Suite Nothingsby J. M. Jeffries
Brash, bold, lingerie designer Honey Harlow doesn't believe in love, but she does worship at the altar of lust. In Paris for her new lingerie line, Sweet Nothings, she meets the sophisticated, suave French vintner, Ettiene Marais. Ettiene is at Fashion Week, looking for a new mistresssomeone as sophisticated and worldly as he is. But when he sees Honey, he falls head over heels in lust. These two people, who are complete opposites, appear made for each other. As they fall out of lust and into love, they discover that love is the ultimate destination.
- Parker Publishing LLC
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Read an Excerpt
Etienne Marais sat on the hard chair and watched as the last model strutted back up the catwalk, her slender body swaying to the sound of loud techno music and thunderous applause. The first runway show of the Sweet Nothings lingerie line was an unparalleled success. Even the normally jaded Parisian fashionistas were impressed. This was a very good sign. Honey Harlow, the woman he'd come to see, had done everything with a stylish flair but kept the entire show simple and elegant.
He waited patiently for the designer to make her appearance. Honey Harlow, the newest lingerie designer sensation to take Paris Fashion Week by storm. And what a storm she'd whipped up. Never had he seen such beautiful seductive lingerie. Unlike other collections, her show had not been flashy. No rock stars detracting from the show, no outlandish costumes that had nothing to do with underwear, no super-thin models who looked like they were going to fall over at any moment stomped the runway. She hired beautiful women who frankly looked like women. Everything had been about her product and how her product worked on a woman's body. The fact that she didn't add the glitz made him think she stood behind her line for what it was--beautiful, classic sexy lingerie.
He loved the name of Honey Harlow. It was decadent, sexy and bold much like her creations. And he knew from an extensive background check that it was her real name. In fact, he knew everything he needed to know about Honey Harlow including the circumstances of her birth, her confusing familial relationships which included a half-brother who was English nobility, a half sister with a Mensa-sized mind, and a Las Vegas showgirl for a mother with astring of lovers and ex-husbands. He knew she was nearly six feet tall and had a body built for love.
The applause finally died down and the last model had retreated behind the backdrop. Honey Harlow stepped onto the catwalk and made her way slowly down, stopping here and there to speak to someone who stood up as she leaned over. Her raven black hair, caught in a band that allowed it to hang free down her back, was brushed back from her beautiful cinnamon-colored, oval-shaped face and. And her eyes. Her eyes were the most magnificent part of her, the color of Baltic amber with just a hint of mischief in them; they danced with excitement as she walked down the catwalk slowly to the overwhelming applause. Not once did she lose her calm composure as she stopped to smile or wave to someone.
Etienne's breath caught in his throat. She reached the middle of the catwalk and threw up her arms. The crowd went wild. Wearing a low cut crop top with the letters UNLV air-brushed across the front with the lacy cups of a white push-up bra just visible over the line of her shirt, low rider jeans and red platform shoes decorated in rhinestones, she looked every inch the rock and roll goddess. Her lingerie might have been subtle but nothing about the woman was. He liked the contradiction. She should have been the model to show off her fine lingerie with her voluptuous body that had all the right curves.
His assistant, Andre, leaned over toward Etienne. "She is magnificent. I can understand why you want her." Andre was a decade older than Etienne and had a worldly sophisticated air about him. He had been Etienne's personal assistant for the last five years and was indispensible.
"I don't want the woman, I just want her underwear," he responded, though the woman would be a nice treat. Harlow Lingerie would be a particularly smart addition to his luxury goods empire.
Andre laughed. "You want the woman, too. Who wouldn't want her? She is c'est magnifique."
Trust Andre to be so honest in matters of the bedroom. "Perhaps, I should speak to your wife about that."
"Sophia understands," Andre replied with an expressive shrug, "she's always happier when I have a mistress."
Claire and Andre had a particular French arrangement, they both had lovers and no one discussed it all that much. "Only your jeweler is happy when you have a mistress." Etienne stood.
"And you since you own the company."
Smiling he did recall Andre did keep him in a Euros. "Let's get to the back before all the complimentary champagne I provided is gone."
