"Alice Gaines will tantalize your romance taste buds with a book you can’t put down until the very last page.” – New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Haynes
Sex columnist Désirée “Rae” Knight is in a bind—and not the kind she usually likes. Her newest assignment, and possible big break, is an article for her magazine on the sex resort that just opened. The only problem is it’s couples only. Although she writes about having red-hot sex, she’s been single longer than she’d like to admit. Enter her coffee shop crush, who she’s been secretly ogling every morning. Trouble is, he doesn’t know she exists.
When Nate Winslow recognizes the shy, quiet woman at Sufficient Grounds as the author of the sex columns that fuel his fantasies, he’s surprised. And the last thing he expects is an invitation to join her at a sex resort. But his answer is hell yes!
Rae and Nate have enough chemistry in the bedroom to set the sheets ablaze. When Rae insists they limit their relationship to sex only, Nate agrees since he’s burned out on love. But the more they push each other’s boundaries, the more they realize one week won’t be enough.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
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The guy hadn't shown up yet, and Rae's palms were already sweating. She checked her phone again — 10:13 a.m. He normally walked through the doors of Sufficient Grounds at 10:15, 10:20 at the latest. Not that she set her schedule to coincide with his. But by nine thirty, the crush of people and phones at her job, Urban Life magazine, got oppressive enough to drive her to the coffee shop to get work done. And Mr. Wonderful, a.k.a. Hook-up Man/Friend with Benefits — in her fantasies and her column — usually appeared right after she'd settled in with her laptop.
She'd been using her coffee crush as inspiration for her columns, since while "Désirée Knight" had a hot sex life, Rae did not. And now she'd gotten herself into quite the pickle ...
Today, he could either prove her savior or the greatest embarrassment of her life. Or she'd chicken out completely and find herself back at square one — needing a date for a week at the new sex resort, Eros' Retreat. To bolster her courage — and to pass the minutes without checking her phone every thirty seconds — she re-reread her latest Single and Sexy column.
There are lots of benefits to being unattached. The two of you can satisfy each other in bed, either according to a schedule or spontaneously, when the mood strikes. Then you can part ways until the urge hits again. You don't have to like his taste in food or music. He doesn't have to put up with your mother's meddling.
And Rae's mom loved to meddle, insisting Rae fall in love as Mom had so many times. No thanks.
It was 10:19, and he still wasn't here. Maybe he wouldn't show and the butterflies in her stomach would go on hiatus until tomorrow morning. Then her phone rang, and Rae nearly jumped out of her skin. She checked the display to see it was her friend Carla.
"Thanks for finally calling me back," Rae said.
"I had an early client," Carla said at the other end. "What was so urgent?"
"I needed to get glammed up for a very important ... um ... meeting." Normally when Rae needed to appear as Désirée, her alter ego for her column, Carla was the one who helped transform her.
"You never get the treatment before a meeting at the magazine."
"It's not a business meeting. It's more like ..." How did you describe having to ask a perfect stranger — the man of your hottest fantasies — to spend a week with you at a sex resort? How had she gotten herself into this mess?
Because she had a chance to write a feature article for the magazine, not just a sex advice column. Her first opportunity to be taken seriously as a journalist. And she had to ask said perfect stranger to help. Today. If he ever showed up.
"Rae? Rae?" Carla said. "Are you still there?"
"Are you going to tell me what this is all about?"
"You know the guy I've been lusting over in the coffee shop, right?"
"Nate," Carla said.
She'd heard the barista call out his name so many times she heard it in her dreams now. "Yeah, Nate. I needed to put on my Désirée costume so I could finally meet him."
"Hot damn," Carla said. "About effing time."
"Don't start doing the happy dance, yet. I'm not sure I can face him unless I'm Désirée."
"You are Désirée Knight, the famous sex columnist," Carla said. "Rae's your nickname."
They'd leave aside the famous bit for now. Désirée Knight was glamorous, flirtatious, and even outrageous. Everything Rae Knight was not. Sure, they occupied the same body, although they looked very different in it, but Désirée could pull off things Rae would never attempt. Exactly like her mission for this morning.
"So I had to do my own makeup this morning and try to face him," Rae said.
"You're beautiful, anyway, Rae. He must have noticed you already."
"Not that I've been aware."
"That can't be true."
Maybe because she hid behind her laptop every morning, only taking tiny glimpses at him. If he'd ever caught her at it, he hadn't given any indication. He could probably have any woman he wanted and wouldn't notice someone with plain brown hair pulled back in a scrunchy, no makeup, and clothes one could most charitably call "comfortable."
"I'm pretty good at fading into the woodwork," Rae said.
"Well, stop. It's about time you got laid."
"That's what you write about in your column, isn't it? Sex with no strings. The kind that leaves you single."
"Yeah, but I can't approach him without your help."
"Yes, you can," Carla said.
"No, I can't. Really. Honestly. I can't." Why did I think this was a good idea? That I could pull this off?
At the other end, Carla sighed. "Okay. Come into the studio tomorrow, and I'll turn you into your evil twin."
