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Sadie Donohue: gorgeous, sexy, smart and totally smitten with Simon Jacobson.
Simon Jacobson: gorgeous, sexy, smart, uber-rich and utterly smitten with Sadie Donohue.
This sounds like a perfect match, so what's the problem?
Sadie is from the wrong side of the tracks: working class neighborhood, public schools, and sausages on the backyard bar-b-que. She was raised to fend for herself and bow down to no one, especially a man. Since meeting Simon, everything her liberated, independent mother taught her has flown out the window. Now Sadie is regularly over Simon's knee for being her sassy, strong-willed self. And she loves it!
Simon hails from a world of wealth and privilege: gated communities, private schools, and servants turning steaks on the bar-b-que. As the owner of a multinational corporation he is used to giving orders and getting what he wants. His life revolves around making millions and socializing with people whose flamboyant wealth intimidates Sadie. Still, she's thrown into the deep end and told not to do anything to embarrass Simon. Or else!
At their lavish engagement party, Sadie's hears her mother's voice echoing in her head, reminding her that she will never fit in. Best intentions aside, Sadie will always be an embarrassment to Simon. That's it. Engagement off!
Simon is in charge and he has other ideas. But will Sadie's mother be their undoing? Can Sadie reconcile her past with her future?
This love story includes domestic discipline, explicit sex scenes and more. If such material offends you, please do not buy this book.
*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***
Simon studied Sadie as she walked towards him, a half smile lighting her face. She had an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne tucked under her left arm and the slender fingers of her right hand wrapped around two crystal flutes. The green silk dress shimmied around her curves with every step. He decided he'd never seen anything so beautiful. His groin stirred in agreement.
She wiped the bottle of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne with a white dishtowel before handing it to him. He popped the seal and she grinned as she always did at that happy sound. The cork arced across the patio table and disappeared into the rose bushes. A faint scent of lavender rode the breeze and a Cooper's Hawk squawked nearby. Another quiet summer afternoon on Seguro Island.
Simon filled both champagne glasses and handed one to Sadie. Touching his glass to hers he said, "To the best engagement party ever. I predict that a glorious future now stretches out before us."
He placed his free hand over Sadie's and she turned her soft, cool palm upward and laced her fingers through his. He loved the submissive way she responded and trusted that she was remembering their party with the same contentment he was.
She drank her champagne thirstily and tipped her head back to the sun, eyes closed. She sat with the preternatural stillness that Simon envied. It made him feel miles away from her.
Sipping the blood orange-pomegranate flavors of the powerful vintage, he contemplated his good luck and how long it had been since he'd made love to his fiancée. Over twelve hours. He ached to cover Sadie's generous curved lips with kisses but kept himself in check. Any woman who lived with a man as strict and demanding as he was needed personal space to sustain her equilibrium. He wouldn't crowd her just now. His regime of domestic discipline suited few women and he wasn't going to jeopardize Sadie's love by smothering her. They had a routine: he laid down the rules and Sadie followed them. She disobeyed just often and deliberately enough that he knew she sometimes welcomed the consequences of her actions.
In the last few precious moments before their trip back to Vancouver, back to their busy city lives, her calmness settled him. The crows stopped cawing for a minute and it was as though they, too, took a cue from Sadie's peaceful silence.
Visions of their wedding and married future drifted through his mind. He hadn't dared hope for this much happiness. Not twice in a lifetime. He refilled their glasses and Sadie opened her eyes, watching him wordlessly. The three-carat diamond of her engagement ring sparkled in the bright sunlight.
Simon lifted her hand to his lips. At last he had a soulmate, someone who healed the heart he thought was broken forever. Here was the kindred spirit who would love, honor, and obey him for the rest of his life.
Sadie shivered and pulled her hand away. When she turned to Simon, tears glistened in her hazel eyes. "Simon, I love you. I do. Really. And I'm sorry I've left this so late, but I just don't think I can marry you."
A few months ago, I left Planet Earth, abducted by creatures that lived an alien lifestyle. For a while, I embraced their foreign ways. No one was to blame but me and I wasn't making excuses. A lamb to the slaughter, I loved every minute of luxury living and the tall, handsome gatekeeper called Simon who invited me in.
