Island, a Sexy, Dark, Romantic Suspense.
one thing only: to have their wildest romantic fantasies come to life. Pirates,
cowboys, billionaires—there’s nothing Rook’s staff can’t deliver.
Stephanie will have to pose as a guest in order to dig for answers.
Unfortunately, this means she’ll need to get close to the one thing on the
island that’s not on the menu: the devastatingly handsome and intimidating Mr.
Rook. And he’s not about to give the island’s secrets away.
My name is Stephanie Fitzgerald. I am twenty-six years old, London born, New York raised, and I know exactly three things about my current situation.
One: I am an imposter riding on this private jet carrying myself and eleven other women to an island “paradise.”
Two: I have no clue what I will find when I disembark, because this exclusive resort doesn’t exactly advertise.
Three: I will be fired if I don’t return home with concrete information regarding Mr. Rook, the mysterious owner of the island. And when I say I’ll be fired, I really mean that my body will be thrown down a deep dark well by a bad, bad man.
Those three things, however, don’t really matter. Only finding my sister does. Because the last place Cici was seen alive is here, “Fantasy Island.” Yep, that’s what some people actually call it. Some even say the show in the ’80s was based on this place.
Sure. If your fantasy is to disappear, leaving your family an emotional train wreck, then okay, I concede the point.
Regardless, this is where Cici went after winning a mystery dream vacation in the back of some travel magazine, and it’s touted as the real deal. You pay fifty K. They make your wildest fantasies come true. One week in Heaven.
Heaven, my ass.
As the tires hit the wet landing strip and the plane slows to a crawl, I glance out the tiny oval window to my left, and my breath hitches. Standing among the lush vegetation lining the runway is a tall man with square shoulders. He’s looking right at me, and those eyes—so predatory, so cold—are the only thing I can really see of him.
I blink, and he vanishes like a wisp of steam.
Fuck. What was that? A hard shiver slams through me as I realize I have no clue what I’ve just gotten myself into. Because I am one of the next happy guests at Mr. Rook’s private island, where “Every woman’s fantasy is our business.” And not everyone comes home from vacation.
Although she obtained her MBA and worked for more than fifteen years in the
corporate world, she believes that it’s never too late to come out of the
romance closet and follow your dream. Mimi lives with her Latin Lover hubby,
two pirates-in-training (their boys), and the rat terrier duo, Snowflake and
Mini Me, in Arizona. She hopes to make you laugh when you need it most and
continues to pray daily that leather pants will make a big comeback for men.
Book #1 in the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal…
Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.
Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.
Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…
SILVER SILENCE by Nalini Singh
Laughing at the cubs’ antics, Valentin jogged down the slight incline and waded into what had to be ice-cold water after kicking off his boots and socks. He splashed the cubs, laughed when they splashed him back. Running so they could chase him, he turned abruptly and chased them back, to their unhidden joy.
Silver took a seat on the grass. When the female bear looked her way, she inclined her head in a silent greeting. The bear did the same, then they both watched an alpha bear play with two energetic cubs, his hands holding rough care for their small bodies.
By the time Valentin made his way back to her, he was drenched and his eyes weren’t human in any way. When he spoke, his already deep voice was so low it felt like thunder against her skin. “Couldn’t resist,” he said, pushing back his wet hair with one big hand. “If you weren’t in recovery and if I wasn’t in terror of Nova’s wrath, I’d have invited you. The small monsters wanted to play with you.”
Silver didn’t get to her feet. “Can we stay here a little longer?” It was patent that Valentin had an extremely high tolerance for the cold, but he might want to dry off.
“Sure,” he said, and, moving away several feet, shook off the wet.
Fine droplets settled on the skin of her cheek, but she didn’t flinch at the unintentional tactile contact. She also controlled her urge to reach up and touch the water where it lay against her skin. There was no reason to do that, and Silver was alive because she only did things that were rational.
Settling beside her, Valentin waved at the cubs as their guardian led their tired forms toward a path in the trees that was at the same level as the stream. “Gentler climb,” Valentin told her.
“They seem too exhausted to make it to Denhome.”
“It’s all an act—they’re hoping for a ride on their aunt’s back.” His tone held the same fond affection she’d heard when he spoke of Dima. “It’d take more than a few minutes’ play in the water to wipe out those two.”
