NIGHT AND DAY
One Night in South Beach #5
by Andie J. Christopher
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 9/18/2018
Letty Gonzalez is a true romantic. She’s spent her life waiting for flowers, poetry, the grand gesture that will finally sweep her off her feet—without any luck. After her latest dating fiasco, she’s ready to give up on the idea of Prince Charming—but not on down and dirty fantasies about her new boss—gorgeous, out-of-her-league Max Delgado.
Maxis more pragmatic than romantic—and with his looks and charisma, beautiful women usually fall at his feet. Bubbly, generously curvy Letty just isn’t for him, and maybe if he finally lets his grandmother set him up with someone new, Letty will finally believe it.
But the senior citizen’s matchmaking is trickier than anyone anticipated. And when Letty and Max find themselves stuck in Key West together for a seductively sexy weekend, one kiss is enough to light a fire neither of them wants to put out . . .
You can leave your clothes on the chair was the last thing Letty Gonzalez expected to hear on her first day of a new job. When she’d been rather forcefully thrust into starting her own business, she’d had no idea that nudity would be involved. If so, she’d started the wrong kind of business. That was more her sister, Elena-the-swimsuit-model’s area of expertise.
Perhaps she was in the wrong place? She’d double-checked the address her new—and first—client had sent her via e-mail. But maybe she should have had a phone conversation with the guy first. If so, she would have known that his voice was so deep and angry sounding that it would send a jolt of electricity straight from her ears into her girl parts. More importantly, she’d have realized that this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill personal assistant or organizational job—that sexual favors would have been expected.
“I’m not—um—that’s not what—I think there’s been some confusion.” Her mouth was so dry. Why was this giant warehouse space in the design district the one place in Miami with no humidity? And, dear God, why was it so hot? She was glad she hadn’t worn a white blouse, because it would be pitted out right now.
Everything was hot and dry, except for in her underwear, because her client was insanely good-looking.
“What’s confusing?” The man sitting on a stool behind a table hadn’t even looked up at her; he’d just barked at her to enter and told her to get naked. Letty had never had to resort to sex work to make ends meet—at least not yet—but she wondered if all hooking was this impersonal. “Take off your clothes and get your ass on the platform.”
He made an impatient noise through his teeth. Sort of like a growl mixed with a sigh. He rubbed his temples with the thumb and forefinger on one of his large hands. That’s when she noticed the bottle of bourbon sitting next to him. And the two fingers of amber liquid in a glass right next to that.
And the question took her completely off guard. No one was ever aching for her to take off her clothes, even if that was what she wanted. If they’d met under different circumstances—like at a bar—she would have fantasized about taking off her clothes for this guy. But, if they were at a bar, he might totally ignore her, and be demanding that someone who looked more like her big sister take off her clothes.
The idea that she’d want that with anyone right now—especially someone she worked with—shocked her almost as much as his sexy voice had. Although she’d spent a lot of time around artists, they weren’t really her type. Too fucking broody. She was a happy-go-lucky kind of girl, and someone cutting her mood off at the knees with his constant existential dread was not something she looked for in a partner. Not that her choice in partners was great anyhow.
Her last choice had been the least winning of all, and he was only art industry-adjacent. Another reason why she shouldn’t be attracted to her only client so far; getting involved with her old boss had completely destroyed the life she’d built independent of her parents. And the kicker was that Simon had been more interested in her parents’ connections than he ever had been in her—or at least their money. It all would have been much easier had he skipped pretending to want to be her boyfriend and just asked for access to her parents’ checkbook.
Diana and Carlos Gonzalez were such social climbers that they would have opened up the coffers without Simon having “lower himself” to date Letty. The shame of him saying those words washed over her and made it even less likely that she would follow through with this getting naked with her new boss thing.
No matter how much her girl parts responded to the growly sculptor in front of her.
But a nun would find this guy nearly impossible to resist. Between the shaggy dark hair, the T-shirt straining muscles of his torso, and the denim-testing legs spread wide, it would take a saint not to want to slide right in there and put her mouth against his.
She squeezed the strap of her bag with her right hand and wiped the sweaty left palm on her jeans. The e-mail arranging for the job had indicated that the work might be physical, but she’d thought it was mostly clean-up and organization.
“You’ve never done this before?” Finally, he looked at her. His green eyes made the cement floor underneath her dip and sway. They should make a paint color out of that bright, clear green.
She’d seen a couple of pictures of him while doing research to make sure that she wasn’t showing up at the den of a serial killer. Part of her evergreen efforts to stay sexy and not get murdered. Of course, after she’d said yes to the job, she’d done a deep Google dive. And an image search. He was an up-and-coming-sculptor from a local Cuban-American family. But a photograph couldn’t depict the pure impact of being in the room with him. She couldn’t even hold his gaze, instead looking at his forearms. Mistake. Thick and roped with muscle from working clay and other media into abstract figure sculptures, they made her wonder what it would be like to have him touch her. She wondered what his blunt fingertips would do to her flesh, the dents it would make on her thighs.
