Authors: Katrina Finn
The Male Order, Texas Collection
A Bride for Two Mavericks
It’s the height of the Roaring 1920s, and Audrey Rousseau is the queen of the fashionable Paris scene. But when her ghosts begin to haunt her, she flees France for the promise of the whole new world of Texas. Truly free from her past life, she is finally able to pursue her ultimate dream of complete creative freedom.
Audrey approaches the Abrams brothers looking for business partners but is unprepared when she finds much, much more. She’s never been able to handle one man, so how could she possible be a bride for two? Silas, the bold daredevil who flies his own plane and challenges her to car races, seems quite enough. But what about Max, the black clad architect who makes her heart—and body—burn with an unquenchable thirst for more? And what happens when the past she’s running from comes knocking on her doorstep?
Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys
A BRIDE FOR TWO MAVERICKS
The Male Order, Texas Collection
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting
A BRIDE FOR TWO MAVERICKS
Copyright © 2010 by Katrina Finn
E-book ISBN: 1-61034-048-5
First E-book Publication: October 2010
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The Male Order, Texas Collection
Copyright © 2010
The brilliant late summer sun beat down upon Audrey Rousseau as she drove down the wide boulevard of Dallas' main street. She couldn’t believe she was actually in Texas, a fabled land she had dreamed about many a time as a young girl in the orphanage. Yet this place didn’t match up with her picture books at all. The trim, modern roads and tall buildings contrasted dramatically with the images of the Alamo, of Davy Crocket, and the Wild West playing in her head. She knew Dallas was stylish, a new kind of city different than her Paris or even the wonderfully American chaos of Manhattan, but she couldn’t help but wonder how this could be before she arrived. And now here it was in all its glory, the new skyscrapers glittering in the hot sun like a beacon of hope. She had finally arrived.
Zipping from block to block in her luxurious Bugatti convertible, purchased with all those hours of hard work, Audrey already drew looks from passersby. She didn’t care. Despite all the troubles and heartache that had filled her since she departed New York nearly a month before, she loved every second of driving her car.
car. She still loved to say that aloud. Bought and paid for by funds generated by her most recent fashion show in New York, no one could take it away from her or tell her how to use it. If she wanted to drive to Texas by herself, no one could stop her. She couldn’t remember a time when she felt so free.
She slowed down on the next block as her destination came into view, Jacqueline’s Department Store. She had memorized the address after reading the feature story in
three months before about the visionaries behind the store, the Abrams brothers. She could still clearly recall the cover image attached. There, on the front, was the most glorious store she had ever seen. The front lobby dripped with an unparalleled stylish sophistication, on a level not even comparable in Paris. Standing beneath the enormous glass chandelier stood the brothers themselves, Max and Silas, the welcoming hosts to their newfound
Although the two men shared the closest blood relation possible, she couldn’t help but notice the striking difference in their appearances. Max, the older brother by four years, could almost be called a giant, with a size and a shape that spoke of hard manual labor and the hearty stock of a pioneer family. His hair shown jet black and flowed from beneath his wide-brimmed cowboy hat, long and skimming the lapel of his jacket. His dark eyes radiated a burning heat, even in that magazine photo.
Silas, the younger of the two, was certainly not a small man, but there was something different about him, almost aristocratic. He would have blended in at the grandest society parties in New York in his dapper suit and linen flat cap. His soulful blue eyes and fair hair gave him an innocence clearly absent in his older brother.
No one would ever think these two could be related unless you studied the finest details of their faces, the only place their relationship revealed itself. Only these Abramses shared the same strong brow and jaw, the same curve of a mouth with the slightest hint of a smirk, the identical prominent forehead and high cheekbones. These men were undoubtedly brothers if you really took the time to study them.
Audrey had cut the photos out of the fashion magazine and pasted them carefully to her vanity mirror. When teased by a friend in New York about the behavior, she was sharp and quick to respond.
“This is about business, pure and simple. These men are the future of fashion, and I must know everything there is to know about them.”
The statement wasn’t a lie, and she repeated her own words in her head in a hypnotic rhythm. This trip was about research, connections, realizing her dreams for a store all her own. She was overflowing with ideas after the wild journey through the American countryside with nothing more than her clothes, rifle and colored pencils to keep her company.
When she got a flat tire or was stuck in a ditch after a late summer rainstorm, she didn’t hesitate for a moment to stop and take the time to explore before she repaired the car herself. It was almost always a sign, leading her to see something amazing. She sketched the rolling peaks of the Smoky Mountains and the endless fields of cotton bursting white with blooms while she drove from town to town. Occasionally she’d stop in one city or another, taking in a civilized meal at one of the many moody jazz or blues clubs that seemed to haunt every corner of the south.
The steady stream of imagery from her long journey faded from her mind as she turned off the engine and took a deep breath. She pulled her compact from her glove box, allowing herself just a moment to powder her nose and carefully apply her signature shade of garnet red lipstick before stepping out of the car.
