LACE – Read a Preview Now!October 5, 2018
LACE releases next!
Update: LACE will be releasing this week (November 18th). I suffered a difficult loss in October and it set me back a bit, but I’m excited to release Alexander and Olivia’s story within the next couple of days!
This is a sexy standalone that is the last book in the Just This Once series.
The Just This Once series consists of four novels. Each features a completely new couple who meet because of a one-night stand. (Not every couple has a one-night stand.)
I’m also excited to announce that VERSUS and THIRST are both releasing before the end of 2018!
Here is the first chapter of LACE:
“I need you to tell me who these panties belong to.”
I turn at the sound of the masculine voice. It’s not that it’s a rarity here. It’s a lingerie boutique, so we have our share of male clientele, but this voice is different.
It’s edged with a roughness that speaks of confidence and control.
“You want me to what?” Liza, the newly hired sales associate, asks.
“You heard me.” The man barks back, an added note of irritation in his tone. “I need to know who bought this pair of panties because she’s a goddamn thief.”
I move across the boutique, my nude heels clicking a quick beat on the hardwood floors.
I stop when I catch sight of the back of the man attached to the voice.
He’s tall. I’d guess around six-foot-two. His shoulders are broad, his brown hair long enough to skim the collar of the white dress shirt he’s wearing. The sleeves are rolled up to reveal muscular forearms that pop in and out of view when he moves his arms.
I should visit this store more often. Working from the corporate offices of Liore Lingerie isn’t nearly as exciting as this.
“Can I help you, sir?” I call out from behind him, running a hand over my long dark hair. “I’m Olivia Hull. I’m the District Operations Manager of Liore Lingerie.”
It’s as if a sculptor created the perfect man and dropped him in front of me.
Impeccable bone structure, a strong jaw, a sharp nose and the pièce de résistance; two of the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.
“Are you in charge?” He looks me over.
I do the same to him, stopping to linger at the barest hint of smooth skin under the unbuttoned collar of his shirt. “If there’s a problem, I can help.”
A ball of black lace falls from his hand onto the checkout counter. “Give me the name of the woman who bought these.”
I move around the counter until I’m facing him directly. I glance down at the lace. “We sell hundreds of pairs of panties every day, sir.”
He shoves the lace closer to me. “I don’t care how many you sell. I only care about who you sold this pair to.”
I grab a silver pen from the top of the counter and tug on the edge of the lace. “This is one of our most popular styles of panties. We have several stores here in Manhattan. It’s impossible to pinpoint who these belong to.”
“You must have records.” He points at the computer sitting atop the counter. “She told me they were brand new. Key in the code or whatever it is you do when you sell a pair and print me out the names of the women who have bought them in the last few days. She’s about your height, blonde, with brown eyes.”
Liza moves toward the computer, but I stop her with a hand on her wrist. “We value the privacy of each of our customers. We would never compromise that for any reason, sir.”
“Your customer,” he pulls the last word across his tongue with disdain. “Your customer took a very valuable item from my apartment last night after I fell asleep. She was in such a rush to steal my property that she forgot those in my bed.”
“Why don’t you just ask her to give it back?” Liza laughs. “Call her up and tell her that you’ll exchange the panties for whatever it is she took.”
Oh, poor naïve Liza.
“I take it that you don’t know her name?” I cross my arms over my chest. The motion stretches the fabric of my black sheath dress taut across my breasts.
His eyes drop to my arms. “That’s correct.”
“I’m afraid we can’t help you.” I slide the panties back across the counter with a push of the pen. “I’d suggest that you return to wherever it was that you met her. With any luck, you’ll cross paths with her again.”
“That’s your advice?” He points at the windows that overlook Fifth Avenue. “Millions of women live in this city. How am I going to find her?”
I narrow my blue eyes and study him. “I don’t have a clue.”
“You need to do better than that.” His expression turns smug, which only makes him that much sexier. “You need to get on that computer and find out who she is.”
“It’s not my job to track down your one-night stand, sir.”
He rests both of his palms on the counter and leans closer to me. “I’m going to take this above your head.”
“You’re more than welcome to do that.” I smile sweetly. “I should warn you that our entire management team are committed to our customers and the security of their personal information.”
“Your customer stole a signed Trey Hale jersey from me last night.” He scoops the panties back into his hand and shoves them into the front pocket of his black pants. “In case you don’t know who that is, Trey Hale is a professional baseball player. He’s the best pitcher in the league. He won the World Series last year.”
I know exactly who Trey Hale is, but I won’t tell this arrogant jerk that.
“Your superiors will be hearing about this, Ms. Hull,” he calls over his shoulder as he starts toward the exit. “That jersey was meant to be a gift for my nephew’s tenth birthday and your refusal to cooperate with me is the reason he’ll be disappointed.”
I sigh. Why the hell did the beautiful bastard have to tell me that?
“How is it our fault that his random one-night stand lifted that jersey?” Liza asks as she sprays disinfectant on the top of the counter. “He shouldn’t take strangers home with him.”
I don’t weigh in on that since I’ve been guilty of inviting a one-night stand back to my place. Luckily for me, that guy didn’t help himself to anything but a bowl of cereal the next morning.
“Did he mention his name to you at all?” I question her as I watch her swirl the disinfectant in a circle with a paper towel, her red hair bouncing around her shoulders. “Did he tell it to you before I came over?”
She looks at me. “No. I would have remembered if he did.”
I could forget he ever walked in here, and I would if it weren’t for the mention of his nephew. I can replace that jersey within the hour. All I need to do is give my cousin, Trey, a call and I’ll have a signed jersey, baseball and two tickets to a game in my hand in the time it takes me to get to his apartment.
“I should have asked for his name,” I say, picking up a stack of gift cards to place on a display near the entrance.
“That slice of heaven was Alexander Donato.” A woman approaches the checkout counter with several pieces of lingerie in her hands. “I know exactly where you can find him, or at least a picture of him. His handsome face is on a billboard in the middle of Times Square.”
© Deborah Bladon, 2018
Subject to edit.