House Rules

House Rules

by Cathryn Fox


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The last thing I expected to find in my dossier was sexy stockings, a plane voucher to London and an invitation to dance at a gentleman's club. I'm a quiet museum curator for God's sake. No way, no how am I going to slide down a pole for a bunch of over privileged, narcissistic men-until I see Sean Fraser, my childhood crush, enter the establishment. Since I'm no longer that overweight teen with braces and mousey hair, there is no way he'll recognize me. Hmmm... Maybe I'll give him a fake name-and a private dance. That ought to make him finally notice me, right?

What the hell is Kennedy Lane doing sliding down a pole in a private Gentlemen's club? I'm not sure, and while I know she's hands off, I want her. I've always wanted her. She might have been too young for me back in the day. Now, not so much. Hands off leads to hands on after a private dance, and while Kennedy spends the weekend pretending to be someone she isn't, I know full well who she is. And I'm not quite ready to let her hang up her stockings when the show is over.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546708414
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 05/15/2017
Pages: 100
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.24(d)

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House Rules

A Dossier Novella

By Cathryn Fox, Candace Havens

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2017 Cathryn Fox
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-924-4



I crane my neck and stare at the grand hotel through the rain-streaked cab window — Hotel Royal — and I'm absolutely certain the dossier I'm holding was meant for one of the other girls and not me.

From the backseat of the taxi, my gaze goes from the majestic London hotel to the contents of the dossier on my lap — a duffle bag containing a very sexy, very expensive black lace panty set, matching lace stockings, a couple of cocktail dresses in my size, and two pairs of heels so high I'm sure I'll end up with a nosebleed. I briefly pinch my eyes shut and shake my head. There must be a mix up, there just has to be. Then again, the dresses are my exact size.

But I would never in a million years buy anything like this for myself. I'm a quiet curator for the Chicago Museum. I prefer comfy underwear and baggy clothes, not an outfit designed for a stripper. Although, that could be the whole point of this, now couldn't it? Get Kennedy to break out of her shell. Force her to have some much needed fun.

Seriously though, when I, along with a group of best friends, agreed to put our names in a hat during our New Year's Eve party two years ago, little did I think I'd receive a dossier with such slutty clothes and an invitation to dance at Carleton House — one of London's most exclusive gentlemen's clubs.

I grab the embossed card with the information emblazed on the front and turn it over to read Friday Night, 9 p.m. Like I'm really going to show up at the club tomorrow night with next to nothing on my body — or show up at all. I have no idea which one of my girlfriends sent me this dossier — which one sponsored this excursion — but they must have pulled a lot of strings to make it happen. Too bad all their hard work was for nothing.

I groan and punch the clothing deeper into the bag then zip it up. Out of sight, out of mind, right? It's not that I'm a prude, but no way, no how am I ever putting that outfit on my body and dancing for a bunch of over-privileged, narcissistic men with entitlement issues.

Yeah, sure, we all agreed to the pact, agreed to draw a name, keep it a secret, then on the person's twenty-fifth birthday send a dossier for an epic adventure — where the words "epic" and "sex" can be interchanged. This package must have been for someone more adventurous than me. Someone who has no problem exposing themselves to a bunch of horny old men.

Nevertheless, the girls certainly don't need to know I never showed up at Carleton House. I can spin a story as well as the next person and can let them believe I had legendary sex that rocked my world. Not that I would know what that is. The only time my bed rocks is when the L-train goes by.

Then, show up at the club. I dare you!

I shut the under-sexed and overly curious side of myself down and pay the cab driver. He grunts in response, and I grab my luggage and step from the car. London in the fall — the city's wettest season. Lucky me. Big fat raindrops fall over me as I hike my duffle bag up higher on my shoulder and pull the handle up on my carry-on suitcase. I'm just glad I packed my own clothes — even though it went against the pact. You bring nothing but what your sponsor gives you. I'd be okay with that if I'd been given something decent to wear and a trip to a London museum, or even a concert, not a gentlemen's club.

I tap my purse, happy I loaded my e-reader with my favorite romance novels, and glance up and down the street. Down the block, on the corner of a brick building, I see the sign for Carleton House, and my heart picks up tempo. The building is old and gorgeous, the history in the structure of more interest to me than the sordid kinds of activities that take place behind those heavy wooden doors.

Turning my back on the bawdy establishment, I step inside the luxurious hotel, and my mouth falls open. The lobby is gorgeous, absolutely breathtaking, and a far cry from my run-down apartment building back home. I check in quickly, my eyes and body tired after traveling all day, and grab a few brochures to leaf through before bed. Might as well take advantage of my free time and take in the sights around London.

The wheels on my old suitcase squeal and draw the attention of everyone around me as I make my way toward the bank of elevators. I lower my head and shadow myself with my long hair. I don't like to be the center of attention, which once again makes me think the dossier was meant for one of the other girls. No way would any of my friends push me past my comfort zone and expect me to shake my ass on some stage — even if I do take pole-dancing classes to build my core strength.

