Sugar & Spice

Sugar & Spice

by Christine d'Abo

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781516106660
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 02/26/2019
Series: The Sugar Series , #2
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 5,171
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine d'Abo has over forty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs. Visit her at www.christinedabo.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"Oh my God, I just found the perfect thing for you!"

Kayla Arnold looked up from the menu she'd been vacantly staring at as her best friend Simone fell into the chair opposite her. Simone had been twenty minutes late for their weekly lunch date, which meant Simone had become fascinated by something. And given her entrance, that meant Kayla was about to be in trouble.

Closing the menu, Kayla took a steadying breath before she folded her hands, looked at her friend and smiled. "Hi."

Simone frantically arranged herself and her belongings, before she finally settled, resting her elbows on the table and her chin on her clasped hands. "Hello my wonderful friend. And you won't distract me from my good mood with that brooding look of yours."

Kayla had to fight a smile. "But brooding is my best skill."

"It's not fair to the men of the world if you steal all their good moves." Simone squirmed in her chair as she released her hands and picked up the water glass. "Aren't you going to ask me what I found?"

"I'm more than a little terrified to do that." Still, Kayla knew there was no point in delaying the inevitable any longer. "What did you find for me?"

"The very best website in the world." Simone's blond ponytail swung as she pulled out her phone and began to type. "I was conducting an interview this morning when I found out about this."

Simone's fingers flew across the keys and within a moment, she held out her phone. Kayla snorted as she took the phone and leaned back in her chair. "A sugar daddy site? Aren't I a bit rich for that?"

"Not to be a sugar baby, silly." Simone pushed up her glasses and grinned. "You should be a sugar mama."

Kayla stared at the screen, blinking away the first three responses that had popped into her head. Simone was her dearest friend, and one of the few who'd known her before her business Fashion Finds hit big and made Kayla a multimillionaire. She'd been with Kayla through her rise to fame, her whirlwind marriage, and subsequent divorce. She knew most, if not all, of Kayla's deep, dark secrets.

"I have no intention of being anyone's mama. Or anything else." Simone always meant well when she'd show up with one of her crazy schemes, but Kayla knew better than to give in to them. "Feel free to sign up yourself though. It might be fun picking out some young stud for you to ride."

Simone's giggle-snort blew an errant strand of hair that now flitted around her face. "I'm not rich enough to even be looking at this site. It's millionaires only. That's so not even close to my bank account."

"If you did PR for me, rather than be a journalist, you might inch a bit closer to that goal."

"Oh please. Toronto needs me. I'm an intrepid reporter, digging up dirt on ... well, whatever the Toronto Record wants me to dig up."

"Wasn't your last article on the best places to get sushi?"

Simone sighed. "So much sushi. So freaking good."

"You're too much of a precious soul to exist in this world. And I'm not signing up for a site like this."

She could only imagine what would happen if someone on the board of directors found out about a stunt like that. The water cooler gossip would be impressive. "Where did you find out about this?"

Simone looked around the restaurant before she leaned in. "Do you remember a few months ago, Vince Taylor and all the noise around him and a mystery woman?"

Kayla had crossed paths with Vince over the years. Toronto might be large, but certain social circles were far smaller than most would assume. "I remember. He went online with a mea culpa if I remember correctly."

"What you might not know is how they met." Simone lowered her voice, her brown eyes sparkling. "Guess."

Kayla leaned a bit closer as well, enjoying the unexpected silliness of the moment. "They met on the sugar daddy site?"

"They met on the sugar daddy site!" Simone shouted, then cringed as the couple at the table beside them looked over. She waved briefly before turning back to Kayla. "And they looked so happy when I interviewed them. Marissa is so sweet — that's her name, Marissa — and smart. She's a student, and we got talking, and she told me all about it, even though Vince was giving me that brooding look. But you really do it way better than he does." She snorted again and pushed her glasses up with her finger. "You should sign up too."

"I have an idea." Kayla stood and brushed the wrinkles from her linen pants. "Why don't we plan a fun night out, just you and me."

