Read Private Relations Online

Authors: Nancy Warren

Private Relations

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Welcome to the Hush Hotel! Check out the couple in room 1864…

“Touch me,” Kit whispered, straddling his lap.

Peter didn’t have to be asked twice. He reached for her breasts, tracing the shape of them through the silk, loving the textures, the nipples pebbling against his fingertips.

He pictured her lushly painted mouth as she murmured, “What will happen next?”

Paper crackled. “‘Will she let me love her?’” Her voice was low and sexy as she read. “‘I don’t know. It’s her choice. Her decision.’” He heard his own words written for the fantasy contest, though she’d added a few of her own.

He hadn’t realized how intense his need would be, with the woman he was in love with—had loved forever—splayed across his lap.

Kit kissed him suddenly, and the shock of her lips, glossy and wet, felt like his first kiss ever.

“Let me love you,” he gasped. “Now.”

“Yes…”

There was no way the chair could hold them, what with the two of them tearing at each other’s clothes. They tumbled off and onto the floor—the plush, deeply carpeted, made-for-rolling-around-having-wild-sex floor.

Dear Reader,

Harlequin Blaze books always involve an element of fantasy. Get half a dozen Blaze authors together and the fantasies really start to fly. Talented Jo Leigh was the inspiration behind the DO NOT DISTURB series, which takes place in Manhattan’s newest boutique hotel, Hush.

She invited a few of us to join her and the fun began. Authors Isabel Sharpe, Alison Kent, Jill Shalvis, Debbi Rawlins and myself had a wonderful time designing and populating the hotel.

I decided to make my heroine an overambitious but extremely talented public relations director for Hush. The hero is her own personal PR disaster and an unwelcome surprise in her life. But you can’t put two wildly attracted people together in a hotel like Hush and not see sparks. Or fireworks.
Private Relations
was a great project to work on with a wonderful group of writers.

For more on the series, including contests and behind-the-scenes info, please visit www.Hush.com. I hope you’ll also check out the free online DO NOT DISTURB stories at eHarlequin.com. And stop by to visit me at www.nancywarren.net.

Check in to Hush and enjoy the fun.

Nancy Warren

NANCY WARREN
Private Relations

Private Relations
is dedicated to three of my personal favorite relations: my nieces. To Madeleine, Dominique and the newest addition to our family, Charlotte. With love from your Auntie Nancy.

1

K
IT
P
RESTCOTT
strode through the lobby of Hush Hotel with the two essentials of her trade—her cell, currently glued to her ear, and her determined smile, currently glued to her face.

As public relations director of Manhattan’s hot new boutique hotel, Kit spent a lot of time on the phone, and she’d perfected that smile. No matter what might be going on behind the scenes, she’d developed that smile as shield, weapon and smoke screen.

A gossip columnist had once called her, “Kit Prestcott, the human equivalent of those Smiley Face emoticons that litter e-mail messages like so many fleas.” Instead of being insulted, Kit had laughed and taken to collecting Smiley Face memorabilia.

“The flowers in the lobby aren’t as fresh as I’d like,” she told one of Manhattan’s top florists, who was going to be lucky to sell daisies at a farmer’s market if she let word slip that she wasn’t happy with his product, and he knew it.

Tough. There was no excuse in Kit’s mind for not doing the best job every time. Ambition, creativity, organizational skills: why go into business if you didn’t have oodles of all three?

The art deco lobby was so glorious that the slight wilt
to the birds-of-paradise in today’s supposedly fresh arrangement irked her unbearably. While chastising the florist, she mentally flicked through ideas for the big promotion she was planning for RAJ Jewelry’s unveiling of its fall line. It was a prestigious and glam show that Kit had worked her butt off to get, and she was determined the event would be so spectacular that the company would automatically book Hush for all its exclusive launch parties.

As though her brain had a PowerPoint presentation loaded in, an elephant appeared in a full-colored slide—what better way to make a grand entrance for the finest Indian sapphires and rubies than to have an Indian elephant lumber in carrying a maharaja and a treasure chest. Ooh, that could be good. Silk tents, maybe a bazaar theme…

But where was she going to get an elephant in Manhattan? And could elephants be housebroken, or would she have to deal with an elephant-sized diaper?

Dream big was her motto, and okay, so maybe sometimes her dreams were a little over the top. That Amazon scene she’d created in her last job to promote a new South American Fair Trade Certified coffee had been perfect. Every snaking green vine and tree leaf had been in place; she’d borrowed several tame parrots from a pet shop to sit in those trees. She’d even managed a lagoon complete with live crocodiles. There’d been salsa music and delicious South American cuisine, and the enticing aroma of coffee beans had perfumed the air.

How was she to have known that the crocodiles would try to snack on the parrots, who didn’t seem to know how to fly, and that in the melee, the barrier would give out, sending the crocs sliding into the packed ballroom?

As the dreadful memory assailed her, the elephant in her mental PowerPoint presentation disappeared as though her internal hard drive had crashed.

Cancel the elephant.

“I’m saying the flowers weren’t as fresh as I expected,” she said, continuing her cellular argument with that arrogant ass of a florist.

