Dear romance readers!
I’m bubbling over with delight today! A Passionate Night is now available and I’m so excited for you to read it. It’s on sale for $1.99 until this Monday (8/29) at midnight. Afterwards, it will go to regular price of $2.99. As always chapter one is below followed by buy links. Be sure to check out the fabulous giveaway (after the excerpt) that I’m doing with Delaney Diamond and Sharon C. Cooper in celebration of The Bennett Triplets Series! We hope you enjoy all three novellas!
Mixing business with pleasure leads to a passionate night.
Harper Bennett’s motto is work hard, play hard. Lately, she’s forgotten the latter and has focused her time as part-owner, along with her brothers, of the hottest nightclub in Atlanta. When an intriguing client enters, Harper forgoes her promise to never date a man that doesn’t live in the same city and she finds herself playing hard to get with Hunter Arrington. The passion that has ignited between them can’t be extinguished, and she dreads the day he has to leave.
Hunter travels the world because of his career and has no intentions of settling down until his eyes land on Harper Bennett. There’s something about the petite, sassy woman that he adores and makes him feel at home for the first time in years. Now he’s faced with a life-changing decision and the thought of being without Harper isn’t an option.
Be sure to check out the other novellas in this series. (The novellas can be read in any order)
The print book will be released on September 23rd.
“Please, and I do mean please as your job depends on this … make sure that you keep the bottles flowing and Unique along with his crew overly happy,” Harper Bennett demanded to the waitress, as she sashayed down the hall of VIP rooms before pushing the door leading to the mezzanine level open. Her inquisitive eyes scanned the floors and sitting areas to make sure the cleaning crew had been thorough that morning. Satisfied, the ladies headed toward the escalator to travel down to the main floor.
“I’ll have everything set up in the all-white VIP room according to his rider. He was furious with the last club that didn’t and blasted them all over social media. Club Masquerade is the hottest club in Atlanta and we intend to keep it that way. Humph, he should’ve booked his party here in the first place like all of his other fellow rapper buddies.”
“Yes, Ms. Bennett,” Dawn replied, nodding her head as the ladies stepped onto the escalator together.
Harper checked her to-do list for the rest of the day on her iPad and scrunched her forehead at the last minute meeting her assistant had set up. The one that started in ten minutes. Placing her focus back on the important situation at hand, she looked her top VIP cocktail waitress square in the eye. Yes, she trusted Dawn like she trusted herself, but Harper still needed to get her point across.
“Don’t make him regret having his birthday celebration here, or me for selecting you to be his personal waitress. Windi and Joslyn will assist you. Thank you for coming in on your off day but be back at eight sharp.”
Dismissing Dawn, Harper stepped off the elevator and continued into the main area of the club as her black Jimmy Choo’s clicked against the empty wood dance floor—which in a couple of hours would be packed with people dancing to the latest hip hop and pop songs. She spotted two of the bartenders at the huge circular bar sitting in the middle of the club. The men were busy unpacking boxes of liquor that had arrived that afternoon.
“Did you lock the main doors back, Josh?” she asked. Her brother, Mason, hated them being unlocked for an extended period of time when the club was closed.
“Nah. Your assistant said you were expecting a client.”
“That’s what the call box is for. Next time lock it.”
Heading toward the lobby, she turned off her I’m-the-boss-and-don’t-you-forget-it persona and switched to the nice and professional event planner that she displayed with potential clients. One of the tinted glass doors of the club opened as the last of the afternoon sun blanketed the area and blinded her for a moment. Squinting, she tried to make out who strolled toward her. The alluring scent of cologne filled her nostrils, and her hand automatically ran through her thick, black tresses that fell to her bra strap.
Geez, I haven’t even seen him yet but a man that smells this damn good better look damn good, too.
When the door closed, Harper’s lips parted as her eyes feasted on the handsome vision gliding toward her as if he’d stepped off the runway at a fashion show in Paris. Bald? Check. Chocolate? Check. Mouthwatering? Double check. Over six feet tall? Check. The man was scrumptious and his presence outshone the sunlight that he’d shut out. His medium, muscular-build physique complemented his blue suit, and she had an inkling that his body would complement her as well. Because of her small frame, she preferred a man his size and not an overly built man who would smother her.
He definitely fit the majority of the list minus a deep voice, honest eyes, charming smile, and must be intelligent … which was the deal breaker. Nothing else mattered if he didn’t have a brain. When he slid his shades off not only were his eyes honest they were also a mesmerizing light brown. An electric force jolted through Harper’s body, and her stomach tightened when he ran a sensual gaze over her pink halter blouse and black pencil skirt. The heat radiating from him soared through her, causing heated goose bumps to cascade down her arm. A charming, sexy smile raised the left side of his face, and the stifled sigh in her windpipe managed to escape anyway. Check. Check.