"Désirée isn't evil. She's ... courageous," Rae said. "But tomorrow's too late. I have to do this this morning."
Assuming the guy showed up. It was 10:25. Had she gone through all this agony for nothing? She'd put on makeup as best she could, found some jeans that fit snugly, and added a sweater that V'd a bit down to the space between her breasts. Nothing like the magic Carla could work. "I have to do this now before I lose my courage."
"So why didn't you call me earlier?" Carla asked.
"I did. You're returning my call."
"You're not making any sense, Rae."
Of course she wasn't. Her nerves were a jangled mess, and her stomach had flopped over three or four times since she'd entered the shop. Every time the door opened, she jumped. She hadn't touched her latte.
Then the little bell over the door went off again, and he walked in. The hottest stuff of any woman's fantasy, especially hers. Faded jeans and leather bomber jacket, showing off a physique that testified to plenty of workouts. Curling chocolate hair that brushed his collar. He went to the counter, spoke to the barista, and then turned to glance around. His hazel gaze fell on her, and he smiled.
"Holy crap," she whispered into the phone as she covered her mouth with her free hand. "He's here."
"Great. Go talk to him," Carla said.
"I can't." When bravado faced off against cowardice, it appeared cowardice won out. "I gotta get out of here."
She couldn't do that without taking her laptop and purse along, and she still had her cell phone in her hand. She made quite a clatter gathering it all up. The heat in her cheeks said she'd be red in the face as well. What an appealing look. Eventually, she got her crap together and headed toward the ladies' room.
Discretion was the better part of valor, right? She'd live to fight another day.
* * *
Over the years, women had had a lot of reactions to Nate Winslow. None of them had ever run away as if the hounds of hell were after her. And Désirée Knight had done it when he'd finally thought he was making progress with her. She'd left her coffee on her table and almost dropped her computer in the process.
He paid for his espresso and headed to his regular spot — a few tables over from hers. He'd have to deal with this new development if he had any hope of getting to know her better.
It had taken him a while to recognize the quiet woman pounding keys on her computer as Désirée Knight, the author of his favorite column. He might have missed the resemblance completely if he hadn't been reading of her latest exploits with Hook-Up Man in Urban Life one day as he sat here. Her writing made for dangerous reading in public because it invariably gave him an erection, and as he'd sat only feet away from the creator of the erotica, he'd had a more intimate connection, indeed. Only how to get to know her?
Now could be the perfect time to approach her. If something was bothering her, he could help fix things. He was pretty good at doing that, if he did say so himself. He could buy her a fresh coffee and listen to her. Really listen. Most guys had only half an ear open when women talked and then butted in with a "solution" before the woman had gotten to the end of her story.
He'd learned from his sister and his women friends to take women's problems and opinions seriously. Maybe if he'd had that knowledge earlier, he could have saved his marriage. In the meantime, there was a damsel in distress in the ladies' room, and he could do something to help her. Now two of the tables were empty except for cups of coffee as he rose and went to the back of the shop.
The restrooms here were tiny — only a couple of stalls. When he entered the hallway between men's and ladies', a middle-aged woman was just exiting.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said. "I have to do some repairs in the ladies' room. Is there anyone else in there?"
"Just one woman."
"Is she okay?"
The woman cocked her head. "Do you know her?"
"No, no. Just asking." He never told lies, and he wasn't any good at it. In fact, he'd usually give this kind of craziness a wide berth. But something about Désirée intrigued him. He hadn't been so attracted to someone since his ex.
"... seemed fine to me," the woman was saying.
She gave him one more quizzical look and left him. He moved closer to the door and heard muted voices, but nothing he could ever hope to understand, so he inched it open and listened hard.
"So, Phil — yeah, my boss — asked me to write a feature spread about Eros' Retreat, the new sex resort that just opened," Désirée said. Luckily, she was talking into her phone close enough for him to hear. "It's a great professional opportunity."
That had scared her into the ladies' room?
"But it's for couples, so Phil suggested I take Hook-Up Man along," she went on. Oh, yeah, that guy. The one who had the scorching, no-strings-attached sex with her in her column. How many times had he imagined himself playing that role? "So I need to find a guy, and coffee shop hottie Nate would be perfect."
Nate? Was she talking about him? Well, now. Didn't that just warm the cock ... ahem ... something of his something. She wanted him to play Hook-Up Man.
"This is the best chance for advancement I've had," she was saying. "I can prove I'm a real journalist, not just a lightweight who writes about her bedroom adventures with a boyfriend who doesn't have a name."
He had a name now. Nate. Oh, man. Talk about best chances.
"I can't pass this up just because I'm afraid to talk to the man," she said.
If he'd ever heard of a problem that was easily solved, he was hearing about it now. He only had to find a way to volunteer for the job without telling her he'd eavesdropped on her conversation.
She groaned. "I guess I can hire an actor to play the part."
Oh, no, you don't. Not if Nate had anything to say about it. This was his chance to finally make his move. He had to do something to introduce himself to her and volunteer for the job. And he most likely had to do it before she left the coffee shop and hired an actor.
