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Nailed

Nailed

by Opal Carew

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Overview

“Opal Carew gives readers a taste of the forbidden.” –Romance Reviews Today

He’s about to take control of her body…and her dream.

When River set up a fundraiser to kick start her nail polish business, she never expected someone to pay five thousand dollars just to have dinner with her. But when she meets her mysterious benefactor, he turns out to be billionaire Kane Winters—the one man from her past who she never wanted to see again.

Kane is determined to right the wrong that happened to River in college—because of him. She’s been an obsession he can’t escape…and Kane wants River more than he’s ever wanted anything. So he offers her a deal she can’t refuse: marry him and her business will be success. But River’s knight in shining armor isn’t looking for a platonic business deal. He wants their marriage to be real…in every way.

“Carew brings erotic romance to a whole new level…she sets your senses on fire!” – Reader to Reader

From bestselling author Opal Carew comes her next erotic romance, Nailed.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250052872
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/23/2016
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

OPAL CAREW is the author of over eighteen erotic romances for St. Martin's including Forbidden Heat, Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies and other erotic romance novels. She lives in Canada and makes regular trips to the U.S. to speak at conferences and industry events.
Special Note: The nail polish collection in the book will be available in real life on release day (for a limited time). For more information, see Literary Lacquers on Etsy, or check the NAILED page of Opal’s website.

Read an Excerpt

Nailed


By Opal Carew

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Batten-Carew
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-5473-4


CHAPTER 1

"Oh my God, I can't believe someone is willing to pay five thousand dollars to have dinner with me." River stared at the Kickstarter page on her cell.

"Really?" her friend Tia said. "Let me see."

Tia pushed her long, red hair behind her ear as she peered over River's shoulder. They were standing in the break room of Giselle's, the cosmetics and accessories store where they worked. River was just checking her e-mails before she stashed her phone and other belongings in her locker and started her shift.

"Hey, your campaign looks like it's fully funded," Tia observed. "That was fast. Didn't you just start it up?"

River nodded. "Two days ago." She was shocked as she stared at the numbers. Tia was right.

"So have you figured out where you're going to take this person? It better be a pretty nice place if they're paying that much."

River's stomach clenched as she shook her head, opening the next e-mail. She'd never thought anyone would actually pay that much. She knew most campaigns had some extravagant options people could buy in order to get online donors to contribute to a business initiative. She'd thought of having the person's initial tattooed on her thigh, but then discovered that someone else had done something similar. Then Tia suggested the dinner thing.

River had her own nail polish blog and had built up a bit of a following, but she never thought anyone would be enough of a fangirl to pay that much to meet her. In fact, the thought made her a bit nervous.

"Look," Tia said, still reading the next e-mail over her shoulder. "She wants to do it on Saturday. And she's even picked the place." Tia glanced at River. "Can you afford dinner at the Carousel?"

"When she's paying five grand I can."

River turned off her phone and pushed her purse into the locker next to Tia's then closed the door.


* * *

"Hello there. River, isn't it?"

River glanced up from straightening the display of lipsticks and nail polishes into the face of the handsome customer. She recognized him from yesterday when he'd come in with his wife or girlfriend. He'd bought a lot of items for her, mostly high-end nail polishes and a few pieces of the boutique's designer costume jewelry.

"Yes, sir." River smiled. "Are you back for that onyx necklace for your friend?"

He smiled, his gaze gliding over her in a way that made her uncomfortable. "No, actually. I was hoping that maybe you'd join me for a drink when you finish work."

Good God, he had to be kidding. She knew he had a girlfriend. He knew she knew he had a girlfriend.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm seeing someone."

He shrugged. "So?"

Her skin quivered in revulsion.

"I spent a lot of money here. I assume you made quite a bit in commission."

Anger surged to the surface and the polite comeback she'd fought to utter slipped away. "Does that approach actually ever get you anywhere? Because —"

But suddenly Tia grabbed her arm, startling her. "River, time for your break. I'll take over here."

