Martin Bernard has spent his life becoming one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men. But that’s not helping him now that his criminal son-in-law Ned Argenta has gone rogue, putting Martin’s empire on the block in order for Martin to ensure his daughter Marie’s safety. Weeks, months fly by as Martin tries to control this nightmare, leaving his lover Mohana in the sidelines. He just wants to get control of things and then he’ll make it up to her.
Mohana James isn’t waiting any longer. At her friend Giselle’s urging, she visits the Paris House of Rae to find some pleasure. The pleasure partner there doesn’t disappoint, but the entire experience stirs up her grief about Martin. Is he ever going to call? Should she forget him? If she does hear from him, is she going to slap him and walk away? She’s pretty sure that’s all he deserves. But her heart is breaking and she’s not sure she can forget him.
Heartbreak? Will a one-time paid lover make her feel better?
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Mo noticed that the attendants were men, three of them, and dear God they were beautifully dressed in well-tailored jackets, waistcoats, and white cravats in a style of the Regency period beau monde. Had there ever been a time when men had dressed in a more flagrantly masculine style? She gawked then caught herself, turning to the massive arrangement of fresh flowers on the table next to her chair. Roses in shades of pink formed the heart of the array, mingled with pale green hydrangea and cream colored stock. Beauty, everywhere she looked.
Shortly after, a man approached. She’d been staring at her hands, fighting her fear, and only noticed him when she saw his legs. Her gaze slowly lifted, taking in the tight fit of fawn-colored breeches over strong thighs and the notable bulge at his groin. A thrill shot through her before embarrassment overwhelmed her. Swiftly shifting her gaze up to his face, she found no relief from the heat scorching her cheeks as she met his amused expression.
Christ, he was gorgeous, dark expressive eyes watching her as his cruelly sensual mouth curled in a smile. He bowed, shocking her with a mocking lift of his eyebrow.
“Mademoiselle,” he said. “Bonjour. I am Henri, here to serve you. Shall we?” He waited while her mind stumbled through a thousand refusals, excuses, and worries. Finally, she placed her hand in his. He helped her stand then lifted his elbow, waiting for her to accompany him.
She licked her lips, searching for a suitable reply. She didn’t have to reply.
“Yes, merci,” she said stiffly, placing her hand on his forearm. How odd, this sampling of a former time when gentlemen served ladies in exactly such a manner. But of course it wasn’t the same. Now it was the woman who determined the partner, the time, and the nature of the exchange.
All she could think as they entered the elevator then walked down a hallway was how stunning he was with his powerful masculine physique. His dark blue cutaway coat fit him like a glove, the seams straining to enclose his wide shoulders and broad chest. A gold satin waistcoat fit snugly across his lean stomach. His high white cravat brushed his clean-shaven jawline and covered his neck, making her hungry to see the line of his throat.
All of it was silly, this entire charade of play-acting another time, an amusement for women with sufficient fortunes to pay the price not to mention sufficient brass to contemplate such an encounter. As he entered a keypad code to the door where he’d led her, she took a deep breath, fighting panic and a renewed urge to run.
“Cherie, let me ease your mind,” Henri said, his voice a rich baritone that sent chills down her arms. “I am here to serve you. Whatever desires you have named, I will fulfill them. And some perhaps, that you did not name, oui?” He winked, his lips twitching with another curbed smile.
He motioned her into the room and closed the heavy door behind them before guiding her further into the room. From the far wall, muted sunlight filtered through sheer white curtains framed on either side by heavy dark gold drapes. An enormous bed with mounds of pillows and pristine white bedding perched high off the floor, its massive corner posts and headboard of dark wood. Lush carved rugs in shades of pale gold lay on either side of the bed while a sitting area around yet another rug included a settee and chairs of dark wood and gold upholstery. A large oil painting hung over a small regal fireplace featuring a nude man and woman entangled in each other amid a mass of sheets.
Mo was afraid to move. Even if she wanted to move, she didn’t know whether to just rip off her clothes and fling herself onto the bed, or wait for some instruction. Or what. She chewed her lip, aware that her hands were perspiring. Hell, she was probably perspiring all over.
How seductive, she thought bitterly. This had been a truly stupid idea.
“May I?” Henri said, taking her purse from her sweaty grip and placing in on a small table by the door.
“Oh, yes, of course,” she said, hardly aware of what words came out of her mouth.
“You are nervous,” he said softly, coming behind her to grip her shoulders with big warm hands. “I will help you relax.”
He nuzzled her neck, holding her long dark hair to the side as he kissed under her ear. She shivered. Would she enjoy this? Or would the entire experience end up haunting her with humiliation for the rest of her life?
She stepped away from him and turned, her hands tightly clasped against her stomach. “I have never done this before,” she said in a hoarse voice. “I’m too old, I think. I should leave.”
“Too old?” Crinkles appeared at the sides of his eyes as he smiled. “Who told you that? You are perfect. Beautiful, in the full blossom of your life.” He touched her cheek then the corner of her mouth. Each spot he touched burned and tingled. “I will make you smile, ma cherie. If you will let me.”
“I – I don’t know…”
“Come. Sit with me for a moment.”
He led her to the settee then walked to a nearby chiffonier where he splashed some amber liquid into a small stemmed glass.
“This will help,” he said, handing her the glass then sitting beside her. His scent came to her, a whiff of cedarwood and perhaps a hint of lavender, but underlying that wafted a fragrance that surely was Henri alone, musky and pungent in ways that caused heat to curl down her belly.
Well, that was unexpected. Her mind stumbled for something to say. Her hand shook as she lifted the glass to her lips. The liquid rolled over her tongue and burned a path to her stomach. Sherry, one of the best she’d ever tasted. She took another bigger sip, savoring.
He brought up irrelevant subjects, whether it would rain, the latest movies. A short time later, after she had drained the glass, he took it and set it aside, then lifted her hand to kiss her palm. Little tingles of excitement raced to her stomach. She could only stare at his golden skin and long fingers, nicely manicured nails cut square and blunt.
“I’m sorry, I’m just…”
“Hush now,” he said, placing a finger on her lips. “You are wonderfully desirable. Your lips are lush, begging for my kiss.” He leaned forward and brushed his lips over hers, leaving little kisses at either corner of her mouth.