Simone stopped moving and looked at her for a moment before the smile slipped from her face. "You're not going to do it."

"Darling, you know I'm not into relationships."

"But this isn't about that."

"What's it about then?"

Simone stilled, and the energy around her changed as she grew serious. "If you must know, I think you're lonely. And it's killing me to see you like this."

Was she?

Stuck in a rut — yes. Heartbroken — maybe at one time. But lonely?

She happened to like her life.

Kayla's day always started the same way. She'd wake up alone by four AM to get to the gym on time to meet her personal trainer for her session, where Mike pushed her as far as she'd let him, then a bit more until she could no longer think. She always had time to shower and dress impeccably before making it to the office by seven. Her day would inevitably be filled with meetings until it was finally time for her to go home. She'd end her day with a single glass of red wine and a soak in her tub.

Every day, except needing to attend the occasional birthday party, holiday event or corporate all-hands meeting. The routine had become a boon, a salve to her wounded soul after her husband had walked out on her five years ago.

Kayla needed the familiar, even craved it. She'd promised herself that she wouldn't let anything send her down the emotional rabbit hole of despair that she'd fallen into when Christoph had so politely ended their marriage and broken her heart.

Her throat tightened, forcing Kayla to swallow more than once. "I appreciate this. I know I haven't been the best friend you deserve. Not recently. But signing up for a sugar daddy site isn't the answer."

"You don't know that." Simone began to play with her napkin. "According to Marissa, and Vince too, it wasn't what either of them had expected. It worked out to be so much more."

Kayla reached across the table and squeezed Simone's hand. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"For caring so much about me."

Simone squeezed back. "Always."

When Kayla finally pulled back, she made a point of putting on her best smile. No sense in making matters any more uncomfortable. "How about this? Let's order the most expensive thing on this menu and talk about your idea. My treat. After, we can stop for pedicures at that spa you like so much. And if, after that, I'm still not convinced that this is the right idea for me, you'll promise to let it drop. Deal?"

Not that she had any intention of seeing the idea through, but it was better for both of them if she humored Simone. She knew by the time their toes dried, the idea of Kayla being a sugar mama would be off the table.

Simone cocked her head, and after a moment grinned. "Deal. I'm not worried though. I know you'll agree to do it."

"We'll see. For now, let's find our server."

"And wine. I'd love some wine." Simone looked around until she frowned at the restaurant clock. "Is eleven thirty too early for wine?"

"Never." Kayla caught her waiter's eye, which got him moving.

If she were fortunate, Simone would soon forget about this website and Kayla would be able to get back to her regular — and yeah, lonely — routine.

* * *

Devin was ninety percent certain he was hungover. He cracked open his eyes and tried to lift his head from the couch pillow before a bolt of pain lanced through his skull.

A hundred percent certain. What the hell did I drink?

"Ray?" He barely managed to get his roommate's name out and had to swallow a few times before trying again. "Ray?"

"Hmm?"

Devin opened his eyes for real this time and saw Ray face down on the floor, the Xbox controller still in his hand. "You alive?"

"Hmm."

"Hungover?"

"Ummhmm."

"Pancakes?"

"Nah na."

"Can you form words?"

Ray lifted his head and looked around the room. "Words are hard."

"Food?"

Ray opened his mouth to say something, before rolling to his hands and knees. Devin didn't need his PhD to know what was coming next. Thankfully, Ray made it to the bathroom this time before he got sick. "Bacon and eggs, it is."

Rolling to his feet, Devin had to give himself a moment to ensure he wouldn't be joining Ray, before carefully padding to the kitchen. He pulled out the bacon and eggs without being fully aware of what he was doing. He was trying to remember exactly what had happened last night.

They'd had an Xbox LAN party, joining up with a bunch of people from their ethics class. There had been some bragging that had needed addressing, something about who was better in Overwatch. Cassie had kicked all their asses, as was right and proper in the world.

