Dirty little promise, p.1
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       Dirty Little Promise, p.1

         Part #2 of Forbidden Desires series by Kendall Ryan
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Dirty Little Promise


  Dirty Little Promise

  Forbidden Desires, Book Two

  Dirty Little Promise

  Copyright © 2017 Kendall Ryan

  Copy Editing and Formatting by

  Pam Berehulke

  Cover Design by

  Okay Creations

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

  Table of Contents

  About the Book

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two

  Chapter Twenty-Three

  Chapter Twenty-Four

  Chapter Twenty-Five

  Epilogue

  Epilogue II

  Up Next in the Forbidden Desires Series

  Also in This Series

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Other Books by Kendall Ryan

  About the Book

  Conflicted by the depth of her feelings for bad boy Gavin Kingsley, lonely librarian Emma Bell knows he’s all wrong for her—yet the heart wants what it wants.

  But if she gives in to his dark, erotic desires, will she lose herself completely?

  Passion, drama, and suspense combine in the highly anticipated conclusion to Gavin and Emma’s love affair. This is book two in the intoxicating Forbidden Desires series.

  Written in the same vein as Kendall Ryan’s New York Times best-selling and much-loved international phenomenon, Filthy Beautiful Lies, Dirty Little Promise is book two of an erotic new series.

  Chapter One

  Gavin

  Son of a bitch.

  I slammed down the phone and squeezed my eyes closed with a sigh.

  A second girl had called out of work tonight, and there was nothing I could do except grin and bear it. After all, it wasn’t like I could fill in as the sexy arm candy for some wealthy CEO looking for a date. Truthfully, I knew it shouldn’t upset me so much. In fact, it normally wouldn’t. But between girls flaking out on their duties and Cooper not showing up for work today, I was nearly at my wit’s end.

  And then there was Emma. Sexy, gorgeous Emma who was supposed to fly with me tonight to Florida for a weekend golf outing. Except, of course, she hadn’t answered my calls for nearly a week.

  A fucking week. I’d been slammed at work, and maybe she’d been busy too, but this was ridiculous.

  Emma was unlike anyone else I’d ever met. If there was one person who wasn’t afraid to do what she wanted, regardless of the consequences, it was my sexy little librarian. That still didn’t explain what had happened to make her run in the opposite direction.

  We’d shared some hot nights together, and one amazing afternoon in the library where she worked. It had all been going so well . . . felt so right. I’d even opened up to her a little and told her about my past.

  Then, just like that?

  Poof.

  She was gone. Ghosting me for some unknown reason.

  Slowly, I pulled my hand into a fist, cracking each of my knuckles until they let out a little pop. Then I let out a long sigh.

  I could try calling her again. It would be the third time today—a desperate move that wasn’t like me—but I had to know if she was coming with me tonight as promised. I was thinking over my options as a gentle knock sounded on my door.

  “Come in,” I muttered, a little more gruffly than I’d intended.

  Our hiring manager, Sonja, stepped into the office, her sleek frame wrapped in a crimson dress and her blond hair swirled into an elegant knot at the nape of her neck. She batted her extended eyelashes at me as I glanced up in question, waiting for whatever it was she’d come to say.

  “I’m sorry to bother you, Gavin,” Sonja said, her voice soft and husky.

  “No bother. Just a long day.” I motioned to the leather chair across from my desk and she followed my instruction, setting her pile of folders on my desk. “What’s going on?”

  “I thought you might want to talk about bringing on some new girls. I’ve noticed that Alyssa has been frustrated, and wondered if there was something else we should do to weed out candidates who aren’t pulling their weight, or only want to work when it pleases them.” She grinned and crossed her legs, sending her skirt slinking up one toned thigh. “You’re always good for bouncing these ideas off of, so I thought I’d pop in.”

  I stared at her blankly, not sure how to respond. The compliment was a little out of left field since I rarely got involved in such matters, but given the calls Alyssa had been fielding today, I wasn’t about to turn Sonja away.

  “Thank you for noticing. Let me see what you have.”

  I held out my hand and she passed me the folders, her thumb brushing my palm before she moved her hand away. I frowned, staring at where she’d touched me very deliberately, but then shook my head as I opened the first file.

  The girl was pretty enough. She’d come to Boston to be an actress, and every inch of her face showed it. She smiled too wide, her eyes too open. Even in the photo, I could tell she was acting.

  “I like her.” I nodded, pushing past my irritation. “Call her and see if she can fill in for one of our no-shows tonight. If she can, get her paperwork done and get her out there.”

  Sonja nodded, taking the folder I handed back to her and pausing to jot a note on it. “Absolutely. So that’s a yes on Linda Gristle.”

  “Linda Gristle? What a terrible name,” I said, wincing. “Give her a stage name, at least for the last bit. Cassidy. Or Miller. Something easy, but yeah, she’s a go. Who else?”

  “And this next one, I think she’s a natural. Check it out.”