“You ask for birds-of-paradise out of season, what do you expect?”

“I expect that they will be fresh and perfect. That’s what we’re paying for.” She didn’t snarl or shout; that smile stayed plastered on her face, even though the florist couldn’t see her. Pleasant. Always pleasant and friendly, but never willing to settle for less than the best. That was how to get what you wanted.

She passed the concierge desk and waved to the pink-haired concierge who was helping a young couple book tickets to a Broadway play. A successful-looking businessman was reading
The Wall Street Journal
in one of the seafoam-green chairs while his much younger female companion flipped through a book of erotica from the Hush library.
Doomed relationship ahead.

A lone bartender polished glasses in Erotique, preparing for the prelunch crowd.

The leaded-glass front door swung open to admit a woman in a faux fur coat and tippy-tappy stiletto heels. One of the black-uniformed porters followed behind with her matched set of Louis Vuitton luggage, so Kit assumed the faux fur was a moral choice rather than a financial one. Idly, she wondered who the woman was meeting and if she was wearing anything under that coat.

By this time, Kit had extracted a grudging “I’ll see what I can do” from the florist.

“Today would be great,” she said with her usual cheerfulness and ended the call as she reached the elevator that she rode down to the basement where the hotel’s owner, Piper Devon, had her office. From her briefcase, Kit extracted the batch of entries she’d received for the Hush Fantasy Weekend Contest promotion. She frowned slightly as the elevator doors opened. The fantasy weekend had been her idea, her baby—odd that Piper would insist on being involved. Were those damned crocodiles still stalking her career?

Determined that nothing would spoil her success in this job, or Hush’s success, since she knew how important the venture was to Piper, she decided to be grateful that the hotel owner was going to help her choose the very first Fantasy Weekend winner.

She said “Hi” to Angela Portero, Piper’s secretary, who waved her into Piper’s office.

She breezed in and found her old friend and new boss standing in front of the architect’s renderings of the lobby. Piper was movie-star gorgeous and to those who didn’t know her, could come across as an empty-headed playgirl—but Kit had known her a long time and never made that mistake. Piper stared at those drawings the way a new mother would stare at a newborn.

“Still can’t believe you pulled it off?” Kit asked softly.

Piper turned and laughed. “I swear, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and think I just had the craziest dream that I opened an erotic boutique hotel.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve got some people who dream of staying here.”

“Ooh,” Piper squealed, her eyes lighting. “Have you got the entries?”

Piper looked so excited that Kit immediately discounted her earlier suspicion that her boss was going to be riding her tail constantly. The woman was obviously thrilled about the promo and wanted to play a part, however small.

“Yep. I weeded out the total grossoes whose fantasies would make you gag. Here are the rest of the contenders for the fantasy weekend promotion. Some male, some female.”

“Cool,” Piper said, moving to the cream leather sectional and sitting down beside Eartha Kitty. The hotel cat curled up in the corner, a hint of her sparkly pink collar showing. When the couch shifted as the women sat, she opened one sleepy green eye, then closed it again.

Kit placed the stack of entries on the table.

Of course, she’d already read all of them, and of course she’d already made her selection. If she couldn’t call on all her persuasive skills to influence Piper to come to the same decision, then she needed to get out of PR.

At Piper’s insistence, the entries were anonymous. It seemed ridiculous to Kit—but Piper was a perfectionist, and she was the boss—so the entries had all gone to Piper’s assistant, been numbered and then sent to Kit. Naturally, Angela had also indicated whether the entrant was male or female, since part of the prize was a host or hostess to make the all-expenses-paid weekend memorable.

The selection of the hosts had been tricky. She wanted absolutely nothing skanky and had deliberately elected to use the term host/ess over escort. The chosen ones were all young, attractive, interesting people who loved Manhattan and knew it inside and out. The hosts—a lot of whom were people she knew—received
a fantastic weekend, including their own room in the hotel, and a nice fat check at the end of the weekend.

They were all single and not dating anyone exclusively. While sex was in no way part of the package, well, Hush was a sensual paradise and people sometimes became attracted to one another. Kit didn’t want any broken hearts as a result of one of her promotions.

She’d already suffered one of those herself, and no one knew better how painful it could be. In her case, the event she’d so meticulously organized that had ended in a broken heart had been her own wedding. With a quick shudder, she turned her attention back to the stack of pages Piper was flipping through, gazing from one to the next as though they were Godiva chocolates and she couldn’t decide which to sink her teeth into first.

“I don’t know where to start,” Piper said, pushing the pages back to her. “Why don’t you read the entries aloud?”

“Some of them are a little…intimate,” she said, thinking of her choice for their first winner, and how his words had curled up her spine when she’d read them. Entry number twenty-four sounded like a man she wouldn’t mind getting to know. In fact, she’d already decided that when he arrived to claim his prize, she’d hang around the hotel long enough to introduce herself.

“Well, how about we both take turns reading them aloud? That way we can discuss them.”

“All right.” She fanned the pages out on the table, then grinned suddenly at her old friend. “You’re the experienced party girl. You first.” Piper was now a respectable hotelier in love with a decent man and utterly happy with her newfound stability, but her wild-child past would always be part of her. And of Hush.

