TEMPORARY by Sarina Bowen & Sara Maybery
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The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen is the one who can ruin everything.
The first time I lay eyes on Callan Walker, I know he’ll be trouble. With his smug grin, hot Aussie accent and thousand dollar shoes, he’s just the kind of rich guy who always gets what he wants.
And he wants two things: a night of sin, and my cooperation as he outmaneuvers his powerful mother to take control of his uncle’s estate.
I can’t afford either one. I’m the only thing standing between my little sister and the foster care system. He may have money and charm on his side, but I have something even more powerful — pure desperation. This temp job at his mother’s company can become a full time job for me. It has to.
But when Callan’s eyes rake over my body, sometimes I forget my obligations. His piercing gaze finds the fun, optimistic girl I used to be and not the tired person I’ve become.
And it works–if only for a moment. Our night together was a mistake. I can’t afford to get sucked into his high-powered family’s treachery. But the closer I get to Callan, the more layers I find beneath those expensive clothes. Though I can’t forget this is temporary. He’s temporary. I have too much to lose.
Too bad my foolish heart didn’t get the memo…
“Holy cannoli,” I said, completely forgetting myself as I opened the double doors to Jack Walker’s apartment Monday morning.
“What’s wrong?” my friend said in my ear.
Jasmine had called me as I left the offices of Walker Holdings, the keys to Jack Walker’s apartment burning a hole in my pocket. We’d spent the last twenty minutes catching up on each other’s lives while I walked uptown.
“This apartment I’m supposed to be inventorying. It’s unbelievable.” I took in the foyer with wide eyes.
I’d been prepared for something lavish, because the Walkers had buckets of money. But this…this was beyond lavish. And I was only in the foyer.
The floor beneath my feet was polished stone, but it was the wall in front of me that had blown me away. It was covered in vividly colored giant artificial flowers, so thickly applied the wall beneath was completely hidden. A riot of bright oranges, deep cobalt blues, and the occasional sunburst of yellow, the colorful backdrop was the perfect foil for the snow-white sculpture displayed in front of it—an intricately executed, scaled-down statue of a horse and rider.
“Let me guess—gold stuff everywhere? Velvet? Lots of faux-ye-olde-worlde family portraits?” Jasmine said.
“No. It’s beautiful. There’s an installation in the foyer, a whole wall of flowers. Like Eloise Corr Danch…” It hit me that this was an Eloise Corr Danch installation.
Which was when I realized this project I’d landed was going to be Big. Really Big.
“Must be arty rich then, not tacky rich,” Jasmine said knowledgeably. The only child of two high-flying lawyers, she was well placed to categorize the many permutations of wealth.
My heels tapped against the floor as I ventured further into the apartment, and even though I was braced for more fabulousness, what I glimpsed through the doorway to my left made me literally gape.
“Oh my God,” I breathed as I stepped into what was the most incredible room I’d ever seen.
“What? Tell me what’s going on,” Jasmine complained. “You’re practically having an orgasm. I need details.”
I didn’t know where to begin. The view? The ceiling? The fireplace?
“You’d have an orgasm, too. Make mine a double. This living room is freaking amazeballs. The ceiling has to be twenty, maybe twenty-four feet high. And it’s painted in hazy blues and yellows…like the Chagall at the Opera Garnier in Paris.” Jasmine and I had taken art history together our first year of design school, so I knew she’d understand the reference.
“And there are windows—huge, kick-ass windows that go the whole height of the room, and the view… God, Jazzy, I don’t even know how to describe the view. The whole of the city laid out in front of you. And there’s this fireplace, so big you could probably fit my entire apartment inside it, made out of some sort of old stone with amazing carved pillars… And there’s art everywhere. Beautiful, amazing multimedia.”
“Oh baby, yes!” Jasmine shouted. “Talk artsy to me.”
I tilted my head back as I described the room, taking in the stunning ceiling, the suspended star-shaped sculptures hanging in front of the window, the many prints and paintings on the walls.
