About the Book:
Leaving behind sunny SoCal and an offer of employment from a respectable regional museum, Emily Powell has followed her older sister to live the expat life in London. And when her plans for New Year’s Eve fall through, Emily crashes the house party her sister and her new boyfriend are attending—only to discover them in flagrante at a secret sex party. Mortified, she flees to the only open pub in town, but wouldn’t you know, just shy of midnight, she stumbles upon her own dirty little secret in the form of one very sexy Irish artist...
The perfect vintage sequin dress isn’t the only thing that will dazzle him on NYE. This erotic romance includes two former flames who once broke all the rules to be together, and, when they’re reunited, find themselves extending more than a cup of kindness to each other. For auld lang syne.
This story stands alone without a cliffhanger at about 18,000 words.
Release Date: December 31, 2015
“And you’re sure about this? Really sure?”
Ashley fought to keep from rolling her eyes—and only partly because she was applying another coat of mascara and didn’t care to stab herself with a spoolie.
“Darling, we’ve been over this.” So what if she was kind of a brat for mimicking his hyper-posh accent and the way he called her darling? She loved it. All of it.
She loved that she could catch his eye in the mirror. That they were together again for another weekend here in the Cotswolds and could do couple-things like get ready for a party together.
After their whirlwind, upside-down courtship—plus a super-busy work schedule—they hadn’t had an opportunity to do much more than grab quick dinners before diving back to work on the AmGale-Berwick merger. Or send dirty texts to each other—on non-work phones, of course. And especially with the holidays and all the travel and family commitments, they’d barely spent five nights together this December.
But that made their times with each other even more sweet. All of that shimmering, frustrated longing manifested in some pretty cataclysmic lovemaking when they managed to spend the night together.
And now that they were back in their room at Tiffany and Sam’s stately home and about attend another wild party?
Best New Year’s Eve ever.
“I just don’t want to”—he hesitated ever so slightly—“pressure you into anything.”
She raised an eyebrow and let it speak volumes. As if.
Oliver was reclining back on what they’d christened the Henry the Fourth bed. They’d christened it in other, very creative ways, too, and hadn’t that been a blast? She marveled that it had only been a month since their indulgent beginning, the Friendsgiving holiday that had turned real sexy, real fast.
And speaking of real sexy. Oliver Wooldridge-Langston was the personification of s-e-x.
Dressed in trousers and a tailored button-down shirt, he looked like a louche lord of the manor bent on seducing a parlor maid, what with that damned sexy flash of skin from the shirt collar he’d left open.
She eyed the clock, a fussy, gilded affair on the mantle, and sighed. Thirty minutes until the party. Ugh. She almost regretted the decision they’d made to not make love once they arrived at the manor so they’d both be a little on edge at the wild party.
What she wouldn’t give to kiss her way down the strong column of his throat. . .
Maybe she’d make him slip his tie in his pocket before they went downstairs since she had no room in her simple sheath dress for accessories.
No. They had an agreement. No humiliation in public; no power plays. That was reserved for them alone, and she was more than okay with that.
But when he stood and stretched, she was more than just a little on edge. Ashley enjoyed his quick mind and the way he approached his work with a quiet competency, but he was so damn gorgeous. It was a miracle she didn’t swipe her lipstick all over her cheek or get whiplash from ogling him so hard.
“How did I get lucky enough for you to be mine?”
“I was just thinking the same thing,” she confessed.
He came up behind her, nibbling on her nick, and started to inch up her dress.
“No, sir.” She playfully slapped at his hands, but he kept going. “No getting lucky until we’re at the party. House rules.”
“Your rules,” he pouted.
“You know you love them.” And she loved the way his eyes got all hazy with lust as he watched her hemline’s northward progress in the mirror. The way they unfocused a little when she arched her back, rubbing her ass into his pelvis, teasing him.
Teasing them both.
When her dress breached the border of her lace-top stockings, the sound he made went straight to her core. “Jesus, Ashley. Are you trying to kill me?”
“Keep going and you might find out.”
* * *
The ground floor was resplendent with holiday decorations. Boughs of holly still festooned every stationary object, but their cheerful red Christmas bows had been replaced with wired metallic silver ones. The effect was extraordinary, especially with the dimmed lights and soft music filling the halls.
“Tiffany likes to set the scene,” Oliver murmured in her ear as they paused on the landing to survey the entry that was quickly filling up with guests.
From up here, it looked like a regular holiday party. People laughing and kissing their hellos. Removing coats and scarves, and checking cellphones one last time, before heading off out of the hall.
“I can see that.” As they approached the bottom of the stair, Ashley noticed a thick black ribbon cordoning off the staircase. “What’s this?”
“Upper floors are off limits to general invitees.” He removed the ribbon, gestured her forward, and turned to replace it.