"Etienne, you sent the cheap stuff." Andre stood and tugged the cuffs of his shirt back into place.
Not for her. He wanted the best she had to offer. "For Honey Harlow, I sent my private reserve." Etienne threaded his way through the crowd, jostling the people around him in his haste. He had to start wooing the woman, to show her what he could do for her. How else would he persuade her to sell her business to him?
Honey felt flushed with exhilarating excitement as she finally walked off the catwalk and back to the dressing rooms. As she stepped around two of her models, someone handed her a glass of champagne. She saw her sister and rushed over to hug Sunny. "Baby sister, we did it."
Sunny Harlow pulled back and grinned at her. "You did it." Sunny was a tall, unusually slim woman who could have walked the catwalk herself except for her excessive shyness. She was more at home in front of a drafting board than out in public.
"We're a team. I'm the fluff, you're the brains. This is our victory." How like Sunny, Honey thought. Her sister didn't like being in the spotlight and was always giving other people credit for her actions. How did she get born into this family? "Don't forget the name on the tag is Harlow."
Sunny sighed and shook her head. "I know, but still this is your moment."
She clutched Sunny's wrist. "Let's enjoy the party."
Honey knew if she didn't keep a hold of her sister's wrist, she would fade into the background and eventually disappear back their hotel room and stick her nose in a book. "If only Damien were here." Honey's half-brother had given her the start-up capital for her business and her success was his success, but his wife Renata had fallen off a horse and broken her leg and he couldn't leave her at the moment. And while Honey was disappointed she couldn't share this moment with him, she understood that her brother's priorities had changed. And after the crap that their father, aka the sperm donor had put them both through, her big brother deserved every second of happiness that landed his way.
A man entered the room. He was tall, with dark blonde hair and striking brown eyes. Oh la la! His face was narrow and aristocratic, yet a hint of danger lurked in the hard angles. Not her usual big hard body boy type, but that's the kinda man that every girl could get all sweaty about. Honey's hormones went into overdrive. Talk to me, baby.
Sunny touched her sister's shoulder. "Enjoy your moment, Big sister. I'm going back to the hotel and curl up with a book. I've had my fun quota for the day." Sunny could always tell when Honey was distracted enough for her to make her escape.
"I'm going to let you go this time," Honey said. "I know you've worked doubly hard this week and you're tired. But next time you need to celebrate, too."
Honey found her gaze drifting back to the blond man. He stared right back at her and for a moment she was uncomfortable. This guy was on the hunt and he'd zeroed in on her and had her firmly in his sights. Not sure how she felt about the predatory gleam in his eyes, she was willing to see how things were going to play out. Normally she was used to being the predator.
Honey drifted away leaving Sunny surrounded by half-clad models each laughing and sipping their champagne. The man simply stood by the door watching her. And she couldn't take her eyes off of him either.
"Ooh, girl," her personal assistant, Conrad Cameron moved to her side. "That's the biggest fish in France you're staring at."
"Who is Mr. Tall, Blond, and Sexy in the expensive Kiton suit?" Honey could barely breathe. He was bold and brash and the way he looked at her made tingle all the way down to her toes, everywhere in between and in all the right ways.
Conrad smoothed the edges of his lapels and sighed. "Honey girl, that's Etienne Marais."
She'd heard the name before--who hadn't. This guy was the giant fish in a very exclusive pond. Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "You are kidding me? That man is Mr. Luxury Goods himself. What is he doing at my show? Slumming?" What the hell did he want with her? She wasn't the kind of company he normally purchased. Her lingerie was great but it was anything but luxury. Her customers were regular women who had jobs and mini vans, not spoiled celebrities who could spend a couple hundred bucks on a thong and not worry about making the rent.
"If I were to hazard a guess from the way he's looking at you, he already has you naked and bent over the coffee table."
"So much for foreplay," Honey said with a sigh. "I thought French men were more accomplished at seduction than other men in the world." She faked staying cool, calm and collected while her secret garden was getting all hot and bothered about doing something like that. All he had to do was hold up a can of whipped cream and she'd leap over all the models to get to him.
Conrad giggled. "Girl, if he swung my way, all I'd be thinking about is a shopping spree at Tiffany's with his black AmEx."