The cubs had played with Valentin for almost a half hour. “They’re hyperactive?”
“They’re baby bears.”
Silver watched as those baby bears turned toward her and rose up on their back paws, as if in challenge. A stern sound from their caretaker, and they dropped down and scrambled to catch up with her. Their bodies disappeared into the trees as dusk began to turn from orange to shadowy gray.
Beside her, Valentin sprawled out, bracing himself on his elbows. His drenched T-shirt clung to the ridged muscles of his abdomen, pulled tight across his pectoral muscles, shaped itself over his shoulders. His jeans weren’t much better, outlining the raw muscle of his thighs.
Valentin Nikolaev was a man of violent physical strength even in human form. Yet he clearly had iron control over it; when he’d played with the children, they’d displayed zero fear of their alpha.
“You thought about where you’re going to live when you escape the bears who’ve kidnapped you?”
When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “Fringe netter with his own Internet channel sent out a breaking report last night. Pasha—who obviously needs more work duties—made up a fake account and posted a comment swearing to have seen you being pulled into a black van by six burly bears in bear form.”
“You don’t seem too concerned.” Amber eyes and deep voice, he remained very much a bear in human form.
“Well, according to this ‘eyewitness,’ the getaway driver was in bear form, too. Must’ve been tough for him to steer with one paw since he was drinking a beer at the same time.”
“Bears,” Silver said, making Valentin throw his head back and laugh that huge laugh that wrapped around her.
Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nalini Singh, 2017.
About Nalini Singh
NEW YORK TIMES AND USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series Nalini Singh usually writes about hot shapeshifters and dangerous angels. This time around, she decided to write about hot and wickedly tempting rock stars – and one sinfully sexy rugby god turned brilliant CEO. If you’re seeing a theme here, you’re not wrong.
Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing. If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. Also, don’t forget to swing by the site to check out the special behind-the-scenes page for the Rock Kiss series, complete with photos of many of the locations used in the books.
By: Ilsa Madden-Mills and Tia Louise
Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: David Wills
Designer: Shanoff Formats
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and international bestselling author Tia Louise…
The first rule of office romance is don’t do it—especially if your dream is to hold the anchor spot on the nightly news and your boss is trying to get you fired.
But one look at Cade Hill, the sexy new sports director, and uptight reporter Rebecca Fieldstone is daydreaming about other things.
Sex in his office…
Sex in the on-set kitchen…
Sex in the supply closet…
She can’t stop thinking about the former NFL quarterback and how perfect he’d look between her sheets—except he’s an arrogant jerk with a huge…ego.
He’s the last guy she’d ever have a one-night stand with.
Cade Hill draws a thick professional line on office romance—until it comes to the hyper-focused Rebecca. He wants her, and he gets his wish when a chance encounter has them having the hottest sex of their lives.
It’s just a hook-up, she says.
When can we do it again? he says.
With Rebecca determined to keep Cade in the friend zone, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Cade to convince her he’s the last guy she’ll ever want.
★★★ EXCERPT ★★★
THE LAST GUY
By Ilsa Madden-Mills and Tia Louise
© Ilsa-Louise Books, 2017
~ Rebecca ~
He kicks the door shut and without even turning on the light, he tosses me on my back on the bed. I prop up on my elbows. My dress is up around my waist, my bra is wet from Cade’s mouth, and my nipples are pointing right at him.
“Damn,” he rasps, and I watch, mesmerized as he reaches behind his neck to pull his shirt over his head, leaving his hair a sexy mess.
The light of the full moon blasting through my window covers him in a silvery glow. My stomach clenches when I see the lines of his muscles deepened by the shadowy light. My God, he’s gorgeous. He looks otherworldly.
“We really shouldn’t do this…” My voice is breathless.
He strides toward the bed, his eyes never leaving mine. He’s focused, determined, and I watch long fingers unfasten his belt, the top of his jeans, his zipper.
“This is a terrible idea.”
“Yes,” he murmurs as he cups my face. I sigh and lean into his palm, letting the sizzle between us electrify me. If I do this…if I go through with boning him…it’s going to be the best sex of my life, judging by the tiny raised hairs all over my body.
I scoot to the foot of the bed so I’m right in front of him and my head is level with his waist. Looking up, I slide my palms to his sides, pushing his jeans lower.
