Hello romance readers!
I’m so elated that the official release day of Journey to Seduction is finally here. If you read Her Perfect Candidate the first book in the Chasing Love series, then you met Sydney Chase and Bryce Monroe. As always I give hints for possible couples in the future in my books so I’m sure no one is surprised at this pairing. I wanted something different with this book but still keep with my tagline of fun, flirty, and sexy. So I threw in motorcycles, a heat-filled road trip to Vegas, and sexy, smoking hot love scenes that have me blushing at the thought. (I blame my alter-ego for those.) I had a fun ride writing Sydney and Bryce’s journey to forever so I hope you enjoy it too! As always, chapter one is below along with the buy links. Happy reading!
Ever since their families were joined by marriage, Sydney Chase has been driving attorney Bryce Monroe crazy. Whether she’s in biker gear or stilettos, no other woman can compare. No one else combines tough and tender in such a sexy, irresistible package. Though Syd has him pegged as a spoiled brat, a spur-of-the-moment Vegas road trip is Bryce’s one chance to prove otherwise.
As a criminal profiler, Syd’s job is to figure people out. Somehow, beyond Bryce’s privileged background is a depth she never expected. Their cross-country trek to a motorcycle fest is turning into the hottest ride of her life—one she knows has to eventually end. Yet what happens in Vegas is impossible to forget, and Bryce isn’t letting go until he’s crashed through every single one of her defenses…
“Anyone have any pain killers?” Sydney Chase asked the five other agents on her team of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that sat around the conference room table. “I feel a headache coming on.” Actually, she felt light-headed, nauseous, hot and achy. Sydney would’ve thought she was having pregnancy symptoms if it wasn’t for the fact she was single and couldn’t even remember the last time she’d had sex. However, she couldn’t let the team made up of all men know that she felt like crap.
Once they all responded no, she waved it off and convinced herself that she’d be fine. She tried to place her concentration on her boss, Joseph Mumford, as he munched on a jelly-filled doughnut. They’d just wrapped up a big high-profile case, and Mumford was going around the table giving everyone accolades for a job well done.
“Syd,” he began, wearing a huge, fatherly grin, “I’m so proud of your level of expertise on this case. By figuring out the perps weaknesses, we were able to use them against him to bring that sucker down. You’re the best criminal profiler this organization has.”
Not only was she the best; she was also the youngest at age twenty-nine and the only female in her division.
She wiped the sweat that had formed on her hairline before it could trickle down her brow. “Thanks, Mumford,” she said, flashing him a smile as best as she could. “We all did an outstanding job.”
Syd glanced at her watch and hoped that he would hurry up and dismiss them. It was one o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday. It was also Valentine’s Day. While her only plans were to order a pizza, sip a cool glass of white zinfandel and watchBreakfast at Tiffany’s, she needed to beat the Atlanta rush hour and dinner traffic. She lived in the downtown area of Decatur, where all the popular restaurants would be overcrowded with couples celebrating a day she couldn’t care less about. She wanted to make it home before she sat stuck in traffic. She chastised herself for driving her Mustang that day. She should’ve ridden her pink Harley so she could’ve weaved in and out of the cars.
Thirty minutes later, she was grateful to head back to her office to grab her purse and coat so she could skedaddle to the parking lot before the technical analyst—who had a crush on her—asked her out for the hundredth time that day.
When she reached her office, Sydney made a beeline to the desk drawer to grab her purse but instead she stopped in her tracks. Her heart thumped hard against her chest as if it were being kicked by a dinosaur’s foot. The sweat she’d tried to suppress earlier rushed down her brow. She staggered toward her desk chair but stumbled as she reached out for it, falling onto the floor with the chair following. The last sound she heard in the distance was Mumford yelling her name in a panic-stricken tone just as darkness engulfed her.
* * *
“Calm down, Megan,” Bryce Monroe spoke in a soothing tone to his brother’s wife. She was already a fast talker but when she was nervous or overly excited, he couldn’t understand her at all. “Now slowly repeat what you said.” He tossed his name plate in a box, grabbed it up and strode out of the office doors of Baxter, Clemmons and Strouse for the last time without looking back.
Megan Chase-Monroe took a deep breath. “I just spoke to Syd. She passed out at work from exhaustion and dehydration. She said she’s fine, but I’m worried sick. Goodness, I wish I was there, but Steven and I just landed in Hilton Head for Valentine’s weekend.”