Tia hustled River to the side and then went back and started talking with the man. His indignant expression faded as Tia turned on the charm, tossing her long red hair over her shoulder and flashing that beaming smile of hers.

River walked away, realizing her friend had just saved her from another reprimand from their boss.

You have to learn to deal with customers who come on to you in a polite manner, her manager would always say. Simply say no, and if that doesn't work, excuse yourself and find another staff member or manager to step in.

River knew the drill, but any guy who betrayed his girlfriend, or tried to bully a woman into doing something she didn't want to do, like go out with him, made her see red.

She walked to the break room door, watching while Tia chatted to the man.

"You had a little trouble, I see." Her manager, Louise, stepped up beside her.

"Tia took over," River said, a bit resentful that Louise had been watching her so closely. Waiting for her to make a mistake.

"I'm glad. I'd hate to write you up for being rude to a customer again." Louise glanced at River's hands. "I don't recognize the shade of nail polish you're wearing. It's not one of ours, is it?"

River curled her fingers. "No," she admitted.

"River, you know that everyone who works in the store is supposed to wear our nail polishes. Especially the new spring line."

River cringed inside. Normally, she loved the products the boutique carried, and often gave rave reviews on her blog — that's one of the reasons she'd wanted to work here in the first place — but the spring line was too ordinary for her. Soft pastels in a plain cream finish.

River liked some pizzazz on her nails. Bright colors or deep rich tones with multichrome flakies were her favorites. Maybe some flashy design in strong metallic tones. Or a leather finish with studs.

Cream pastels just didn't do it for her. So she'd worn one of her own creations, a duochrome that shifted from turquoise to a rich blue depending on how the light hit it.

"Make sure when you come in on Saturday that you're wearing one of the spring shades" — Louise raised her eyebrow — "or consider looking for a new job. Understand?"

"But I'm not supposed to be working on Saturday." River had already sent the e-mail confirming she would meet the person who'd paid so much to have dinner with her. She didn't want to jeopardize getting the investment. Starting her own nail polish company was her dream and if she didn't honor the dinner, she could lose that investment and the whole Kickstarter campaign would drop below the minimum and she wouldn't get anything.

"I changed the schedule. It's posted in the break room."

"Please, Louise, I have something else to do on Saturday. It's really important."

"Cancel it. I need you here." Then Louise turned and walked away.


* * *

"Tia, please. I'll take any shift you want. Just cover for me on Saturday."

"Sorry, Riv. I told you I'm going to my cousin's wedding. I mean really, I'd love to get out of it, but if I don't go, my mom'll kill me."

River sighed. "I get it. Sorry to be a bug."

"You've already asked everyone else?"

River nodded. She'd phoned everyone in the store over the past two days, but no one wanted to give up a Saturday off.

"Okay, look, move the dinner back to eight," Tia suggested. "Louise always takes off midafternoon and Wendy's closing that night. If you're lucky, it won't be too busy, so just ask Wendy if you can take off a little early. If you offer to work for her on a Sunday sometime, I'm sure she'll say okay."


* * *

She wasn't lucky. River glanced at her watch and it was already seven o'clock and she was still waiting for her customer to decide between Pink Fizz and Seafoam. River was almost ready to tell her to take both, one as a gift, and River would pay for it out of her own pocket, but finally the woman chose the Pink Fizz, the one she'd clearly favored all along, and took her purchases to the register.

Wendy hurried over as soon as she finished with her own customer. "Go ahead and take off. Sue and I can close up."

"Thanks, Wendy."

River headed to the break room and grabbed her purse. On the way through the store, the same customer stopped her.

"Excuse me, can you help me pick out one of these nail polish gift sets for my sister's birthday?" It seemed she'd left her purchases at the counter and was talking another look around.

Oh, God, River was already late.

"I can help you with that," Sue said, appearing from nowhere.