He’s standing in front of me in black boxer briefs. I slide my palms up and down against the hot planes of his pelvis, teasing him, tracing my fingers around the straining bulge of his erection. “We’re gonna regret this.”
A long shudder comes from him, and his eyes are heavy-lidded as he watches me. “I don’t think so, Stone. Not in a million fucking years.” He leans down and his lips capture mine, his tongue sweeping inside my mouth, exploring, owning me.
Get an email alert when THE LAST GUY goes LIVE on Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TLGSignup
Get a Text Alert as soon as it’s live! Text “TiaLouise” to 64600 Now.* U.S. only
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LISTEN to the playlist on Spotify: https://goo.gl/AXnGKe
About the Author
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and the “Queen of Hot Romance” Tia Louise are not a secret duo, but simply themselves.
Great friends, former English teachers, and southern gals in real life, they’ve teamed up to bring you laugh-out-loud naughty romances with strong leading ladies and sexy alpha males who know how to please their women—and who sometimes you just want to slap.
Ilsa’s Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/2rf1oow
Ilsa’s BookBub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ilsa-madden-mills
Tia’s Amazon Page: http://amzn.to/2rRxJy2
Tia’s BookBub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tia-louise
New York Times bestselling author, Sawyer Bennett, is happy to introduce a new Wicked Horse club in Las Vegas and you’re cordially invited to attend the grand opening…
As the owner of The Wicked Horse, an elite sex club located along the Vegas Strip, Jerico Jameson never spends the night alone. Gorgeous, ripped, and totally alpha, Jerico doesn’t grant favors and will rarely give you the time of day—unless he wants you in his bed. So when the sister of his sworn enemy shows up asking for help, saying no should be easy. But when Jerico takes one look at her and sees an opportunity to help this beautiful woman while exacting revenge on her brother, he’s not about to pass that up.
Beaten and bruised, Trista Barnes is running out of options, and Jerico is her last chance to get out of the mess she’s in. She doesn’t know why Jerico despises her brother so much, but as long as he can help her, she doesn’t care. Jerico offers her safety while opening her up to a sinful world she never knew existed.
As she succumbs to Jerico’s erotic charm, Trista lets herself fall into the wicked world of guilt free pleasure with no regrets. Under his strong alpha hand, she blooms, and so does Jerico’s possessiveness. But what happens when Trista finds out she was a pawn in Jerico’s game all along, and that the price for his favor was steeper than she ever imagined – her heart.
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo
For three nights, I’ve watched her.
By any definition, I’d totally be considered a stalker.
But from the comfort of my office, I can pull up the security feeds on my monitor and take note of the subtle changes in Trista as she works the condiment tray. Truth be told, I don’t need her working that job and have a much greater need for her to go back to cleaning, but fuck if she doesn’t look a hell of a lot sexier in a thong than a turtleneck and pants.
Part of my training in the military was gathering intelligence, so I can pick up on the slightest of details that could tell me a very important story, and there were a lot of changes I noticed over the last three days with Trista as she settled into her job routine.
The most important and pleasing thing was that Trista’s stopped hiding her sexual curiosity. When she first started working here, she looked around a room in a vague way, not taking in too many details. I think she was afraid to watch.
Afraid of what it would do to her body.
But that has definitely changed.
Now, Trista watches what the patrons are doing. Sometimes, she stares for long moments and much to my delight, the kinkier the acts, the longer she stares. My trained eyes take in her chest rising and falling to keep up with what I’m sure was a racing pulse. She’d adjust the straps covering her breasts in a very minute way either because the pressure on her nipples was too much, or because she wanted to create some friction.
Naughty, naughty girl.
My favorite though was when she would cross one long leg over the other and squeeze her thighs together as she watched, and I had no doubt her clit was probably pulsing with desire.
Trista was getting braver too. She never once took any man up on an offer to join, and there had been some I’d seen. I had told her she could if business was slow, but I also made a spectacle in front of Willis that she was off limits. Perhaps Trista thinks she’s off limits to everyone, and it’s fine by me if she wants to think that.
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.