"On Conrad, you are such a 'ho." He had a black American Express. Well that trumped her little platinum card.
"Hell yeah." He gave her a little push. "Go over and say howdy. You are in his territory."
A small shiver went through her. "This is my party." She pursued her lips. "And I was raised right." She handed Conrad her glass. "I should be hospitable."
"Take pictures," he said.
Honey rolled her eyes. "You are so bad."
Conrad flicked his hand. "And while you're at it, thank him for the champagne." He touched his fingers to his lips. "C'est magnifique."
"Will do." She'd put that on her 'to do' list along with about eight hundred other things she could think of doing with Mr. Luxury Goods. Honey moved casually through the crowd stopping occasionally to accept congratulations on her fabulous show as she moved steadily toward him.
Honey approached him and said, "Monsieur Marais, I understand I'm to thank you for the champagne."
"Miss Harlow." His voice was deep and sensual.
Shivers raced up and down her spine. "You are more than welcome."
All the noise seemed to disappear as though they were the only people in the room. He was taller than she was even in her four inch heels. She'd been searching most of her life for a man taller than she was. And here he was in the serious man flesh. Little goose bumps raced up and down her arms.
"Did you enjoy the show?" the words come awkward and lame. What did someone say to one of the richest men in France? Or for that matter a man who had all your girl parts standing up at attention.
He delicately took her hand and caressed her thumb. "I would have enjoyed the show more if you had been one the models. You would have been superb in the pink lace ... the one with the very thin straps."
She studied him carefully. This man was dangerous and she loved danger. "You know how to go straight to the target with no preliminaries. I like that about you."
His dark brown eyes twinkled. "I'm glad there's something about me you like. I think we should find out what else you like about me."
She looked him up and down as she felt a smile tug at her lips. This guy played the game well. How very nice. "There's plenty about you I like." Never in her life had she met someone who could stand up to her, and go toe to toe for a couple rounds. Most men tended to be put off by her directness--or her ambition and drive. They didn't understand that she didn't have time for games.
"Then I think," he said in a musing tone, "we should leave right now and find out what else we like about each other."
Honey hitched a thumb over her shoulder. "You do realize this is my party to celebrate my successful launch."
His mouth lifted in a sexy smile and his eyes never left hers. "I know why you're here. But since this is your party, you can leave anytime you like. There's plenty of food and champagne to keep everyone occupied for hours. I doubt anyone will notice if you step out for a few quiet moments by yourself."
From the second she first saw him, he made her feel as if she were the only thing in the world that mattered. She tilted her head at him. He was right. She'd done everything that needed to be done. So why not steal a few minutes with a sexy Frenchman. Conrad and Sunny could take care of things. She turned around and caught Conrad's gaze. She pointed at the Frenchman and mouthed, I'm leaving. Conrad gave her the okay sign and went back to his seduction of a pretty young man with pale skin and brilliant green eyes. Conrad had found himself a playmate and she didn't need to worry about him.
Etienne slid a hand around her arm and gently eased her out the door. He was smooth. Too smooth, but not in a bad way. What the hell did he want from her? She was going to find out soon enough. "Give me a second to say my goodbyes and get my coat."
Outside in the cool March night, Honey pulled her coat tight against her. Though there were signs of spring in the air, the chill was more than she was used to. She didn't like cold and the coat she'd bought for Las Vegas in the winter didn't even begin to keep her warm in chilly Paris. Before he'd taken one step toward the curb, a sleek black limo slid smoothly up. A chauffeur jumped out of the limo, raced around and opened the door. Etienne eased Honey inside the plush limo and as she sat on the smooth leather seat, she closed her eyes and for a moment allowed herself to enjoy the decadence. To think this might someday be hers. She allowed the dream to proceed, but then brought herself back to reality. She was too practical to be seduced by the luxury of the limo and attention of a very attractive man. Which made her wonder what he wanted from her.
The interior was warm. Honey settled back in the seat. She crossed her legs and the rhinestones on the red pump caught the light and reflected a tiny rainbow across the carpet. Etienne opened the bar and pulled out an open bottle of red wine. He poured wine into two crystal wine glasses and handed one to her. She hadn't expected red wine. That was kind of nice. "I was expecting champagne."