"Oh," the customer said. "Okay, thank you." She picked up two of the attractive boxes and showed them to Sue, who smiled and nodded.

River mouthed a thank you, then hurried out of the store.


* * *

As River approached the glass door of the restaurant, a woman in black pants, a crisp white shirt, tie, and red brocade vest opened the door from the inside and held it for her.

"Good evening," the woman said. "Welcome to the Carousel."

"Thank you." River was a little intimidated by the posh décor as she stepped inside. "I'm a little late for a reservation. It's in my name. River Cassidy."

"Of course, Ms. Cassidy. I'll take you to your table."

River followed the tall, elegant woman into the dimly lit restaurant, candles illuminating the intimate booths. They walked down a hallway, River presumed to another section, but the woman stopped in front of a door and knocked, then opened the door.

River followed her inside and realized it was a private dining room with a chandelier of candles over the table, a lovely floral arrangement on the table and ...

Her heart stopped as she saw the man rising to his feet from one of two upholstered armchairs arranged by a corner fireplace.

"River. How nice to see you again."

Her chest clenched as she took in his chiseled jaw, full lips, perfectly proportioned nose, and mesmerizing indigo eyes.

She had hoped she'd never see Kane Winters again.

The sight of him triggered an array of painful memories. She remembered how sweet it had been to feel his arms around her, his lips brushing hers. His muscular body over hers. His cock driving into her and taking her to heaven.

And she remembered how he'd betrayed her ... and humiliated her.

"You're nailpolishlover209?"

He smiled and walked toward her as the hostess exited, closing the door behind her.

"Yes, that's me."

"I'm not staying." She turned and reached for the door handle.

"You owe me dinner."

She frowned. "Order what you want. I'll leave my credit card number with the hostess."

"I don't care about that. What I want is to spend time with you." He smiled. "I would think I'd get more than sixty seconds for my five thousand dollars."

She turned around, fuming. "I don't want to spend time with you."

"But you will." He pulled out a chair, waiting for her to take a seat. "Because you always honor your word."

Anxiety coiled through her. He was right and they both knew it. She walked stiffly to the table and sat down. He guided the chair forward, then picked up the linen napkin that had been folded into a swan and shook it out, then handed it to her. He always had been quite the gentleman. She took the napkin, the brief contact of his fingers brushing hers sending sparks flashing along her nerve endings, throwing her wildly off balance.

He sat down across from her and placed his own napkin on his lap. She imagined the linen brushing over his thick, muscular thighs. Remembered what it felt like to have her legs wrapped around them.

"You know I never would have agreed to dinner if I'd known it was with you," she said.

"But you really have no choice. When you put out an offer like that, you have to take what you get."

"And I got you."

He smiled. "Yes."

He was far too pleased with himself and she hated it.

"Why would you spend five thousand dollars for an hour with me?"

His eyebrow arched. "It'll be at least three hours. You're staying for dessert and coffee." He lifted the bottle of wine and poured rich burgundy liquid into the crystal stemmed glass in front of her.

"I can eat faster than that."

"I'm sure you can. But they won't serve a five-course meal faster than that. And before you argue, I've already ordered."

"But that's too much food. I couldn't possibly —"

"The vichyssoise will be here in a moment and yes, you could possibly." He sipped his wine. "Look, you agreed to have dinner with me ..."

"Not with you ..."

"So why don't you just relax and enjoy it?"

A knock sounded, then the door opened. A waiter entered with a small tray, which he set on a side table, then placed a small bowl in front of her.

She realized the waiter had knocked because he'd wanted to warn them he was coming in ... so he didn't interrupt anything. Her cheeks flushed at the thought the waiter might think that they'd be ... doing something together.

He served Kane next, then set a basket of fresh baked rolls on the table. The aroma of the bread, still warm, made her mouth water.

