One question from an ex-lover.
One text message from a complete stranger.
The same answer to both…Yes.
Scarlett Bell has found a way to move beyond a dark past that threatened to take her best friend, Kinsley, from her. Now ten years later Scarlett has everything. A multi-billion dollar fashion and beauty empire. A fabulous New York apartment filled with everything a girl could need. And an awesome best friend. What more could she want? Love, marriage, and a baby. Everything her best friend has.
One ex-boyfriend could give her everything she thinks she wants. Even if he is a little too nice…
One dark stranger could give her everything she never knew she wanted. But he could destroy her life…
Two men. Two choices. One answer to both: Definitely Yes.
Warning: 3 book series featuring Scarlett from Maybe series. Each book is full length and will end on a cliffhanger. Each book will end one month after previous book. Only for those that love dirty romances, edge of your seat suspense, twists, and a little bit of darkness.
Why are there no hot men in this bar? I sigh. Why are there no hot men at any bar—ever?
I take a sip of my gin and tonic as I scour the room, looking for anyone who will do for tonight. This bar used to be the best bar in New York City to pick someone up for a one-night stand. Now, it is just another bar to add to my list of has-beens.
It’s a shame really. This bar has everything. It’s clean; it has a live band every night, not just on the weekends; and the bartenders here know my drink order without me having to order. It used to be full of life, full of energy, but now, it is nothing more than an overpriced bar with crappy music and no hot men.
As I glance around the large bar, I don’t count more than six other people in the bar, only two of which are men. One is too old—my best guess, mid-forties—and the other, I doubt he’s eighteen.
“It just ain’t what it used to be, is it?” Todd says.
“No, it isn’t. I hate to say this, but I’m going to have to find a new bar,” I say.
Todd wipes off the counter in front of me. “I hate to say this, but me, too. The tips aren’t what they used to be. And if my favorite tipper leaves me—”
“Your only tipper and most attractive customer,” I say, smiling.
Todd flashes me his smile that is missing one front tooth. “Only tipper. I won’t be able to survive on the measly salary this place pays me. I guess it is off to find greener pastures.”
“Yeah, I guess.” I frown as I finish off the last of my gin and tonic.
Todd immediately places another glass in front of me, making me smile.
“You bet, Scar,” he says.
I take the full glass and raise it to my lips, sipping the perfect, cold liquid that I find myself needing more and more after a long day of work. I love what I do, but running Beautifully Bell Enterprises, the fashion and beauty company I own, is exhausting by the end of the day. I need something cold to relax me and a hot man in my bed to reenergize me for the next morning.
As much as I love spending my evening talking with Todd, it’s not enough. I need more. I need thrills and excitement to invigorate me. To make me excited to wake up the next morning. I used to have that every night when I was twenty-five and a model. I always knew the hippest bars to find an attractive man. Half of the time, I didn’t even have to go to a bar to find a man. The male models I worked with that day would more than do.
Now, at thirty-two, I’ve found that it is harder to find a good man for one night. I don’t model as much anymore. I just don’t have time with my fashion empire. And then men my age are beginning to become more and more interested in more than just one night. They want marriage and babies and the whole package. I’m just not ready for that yet.
That leaves me with the twenty-something-year-old men who are practically still babies themselves. Men who are excited about the idea of one night only. Men who don’t care that I’m older than them. Men who like being controlled by a more domineering woman.
My phone buzzes against the table, and I turn it over to see who messaged me.
Kinsley: Emergency! Can I meet you tomorrow? Have news!
My heart races when I see the words Kinsley and emergency in the same line.
My best friend has been through too much in the past. It’s been almost ten years now since she found out her family was money launderers, smugglers, and killers. Ten years since my best friend almost died at the hand of her own grandfather. Now, she’s living her happily ever after here, in New York City.
But seeing her text message has me worried that something has happened again. It’s after midnight, and my best friend is never awake this late on a Thursday.
I type frantically.
Me: Where are you? Do I need to call the police? What’s happening?
