The Goal: A juicy reality show about joining the notorious Player’s Club.
The Conditions: Complete three crazy initiation challenges…and seal the production deal.
The Complication: Lincoln Stone, steely, tabloid-phobic Club founder.
Lincoln’s always fought to keep the Player’s Club exclusive and secret, and he doesn’t trust the attention-seeking pseudo-starlet as far as he can throw her. Only problem is, he wants to throw her down on her designer sofa and do very naughty things to her….
Gorgeous Jules is about to destroy Lincoln’s famous self-control—and maybe the Player’s Club, too!
Juliana smiled when her phone rang. “Hey, Finn.”
“Hey, Jules. Listen, my friend and I are just about there… are you sure about the address?”
There was a pause. “Because… it’s a store.”
“Yes, I know.”
Another pause. “Are you telling me you want to meet us at Agent Provocateur?” There was a laugh in his voice.
“Um, mind if I ask why?”
“Because I could use some new thongs,” she said. “So come meet me at the dressing room, okay? The salesgirls will tell you where it is.”
“I know where it is, actually,” he said, and now she laughed. “I think I mentioned that my friend might be a little hesitant about letting you into the Club.”
“That’s why I chose the meeting place,” she said. “Don’t worry, Finn. I know how to persuade men. If your friend’s straight, I’ll have him eating out of my hand in about thirty seconds.”
“I would pay cash money to see that. We’ll be there in a few minutes,” Finn said, and hung up.
She tucked her phone back in her purse, and surveyed herself in the mirror. Yes, she knew men… especially the type of men, like George, who would want to be in an extreme, prankster-styled secret society like The Players Club. She didn’t judge them, she simply knew which buttons to push.
She adjusted the demi-cup of her royal purple merry widow, did a quick turn. Her hair was up, Brigitte Bardot style, with a few curls tumbling down along her shoulders. She looked sexy, and dangerous, and a little bit naughty. Only her eyes showed the slightest bit of… not nervousness, she realized, checking her makeup. Just weariness, and a bit of calculation. She plumped up her breasts. With her girls on full display, very, very few men actually looked into her eyes.
“Jules? You there?”
She smiled, debated pulling on a filmy gray robe. Then shook her head, letting a few more curls escape as her cheeks pinkened to a nice rosy color. She blew herself a kiss in the mirror.
Then she stepped out. “Right here.”
She took in the two of them. Finn had filled out a bit, she noticed with appreciation. He’d always been cute, in a geeky, gawky sort of way — always the shy younger cousin to George’s brash, aggressive charm. Finn was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of long shorts with some suede skate shoes. If you didn’t know he was worth a few million, you’d never have guessed it passing him on the street. She liked that about him, she realized. It made it easier to just be yourself around him. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, with some genuine affection, although she stepped away quick enough so he didn’t get any ideas. Then she turned her attention to the real problem: her opposition, Finn’s buddy. She smiled
Then she got a good look at him, and all the rest of her thoughts blanked.
He was about six two, with deep walnut hair dark enough to be almost black. His eyes, in contrast, were light… a soft hazel, shades of green and gold and brown, hypnotic in his lean, chiseled face. He wore a suit like he was born to, and had broad enough shoulders to make her heart beat a little faster. He was somber, too, his stern expression a strange counterpoint to Finn’s foolish grin.
Yum, she thought, forcing herself to focus as she regained her composure. Well, he wasn’t going to be a hardship to charm. She held out a hand. “You must be Lincoln,” she murmured. “Finn’s told me so much about you.” But not that you were tall, dark, and seriously hot.
He held her hand for a second, a firm pressure… he was strong, she could tell, not someone whose only exercise was pushing away from his desk or doing an office jog to the copier. For some reason, he reminded her of a medieval knight. Or maybe of someone else — God knew, she’d met enough people in her life that they all started bleeding together in her memory after a certain point.
“He hasn’t told me anything about you.”
She pulled her hand away before she could get frostbite, and re-evaluated the situation as Lincoln openly glared at Finn. “I’m the new pledge,” she said, remembering what Finn had called her. “I’m going to join the Players’ club.”
Now Lincoln’s glare shifted over to her, before he scouted the lingerie store to see if anyone was listening to their conversation. One of the saleswomen was folding tank tops on one of the glossy black tables, another was adjusting a filmy negligee over a faceless, curvaceous mannequin in one of the windows. Having reassured himself that no one was eavesdropping, he turned his gaze back to her.
“You’re not joining the Club.”
There was controlled, glacier-cold fury in his voice. He was staring at her like he didn’t want to even be standing next to her, much less letting her in his precious Club. She crossed her arms, wishing for a second that she’d worn the robe after all.
“Why not? Is it because of who I am?”
“What? Why?” He turned back to Finn. “Who the hell is she?”
Finn sighed. “She’s Juliana Mayfield,” he said, lowering his voice. And to her shock, Lincoln’s face was still blank.
“She’s… um, famous,” Finn explained. “Sort of, anyway.” He sent her a look of apology.
She knew she wasn’t a true celebrity, but damn it, she was famous. Some would say infamous. Now, she was not only completely ignored by this gorgeous, arrogant man, her old friend Finn was apologizing for her.
Well, this wasn’t going at all the way she’d planned.
“God. She’s one of those celebutantes, isn’t she?” Lincoln’s tone was one of sheer revulsion.
“No, no. She’s cool.”
“And she’s standing right here,” Juliana cut in. She quickly cloaked her vulnerability with her second best weapon: anger. And not just any anger, but Southern woman anger. She might’ve been born in Los Angeles, but her mama had been a Georgia peach with an iron fist. She might’ve been a delicate, waif-like model, but her mother could cut men to ribbons like razor wire, smiling and offering pie the entire time.
First she turned to Finn. “I didn’t realize that you needed Lincoln’s permission for me to join, Finn.” She paused, letting that sink in. “What, do you work for him?”
Finn might not be the macho asshole his cousin was, but no man wanted to be considered his friend’s subordinate.
“I don’t,” Finn said, scowling at Lincoln. “I seem to remember that someone told me I could choose the next pledge. Remember?”
“She’s not a pledge,” Lincoln replied quietly. His hazel gaze swept over her, and she could feel the heat burning from the sheer intensity of it. He was pissed at her, obviously.
He also wanted her. She smiled, letting her tongue lick her lower lip in a quick, almost imperceptible gesture. He might not want to show it, or even admit it to himself, but he wanted her.
She would use that, she thought, anger sharpening her smile.
“Oh, really? I’m not a pledge, hmmm?” She stepped closer to Lincoln, smiling coquettishly even as she let her eyes blaze. She knew her chest was heaving slightly as she breathed a little harder, and she let it work in her favor. “And what, exactly, am I?”
He surprised her again. Despite her obvious display of cleavage, his eyes never left hers.
“You’re a woman who courts publicity, who lives for it.” Even angry, his low, husky voice made her want to shiver with pleasure. “You’re a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t think that anyone will say no to her. You’re smart enough to think that traipsing around in lingerie is going to get a man wrapped around your finger; you’re dumb enough to think that I would. And you’re obviously a woman who thinks that by joining the Players Club, you’re going to get something out of it, rather than add something to it.”
He stepped back from her with a withering glance. “Finn, she’s out. Pick another pledge.”