I picture it for a moment, my body swaying, the center of attention in a room full of men more interested in my nakedness than my intellect. Wouldn't that be different? Naughty even? Truthfully, no one here knows me. In London, I can be anyone I want to be, even a dancer in a high-end club. A fine shiver moves through me, and I feel a heavy pulse deep between my legs.

Do it already. Step outside your boring life and have some fun for God's sake!

I blink my eyes to clear the sensuous image, and steal a glance around the lobby as I wait for the elevator — or lift, rather, now that I'm in London. A man plays piano in the corner, and people mill about talking quietly, while others file into the dimly lit bar for a nightcap, or maybe a dirty, sexy, clandestine affair where inhibitions are shed and ropes are used. I gulp. Clandestine affair? Ropes? Honest to God, I read far too many romance novels. One-night stands and hot sex that leads to happily-ever-after does not exist in real life. At least, not for me.

The elevator light pings off, and the doors open. My breath catches in my throat when I come face-to-face — or rather, face-to-chest — with Sean Fraser, the older brother of my best friend, Olivia. The guy I've always had a huge crush on and dreamed about over the years. My heart thunders in my ears as I take him in. He's older now, looking more refined in a dark suit that fits his broad shoulders to perfection. His sun-kissed hair is cut short, his caramel eyes still rich and maple-candy sweet. He smooths a palm over his tie, and I watch, transfixed, wondering what those big hands of his would feel like on my body. Someone shuffles beside me, and my thoughts come crashing back.

What the heck is Sean doing in London? The last I heard he was some stuck-up investment banker in New York. Then again, he probably travels a lot for work. I open my mouth to say something, anything, but he gives me a curt nod, steps around me, and resumes conversation with the man beside him, once again overlooking me. Honest to God, I might as well be a fake plant in the corner for all the attention he gives me.

I stand there shell-shocked for a moment, even though I shouldn't be. Sean never gave me the time of day when we were younger, always bossed me around like he was my big brother and I was his kid sister, a nuisance who got underfoot. Jerk.

Then again, maybe I'm being too harsh on him. I haven't seen him in years, and I'm not the same chubby girl I was in my teens. My hair is blond, not mousey brown. I no longer wear braces, or glasses that hide my blue eyes. And Zumba and pole dancing classes have thinned my once-plump body to a lush size eight.

I step onto the lift and stare at his back in the mirror. His steps suddenly slow, and his body shifts, his head turning my way. But before his gaze can land on mine, the doors bang shut, and I suck in a quick breath to refill my oxygen-starved lungs. Is it possible that he did recognize me?

I spin around and quickly press the open button, curious to see if it was me he was turning to see, but when the doors open, he once again has his back to me.

"Do you mind?" an elderly woman who'd stepped on the lift with me asks as she glares at me. "I would like to go to my room."

"Sorry," I say, and jump off, the doors sliding shut behind me. I'm not sure what I'm doing, but I weave through the crowd and keep my eyes on Sean as he exits the hotel lobby and pops open a black umbrella. I hurry after him, suitcase and all, and push through the revolving door. Rain pours over me, plastering my hair to my head as I search the crowd. When I finally catch a glimpse of his broad shoulders, I follow him down the sidewalk, keeping a reasonable distance.

What the hell are you doing, Kennedy?

I seriously have no idea, but continue to follow him anyway, not that I'll know what to do or say if I catch up. He and his friend stop outside Carleton House, and my feet come to a resounding halt. No. Freaking. Way.

Apparently, not all the members are old men. How interesting.

He pauses outside the door and angles his head as he closes his umbrella. People crowd the sidewalk, and he glances around, sorting through the throng until his gaze meets mine — and holds. My knees wobble. Does he know it's me, annoying Kennedy Lane from his teen years? I mull it over for a second and then decide: no way. Even I wouldn't recognize this new version of myself. He turns, and it breaks the hold he seems to have over me.

Someone bangs into me and sets me back in motion. Still feeling dizzy from the effect of his stare, I turn and hurry to the hotel, my clothes, hair, and luggage completely drenched as I dart to the elevator and shift restlessly until it opens. God, I hate how I suddenly feel out of sorts. I shouldn't let it bother me that he didn't recognize me — that he never wanted me. I just wasn't his type. Growing up, he hung out with giggling, Barbie-doll girls, and I'm so not like them.

Pushing down the unease climbing into my throat, I get off on my floor and hurry to my room. I flash the key card in front of the electronic lock, and when I step inside my suite, I forget how uncomfortable I am in my wet clothes and glance around.

My God, whichever friend sponsored this adventure certainly didn't spare any expense. The room is bigger than my entire apartment. I drop my luggage and toss myself on the bed, but as I stare at the ceiling, my thoughts once again travel to Sean.

Did my sponsor know he'd be here, in the same hotel as me? Maybe my friend knew how much I lusted after him, and thought we could have a secret, weekend affair. I shut my eyes and envision myself in Sean's hotel room, his hard body moving over mine.

