Authors: Shayla Black,Lexi Blake
THE NOVELS OF SHAYLA BLACK ARE . . .
“Sizzling, romantic, and edgy!”
—Sylvia Day, #1
New York Times
“Scorching, wrenching, suspenseful . . . A must-read.”
—Lora Leigh, #1
New York Times
“Wickedly seductive from start to finish.”
New York Times
“The perfect combination of excitement, adventure, romance, and really hot sex.”
THE NOVELS OF LEXI BLAKE ARE . . .
“Hot and emotional.”
—Two Lips Reviews
“A book to enjoy again and again . . . Captivating.”
—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“A satisfying snack of love, romance, and hot, steamy sex.”
—Sizzling Hot Books
PRAISE FOR THE MASTERS OF MÉNAGE SERIES BY SHAYLA BLACK AND LEXI BLAKE
“Smoking hot! Blake and Black know just when to turn up the burner to scorching.”
—Under the Covers Book Blog
“Well done . . . full of spicy sex, and a quick read.”
—Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
“Steamy, poignant, and captivating . . . A funny, touching, lively story that will capture the reader from page one and have them wishing for more when it ends.”
—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“Very well written. With just the right amount of love, sex, danger, and adventure . . . A fun, sexy, exciting, hot read.”
—Girly Girl Book Reviews
Titles by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
Masters of Ménage Novels
SCANDAL NEVER SLEEPS
Titles by Shayla Black
The Wicked Lovers Novels
SURRENDER TO ME
BELONG TO ME
MINE TO HOLD
OURS TO LOVE
THEIRS TO CHERISH
HIS TO TAKE
WICKED FOR YOU
(with Maya Banks)
HOT IN HANDCUFFS
(with Sylvia Day and Shiloh Walker)
WICKED AND DANGEROUS
(with Rhyannon Byrd)
HER FANTASY MEN
WICKED ALL NIGHT
Titles by Shayla Black writing as Shelley Bradley
BOUND AND DETERMINED
An imprint of Penguin Random House
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
This book is an original publication of Penguin Random House.
Copyright © 2016 Shelley Bradley, LLC and DLZ Entertainment LLC.
Big Easy Temptation
copyright © 2016 Shelley Bradley, LLC and DLZ Entertainment LLC.
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-16302-7
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Title: Seduction in session / Shayla Black, Lexi Blake.
Description: Berkley trade paperback edition. | New York : Berkley Books, 2016. | Series: The perfect gentlemen ; 2
Identifiers: LCCN 2015035585 | ISBN 9780425275337 (softcover)
Subjects: LCSH: Bodyguards—Fiction. | Women journalists—Fiction. | Man-woman relationships—Fiction. | BISAC: FICTION / Romance / Contemporary. | FICTION / Romance / General. | GSAFD: Romantic suspense fiction. | Erotic fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3602.L325245 S43 2016 | DDC 813/.6—dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2015035585
Berkley trade paperback edition / January 2016
© Jakub Karwowski / plainpicture.
© Joe Ravi / Shutterstock.
Cover design by Judith Lagerman.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are 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.
To Kim, for her tireless hours of effort in keeping track of this large fictional world and ensuring the two authors using it remain factually accurate. It must be like herding cats.
Thanks to Lina for her Russian translations in Cyrillic. We would have been lost without them. Thanks also to our favorite innkeepers, Brad and Marcia, for so graciously allowing us to work in odd places, at ridiculous hours, and leave behind many wine bottles. And to your goats for the inspiration.
Lastly, thanks to tequila for being so willing to become a margarita. Because of the way you bravely mix with sangria, two authors talked and bonded and decided, what the hell? Let’s write books together.
Twenty-one years earlier
rom the foot of the old pier, Connor Sparks watched his friends’ revelry farther down the beach. After tonight, would he ever feel like one of them again? In a few days, everything was going to change, and it killed him. Since his first year at Creighton Academy, way back in the seventh grade, he’d known his friends would be a part of every single day—usually a big part. Since they’d formed a friendship in prep school, the “Perfect Gentlemen,” so named by a sarcastic counselor, had been tight. That first Christmas, Dax had asked him what he was doing for the holidays. The conversation had ended with him accepting an invitation to spend two weeks with the Spencer family. In fact, he’d managed to worm his way into spending every summer break or holiday with one of their families for years. He wouldn’t be lucky enough to continue that tight-knit shit during college.
What the hell was he going to do now?
Connor looked out over the beach where his buddy Gabe Bond had
started a massive bonfire. It crackled and the embers promised warmth. The moon hung low, and Connor could hear their laughter, practically smell the hot dogs they were roasting. That wouldn’t be the only thing smoking out there, but he rarely touched anything harder than a beer. He couldn’t. He was a scholarship kid, which meant he had to prove his worth every second of every day or he would be right back in the trailer park.
Now that they had graduated and prep school was in their rearview mirrors, Connor refused to go back to that sad-sack single-wide with the cracked linoleum and broken stairs. But he also wouldn’t be joining his buddies at Yale. Of course, they had no idea. All they knew was that he’d gotten his acceptance letter at the same time as the rest of them.
