The Silver Linings Wedding Dress Auction: Available October 1, 2021 (Women's Fiction, Romance.)
The Silver Linings Wedding Dress Auction: Available October 1, 2021 (Women's Fiction, Romance.)
Subject: Don’t forget to pick up your dress at the dry cleaners!
The polished conference room table was cool beneath my skin. My fiercely handsome boss stood at the end staring down at my naked body. In one swift motion, he grabbed my ankles and pulled. My sensitive skin skated noisily over the slick, cool surface until my hips were teetering at the edge. His thick, muscled legs, covered in the finest dark cerulean worsted wool brushed against me, holding me in place.
His hands ran lovingly along my calves; gently brushing over the high-heeled red silk stilettos I wore at his insistence. Easing my knees apart, he spread me open for his pleasure.
Slipping a finger inside my intimacy, he smiled. He liked it when I was ready for him.
He made fast work of his trousers; his vivid blue eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean, never breaking contact with mine. His fleur de lis tie, my favorite, danced wildly but never lost its perfect knot.
Now naked from the waist down, he stepped between my legs and rubbed himself in my moist heat, spreading my juices down his thick shaft. When he was thoroughly covered with my essence, he grabbed hold of my hips and rammed into me with one forceful thrust.
I cried out, taking a swift intake of breath, as my flesh yielded to his sudden invasion—
Sabrina Whitney’s fingers paused on the keyboard. It took her a minute to comprehend that her phone was buzzing, the intense fantasy she’d been writing having completely absorbed her. Fearing discovery, she hit the SEND button to make the email disappear from her computer screen and then she glanced at the caller i.d.
Henry Colby, her fiercely handsome London boss with vivid blue eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean was calling her.
“You’re going to have to stop calling me sir, Mrs. Colby, or we’ll be sleeping in the car tonight.”
For a woman who didn’t drink Evian water because she considered herself smarter than to spend three dollars on water that was naïvespelled backwards, Sabrina Whitney knew with certainty her boss Henry Colby had to be playing with her. Her face scrunched suspiciously into a frown as she tersely asked, “Is this some sort of joke?”
Mr. Colby straightened his champagne colored silk tie with the sapphire fleur de lis pattern that perfectly complimented his dark blue, handmade Italian suit. The luxurious fabric hugged his broad frame like hot fudge over cool ice cream. If the rumors were to be believed (and they were), a bevy of beautiful women had sampled his personal ice cream cone.
“Have you heard a word I said? We got the room. The last one old Miss Rosemont had. Would you prefer to sleep in the car?” His frustration seeped into his voice as he watched her with those intense blue eyes.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Sabrina had been at her desk in New York writing her secret fantasy into an email and drinking a cappuccino when her London boss, who rarely acknowledged her existence, called and asked her to drop everything and get on a plane to London. Now they were lost in the middle of the English countryside during a snowstorm, stuck in his very small, very ill equipped black Porsche. If she had tried to write this story, she couldn’t have come up with a more perfect plot. A part of her, the dark part she’d tried hard to stifle, was doing cartwheels of pleasure. This was a fantasy come true.
When she took too long to reply, Henry explained, “The innkeeper is a veryold spinster lady named Miss Rosemont and she doesn’t allow unmarried couples to stay in her home and ‘shack up’.”
The windows on Sabrina’s side of the car were completely fogged from the heat coming off her body. Her cheeks were glowing with a deep blush. She couldn’t look at her boss, not right now.
Looking up at the snow accumulating on the clear moon roof, she asked, “What century does she think this is?”
“Ms. Whitney,” he said, scolding her as if she were a small child, “Might I remind you that you’re not in New York anymore. That woman spent ten minutes explaining to me how our society is declining. She isn’t going to change her mind about men and women sharing the same room, regardless of how innocent we may appear.”
Innocent would never be the word she would use to describe Henry Colby. With his Black Irish coloring and killer smile fully focused on her, he was anything but innocent. And at the moment, he was literally pilfering the breath from her lungs.
It was just a coincidence that she’d written a very similar story a couple of months earlier about getting abandoned with him in the middle of nowhere. She, Sabrina Whitney, financial planner for Colby International, was a smart, articulate woman, who didn’t get rattled or shaken. At the moment, she was behaving like an idiot, letting her overactive imagination and a healthy dose of jetlag get the best of her.
Resolute, she gave a casual nod and smiled, “Any port in a storm…I guess.”
“We are lucky we found the place. What’s so damn funny?”
She hadn’t realized she was laughing, but she must be…that kind of stupid, nervous laughter people display which signals a cognitive break with reality. “I don’t know, sir. It must be the jetlag. I apologize.”