When I dropped my gaze I realized there was a big armchair in the corner of the room, angled to face the view—and that a man was sitting right there, in the chair.
A beautiful man. And he was watching me.
“Fuck,” I yelped, leaping backward, one hand clutched to my chest like a damsel in distress.
“Let me guess—live panther, chained in the corner?” Jasmine asked.
“I have to go,” I said, not taking my eyes off the man in the armchair. He lifted one eyebrow in a silent expression of curiosity. “I’ll call you later, okay?”
“At least tell me if there’s a panther or not,” Jasmine said.
“No panther. I have to go.”
It wasn’t until I ended the call that I realized I’d made a mistake—because if you’re confronted with a strange man in the apartment of a rich dead man, being on the phone to someone who knows where you are is probably a good idea.
“Don’t let me interrupt your next orgasm,” he said, the last word drawn out and lazy. And holy fuck—that accent. Australian, if my startled brain wasn’t too confused to hear him properly. His words had an easy lilt, but the tone of his voice was rich and smoky.
“Who—who are you?” I asked, embarrassed to hear the crack of fear in my voice.
“I think that’s my line,” he said.
For a long moment we just stared at each other. I took in his dark hair and the angle of his rugged cheekbones. He had two days’ worth of scruff on his jaw, his whiskers roughening up an otherwise perfect face. He was a few years older than me, maybe late twenties, early thirties, with blue eyes.
And, me being me, I noticed that he wore an expensive button-down shirt—a finely threaded jacquard pattern with a spread collar. Tom Ford maybe. Or Zegna.
I couldn’t tell how tall he was because he was sitting down, but he was clearly in shape, with broad shoulders and long, muscular legs that were stretched in front of him with relaxed abandon.
His eyes weren’t relaxed, though. They were watching me with sharp, assessing interest…
About The Authors:
Sarina Bowen is the USA Today bestselling author of steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction. She lives in the wilds of New England.
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With Elle Kennedy, Sarina is the author of the RITA award winning HIM, and its sequel, US, as well as the WAGs novels.
Sarina also has a new Vermont contemporary romance series, True North. She’s also unrolled new hockey novels from Penguin Berkley including Rookie Move.
Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.
Sarah Mayberry was born in Melbourne, Australia, and is the middle of three children. From the time that she first “stole” paper from kindergarten and stapled it together to make “books,” Sarah has always wanted to be a writer. In line with this ambition, on graduation from high school she completed a bachelor of arts degree majoring in professional writing, then sat down to write a book. When inspiration didn’t strike, she began to wonder if, perhaps, she needed to live some life first before writing about it.
This still left the burning question of how to pay the rent. She found her way into trade journalism, working off the principle that it was better to write anything for a living than nothing at all. Her time there lead to the opportunity to launch a new decorator magazine for one of Australia’s major retailers, an invaluable and grueling experience that she found very rewarding.
But the opportunity to write fiction for a living soon lured Sarah away. She took up a post as storyliner on Australia’s longest running soap, Neighbours. Over two years she helped plot more than 240 hours of television, as well as writing freelance scripts. She remembers her time with the show very fondly — especially the dirty jokes and laughter around the story table — and still writes scripts on a freelance basis.
In 2003 she relocated to New Zealand for her partner’s work. There Sarah served as storyliner and story editor on the country’s top-rating drama, Shortland Street, before quitting to pursue writing full time.
Sarah picked up a love of romance novels from both her grandmothers, and has submitted manuscripts to Harlequin many times over the years. She credits the invaluable story structuring experience she learned on Neighbours as the key to her eventual success — along with the patience of her fantastic editor, Wanda.
Sarah is revoltingly happy with her partner of twelve years, Chris, who is a talented scriptwriter. Not only does he offer fantastic advice and solutions to writing problems, but he’s also handsome, funny and sexy. When she’s not gushing over him, she loves to read romance and fantasy novels, go to the movies, sew and cook for her friends. She has also become a recent convert to Pilates, which she knows she should do more often.