He could buy her another cup of coffee because hers had gone cold. If he made himself agreeable enough, maybe she'd relax and invite him. Or maybe he'd have to coax her to tell him what she needed. Only how did you bring up the subject of going to a sex resort? Hell, he might have to confess to following her to the ladies' room to overhear her conversation. He'd save that as a last resort.
"You're right," she said on the other side of the door. "I have this great career opportunity and I can spend a week at an erotic resort with the man I've been lusting after. I have to go for it."
Well, well. She'd been lusting after him all the while her columns gave him erections. He grinned so hard his face hurt. Could this get any better?
"Okay, I'll see you tomorrow for the full treatment," she said. Whatever that was. "I'm going to do this."
He should have realized she was ending her call. He should have gone back to his table. Instead, he waited stupidly with his hand still on the door, so when she pulled it open, he nearly fell into the ladies' room.
"Hey," she shouted and took a few steps backward. "Oh, it's you."
He couldn't deny being himself. "Yeah, I guess so."
"This is the ladies' room."
"I ... I ... I ..." Great. Stammering. "I got a bit mixed up."
She giggled. "I'd say."
"Excuse me, but aren't you Désirée Knight, the columnist?"
That won him a big and not entirely genuine smile. "Why, yes. I am."
"Can we talk?" He gestured toward the hallway.
"Let's." She walked by him, head held high, hips in a gentle sway. The seductress, not the shy woman he'd been hoping to approach for weeks. Interesting.
Once safely out of the ladies' room, she turned to him and rested a fingertip against his chest. "And you would be ..."
"Nate Winslow. You might say I'm a fan."
Her smile got even wider. "Glad to meet you, fan."
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course. I'm very open ... about everything."
Great. If he thought up the right questions, he might work her around to inviting him to Eros' Retreat with her. "Hook-Up Man ... is he real?"
"Let's just say he's based on a series of lovers I've had."
"Anyone in particular right now?" Like, say, me?
"Actually, no." She stepped closer to him. "Interesting you should bring that up."
This was definitely a different creature from the woman who hid behind her laptop screen whenever he looked her way. He'd always wondered what went on inside her while she wrote those columns. Quiet women were often the most interesting, with the most intense inner lives. Maybe he was getting a glimpse of that now.
He didn't make a move toward her, but he stood his ground, allowing her to come to him. She did, now with her palm flat against his chest. The scent of her perfume or shampoo or whatever wrapped around him as the two of them generated the sort of warmth only a sexually charged nearness could create.
"It just so happens I'm between men right now," she said.
"That's a shame."
"Especially since my magazine has an assignment for me that requires a date." She bit her lip. "Do you suppose you could step into the breach ... as it were?"
"I'd be happy to help with your column."
"It's not a column this time." She got so close her breasts brushed against his shirt. "It's an article for Urban Life. At Eros' Retreat. Have you heard of it?"
"The new place at the old mansion on the outskirts of town?"
"Then you know what it's about," she said.
"I'm getting a pretty good idea." He finally made a move. No more than putting his hands on her upper arms. This was all new territory.
She seemed to melt against him. If he'd had any doubts about what he'd overheard and what he was getting into, they evaporated. He was going to spend some time with the woman whose erotic imagination fueled his own, and he was going to do it at a luxurious resort dedicated to every sensual treat one's little heart could dream up.
"Eros' Retreat is a place where anything goes, and I need someone to experience it with me so I can write about it," she said. "You interested?"
"When do you want me?" And where and how often?
"You need to realize exactly what you're getting into," she said, her eyes dark as she looked up at him, seeming to dare him.
"So do you." He bent until their faces were only inches apart. Signaling his intent but letting her make the final decision. She parted her lips and closed her eyes. A woman asking to be kissed, so he obliged.
The moment their lips touched, an explosion went off in the back of his brain. The charge rushed through him, and he tilted his head for better access to her mouth. She tasted like honey and sunshine. Definitely intoxicating.
She seemed as moved by the contact as he was, because she let out a tiny moan. Her arms snaked around his waist, and she pressed herself against him. In a moment, he was fully erect, and if they'd been in private, he would have taken things further. Instead, he kept on kissing her, his mouth moving over hers, as they got deeper and deeper into their explorations.
In the end, he had to stop before he disgraced himself completely. He somehow found the strength to grasp her arms again and ease her away from him. He had to work to catch his breath, and her breasts moved with her inhalations. Both of them reacting as though someone had sucked the air out of the hallway.
"Well," she said after a few seconds, her voice breathy. "I think we'll work well together."
"I'd say so."
She glanced around. "I think I left my purse and laptop in the restroom."
Easy to understand. This whole situation had him pretty confused, too. "Better get them."
While she was gone, he rested his fists against the wall to get his bearings. If the woman could get him this aroused with a kiss, what would sex with her be like?
She reappeared with her huge purse slung over her shoulder. She held out a business card to him. "Here's my contact information."
Excerpted from "His for the Week"
Copyright © 2018 Alice Gaines.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.