“Sam runs a tight ship.”
He took her hand, gave it a squeeze. “You’re about to find out. Ready?”
For a brief second, she wanted to tell him to undo the ribbon again, to take her back upstairs and they’d just spend New Year’s Eve alone together in the Henry the Fourth bed. After all, ignoring the wild party last month had been a whole lot of fun. But that was just nerves talking. And, despite them, she was super excited for all that tonight promised.
Oliver would take care of her.
She took a deep breath and leaned forward to place a light kiss on his lips. “Let’s do this.”
If he was at all nervous about ushering her into an orgy, he didn’t show it. If anything, he went into the fray with something like glee written all over the hard planes of his face. Oliver was in his element.
Sam, their host, greeted them with enthusiasm. Like Oliver, he was wearing a beautifully tailored suit, but unlike her Oliver, he was wearing a mask. Just a flash of delicate silver metalwork, held in place with some kind of magic. It looked specially molded for the blades of his cheekbones.
Ashley shivered. It made Sam look dark and a little sinful.
Okay, a lot sinful.
“So happy you two decided to join us this time.” His wink was full of innuendo. Not that she should be embarrassed that he knew she and Oliver had spent the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend fucking like mad up in their top-floor guest room—especially considering what they were about to be engaged in. But she was sure her cheeks were flushed.
Sam clapped Oliver on the back in that universal hey bro kind of way, then turned to kiss her cheek. “Don’t you look delectable, Miss Powell?”
“Where’s Tiffany,” she asked, batting his slightly wandering hand away with a smile.
“Ah, she likes to make an entrance.”
“So you will. So you will.” His grin nearly split his handsome face in two, and Ashley felt a little pang of envy that they’d been together so long and still were so obviously in love with each other.
The door opened behind them, and a gust of cool air wafted across her bare arms. Oliver drew her close to his side, almost unconsciously, and the pang she felt at that moment was definitely not envy. In an instant, she was all hot and tingly.
And maybe a little gooey somewhere in the vicinity of her heart.
Sam motioned for the newcomers to come in while ushering Oliver and Ashley on to the rest of the house. “Please, do help yourself to some refreshments in the kitchen. That’s a safe and open space all night. We’ll see you two in the drawing room before the festivities begin.”
Strolling hand in hand through the hall, Oliver stopped here and there to introduce her to some old friends, and Ashley could almost imagine this was just a normal New Year’s Eve party. It wasn’t like it was abnormal. There was nothing abnormal with people gathering in pursuit of pleasure.
But you had to admit, it wasn’t every day that you came across a man on a leash kneeling at a woman’s feet while she fed him tidbits from a buffet.
And, oh, look, there was a woman in a pink bustier that was a feat of engineering. Her large breasts were ever-so-gently jiggling above the sweetheart neckline, seeming to defy gravity. She looked extraordinary, and Ashley made a mental note to ask her where the best lingerie shops in England were. Then the woman turned and she noticed a poufy white bunny tail riding along her pert bottom. Her very bare, pert bottom. How did she—?
Accepting a glass of champagne from Oliver was all she could manage at the moment.
“See something interesting?” He inquired, and damn the man if he didn’t pinch her ass.
“No funny business until the festivities officially begin, you two.”
“Ah, Charles.” They turned to see one of Oliver’s old school friends sidling up behind them. “So delighted you managed to make it here this evening.” The sarcasm that laced Oliver’s voice was so thick Ashley almost choked on it. There was a story here, and one day she’d get the details.
“Fluffy,” she drawled and offered up her cheek. “So good to see you again.” Ashley might have only moved in pretty circles of British society for a month, but she was from the land of real housewives. She could dish it out with the best of them.
Charles staggered back with an exaggerated hand to his heart. “You wound me, madam.”
He was such a clown, with his courtly exaggerations.
They made small talk over bubbles and canapés and Ashley was a good girl and didn’t ask whom he’d brought to the party. She’d assumed there would only be couples there. But—
The lights dimmed once, then twice, and everyone began the shuffle of returning empty plates and glasses to a few handsome wait staff Ashley hadn’t even noticed. They didn’t so much as blink at the woman with the bunny rabbit butt plug, so she assumed they were used to this kind of thing.
God bless jolly ol’ England.
“Told you Sam ran a tight ship,” Oliver whispered as they went into the drawing room, as if he could read her mind.
The room had changed dramatically since their visit the previous month. Gone were the historic pieces, and in their place were lushly padded benches, mounds of richly upholstered pillows, and was that a bed set up in the corner under a swath of diaphanous drapery?
It wasn’t quite as impressive as their Henry the Fourth, but it was damn close.