Devin's mind tried to pull out the remaining details that had been dampened by the alcohol as he cracked six eggs into a bowl. They'd been teasing someone about being single. Cassie, maybe? And then there was something about online dating …an account?

He tossed the shells and picked up a fork as Ray came out of the bathroom. "That's better."

"You managed words." Devin beat the eggs as he turned to Ray. "Hey, did we set up a profile for Cassie on a website? Or something like that?" Ray frowned. "Don't know. Sounds like something we'd do."

"She'll kick our asses if we did."

"I'll text her." Ray pushed papers from the counter and retrieved his phone. "She'll laugh at us for being hungover."

"I told you not to bother going shot for shot with her. East Coast girls can hold their liquor." Devin knew better than partying like this. He rarely drank to excess, but last night had been unusual.

Yesterday he'd defended his PhD. And it hadn't sucked.

Yay him!

Unfortunately, that meant he didn't know what to do with his life now. Well, not beyond drinking too much and playing Overwatch.

"Ah shit." Ray was staring down at his phone; a hand pressed to the side of his head.

"What? Is Cassie threatening to come over and kick your ass?" He looked back over at Ray when he didn't immediately respond. "What's up?"

"Well, apparently, I told Cassie she should get a sugar daddy."

Devin snorted. "So she'll be over in five minutes to kick your ass, or —"

"Naw, we're cool. She said she'd do it if one of us signed up for it first."

"None of us are gay, so that won't work."

"Apparently, there are women on the site too. Not many." Ray started scrolling through the site. "I guess I'd agreed to do it."

Devin tried to laugh, but it hurt his head too much. "That's fucking hilarious."

Ray flipped him off. "You did too, asshole."

He set the frying pan down on the stove a bit too hard, and the resulting bang sent a wave of pain through his head. "What do you mean I did too?"

"We both did. Cassie didn't." Ray held out his phone for Devin to see. "Millionaire chicks."

For half a minute, Devin had been freaking that he'd done something stupid. But the quick look through the site showed him he didn't have much to worry about. "It's mostly dudes on here. And I hate to tell you, we're not exactly material for rich women to be chasing after."

Ray scratched his fingers through his hair. "Speak for yourself. I'm prime meat, baby." Ray's face drained of color before he turned and bolted back to the bathroom.

Turning back to his breakfast task, Devin continued to look through the few profiles of the rich and famous on the site in between tending to the food. It was more than a little strange seeing all of the men looking for younger women to pamper. Devin couldn't imagine what those women would have to provide in return for the money, and it was probably for the best if he didn't. Faces of women, some of whom could be his classmates, smiled at him from the computer screen. Their profiles highlighted their likes, interests, and desires.

Curious, Devin moved the mouse to select the profile they'd created for him in their drunken stupor. The picture had apparently been taken with the laptop camera, its slightly fuzzy image in stark contrast to the others he'd seen. He wore a sloppy grin, one that shouted he was more than a little intoxicated.

His profile was filled with enough pretentious answers and cocky innuendo to ensure no woman with even the slightest bit of common sense would want to have anything to do with him. It was a giant waste of time.

He should delete this crap.

"Dude!" Ray's voice echoed from the toilet. "Help."

Devin slammed the laptop cover closed and went to help his friend. He'd worry about dating millionaires another day.

CHAPTER 2

Kayla stood, tapping her finger on the notebook in front of her. "Thank you, everyone. I think we're set to move forward with this, but we'll revisit the supply chain issue next month." Everyone stood, as the buzz of chatter quickly rushed to fill the silence that had preceded it moments before.

The board meeting had gone on far longer than Kayla had expected, leaving her back aching and her head pounding. There'd been a great deal of discussion on the need to outsource additional manufacturing of their new spring line, something she hadn't been convinced they needed. Not that her opinion entirely mattered to some of the board members. Despite Fashion Finds being her brainchild, and her having been part of the board since the company went public seven years earlier, many of the board still saw her as a young child who didn't have a clue as to what she was doing.