"I like to be unpredictable," he said in that smooth, suave voice. "Zinfandel is my favorite."
Honey lifted an eyebrow and studied him the softly lit limo. "Then you should have served me milk."
He chuckled as his gaze slid over her and an admiring light in his eyes gave her such a warm, fuzzy feeling she wanted to cuddle next to him. Instead, she settled back against the heavenly smooth leather and sipped the wine as the limo pulled smoothly away from the curb. "So tell me, Monsieur Marrais, what do you want?"
"What do you want from me? I'm not the kind of woman who pussyfoots around. You didn't just wander in off the streets into my show by accident. I know a predator when I see one. What are you hunting for, Monsieur Marais?"
He took a sip of wine. "Call me Etienne."
"Very kind of you, but you haven't answered my question."
He held up the glass of wine and studied the ruby depths. "Why is it that when I find a beautiful woman, I can't spirit her away to spend some time with her, getting to know her better?"
Honey put her index finger to the side of her mouth. "Because this is Paris and you can find a beautiful woman on pretty much every street corner." She sipped the Zinfandel and let the smoothness go down her throat. Warmth spread through her and she allowed herself to relax against the cushions before speaking again. "Why now and why me?"
He nodded at her directness. He sipped his wine and studied her casually. "What do you know about Marais luxury goods?"
She gazed at him, wide-eyed resisting the urge to tell him she was too cheap to buy herself that kind of luxury products he sold. "You own a lot of stuff." She knew he owned a number of businesses catering to the rich and powerful by providing luxury items that only the rich and powerful could afford. No fancy luggage for plain old Honey Harlow. She made do with Target. Or if she was feeling really flush she'd take herself down to the Dillards department store when they were having their annual clearance sales.
"Yes, I do. And I'm always looking to own more."
Now she knew. He wanted her business. Why else would he attend her fashion show? "So are you saying that you want to own me?"
He ran a finger across the back of her hand. "What man wouldn't?"
This man was smooth. He seemed to have charm, subtle sophistication and a suave manner that sent vibrations radiating through her. He knew how to seduce and was giving her the price of seduction without making a girl feel the least bit cheap. "What if I told you I'm not for sale?"
One dark blond eyebrow tilted up. "In my experience everyone and everything is for sale--for the right price."
Honey's breath caught in her throat. Was it just her, or was she feeling kind of tempted. "I appreciate your bluntness."
"As I appreciate yours," he said in an offhand tone.
"Aren't we the mutual admiration society." She took another sip of wine. "Why do you want to own me?"
"A simple 'because I want to,' isn't going to be enough for you, is it?"
How very honest of him. She smiled and shook her head. She wasn't that easy at all. "Nope, it's not going to."
He sat back, crossed his legs and took a sip of his wine, the garnet depths swirling slightly inside the crystal. "You make a superior product at a very inexpensive price. Imagine what you could do with the best satin, silk and lace the market has to offer."
Like I haven't already. She had dreams of rolling naked in Irish lace and Chinese silks. "I considered a luxury line, but decided against it."
The answer wasn't always easy for most people to understand, but she figured she'd be honest with him. "I grew up in the school of hard knocks and remember scrimping and saving to buy even the cheapest cotton bra and panties. Working women from waitresses to bank tellers deserve some kind of luxury even it's only a well-made bra that makes them feel sexy and feminine. I provide that for them at a reasonable price."
He gave her an appraising stare. "If that is the case, why are you here for Fashion Week?"
She'd asked herself that same question about a billion times. Every fashion designer dreamed of fashion week in Paris and she knew if she could make it in Paris, she could make anywhere. She'd proved to herself and the world she was good enough. "I wanted what every designer wants at least one time in their careers. Paris fashion week is like the Super Bowl. Let's face it's a big ego boast." she said.
"But by Paris standards your show was very tame."
Did he just say she was boring? "My show was about my lingerie. Victoria's Secret used Justin Timberlake last year. What does he have to do with selling a bra?"
He smiled. "That I don't want to know."
He was pulling her leg. Score one point for the French guy. "Frenchmen aren't known for their sense of humor, are they?"
