Thursday, 16 September 2010

Excerpt Day – The Marriage Bargain © Sandra Edwards


The setting sun cast its golden hue across the Santa Monica Mountains and showered the city in a honeyed haze. Luckily, the cab she’d gotten into had tinted windows, and shielded her from the glare ricocheting off the Pacific Ocean.


Camille looked at her face in the lighted compact mirror. She painted red lipstick on with practiced precision, for all the good it would do. No amount of makeup would make her as appealing as her friend Tasha claimed she needed to be.


If you want to get the dirt on what he’s doing here, you need to entice it out of him.” Tasha had insisted when Camille objected to the slinky black dress.


In case Tasha hadn’t noticed, Camille wasn’t the enticing sort. Her breasts were too small. Her butt was too big. And her legs were too thin.


She tugged at the dress self-consciously as the car rolled to a stop in front of the Montage. Even though Tasha had told her not to, she pulled the sheer wrap up over her shoulders, clutching it tight against her chest in hopes of hiding at least one of her flaws.


A doorman appeared instantly and helped her out of the taxi. She thanked him and moved indoors.


Soren was at Camille’s side within a few steps. Damn. This guy was efficient.


“Ms. Chandler, it’s a pleasure to see you again.” He walked beside her, his hands clamped loosely behind his back. “Mr. de Laurent is waiting with a car at the back entrance.”


Nothing about Soren raised red flags; still she couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling suffocating her. But that probably had more to do with her reticence than Soren or Julian’s potential to be a threat.


She followed Soren through the lavish lobby and into a back corridor that, although toned down, still reeked of extravagance. The pair walked in silence. Approaching the exit, Soren stepped a few paces in front of her and held the door open.


Julian was waiting outside, leaning against the white limousine. Camille’s heartbeat pounded in overtime, pushing those pheromones through her system. This guy was serious eye candy, with jet-black ringlets hanging nearly to his shoulders. His hair was a little long for her tastes, but it suited him well, complementing his broad shoulders and masculine frame as if it, along with each portion of his body, had been hand-picked by the gods. And those aqua eyes, they stood out against his bronze skin like Atlantic jewels.


He pushed himself off the car and stepped toward her.


Not knowing what to say, she smiled. Julian reached for her hand and brushed it with a kiss. “Chéri, I am honored to have the pleasure of your company for dinner this evening.”


Is this guy for real? An involuntary snort rumbled up her throat and she tried to subdue it by holding her breath. No such luck. “Yeah. Likewise, I’m sure,” she said, and moved closer to the car.


Julian chuckled and waved the driver off before opening the car door himself. With an elaborate hand gesture, he beckoned Camille inside the vehicle. “Chéri, I can assure you my intentions are nothing less than sincere.”


Sure, it was probably a line. But Camille got the impression it was a line he genuinely meant, even if it was fueled by ulterior motives. Julian de Laurent wanted something, and in a bad way. Otherwise, she doubted he’d be in L.A. looking for an actress on the sly. Her boss, Margo Fontaine, had made it clear it was Camille’s job to find out what.


The longer he stalled, the more worried she became. What was he up to? She drew a breath, wanting more than anything to enjoy the luxury of the evening. Nights like these didn’t come along very often for Camille. But until Julian was ready to reveal his motive, she saw no relaxation in sight.


Julian climbed inside the limo and scanned her seductively before scooting up against her. The smell of his aftershave, cool and slightly erotic, and their close proximity melted her insecurities and prompted her to consider other, more appealing activities. Activities that involved kissing and touching and....


A delicious shudder heated her body, embarrassing Camille. She was too smitten to look at Julian as the car pulled away from the curb. For her own sake, she needed to get a hold of the attraction quickly. She wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but she had a good idea it wasn’t love.


“You know, you seem like a really nice guy, Julian.” Camille kept her focus on the red sequined clutch she’d borrowed from Tasha, and tried to ignore the feel of Julian’s silk suit as it caressed temptingly against her bare leg. “If you’re not in movies, what can you possibly want with an actress?”

© Sandra Edwards



The Marriage Bargain

Author: Sandra Edwards

Publisher: Pink Petal Books

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Camille Chandler is a career-driven tabloid journalist who’s barely a year out of college and shouldering a mountain of student loans that are coming due soon. Her internship at Disclosure Magazine in Los Angeles is ending and she’s anticipating a permanent offer of employment with the publication. Camille’s plans for the future are right on track—until her boss sees a curious ad in the L.A. Trades. Wanted: single actress for a temporary engagement abroad.

France’s mega-rich playboy Julian de Laurent is up to something and Camille’s boss expects her to find out what it is. Who knew the eccentric gazillionaire was looking to hire a temporary wife? When Camille refuses to take the gig—and secretly write a tell-all on the de Laurent family for the magazine—she’s fired and left financially destitute, forcing her to entertain Julian’s proposal for real. But what’ll happen at the end of the contract period after Camille has spent six months as the wife of a man she learns is capable of stealing her heart?

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