The fear in her voice seeped through the phone, and he had a feeling where this conversation was going. He dreaded the outcome.
“Where’s Braxton?” he questioned, wondering why Megan called him and not their big, overprotective brother.
“He’s out of town with his jazz band, and Syd made me promise not to call our parents.”
Bryce let out a long sigh. “Where is she?”
“DeKalb Medical Center.” He heard a hopeful tone in her response.
“Okay, I’ll swing by there on my way home. Will that make you feel better?” He nodded and smiled at a few people who were still in the law firm finishing up important cases, some of which used to belong to him. He couldn’t focus on that at the present moment. His sister-in-law was distraught over her twin sister. The twin sister that disliked him… No, wait…hated him.
“Thank you so much, Bryce. I sincerely appreciate this.”
He stepped onto the elevator and pushed the ground floor button. “No problem. I’ll call you later with an update.”
Bryce chuckled. His original plans for the evening were to go home, drink a beer and watch Miami beat whoever they were playing. But this unwelcomed distraction might be just what he needed to get his mind off the fact that he’d just quit his job at one of the top law firms in the country. He’d worked his ass off for the past seven years at the firm, and at age thirty-two, was the youngest junior partner amid men ten years his senior. However, over a month ago, the senior partners had informed him that he would never make it to their position. That was all the ammunition he needed to change his current situation. Shortly thereafter, he’d submitted his two-week notice.
After placing the box into the trunk of his black Mercedes S-65 AMG, he slammed it a little too hard and unloosened his Burberry tie as he thought about his upcoming task. He’d known Sydney Chase for about five years. They ran in the same circles, and, considering he was a criminal defense attorney, some of his clients had been arrested by her division of the GBI. Their conversations were always heated. And she was ruthless. Sydney never backed down during court hearings whenever she was called to the stand to give her opinion as a criminal profiler. However, he rarely lost a case, and she’d often glare at him when the jury would read the not guilty verdicts. He’d wink and offer her his most gracious smile, which always resulted in a huff and an eye roll from her. Then she’d swing her head away from his gaze as her sexy, layered bob cut swooshed across her delicate face.
When his older brother, Steven, married her twin sister a year ago, Bryce tried to be cordial whenever he saw Sydney at family gatherings. She’d ignore him unless the topic was an upcoming case. Their conversations would then become intense, and he sometimes figured if he’d just kiss her luscious lips then maybe she’d be quiet for once. He’d definitely found her attractive when he’d first laid eyes on her across the courtroom some years ago, but her stubbornness and aloofness toward him had changed his mind about ever asking her out. Though there was something about her that still always held his attention. He sometimes looked forward to their heated discussions just to see her cinnamon eyes turn chocolate and the quiver of her lips while she disagreed with him.
For some reason Sydney thought he was a spoiled rich brat even though she didn’t think that about Steven. Bryce figured that was probably because his brother was more modest and did a lot for the community. While there was a rumor going around that everything had been handed to them on a silver platter, their father believed in hard work. Despite the fact that the Monroe family was worth millions and considered to be the black Kennedys, Bryce had lived a normal life growing up because of their mother. Claire Monroe, who had come from humble beginnings, refused to raise her children as sheltered, spoiled brats who would look down on those less fortunate.
As Bryce approached the nurses’ station, a sign caught his attention that read Immediate Family Only. He figured he’d be fine considering he was Sydney’s brother-in-law by way of marriage even though that wasn’t considered immediate family. He stroked his goatee and shrugged. I’ll just say she’s my sister.
A young nurse looked up from her paperwork and blinked several times at him wearing a saucy grin. She leaned toward him, resting her elbows on the counter. “May I help you, sir?” she asked in a seductive way as if she wanted to give him a lap dance.
While that would be great considering he was in between girlfriends—the nurse in front of him wasn’t his type. She wore way too much makeup for his taste, plus, he preferred women who didn’t throw themselves at him—at least not for anything more than a fling. He glanced down at her name tag and stepped back.
“Um…” He cleared his throat and slid his hands in his pants’ pockets, “Joan, I’m here to check on my…s…my wife, Sydney. Sydney Chase.” Why the heck did I say that?
