Authors: Melody Anne
One in the Forbidden Series
Copyright © 2014 Melody Anne
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously
, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Printed and published in the United States of America.
Published by Gossamer Publishing Company
Editing by Nicole and Alison
This book is dedicated to my friend Mary, who is always eager and excited to be my first beta reader, and who has such a love of romance and knows my characters better than I do.
This summer has been so wonderful. I’ve enjoyed my writing while out on the deck and in my motor home while on trips with family and friends. I love my job and love that you love my books, so I can continue doing it. I’ve engaged in many fun activities this summer and have been writing things down about everything. I always tell everyone nothing is safe with me. It WILL end up in a book.
Thanks, of course, to all of you who make it possible for me to do what I do! I love my fans, my friends, my family, and those who feel like family. Thank you to the members of my amazing team, who make it possible for me to write while they take care of business: Eddie, Adam and Jeff, and my cook, Sam, whom I can’t live without! You all know how much I love my girls, who sit down with me for hours, helping me come up with scenes, the steamier the better, and who inspire me to write romance: my daughter, Phoenix, and Kathiey, Krisi, Nikki, Steph, Mary, and my sister Patsy. Thanks to Mike, who inspires me by how much he loves his family, and by what a loyal and honest friend he has become to me. Thanks to Dennis and Chris for help with matters of aviation, and to Chris for the scenes he doesn’t know about — the scene in which we learn that Tyler once received an electric shock while messing with wires and the scene involving his broken finger are both based on things that happened to Chris. If it’s any consolation to him, his pain has given me great writing material. Ah, nothing like tough guys! Thanks to my husband, who rarely sees me because I am working so much, and to my friends, who drag me from the house to make sure I have fun. Ah, and I am eternally grateful to country music, where there’s a story in every song. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the year.
*The Billionaire Wins the Game
*The Billionaire’s Dance
*The Billionaire Falls
*The Billionaire’s Marriage Proposal
*Blackmailing the Billionaire
*The Billionaire’s Final Stand
*Holiday Treasure –
BABY FOR THE BILLIONAIRE
+The Tycoon’s Revenge
+The Tycoon’s Vacation
+The Tycoon’s Proposal
+The Tycoon’s Secret
+The Lost Tycoon
RISE OF THE DARK ANGEL
-Midnight Fire – Rise of the Dark Angel – Book One
-Midnight Moon – Rise of the Dark Angel – Book Two
-Midnight Storm – Rise of the Dark Angel – Book Three
-Midnight Eclipse – Rise of the Dark Angel – Book Four –
=Surrender – Book One
=Submit – Book Two
=Seduced – Book Three
=Scorched – Book Four
+Bound – Book One
+Broken – Book Two –
Coming December 15
-Safe in his arms – Novella –
Baby it’s Cold Outside
Anthology – Releases
-Her Unexpected Hero – Book One –
Releases Feb 28
-Who I am with you – Novella –
-Her Hometown Hero – Book Two –
Releases June 2015
“Take off your clothes.”
Jewell looked at Blake as if he’d lost his mind. “What?”
His eyes narrowed. “Take off your clothes. Do not make me repeat myself again.” He stood back and looked at her through silver eyes that seemed to see right into her soul.
“I c…can’t. We’re in a parking garage,” she stammered. She looked desperately around at the full lot.
Sure, this corner happened to be dark, but what if someone drove in? What if a police car cruised by again? There was no way she could do what he was ordering her to.
Blake just waited in silence, leaning against the front of his car and watching her pace nervously in front of him.
“Please?” Sheesh. She was reduced to begging now.
“I guess our agreement is finished, then.” He shrugged as if he didn’t care.
Was he bluffing? Could she take the chance? Her stomach knotted painfully as she weighed her options.
Wanting more than anything to walk away, she closed her eyes and saw her brother’s sweet, impish face. What was she willing to do for him?
“I’m pleased we’re now business partners. I think this venture will be a success.”