I stare at my phone, gripping it much too hard, as I wait for the message to get sent and read.
Come on, come on, I think as I frantically bounce my legs up and down, hoping that she will respond quickly. I should have just called her, but what if she is stuck in the back of a trunk somewhere? Then, if I called her, it would let her kidnappers know that she had a phone? What if her mouth is taped shut with duct tape, and she can’t speak? What if—
Then, I watch as three dots appear on the screen, indicating that she is typing a response. My phone buzzes in my hand as the message comes through.
Kinsley: LOL. Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. There is nothing wrong. I’m completely fine. Just have some happy news that I can’t wait to tell you tomorrow! We’ve been having trouble with finding time for each other lately, so I just wanted to make sure you knew that I really need you to drop everything and just be my best friend tomorrow.
I shake my head at my friend.
Me: Chica, you just about gave me a heart attack, and then you wouldn’t have been able to share your news with me. Just name the time and place, and I’ll be there tomorrow.
Kinsley: Eileen’s Cheesecake. 1:30 p.m.?
I laugh at her message. Since when does my friend think it is a good idea to skip lunch and just go straight for dessert? Sounds like I am finally rubbing off on her.
I smile, excited to take a break tomorrow to go be with my best friend. It has been a while since I have seen her. Three months? Or is it four?
Even though we live in the same city, we might as well live on different continents. With my busy schedule, it’s too hard to find time to see each other. Especially since Killian, her husband, doesn’t like the idea of us going out to pick up guys for me at night. I need to change that.
I pull up my calendar on my phone. Shit. I have meetings all afternoon. Not anymore, I think, smiling. I hit Delete on every single one that starts after one o’clock and then type in Afternoon with Bestie, starting at one thirty p.m. instead.
I open my email and type a quick message to my assistant, Preston, to cancel everything and reschedule for later. I also tell him to make sure I have an hour or two in the afternoon at least once a week to make time for my friends. I’ve worked hard enough these last ten years. I think I deserve an hour or two break to actually enjoy the money I make and spend time with my friends.
I should also think of planning a vacation soon. Maybe see if Kinsley and Killian would want to tag along. I’m sure I could find plenty of men to enjoy my time with if we went to a beach in the Caribbean or Mexico. So, I tell Preston to find a good time in my schedule to do that, too. I hit Send, knowing that Preston is going to hate me when I come into the office tomorrow, but he can handle it. It’s my business, and if I decide I need a break, then I need a break.
I feel better already as I take another sip of my gin and tonic. I might not be going home with a man tonight, but at least I can go home, feeling good from the alcohol and knowing that tomorrow is going to be a good day.
I finish my fourth drink.
“Another?” Todd asks although he knows I usually stop after four, my usual limit for feeling good without overdoing it.
“A shot of tequila and then another gin and tonic.”
Todd raises his eyebrows at me, but doesn’t question me as he goes about making my drinks. “What’s got you in a better mood?”
“My best friend has good news that she is sharing with me tomorrow.”
“I thought I was your best friend,” Todd says, placing the shot and glass of gin and tonic in front of me.
“Best guy friend.” I wink at him. I raise the shot glass. “To my best guy friend.”
Todd smiles, and to my surprise, he raises his own shot glass. We clink the glasses together and then both down our shots. The tequila burns in the best possible way as it goes down my throat.
My phone buzzes again, and I expect to see a message from Kinsley. Maybe she wants to meet up tonight after all. I doubt she will be able to keep her good news to herself any longer. But it’s not from Kinsley. In fact, I have no idea who it is from. I open the text message.
Unknown: I want you, just for tonight. I want to make you feel things you have never felt before. I’ve been watching you all night, Beauty. You’re exactly what I want.
I stare down at my phone, confused as to what is going on. I glance over at Todd, assuming it is a prank, but he is deep in conversation with the older gentleman who is now sitting at the bar instead of at one of the pub tables.
Me: I think you have the wrong number.
My phone buzzes again almost immediately.