“Let me guess, you’re thinking of how funny it will be to share the details of this experience with your co-workers when you return to New York?”
“I wouldn’t do that,” she replied, sitting up in her seat.
“You don’t think it’s funny, the CEO getting lost in his own country?” His voice took on an edge she didn’t like.
“I don’t gossip. Especially when it might paint someone in a bad light.”
He pondered this for a moment and said, “That in itself is very interesting.”
“And I value my job.” She’d worked hard to get where she was. On a whim, two years earlier, she had requested an informational interview with the prestigious Colby International. No one was more surprised than she when they offered her a job. Since her first day, she’d done everything she possibly could to do her best, be her best.
“Just the same,” he said. “You were thinking about something. Then you immediately looked embarrassed, which leads me to believe you were thinking about me.”
She had no answer, so she smoothed her already smooth skirt with an unsteady hand.
“It’s all right,” he said. “You’ll tell me eventually.”
Don’t count on it, she thought.
“We’re stuck,” he reiterated. “I doubt I could get us out of the parking lot. So you understand the situation.”
She watched the cotton balls of snow hit the windshield, melt and then freeze. The air in the little black sports car seemed to lose more and more oxygen, the pressure mounting with each second. “I understand we’re stuck here for the night.”
“Completely. At least we have a place to stay. It is mildly charming.”
“It does look charming,” she lied, looking up at the looming red brick structure resembling a haunted house from her childhood nightmares.
“I told her we’ve been married a few months, but I didn’t get too specific.”
“Good, because we don’t know each other. Is there a real Mrs. Colby?” She already knew the answer.
Met with a Cheshire cat grin he sometimes used on people when they’d said something incredibly stupid, he asked, “Mrs. Colby? You mean my sweet grandmother who raised me? I’m not married. And my dear grandmother died three years ago. My only living relative is an older sister, who lives with her family in South Africa. We’ve never been close. As for a girlfriend, well, let’s just say no one will mind. Now, I’ve told you all about my life, why don’t you tell me how much this might upset your boyfriend Mr. Jennings so we can minimize the damage?”
“What?” she asked, horrified.
“Steven Jennings. You know, your New York supervisor…” he held up his hand in mock protest, “Now don’t worry, I don’t have a problem with you two dating…”
“Wait a minute! Who told you I was dating Steven?”
“He did. I understand it is quite serious,” he said, his face curving back into his lady-killer smile.
“No! We’re each other’s client date for business. In fact, I hope I’m here until Saturday so I don’t have to go with him to the opera and entertain his clients, Mr. & Mrs. Fischer. Look, he’s a nice guy…really, a good guy, smart, good at his job, but he doesn’t zing me…kissing him would be like kissing my brother…if I had a brother…”
The silence, which followed in the small space, accentuated the inappropriateness of her confession.
“Poor Steven.” His brow wrinkled in feigned concern.
“I’m sorry, I know you don’t care about who I’m dating…let’s forget I said a word…” but she couldn’t help herself adding, “But just so we’re clear, I’m not dating Steven.”
“I think I understand,” he said, smiling and holding up his hand, “You and Steven are not dating.
No ‘zing’. Well, since that’s been cleared up, we need to get inside before Miss Rosemont wonders what happened to us.”
“She’ll take one look at us and know we’re not married.”
“Why would you say that?” His hand moved to the rearview mirror to capture both their images. “I think we make a very striking couple.”
She wanted this man, had fantasized about him to the point of writing down her most clandestine thoughts in a private email diary. The constant awareness of his physical proximity was causing emotional strain. Now he’d said they made a striking couple. She hadn’t imagined that.
“I’ll come back for the luggage, but we’ve got to get you inside, which could present a problem,” he said, looking suspiciously down at her three inch high heels. “My footprints are already covered up.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Not dressed like that. You’ll slip and break something,” he said, gesturing to her outfit.
She looked down at her camel colored suit and matching coat. True, she’d rather be in her fleece and boots, but no one told her there would be snow.
“I’ll be careful.”
“Let me point out the obvious. You’re wearing high heels and a skirt.”
“I’m dressed for business.”
“You’re dressed for New York. And there’s at least four inches of snow on the ground. My shoes are already soaked, but there’s no need for you to get wet and ruin your Manolo’s or whatever those are.”
“I have other shoes in my luggage,” she said, but realized her favorite Ferragamo’s were in imminent danger.
“Want me to get them from the trunk?”
Thinking of the lingerie she’d rashly thrown in at the last minute and would therefore be on the top when the bag was opened, she said, “Ah, no, I’ll be fine. The shoes will dry out. Thank you anyway.”