She'd gone off grains a couple of weeks ago, but knew she would not be able to resist tonight. She took one, still warm to the touch, and cut it open, then smeared butter on it. It melted as she spread it. She took a bite and had to stop herself from sighing. She did not want Kane to know she was enjoying any part of this.


* * *

Kane watched River as she took a bite of the roll. The look of bliss on her face made him wish he was the one giving her so much pleasure.

And he would be. Of that he was sure. She was reluctant now, but he intended to make up for the pain he'd caused her in college and convince her that they could have a future together. It wouldn't be easy, but that had never stopped him from going after what he wanted before. A challenge made the victory all that much sweeter.

She dipped her spoon into the soup and tasted it. He could see her eyes light up. This place had the best vichyssoise he'd ever tasted. One of the reasons he'd chosen it. Though the most important reason was the private dining room.

She glanced at him, then schooled her expression to one of ambivalence.

He had to stop from chuckling. She'd always thought she could hide her emotions, but he'd always been able to read her like an open book.

The restaurant had provided Kane with a small buzzer that he'd put in his pocket. It allowed him to signal the staff with a push of a button when they were ready for the next course. It also meant they would be interrupted only when Kane signaled they were ready, which allowed him privacy to discuss his proposal with her after dinner.

He pushed the button and moments later, the waiter returned with their shrimp cocktail.

River had clearly decided that not talking was the best course of action, and he allowed her that option until after the salad.

When the main course arrived — chateaubriand and lobster tails, which he knew she loved — her eyes widened. He realized it was because she probably knew how much it cost. Knowing River — and he did — she would have looked up the menu online before she came and would know that the chateaubriand alone was into the three digits. Add the lobster and the other courses and the meal was probably close to a week's pay for her. That wasn't even counting the bottle of wine, which doubled that amount.

The waiter served the food from the beautiful platter onto their plates, then refilled their wineglasses. A moment later, he disappeared out the door.

Kane leaned forward. "River, don't worry about the cost of the meal. I'm paying for it."

Her wide blue gaze darted to his, looking thankful at first, then shifting to determined.

"No, it's my responsibility to pay for dinner."

"Actually, it doesn't say that anywhere in the agreement. So I believe it's my prerogative to pay if I choose."

"But —"

"If you insist on paying for dinner for me, then we can go to a roadhouse for a second dinner and we'll count this as a rehearsal dinner."

"A rehearsal dinner? It's not like we're getting married." Instantly her cheeks flushed a deep rose color.

He laughed. "Really? Talk of marriage so soon? We've barely gotten started renewing our connection. Give us a little time."

She practically growled. "We aren't renewing anything. Once this dinner is done, I'm gone and we never see each other again."

"Well, no, not really."


* * *

River's eyes narrowed as she stared at him suspiciously. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I didn't just buy this dinner opportunity with you. Did you notice how quickly your campaign hit the target?"

"Yes," she said slowly, her stomach tightening. Please, don't let him say that —

"I bought all the options."

Oh, God, he'd said it.

"All of them?"

"That's right."

The superb taste of the chateaubriand soured in her mouth. She put down her fork and stared at him.

"What are you going to do with five hundred bottles of nail polish?"

The option rewards had basically been choices of nail polish. The lower-cost options included a single bottle of polish, the middle level included packages of the basic shades of the collection, and the high-level rewards were sets of the whole collection, which included the special top coats. Altogether, that would be about five hundred bottles.

Her heart sank. She'd been so happy that so many people would be trying her nail polish and hopefully love it and want to come back for more. She'd seen this as a way to grow her clientele. But because of what Kane had done, she'd reached only one client, and he didn't even care about the polish. He had just used this as an opportunity to trap her into seeing him again. Altogether the campaign had raised twelve thousand dollars, including this dinner, and after expenses — including the huge outreach to bloggers as she'd intended — she would be left with enough to buy more supplies and get a kick-ass Web site set up, and do some promotion, but without that base of clients ...


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Nailed by Opal Carew. Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Batten-Carew. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

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