Authors: Cheryl Barton
Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance
Barton Publishing, LLC
This book is a work of fiction. Any references or similarities to actual events, real people, living or dead, or to real places, are intended to give the novel a sense of reality. Any similarities in names, characters, places and incidents is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.
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Reisterstown, Maryland 21136
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Copyright © 2013 Cheryl Barton
All rights reserved.
This book is dedicated to the memory of my brother, John Barton, III (December 26, 1962 – February 24, 2010), my inspiration to live each day like it’s my last. I miss you and I think about you every day. I know you are smiling because I’m pressing forward and making more dreams become a reality.
To My Readers:
Thank you for joining me on a journey to bring you romance that’s fun and sexy. Welcome to the story of Loren and Mike. You may remember them in
BACHELOR NOT FOR SALE
, my first published novel. There was a hint of an attraction and now we see where that hint leads.
I hope you enjoy venturing into the life and love of Loren and Mike as they take the blinders off and seek out the kind of love that most people only dream of.
Find out more about this and other novels by visiting my web site at
“Hey Mike, how are you? Duron said you wanted to talk to me about some interior design work for a house?”
There was silence on the other end of the phone as Loren waited for him to reply in that deep voice she loved hearing. There was something about hearing his voice that had her thinking of hot, sweaty nights between the sheets enjoying all of the wonderful things she knew the lips that produced his sexy voice could do to her.
“Yes I do.”
Loren noticed a slight pause and just when she thought his voice couldn’t get deeper and sexier, he spoke, again, sending every fiber of her being into a sexually charged haze.
“I’ve been waiting for you Loren.”
His deep, baritone voice had her legs shaking. She wiped her forehead as a thin sheen of sweat began to form on her brow at the double entendre she was reading behind his response. She tried with all of her might to shake off the fantasy forming in her head, but couldn’t. Her mind was picturing his long lean and muscular body, stretched out on his bed, looking up at her with a look of invite to join him.
His eyes were a deep, penetrating, rich, dark chocolate that were damn near hypnotic. His smile showed off perfectly aligned, white teeth encased by lips that held promises of hours on hours of pure delight.
Loren could almost see the thick, black, neatly trimmed mustache on his more than handsome face. She trembled at the thought of being his afternoon enjoyment and the pleasure she would endure as his mustache left marks all over her body, especially her most intimate parts.
She couldn’t help but imagine holding on to his muscular arms, achieved by many hours in the gym lifting weights, gripping them tightly as he whispered close to her ear all of the naughty things he’d like to do to her that she could hardly wait for.
Though she loved seeing him in casual attire, especially jeans that gripped his perfectly shaped behind, that led down to strong, Herculean built thighs, today, in the fantasy she was currently experiencing, his legs were uncovered, along with the rest of his body and she could see the valley at the top of his thighs that led to what was making her heart beat increase. She’d caught herself in the past, more times than she would like to admit, glancing at his clearly defined package through perfect fitting jeans and knew that what his zipper hid was massive. Her imagination of the power behind his strokes, using those same thighs during love making, had her rubbing her thighs together to ease just a little of the pressure that was beginning to build up.
Loren closed her eyes and could smell him. He always smelled so deliciously intoxicating. The cologne he wore, Dark Obsession by Calvin Klein, was perfect for him. The powerful, fiery scent matched his powerful, fiery, sexy personality. He was definitely the most handsome man she’d ever seen. It wasn’t just that his face was gorgeous, but seeing him, he embodied the total package for her. Being around Mike was like having her very, own Idris Elba to look at all the time. They could almost pass for twins.
Loren was jolted from her fantasy by Mike, making her remember she was still on the phone with him.
“Loren? Are you still with me?”
Loren thought to herself,
‘Am I ever!’
She was now on a high and didn’t want to come down.
“Have you?” she replied.
“Have I what, Loren?”
Loren thought, if he didn’t stop saying her name so seductively, she was going to burst into flames right on the spot.
“Have you been waiting for me as you said?” she asked.
She held her breath waiting for his answer.
“Yes I have,” she heard him say in a way that had her feeling like he was the piper playing his flute drawing her in with every mention of her name.
Loren’s brief fantasy had her speaking her mind before her head had a chance to pull her words back.
“I’ve been waiting for you too, Mike.”
Stunned at her own admission and the sweet sexy way in which she’d just made her declaration, she could only hope that he either didn’t hear her or took the gentlemanly route and acted as if he hadn’t.
When he didn’t immediately reply, she knew he’d heard her. She could hear his breathing get deeper and his breath intake on the other end of the phone let her know that she was in trouble; the best kind of trouble hopefully. She knew that neither of them were talking about house decorating now. At least that’s what her mind was saying.
She started nipping on her bottom lip lightly, a terrible habit she had whenever she felt nervous. She should have visited the drawer where her toy supply was kept before calling him. She knew beforehand that before they finished speaking, she would need some kind of relief that only an item in her secret drawer could provide until the day she became bold enough and replaced the toy with Mike’s package. She fanned herself knowing that the way she was reacting to him was the result of not being intimate with anyone for a very long time. In the back of her mind, perhaps she’d been waiting for Mike. Her attraction her brother’s best friend was getting out of control and Loren didn’t know how much more she could take.