With one eyebrow raised, he replied, "I'd like to think we are known for more ... physical things."
A little shiver started deep inside and she wondered about that long, lean body and incredibly beautiful lips and the warmth of his skin on hers. Her little bell just got rung.
The wine was delicious was going to her head because she started hearing the Easter Bunny song. Then she remembered that song was her cell phone ring. For a second, Honey couldn't think why her phone was ringing. Or why her mother was calling her.
She dug the phone out of her purse and flipped it open. "Hola, Mamita."
"Where are you?" Bunny asked in the thick Cuban accent of her childhood, which meant she was a little miffed at the moment. Though Bunny had been born in Cuba, her parents were black Cubans who'd seen the writing on the wall and fled their home for Miami just before Fidel Castro rose to power. And when she was upset, the childhood accent came out as a barometer of her emotional state.
"I'm in Paris," Honey replied wondering why her mother was asking. She knew that she should be getting ready to get on the plane to come here.
"I know that, why aren't you at the airport to pick me up?" Bunny sounded harassed.
"Bunny, are you in Paris?" Honey put the wineglass down and gripped the phone tightly. She wasn't supposed to be here yet.
"Si, chica," her mother replied. "Why else would I be calling you?"
Honey's breath caught. "You're not supposed to be here until tomorrow."
There was a long pause. "Oh, I'm so confused."
"Mamita," Honey said, remembering that Paris was a day ahead. She should never have let her mother make her own plane reservations. "What airport are you at?"
"The one with planes," Bunny sounded frustrated.
Take a breath, you won't lose your mom in a foreign country if you stay calm. "There's more than one, Mamita."
Honey listened while Bunny spoke to someone and then she said, "A very nice man just told me I'm at Charles de Gaulle airport."
Oh God, Honey thought. Don't talk to strangers, Mamita, it might lead to sex. Bunny could dance her way around any twenty-year old dressed in stilettos and feathers. She could make a nickel spend like a dollar. But put a man at her elbow and she was spaghetti. Especially now that she was on divorce number four.
"What airline did you fly in on, Mamita," Honey stared at Etienne who looked as confused as she felt.
After another long pause, Bunny said, "American Airlines. You know how patriotic I am."
Honey stifled a groan. Okay, she could manage this. No problem, she just had to get out of this car and get herself to the airport. "Let me call you back in five minutes. Don't move." Honey disconnected. Etienne watched her. "It seems like my life has intruded into my play time. I have to go to the airport and pick up my mother. If you could pull over and let me out, I'll get a cab."
"I have no problem taking you to the airport."
Honey put a hand on his arm. "You seem like a nice man, but you are not ready for my mother." Although after five minutes in Bunny's company, she wouldn't have to be worried about selling her business because he wouldn't stop running until he hit the Alps. Not a bad plan.
He gave her an impish smile. "Mothers adore me. Almost as much as their daughters."
She laughed. "Of this I have no doubt."
He leaned over to tap the console. "I assume she's at Charles de Gaulle."
"That is what 'the nice man' told her." And Bunny was probably banging him in the bathroom as a little reward for helping her. Don't go there. Think positive. Yeah that will work. Sure it would.
He pressed the button. The divider between them and the driver slid down. "Henri, change of plans--Charles de Gaulle airport, American Airlines."
"You really don't have to do this." Honey bit her bottom lip. She didn't have enough time to prepare him for the Bunninator as Honey and her sister called their mother.
"No Frenchman would leave a beautiful woman stranded in such a situation," he replied so smoothly a thrill vibrated through Honey.
She was grateful and wondered what Etienne would want later as his reward. Sex was okay, her business-not happening. "Thank you. I guess I owe you a favor." She cringed at the thought as she opened her phone and dialed her mother. "Mamita, where in the airport are you?" Please don't be getting laid. Please. Please. Please.
"I'm still at the gate, though I did take side trip to the rest room."
"You need go to baggage claim and pick up your luggage."
Bunny said breezily, "I can do that. I have this nice man who swears he will die if I don't allow him to assist me."
Honey tried not to sigh, but it gusted out anyway. "Who is the grown-up?" she mumbled.