People took seats. People kneeled at the feet of people who took seats. And others milled about the periphery. Oh my God, there’s a meeting before the party begins. It was all so civilized and so English that it was almost impossible for Ashley to not laugh.
And then Tiffany made her grand entrance and laughter was the absolute last thing she was capable of. Ashley probably gasped. And, knowing Tiffany, she probably appreciated it.
Sam was leading her into the room like she was a queen. Except the real Queen of England most likely did not own such exquisite fetish wear. (One could only hope.)
Tiffany’s long, dark hair was piled on top of her head in some complicated updo that looked structured and sex-tousled all at once. Like Sam, she was wearing a mask, but where his was flashy and forged of metal, hers was a delicate silk lace.
Ashley coveted it madly.
And her collar! It started high on her neck and extended down to her gorgeous breasts, and Ashley thought it might have actually belonged to a queen at some point. A medieval warrior queen. It was glorious—she was glorious.
When Tiff smiled up at Sam, it was clear affection on her face. Then she scanned the room with regal hauteur.
When their eyes met, she gave Ashley a little wave and damn if that didn’t set her necklace to sparkling again. The collar was fine filigree, like spun sugar, and set with blood-red and clear stones that held so much fire, she wanted to look away—but couldn’t.
The tinkling of metal on crystal echoed through the room, and Ashley looked around as if out of a trance. Ah, it was time for Sam to speak.
Oliver took her hand, and she wanted to lean into him.
“There’s nothing to be nervous about, you know.”
And she did.
“Good evening, friends. Welcome back to the Hall for this New Year’s Eve gathering.” Sam’s voice carried, and was so commanding, she almost didn’t recognize the sound. Who knew? If anything, she’d thought his sweet southern wife, Tiffany, was the top in that relationship. But the way she sat in a chair next to Sam—a queen, yes, but one wearing a collar that held a king’s ransom in jewels—and the way he curled his hand around the back of her nape? There was no misunderstanding.
Sam was going over the rules, and Ashley was paying attention, she really was. But she couldn’t stop watching the way his hand stroked over his wife’s skin while he spoke. The way Tiffany all but purred from that one little touch.
It might be fun to watch those two if an opportunity presented itself tonight. If it wouldn’t be weird. It wouldn’t be weird, would it?
“The study by the reception hall is a free-for-all room,” Sam continued, making sure to look at each guest as he spoke this particular rule. “If you enter there, expect consensual rules to apply, but, other than that? Fair game.”
Oliver’s hand tightened on hers, and she looked up with a smile. They were both in agreement to not end up there. Although she might have to have a word with him about finding a way to watch a certain host and hostess before the evening was over.
A young man in tailored slacks and a dress shirt that was open at the collar—revealing a leather collar—came in with a basket and Sam gestured to him.
“Ah yes, our last bit of business. Party rules. Black means do not approach to join in. White, feel free to approach. When it seems appropriate,” he added and then began to untie his mask before turning to Tiffany to remove hers.
He held them aloft with something akin to triumph in his eye. “No mask? No need to ask, boys and girls. Just enjoy.”
A titter of laughter washed over the room, and another young man came around with a basket to proffer masks to the guests.
Finding her hands shaking, she deferred to Oliver to select theirs. And as she sat there, with her head slightly bowed, it felt right—and natural—to give him that authority. To let him take the lead.
Well that was something new. They’d have to talk about this later.
When Oliver helped Ashley with her mask, he leaned over to kiss her cheek before settling it over her eyes. The motion was tender. Reverent.
And undeniably hot.
Through the black lace, the drawing room looked even more mysterious and dramatic.
For a moment, she wished she were wearing some outrageous outfit instead of this pretty black dress. But when Oliver stepped back and gave her a once-over—she knew he was thinking about what she had on underneath—Ashley felt feminine and powerful and just right.
“Where to first?” Oliver’s whisper sent shivers down her spine. He looked dashing, a modern buccaneer set on breaking all the rules. Only, she knew he wouldn’t break any of the rules, and that made him even sexier.
Another tinkling of crystal had Ashley looking up.
The masks weren’t the only thing Sam and Tiffany had removed in the interim. Sam had been hiding some very, ah, brief fetish wear under his Saville Row suit. And Tiffany had peeled back the delicate cups of her corset top, linking the piercings in her tight little nipples to that glorious collar she was wearing.
“Oh, fuck,” Ashley whispered, in complete awe, and something like manic arousal. Oliver moved in behind her, cuddling her close.
“Maybe I’ll have to get you some jewelry for a belated Christmas gift,” he murmured in her ear. “Would you like that?”
The way her nipples felt right now, encased as they were in her black mesh bra, every breath she took was torture. Add piercings to that and…
She was spared from having to use brain cells when Sam announced the official beginning of the debauchery. “I’m going to bugger my wife now. Everyone have a lovely evening.”