Perhaps she didn’t look as put together as when she left New York City the month before, but she still made for quite a sight as she passed through the revolving door onto the main floor of Jacqueline’s. She was thoroughly pleased by how comfortable she remained throughout her trip in the leisurewear she designed specifically for the adventure. She’d brought only the bare necessities, primarily consisting of a few skirts, wide legged pants, a smart jacket and pearls. She knew her outfits would cause quite a stir since wherever she traveled she always drew attention for her unique look. Honestly, however, she couldn’t have cared less. No one would ever question her femininity if they took a moment to meet her.
The inside of Jacqueline’s was even more elegant than the
photo spread. It felt more like a ballroom than a department store, with pristine marble floors, tall ceilings, modern art on the walls, and a pianist elegantly performing a Mozart sonata Audrey immediately recognized. The air inside the store was almost chilly, far cooler than the hot afternoon outside, yet she saw no fans anywhere. The clothes being sold were carefully organized and displayed behind gleaming glass cases and the smell of rich perfumes sold at a small counter at the front of the store made her feel like she was home.
In fact, the scent of the extravagant interior made her laugh, for the whole place smelled like
, the fragrance she had created just months before she left France for good. The perfectly balanced combination of rose, jasmine and violet filled her nose, and she couldn’t help but laugh to herself. Might she be recognized five thousand miles from home? Maybe not her face, but she was pleased to know the women of this foreign city seemed to approve of her already. They didn’t know it yet, but they were hers.
As she strolled the wide aisles of Jacqueline’s, small groups of women gathered and tried their hardest not to stare at her. Although the ladies she examined were dressed carefully and stylishly, she was glad to note that a lot of work could be done to make comfort and fashion synonymous in this fresh, young city.
* * * *
The buzzer went off in the conference room at possibly the most inopportune moment possible. Silas’ heart pounded as Mr. Michaelovitch, Aleksandr as he insisted on being called, drew up contracts for Max and Silas to examine. All that stood between the Abrams brothers and a visible path to massive European success were two signatures accompanied by two firm handshakes.
“What is it, Mason?” Max asked, visibly annoyed.
“Mr. Abrams, sir, I have an urgent message for you,” the voice replied over the intercom.
“Did I or did I not tell you that we were not to be disturbed?”
“My sincerest apologies, sir. I wouldn’t have interrupted if it weren’t terribly pressing.”
“I’ll handle it,” Silas responded, giving his older brother a knowing look.
Calm down, Max. Don’t let your temper flare today, for Christ’s sake.
Max leaned back in his chair at the conference table and took a deep breath. Silas eased out of his seat and laid his hand on his brother’s thick shoulder.
“I’ll be right back. Look over everything, and I will be glad to sign the moment I've had the chance to look things over more carefully.”
Silas felt relieved to step into the hallway and escape the tension in the boardroom, a weighty feeling managing to send his stomach into somersaults since the moment he met Michaelovitch. There was something about the Russian he didn’t like, but the man wasn’t a friend. This was all business, business promising to make their store the top international destination for high fashion.
The money promised to be huge if the deal went through in a timely fashion, but it wasn’t about that for Silas. Bringing Jacqueline’s to the women of the world was about a new vision for the twentieth century. He knew everything was changing rapidly and couldn’t imagine how different things would be in twenty or thirty years. Hell, he owned his own plane, could travel wherever he pleased in just a few short hours. Would that be true of everyone by the time he was an old man?
“Silas?” Mason said, snapping him out of his haze. He refocused his eyes on his right-hand man and close personal confidante, a man he and Max had known and trusted throughout their lives.
“Sorry, Mason. I have a lot on my mind. So what is so urgent to have pulled me out of the meeting with Michaelovitch? You know how terribly important today is.”
“I’ve heard report that Audrey Rousseau is in the store and making quite a buzz among the clients.”
“That’s impossible, Mason. She wouldn’t step foot in America, much less Dallas. She’s the queen bee of the Parisian fashion elite these days, you must know that. Last I heard she was opening a store next to the Ritz Hotel.”
“Respectfully, sir, it seems you haven’t been paying attention to the news. No one has seen her for a month, not since she disappeared from New York in her car without saying a word to anyone about it.”
“She drove here? Alone?”
“Yes, yes she did.”
“My goodness. Where is she?”
Mason quietly pointed towards the giant windows behind Silas looking six floors down to Main Street. Silas immediately spotted a woman getting into a fancy sports car. He rapidly crossed to the glass across the room to take a closer look, and despite his distance from the street, he could clearly make out her attire. Grey wide-legged pants and a black, form-fitting jacket belted at the waist clung gracefully to her delicate frame. Her hair was cut just beneath her chin and she wore a tiny cloche hat upon her head. Her lips blazed with a fiery shade, and she wore huge sunglasses and seemingly endless strands of pearls around her neck.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was taking the stairs two at a time, desperate to catch her before she disappeared. No use in waiting for the elevator—this was far too important. He ran through the lobby, barely avoiding running into some of his most regular customers.
Murmuring half-hearted apologies to everyone he nearly toppled, he bolted through the revolving doors just in time to see the dust Audrey’s convertible left behind as she pulled away down Main Street.