I'd never met anyone so simultaneously charming, bossy, funny and challenging. Every day with him was full of surprises, often tumultuous, always filled with love. I adored the way he captained our ship and kept me in line with everything from a sharp glance to a well-placed hand on my backside. He excited me in ways I hadn't dreamed of and wouldn't utter to even my closest friend.
So I accepted his proposal without a second thought and, for the following six months, fooled myself that I belonged in his exotic universe. Along the way something dangerous happened: I fell deeply and hopelessly in love with him. I began to crave him as if he were a drug, a knee-weakening opiate. At the same time the suspicion that I would never be good enough for him started to eat at me.
He wanted so much from me, maybe too much. Beyond everyday obedience, he wanted to lift me from my life and envelop me in his. And I just didn't know if I wanted to revoke my citizenship to my comfortable world to live in the blinding universe he commanded. Every step I took towards the altar was one step away from my family and friends.
The engagement party underscored the chasm between my old life and the one ahead of me. Being surrounded by people who talked casually about their international travel and multiple homes stressed how out of my depth I was. When it had just been Simon and me in his bubble world, it hadn't seemed such a vast difference. But it was. It was huge. If I wanted to survive at Simon's side long term, I had to learn a whole new way of being. I had to become someone else.
The reality sunk in at the dance we'd hosted the night before. All the furniture on the main floor was moved to a marquee tent on the lawn and a band set up inside. People crowded the dance floor, the lights flashing on jewelry that would have paid the debt of a small nation. The great room was a dizzying kaleidoscope of elegant designer clothing, clouds of expensive fragrance, and $400 hairdos. My old friends hung at the fringe of the party, their star-struck faces reflecting my own feelings of disorientation.
When the band packed up and the lights came on, people made their ways back to their hotels, B & B's, and yachts. It was the early hours of the morning and Simon and I stood by the front door, personally thanking each guest for coming.
Then Simon tipped the staff that had been hired for that day and Sunday's breakfast and lunch. He supervised the return of the furniture to the house, directing where every chair and table was set. I sat at the top of the stairs, outside our bedroom, and watched. Fading fast, I was wobbly on my legs when he turned out the downstairs lights and joined me. He helped me into the Jacuzzi tub, murmuring how grateful he was to have found me, declaring how much he loved me. Afterwards we made love and, as always, he ensured I climaxed before him. I was engaged to a thoughtful, handsome, obscenely rich man. I should have been walking on air.
Instead, when he lay in a deep breathing slumber beside me, I stared at the ceiling, hoping for sleep to drag me under. All I could think was that the fairytale had to end. There was no such thing as happily ever after and sooner or later he'd get tired of me and my blue-collar ways. Whenever I tried to assure myself that Simon did love me, did want me, I'd hear Mom whisper that he had a lot of high-class friends. They'd make him see his mistake soon enough.
At 5:00 the next morning Simon's alarm blasted me from a restless sleep. My head was heavy and my eyes bleary. It was like I'd been awake all night.
He bounced out of bed, ready to start the daily business calls he made before his morning run. He kissed my forehead and said, "You look trashed. Go back to sleep."
A couple of hours later I woke as he was setting mugs on the table in front of the window. The tantalizing smell of coffee coaxed me from bed. We sipped slowly, savoring minutes alone together before resuming our roles as hosts. Friends gathered downstairs, making coffee and tea, some dipping into mimosas to keep the party buzz going. When we couldn't put it off any longer, Simon and I joined them.
At lunch, all fifty or sixty remaining guests sat at the tables and chairs that were set up on the lawn, overlooking Satellite Channel. The ocean was blue, the sky was clear and the sun was warm but not hot. Simon made a short speech, his words mellow with contentment. My face ached from smiling but I kept the mask on. No one needed to know about the doubts eating at me, spoiling the little food I'm managed to swallow since breakfast the day before.
