As a top model, Sorcha Murphy commands a high price. But a terrible, hidden secret is about to return to haunt her.
Romain de Valois knows Sorcha is damaged goods--her hedonistic reputation speaks for itself. But he wants her for one final assignment, and he's prepared to pay. Romain believes Sorcha hasn't changed her ways, and decides to change the deal: her paycheck will be recouped in the bedroom!
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Bought for the Frenchman's Pleasure by Abby Green
As Romain De Valois approached the ballroom he was glad for a second that the doors were closed. They acted as a barrier of sorts between him and that world. The thought caught him up short. A barrier? Since when had he ever thought he needed that? His strides grew longer, quicker, as if to shrug off the unaccustomed feeling that assailed him. And the most curious sensation hit him too at that moment...the desire to have someone by his side as he approached this set of doors. Someone...a woman...with her hand in his, who would understand effortlessly what he was thinking, who would glance up at him, a gleam of shared understanding in her eyes. She might even smile a little, squeeze his hand...
His steps faltered for just a second before reaching the door. The vibration of the orchestra, the muted raucous chatter and laughter of the hundreds of people inside was palpable in his chest. What on earth was wrong with him? Daydreaming about a woman when he'd never felt the lack of anything before--much less a partner. And one thing was for sure: no woman existed like that in his world, or even in his imagination until that second. If he wanted a woman like that he'd be better off going back to his small French home town, and he'd left that behind a long time ago--physically, mentally and emotionally. His hand touched the handle of the door, concrete and real, not like the disturbing wispy images in his head. He turned it and opened the door.
The rush of body heat, conversation, the smell of perfume mixed with aftershave was vivid and cloying. And yet there was a slightly awed hush that rippled through the room when he walked in. He barely noticed it any more, and wondered if he would even care if it didn't happen. His mouth twisted with unmistakable cynicism as his eyes skipped over the looks and the whisperings, seeking out his aunt. The fact was, as head of the fashion world's most powerful business conglomerate, he practically owned every single person who had anything to do with fashion in this huge glittering ballroom, and even some of those who rode on their coat-tails.
He owned all the dresses and suits so carefully picked out with a mind to current trends. He owned the ridiculously expensive cosmetics that sat on the flawless skin of the women, and the lustrous jewels that adorned their ears, necks and throats. They knew it and he knew it.
The crowd shifted and swayed to let him through, and for the first time in his life he didn't feel any kind of thrill of anticipation. In fact what he felt was...dissatisfaction.
He was relatively young, wealthier than any other man there, and he knew with no false conceit that he was handsome. Most important of all, he was single. And here in New York that put a bounty on his head. So he was under no illusions as to what he represented to women in a crowd like this. And those women he'd have taken his pick from before seemed now to be too garish, too accessible. Dismayingly, the ease with which he knew he could pick the most beautiful, the most desirable, now made distaste flavour his mouth. A pneumatic blonde dressed in little more than a scrap of lace held together by air bore down on him even now.
Relief flooded him when he saw his aunt, and he crossed to her side. Focusing on her brought his mind back to the reason he was there at all tonight. To check someone out in a professional capacity--a model he was being advised to hire for one of the most lucrative ad campaigns ever. His aunt was the latest to put pressure on him as the woman in question was one of her own models. He knew well that this woman, Sorcha Murphy, would be like every other in this room. And on top of that she had a history that made her, as far as he was concerned, unemployable. Still, though, he worked and operated his business as a democracy and had no time for despotic rule. He had to play the game, show that he had at least come to inspect her for himself before telling them no...
His aunt turned and smiled fondly in acknowledgment as he approached.
'No.' Sorcha took in a deep patient breath. 'It's pronounced Sorka...'
'That's almost as cute as you, honey...and where is it from?'
The man's beady eyes set deep into his fleshy face swept up and down again with a lasciviousness that made Sorcha snatch her hand back from his far too tight and sweaty grasp. He clearly had no more interest in where she or her name were from than the man in the moon. She managed to say, with some civility and a smile that felt very fake, 'It's Gaelic. It means brightness...
It's been lovely meeting you, but if you wouldn't mind, I really must--'
She looked around at her name being called with abject relief. The need to get away from this oily tycoon from Texas was acute and immediate.
'Kate...' She couldn't disguise that relief as she greeted her friend, and gave her a very pointed look.
Sorcha turned back to the man whose eyes were now practically popping out of his head as he saw the luminous blonde beauty join Sorcha's side. Her best friend merely smiled sweetly at him and led Sorcha away.
'Boy, am I glad to see you. I think I need a shower after that.' Sorcha gave a little shiver. 'I know. He cornered me earlier, and when I saw you with him I knew I had to save you.'
Sorcha smiled at her closest friend in the whole world and gave her a quick, impulsive hug. 'I'm so glad you're here, Katie. These evenings are such torture--do you think we could make a run for it?'
Kate's nose wrinkled in her exquisite face. 'No such luck. Maud is keeping her eagle eye on us, and has already told me that if we scarper early she'll make us pay.'