Blake Knight laughed as he shook hands with Rafe Palazzo, gratified that the man had finally come to visit from San Francisco. Though Blake had known Rafe for many years, this was the first project the two of them had paired up on. The contracts were signed, and the deal would put a few more hundreds of millions into both of their already fat wallets.
“I don’t think there’s a venture out there with your name on it that isn’t a success, Rafe.”
“Ah, my friend, the same can be said about what you and your brothers do,” Rafe replied without missing a beat.
“We’re just that damn good, I guess,” Blake said.
Though at first glance the two of them might come off as smug and self-satisfied, and they might look at multimillion-dollar investments the same way an average person looked at depositing twenty dollars into their savings account, the men were shrewd and their self-assessments were based on solid fact, not ego. They knew how to make money, and they knew they’d always keep making more.
Only a select few ruled the world, and when Blake Knight was a young boy and his parents’ lives ended right before his very eyes, he’d decided right then that he would never be vulnerable again. He would never be one of the weak, never be easy prey to a world packed with predators. No one would sneak up on him and catch him unaware.
“Let’s have a drink, and you can fill me in on what you’ve been doing for the past year,” Rafe told Blake. “Too much time has gone by since our last visit.”
The two of them moved toward the conference room doors at Knight Construction.
“You’re the one who sold your soul to a woman and disappeared,” Blake reminded his friend.
“Don’t knock it, Blake. Ari has changed my life and made me a better man.”
, for the love of all that’s holy, do not continue,” Blake said, horrified to hear these words coming from a man who was once one of the most ruthless bachelors he’d ever met. “I remember the days when you thought no woman was true, no woman could ever be trusted. Marriage — your second marriage — has ruined you. There’s a term for it, you know…”
“There was a time, Blake, when I would have thrown you up against a wall for just thinking me the slightest bit weak.”
“Ha! You would have tried,” Blake said.
Neither of them was remotely upset by the exchange, of course. It was all friendly banter.
Rafe smiled and spoke reflectively. “I came to realize that the anger I’d held onto for too long was pointless. I also realized that having one woman to love didn’t end my life or my freedom. It made everything better. Ari is full of surprises and delights that I’ll never get tired of exploring. I know you’ll scoff at such talk, but what she does for me is indescribable.”
“Yeah, whatever, Rafe — and thanks for not describing it. I happen to be a big fan of variety. After a few weeks, anything gets old, and women are no exception. I always grow bored with them — always! Besides, though I know it’s not politically correct to say this, face it: women are weak, pathetic creatures, and they always have an agenda. Once I’ve broken their spirit, there’s no more fun to be had with the relationship.”
Rafe knew the horror that Blake and his brothers had suffered together when their mother’s little game hadn’t ended the way she’d wanted it to end. The woman had hardened his friend’s heart, and though Blake was letting his resentment toward one woman carry over to all of them, it was somewhat understandable, if not right or rational. Hell, Rafe had done the same thing after his first wife’s betrayal. So he knew there was hope. Time would eventually change Blake because he was fundamentally a good man.
“Not every woman is like your mother, Blake. You’ll see that someday.” Before Blake could say anything, Rafe went off on a slight tangent. “Who are you seeing now?”
The two men had made it to the lobby of the building and were stepping out onto a busy Seattle sidewalk. They were heading toward a favorite bar of Blake’s.
“No one at the moment. I just haven’t had time — all of these deals to be closed. You know the drill. I’ve had to do a lot of the work here on my own with my brother Byron being off in Greece for the past year, and my other brother, Tyler, gone two years. Now that they are home, I may take some vacation time.”
“Now that’s a joke. Men like us don’t do vacations,” Rafe said. “Why were both your brothers away?”
“Byron was working on his own project in Greece. He was working with me on deals for the home front,” Blake replied.
“It’s good to branch out on your own sometimes, Blake. I would like to hear more about this from him. I personally love spending time in Greece. It’s a beautiful country.”
“Yeah, and Tyler was just gone for two years—we don’t know where, and we didn’t hear from him. I was about to send out the marines, but he finally came home.”
“Now that sounds like a story,” Rafe said.