"What was that, chica?" Bunny said.
"Nothing, Mamita, nothing. Just get to the baggage claim and stay there. Don't go anywhere. I will find you." She disconnected again.
Etienne looked amused. "Here." He handed back her wine glass. "You look like you need this."
She took a long sip. The wine eased down her throat. Running after Bunny was a full time job. And she still had so many meetings to attend and buyers to meet. Damn you, Renata, for falling off a horse. Why did you relent and try to be a horse woman. Renata had a nanny for the kids and had volunteered to Bunny sit.
"Are you Spanish?"
"Mama's Cuban. Don't ever ask Bunny if she's Spanish, she will tell you in no uncertain terms that she's a black Cuban, which is different from being Cubano." Thought Honey never did quite figure out how.
"But you do speak Spanish?" he asked in a confused tone.
He kind of looked impressed. "I'm actually tri-lingual. I speak Spanish, English and Bunny-eese."
The confusion on his face deepened.
Honey held up her hand. "Trust me, when you meet her, you'll understand." But then again he might not since he was French and probably didn't have a good enough grasp of American sensibilities or slang.
She finished the glass of wine and leaned her head back against the soft cushion to rest. She needed to hang on tight, because everything about Bunny tended to turn into a bumpy ride.
Etienne accompanied Honey into the baggage claim. Following behind her, he couldn't help but notice the seductive way her derriere swayed as she marched through the airport. She acted as if they didn't get there as quickly as possible some national disaster would occur. This was turning out to be a very amusing outing, even though he was nowhere near in accomplishing his goal of getting her to sell him her business. After doing business with several American companies, they always seemed to be in such a hurry to get his name on the dotted line. Being denied was a novel experience. Being denied by Honey Harlow was stimulating. He looked forward to seeing more of her.
The airport was a confusing warren of tunnels and carrousels. At the end of one of the carrousels, a crowd of men seemed to be hanging out with no discernable destinations.
"There she is." Honey pointed to the group of men.
He thought she was pointing somewhere else, because he didn't see anyone that looked as if they belonged to her. "Where is that?"
"See that crowd of men, I can guarantee my mother is at the center." She strode toward the crowd.
Etienne followed curiously. This was turning into quite an adventure. He was enjoying himself.
Honey shouldered herself through the crowd of men who appeared reluctant to move. Etienne gently eased through after her and finally started pushing men aside to her part the sea of male testosterone. At the center was a woman who stood a woman as tall as Honey. She was the most beautiful woman Etienne had seen in ages. Long, willowy legs lead to curvy womanly hips and a slender waist led up to as elegant a bosom as he'd ever seen. The woman's face was incredible. All the passion of her background showed in her snapping brown eyes and laughing mouth and espresso colored skin. Etienne could see the resemblance between Honey and her mother. Where Honey beauty was more classic, Bunny was sensual. She wore her black sheath dress with the ease of a Frenchwoman and her sexuality like a lighthouse beacon.
"Honey," Bunny trilled at her daughter. "You found me."
"Yes, I did." Honey eased up to her mother and they both hugged.
Her mother might annoy Honey at times, but he could see that there was genuine affection between the women. He liked that. His own mother had died while he'd been in his mid teens and when his father remarried, his second wife had little interest in Etienne.
"Honey, let me introduce you to everyone." She turned and started rattling off names. Half the men were French and when Bunny got to them, her pronunciation was flawless. "See gentleman I told you so. Isn't she beautiful," Bunny said with a wave of her hand, "and she's single."
Etienne stood taller. Unable to help himself he slid an arm around Honey's waist and glared at the men surrounding Bunny. For some unknown reason, he believed he had just staked his claim on her. A part of him was disturbed by his action and a deeper, darker, more primitive part of him didn't give a damn. As the Americans would say, he got dibbs on her. Every man received Etienne's message, loud and clear as they took a step back. Several of men knew who he was. At times being one of the world's most identifiable businessmen came in handy. He knew he was being proprietary, but didn't care. Honey was his, at least for the moment. No poaching, his look said and the men surrounding Bunny dropped away.