She tried to clear her throat and her mind before responding again.
“Meet me and let’s talk about it.”
Before she could think of whether he was talking about house decorating or something else, she answered, “I’m ready when you are.”
Loren smiled as she looked at the numbers showing a noticeable increase in the profits for her interior design firm,
. Business was booming and it was days and numbers like today that made her appreciate her decision to go into the design business. She had several clients lined up and even more phone calls and emails to return from potential clients.
She was glad that she’d scheduled several interviews later in the week to hire a few new assistants because she was going to need the help. Word about her business was spreading like wild flowers and she was happy for the added boost. She’d wanted to be an interior designer for as long as she could remember and looking around at all that she’d achieved, it was worth having the dream.
As a child, when she played with her Barbie dream house and all of its accessories, she would enjoy decorating the rooms by cutting up clothes to make curtains for her doll house windows and making her very own blankets for her doll’s beds with washcloths. Even now she smiled remembering the day her father walked into her bedroom with a bag of brand new wash cloths from the store and told her to stop cutting up all of the washcloths in the house. No one had any left to wash with. After that day, ever so often, she would come home to a mysterious bag left on her bed with tons of colored swatches for her to cut up and design new things with without destroying anymore household washcloths. She had been in heaven.
As a teenager, she picked up the latest copy of
Better Homes & Gardens
magazine while all of her friends were looking at the latest clothing fashion magazines or gossip rags. Her mind was always on how she could bring new life to a room with her added touch. She loved shopping trips with her mother and not just to buy the latest fashions, but to also check out the newest fabrics for chair coverings and window treatments. Her entire family would get in on her desire to create and refurbish by bringing home used furniture for her to bring to life her design ideas. She loved that her mother still kept several of her creations in her home.
Loren knew at a young age that she had a great eye for beautiful art and could see a few pieces and imagine how she would place them in a room in just the right space leaving people in awe. Her friends who thought that she was crazy going into the interior design field just didn’t understand. They often told her she would never make a lot of money just by decorating rooms with new curtains or chairs. She knew they didn’t understand her passion and she didn’t care. Her love for it drove her day after day and now that she was riding high as a very well sought after designer, she knew that interior designing was exactly what she was meant to do.
She was about to check a few more numbers from the week’s client payments she’d received when her next appointment arrived. Mr. & Mrs. Madison were friends of one of her best clients and they were looking to her for assistance in redesigning the interior of two hotels they had recently acquired. One was on the island of Barbados while the other was in Miami, Florida. Both were locations Loren loved to visit. As an interior designer, it was part of her job to stay on top of what the latest and most popular spots around the world were upgrading to when it came to the designs they used to attract customers. The Madison’s had acquired both hotels in a will and were looking forward to bringing new life to them to attract new vacationers.
Loren stood and came around from behind the Italian wooden desk in her office as they entered her shop. She quickly checked her appearance in the floor to ceiling mirror to be sure nothing was out of place. She prided herself on the professional appearance she represented each day.
Today she was wearing her favorite canary yellow Moi-Meme two piece suit by designer Dawn Verbrigghe, with the skirt coming just above her knees. Loren had always been a fan. Her suits were all tailor made and always fit her like a second skin. She added a pair of yellow and black five inch heels by Steve Madden and her outfit was ready for business. As usual not a hair was out of place. Her jewelry sparkled around her neck and on her wrist and hands displayed perfectly manicured nails which were a staple for her. She not only believed in having beauty all around her, but she loved that it was a part of her as well. Though she was not a clothing designer, anyone in the design business should look impeccable at all times and she never missed an opportunity to shine.
After finding her appearance acceptable, she headed out onto the main floor to greet her guests. She had recently moved to the new location and loved the layout. Her office was all glass enclosed which gave her a great view of the main lobby and the entrance whenever anyone entered.
She greeted her clients herself today since the part time receptionist, Sherry, she’d hired was also a full-time student at her alma mater, Spellman, and she had classes most of the morning. Loren loved being able to pay it forward by being a mentor to other students who were interested in careers as designers.
The Madison’s spotted Loren heading toward them and jubilantly greeted her as they shook hands.
“Mr. and Mrs. Madison, it’s so nice to see you again..
“Loren, it’s good to see you again as well. I’m sorry we’re a bit late. The traffic here in Atlanta is awful,” Mrs. Madison said.
Loren agreed, having lived in the area all of her life, she knew it was a staple in the area for the traffic to be a nightmare.
She then turned to greet Mr. Madison as well.
“Welcome again, Mr. Madison. Glad to have you both back again.”
“Thank you very much Loren,” he responded following a handshake.
“Let’s have a seat while we go over the ideas I have so far for the hotels.”
Loren showed them to one of the three seating areas specifically designed for comfort where she could discuss ideas with clients. She could have used her office to do it, but she liked the relaxed feeling of the casual chairs, occasional tables and the open atmosphere of the open space. She wanted people to feel as if they were at home and relaxed when they came to her to discuss business.