“Humph. All the fine, suited-up ones are taken.” She turned toward the hallway to his right and pointed. “She’s in room 908. I’ll walk with you. I need to check on a patient.”
“Lucky girl,” Joan whispered just loud enough for him to hear.
“Me, too. She’s…something else.” He chuckled sarcastically. Syd was definitely a pistol.
Bryce hadn’t seen her since Steven and Megan’s one-year anniversary celebration on New Year’s Eve. Normally, he’d be in Colorado for his annual ski vacation during that time, but Bryce rarely saw his brother because he was a United States senator and spent a lot of time in Washington, DC. Postponing the trip with his friends wasn’t an issue. He believed that family came first no matter what and even though he and Sydney never saw eye to eye, Megan was depending on him.
His thoughts trekked back to the last time he saw Sydney. Bryce remembered gazing at the way her red dress fit her body like a glove and how the red pumps she’d worn showcased her caramel-coated legs. A diamond choker graced her swanlike, elegant neckline and her thick, classy bob bounced when she strutted across the room. Whenever he ran into her at the GBI headquarters to speak with a client, she was usually clad in a pair of jeans, a women’s T-shirt that did nothing to hide the six pack that was underneath and a leather jacket. Either way, she was sexy as hell.
When he entered the room, his eyes zoomed immediately onto to Syd as she sat propped up on the bed fussing at another nurse who was checking her IV bag.
“Look, I feel fine. I just need to go home and sleep for the rest of the weekend. That’s all. So please remove the IV from my arm,” Sydney demanded, holding out her left arm to the nurse, who ignored her.
Nurse Joan stepped inside the room as Bryce leaned on the door analyzing the scene before him. Even hooked up to heart monitors, an IV machine and with a pale face, Sydney still was the little spitfire he was used to dealing with. His eyes scanned the room. A hospital gown lay on the chair with her purse and leather jacket. Apparently, she’d refused to put on the gown because she still wore her usual attire of jeans and a white, low-cut ribbed T-shirt that left just enough room for the heart monitor pads to sit on her upper chest. His eyes traveled a few inches lower as the top of her cleavage jiggled, and he tried to tear his gaze away from the provocative sight. He may not care for her attitude toward him, but he couldn’t deny how sexy she was. Her hair rested just below her chin, complemented by her cute pert nose above her pouty lips and her cinnamon, almond-shaped eyes. Even though Sydney and Megan were identical twins, Megan didn’t possess the same blaze in her eyes as Sydney did. He hated to admit that was one of the few reasons he actually loved to debate with her. She only seemed to have them with him, though. With others, she was pleasant and just as sweet as Megan.
His cell phone beeped, indicating he had a text message, and Sydney’s stare rested on him for the first time. Shock crossed her face as she sized him up with a disdainful expression.
“Your loving husband is here,” Joan said in an upbeat manner as she gave a pleasant smile.
“My…?” Sydney stopped as her eyes grew wide as saucers. “What are you doing here and why—”
Bryce dashed into the room and grabbed her to him, imprisoning her lips with his to muffle her protests. He had kissed her deeply at first just so she wouldn’t yell out, “He’s not my husband.” However, when his tongue touched hers, a fervent shiver slammed through him, and he slowed down to savor her juicy lips and their warmth on his. A soft moan erupted from her throat, and he opened his eyes just enough to peer out through the slits to see hers completely closed as she willingly responded to him. Bryce’s hand sank into her thick hair, pulling her farther into him as their tongues wound in a kiss so passion-filled that for a moment he forgot they couldn’t stand each other. His other hand ran along her smooth arm and down to her jean-clad hip as he clutched it, releasing another moan from her that he muted with his mouth.
Somewhere in the back of his subconscious, he heard the nurses dismiss themselves and shut the door. A forceful jolt pushed him back. When he opened his eyes, he realized Sydney had shoved him off her. Her chest heaved up and down at a fast pace as she wiped his kiss from her mouth.
“Why the hell did you kiss me? I don’t even like you!”
A sly smile crossed his face as he ran his tongue along his bottom lip. He stepped toward her and rested his forehead on hers as he stared into her rage-filled eyes that made him want to kiss her all over again.
“You may not, but your lips certainly do.”
* * *
“Get away from me!”
