Read an Excerpt
His Undercover Princess
Tempt Me Series
By Avery Flynn, Alethea Spiridon
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Avery Flynn
All rights reserved.
Elle Olsen was either going to strangle him with his pine-colored silk tie or drag him into a dressing room and fuck his brains out. Too bad both options would get her fired right before her rent was due. Life was such a buzzkill that way.
The him in question was Dominick Rasmussen, one of the world's most eligible bachelors and the bane of her existence if she wanted to keep her job as head stylist at Dylan's. He'd walked onto the exclusive floor of the luxury department store accompanied by store CEO Devin Harris, who had told her to clear her calendar for the day and take very special care of an old friend in from London who needed a new winter wardrobe and then told her to enjoy her week in the sun — whatever that meant. The result had been several hours of trying to talk the sexy billionaire out of his black suit. Literally. The guy wouldn't try on anything that couldn't be accessorized by a Windsor knot.
"That is very —" He paused for a second, pursing his thick Tom Hardy–style lips together as he looked at the latest offering she held up, a soft wool fisherman's sweater in an indigo that would play off the icy Nordic hotness of his arctic-blue eyes and ash-blond hair, not to mention highlight his broad shoulders and superhero-level biceps. "Casual. I don't do casual."
Really? She totally hadn't been able to figure that out after his reaction when she showed him a pair of eight-hundred-dollar denim jeans. But a man couldn't live in only suits and the occasional tux — not even an international financier who spent as much time in the society pages as he did the boardroom. A wardrobe needed variety, it needed color, it needed to adapt. "Do you sleep in your suits, too?"
He dragged his gaze from the sweater she held up to her and completed a slow perusal starting at her totally reasonable three-and-a-half-inch metallic silver heels, up her bare calves, across the fitted pear-green pencil skirt, over her winter-white cashmere sweater and stopping briefly on her lips before reaching her eyes. She'd been stark naked, pressed up against a sixteenth-floor window, having one of the best orgasms of her life from a lover's tongue and hadn't been as turned on as she was at that moment. Fire licked its way across her skin, flicking at all of her sensitive spots until her entire body vibrated.
"Do I sleep in my suits? Do you really want to know?" he asked, his voice low with just enough dominating arrogance in it to make her shiver.
Electricity sparked in the air around them, obvious enough she could practically smell smoke in the air. She bit her bottom lip. Hard. Moaning out loud would be so bad right now. Fucking a Dylan's personal shopping client would be out of bounds. Spontaneously combusting from lust would be a total no-no. Of course, none of that made her want to do it any less. But what she needed was to not get fired from her job because she'd schtupped a client in full view of the discreet video cameras placed around the showroom.
"I'm sorry, that was an inappropriate question." Inhaling a deep breath, Elle forced her face into a mask of subservient neutrality so distant from her true nature. "It won't happen again, Mr. Rasmussen."
"Not Mr. Rasmussen. Call me Dom. I really think we should be on a first-name basis, since you know that I strip off my suit every night and get into bed wearing nothing at all."
Just like that, her panties became a lost cause. He grinned as if he knew she was picturing his muscular body sliding between crisp, white sheets. Tall, hard, and — like the Viking raiders she grew up hearing stories about — dangerous. It radiated from him like a tractor beam pulling her closer.
"Now tell me what you sleep in," he teased. "It's only fair."
"Life isn't fair." Especially not when the cool dismissal she'd meant to project got hijacked by that breathy I'm-so-frickin'-turned-on lilt to her voice.
"No, it's not." He reached out and twisted a strand of her wavy strawberry blond hair around his long finger. "That's why you have to make it bend to your will."
According to the tabloids, he liked to bend women over any available surface and fuck them brainless. Considering she'd lost about a gazillion IQ points from spending thirty minutes with him while completely dressed, she could imagine how many she'd lose if they were both naked. The image to accompany that thought flashed into her head, and her knees almost buckled. She had to get out of here before she said fuck the cameras and yanked him to the nearest horizontal surface.
"If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll go find a few more options for you to consider." Elle hustled out of the showroom as fast as possible without looking like she was running for cover, which she totally was.
The staff-only area on the exclusive eighth floor of Dylan's didn't have the chandeliers, plush sitting area, chilled champagne, and floor-to-ceiling mirrors the personal shopping showroom did, but she wouldn't have traded a single plastic chair or cup of hours-old coffee at that point for all that luxury. Instead, she sucked in the Dom pheromone–free air like a woman who'd just finished a triathlon while wearing one of those fake pregnancy bellies. Insta-lust had her by the metaphorical balls, and she needed a moment to get a hold of herself.
"Come on, girlie," Elle said to herself. "He's only a guy."