Title: LETHAL LIES
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Blood Brothers, #2
On Sale: May 16, 2017
Trade Paperback: $14.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD
“4 1/2 stars! Top pick! This is a true thriller that will keep readers frantically flipping the pages as death and danger come at the protagonists from several directions. Zanetti’s brilliance at storytelling is on full display…When it comes to high-octane thrillers, they don’t get better than Zanetti!” —RT Book Reviews on LETHAL LIES
“Zanetti’s stories are always woven with vivid detail and a breakneck pace. As a reader, there’s really no time to draw a peaceful breath until the story ends. Lethal Lies is another winner.” –Heroes & Heartbreakers on LETHAL LIES
“Zanetti balances the adventure and menace of Zara and Ryker’s lives with a relatable romance. The result is a story that’s sexy and emotional, and filled with a rich look at love in all its forms.” —The Washington Post on DEADLY SILENCE
“Budget your time, readers, because this is one that’s hard to put down.” — Heroes & Heartbreakers on DEADLY SILENCE
A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .
Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars—even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.
Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath.
**Pick up the print edition for exclusive bonus content!**
She swallowed and met his gaze. “All right. Let me get this straight. We’re going undercover to flush out a killer who’s obsessed with me, and you’re offering to play at being my man for real with no strings or future?” She hoisted the bag onto her shoulder. “That’s some ego. Are you that good in bed?”
“Yes.” And that was definite interest in her eyes.
She clicked her tongue. “I’ll keep your offer in mind.”
“You do that.” He maintained a low and calm voice. “While you’re considering, let’s look at the situation. You have publicly made me your fiancé in order to draw out a killer, which means I have to act as such. Any halfway intelligent law enforcement officer or private investigator would keep his redheaded fiancée very close after the stunt you just pulled. If you’re not with me, the killer is going to be very suspicious.”
She stilled, expressions crossing her face rapidly. “That’s a good point,” she said slowly.
Yeah. Sometimes reality helped him out a little. Plus, the killer had a hard-on for her, and he must already have plans to take her at some point. She’d just upped the timeline. “In addition, you need protection around the clock now, and I’m willing to provide that. So while you’re keeping my offer in mind, we’ll be staying in the same hotel room or same apartment.” He made sure he had her full attention. “While we plan the wedding, of course.”
Her challenging smile thrilled something inside him. “That’s fair.”
He stepped back to give her some space. “Good. Are you ready?”
“Yes.” She looked around the room. “I do have to ask. What if I didn’t agree with you about your keeping secrets from me? Considering people shoot at you, and I’m going to be at your side, it seems fair that you tell me who these people are.” She cocked her head to the side and focused back on him.
“I have more immediate concerns than being fair,” he said smoothly. “You brought me into this mess.”
A frown drew down her eyebrows. “Listen. I want an answer about you.”
“I just gave you one.” At her mulish expression, he searched for better words that wouldn’t end in an argument.
Suddenly, the door blew wide open and bounced loudly off the table. “Anya!” he yelled, jumping for her.
THE BLOOD BROTHERS SERIES
DEADLY SILENCE, #1
LETHAL LIES, #2
TWISTED TRUTHS, #3
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller lists. She has received a Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review for Wicked Edge, Romantic Times Reviewer Choice Nominations for Forgotten Sins and Sweet Revenge, and RT Top Picks for several of her novels. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.
FOLLOW FOREVER ONLINE
Someone like You
By: Lauren Layne
Lauren Layne’s bestselling Oxford Series continues with the poignant, heartwarming story of New York’s most eligible bachelor, Lincoln Mathis, a man who’s living a lie—until his dream woman takes away the pain.
Lincoln Mathis doesn’t hide his reputation as Manhattan’s ultimate playboy. In fact, he cultivates it. But behind every flirtatious smile, each provocative quip, there’s a secret that Lincoln’s hiding from even his closest friends—a tragedy from his past that holds his heart quietly captive. Lincoln knows what he wants: someone like Daisy Sinclair, the sassy, off-limits bridesmaid he can’t take his eyes off at his best friend’s wedding. He also knows that she’s everything he can never have.
After a devastating divorce, Daisy doesn’t need anyone to warn her off the charming best man at her sister’s wedding. One look at the breathtakingly hot Lincoln Mathis and she knows that he’s exactly the type of man she should avoid. But when Daisy stumbles upon Lincoln’s secret, she realizes there’s more to the charming playboy than meets the eye. And suddenly Daisy and Lincoln find their lives helplessly entwined in a journey that will either heal their damaged souls . . . or destroy them forever.