“Fine.” Piper trailed her French-manicured fingernails in the air above the entries and chose one.

“This one’s from a woman. All right. What’s her fantasy?” Piper glanced up. “What did they have to do again?”

“In two hundred words, describe one fantasy you’d like to fulfill while staying at Manhattan’s sensual boutique hotel, Hush,” she recited from the entry form they’d placed in national papers and magazines and selected radio stations.

“My fantasy,” Piper read, “is to spend the entire weekend naked.” She glanced up. “I thought you were weeding out the wackos? We are pretty broad-minded at Hush, but I can’t have people treating it like a nudist colony.”

“Read on.”

With a raised eyebrow, she did. “I’d sleep naked between the finest sheets. I’d awaken naked and order room service. Naturally, I’d put on a robe to let the room service waiter in, but underneath my robe, I’d be naked. He’d know it and I’d know it.” Piper put down the page on the right-hand side of the table.

“Great. This chick wants to prance around in her birthday suit and do the room service waiters—I’m starting a No pile and she’s in it.” Then she turned to Kit and settled back. “Tag, you’re it.”

Kit could see number twenty-four in the middle of the fan. Not yet, she told herself. She wanted Piper to pull that one so Kit chose another.

“This is from a guy,” she said, then read, “My fantasy is to find that special woman and make slow, passionate love to her on a bearskin rug in front of a crackling fire.” She glanced up. “Shall I go on?”

“Trapper John there not only belongs in the Appalachians, but he’s got no imagination. Bearskin rug?” Piper shook her head. “Send him back to the Eighties. I hope these get better.”

They did. Some craved bondage, some exhibitionism. One energetic guy wanted to have sex in every room of the hotel, but he had such a humorous and lusty take on sex that they put him with the Yeses, anyway.

A comedienne with a Cinderella fantasy had them both laughing aloud at her witty, and yet heartfelt entry. She went in the Yes pile, right at the top. She was definitely going to be one of the four winners, to win one of a month of fantasy weekends, but Kit really hoped that number twenty-four would get the most special of the prizes—the first weekend.

As the pile dwindled, there were half a dozen entries in the Yes file, and many more in the No pile. Kit’s fingers itched to reach for her favorite entry, but she held back, wanting Piper to be the one to read it. Finally, they were down to two and it was Piper’s turn. Her hand hovered and then chose entry forty-seven, from a woman whose fantasy was simply to be pampered, away from work and all distractions. She wanted to hole up in a luxury suite, eat food she didn’t have to cook and be left alone to relax.

“Now there’s a fantasy I can relate to,” Piper admitted when she’d finished reading.

“Me, too,” Kit agreed.

“When did we turn into such workaholics?” Piper asked. Then grinned. “Okay, for me it was when I decided to stick it to Daddy and open my own hotel.” She laughed. “Best decision I ever made.”

“It sure was.” Then Kit sighed, thinking about her own workaholic tendencies. “I’ve always been driven.”

“Worse since your wedding day,” Piper said gently.

“I’ll read the last one,” Kit said, snatching entry twenty-four up so fast she gave herself a paper cut.

“You never talk about him,” Piper said.

They’d been friends too long for her to pretend she didn’t know whom Piper was referring to. The three of them had gone to school together—Piper, the girl born with the silver spoon in her mouth and carrying a mountain of painful baggage; Kit, the go-getter with the scholarship and relentless energy; and Peter, the charming, athletic business major she’d loved and planned to marry.

“I never dwell on past mistakes. I’ve moved on. If I talked about him it would give him importance in my life, and he has none.”

She turned her attention back to the entry in her hands and began to read.

Hush. I hear that word and I think of night falling, sharing whispered secrets, making slow, intimate love while the rest of the world sleeps, then the quiet breathing of a well-loved woman lying beside me in the night. What secrets would I whisper to her? What fantasy would I share? It is this: the woman I dream about is so confident of her sexuality, so sure of her own power, that she’s not afraid to give up control completely to a man she trusts, or to take control if that is her desire.

I picture this woman walking into my hotel room in an elegant black dress and high heels that make her legs long and sleek. Her hair is up. She looks like she’s going to some classy dinner. She doesn’t say a word, but points to a chair. I sit. And
watch. There are mirrors in the room. She doesn’t look at herself, but at me. I can see her reflected, though, from all sides. Slowly, she unzips her dress, peels it off and she’s got more black, but it’s stripper stuff. A thong, a see-through bra, a garter belt and stockings. She teases me slowly as she undresses, so I only see a little at a time, and all those reflections drive me mad. If I try to rise and join her, she stops and shakes her head. No. Not yet. I can barely stay on my chair. I wish she’d tied me there so I wouldn’t have to control myself, but she hasn’t. She stops me with a glance. I can see her, smell her, and it’s killing me not to touch her, taste her, take her.

She’s close to naked, but still wearing that sexy underwear when she comes closer and straddles my lap. Yes, I think. Finally. She undoes my tie, slips it out of my collar and then before I know what she’s got in mind, she’s putting it over my eyes and tying it behind my head.

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