Okay, stop acting like you’ve never seen a handsome man before! Now to see if his voice meets the criteria.
“Welcome to Club Masquerade. May I help you?” she asked in a steady, professional tone and was relieved when the frog in her throat didn’t leap off its lily pad. The man was undeniably gorgeous, and she silently chastised herself for becoming unraveled right in front of him. Perhaps he wouldn’t notice.
“Yes. I’m Hunter Arrington. I’m here to meet with Harper Bennett,” he answered in a deep, penetrating voice. “Do you know if he’s available?”
As Harper processed what he’d asked, and made a mental check on her list next to deep voice along with extra points for making her tremble, she realized he was her appointment. Dang it. She never mixed business with pleasure. But at least he would be eye candy for the next hour … maybe two if she spoke really, really slow.
Placing her professional cap on with super glue, she smiled pleasantly and held out her right hand. “I am Harper Bennett, Mr. Arrington.”
Wrinkling his forehead, a surprised grin appeared on Hunter’s delectable lips as he slid her hand in his. “Forgive me, Ms. Bennett. I was under the impression that you were a man because of your first name. My assistant made the appointment, but um …” He paused his embarrassed ramble, squeezing her hand and flashing a sinfully suave smile. “But goodness was I wrong.”
Reluctantly sliding her hand away from his warm, caressing one—because it was way too comfortable intermingled with hers—she stepped back a tad and hoped he didn’t hear the fast, off-beat of her heart throbbing hard against her chest. “No problem. I know my name is somewhat unisex. My parents thought I was going to be a boy, and Harper is my mother’s maiden name. So they still decided to use it.”
“They didn’t see on the sonogram that you were a girl? Or did they want to be surprised?”
“No. There were two other babies with me,” she explained. “I’m the youngest of triplets.”
He attempted to suppress a naughty smirk, but he didn’t succeed and instead stepped closer to her. “So there’s three of you?” The devilish grin emerged even wider as he tapped his chin. “Damn.”
Harper noted the gulp on his Adam’s apple and the curious raise of his eyebrow as she could only imagine what dirty fantasy he’d conjured up in his brain with triplets who were identical to her. She shook her head. “No. Not exactly. I’m the only girl. I have two older-by-a-few-minutes, overprotective brothers.” She held in a laugh when his wicked smile quickly faded.
Clearing his throat, Hunter simply nodded and slid his hands into his suit slacks. “Oh, I see. Cool. I have a twin brother.”
Now the fantasy jumped into her brain as a grin that matched his from earlier arose. “Soooooooo, there really are two of you? Uh huh.” Pressing her lips, she tapped her chin.
“Um … we’re fraternal twins but we look similar. Same complexion, bald head, height, and build, but different personalities and interests. He’s my best friend, though.”
“I understand. So are my brothers.” Shaking her head to clear it of the amorous thoughts clouding it, she remembered why they were standing there in the first place. “If you want to follow me, we can go ahead and discuss your fundraiser.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I almost forgot why I was here.”
After relocking the doors, Harper led him to one of the oversized booths that sat along the back wall of the club. She slid onto the seat but stayed toward the edge of it. He followed suit on the opposite side and sat directly in front of her. Hunter’s long legs stretched out under the table and accidently bumped her outstretched ones. The mere touch sent her pulse racing like a horse aiming to win the Kentucky Derby. Her eyes automatically glanced to the black drapes flanking the booth, which could be closed for privacy. Not that she needed to and was mad her mind even went to that location. Sliding her legs back, she tucked her feet against the bottom of the seat. She couldn’t believe the havoc this man caused, and she had to remind herself he was a client.
Opening the note section on her iPad, Harper gave him her attention and prayed her voice wouldn’t crack. His smooth, coffee-colored skin was enhanced by the fully lit spotlights that were usually dimmed in an array of colors when the club was open. She had to knock the thought away of how his hand intertwined with her toffee-colored one appeared perfectly together like a tempting swirled mousse pudding with whipped cream and cherries on top.
“So, tell me about your organization and your fundraiser.”
“I’m the project director for a non-profit organization, Doctors Unlimited, which specializes in bringing medical care to impoverished places, natural disasters, and epidemic outbreaks. We’re mostly outside of the United States but sometimes here as well when needed.”
“Oh, yes. I’ve heard of it.” She paused as she remembered his last name. “So wait … you’re related to the founder? I’ve seen him numerous times on the national news outlets discussing the organization.” Guess handsome men run in the Arrington family.