Advance praise for Someone Like You
“Fun and flirty, sassy and steamy, with a deep emotional pull that will keep you turning the pages.”—Kelly Jamieson, author of Top Shelf
“An unsung hero with a story that touched my heart. Emotional and gripping. A top favorite of 2016 for me.”—New York Times bestselling author Melanie Moreland
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26117436-someone-like-you
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/149063-oxford
Lauren Layne is the USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband (who was her high school sweetheart–cute, right?!) and plus-sized Pomeranian.
In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.
In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
For a list of all her works, please be sure to check out her official website!
“Lincoln, you know that I love you like a brother, but if you make a move on my sister, I will end you.”
Lincoln Mathis took a slow sip of his cocktail as he studied the fierce bride-to-be. “I hope Cassidy knows how lucky he is. You’re so delicate and gentle.”
Emma Sinclair, soon to be Emma Cassidy as of this time tomorrow, lifted one elegantly manicured fingernail and flicked his chest. “Promise, Lincoln. No hitting on Daisy.”
“I don’t hit on women.”
Emma gave him a look.
He held up his free hand in surrender. “I don’t. They come to me. I’m like the stamen.”
Emma stared at him with wide, slightly accusatory brown eyes. “The what?”
“The stamen. The pollen-producing part of a flower, Sinclair. Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel? Animal Planet? I just saw a fascinating documentary on bees. See, when the bees land on a flower, their little feet pick up pollen from the stamen— “
“Mathis. Are you talking to my fiancée about semen?” Alex Cassidy asked, coming up beside Emma and setting a possessive hand on her waist.
“Stamen,” Lincoln clarified. “Not semen. Honestly, is sex all you people think about?”
“Yes.” This came from Riley Compton, a brunette bombshell whose status as New York’s foremost “sexpert” meant she had zero qualms about discussing sex at her best friend’s rehearsal dinner. “And you know, actually, the stamen is rather sexual. I saw that bee documentary too, because these are the sort of things you do when you’re nursing a never-satisfied baby, by the way, and the stamen is a flower’s male reproductive organ. Sexy, right?”
Emma inserted the arm not holding her champagne flute between the two of them. “Guys, it’s my wedding weekend. Can we not talk about flower boners?”
“Fair enough, Bride,” Lincoln said. “What do you want to talk about? Cassidy’s boner?”
Alex Cassidy choked into his champagne.
“There will be no boner discussion,” Emma said. “Lincoln and I were just having a chat about how Lincoln will be maintaining his distance from my sister.”
“Speaking of flowers, where is Daisy?” Riley asked, scanning the room.
“Running late. Knowing my sister, her dress had a slight crease from the suitcase, and she won’t make an appearance until every wrinkle’s banished, every hair’s in place, and there’s not a speck of lint anywhere.”
“Gosh, however will I keep my hands to myself?” Lincoln muttered.
“Lincoln, I swear to God—”
“He’s messing with you, Em,” Cassidy said, carefully tugging his fiancée away from Lincoln. “Don’t let him press your buttons. And Lincoln, man, what is with that drink?”
Lincoln glanced down. “It’s called a Jasmine. Gin, lemon, some Campari—”
“It’s pink,” Cassidy observed.
“Right? You want one?”
Cassidy rolled his eyes. “I’ll stick with wine, thanks. Ah shit, there’s my grandma waving us over. Emma, you up for talk about the state of your uterus?”
Emma groaned. “Oh no. I thought she’d agreed to wait until after the wedding to talk about my eggs.”
“I’ll go with you,” Riley said. “As the only one in our little group of friends who’s ever pushed a human skull out my—”
“Okay, I’m going to expand my taboo list,” Emma said. “No talking about boners, flowers, or vaginas.”
“Fine,” Riley said, as she entwined her arm in Emma’s and started leading her toward Cassidy’s grandma. “But if Grams starts talking about fertility, just follow my lead . . . ”
Lincoln smiled as he watched his friends walk away. He could follow, certainly, help run interference, but new mom Riley was a far better choice for this particular bridal-party duty.
