Thursday, 9 December 2010

Excerpt Day - Pushing Penny © Cheryl Dragon



Shame the devil, tell the truth. That was a phrase Penny Beaumont had been raised on. The words echoed in her mind as she reviewed her packing for her first international trip. The truth was she’d always been overweight. Everyone had a truth, and that was hers. Her brother Brian was gay. Her baby sister was skinny, blonde and a perfect southern lady. Their daddy was a Texas millionaire and their grandfather was a fire and brimstone preacher from Baton Rouge.


All the Beaumont women were good, old-fashioned, southern ladies who did charity work, raised children and kept a perfect home. They didn’t drink, didn’t smoke and didn’t drive, but her mother was the rebel—she drove her own car. International travel was a new world for Penny.


Today, Penny had a flight to Milan to show her plus-size fashions to the European market. Her American debut had been a success, but this was more pressure. She sat on the bed and looked at her brother. “I should cancel. It’s a mistake.”


Brian hugged her. “It’ll be fine. You’ll be a hit. They invited you.”


“It’s probably all a joke. Europeans think all Americans are fat, and it’ll be a big tabloid story.”


“Stop it. This isn’t high school. You need to clear away the bad thoughts. You’ve worked so hard, and it’s amazing stuff. It’s Milan, Mecca of fashion. And you can’t tell me that there aren’t any plus-size Italian women.”


She rolled her eyes. “I’ve never traveled outside the US. Dad freaked when I bought a foreign car.”


“He’s so old school they hadn’t invented chalk. He sheltered the girls and I had to fight my own battles. That’s not doing anyone any favors. Between the extreme religion on mom’s side, dad’s money and my being the most popular gay grad student in New York, you have every right to be confused. Just do your thing and be yourself. You’re not backing down after all that work. I’m just glad Andrea talked you into a bodyguard.”


“It’s so unnecessary and over the top. No one is stalking me. But she’s right. After what happened to her cousin, I’m not taking any chances.” Brian and Andrea, Penny’s best friend since college, both thought it was a good idea, and Penny trusted their judgment. “At least, I’ve met the guy. I do feel safe with him.”


“A hard-bodied bodyguard?” Brian teased. “Hot?”


“Sorry, he’s straight. Met him at Andrea and Jake’s Vegas elopement.” She knew her brother was always on the lookout for a new guy. Brian would be drooling soon. Grayson was unbearably hot, strong, and quiet. When they’d met as best man and maid of honor, his touch had sparked everything in her. That man had a way of looking right through her. It had been an intense experience for her. She wondered if he’d even remember her. Hot men tended to forget the big girls. But this was a professional arrangement, not a date.


Brian flopped on the bed. “For shame, Penelope. Vegas! Did you drink?” He imitated their easily offended grandfather.


“Yes,” she confessed.


He propped his hands on his hips. “Did you gamble?”


“Yes.” She smiled.


Brian got nose-to-nose with her. “Did you dance with the sexy hunk?”


“No.” Penny told the truth. Her brother knew what it meant to be different. He was the only one in the family who didn’t make her feel as if she didn’t fit. During his brief stint as a drag queen, she’d made his gowns. It had helped set her on her current career path. Before that Penny had only designed for herself. All the queens had admired her work, even though Brian wasn’t very good on stage. He found being the hot, young, southern guy got him more men while others performed.


“No dancing? It was a wedding.” He nudged her.


“They eloped. It was a five minute wedding and dinner at a steakhouse that rotated. The view was lovely.”


The doorbell to her condo rang.


“Got it.” Brian jumped up.


She knew he wanted a good look at the bodyguard. He opened the door and sighed. “That view is more than lovely.”


Penny marched up to rescue Grayson. “Sorry, my brother is a bit comical at times. I was telling him about the view of Vegas from the restaurant.” She opened the door wider.


“Beautiful.” Grayson’s eyes stayed fixed on her.


Brian brushed her elbow with his, but Penny ignored him. Grayson, technically Jake’s stepbrother, was thirty-one and tall with jet black hair and pale blue eyes. All muscled body and calm demeanor. Grayson had turned Penny on from the start. She really didn’t need Brian adding to it. A tiny part of her didn’t want Grayson along to Milan. She didn’t need the distraction or the rejection.


Still, she’d agreed to a bodyguard. She’d lived in Texas until college then made a bold move to the east coast and met Andrea. Penny wasn’t well traveled by any interpretation.


Her manners finally kicked in. “Grayson, this is my brother Brian. Brian, my jailer for the week, poor man, Grayson. Come in, please.”


“He can frisk me any time.” Brian could flirt with a lamppost when the mood struck him. It annoyed Penny how well he’d played it straight for so long. But Brian loved Texas from horses to roping. He just wasn’t meant for the small towns where being a gay man could be dangerous.


Penny wished she could be as confident as Brian. But flirting was way out of her skill set.