“Yes, Dr. Cannon Arrington is my cousin. The board has decided to expand to the States now and we’re preparing to open a free clinic here in Atlanta and other cities across the US as well. I’m in the States temporarily for the next four months or so to oversee this new venture.”
“Oh.” The simple word came out in a disappointed fashion, and she had to stop herself from frowning all the while wondering why the heck she cared. She didn’t even know the man, yet apart of her wanted to. Nevertheless, it didn’t matter because Hunter didn’t live in Atlanta. Long distance relationships were no longer on the list after her horrible break-up with an ex she caught cheating two years ago. She’d flown to New York to surprise him for the weekend only to discover a surprise of her own when she found him having sex with some bimbo on the couch.
“Where do you live now?”
“I don’t really a have set place where I live. I’ve been all over the world with the organization for the past twelve years since I graduated from law school. However, Memphis will always be my home. My next assignment after I leave Atlanta is Ghana for about six months. Maybe less. After that who knows? I go where I’m needed.”
“Wow. That’s truly wonderful. We would love to host your fundraiser gala. I know a lot of bigwigs who would donate to such a caring and prestigious organization. Tell you what, I’ll waive half the cost of renting the club if you have it on a Monday evening. That’s the only night where we don’t have a theme. Unless you’d prefer something during the day when we’re closed, but in your case I think a night time event would be fabulous.”
“Thank you. I sincerely appreciate it, but you don’t need to run that by anyone? A manager? The owner?”
She nearly choked on a laugh. “I am the owner along with my two brothers. So no, I don’t need to run it by anyone. It will be our donation.”
“Forgive me. How did the Bennett triplets get into the nightclub business?”
“Our parents were the original owners for over twenty years. They’re retired now and traveling the States in a Winnebago, and sometimes they go abroad. We took over the reins about three years ago. Sometimes my dad still likes to check on things so we humor him. My brother, Cameron, is the general manager, and my brother, Mason, joined us six months ago as head of security after his honorable discharge from the Marines. I’ve worked here since I graduated from Howard assisting my mother with the event planning.”
“That’s wonderful. Keeping it all in the family. It’s great to see African-American legacies.”
“Yes, and it seems you’re doing the same.”
“Oh, yes. I never wanted to be an attorney like my parents, or a doctor like my cousins, but I’ve always been one to help people which is pretty much the Arrington family motto. Working with Doctors Unlimited is very fulfilling for me. It’s definitely not about the money or accolades. My father came from very humble beginnings, and the one thing my dad and my Uncle Francis instilled in me is never forget where you came from. Always give back. Not just money but your time and concernment for others. That’s why opening the free clinics here in the States is very important to me on a personal level.”
Something about his statement pulled at her heart strings. If there were such a thing as a perfect man, then he fit the mold. Harper loved a man who had compassion about people and life. There was so much more to him than a dashing smile, ruggedly handsome face, and a chiseled physique. Hunter Arrington possessed the characteristics that she’d searched for. The men she’d dated since her break up were arrogant, haughty rich men who only cared about money and material possessions. Heck, she had her own money—always had—so men thinking that lavishing her with extravagant gifts would impress her were sadly mistaken.
At age thirty-three, Harper wanted so much more from life than the finer things. She wanted the love and stability that her parents had shared for thirty-six years. Hunter was a breath of fresh air and he seemed like a genuine guy, but unfortunately she couldn’t find out more. Knowing any more about him would place her in a situation she didn’t want to be in.
For the next hour they discussed the details of the event while Harper found herself trying to control the butterflies doing the jitterbug in her stomach. She’d stepped away momentarily to grab two chilled bottled waters from the bar even though she would have preferred a stiff scotch to calm down her attraction to a man she could never date. Hunter was intelligent, articulate, good-looking, and charismatic all wrapped into one. A perfect combination. The more they conversed, the more she craved learning more about him and his experiences that had sent him all over the world because of his caring heart.
“Why did you decide to have the fundraiser at Masquerade?” she asked once they were done with the details, and she sensed he was leaving when he checked his cell phone with a frown. Did he have another appointment? A date?
“One of the volunteers who recently attended an event said it was a very upscale place, and I should consider having the fundraiser here. I’ve only been in Atlanta for about two months, except when I had to leave briefly for an assignment, and I don’t know all of the happening spots. I work all day and afterwards crash in my hotel suite. I haven’t had a chance to venture out except for grabbing dinner if I don’t order room service.”
“Atlanta has a plethora of things to do. You haven’t been here before?”
“Yes, but it’s usually for work not pleasure.”
“Well, you should go out and do something. You work hard and you should play hard. Or at least that’s mine and my best friend, London’s motto.” Even though neither of them were living up to the last part lately.
A sexy grin emerged across his face and he leaned in toward her. “Maybe you can show me some fun places while I’m in town. Be my private tour guide.”