"Hey, Elle." Jaqui Shardwell, the only other personal shopper working on a Monday afternoon, peeked her head of her office. "You okay?"
Nope. Not even a little. "I'm good, just dealing with a client who doesn't like anything."
"Ugh. I feel your pain." She rolled her eyes in commiseration. "Remember that socialite who only wanted to wear puce retro sexy secretary dresses and fishnets?"
The memory of Carla Silbretti's brownish-purple phase had Elle giggling, relieving the tension stringing her body tight.
Jaqui's lips twisted, and she clasped her hands together. "Hey, I got a call from Halston's school. He threw up in the middle of class. I hate to ask, but ..."
"Don't even think about it." She waved her colleague off. "Go get the little guy. We don't have any other clients scheduled for today, and if it gets crazy, I'll call in Rebecca from lingerie. She's been dying to audition for a spot up here since she earned her fashion degree."
Jaqui grabbed her purse, and they both headed toward the special elevator that led straight to the parking lot for the personal shopping customers who liked their anonymity. They were the same ones who decreed there could be no cameras near the elevators and got management to turn off the security cameras in the showroom so that no leaked photos of them wearing an unflattering outfit could ever get out.
"You are the best, thank you." Jacqui gave her a quick air kiss before the elevator doors closed.
Not for the first time, a pang of loneliness hit her. Mr. Icy Hot would be gone soon, and then it would be her in the showroom until closing ... alone. Then she'd go home to her cute little one-bedroom apartment, where she'd binge on Netflix ... alone. Finally she'd curl up for the night under a mountain of blankets ... alone.
Friends hadn't been a possibility since she'd been abandoned in Harbor City at the ripe old age of seventeen. She couldn't risk letting anyone get close enough to discover her secret, so she'd compensated by working as much as possible, which allowed her to get her people fix and socialize, if only in a limited way. Boyfriends had been out, too, but she alleviated that need with her battery-operated boyfriend and infrequent, short-term lovers who never got the chance to know the real her. It wasn't the life she'd chosen, it wasn't the life her father would have chosen for her, but neither of them had been given a choice. When her world had blown up, the only option had been to run, to hide, to survive, so that's what she'd done.
"Elle," Dom said from behind her.
She whipped around to face him. What was he doing in the employee-only area? What do you think, dumb ass? Parcheesi?
He stood so close that the now-familiar tingling attraction snapped across her skin. He held one hand behind him, and the other reached for her, cupping the back of her head, his fingers tangling in her long hair. Oh, God, he was going to kiss her, and damn her mutinous body, she wanted him to. This was bad, but she'd lost her ability to care.
The rest of the sentence was smothered by the white cotton cloth he held in his free hand and forced against her nose and mouth. Shock froze her to the spot. She couldn't blink. She couldn't breathe. All she could do was feel the banging of her heart as panic sent it into overdrive. The people who killed her family had found her.
"This is for your own good," he said as he looked down at her. "I couldn't take the chance you'd fight me, and there isn't time to explain."
Too damn bad for him, because her fight-or-flight response zinged into action. Whatever was in the cloth, she didn't want to breathe it in. Adrenaline clawed at her, demanding life-giving oxygen, but she refused to give in. They might have murdered everyone she loved and sent her into hiding, but she wouldn't go down without a fight. She grabbed his arms, yanking and stabbing her nails into the sliver of his wrists not covered by his shirt. He didn't flinch.
Dom kept his cold gaze on her, a icy determination making them even bluer somehow. "Just relax and breathe."
Fat fucking chance. Holding on to his forearms for leverage, she slammed her knee upward, aiming for his most vulnerable spot. He deflected the move with an ease of a natural athlete or a man trained to do whatever it took to force the world to do his bidding.
She fought against him, kicking and hitting, but he kept the cloth pressed against her nose and mouth. Her lungs burned with the effort not to breathe as she struggled in his iron grasp, but it didn't do her any good. Blackness ate around the edges of her vision, the lack of oxygen taking its toll. She didn't have long before she'd pass out, with or without the help of whatever chemical was in the cloth.
Ten years. She'd made it a decade without anyone finding her, without her secret coming out. Foolishly, she'd thought she was finally safe. Now she'd pay the price for a crown she'd never worn and a kingdom she'd never ruled. Dom pulled her close to his hard chest so she wouldn't fall to the cold marble floor, holding her tight but without cruelty. No doubt that would come later.
"Everything is going to be okay, Princess Eloise," he whispered against her ear. "I promise."
But it wouldn't. She knew better than to ever trust a man who promised happy endings in the middle of a kidnapping.CHAPTER 2
Dominick Rasmussen tucked Princess Eloise closer against his chest as the elevator whisked them down to the subterranean garage and then opened its doors. He did a quick visual sweep of the space before stepping out, but it wasn't necessary. His team had been on surveillance duty for hours while he suffered through playing dress-up until a well-executed phone call sent Eloise's coworker on a wild goose chase to her child's school. Everything had gone perfectly, just as they'd planned ... and that was the problem.