He alone had been forced to wait for more information to see if he could actually attend. Unfortunately, his financial aid letter had not been quite as cheerful. In fact, that letter had slapped him with the reminder that no matter who his friends were, he lived in a different world. He’d merely had a four-year reprieve from having to deal with that truth.
“Hey.” Dax Spencer clapped a hand on his shoulder. He dangled a six-pack from his other hand. “Why are you hanging alone up here? The party is on the beach, man. Well, unless you’re Roman, and then the party is in Gabe’s parents’ bedroom. I am not cleaning that up. What the hell is he thinking, taking twins in there?”
“Double the pleasure?” Connor quipped.
Roman had actually offered him one. A beautiful blonde from their sister prep school who would likely be headed straight to Yale and pledging a sorority closely tied to Skull and Bones. Hell. That wasn’t exactly accurate, was it? She would serve the men of Skull and Bones because they would run the world one day.
No one ran the world from community college, and they didn’t run it from where he was going, either.
There would never have been an invite to Skull and Bones in Connor’s future, even if he could have afforded the Yale tuition. Bonesmen
came from the elite. No matter how closely he was associated to these men, Connor could never forget where he came from. Neither would anyone else.
Dax winced. “I’m a realist, man. I think it’s just double the trouble—even for a night. I’m with Scooter. I kind of wish Gabe hadn’t sent out that invite. It’s our first night of freedom. It would have been cool to spend it together. But hey, we’ve got all summer for that, I guess. One last blowout before the real fun starts.”
Like the rest of the group, Dax was headed to Yale, though after his four years, he intended to join the Navy as his father had, and his grandfather before him, and so on, dating back to when the U.S. Navy had first been formed. Gabe and his ancestors were the first family of aeronautics. The rest of the Perfect Gentlemen came from equally pedigreed backgrounds. Maddox Crawford’s family practically owned the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roman Calder came from a long line of powerful D.C. lawyers. Zack, aka Scooter . . . well, he was being groomed to become president of the United States.
“Can’t wait.” Connor simply wasn’t ready to admit that he wouldn’t be staying here for the summer.
“Mad bought a brownstone off campus.”
“I thought we were supposed to move into fraternity houses.” It was tradition among this set. Each of their fathers had pledged influential frats.
“And live through all that hazing? Fuck that,” Dax said with a shake of his head. “I’m with Mad on this one. We’re our own frat, brother, and we take care of each other. Senior year at Yale, Skull and Bones will come for Zack. You know they will. And Roman’s dad is legacy. Mad just wants them to have a place where they’re not expected to be the next freaking saviors of the free world. He thinks it’s up to us to keep those two grounded. Everyone else in the world is going to want a piece of Zack, and because Roman is never going to leave his side, they’ll want a piece of him, too. So Mad wants to remind them who their real friends are.”
Connor looked out over the dark water shimmering under the moonlight, then at the beach. Mad danced around the bonfire with total abandon.
Ever since Connor had read Shakespeare, he’d thought of Mad as Puck—impish and chaotic, yet truthful when a person least expected it. That brownstone was Mad’s attempt to keep their little family together. They had four years before the world would separate and test them, each in their own way. Four last years to live together and influence one another. It was a good plan. Mad simply didn’t know all the facts, and Connor intended to keep it that way because his pride wouldn’t allow anything else.
“Your dad was in,” Connor pointed out. “You’re a legacy as much as Roman. You should be a Bonesman, too. It would help your Naval career. You want to make admiral, right?”
Dax shrugged. “Yeah, but who knows?”
“They’re fuckers if they don’t let you in,” Connor insisted.
Dax was the best guy he’d ever met. Shit, he would miss Dax most of all. Like freaking Dorothy and the Scarecrow.
Connor frowned. Maybe he would get a little wasted tonight. He was sounding awfully maudlin.
“I’ll be honest. I don’t want in. I don’t want to rule the world. I just want my own command someday. And one really hot woman to settle down with. Roman’s insane. See you down there?” Dax was halfway down the steps, already moving away from Connor.
“Sure. I’ll be there in a bit.”
Unmoving, Connor watched Dax join the others.
Creighton Academy had been the best years of his fucking life. Likely, they always would be. But after tonight, it would be time to make his own way. He would claw out of poverty while he watched the rest of them soar into their wealth and power.
“You’re looking lonely there, son,” a deep voice to his left said.
Connor turned and spotted the man standing in shadow almost immediately. He was tall, his hair just starting to thin out on top while
graying at his temples. He was lean, without the usual middle-aged paunch. He wore a three-piece suit and expensive loafers, which struck Connor as odd since they were at the beach. Even the businessmen who came out here changed before they left the city.
“What can I do for you, Officer? Or should I say Special Agent? The Bonds aren’t here. If you’re looking for them, you’ll have to go back to Manhattan. Only the son and his friends are here now.”