Sydney stared in utter disbelief at the man who had thankfully backed away and was now leaning on the wall next to the door. She hadn’t thought the day could get any worse after she’d passed out at work and found herself waking up in an ambulance with Mumford yelling at the paramedics to save her life. She was glad when he finally left the hospital after she’d convinced him that Megan was on her way. Of course that wasn’t true, but Sydney didn’t like people fawning over her, and Mumford had dinner reservations with his wife. To look up and see Bryce Monroe in the doorway after he had the audacity to lie and say she was married to him, followed by a long, deep kiss, wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her Valentine’s Day. Now she was hooked up to machines with an IV drip going through her veins making her extremely cold, even though for some reason she’d warmed up a bit.
Unfortunately, he was right. Her lips willingly responded to his as if it were the most natural thing between them. She was amazed at how his tongue had taken total control over hers in a sensual tango. For a moment she’d forgotten she wasn’t fond of Bryce and instead had let him take possession over her mind and her mouth. A tingle between her legs twitched, and she drew her knees to her chest, hoping that would help calm down the sensation.
Sydney sucked in her breath and realized how crazy her thoughts were. Bryce was the last man she’d ever have feelings for, and so she decided it was the medication that was being dripped into her veins making her think foolishly.
“What are you doing here?”
“Megan asked me to check on you. Trust me—if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Okay, but why did that nurse think you were my husband?”
“Because only immediate family are allowed in this area of the hospital, and I know you don’t want to alarm your parents.”
Bryce was right about that. Her parents weren’t happy with her decision to become a GBI agent after graduating from law school and forgoing taking the bar exam. They worried she would get hurt on the job. While she’d never been hurt, lately she’d felt mentally and physically drained.
“You didn’t have to kiss me to prove that we’re married. You could’ve said ‘hello, dear’ or ‘wifey’ with a wink or something. I can read body language, you know.”
“I think my way was much more fun. Don’t you?” His tone was seductive and the sensation between her thighs raced once again.
She smacked her lips and rested her head back on the pillow. “I just need to go home. I had plans.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, which read four o’clock on the dot. “Hopefully, the doctor will be here soon with my CT scan results.”
He raised his eyebrow. “Hot date tonight?”
She pushed her hair back over her ears. “Yes, with me, myself and I.”
A wicked grin etched over his handsome mocha face, and he stroked his goatee. “Mmm…interesting.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter. Not that kind of date. I’ve been working nonstop for two weeks and I’m exhausted. I just wanted to chill on the couch and watch old movies this weekend.”
“Exhausted and dehydrated are why you’re here. You’ve been overworking yourself.”
“Well, I guess you wouldn’t know anything about hard work.”
He shook his head, chuckling sarcastically. “Humph…I’m not even going to entertain your comment. You can think whatever you like. You always do anyway.”
“Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean?”
Bryce reached into his pocket to retrieve his cell phone. He glanced down at the screen and typed something before sliding it back into his pocket.
“You know exactly what I mean. You’ve painted this distorted picture of me years ago from rumors about me being a spoiled rich kid that hasn’t worked for anything. Yes, my father is a millionaire, and yes, I’ve benefited from that. However, the truth is you simply don’t know me, but there’s no point in trying to convince you otherwise.”
“Huh.” She looked him up and down. “You don’t need to convince me of anything.”
“Whatever. Once the doctor gets here and lets us know how you are, I’ll contact Megan and then I’ll leave.”
Sydney pointed to the door and almost winced as the IV needle in her wrist pinched her, but she stopped herself. She wasn’t going to let him think she couldn’t handle pain. “You can leave now. I’ll call Megan myself. Besides, what makes you think I want you present when the doctor arrives? My medical condition is a private matter, Counselor.”
He chuckled sarcastically. “Because I’m your husband, babe.” He winked and sat in the chair next to the bed.
“If I wasn’t hooked up to all these freakin’ machines, I’d walk out of here right now!” She turned on her side, facing away from him, and pressed the button for the flat-screen television mounted on the wall opposite the bed.
“Trust me. I don’t want to be here, either. I’m only here for Megan’s peace of mind. She’s worried, but I just sent her a text that I’m here and you’re in very good hands.”