Besides, as best man, Lincoln had enough to worry about. The ring, reconfirming transportation to the church tomorrow, the speech that he was going to slay tomorrow, the—
Lincoln’s best man to-do list scattered as his eyes landed on a woman standing in the doorway to the private event room. He did a double take. When had Emma found time to change? Generally speaking, he didn’t consider himself particularly in tune with his friends’ clothes. Especially the women, because, well . . . he didn’t really give a crap. But he was pretty damn sure Emma had been wearing a white dress just ten seconds ago.
Now she was wearing a short yellow dress, with fussy, flowy sleeves, high-necked and a bit demure—
No, not demure, Lincoln amended as she turned. Hot. The dress was backless, showing a smooth expanse of lightly tanned skin from the small of her back all the way up to long dark blond hair.
. . . Blond hair.
Emma had shoulder-length brown hair. A wardrobe swap, he might be able to buy, but the hair?
He was looking at none other than Daisy Sinclair, the forbidden fruit, in the flesh.
He’d forgotten that Daisy wasn’t just Emma’s sister—she was Emma’s identical twin.
Other than the fact that she was, apparently, not to be hit on, Lincoln didn’t know much about her.
Well, he supposed he now knew that she dyed her hair blond.
Or maybe Emma dyed hers brown?
Whatever. Girl stuff he didn’t care about one way or the other.
And yet he didn’t look away, captivated somehow. He racked his brain for everything he’d heard about Daisy Sinclair.
He knew that she and Emma had grown up in North Carolina. But Emma left for New York City shortly after college, and Daisy had stayed. He thought he remembered talk of a recent divorce, although he didn’t recall the details.
Didn’t need to, really. Lincoln knew better than anyone that not all relationships had happy endings.
Lincoln watched as Daisy hesitated just inside the doorway, unnoticed yet by the rest of the bridal party and out-of-town guests.
Making people comfortable was a particular skill of his. Normally he’d be over there in a heartbeat with a glass of wine and some of his best banter until her shoulders relaxed and he’d coaxed a smile from her pretty face.
But he wasn’t entirely convinced Emma wouldn’t make good on her castration threats, so instead Lincoln merely studied Daisy. The woman was beautiful. No surprise there, since Emma was gorgeous. Yet, though their features were identical, they were attractive in entirely different ways.
Emma was all polished confidence, stunning in an untouchable sort of way.
Daisy was softer somehow. Gentler. She seemed . . . touchable.
Lincoln’s cocktail froze on its way to his mouth as the forbidden rocked him back on his heels. Daisy Sinclair was not for him to touch for reasons that had nothing to do with Emma’s threats.
As though sensing a man’s brooding thoughts on her, Daisy turned slightly, her eyes locking on his. Eyes that he’d known would be dark brown like Emma’s, and yet eye contact with Emma had never felt like this.
Lincoln felt something akin to panic, because for a heart-stopping moment, it felt like Daisy Sinclair was seeing him. Not seeing the Lincoln he wanted everyone to see.
The real him.
He gave himself a little mental shake. Get it together, Mathis. The woman doesn’t even know you.
None of them did.
He saw the moment of answering shock in her own gaze, sensed that for a split second, she considered turning and running. From him, from the party, all of it.
Then he saw something else. Something familiar, because he’d done it a thousand times himself. She squared her shoulders, and he watched as a mask slid into place.
He knew even before she approached that Daisy was exactly like him—good at being around people only because she chose to be. Knew that perhaps once it had been second nature, and now it was nothing but a deliberate attempt to make sure everyone thought she was okay.
Daisy began making her way toward him, and he tensed for reasons he couldn’t identify before ordering himself to chill out.
It was just his friend’s sister. The maid of honor to his best man.
She stopped in front of him, and he caught just the faintest whiff of her perfume, a surprisingly elegant scent for someone named Daisy, before she extended her hand.
“You must be Lincoln Mathis, The Manwhore of Whom I Should Beware?”
Her voice was a surprise. It had the same low huskiness as her sister’s, but years in New York had all but erased the Southern from Emma’s whiskey-raspy voice. Daisy’s drawl was very much intact—a mint julep on a hot day.
He grinned and took her smaller hand in his. “Which would make you Daisy Sinclair, Delicate Flower to Whom I’m Not to Speak.”
She grinned. “Nailed it.”