Bunny looked at Etienne's arm around her daughter's waist and suddenly smiled. She held out her hand. "How do you do? I'm Bunny Harlow."
Etienne took her hand and bent over it kissing her fingertips. "Madame, the pleasure is all mine."
Bunny giggled, delight slipping over her face. She elbowed her daughter. "Honey, my next husband is going to be French. They are just so gallant." Her gaze swept over her admirers with such satisfaction, Honey sighed.
Etienne was starting to recognize the sound of Honey's exasperated moans and out of politeness resisted the urge to smile.
Bunny touched her daughter's face shaking her head, a look of concern in her dark eyes. "Don't do that with your face, it will get stuck that way. And you'll have to live the rest of your life--"
"Yes, Mamita," Honey interrupted. "It's time to go."
Bunny snapped her fingers and all the men turned and grabbed a piece of luggage. Etienne stared amazed not only how well she had these men dancing to her tune when she'd only just met them, but the amount of luggage she had with her. He thought Bunny would have only one suitcase, but she had a mountain of them. This would mean the Harlow family had planned an extended visit. That would work in his favor. He wasn't sure how, but a plan was forming in his mind. "How long are you intending to stay in Paris?"
Bunny smiled up at him. "Just a few weeks. But I've never been to Paris and I want to see everything."
She must be planning to change her clothes several times a day. How could he take advantage of that situation? He let the thought keep growing. Eventually, he'd figure out how to get Honey all for his own. "And all this is your luggage for a few weeks in Paris?"
"A few of them are empty. Honey promised me shopping and I can barely wait. All those wonderful shops, all those wonderful clothes and..." she glanced back at the men loaded down with her luggage, "all those wonderful Frenchman.
From behind Bunny came another sigh from her daughter. Etienne knew where some of the best shopping was in Paris. He loved to take women shopping. A man could learn so much about them by watching them try on shoes. He would have to make sure that Honey came along.
"God forbid we ship things home," Honey mumbled under her breath.
Etienne couldn't laugh, that would be so ungentlemanly. He led the procession back to the limo, wondering how his driver was going to get everything in the trunk.
Just as they approached the curb, Henri pulled the limo up. He got out of the car and hurried around to them. When he saw the line of men carrying the luggage, Henri's face looked odd. Etienne tried not to smile.
Henri was a strong, well-built man who doubled as Etienne's bodyguard. But even he blanched at the sight of the long line of suitcases being marched up to the back of the limo. Henri shrugged and rushed around to open the trunk. One of the things Etienne liked about the ex commando soldier was tjat he never panicked under fire. That skill looked like it was going to come in handy.
"Good-bye, Marcel," Bunny said to the first as he deposited a suitcase into Henri's waiting hands. "Thank you so much." She gave him a flirty kiss and the older man actually blushed. Bunny had a way of handling men. He wondered if she would turn that talent on him. If it got her daughter's name on a dotted line, he would let himself succumb to her charm.
And as Bunny said good-bye to each man, Etienne had to marvel at her ability to remember all of their names. Henri arranged each piece of luggage as though it were a jig-saw puzzle. Etienne could only watch and marvel. Normally he'd already be in the car, but he wanted to see Henri wrangle the suitcases into the small space. If Henri managed to get every piece in the trunk, Etienne would give him a bonus.
Henri was down to the very last piece, a case about the size of a small dog carrier. Etienne watched as Henri started to put the case in the trunk. It didn't quite fit and Etienne held his breath wondering what Henri would do.
Bunny grabbed the case and slapped at Henri's fingers when he tried to take it back his face red with indignation. Henri didn't like it when people did not cooperate with him. And since he was an expert in several martial arts, Etienne found it less painful to let him have his way. "I'll carry this one," Bunny said winning the standoff. "This is my make-up case." She patted it lovingly as she stepped to the side passenger door and waited for Henri to open it. "It's my magic in a box."
Henri eye's narrowed in defeat. He closed the trunk and walked around to open the door for Bunny who stepped gracefully into the limo. Honey followed, her face still tense. Did Henri just growl? Etienne gave him a sympathetic look as he eased into the car and sat down. Bunny was actually petting the leather seat. Honey was rubbing her forehead. He poured a glass of wine for Honey who almost swallowed the entire glass in one gulp. Then she looked at him and held the glass out for a refill, which he was happy to pour for her. This one she sipped.