“Fine,” he said with a resolute nod. “I’ll carry you.”
“What?” she asked. “Oh no…no…no.”
“It’ll save your shoes and make us look like a couple.”
Before she could argue, he was out of the car, walking around to get her. She hurriedly searched for her door handle, the sudden panic making her clumsy. He would not pick her up and carry her all the way to the front door. No way.
The car door opened and he leaned in. His face was close enough she could see the shadow of his whiskers and smell his cologne, an exotic mix of sage and honeysuckle. His vivid blue eyes, which glowed in the rapidly darkening twilight, met hers and rendered her speechless.
“Put your arms around my neck and remember, I’m Henry, you’re Sabrina.”
She held up her hand in protest. “No way are you carrying me.”
Ignoring her, he slipped one arm between her shoulders and the seat, the other under her knees. The slick leather and soft fabric provided the perfect lubrication to his strong, burrowing hands. One moment, she was sitting in the car and the next she was in his arms being carried away. She held on tight, the delicate skin on her wrists brushing against his thick, dark hair. The rapidly falling snow muffled all the noise but the beat of her heart echoing in her ears.
The swirling wind and snow caught her long hair and blew it directly in his face. Grabbing at the wayward strands of blond curls, she accidentally jabbed his cheek barely missing an eye.
“I’m so sorry…” she said, grimacing and wondering when he’d drop her in retaliation.
“I’m fine,” he said easily.
“Why don’t you set me down before I hurt you again or you hurt yourself?” she asked.
He smiled, his face so close she could see the creases of his dimples.
“I’m stronger than I look. Besides, I lift weights twice as big as you.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Aren’t you impressed?”
She was, actually and couldn’t help the smile threatening to give her away. She could have sworn he gripped her a little tighter.
“Keep smiling,” he ordered, as a gray haired woman with a disapproving look opened the door for them. She had no greeting for Sabrina and a complaint for Henry.
“I was beginning to worry Mr. Colby, I have other guests and it is nearing the cocktail hour,” the woman said.
“I’m sorry, Miss Rosemont. My wife couldn’t figure out a way to save her shoes, so I decided to carry her. Sabrina, this is Miss Rosemont, Miss Rosemont, my wife, Mrs. Colby.” He sounded natural, believable, as if he’d been introducing her as his wife for years.
He set her down and addressed Miss Rosemont again. “While I get the luggage, would you please show my wife to our room?”
Sabrina followed Miss Rosemont up a labyrinth of narrow stairways, barely able to keep up in her three-inch heels.
“I’m sorry to say, this is my smallest room,” Miss Rosemont said. “The one I always give away last, to those who fail to make a timely reservation…”
Proper English scolding noted, Sabrina replied, “I’m sure it will be fine. We were pleased to find you, I can’t tell you how worried we were.”
Miss Rosemont gave her a stern look. “There’s a fireplace and you have your own bath, just down the hall…” Then she opened the door to large closet masquerading as a room. The narrow double bed dominated the space and was barely far enough away from the fireplace to be safe. A small window seat faced the front courtyard, while insipid lamps on each nightstand cast a faint glow in the otherwise dark space.
Struggling for the right words, Sabrina offered, “It’s so cozy.”
“Quite,” Miss Rosemont said with a tight-lipped smile. “Don’t light the fire until after dinner or you’ll be wasting wood and I won’t bring you any more. Cocktails start in ten minutes, dinner follows exactly one hour later.”
With the final declaration, Miss Rosemont left Sabrina with a slam of the door.
Henry Colby took his time going back for the luggage. He’d done it, set a plan in motion, which not only had broken every rule in his personal arsenal, but crossed a not so thin line.
In the beginning, when the idea had come to him, he’d justified the plan by an unwavering opinion he was preventing one of his female employees from the same fate others had endured at the hands of Steven Jennings.
But it wasn’t any female, it was Sabrina Whitney. His Sabrina Whitney.
He should have never agreed to the transaction ten years ago that had given him the capital to start his business and saddled him with Steven Jennings for twenty long years.
Steven’s personal life was none of his business. But when Steven had the nerve to ask Sabrina Whitney out on a “business” date, and then bragged to Henry about how he intended to seduce her, something inside Henry awakened, reared it’s head and demanded he finally claim what was rightfully his.
“Little Ms. Whitney,” he muttered as he pulled her first bag from the trunk of the Porsche.
Another complication. Who’d have thought a predator to his personal way of life would have presented as a sweet, curvaceous blue-eyed blond in a little red suit?