  I opened the next folder and glanced down. If Linda Gristle looked like she was trying too hard, this woman looked like she’d never tried a day in her life. Her demeanor didn’t come off as miserable or cold, though. She just looked . . . effortless. Like someone had snapped the picture of her while she was going about her day and she’d simply happened to look incredible with copper curls and bright green eyes. On any other day, I’d have expected that face to hit me straight behind the zipper, but as pretty as she was, all I could think was that she didn’t have the sex appeal that Emma had.

  I flipped the manila folder shut and slid it back across the desk. “This one is an absolute yes. Call her too. We have more than one opening tonight.”

  “And this one?” Sonja nodded toward the last of the three folders, her posture stiffening as a strange tension filled the air.

  Now wary, I opened the folder and found a picture of Sonja herself staring back at me, her blond hair hanging loosely around her heart-shaped face as she grinned, flashing her bright white teeth at the camera.

  “No way,” I said firmly.

  She uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, her ample cleavage on full display. “I wouldn’t be available to everyone. I was just thinking about your deal with Emma . . . it might be good to have someone else on retai
ner. You know, in case you and Cooper have an event on the same day and you need a backup?”

  I pursed my lips and bit back a sharp retort. The one thing I didn’t need today was a reminder of my deal with Emma. Ever since I’d left my business card at that coffee shop for her to find, she’d been invading my thoughts night and day. Then, to add insult to injury, I’d made the ingenious decision to keep myself from getting in too deep by denying my feelings for her and sharing her with my brother as our exclusive professional escort.

  What a dumb fuck.

  If Sonja thought she could assist Cooper and me in that way, quite frankly, she was delusional.

  “No way.” I snapped the folder shut, and the hurt in her expression made me swallow a groan.

  “Is it my hair? I can wear it down.” She reached for the knot at the back of her neck, and I held up a hand to stop her.

  “No.” I raked a hand over my face and tried to keep my blood pressure from rising any higher. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but her timing was awful. “Look, Sonja, you’re just as beautiful as any of the girls we hire as escorts, but we need to keep you where you’re needed most, which is right here in this office. Complicating things by bringing you to events and charity functions . . . it’d be bad for business.”

  She rolled her tongue over her bottom lip as she stared at the corner of my office, her brow creased. “Right, okay. That makes sense.”

  “Truly, it’s nothing personal.”

  “I believe you. And I won’t badger you about it again.” She got up but didn’t take the folder from in front of me. “But hang on to that just in case. The offer stays on the table.”

  She tucked the other two files under her arm and made for the door, her hips swaying as she walked. She paused in the doorway and turned to look at me over her shoulder, a strange darkness clouding her eyes.

  “At least tell me you’ll think about it?” she asked, that breathiness returning to her voice.

  “Sure, fine,” I said, if only because I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I needed her here in the office, and pissing her off by turning her down flat wouldn’t help anything. Still, as she snapped the door shut behind her, I stared after her, her words rolling around in my head.

  She was thinking about the deal I’d had with Emma? I couldn’t help but wonder if she had somehow found out that Emma hadn’t been calling me back, and figured she’d make a play for her spot.

  Racking my brain, I tried to think of a time I might have led Sonja on or given some indication that I was interested in more than just banter, but nothing came to mind. To me, she was just another employee like my assistant, Alyssa. The fact that they were women was immaterial to me.

  But then, if I thought about it more . . .

  Hadn’t Sonja said something a few weeks ago? That she was always here when or if I needed her?

  And the breathiness in her voice. That was new.

  Pushing the thought away, I grabbed her file and shoved it in my bottom drawer, hoping the issue would go away before I had to solve it more aggressively. The last thing I needed was extra drama in my life.

  Speaking of which . . .

  Picking up the receiver, I dialed Emma’s number and waited as it rang. Once, twice, three times . . . There was a click, and a second later, a flat robotic voice came over the line.

  “The person you’re calling has reached the maximum number of messages in their voice mail. Please call back later.”

  “Fuck.” I grunted, then slammed down the phone and glanced at the clock. I had to tell the charter company to start prepping the private plane soon, and I couldn’t do that until I knew whether I’d be traveling alone. Growing more irritated by the second, I racked my brain until, finally, an idea popped into my head.

  If Emma hadn’t texted me back three days ago to tell me she was fine and just busy, I would have sent out a search party by now. But desperate times, and all that shit.

  Pressing the buzzer on the corner of my desk, I said, “Alyssa, would you come in here, please?”

  Within seconds, my door clicked open and Alyssa appeared wearing a navy-blue sweater dress and her dark hair in a bun much like Sonja’s.

  “What’s going on?” she asked, her eyes wary. “Don’t tell me another no-show?”

  “No, thank God,” I said. “I need you to do me a favor.”

  She shrugged. “Of course.”

  “It’s a weird one,” I warned.

  She rolled her eyes. “Of course it is. But if you’re asking, it’s got to be important, so shoot. What do you need me to do?”