Although she should have walked out the door as soon as he’d told her to take off her clothes, her feet seemed glued to the swaying floor. “I’m not here for sex.”
His face contorted in confusion. “Of course not.”
“But the clothes?”
“You’re here to model, right?”
A semi-hysterical laugh escaped her mouth before she could stop it. This whole interaction had been surreal. The idea that—for even a second—this perfect specimen of man would hire her to have sex with him was ludicrous.
The idea that she’d nude model was even more farfetched. The only times she’d gotten naked with anyone else in the room, they’d hadn’t seen her. Her college boyfriend hadn’t questioned her preference to get busy in the dark. And Simon had preferred sex in the dark, especially since—as he’d shared when breaking up with her—he apparently couldn’t stomach her stomach rolls. So, the idea that anyone would want to look at any kind of rendering of her—no matter how abstract—in a gallery or in their home made another crazed giggle bubble up in her throat.
“You’re not here from the agency, are you?”
She shook her head. Under his gaze, even the brush of her hair against the bare skin where the sleeve of her top ended registered as sensual. With him looking at her, she could feel everything in a way she’d never experienced.
Definitely not with Simon.
Thinking of her former lover and former boss doused the tingling sensations aroused by Max all at once. It wouldn’t do to forget that she was out of a job, becoming an entrepreneur, and close to the end of her savings account. If this didn’t work, she’d have to beg her parents for help. Or—shudder—move back into their mausoleum of a house.
Maybe she could get over her embarrassment about her body and do what he asked. Just this once. No one would ever recognize her.
Still, she needed to tell the truth. Too many lies had landed her in this tough spot. “No. I’m here to organize for you.”
Another confused look.
“You e-mailed my company.” She motioned around the cluttered warehouse studio. “You said you needed someone to get all your ‘stuff under control.’”
His jaw flexed underneath his thick, black beard. It was an angry gesture, but there was something so primal about this man that it turned her on. “I didn’t e-mail your company. I’m organized just fine.”
Her stomach dropped through the cement floor to the pits of hell. Without a reference from Simon, she’d been blackballed from every gallery in the city. No one was going to hire her on if the executive director of Art Basel refused to give her a reference. Never mind that it was his inattention and philandering that had lost them a couple of large sponsorships last year. No one would believe her. She was a nobody, and her parents were considered tacky.
If she’d just been able to establish herself as a competent personal assistant and professional organizer—sort of a Girl Friday—for a few local artists, she might have been able to repair her reputation enough to get a real job. Her plan as soon as she’d gotten the e-mail from Max, or apparently someone posing as him, had been to parlay working with him to working with his cousin’s new wife, Maya Pascual-Hernandez. With two clients, she would have been able to get back into a respectable gallery.
But, this was all just a joke. Max’s bewilderment at her presence meant that someone had posed as him just to fuck with her. Maybe Simon? But she couldn’t fathom him being that cruel, not even after what he’d done to her.
Hot tears threatened to flow down her face, but she rolled her shoulders back and pushed the tears away. She looked down to reach into her purse. The most hopeful scenario was that he’d forgotten sending the e-mail. In her experience, creative types sometimes got so lost in the work that things like e-mails didn’t register.
And Max Delgado didn’t even have a website. She could only pray that he was forgetful as well as a troglodyte.
She quickly scrolled through the e-mail on her phone, found his last message, and walked toward him, noticing him reaching for his whiskey glass and stiffening his spine as she approached. Had her whole plan for getting her life back on track not been crumbling around her ears, she would have giggled again. The idea that a man taller than her, who probably—in a surprise twist—weighed more than her, would shrink away when she walked toward him was as laughable as anything that had happened today. He was probably sure she was going to kiss him.
“I just want to show you the e-mail.”
He grimaced. “I told you. I didn’t send an e-mail.”
“Yes, you did.” Her mother had always told her that her stubborn streak would get her into trouble, but today it was going to save her. She had receipts and he was going to listen to her. Shaking her phone at him. “Here, read it.”
Given no other choice, he glanced at the phone and read the short confirmation e-mail he’d sent yesterday. “I didn’t send this.”
“So, someone hacked you and hired someone to help you clean up your studio and design a website?” That was almost as unbelievable as someone thinking that she should be a model.
“No. Not someone.”
“What are you talking about?” It was though they were speaking an entirely different language. Even though his speech revealed a subtle accent, something that made the cadence of his voice all the more appealing, she could understand his words, just not their meaning.
He made the growling sigh again and pushed her phone back into her hands, careful not to touch her. Somehow, the disappointment of that sunk in even though her panic was near total. “My grandmother.”
Previous Books in the Series:
Andie J. Christopher writes edgy, funny, sexy contemporary romance. She grew up in a family of voracious readers, and picked up her first Harlequin romance novel at age twelve when she’d finished reading everything else in her grandmother’s house. It was love at first read. It wasn’t too long before she started writing her own stories—her first heroine drank Campari and wore a lot of Esprit. Andie holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in economics and art history (summa cum laude), and a JD from Stanford Law School. She lives in Washington, D.C., with a very funny French Bulldog named Gus.
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