Typical crap-all-over-the-millennial bullshit. Kayla knew what she was doing, having learned what she needed once she'd decided to take the company public. She had a fantastic mentor who still accepted her calls when self-doubt crept in. Those days were few and far between, even if her board did all that they could to question her ability to drive the company where it needed to go.

Still, there was a part of her that was getting tired of hearing about profit margins and stock prices despite knowing she was responsible to the shareholders. Money, not her love of fashion and design, was the thrust of her existence these days, and it was killing her by inches.

That was the price she'd paid for taking her business to the next step: losing control of what she'd once done — everything from website creation, to sewing and promotion — so she could become rich.

It was strange how privilege worked. When she was nineteen and had an idea, she'd had to work and fight for every inch of progress. The more successful she'd become, the more comfortable things had gotten, the more detached from reality Kayla felt. Before she'd question every purchase, debating between buying that new fabric she prayed would make the perfect new shirt, or helping to chip in to buy groceries for the family. But as the money started to roll in, groceries became less of a concern and where the family should go for their latest vacation was suddenly up for debate. Now, she hardly saw her parents, mostly because she was too busy working to enjoy the finer things, but also partially because the thought of them not liking the woman she'd become in the pursuit of their combined happiness, terrified her.

She often wondered if she had to do it over again, would she walk away from it? Would she go back to the person she was to avoid the pressures of success?

Probably not.

It's hard to walk away from boatloads of cash, especially when her family didn't have a lot growing up. And while she'd like to think she'd do the right thing, she knew damn well she'd take the money every time. Not because she was greedy, or materialistic, but because she was a human being who wanted more from life, wanted more for her family. The money helped, and only a fool would think otherwise.

She smiled until the last board members left the room, handing out handshakes and nods as though she were bestowing a benediction upon them all. But the moment she was alone, she dropped the facade and allowed the tension to seep from her body.

This sucked.

Kayla was tired, and despite what she'd said to Simone at lunch the other day, it turned out she really was lonely. Packing up her notes and her tablet, her mind kept drifting back to Vince and his girlfriend. She couldn't imagine signing up for something like that, a website that was primarily rich people looking for sex. But from the bit she knew about Vince, he wasn't exactly the type of man to do that either. Something must have appealed to him about such a thing.

Because really, a sugar daddy site? That wasn't exactly normal.

Was it?

Walking through the halls heading to her office, Kayla made a point of acknowledging every person she passed. It was vital for her to remember the names and faces of everyone on her floor, which she felt was the very least she should be expected to do. It built loyalty, comradery, and a positive environment. While she might not be able to control certain aspects of her company entirely, this was something she could influence.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Sugar & Spice"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Christine d'Abo.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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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Sugar & Spice 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BoxerLover2 27 days ago
Kayla Arnold - Successful entrepreneur in need of a date Devin Ford - Professional student in need of $ for school debt While Devin celebrates completing his Ph.d. by drinking with friends and signing up for dates on a sugar daddy dating website, Kayla is eating Thai food with her BFF. The BFF convinces Kayla to look at the sugar daddy site. She notices Devin’s picture and is intrigued. Kayla has to attend her high school reunion (she has generously donated to the school and they want to honor her), she doesn’t want to attend alone. Devin agrees to run interference for Kayla, helping her with busy-bodies and Kayla’s ex-husband. They manage to to navigate the reunion, run into some trouble with the ex-husband (who no longer wishes to remain an ex-) and Devin figures out what he really wants to be when he grows up. Good romance with high heat factor. I loved the supporting characters: Mark the Limo driver, Simone the BFF, Mr. & Mrs. Babineau who run the B&B. 3 1/2 Stars The book was provided by NetGalley for an honest review.
DarGee 27 days ago
This was an interesting premise, a flip on the norm, and I completely and thoroughly enjoyed it! I was hanging on to every word, every action, and I was completely enthralled on how the whole situation play out. And turned around, and twisted, and turned again. The characters were completely likable, sweet, kind, and so lost, but so confident. They meshed perfectly. They were sexy hot together. They connected emotionally and brought me along for the ride!