosh! I am so humiliated. I’m sorry. I meant the tabloids on the street corner. Not the other thing, I don’t read that, just kill me now.” She stammered and stuttered trying to explain what she had meant. She came around from the table, coming to stand in front of him. “I am so sorry. Let me go in the bathroom and grab some paper towels.”
“That’s not necessary.” He knew the old Samantha and if she was anything like her younger self, she was trying to get away from him. He wasn’t going to let her escape. Watching her embarrassment was far too enjoyable.
He wiped at the liquid dripping from his nose, swiping his hand across his wet face. The cold blast of water dripped down his shirt too, feeling rather awkward and uncomfortable but it was worth it, especially to see Samantha’s face scarlet and her stumbling over her own words. She was beautiful but to see her so caught off guard, uninhabited and carefree was a delight. As long as he’d known her, she had always been so calculated, organized, and in control. He wanted to change that, but would she be willing to let him take the lead as her Dom? He didn’t just want to be her Dom, he wanted to be her Daddy, to love and take care of her.
Martin reached into his pocket, retrieving a handkerchief to wipe the dampness from his face and clothes as best he could. “Now you have to come to dinner with me,” he said, insisting she accompany him. He wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“You still want my company? You must be a glutton for pain.” Samantha glanced at the clock on the wall. “I’m supposed to be here another fifteen minutes, but we could probably leave. Let me talk with the shop owner and then I can pack up and head out.”
He could wait fifteen minutes. He’d waited years to have dinner with her. After all this time, she was worth waiting for. “You finish your signing. I’ll grab a coffee and pick you up at six o’clock.” Martin didn’t want to interfere with her work. Although the bookshop had been quiet when he’d arrived, he had hoped for her sake, there had been significantly more traffic earlier in the day.
“That doesn’t give me any time to freshen up or stop by my hotel,” Samantha said.
Maybe he should have been the perfect gentleman and given her time to prepare for their evening together, but he wanted to steal every minute with her, it had been too long already. Besides, there was a small chance she’d back out and he didn’t want to take that risk. He wasn’t one for the chase, girls flocked to him.
“Where are you staying?” Martin asked.
Samantha paused for a moment, trying to remember the name of the place. “It’s a Hilton property, I uh, I can’t remember. It’s in my phone.” She held up her device.
What Martin really wanted to know was if it was in walking distance or they needed to hire a car service. “How about we stop at my place before dinner. You can use the bathroom; freshen up, whatever you need. I can drop off the books you signed.” Martin’s place was at least only a few blocks away. Besides, he wanted to impress her with his home, one of many. Most girls he took to the penthouse, it was in a frenzy, undressing them in the elevator on the way upstairs. His pulse raced imagining his fingers sliding down the zipper on her back, her dark red dress sliding down her curves, her breasts exposed, no bra or panties underneath. His cock twitched in his trousers as he imagined unclothing her.
“Sure. I don’t have much to take with me, just a few boxes of books.” She grinned and scrunched her nose. “Kidding.”
“Are you sure? I can carry them back to my place. Actually,” he paused and hemmed it over. “I could call Gary my assistant and have him bring your books and belongings back to my place.”
“Belongings?” Samantha repeated, her eyes wide.
Martin smiled and laughed at the hesitation that crossed her face. Her pure innocence was endearing. “From the bookstore. What did you think I meant?” Teasing her was at the top of his list of favorite things today. It sure as hell made his day a thousand times better.
“Oh nothing.” That look she had earlier when she had been humiliated had resurfaced. She glanced down at the ground, gnawing on her bottom lip.
Was she nervous? Shy? It was a side he wasn’t used to seeing with women that he dated. “Tell me what you’re thinking, Sam.” He grabbed her arm, his hand forceful yet caring as he held her to him, demanding to know what secret she hid.
“It’s just…” her eyes shut, and her cheeks reddened. Did she struggle to look at him? “I thought you may have been suggesting I bring my belongings from my hotel back to your place, to stay with you. It was stupid and ridiculous to even consider such a ludicrous idea. My writer mind just wanders sometimes, a hazard of the job.”
Martin stepped closer, wanting to know every detail that she had been conjuring up in her mind. “Tell me what you’re thinking,” he commanded. “Every dirty detail.” He understood what she meant, she was a romance writer and sometimes it was hard to separate filth and fantasy from what stood in front of her. At least that’s what he assumed she meant because then she was fantasizing about him.
Samantha swallowed the lump in her throat. She did everything she could to avoid his stare. His grip on her arm tightened and he hadn’t let go of her yet. “There’s no getting out of this.” She said it more to herself than to him, but he seemed to hear her.
“Tell me, Samantha.”
His words were soft and warm like honey that flowed from him into the depth of her soul. She never had the nerve to tell him she had the biggest crush on him in high school. He was older and quite frankly unattainable. At least Rosie had made sure of that when they were teenagers, threatening to end their friendship and eventually doing so when Samantha had shown an interest in Martin.
It no longer mattered what Rosie wanted for her brother. Samantha was in charge, at least she thought she was but staring up into Martin’s pale blue gaze, it seemed like he was the one commanding her, telling her what to do.