After everyone had gone, leaving Simon and me alone together, the thin line of doubt fractured into a major chasm. I struggled to breathe normally, going over my worry that Simon and I were still in a honeymoon stage. How could he be sure that I really was the right woman for him long term? In another year, would he be tired of my constant challenges and refusal to always follow the rules he laid down?
I tried to hide my troubled thoughts while we were in company, but once we'd waved good-bye to the last yacht casting off from the dock, I hightailed it into the kitchen and got a bottle of champagne from the wine fridge. Neither Simon nor I had done more than wet our lips for toasts since the arrival of our first guests on Saturday. We had agreed that it would be better not to risk any slips of the tongue or inappropriate behavior while under the spotlight.
To bolster my courage once we were alone, I drank the first glass so fast I had to suppress a hiccup. We held hands and I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. I hoped he couldn't read the doubts that churned inside me. When I finally mustered the courage to tell him what was on my mind, tears sprang to my eyes and I struggled to keep them in check.
I cleared my throat. "Simon, I love you. I do. Really. And I'm sorry I've left this so late, but I just don't think I can marry you."
At first I didn't think he'd heard me. His face was impassive, barely blinking.
"Simon? Did you hear me?" My voice wasn't as calm as I wished it were.
"I did." The shadow of something crossed his face but it was gone before I could read it clearly. At the side of his mouth, the lines deepened and he pressed his lips into a hard line. I'd seen him in business meetings with millions of dollars riding on the outcome and he never flinched. Now he was as poker-faced as anyone could hope to be, totally unreadable.
"We haven't gone too far. We can call the whole thing off. Seriously. I just don't belong in your world." The tears leaked from my eyes and I brushed them away with my fingertips.
"My love." Simon raised my hand to his lips, kissing it again for the second time in a very few minutes. "I don't belong most places. I do belong with you and if I had to make a choice, I'd choose you every time."
"But you're not going to stop being who you are, are you? You will always be surrounded by these rich, privileged people. I can't seem to say more than five words to them without blurting out something stupid. I see the contempt in their eyes. I'm always going to be an embarrassment to you. It's a fact of life."
"Don't worry about what they think. It's my opinion that matters."
"But our opinions are shaped by the people around us. If we're going to see these people socially, they're going to think less of you for marrying me."
Simon stood and put his champagne flute on the table. His lips twitched, as if he was fighting a smile. "Let me guess when you started having these doubts. I'd pin them as starting about a week ago, maybe the day you drove out to the airport and picked up your mother?"
Without meeting his eyes, I took his outstretched hand let him help me to my feet. He'd pegged the moment precisely. I was lifting Mom's suitcase off the carousel when she made the first jibe. She looked over my shoulder as if looking for someone.
With a lift of her chin she taunted, "Where is the legendary Simon Jacobson? Is he too busy to welcome me himself?"
To the outside world, Mom acted as though she admired Simon. She complimented how well he treated me, how lovely his house was, how generously he treated his guests. When it was just the two of us she cracked critical, undermining comments that bit like a thousand bee stings.
She said things like, "Simon's friends live in a different world. You can't have him without them and they speak a foreign tongue."
With a skill perfected over my lifetime, Mom eroded my confidence that someone like him could love someone like me, and that the rest of world would accept us. Her weeklong campaign to make me question my future with Simon was a resounding success. The more time I spent in the company of his friends that weekend, the less I believed that I would ever belong there.
Now it was just Simon and I, a lazy Sunday afternoon, and an engagement to cancel.
I breathed in the soft savory smell of him standing in front of me. His hand was warm and strong as he held mine. He lifted my chin, forcing me to look him in the eyes. "I asked you a question: did you start having second thoughts as a result of your mother's visit?"
I turned away.
"I'll take that as a yes." He kissed me on the cheek. "I think we need to discuss this. With you over my knee."
When Sadie said she couldn't marry him, Simon felt the world tilt on its axis. Two weeks ago they'd been happily planning their engagement party. The biggest challenge had been the logistics. Now Sadie was tormented with doubts. Dread turned his stomach into water. The thought that he might lose her made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.