Before Blake was able to give Rafe any details, the two men were interrupted.
“Rafe. Blake. How are you?”
Blake turned to look at Mathew Greenfield, a man who’d helped him through more than one bad time in his life. He was a business partner, but more than that, he’d been there when Blake had needed to choose which road he was going to take in life.
Luckily, Blake had taken a more positive path than the one he’d originally thought he would. Mathew had given him the support and praise he needed to change his life for the better — no easy feat, under the circumstances.
Mathew also knew all of Blake’s dark secrets, and he was still someone Blake could not only count on, but trust fully, too.
“It’s good to see you, my friend,” Blake said.
“It’s been a long time,” Rafe told Mathew.
“Too long,” Mathew replied.
“Join us for a drink,” Blake said. “We’re celebrating a new business venture.” He knew Rafe wouldn’t mind.
Mathew threw him a smile. “I have a few minutes. Why don’t you tell me about it?”
The three men walked into the bar and proceeded to the back, where Blake had a table on standby at this same time every day in case he needed to conduct business away from the offices. A waitress quietly set down menus and disappeared.
Once the topic of business was out of the way, the conversation turned back to Blake’s lack of a love life. That didn’t make him a happy camper, especially since the last people on earth he’d want to discuss this with were teaming up on him.
“We all need to take time to have our itches scratched,” Mathew said with a knowing look. “Have you heard of Relinquish Control?”
“What in the hell is that?” Blake asked with disdain.
“It’s a place where you can get your needs met — discreetly,” Mathew replied.
Rafe looked skeptical. “I haven’t heard of it, and I’m not sure I want to.”
“That’s because you’re a very happily married man who doesn’t need a specialty escort service. It’s only a couple of years old now, but there hasn’t been a single complaint from any of the clients.”
“I’ve never had trouble getting my needs met, and anyway…,” Blake said just before the waitress dropped off their appetizers and new drinks.
“Yeah, but sometimes a man is just too damn busy. Relinquish might still be fairly new, but it’s run by a very good friend of mine, and I promise you, you won’t regret checking it out.”
“Sorry, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to a place like that.”
“Well, here’s their card in case you change your mind.”
Mathew held out a nondescript white business card, and for some odd reason, Blake not only accepted it, but also found himself slipping it into his pocket. He told himself it was so he wouldn’t offend a good friend and colleague. But as soon as he got home, he’d chuck the card into the trash. That was for damn sure.
“Why would you need to use an escort service, Mathew?” Blake asked.
“After my last divorce I decided I wouldn’t marry again. And yes, Rafe, I understand that some people have great marriages, but I’ve been married four times now, and all I got out of each of those marriages was a lighter bank account and some gray hairs — hell, not even a T-shirt. A monumental waste in time and money. My great friend McKenzie Beaumont opened the place, and it’s perfect for people who need ‘companionship’ but don’t want anything to do with love.”
“Blake, ignore this crap,” Rafe said. “We’ve both been assholes for long enough.”
“Believe me, I’m not interested.” Blake picked up his drink and took a long swallow.
Mathew wasn’t a bit annoyed at their reaction. “Fine. Fine. But I know you, Blake. You’ll think about it.”
The subject changed, and no further mention was made of needs being met. Still, though the night finished on a good note, Blake found himself feeling restless by the time he arrived home.
For some odd reason, he pulled the card out of his pocket and placed it on his desk rather than into the wastebasket. There was no chance in hell he’d call. No need. No interest, even. But out of respect for Mathew, he kept the card. It would soon get lost in the shuffle.
Two weeks later, Blake found himself staring at the simple black writing on the stark white card. He wanted to punch his respected friend in the face for even suggesting an
. It just wasn’t his thing. And yet, somehow, some perverse impulse led him to pick up his phone and dial before he knew what he was doing.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t get a date. That was never the problem! This was about having his needs met, his need for control, his need — he had to admit it — for corruption. Relinquish Control’s website promised through veiled hints that a man could get any kind of woman he needed.
And right now Blake needed a woman to dominate.