Unknown: I have the right number, Beauty. I want to shred into pieces that little red dress you’re wearing that hugs your overwhelming curves. I want to tame that mane of long, wavy brown hair. I want to feel your tan legs wrapped around my waist until you dig your black pumps into my back so hard that I have to punish you for the pain you have caused me.
I bite my lip as I stare at the seductive message I just received. A message that seems like it is meant for me. The woman he is describing fits me to a T. I uneasily shift in my seat at the thought of having a stranger stalking me. Someone has been watching me, but I can’t deny that the thought of a sexy man trying to seduce me via a text message turns me on. It does—more than I would ever admit to this stranger.
I pick up my gin and tonic and spin in the barstool until my back is to the bar, trying to act as casual as possible as I scan the room. But I don’t see anyone new who could be sending this. I sigh. And how would a stranger get my number anyway?
I turn back around and wait impatiently for Todd to find his way back down the bar to me.
“Did you give my number to any strange men?”
“Nope. Why would I want to give any other man a chance to snag my girl?” He smiles.
I wonder if Todd really thinks that way or if it’s just a joke in the same way we tease each other about our choice of TV shows. Todd isn’t bad-looking. The only odd thing about him is his missing tooth that he told me he’d lost when playing ice hockey. To some women, that would even be a turn-on. He’s about my age, but he’s just not my type. Not dangerous enough. And I see him more as a friend than a lover.
I look back at my phone. If Todd didn’t give this person my number, then who did?
Me: Who is this? Who gave you my number?
Unknown: It doesn’t matter who I am. All that matters is, we both want the same thing. One night of danger, passion, and mystery. One night that will forever be burned in your memory. One night that will ruin you, so every time you fuck another man, you will think about tonight and wish he were me. Wish he could thrill you the same way that I could.
I read his message, and it’s like he has been reading my thoughts. It’s exactly what I want. It’s what I need. But I still don’t know exactly what he is proposing. I begin typing to ask him that very question, but I receive his message first.
Unknown: Will you meet me in my room on the top floor of the Waldorf, Beauty? I want to fuck you until you’re so sore that you can’t walk without thinking about me tomorrow.
My eyes widen as I read his text. I’m supposed to go to a hotel room without even knowing who he is. He could be planning on raping me. He could kill me.
Or he could give me the best night of my life.
I begin to type, No, but then stop. Why am I even considering this? This is crazy! I can’t go.
Kinsley would kill me if she found out. I wouldn’t have to tell her though. It would just be one night, and then I would never see this man again. Whoever he is.
He picked the Waldorf, one of the nicest hotels in New York City. He has money.
What if he is that old man sitting down the bar from me? I glance over at him. I study his jeans and button-down shirt. There is nothing fancy or designer about his clothes. His watch is a knockoff. And he’s drinking cheap whiskey. He couldn’t afford a hotel room like that.
I could ask Todd to go with me. Check out this man and let me know if he’s okay first. But that would take all the excitement out of it.
I reach into my purse, making sure the pepper spray I bought after Kinsley had gone missing is still there. It would be my only defense.
I do a lot of kickboxing to stay in shape. I’ve taken some self-defense classes. Being a single woman, living in New York City, I felt I needed some level of protection. But I know my skills would be no match for a man who is prepared to rape or murder. If he has a gun, I’m fucked. If he surprises me, I’m fucked. If there is more than one man, I don’t stand a chance. It doesn’t matter how many classes or how strong I am for a woman; most men are still stronger than me. I shouldn’t even be considering it.
I hear the door open, and warm, humid air fills the room. I turn just in time to see a tall, dark man leaving. A man in a suit with tousled hair on top of his head. He looks like any typical businessman my age who works in New York. But there is one thing not typical about him. He turns to look at me just before the door closes, and for a split second, I see the danger lurking in his eyes as he stares at me like no man ever has. A danger that pulls at my heart.
I glance back down at my phone and hit the Delete button until I erase, No. And then I type, Yes, and send the text.