Beads of sweat formed on the back of her neck. Was he asking her out on a date? She wanted to say yes—goodness, she wanted to scream yes—but why waste time with a man who didn’t even live in Atlanta? “Oh … um, Hunter … I don’t know if that’s such a great idea. I don’t mix business with pleasure. You’re my client.”
“Then I’ll find another venue,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“You can’t do that. You signed a contract,” she reminded with a wink.
“Okay … then it’s not a date. Just two grown people hanging out,” he paused, resting a heated gaze on her and lowering his voice, “and playing hard.”
The tremor that raged through her surely had to have shaken the building as well because the intensity in his voice settled right in her center. She crossed and uncrossed her legs while thinking about her next words carefully.
“Can I think about it?” she asked, even though she really wanted to answer, ‘Yes and what time are you picking me up?’ But she had to remain in control of herself. This wasn’t like her at all to be infatuated with a man she’d just met.
An amused expression washed over his features. “Sure. At least you didn’t say no.”
“Uh … I didn’t say yes either. However, why don’t you come by the club tomorrow night. We’re having our Wind Down Wednesday. We open early at six for happy hour. Drinks and appetizers are half off until eight. Get out and have some fun. You may meet someone.” Wait. Why the hell am I trying to give this masterpiece away?
A serious grin raised up his left jaw. “I only have my eyes set on you, beautiful one.”
Heat rushed to her cheeks as the smile she wanted to suppress burst through followed by a giggle which was so unlike her once again.
“Well, maybe I’ll have an answer for you tomorrow evening.”
“I hope so.” Glancing at his cell phone once more, Hunter stood. “I hate to go, but I have a conference call meeting soon with Cannon and some other members of Doctors Unlimited that are on a different time zone. It’s almost nine in the morning where they are.”
Standing on shaky legs, she motioned for him to follow her. “I understand. I’ll set up a time so you can meet with the executive chef to taste some samples. In the meantime, I’ll email you the menus and prices. I think majority of them will go with your budget.”
Once they made it to the lobby, Harper was halfway disappointed he had to leave, but she had a million things to do before the club opened. One was to remember how to breathe again.
Unlocking the door, she glanced up at the commanding man in her personal space who stared at her seductively, causing her heart to do somersaults. She hated strangers so close but decided to make an exception this one time. After all, the man wasn’t exactly a stranger, right? She’d spent the last hour in his presence trying her hardest to listen to what he said while attempting not to drool. She inhaled his cologne so she wouldn’t forget it, and snapped a mental picture of his alluring face so she could describe him to her best friend as well as remember him once drifting off to sleep.
“It was very nice meeting you, Harper Bennett,” he said in a deep, low voice.
Well there goes remembering how to inhale and exhale. The way her name rolled off his tongue sent an electric current to zoom through every cell in her body. Luckily, she lived within walking distance of the club because a cold shower may be her next task.
“You, too.” Gulping, panic washed over her when she thought Hunter was going to lower his mouth to hers as his eyes brushed over it. She swore she could feel his succulent lips and long tongue that she’d noted earlier on her. His strong, smooth hands could definitely join the party, and she’d invite his muscular chest, too. In fact, every inch of him could come and the image sent another charged current to bolt through her.
“I’ll see you tomorrow evening, Ms. Bennett.”
Once he left and the doors were secured, Harper bent down and took off her six-inch heels which brought her down to five-foot-three. Carrying them, she trekked over to the elevator and pressed her pass code to the private third floor which housed the executive offices. Dashing to hers in a daze, she shut the door and plopped in her gold leather chair that her brothers had named the Diva’s Throne.
Harper was in utter disbelief of her thought process. In the time it had taken her to leave the lobby and crash into the chair, she’d managed to daydream about undressing Hunter for a long, hot shower. But who was she kidding? He was a well-traveled man that probably had a woman in every city he’d journeyed to. Of course he flirted with every pretty lady that crossed his path and she was simply next on the list. With that assumption she breathed somewhat easier. Becoming involved with a man always on the go wasn’t on her agenda. She preferred stability and the peace of mind to sleep at night knowing that whomever she dated wasn’t far away in another city screwing someone else.
Besides, the man probably hasn’t even given me a second thought and is not showing up tomorrow night. Yet the more she tried to convince herself of that, the more she knew it was a lie. Hunter would be there, and she’d count every second until she saw him again.
Print book: September 23, 2016
Its GIVEAWAY TIME! To celebrate the release of the The Bennett Triplets Series, Delaney, Sharon and I are giving away $75.00 dollars worth of gift cards. What do you have to do? A Scavenger Hunt! Click the link below. Good luck!