And here’s another new cover…
Drastic Measures is going into the EXOTICA line, but it’s still a romance. The main reason it’s going into the EXOTICA line is because it ends with a HFN or Happy-for-now, the heroine just on the verge of falling in love instead of making that open declaration.
Some background on the story~ the heroine, Pam, just found out that her fiancé owes some serious money to his business partner. Her fiancé, Shawn, had the brilliant idea of using her club as the collateral.
Enter the business partner, a sexy guy by the name of Ethan. Ethan is ready to call in that loan, but knowing Shawn probably doesn’t have the cash on hand, he offers one other option. He just wants Pam for a night. Nah, this isn’t some Robert Redford/Demi Moore/Indecent Proposal deal.
Ethan doesn’t expect Pam to sleep with him. He just wants a couple hours with her when she doesn’t take off running in the other direction. That’s all he wants.
Pam doesn’t like be used, doesn’t like the position she’s put in, and she’s seriously pissed with her fiancé, who shortly become ex-fiancé, but she also doesn’t want to risk losing her club. So she agrees to the one night.
They both end up getting more than they bargained for.
Three days later, Pam entered her office to find a huge crystal vase on her desk. There were easily two dozen roses in it—pale, pale roses that seemed white from a distance but as she got closer, she saw that they were actually the palest, creamiest shade of pink.
The petals felt satiny against her fingers when she touched them. She scowled a little. Shawn wasn’t prone to romantic gestures, even when he was in the wrong, so it was going to really suck throwing these out. It was the principal of the thing, though. It had been three days since she’d given back his ring and he’d been calling regularly. Pam had ignored the calls but it wasn’t going to be so easy to ignore the roses. She found the card and opened it, already formulating the message she’d have somebody pass on to Shawn the next time he called.
But it wasn’t from Shawn.
The card read simply:
Wear the dress.
Tonight at 7 a car will pick you up at the club.
Her first instinct was to tear the card into two thousand microscopic pieces. Her second was to take the roses and hurl them, crystal vase and all, against the wall. And her third instinct was…what dress?
The Bash, she realized. It was already time for the Bash…and this damned ‘date’. Damn it. The Bash. Pam hadn’t wanted to think about the Bash and for the past three days and she’d done a damn fine job of doing just that. She’d made arrangements for tonight, though. She might be burying her hand in the sand about the actual event but she’d made the preparations to have the night off.
She had a dress at home she planned on wearing and once she got her work done here, she’d leave the club in the capable hands of Sam and Maya, the club’s manager. Time enough to take a bath, get dressed…
“What dress?” she muttered as she glanced around automatically and that was when she saw the box on her desk. It was so damn big that she wondered how she could have missed it. She recognized the name on the lid and blinked, a little startled. It was from a designer boutique that sold dresses worth more than her entire wardrobe.
At home, she had laid out a black velvet dress that she had bought for the few formal things she attended. Simple, basic, elegant—it was pretty much the only thing she owned for this sort of thing and she’d be damned if she went and splurged on something for this…this…blackmail.
Probably something pink. Or red. She hated red, made her skin look a little too rosy and pink. She really, really didn’t like pink. Already irritated, she started to work the lid off. She had no qualms with others wearing it and chances were there would be a dozen other women, at least, wearing some shade of pink tonight but she just wasn’t—
Damn! When she first caught sight of the dress, she gasped. Her eyes widened at the green silk dress and unwittingly, she reached out and touched it.
One thing she had worked on really hard over the past three days was to not think about Ethan. In any way. At all. But now, she couldn’t help it. This was really going to happen.
Her belly pitched and she sagged against her desk, staring at the dress. Then she looked up and stared around the club. Was she really going to do this?
Part of her shouted, No. You can’t do this.
The other part kept remembering Shawn’s face as he’d said, It’s not like you have to sleep with him or anything.
She couldn’t get rid of the feeling though, that that was exactly what Shawn wanted her to do. He wanted her to do whatever Ethan asked of her so the man would wipe Shawn’s debt clean. Shawn was good with money but he was also greedy. A night that would erase a quarter of million dollar debt…
Her gut knotted as she realized the ramifications of that. Yeah, Ethan had a lot of money. He was good with it. Everything he touched turned to gold. But he was willing to write off that loan for a night with her. Her. Pam was short, on the plump side and while she wasn’t unattractive, she’d never be much more than cute. She wore her blonde hair long because keeping it short required more trips to the salon that she cared to make. She burned in the sun so she was always pale. Her skin seemed to blush pink with even the slightest emotion and her green eyes always looked a little surprised, in her opinion.
So why the hell was Ethan Parker willing to let go of that kind of money for a night with her?
“Oh, shit.” She pressed a hand against her belly to still the nerves dancing around in there and then she looked at the clock. Three hours.
Her hands shook a little as she lifted the dress out and held it against her. Slowly she turned and stared at the mirror that hung over the couch on the opposite side of her office. The green seemed to glow against her skin and she looked even paler than usual. Of course, that could be because she was scared to death.
“You really are going to do this,” she whispered.
Part of her wanted to insist it was because she didn’t have much of a choice.
Part of her wanted to insist she was doing this because she didn’t want to lose
But deep inside, she knew that wasn’t the only reason. She wanted to know exactly why the hell Ethan Parker wanted a night with her, of all people.