Photographer Wyatt Royce’s career is on the verge of exploding. All he needs is one perfect model to be the centerpiece of his sexy, controversial show. Find her, and Wyatt is sure to have a winner.
Then Kelsey Draper walks in. Stunning. Vibrant. And far too fragile for a project like this. Wyatt should know—after all, he remembers only too well why their relationship ended all those years ago.
Determined to break free from her good girl persona, Kelsey wants spice. Adventure. And she’s certain that Wyatt is just the man to help.
But when Wyatt agrees to give her the job only if he has complete control—on camera and in his bed—Kelsey can’t help but wonder if she’s in too deep. Because how can a good girl like her ever be enough for a man like Wyatt?
The way she held his eyes while she moved, so bold and flirtatious, as if she was just daring him to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless.
Daring him? No, strike that. She wasn’t just daring him, she was throwing down a goddamned gauntlet. But was she challenging him to claim her? Or was she goading him that he couldn’t have her?
Damned if he knew. Right then, Wyatt was certain of only one thing—his body was tight, his cock was hard, and he wanted to be somewhere other than here. Someplace without other people.
Someplace with a bed.
It was the dancing that did it. Because Kelsey Draper and her dancing had always been his downfall. After all, that was what had started everything all those years ago. He’d seen her dancing to a bouncy pop song, her interpretation elevating the music and lyrics. He’d seen passion and precision, sensuality and seduction. She’d enchanted him. Cast a spell over him.
He’d seen the magic in her, so much larger than the quiet, subdued girl he’d met before. The Kelsey he’d watched dancing had surprised him. She was vibrant. Alive. Unexpected.
He’d fallen hard, and then she’d broken his heart.
He wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
He might want her—hell, he did want her. For his bed. For his show.
But he damn sure wasn’t going to trust her. He’d already learned that lesson, and he really didn’t need a refresher course.
As he watched, she dropped to the floor, then used one hand to rip open her shirt before letting it fall down her arms. She writhed on stage, her seductive movements making him ache inside, all the more when he imagined taking it further. Her wrists bound not with a tattered blouse, but with silk ropes. And not just her wrists, but her legs as well. Red ropes, the only color in an otherwise black and white image. Her body twisting, and the audience unsure if she was fighting the bonds or reveling in her own rising passion.
She was exactly what he needed for the show. The complete package. Hell, he’d known that from the moment she’d walked into his studio.
So why was he hesitating?
Because he wanted her?
Or was it because he wanted to punish her?
Or maybe it was even more insidious than that. Maybe it came down to how much was riding on this show. It was his shot, after all. The apex of all his work and sacrifice. The chance to escape from under the black cloud his father had left hanging over him.
The chance to prove himself to his family.
To live up to the goddamn Segel name.
But that would only happen if the show was a success.
So maybe that was why he was hesitating. Because the moment he committed was the moment the truth crept toward him on little cat paws, and it would either curl up and purr, or rip his heart out.
On stage, Kelsey rose, then did some sort of pirouette, twirling as she pulled off one of those transparent, colored scarves that served as a barely-there skirt. Wyatt imagined his hands on her waist, the brush of her skin against his palms as she spun. He could imagine her heat. The way she shivered under his touch.
So help him, he wanted that. Wanted to hear her sighs. Those little moans he remembered.
Another scarf went flying, and he straightened so that he was no longer leaning against the pillar. Instead, he shifted his weight from foot to foot as he tried to tamp down the rising lust. The violent need. To not only have her, but to have her in his show.
He wanted her, yes. But she was an indulgence he couldn’t justify. An indulgence and a risk, because he knew damn well that she’d run if things got too intense.
And damn but his show was intense. That was the point, after all.
He couldn’t take a chance on her, no matter how much he might want to. Couldn’t even bring her in only long enough to test her out. Not on such a tight schedule. Not when there was no way to ensure that she wouldn’t bolt.
Kelsey was a risk he simply couldn’t take. He had to get it right. There was too much at stake for him to be wrong about her.
The final scarf fluttered to the ground, and Wyatt’s pulse pounded in his throat as he moved closer, his mouth going dry as she reached for her bra, pulled it over her head, then tossed it aside.
The music faded out, and the dim, colored stage lights made the flesh-colored G-string blend into her pale skin, enhancing the illusion that she now stood before the entire room not just topless, but one hundred percent, birthday-suit naked.
She took a bow as the lights came up, and the men in the audience actually stood to applaud her. She’d blown away the competition, and even though Wyatt wanted to rush the stage and wrap his jacket around her, he couldn’t deny the swell of pride he felt for her victory.
J.Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of over seventy novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.
Though known primarily for her award-winning and international bestselling erotic romances (including the Stark and Most Wanted series) that have reached as high as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, JK has been writing full time for over a decade in a variety of genres including paranormal and contemporary romance, “chicklit” suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal mommy lit.
JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy). Her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series (as Julie Kenner) is currently in development with AwesomenessTV/Awestruck.
Her books have sold over three million copies and are published in over twenty languages.
In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a clerk on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and practiced primarily civil, entertainment and First Amendment litigation in Los Angeles and Irvine, California, as well as in Austin, Texas. She currently lives in Central Texas, with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats.