Greetings from London!. Yesterday, I attended the London Book Fair and had such a great time meeting with vendors, talking to new and established authors, and going to seminars. I also got to meet up at a pub with some wonderful ladies who are part of the RARE London book signing, and finished off the day with dinner at a quaint Russian restaurant and browsing at Harrods. Starting today, the work part of the trip is over and the fun begins with a visit to a museum then vintage market shopping.
And guess what? You get to read first couple of chapters of book four in the Hollywood Love series, Sex.
Scroll down to the bottom of this email to read it! I can’t wait for you to experience this season’s drama as it is totally outrageous. Can I also say that I love Shelby? I know y’all hate on her, but I have to tell you that it is so much fun writing a manipulative gold digger! I’m sharing a couple quote graphics with you as well! Feel free to share or pin them. And thank you so much to those of you who responded to my question last week about which graphic you liked the best. You were about 50-50 split between the two, so I think I’ll have to use both!
P.S. Sex releases on Friday, March 24th, just in time for your weekend reading! CLICK HERE TO PREORDER.
P.P.S. Be sure to watch for my release day newsletter. I HAVE AN AMAZING CONTEST to share with you! The prizes are just awesome and I wish I could keep them for myself!! And speaking of contests, at the very bottom of this page after the sneak peek, I have two multi-book contests you can enter.
(Please note that this is unedited and subject to change.)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18TH
Asher Vineyards — Sonoma County
The beautiful and meaningful wedding I planned for Keatyn and Aiden in under three weeks was perfection. In every event I have ever done, there is always some kind of crisis—the officiant gets stuck in traffic, the cake gets cracked, the bride’s dress won’t zip, there’s a bird in the ballroom, the best man faints at the altar, a guest has too much to drink. I even had one event that was interrupted by near hurricane-force winds. But not this wedding. It was flawless. The pinnacle of my career.
Soon I’ll be helping Asher Vineyards develop the perfect on-site wedding venue as well as planning events for many of tonight’s guests, but for now, I’m going to bask in the beauty of it.
As Aiden surprises Keatyn with a vintage Ferris wheel that he bought and refurbished just for their wedding, I tick off the last box on my massive To Do list for tonight and find Riley in the crowd just as Aiden yells out. “TRIPLETS, EVERYONE! WE’RE HAVING TRIPLETS!”
Everyone cheers. Based on the look on Keatyn’s face, I’m pretty sure Aiden totally just let the cat out of the bag. I had noticed lately he seemed to be touching her stomach a lot and read the article suggesting Keatyn is pregnant. I’m pretty sure she just told him about the triplets, and I doubt she was ready for the world to know. I smile, though, happy for them.
“Triplets,” Riley says to Dallas, shaking his head. “How crazy is that?”
“It’s pretty crazy,” I say from behind him.
He turns around, a grin on his face. As the best man, he’s wearing a classic black tuxedo and looks ridiculously handsome. “The wedding has been incredible. You did an amazing job,” he says. “Keatyn couldn’t be happier.”
“And what about you?” I dare to ask.
“Logan told me that making this wedding perfect wasn’t just for Keatyn—that you wanted to show all of us that you were sorry.”
“Mostly you,” I say softly. “So, my duties are officially done for the night,” It’s well after midnight. “Would you like to dance, Riley?”
“I would,” he replies, pulling me into his arms and swaying to the music.
“So tonight’s supposed to be the big night,” I say, my stomach suddenly filled with butterflies. After going to Eastbrooke’s homecoming last weekend, I thought we’d put the past behind us. But I gave him the note. The note I was supposed to have given him on graduation day that explained what I had to do. Why I had to go to Princeton and not come to California with him. I thought if he read it, he would understand my decision back then. But all it did was piss him off. I know I can’t push things with him. I have to earn back his trust. “But I meant what I said about us not needing to decide anything yet.”
“Let’s go talk somewhere in private.” He leads me off the dance floor, stopping to grab some champagne on the way to his room.
If he were going to tell me to get the hell out of his life, I don’t think he’d bring champagne, and for the first time tonight I relax.
He pops the bottle and pours us each a glass. “Explain why you didn’t send me the letter. I need to understand why you didn’t fight for us.”
I take a seat on the bed and take a deep breath, not wanting to relive what was the worst day of my life again, but knowing I have to for him. “I cried most of the way home. As we were pulling into our driveway, my dad finally spoke. He asked me if I told you. I said yes, and that’s when I noticed I was still clutching the note in my hand. I told my dad that I had written you a letter but forgot to give it to you, so he asked what I was going to do with it. If I would send it. I checked my phone for the millionth time, but upon seeing nothing from you, I told him that I didn’t know what I was going to do, but that I was surprised you hadn’t called me. My dad smiled and said that the reason you hadn’t is because he was right. That you didn’t care about me. I decided I would keep the note on my desk for three days, and if I hadn’t heard from you, I would throw it away and try to forget about you.”
“But you didn’t,” he says softly.
“No, I couldn’t do either. That’s what I don’t think you understand, Riley. You weren’t the only one who was devastated.”
“You’re right. I shouldn’t have given up. I should have called and texted and stalked your house.”
“I kept praying for some kind of sign. What I should have been praying for was strength. I should have been strong enough to call you myself. I just want you to know how sorry I am. I was young, and scared, and foolish then, but I’m not anymore. I want to be with you, Riley. And I’m not afraid to say it. I still love you.”
He caresses my cheek. “And I still love you.”
My heart feels like it’s doing flips in my chest. He still loves me. But I know the path to our happily ever after won’t be easy. We aren’t kids anymore. Our lives are messy. “It’s not going to be easy, Riley. I still have to get a divorce. But I want you to know that I will spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you.”
“I don’t want that,” he says, bursting my bubble.
“I see,” I say, trying to hold back the tears.
“I want us on a level playing field, Ariela. We were supposed to decide today if we want to go forward. If we want to date. What do you want?”
“You, Riley. Just you. Actually, that’s not true. I want to marry you, have babies with you, and love you until you’re old and gray.”
“That’s all I’ve ever wanted, too,” he says, kissing me. “And I think it’s about time we let ourselves be happy.”
I cling to him tightly, barely believing after all this time, after all the hurt, all the pain, that I could be so lucky. “I want to be happy,” I mutter out, resting my head on his shoulder.
“You know, maybe it wasn’t meant to be back then. Over the last ten years, I’ve worked long crazy hours to make the company what it is. I gave it my life. Now we’re selling it and I can now reap the rewards. I’m getting my life back. And I want to spend that life with you, kitty.”
“I want that too.” His words are all I’ve ever wanted to hear and they cause me to be overcome with desire. I quickly rip off our clothes, wanting nothing more than him inside me.
The world disappears and there is only us, desperate with need, consumed by passion, filled with emotion, our bodies engaged in fervent lovemaking.
My breathing speeds up, pleasure practically coursing through my veins—Ring.
I ignore the sound of his phone. I’m so close—Ring.
Just one more exquisite thrust and I’ll—Ring.
“Uh, I better check that,” Riley says, pulling out and leaving me feeling empty.
“Who is it?” I ask as he looks at his phone.
“Shelby. I’m going to call her back.” I want to say are you fucking kidding me, but I don’t. I need to respect the fact that Riley is trying to do the right thing regarding her. But couldn’t it wait?
He makes the call and I hear her screechy voice but can’t understand what she says.
“I’ll be there as fast as I can,” Riley says to her, grabbing his clothes off the floor and quickly getting dressed. Wait. What? He’s leaving? Me. Here. Naked?
“Where are you going? What’s wrong?”
“Shelby got mugged. Punched in the stomach. She’s cramping.”
“Is she in the hospital?” I ask.
“I don’t know. I think she’s at the hotel.”
“Riley, it’s not unusual for pregnant women to cramp from time to time. And honestly, if she’s cramping and losing the baby, there isn’t much you can do about it. Why don’t you stay the night and go home in the morning?” Please. Please stay with me.
“The mother of my child was fucking mugged, Ariela. Sorry, but I have to go.”
I make a snap decision, jumping out of bed and throwing on my clothes. In the past, I might have let him leave and then sat here and cried about how fate can be so cruel, but not anymore. I’m fighting for my man. “Fine, but I’m going with you.”
“You don’t need to,” he says. “I’ll deal with it.”
“Riley, I told you I would love your baby too. I meant it.”
“Really?” he says, pulling me into his arms and looking deep into my eyes.
“Absolutely,” I reply confidently, because there’s no fucking way I’m going to let Shelby get in the way of our happiness. Not when it’s so close.
Shelby’s Bungalow – Sunset Boulevard
“Shelby, this is Ariela. Ariela, Shelby,” I say awkwardly a few hours later when Shelby meets us at the door, but then I get to the heart of the matter. The reason I rushed here. “Are you okay? Are you still cramping? Did you call a doctor?”
Shelby throws herself into my arms and starts crying. I hold her and pat her back. “I had some spotting and cramping, but it’s better now. I think I may have overreacted. I was just so upset.”
“I already told you, Riley. I was robbed.”
“Where were you?”
“I was hungry. For McDonalds. Specifically a Big Mac. I’ve been having these cravings,” she says, patting her stomach. I notice Ariela flinch. I’m shocked she came with me. But I love that she did. I’m hoping it means we can get through this together. That my having a baby with another woman won’t affect our relationship. That she will really love the baby.
“Why didn’t you call your butler and have it brought to you?”
“Because I felt like getting it myself. And I wanted some fresh air. So I went for a walk. When I was almost there, this guy jumped out from the side of a building and put a gun to my head and told me to give him my bag.”
“But you didn’t?”
“No! It was Fendi. Do you know how much you spent on it?” Ariela flinches again. I realize that I may not have mentioned all that has gone on with Shelby. “So he punched me in the stomach and took it.”
“Did you call the cops?”
“No. I didn’t have my phone with me. I left it here. I was only going to be gone for a minute.”
“Then what?” Ariela asks, her voice seeming to startle Shelby. Shelby glares at Ariela and sinks deeper into my arms.
“I was shook up. Came back here. Started having cramps. Got worried. Sat on the toilet, saw blood, and freaked out.”
“So you didn’t tell anyone you were robbed?” Ariela says, kind of bitchily.
“I was going to let the hotel know, but then I was bleeding and that became my priority. And obviously, since you are here and not in bed with Riley, he felt it was a priority too.” She starts sobbing again, pushing her face into my chest and trembling in my arms. “I’ve been through enough tonight, Riley. I don’t need some girl you are fucking around with to harass me.”
“I’m more than that,” Ariela states.
“Whatever,” Shelby replies with a wave of her hand. “I understand why he doesn’t want us to be exclusive. I told you the last time we met, I’m okay with sharing him.”
Ariela’s eyes get huge. This was a really bad idea. I never told her that Shelby and I have been hooking up. A lot.
Shelby starts crying again, not at all fazed by the subject. “And the bitch of it all is that I never even got my Big Mac! Or the fries!”
I know that I should explain everything to Ariela. That Shelby was here for me when I couldn’t deal with Ariela being back in my life. That she’s a hell of a distraction. Yeah, probably shouldn’t mention that.
Shelby looks up at me. She just looks so innocent. So young. I can’t help it. I need to take care of her.
I lift her chin up and smile. “Does it still sound good?”
“Yes,” she sniffles. “And a glass of wine, please. I need something to calm my nerves.”
“You’re not supposed to drink when you’re pregnant,” Ariela says. Why is she being such a bitch? Maybe because she’s pissed at me now. So much for our relationship being all that matters.
“Looks like you’ve already had some,” Ariela says, picking an open bottle off the table.
“Not that it’s any of your business,” Shelby says, “but I haven’t drank any of that.” She pats her stomach. “I care too much about me and Riley’s little one.”
“Then who did?” Ariela snaps back.
Shelby gives Ariela a curt smile. She’s trying to be nice. Ariela, on the other hand, is being a real bitch, and I’m disappointed in how she’s treating Shelby. I thought she was worried about my baby. I didn’t expect her to come here and pick a fight. Be all judgmental.
“I had a friend over the other night,” Shelby states. And I find myself feeling jealous, knowing it was probably another man.
I pour her a small amount of wine and hand it to her. “I’m going to see about getting you that burger.”
“Thanks, Riley,” she says, planting a grateful kiss straight on my lips.
I can’t even look at Ariela as I pick up the phone and make a call.
Shelby’s Bungalow – Sunset Boulevard
I thought Riley would come here. But, truth, never in a million years did I think he’d bring the preppy bitch with him. I take a few moments to size her up. She’s pretty. Skinny. Has no boobs. They obviously had some sort of emotional bond. But she hurt him. Broke him. And I am going to be the woman who puts Riley Johnson back together.
She’s smiling and pretending to be happy, but her jaw is set tight. So I know she’s not.
Which is good. Hopefully I interrupted their night. Because I can tell just by looking at her. There’s no way she fucks Riley the way I do.
And then it hits me. The next step in my plan. I need to get rid of her. Get Riley to hold me close. Then I need for us to make love. To have an emotional connection through sex. That’s what he needs. It’s what he doesn’t get from all the girls he fucks.
I’ll be honest, this is something I’ve never experienced. Sex, for me, has always been a means to an end—money, a place to stay, or just straight-up pleasure. Being with Bam was the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing something like that. Juan Fabio Martinez was passionate and a gentlemen. His accent alone would have made me wet—but I also loved the way wealth and class practically oozed out of him. It was a night I will never forget, and I will admit that I was hoping he would extend his trip so that he could see me again tonight—especially after I did an internet search on him. He’s got more money than Riley, a fleet of Ferraris, and plays Polo professionally.
But, alas, here I am with Riley instead. It’s funny, kind of. A few days ago, I thought Riley was the ultimate prize. The big jackpot. After last night, he seems like second place. Amazing how quickly you can get accustomed to a life like this.
I think back to my shitty apartment then slide my hand down my designer clothes to remind myself just how far I’ve come then focus my attention to the task at hand.
Get rid of Ariela.
Make love to Riley.
He’s being really sweet to me tonight. And I can tell Ariela’s snotty attitude is irritating him. She probably made him bring her. I can’t imagine how awkward it must be for him. I’m also feeling a little swoony. I can’t believe he’s on the phone getting me a cheeseburger. Now’s probably not the time to mention I never eat food from there. Can’t do that and keep my rocking bod.
I walk over to where Ariela is standing, pretending to need to take a seat on the couch.
“I’m going to sit. It’s been an exhausting night,” I say, wondering if she will reply.
“I’m sure it was,” she replies dryly.
“So you’re the one who broke his heart, huh?”
“Yeah, a long time ago. But I’m fixing that now.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” I say under my breath. I know she heard me, though, based on the look on her face.
Riley sits on the couch between us, and I immediately snuggle up to him while the preppy bitch sits rigid with her hands in her lap.
“Riley, will you stay with me tonight, please?” I coo.
“Since you’re okay, I should probably take Ariela home.”
“I’m fine with you taking her home as long as you come back. Please don’t make me stay alone tonight.” I breathe heavy like I’m going to cry. I may even have to. “I’m so emotional.”
“You were in a scary situation, not to mention the fact that you thought you were losing the baby.” He touches my face gently. He really can be sweet. “Anyone would be feeling emotional.”
“I’ve been on my own for a long time, Riley. I always take care of myself, but tonight,” my voice falters. “I just don’t want to be alone.”
“Ariela and I can stay.”
“Look, I have no desire to sleep with you tonight. What I need is for you to lie in bed with me and hold me. Just hold me, Riley. It’s one thing to invite her in for sex, but this isn’t like that—you know what, never mind. Go home. I’ll be fine alone. I always am.” I turn my head away from him and start to cry silently, my body shaking.
He pulls me back into his arms while I sob. But even though I’m allowing him to hold me, I’m being stiff. Letting him know that I’ve backed away emotionally. Because I know that will upset him.
Do I feel guilty for manipulating him?
A little. But this Ariela chick had her chance. It’s my turn.
He rubs my back, trying to comfort me. “Shh. It will be okay.”
I break free of his hold. “No, it won’t be, Riley. I thought I could do this, but I can’t. I can’t do this two women thing. I knew you were with her this weekend. And I’m fine with you having sex with her. But your bringing her here was wrong. She’s being a bitch to me and if that’s what our future looks like together, I don’t want any part of it. I spoke to my mom today, and she’s gotten her life together. I’m going to go live with her. She’ll help me raise the baby.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I don’t want you in the baby’s life, Riley,” I reply coldly. “I’ll do it myself. Without you. Without your money.”
“Shelby, I don’t want that.”
“Well, you don’t have a choice. Right now, before the baby is even born, you’re choosing her over us. Go, be with her. Be happy. We won’t mess up your life.” I suck in a deep breath. “Seriously, go. Get the fuck out of here.”
But he just sits there. And so does she.
Then the doorbell rings.
I answer the door and pick through the food, pretending to be so upset that I’ve lost my appetite. When Riley still doesn’t say anything I decide to force the issue. I slam the burger down on the table and march into the bedroom, slamming the door shut behind me.
I hear the bitch say, “Riley, let’s just go. It’s late. We’re all tired. She’s fine. ”
“No, she’s not,” he says. “But you’re right. You should get some sleep.”
I hear the door to the bungalow close and instantly panic. What went wrong? Did he seriously just walk out without saying goodbye?
About ten minutes later, the door opens again. He still has his key.
Nice. I hop into bed and try to look pathetic.
He slips into the bedroom and sits on the bed with me. “I sent Ariela home. I’m really sorry, Shelby. Bringing her was a bad idea. She told me she could handle it. I didn’t have time to think it all through. I just knew I needed to get here to you.”
“Do you love her?”
“I don’t know,” he says, rubbing his face, looking stressed. “I loved her. She left me. Honestly, I haven’t loved anyone since her. About a month ago she came to town looking for me. She’s married.”
My eyes widen, shocked that she’s acting like she owns Riley when she’s married to someone else.
“I know,” he says, upon seeing my surprise. “But she’s filed for a divorce. She’s not going back. She says she wants to be with me. That we belong together after all these years. That she loves me.”
I know exactly how he feels. I’ve been fucked over by more guys than I can count. I reach out and take his hand. “I know how you feel, Riley. You don’t trust her. Don’t trust she won’t throw you away again. And that’s not very good for a relationship.”
“She also said she could handle the fact that we’re having a baby together. That she would love it. Shelby, I don’t want you to move away. Please don’t. I said I’d be here for you and I meant it. I proved it tonight. For god’s sake, we were right in the middle of—”
He doesn’t finish his sentence. He doesn’t have to. “I’m sorry I ruined your night, Riley,” I lie. Because holy shit. They were right in the middle of doing it and he stopped? For me? That’s so fucking awesome.
“It’s okay. How are you feeling? Should I call a doctorf?”
“No, honestly, if I was going to have a miscarriage, there isn’t much we could do to stop it. Why don’t you take off your coat and lie down. I’m exhausted.”
When he gets up and takes off his tie, I can’t help feeling a little horny. But I can’t do that with him tonight. In the morning, yes, for sure, but not tonight. I’m supposed to be traumatized.
“You look really handsome in a tuxedo, Riley,” I tell him. “It reminds me of the premieres we went to. I kind of wish we could go to one again sometime. I look so different now.”
“You’re beautiful,” he tells me, stripping down to his boxer briefs. “Do you want to change out of your clothes into something more comfortable?”
“Yeah, I probably should.” I get up and strip off my clothes in front of him. Normally, I would make a show of it and he knows it. So I have to make sure to pretend like I’m going through the motions. That I’m exhausted when I’m really feeling happy about the night’s events. I can feel his eyes on me, but I don’t turn around and look at him. But I do stick my naked ass out when I bend over to get a pair of baggy sweat pants and a tank out of the bottom dresser drawer. I pull on the pants, letting them ride low on my hips and turn around to face him as I’m pulling the tank over my boobs. The boobs that he loves.
He gets up and rushes toward me. For a moment, I think he’s going to attack me, throw me on the dresser and fuck me. Which I am all for. But instead his hand goes to my belly. “You have a little bump. It’s kind of amazing.”
I immediately suck it in. “I think I’m just bloated,” I say, trying to cover the fact that I am further along than he realizes.
“Don’t suck it in. It’s beautiful, really. Just think, something we made is in there,” he says in awe. “I have to admit, I’ve sort of just been trying to do the right thing since you told me you were pregnant.” His voice catches. “When you called and told me that you thought you were having a miscarriage, had you asked me a few weeks ago, I thought I would have been happy, but I wasn’t. I was upset. I don’t want to lose our baby, Shelby.”
And that, my friends, is music to my ears. I kiss Riley gently on the lips then pull him on the bed and snuggle up with him.
Oh, Ariela. You’re so going down.
And it won’t be on Riley.