“Be nice, Brian.” She turned to check her home. This distance from Grayson let her think and breathe. She handed Brian the keys. “No wild parties.”


“Me? No way.” He gave her a peck on the cheek and turned to Grayson. “Anything happens to her…”


“Brian, it’s his job. He knows what he’s doing.” Penny hated being the center of attention. It was always uncomfortable. “No need to make a fuss.”


Grayson held out a hand. “It’s fine. Nothing to worry about.”


Brian shook his hand and gave Penny a wink.


The driver saved her by stepping into the doorway. “Ready, Ms. Beaumont?”


“Yes. All this luggage please and his.” She pointed toward her large pile of bags then turned to her bodyguard. “Passport, identification, ticket and everything?”


“All set.” They headed out. “You’re very organized.”


“Yes. Especially with new endeavors.” She shrugged as they boarded the elevator. Alone with him she felt self-conscious. His calm confidence was something she envied. Like a dog that seemed nice but was guarding something he’d kill for. It also made her very aware of him. “I’m sorry to drag you to Italy. Having a bodyguard makes everyone more at ease, but I really don’t think there is anything to worry about.”


“Those jobs are the best. But normally, they don’t ask me to pose as a model. I’m not qualified.”


Not qualified? He was sexy and tall. The idea of him without a shirt or modeling briefs made her wet. But he only had to wear a tux. “Don’t worry. The rest of the models are women. It’s just the finale. It’s a gown and it doesn’t look right without an escort. Brian volunteered, but he has finals. Plus I don’t want people to think I’m paranoid so it’s a good excuse.”


“I’ll be discreet. Security is important. Ask Andrea’s cousin.” He waited until she was settled in the limo before he joined her. No fuss, no hurry. She liked him.


“I know. Poor Denise. That’s part of why Brian was so insistent. I don’t have a current boyfriend or any ex-boyfriends who are stalkers. No one in Italy knows my family. They certainly don’t care that my father has a little Texas money.”


“More than a little from what I found.”


She looked at him. “You did your homework.”


“Part of the job.”


Job. Right, she was a job. “You’ve been highly recommended. I’m sorry to drag you way from your family and girlfriend.” He was being nice because he was a professional. She couldn’t let her imagination run wild. At the wedding, he’d been very enthusiastic about Jake and Andrea and, all the time, very considerate and kind to Penny. He probably was a genuinely nice guy, but he could have any woman. Half her size or less. Trish, her little sister, for instance. Penny was so grateful not to have her sister around right now. No one would notice Penny with Trish in the room. Certainly no man ever did. But in Milan, there would be much steeper competition.


Grayson could have anyone. Penny would have to lock him up to have him to herself. Or pay him. Both of which weren’t things she’d consider. If a man didn’t want her, she didn’t need him. That was Brian’s motto. Penny generally was single and had grown used to it. She needed to put Grayson out of her mind.


He’d said something and she’d missed it with all her mental lecturing.


“I’m sorry?” she replied.


“I said you’re not taking me away from anyone. I don’t have a girlfriend. Still looking for the right challenge.”


The word gave her a chill. Challenge? It had to be a joke. “Challenge? You sound like my Uncle Lubby trying to decide which horse to break.”


“Not break. Set free. But you can’t ride and love a truly wild horse. If it doesn’t trust you, it can’t feel safe that you’ll feed and take care of it.”


“Oh please. Have you ever ridden a horse in your life?” He filled out his jeans, a T-shirt, and sport coat well, but he wasn’t a southern type. “You’ve got New York City written all over you. Men want skinny and pretty, not a challenge. Believe me, I’ve been a challenging woman all my life and men don’t like it. Ask any of the men in my family.”


He shifted to look at her. “They clearly aren’t the right type of men. Not for you.”


What type of man did he think was right for her? Penny knew this plane ride would be torture. The smell of him, the way he made her feel, and that intensity he projected made her long for her bedroom and toys. He’d be in her fantasies for months.


© Cheryl Dragon


Pushing Penny

Author: Cheryl Dragon

Publisher: Resplendence Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance, BBW, BDSM.

Buy Link

A Raider's Bodyguard Tale

Going to Italy with a sexy man should be hot but for Penny it’s all business. The plus sized designer of plus sized fashions met Grayson Raider at her best friend’s wedding, and now, he’s her bodyguard. While she doesn’t expect trouble, Penny’s rich Texas family is overprotective. She has no reason to protest—Grayson makes her feel safe and beautiful.

Grayson knew the moment he met Penny that she was the challenge he’d been looking for. Confident in her work, Penny needs to let him lead in the bedroom. His Dom side enjoys giving her pleasure and pushing her limits. Being tied up naked by a man she's paying to protect her is hot enough, but when he starts using mirrors and fashion to drive her crazy, he might just push Penny right out of her comfort zone.


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