A moan crawls out of my throat and my lids flash open. Jesus, stop reading too much into the situation. Running into him was a coincidence, nothing more. My mind is just conjuring up sexy scenarios thanks to all those romance novels I devour. Working diligently to put bossy, stuck-up Sean out of my mind, I unpack, grab a quick shower, pull on my pajamas, and slip between the luxurious sheets.

I reach for my e-reader but can't focus on the damn words, not with the stupid invitation to the club staring at me from the nightstand — a club Sean obviously frequents. I roll and pick up the embossed card. If I dressed in the slutty clothes and danced at the club, I bet Sean would finally notice me as a woman, not an annoying kid. I scoff. Wouldn't that be epic — having wild weekend sex with my childhood crush, with ropes involved?

Wait! What?

Even if I might want that, there is no way, no how, that I'd ever walk through the doors of Carleton House and go through with the destination adventure designed specifically for me.




Sitting at a round table with my colleagues, I swallow my scotch and let it burn down my throat. As the men circling me talk business and investment strategies regarding Saturday night's meeting with Cochrane Industries — a multimillion dollar medical supply company that is merging with a U.S. company — my thoughts are too preoccupied with Kennedy Lane, my kid sister's best friend, to join in the conversation. It's damn hard to contribute anything intellectual when all the blood has left my brain and settled down south. Yeah, she'd lost weight, ditched the braces and glasses, but I'd bet my ball sack that it was her on the street.

I gesture to the bartender for another drink, my eyes scanning over the pretty girl dancing on the stage. Carleton House isn't my regular scene, but my company has a corporate membership, and when I'm in London on business, it seems to be the place where my European counterparts like to conduct meetings — among other things.

Kennedy Lane.

What the hell is she doing here in London, following me down the sidewalk and looking like a drowned cat, no less? Last I heard, she was in Chicago working for a museum not too far from Venture Investment, Inc. — headquarters for the New York branch I call home. I've visited the main office numerous times, and whenever I'm in Chicago I always find myself looking for Kennedy. Christ, I've even wandered around the museum a time or two, though it went against my best interest. When Kennedy hit sixteen and grew into a beautiful woman, I noticed her, but I was nineteen, and a three-year gap at that age might as well have been a chasm, which meant she was hands-off all the way.

I might not be a cradle robber, but she's not a kid anymore, right? The sexy curves she's sporting allude to a very grown-up version of Kennedy — one who has my cock hardening in the worst fucking way.

The bartender delivers my drink, and when I once again look at the pretty girl dancing, I find her staring at me like I'm a fresh slab of meat. My cock thickens and presses against my zipper. But it's not because the brunette is climbing a pole and eye-fucking me. While I might have taken her up on her implied offer any other night, this time my cock is stirring because of Kennedy. Jesus, just knowing she's in the same hotel as me is enough to make me hard.

How many fucking times did I abuse myself when she slept over at the house with Olivia, taking my bed when I wasn't home for the night? Jesus, the scent she used to leave on my sheet. I had to ignore her, treat her like a sister, a damn nuisance, so she'd stop talking to me — staring at me when she didn't think I was aware. Otherwise I would have lost my shit and dragged her into my room so I could do things to her. Dirty things that fill the thoughts of every teenage boy.

Christ, my father was a minister, and if he ever knew I spent my teenage years fantasizing about sweet little Kennedy he would have forced me to devote months to repenting. But, fuck, one glimpse of her tonight and I feel like that hormonal teen again.

"What do you think, Sean?" Dawson, my European colleague, asks, nodding toward the dancer who is still eyeing me. I'm a keen observer, good at reading a person's body language, and understanding their needs is part of my job, so I get what she wants from me. A big fucking tip like I left last time. I don't have a problem with that, really. I think the dancers should get a healthy paycheck for putting up with the likes of us dirty, ruthless bastards. "I think she's looking to get you alone, my friend," Dawson adds.

I grin and hold up my glass up for a toast. "Maybe so, but I just got into town and think I'll take the night off." Okay, so I have a reputation with the ladies. I'm hardwired for hard work, and sex is how I let off steam, but I'm seriously getting tired of the kind of girls I attract. Most are more interested in what I have in my wallet than in me. And for God's sake, it'd be nice to have an actual intellectual conversation occasionally.

"Yeah, well, it wouldn't hurt to show up at the cocktail party tomorrow night with a pretty little thing on your arm. A fiancée would be even better. You know Cochrane is more likely to invest with us if he thinks you're a family man. He likes a certain level of risk in his portfolio, but is more likely to trust a guy who understands commitment and self-control." He takes a sip of his bourbon, lets it slide down his throat, then continues. "You know you have to sell yourself before he'll climb into bed with us. This job is all about building relationships and gaining client confidence, my friend."

He's not telling me anything I don't know. "I have a shit-ton of commitment and self-control," I say. Well, mostly. Okay, not always. While I'm ruthless in the bedroom and the boardroom, my sex life and inability to commit shouldn't have anything to do with business deals.


Excerpted from House Rules by Cathryn Fox, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2017 Cathryn Fox. 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.
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