The Burning Offer
(Trevor’s Harem, #1)
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance
The anonymous invitation that someone slipped under my door promises $1,000. Just for meeting a man downtown, in a public place, no questions asked.
I can make more than I ever imagined if I agree to take part in a competition.
Just get into the limousine. Just get on the private plane. Just fly to an airstrip at the foot of the largest, most luxurious estate I’ve ever seen. Just stay the first night, then another. Tell no one where I’ve gone, or why.
Everything in me screams to run away.
The rules say I can leave whenever I want.
So why am I still here?
The room and view took my usually jaded breath sufficiently away that I’m only now noticing them on the couches and chairs, divans, and love seats. Erin is still beside me and I realize we’re holding hands, but we’re the only two here who seem remotely out of sorts. The rest look like paying guests at an exclusive hotel. Without counting, I’d say there are seven or eight women and at least three men. The women are all dressed like Erin and me, in formalwear that’s not over the top. The men are the opposite. They’re in jeans, two barefoot and one still wearing scuffed leather biker boots. Fine casual button-up shirts, all unbuttoned. Every chest looks like something from a fitness magazine. I didn’t think men in the real world had chests and stomachs like that, tan and high to match their broad shoulders. Abdominal muscles I can count from my side of the room.
The second it takes for the weird standoff to shatter feels like forever, and in that pregnant pause I think of the moment, in a movie, when someone says the wrong thing and the music stops to turn everyone silent and staring. But it’s only two heartbeats. One of the men stands. Comes forward. Takes Erin’s hand and then my own. He kisses each of them. A mountain of masculinity. Even with my heels on, he must be a foot taller than me and three times as wide. He must be three hundred pounds, but without an ounce of fat. Dark skin, like a Pacific Islander. Shaved head. White teeth and a smile that makes something inside me sigh, then awaken.
“Bridget,” he says to me. “And Erin.”
Erin and I look at each other.
“My name is Tony. We’re all glad you’re here. We’ve been eagerly awaiting your arrival.”
I look around the room. One of the other men has sandy brown hair, is average height, and has a boyish face with a few days’ stubble — and an immaculate body. The other is about the same build but with dark hair. What strikes me about this one is his smile. I can’t tell his eye color from here, but I think they might be as blue as Erin’s. The eyes plus the devilish smile paint a sexy picture. While the first man looks like an all-American, this one looks like the troublemaker you should stay away from, but can’t.
The women are a different story.
They’re all intimidatingly beautiful. The kind of women that only exist in photo shoots. The male-approved feminine ideal that makes self-esteem rare for the rest of us. My toughness usually comes off as confidence, but seeing these girls — on their sofas, some possessively stroking the men’s’ chests — shrivels my assuredness to a trembling little ball.
Most are smiling. All but one, who looks like she smelled something foul — a girl with dark features, a model’s face, straight brown hair, and a sharp nose with a tiny silver stud in one side. But really, none of the smiles seem genuine. They’re all put on, pleasant to meet expectation. Yet transparent, with something sour lurking beneath.
It’s a contest, all right. I don’t know what kind it might be, but scanning the room I see only the false civility of rivals.
Good thing I’ve already made up my mind to leave as soon as I can find someone to ask. Or to stay only one day and not a moment longer.
Because Jesus. If these girls are my competition, I don’t stand a chance.
The big man points at the girls around the room one by one. He says their names, but I can’t follow them all. I hear Ivy, Kylie, Blair, a handful of others. Each time he says a name, one of the girls nods, smiles, or waves in acknowledgement. All except for the straight-haired bitch with the nose stud, who seems to have something up her ass. Her name, I definitely catch, Kylie.
“They’re your fellow contestants,” he finishes.
Again, I exchange a look with Erin: contest. Reality show. Some twisted billionaire’s game, with human chess pieces.
“I’m Tony,” he says, touching his massive, mocha-colored chest. He indicates the dark-haired guy with the troublemaker’s smile. “Logan.” Then the all-American quarterback. “And Richard.”
I find my voice, even though it feels lost.
“And who are you, if we’re the ‘contestants’?”Tony gives me a dead sexy smile. “We’re whatever you want us to be.”
I love to write stories with characters that feel real enough to friend on Facebook, or slap across the face. I write to make you feel, think, and burn with the thrill that can only come from getting lost in the pages. I love to write unforgettable characters who wrestle with life's largest problems. My books may always end with a Happily Ever After, but there will always be drama on the way there.
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