"Mrs. Harlow," Etienne asked Bunny, "would you like a glass of wine?"
"It's Miss," Bunny said firmly. "I'm currently unmarried. And you can call me Bunny."
Honey took another sip and rolled her eyes.
Again Etienne forced himself not to laugh. The mother and daughter were an incredible comedic duo.
Seated together, Etienne could see the similarities and differences more closely. Despite her pinched lips, Honey was classically beautiful with her dark honey-toned skin, dark brown eyes and perfectly oval face. Bunny was exotic with more cat-like eyes, long sable colored hair that fell sweeping across one eye, and full-generous lips.
"I would love some wine, too," Bunny said happily.
"Of course," Etienne poured a glass and handed it to her.
"Yep," Bunny said looking at the wine in the crystal wine glass, "my next husband is definitely going to be French."
"Mamita," Honey said, "The ink isn't dry on your current divorce. Maybe you should take some time off between marriages."
"But it's been three weeks, time to get back on the horse again." She glanced at Etienne. "Do you know any Frenchman who might be in need of a wife?"
This woman was not shy about what she wanted. This had to be where Honey got her drive and ambition. Another exasperated sigh came from Honey and she drained the remainder of her wine in one gulp and held the empty glass out to Etienne who quickly refilled it. Etienne's plan suddenly fell into place. Woo the mama, and win the daughter. A plan so delicious simple, yet incredibly brilliant, he was rather proud of himself for his scheme.
Etienne turned to Honey. "Honey, I just had an idea. I know you have a number of meetings over the next few days, I would be delighted to show your maman Paris."
Honey's gaze narrowed. "I'll just bet you would."
Leaning back in his seat, he returned her stare. "I would be honored to escort her to the finest shops the city has to offer."
Honey crossed her legs. "I can just tell you'd just love to be Mister Tour Guide." A knowing look filled her eyes. She knew what was doing. He didn't fool her one bit.
Etienne shrugged. "I know Paris like the back of my hand."
Her foot started tapping. "I'm sure you do."
Etienne turned to Bunny. "Would you like to see the real Paris?"
"There's an unreal Paris?" Bunny said a confused look on her face.
"I meant," Etienne said smoothly, "The Paris I know."
"Will you take me husband shopping?"
"If that is you wish," Etienne said.
Bunny clapped her hands together. "Who better than a Frenchman to help me find another Frenchman? I'm honored."
"Indeed, Madame," Etienne said with a triumphant look at Honey. "I know all the finest places to go hunt Frenchman."
Honey frowned at him. "Don't indulge her. I already have a plan in place."
Bunny stuck her bottom lip out. "I want to go with him. Not to some old dusty museum."
Honey gazed thoughtfully at Etienne.
"The Louvre is overrated." And he knew, if he could win over Bunny, the daughter would be his. His blood raced and he raised an eyebrow.
Her full lips pursed. "Yeah I heard that. Go have fun. Shop until you drop. I'll be fine on my own."
Bunny started babbling. She'd opened her capacious purse and pulled out a thick wallet. When she opened it, a line of photos encased in plastic sleeves unrolled. "And here she is at age two when she decided to..."
Etienne allowed the words to roll over him. The challenge in Honey's eyes was not to be ignored. He gave her a pleased smile and she returned it with a grimace.
He slid over and sat between mother and daughter. He could feel Honey's tension when he patted her on the knee. "I promise on my honor on a citizen of France, I will take excellent care of your mother."
Meet the Author
J. M. Jeffries is the writing team of Jacqueline S. Hamilton and Miriam Pace. They reside in sunny Southern California, where the gun laws are strict, which is why they think their partnership has lasted over 10 years. Both lifelong readers, Miriam wanted to write because she didn't want a job that involved geometry, and Jackie wanted to work in her pajamas. Please visit them at www.jmjeffries.com. They'd love to hear from you
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this book sound like it is going to be a hit. have read the previous book called suite seduction and it was an excellent read. if the plot is anything like suite seduction it will be a number one read.