Sydney glanced over her shoulder at him with a cold stare, but his eyes didn’t meet with hers. Instead, he smiled like a Cheshire cat and his gaze was mesmerized on her butt as he bit his bottom lip. His eyes jerked to hers out of his trance, and she reached to the bottom of the bed to yank the blanket up to the middle of her back. When she glanced at him again, Bryce was arrogantly smiling at her. She turned over with a huff and hoped the doctor would be in soon. Of all the people Megan could’ve called, why on earth did she call him?
She knows how much I despise this cocky, egotistical, self-centered man.
They watched reruns of The Cosby Show in silence except for a few laughs here and there. The nurse came in briefly to check on her and to inform them that the doctor would be in momentarily with the test results. She felt much better than when she arrived. Considering the IV bag was almost empty, perhaps there was no need for another one. Besides, the fact that Bryce was behind her sent uncomfortable prickles along her skin, especially since his woodsy, spicy scent was now embedded on her thanks to his unruly kiss.
A light knock on the door was a sound of relief. She couldn’t stand another minute alone with Bryce. She sat up, and he came over to assist in propping up the pillows behind her back.
An older Caucasian man wearing a white coat and a stethoscope around his neck entered with a small laptop. She glanced at his name sewn onto the lapel and was relieved to see Doctor in front of Smith. Then fear set in and her leg began to tremble as she anxiously waited to hear what Dr. Smith had to say about her test results. What if something was actually wrong with her other than exhaustion and dehydration? She glanced at Bryce, who was still standing by the side of the bed, and instinctively reached out to squeeze his hand. He looked down, gently squeezed her hand back and gave her a comforting smile. But it wasn’t one of his cocky, arrogant, wicked smiles that he usually bestowed on her. It was honest and sincere.
“It’s going to be alright, Syd,” he reassured her, nodding his head before placing his attention back on the doctor.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Chase. I’m Dr. Smith.”
Bryce reached out to shake his hand, and she followed his action. When Bryce grabbed her hand once more, interlocking his fingers with hers, she was surprised. She couldn’t believe he was really keeping up this charade of being her husband.
“Well, Sydney, looks like you’ve been a very busy woman lately working around the clock,” Dr. Smith began, scrolling through his laptop screen. “According to your medical history, this isn’t the first time you’ve had this issue. Your primary care physician’s office sent over your information.”
“Yes…I just need some rest.”
“I agree, and you need to eat. Your blood sugar is low but everything else is fine. Luckily no concussion when you passed out and your CT scan was negative. However, Mr. Chase, I would closely watch over her during the next twelve hours just to make sure she’s fine. Symptoms to watch out for would be headache, vomiting, slurred speech, trouble remembering things, weakness and maybe a seizure, but I don’t see any of that happening. If it does, bring her back here. Just make sure she rests and eats something.”
“I’ll make sure she does.”
The doctor typed something on his laptop and glanced up at Bryce with a smile. “It’s Valentine’s Day, so make her a nice dinner. Spoil her tonight.”
“I was just thinking the same thing, Doc. I’ll definitely take care of my baby.”
Sydney thought surely she’d vomit followed by a seizure just from hearing the conversation between the men in front of her.
“So, I’m free to go, Doc?”
“Yep. In about thirty minutes.”
Sydney breathed out a sigh of relief. Now she could get away from Bryce. “Oh. By the way. What kind of medication was in the IV bag?”
“No medication,” Dr. Smith answered, glancing up from his laptop. “Just nutrients to replenish your system.”
“Sooooooooo no real medication or anything?”
“Oh.” Syd nodded, slowly removing her hand from Bryce’s as her palm began to sweat. The doctor and Bryce continued to speak about the checking-out process, but they sounded like the adults on the Charlie Brown cartoons. She was speechless. She’d thought surely she was on some type of drug when Bryce had kissed her and she’d willingly responded—and rather enjoyed it. Why else would she even let him kiss her for so long? Sure, the man apparently knew how to kiss. His tongue had done things with hers that should’ve been outlawed in the state of Georgia. Heck, every state and country, even. And that was just in one place. She had other regions on her body that wouldn’t have minded a tongue journey. When he’d glided his hand sensually down her arm and pulled her by the hair deeper into his mouth, she had the urge to seduce him right then, not caring that nurses were watching their escapade. No. It had to be something in that damn bag to make her hallucinate and think that she could actually kiss Bryce Monroe and enjoy it. Enjoy him to the point of desiring more.
No. No. No. No. No.