He quickly assessed his chances of walking into the house and finding Roman in any kind of position that wouldn’t make Connor want to go blind. The odds were ridiculously bad. He’d had a good twenty minutes, so his freak flag was probably flying high, but he was also known as the teenaged law god in their circle. He’d ruthlessly used school code against their administrators on more than one occasion. If the feds were here for some reason, Roman would be the one to handle it.
The man chuckled and stepped into the light from the porch. “I’m not with the FBI, but I find it interesting that your mind went there. Any second guesses?”
If the man was carrying a gun, his tailor was impeccable because Connor couldn’t detect the line of the man’s holster under his clothes.
“FTC?” With really rich people, it was always a risk. The Federal Trade Commission watched over stock transactions, and he wouldn’t put it past them to come after any of his friends’ parents. “I would say IRS, but the shoes are too nice.”
He recognized the Ferragamos. They were the same style Dax wore when meeting his parents for brunch. Most IRS officials couldn’t afford thousand-dollar shoes. Mrs. Spencer had bought Connor a pair and some proper clothes when she realized all Connor had was his school uniform, some worn jeans, and a few T-shirts. After that first year, the woman had always invited him to shop for clothes with Dax. He’d felt bad about the expense until he realized how genuinely happy she was seeing to his well-being. He was going to miss her, too.
“Interesting observation for a boy whose mom was a trailer park whore.”
A chill went up Connor’s spine. “Or maybe you’re nothing but a sleazy reporter. I think I’ll call the cops and let them sort it out.”
The man put up a hand. “I’m sorry. That was harsh. And you won’t call the cops. That’s not incense I smell. I’m afraid I’ve spent so much time in the field, I’ve lost all conversational finesse. I’m not a reporter. But I’ll get to who I represent in a minute.”
“You’re here for me.” He quickly reassessed the situation. College recruiter? For lacrosse? Any university that wanted him for their team would have contacted him long ago. He’d attended Creighton on a lacrosse scholarship, but he hadn’t been good enough for the Yale team. “For the record, she wasn’t a whore. My mother never accepted money for spreading her legs. Get it right. She was our trailer park’s resident skank and full-time waitress at a greasy truck stop. What college do you work for?”
“I’m not with Yale and I suspect that would be a problem for you.”
He shrugged. “I’m keeping my options open.”
The man in the suit chuckled and leaned against the railing. “You’re going to play it that way, huh? I know about your issues. I know the scholarship Yale offered you isn’t enough. How much would you have to borrow?”
“Eighty grand.” More if he went to grad school. And the truth was he didn’t even know what he wanted to do.
“Ask Crawford out there for it. He won’t miss the money. He came into his trust this year, right? Five hundred million, if I recall. He would write you a check and never miss a penny.” The man was starting to sound a little like Mephistopheles, whispering his devil’s bargains.
Connor had already discarded the idea. He knew what he was going to do, what he had to do. “Why are you so interested? Because I suspect you’re not from a university. So what do you want?”
“Universities aren’t the only institutions who recruit young people such as yourself. I represent a group with a singular interest in finding the smartest young men and women, people who possess both brilliant
minds and a certain flexibility in their moral character. I need a young man like you who loves his country enough to sacrifice for it.”
Since when did the military send out recruiters? “You’re too late. I’m scheduled to see a Navy recruiter on Monday. I’ll be at RTC in Great Lakes the week after that.”
He’d picked the Navy because Dax would be there in a couple of years. Yes, he would be enlisted and Dax would be on the officer track, but he felt better knowing they would be in it together in some small way.
The man sighed. “I’m well aware of your meeting. Might I say that would be a waste of your talents, Connor? And I also believe you’ll end up in the same place, just years later.”
“And what place would that be?”
“Oh, I would rather you used that brain of yours to tell me.”
What could he be talking about? Almost none of the big law enforcement agencies recruited directly out of high school. College was another matter.
He hadn’t had any run-ins with the law, hadn’t gotten caught doing anything he shouldn’t. The only thing he’d ever done that might attract the attention of law enforcement was to send in his assessment that the terrorist groups Jamaat al-Fuqra, Gama’a al-Islamiya, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the National Islamic Front had put aside their differences and were working together to find a soft target in the U.S. He’d gotten involved in a group that tracked conspiracy theories. When he’d joined, they’d been all about the Kennedy assassination and alien cover-ups, but he’d whipped them into shape. They were smart and had simply needed a proper outlet. They’d combed papers and talked to people and come up with a conspiracy of their own.
He’d sent his predictions to the CIA but never heard back. Three weeks later, the World Trade Center had been attacked, killing six and injuring a thousand after a truck bomb had been detonated under the North Tower.
“So Langley finally read my report and figured out I was right?”
A smile split the man’s face. “Oh, I read your report—after the attack, of course. You were right. What kind of high school kid follows terrorist groups?”
A perverse one. He knew a bunch of kids who were fascinated by serial killers. He’d always wanted to know what made a man do something crazy like strap on a bomb and walk into a crowded plaza. “It’s a hobby.”