The kidnapping had been too easy, and it pissed him off. His anger beat against him in time with his footsteps, echoing against the concrete walls and parked cars in the nearly vacant space. The whole store had been a security nightmare. Getting up to the private personal shopping area required a special key card to open Dylan's main elevator on the eighth floor, but stealing one from the concierge on the main floor would have been child's play. Once on the showroom floor, there were surveillance cameras, but they were only angled to capture movement around the designer clothing, especially the pieces of couture displayed like artwork. There was a sideboard filled with snacks and drinks but no register to warrant another camera. That would be too uncouth for the überrich, who had their bills sent to their accountants, he supposed.
Then there was the employee-only area. Sneaking back there had taken the skill of a toddler on a mission to grab the last chocolate chip cookie. All he'd had to do was, literally, take a single step beyond a curtained wall. There weren't any surveillance cameras in the employee area, the elevator leading to the garage, or the roped-off parking area for eighth-floor shoppers. There wasn't even a damn valet waiting, because anyone who shopped on that exclusive floor had their own driver.
If the Fjende had gotten to her first, she'd be dead and his country would be lost forever. By staying away from her so long, he'd nearly guaranteed the violent coup that had allowed the Fjende to steal the throne would go unanswered. The Resistance would have sacrificed so much for nothing. Dom would do whatever it took to make sure that never happened. The royals would return to Elskov and retake the throne.
Princess Eloise sighed in his arms, her soft breath tickling the sensitive skin along his neck and sending a shot of lust straight to his cock. Without thinking, he tightened his hold on her. It was the wrong choice. She was small, only five feet, six inches, according to her file, but her curves filled his hands, pressed against his chest, and imprinted on his mind.
The flirting earlier hadn't been necessary for his mission, but he hadn't been able to stop himself. The Elle Olsen he'd met upstairs was a woman who needed to be flirted with, fucked hard, and satisfied completely. For a few minutes, he'd let himself believe he was the man for the job. Thank God he'd come to his senses and remembered she was pretending to be someone else just as much as he was. He could flirt with the shopgirl; he couldn't even make eye contact with the princess without her prior approval.
Pulling himself back from the brink again, he punched the button on his key fob and unlocked the Mercedes. She stirred in his arms and clutched the lapels of his suit as he lowered her into the passenger seat. The weakened chloroform he'd soaked the handkerchief in only needed to keep her knocked out until they made it to his secure compound in the mountains a few hours outside Harbor City, but already she struggled against it. Good. Elskov needed a strong ruler who'd fight, because the Fjende weren't going to give up power willingly.
He clicked her seat belt closed and shut her door before circling the silver coupe and getting in on the driver's side. The motor purred to life, and he pulled out of the garage, waving to the parking attendant as he did, making sure his raised arm and partially turned body blocked the man's view of the passed-out woman in the passenger seat. After merging into traffic, he pressed the button on the comm unit hidden in his tie clip. "The package is secure. See you at rendezvous point."
His cell rang exactly sixteen minutes later. The caller ID read "unknown number." Of course, he didn't need a name to know who was on the other end. He was surprised the Resistance's leader had waited this long. Dom put in his Bluetooth synced to the coupe; if the princess woke up on the drive, there would be trouble enough without her hearing the voice on the other end of this call. He hit the answer-call button on his steering wheel. "Good afternoon, sir."
"Is she okay?" the other man asked in his signature wheezy half croak, which was all that was left of his voice after the assassination attempt.
"Yes, everything went as planned." This operation had been in the works for a year, slow and steady to make sure the Fjende weren't alerted to the princess's whereabouts. They'd planned so far ahead that they'd hacked into Dylan's internal server six months ago and put in a two-week vacation request for one Elle Olsen so her disappearance wouldn't cause concern. The timing for this had to be perfect.
"Did you have to get physical?" the other man asked.
Dom tightened his grip on the steering wheel. As if he'd hit a woman, let alone the one about to wear Elskov's royal crown. "No, sir. The chloroform eased the process."
"You better not have given her too much, dammit. Everything rides on her."
"I'm well aware of that." He reached across to her and pressed his fingers to the pulse point in her throat. Electricity singed his skin where he touched the smooth column of her neck, making his lungs tighten and his cock thicken against his thigh, but he held on long enough to confirm what he already knew. "Her breathing is steady and her heartbeat strong. She might have a headache when she wakes, but that should be it."
Excerpted from His Undercover Princess by Avery Flynn, Alethea Spiridon. Copyright © 2016 Avery Flynn. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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