She was transfixed under his spell and a part of her was terrified what it meant. She pushed her fears aside, licking her suddenly dry lips. Was it obvious her tongue had slipped out, darting over her red lips and probably made a mess of the lipstick she had on? Stalling was something she was good at. She’d done that with her first marriage to Barry, avoiding talking to him, mostly because he had wanted to fight at every opportunity that existed. Then there was Jackson Clark who had been married, but he had been in an open marriage. Which meant it wasn’t cheating per se, but she still felt icky when thinking about the entire situation. What a mess, she really knew how to pick them. Martin though, she didn’t see anything wrong with him, except maybe he was too good for her. She didn’t deserve him. She’d make a mess of their relationship, if there ever was one. Besides, he was popular, a little too popular for her. She didn’t stand a chance with him, not for the long run.
“Samantha,” Martin’s voice was stern and he reached around, his hand coming to land on her lower back. She wanted it to inch lower, craved his hand to fall haphazardly on her bottom, the hem of her burgundy dress was short, well above her knees. She imagined his fingers finding the hem of her skirt, his thumb brushing her delicate skin, grazing her flesh as he inched his way ever so carefully to her bare bottom. Did he realize how close he was to her skin, to touching her body when the heat radiated from between her thighs, buzzing like the hiss of lightning in a storm? Her body craved the touch of a man, and not just any man but him. She’d fantasized about him in high school and even years after when she had been alone or miserable with Barry.
The small room of the bookshop sweltered or maybe it had been her that had been hot. Her cheeks felt heated. “What’s that?” she stammered trying to play it cool and avoid his question from earlier. She was failing miserably. Samantha did not like revealing her fantasies, let alone the mere thought of him reading her writing was entirely too personal. It was one thing for the book to be on a shelf, to not know the individual reading the words, her words, on the page, but the secretive fact that she had written many of the sex scenes imagining Martin as the lead in her book, it was a secret she planned to take to her grave.
“You were talking about your writer job and I could only surmise that you were having some type of erotic fantasy about me. Am I wrong?” Martin got right to the point.
Damn him for being so direct. She wanted to lie, to change the subject again, to do anything but answer him.
His hand came up to her cheek, his thumb lifted her gaze to meet his, demanding an answer.
“You will answer me, Samantha.”
Right then and there, her panties were drenched. It didn’t take a fantasy to feel her heart flutter with anxiety. She swallowed nervously. Her tongue darted out, licking her dry lips, again. Damn it. She found it hard not to look away, but his firm grasp on her chin, made it impossible unless she closed her eyes and well, she did care a bit about how ridiculous she would look. She wasn’t a child. She stared at him, a beat, unwavering.
“Samantha.” His tone meant he was strictly business and yet their conversation was anything but that.
How could she get out of his line of questioning? “Are you sure you’re not secretly an attorney?” Samantha said, half-joking with him.
“You’re avoiding the question.”
He had a way with being in charge, always had. Probably it was one of the reasons she had been attracted to him, his domineering personality when they were younger. Without a father figure in her life, she needed stability and discipline. Her mother had been drunk too many nights or gone with men the other times she wasn’t passed out. Martin had an air of stability that she had craved, but never been afforded the luxury to have, until perhaps, now.
“I plead the fifth,” Samantha whispered, staring up at him. She cracked a smile, trying to ease the tension she felt and though it may have been entirely sexual, she could not believe he was interested in her. She had to be reading into the signs, the offer to take her to dinner, the suggestion they stop at his place on the way. He may have asked for her phone number, but they had been old friends, sort of. She’d mostly been friends with his sister, but she had wanted him for longer than she could imagine. It didn’t seem real or possible. Besides it hadn’t been a secret that he was a playboy, sleeping with any girl he could get.
No, she wouldn’t let him bed her and leave her like every other young woman in New York City. She was a country girl at heart and wouldn’t just lie down and let him have her, even if she wanted him. Damn her senses!
He leaned in, brushing a strand of blonde hair from out of her eyes and behind her ear. Martin leaned closer, his breath tickling her ear as his lips caressed her lobe. His voice was soft and heavenly, sending her knees weak and her insides craving him even more. “Tell me you want to fuck me, and we can skip dinner entirely and go straight home for the main course.”
She wanted him, every inch of him, and he knew it. The smug bastard, knowing he could get any woman he wanted. So, this was how he did it, managing to bed every girl in town. He was smooth but Samantha wanted more than just a fling. This was Martin, she couldn’t just fuck him and leave town. No, it would break her heart, every inch of it. Her heart had always belonged to him and even as she tried to deny herself her desire, she leaned closer, her body touching his, her breasts pressed up against his chest. She had spent too many nights alone to count. She’d missed the warmth of a body beside her in bed, the weight of a man above her, his hands caressing her bare skin. Her heart warned her this was a bad idea, but her body betrayed her in the worst way possible. Samantha leaned in, capturing his lips, needing a forbidden taste as her fingers tangled in the nape of his neck.