  I took a deep breath. “I need you to call Emma for me.”

  “For?” She raised her eyebrows.

  The fact that I had to admit that Emma had been blowing me off only made me angrier, but I pushed aside my embarrassment. Frankly, I was starting to get worried about her. “She hasn’t been answering my calls, and she’s supposed to come with me tonight to an event in Florida. I need to get the plane prepped. And I need to make sure she’s okay,” I added gruffly.

  I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that something had happened to her. Not really, but the longer it took to hear back—and now, with her voice-mail box full—I couldn’t deny a low-level sense of unrest that was growing by the minute.

  “Right.” Alyssa nodded, and though she didn’t add anything else, I could tell she had an opinion she was holding back, which was fine with me. I wasn’t in any mood to hear it.

  Fishing her phone from her pocket, she entered her pass code and then passed it to me. “You know her number, I’m guessing?”

  I nodded, then dialed before handing it back to her.

  “What are you doing?” she asked, her hands up in defense.

  “I’m not going to talk to her from your phone. That’s creepy.”

  Alyssa scoffed at me. “That’s the creepy part?”

  I glared at her until she sighed and took the phone from me.

  “Fine. Anything for you, boss.”

  “That’s why you’re the best assistant in the city.”

  “That’s also why I need a raise.”

  She pressed the green dial button and held the phone to her ear, grimacing at me. Distantly, I could hear the phone ring, and then—

  “Emma? Hi, it’s Alyssa from Forbidden Desires.”

  The relief that shot through me was quickly followed by anger, and I leaned forward on my desk, my muscles bunched with tension.

  After a pause, Alyssa said, “I’m well. How are you?”

  When the next pause dragged out, my pulse started to hammer. “Tell me what she’s saying.”

  Alyssa glared at me and waved me off before continuing. “Good, good. Look, I know you’re really busy with the library, but we were just calling to see if you could make it to the charity golf event in Florida. We need to prime the plane and—”

  A heavier silence ensued before Alyssa turned wide eyes on me. “Oh? You can’t make it? That’s a shame. Well—”

  Waving a hand to get her attention, I ground out, “We’re not taking no for an answer.”

  Alyssa shrugged at me helplessly and held her hand over the receiver. “What do you want me to do? Hold a gun to her head?”

  “Yes,” I barked.

  She rolled her eyes again, then said into the phone, “Look, if you don’t mind my asking, we’ve had some trouble getting in touch with you this week. Is everything okay?”

  Blood thundering in my ears, I finally snapped and snatched the phone from Alyssa’s unresisting grip. “Where have you been, pet? What’s going on?”

  “Gavin . . .” Emma’s voice broke through, but I could tell by her tone, I wasn’t going to like what she had to say. “Cooper. He told me about . . . Ashley.”

  My office tilted sideways, and I had to thrust out a steadying hand to my desk to keep from falling over.

  She knows.

  And Cooper was the one to betray me.

  Fuck.

  This wasn’t a conversa
tion we could have over the phone, and certainly not with Alyssa standing across from me with her hand on her hip.

  “I’ll be at your place in half an hour.” I ended the call without waiting for Emma’s reply, then handed the phone back to Alyssa.

  My assistant looked at me with wide eyes. “Well, that was smooth.”

  “Go back to work. You have a job to do.”

  And so did I.

  Chapter Two

  Emma

  What a freaking day.

  Trudging home six blocks with a bundle of books under my arm, I blew a wisp of hair from my face. I’d spent the morning waiting in line at a bookstore to meet one of my favorite authors only to have her be rude and indignant, sending me away with a flick of her wrist and an overpriced paperback with my name spelled wrong.

  It had been a waste of time, but I’d gone because I needed the distraction. Gavin had been blowing up my phone for the past week, and I’d vowed not to answer.

  So far, I’d been strong. I’d leaned on Cooper and thrown myself into the remodeling work my home needed. It wasn’t enough, but it was all I had at the moment. Yet I had a feeling this couldn’t go on much longer.

  As I walked, I reflected on how this past summer in Boston seemed to go on forever, but now the cool fall air was a welcome reprieve. And the cold temperatures outside matched the icy chill inside my heart.

  I sighed, hefting the books higher. One moment things with Gavin were perfect—I’d broken down his walls, or so I thought. And then the next, I was learning from his younger brother, Cooper, that Gavin’s ex had died tragically. A little research of my own had turned up the suspicious circumstances of her death.

  I needed answers. Part of me wished I didn’t, wished I could just move on and forget Gavin Kingsley ever existed. But that wasn’t possible. After everything we’d shared the last tumultuous weeks, I couldn’t just walk away.

  Instead, I’d run to Cooper and demanded an explanation. At first, he tried to play coy—said it was Gavin’s story to tell—but I wouldn’t let him off that easy. No way. I pressed Cooper until he caved, and since I was fairly certain he had a soft spot in his heart for me, it wasn’t all that difficult to get him to spill Gavin’s dirty little secret.

 
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