“Before I sit, can I get you both anything to drink?”
“Would you happen to have any of that white wine you served the last time we were here?” Mrs. Madison asked.
“I sure do. I’ll get you a glass.”
She then turned to the husband.
“Would you like anything?”
“Just some coffee if you have it, thank you.”
“Sure. I’ll be right back. In the interim, why don’t you both take a look at the folders lying before you on the table? I visited both locations and had lots of photos taken of the way the hotels look right now. You’ll see those on the left side and on the right side you’ll see some ideas I have for making upgrades. I think you’ll be pleased.”
Both nodded and proceeded to take a look as Loren went to her lounge area to get their drinks. She was proud of the work she had done to fulfill their wish list of what they would like to see changed at each hotel. She agreed with them that both needed some serious upgrades and amenities in order to continue competing with other hotels and to also continue to attract a steady stream of guests.
When she returned, she could tell by the look on Mrs. Madison’s face that they were pleased by what they were looking at.
“Loren, these ideas you have are great. My husband and I were saying that we love the bright new lobby furniture and the cabanas around the pool are fantastic. We especially like the redesign of the rooms on the top three floors of the Miami location. We like how these are being redesigned around the idea of women who like to do ladies nights out or ladies get-a-ways and want all of the women to be able to stay comfortably in one suite. The new layouts, fabrics for the furniture and colors that brighten up all of the rooms are sure to be a hit.”
Loren had no doubt they would like her suggestions.
“I’m glad. I understand the previous owners were up in age and didn’t really care for color. Big, bright, bold colors seem to be the trend right now. Here are your drinks. Why don’t we start from the beginning and let me walk you through each room and everything that I think you were looking for as far as improvements.”
Loren took her seat, happy that she was about to have another satisfied customer and another major project under her belt. She had her head down looking again over the upgrades in the plan and didn’t notice that the Madison’s attention had been drawn elsewhere. When she began to speak and neither answered, she looked up to see if there was a problem.
“Is something wrong she asked noticing both had turned toward the front door. She looked beyond them to see what had taken their attention away. Her heart leaped in her chest when she saw the sexy sight of Michael Bailey, her brother’s best friend standing in the doorway.
“No, nothing’s wrong dear. There is a handsome man standing in your doorway looking like he stepped out of a men’s best dressed magazine and he’s looking at you like he’s imagining you naked,” Mrs. Madison said.
Loren blushed not at her words, but at the ideas running through her own mind at seeing Mike in her place of business. She knew they had planned to meet to talk about a project, but she thought they’d made plans to meet later in the week. She was surprised to see him. She excused herself to see what brought him to her store unexpectedly.
“Mike, what are you doing here? Did we have a meeting about your house I forgot about?”
Mike didn’t know what to say. His tongue felt like lead in his mouth. Loren was beautiful and she seemed to get even more beautiful every time he saw her. In the back of his mind he heard a voice telling him to back off, but when he found himself coming from a business meeting and not far from her office, he couldn’t resist stopping by. Now that he was here, he didn’t know what to say. He gathered his thoughts and realized he needed to say something.
“No, not at all. I had a meeting a few blocks down and I thought since I was close by, I would stop in to say hello, but I see you’re with a client so I’ll see you later this week for our meeting. Are we still on?” he asked.
Loren knew nothing would keep her from it.
“Yes we are.”
“Well I’ll let you get back to our client.”
Mike turned to leave, but before he went through the door, he turned back to Loren who hadn’t yet turned to head back to her guests.
“Loren?” he said drawing her attention back to him.
“Yes?” she answered.
“You look beautiful as usual.”
Loren’s heart was beating so fast she wondered if anyone could hear it. It had to be making some sort of sound, she thought.
“Thank you,” she said capturing his eyes and noticed something different, something she’d never paid attention to before. To her it looked a lot like lust, but that couldn’t be it. She’d always had a soft spot when it came to Mike, but she never got the feeling that he openly felt the same way. Could she be wrong? She watched as he finally turned to leave and when he was no longer within her eye sight she headed back to her guests. On the walk back to them, she couldn’t help but marvel at how sexy Mike looked in his tailor made suit that looked as if it was made to fit his body perfectly. She always thought other than seeing a man naked, there was nothing sexier than seeing a man in a suit made just for him.
“Is that your boyfriend or husband?” Mrs. Madison asked.
Loren was jolted out of her thoughts of Mike.
“No, not at all. He’s my brother’s best friend and business partner. He was in the area at a meeting and just stopped in to say hello, nothing more.”
She watched at the couple smiled.
“I would say there was definitely something more and not just in how you became all flustered when he showed up. Clearly he’s interested in you. It’s a good thing we were here or by now you’d be spread out over that desk in your office with him all over you. I know the signs because it’s the same look my husband gives me every time he sees me. Trust me, I know what I know. That man wants you. The question is, what are you going to do about it?”
Loren didn’t know how to answer that. She knew what she’d like to do about it, but this was Mike. He was practically family. Could they both have hidden feelings for each other that are finally coming to the surface? Only time would tell, she thought retaking her seat to continue their meeting.