He was a tall man whose green polo shirt strained at his shoulders but hung loose around his taut stomach. His dark hair was long and wavy, pushed behind his ears, more like a surfer than a business mogul. He sat stone still for a minute, even when Sadie was so obviously in need of comfort. His dark eyes did not reveal his troubled thoughts.
Simon read people accurately and fast on first handshake. Sadie's mother, Cynthia, had been no exception. He'd seen the slight curl of her lip when she looked at his long hair and diamond stud earring. She recovered quickly with the comment, "You're even more handsome than your pictures."
The smile she gave him was as all teeth and no warmth. At first glance she was an older version of Sadie, tall, statuesque. But there was a brittleness about her that had nothing to do with her age and everything to do with a bitter disappointment in life.
So no prizes for guessing where Sadie's doubts were coming from. From the moment Cynthia first opened her mouth, all the signs said trouble was brewing. She voiced her observations in saccharine tones that reeked of sarcasm.
"I have to say you look more like a ski bum than an executive," she said from the deck of Bridey's Pride, Simon's prized cigarette boat.
When he only smiled in response, she added, "How much fuel does a boat like this use in its short run to Seguro Island? I bet you could run my Prius for a month on that much gas."
He nodded and kept his eye on the horizon. They'd be at his Seguro Island mansion in ten minutes, then he could close himself into his office.
Catching her first glimpse of his island hone, Cynthia sniffed as though she caught the odor of dead skunk. With a lift of her elegant straight nose, a nose just like Sadie's, she said, "It's a bit big for just one man, isn't it?"
He smiled as though they were sharing a joke. "It's the right size for one man, the woman he loves, and whoever wants to join them from time to time. Wouldn't you like to spend part of the summer here every year, Cynthia?"
She narrowed her eyes. "The planet would be a lot healthier today if people didn't just jump on planes every time they felt like a change. Do you ever stop to consider your carbon footprint when you climb on an airplane? Or do you just think it's your God-given right to pollute the air?"
Sadie looked at him quizzically when Cynthia said that and he had to bite back the sharp retort he wanted to make. Instead he answered, "That's one way of looking at it."
Cynthia nodded at Sadie who moved slightly away from Simon and closer to her mother.
Ever since that incident, he tried to persuade himself that he was misreading Cynthia's intentions. He tried to believe she was testing him and all he needed to do was maintain a pleasant disposition. But he wasn't skilled at self-deception.
That night they toasted his and Sadie's engagement with a rare bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee champagne.
Cynthia held her glass up to the light and said, "This is a lovely drop. My god, a French vintage, no less. I'm glad to see my daughter rates only the best. We can't have her drinking that domestic swill now that she's going to be your wife."
By the time the first twenty-four hours of her visit had passed, Simon noticed the way Sadie looked at him doubtfully when she thought he wasn't paying attention. Cynthia was a mama bear protecting her cub. Why she saw him as an enemy bewildered him. Many mothers would be thrilled for their daughters to marry a man who could offer financial stability for life. But Cynthia was working with a different value system and he wasn't sure what it was.
In response to her obliquely critical questions about how much water it took to fill the Jacuzzi in the master bedroom and how much of the garden of his island home was devoted to growing his own vegetables (none), he revved his manners into overdrive and tried to charm her. The harder he tried, the more she sniped at him.
Sadie told him that her mother really liked him, that she just liked to tease. By the second day he could no longer lie to himself. Cynthia radiated hot disapproval. She was a diehard, old school feminist who hadn't married. She didn't believe Sadie needed him or any other man to be happy.
Neither did Simon. He knew that Sadie was happy when they met and hoped that he could be part of a greater happiness in her life. They'd fallen for each other so fast, no one could have predicted it or the fact that he would propose so quickly. Now Sadie she said loved him and that she needed him because she loved him. She could survive without him but was happier with him. She described his own feelings perfectly, and so he believed her.
Then Cynthia arrived. Although she only stayed for a week, her influence lingered like a toxic spill.
When Simon told the lunch crowd earlier that day that Sadie would promise to love, honor, and obey him when they exchanged their wedding vows, he revealed Sadie's promise of obedience purely for her mother's benefit.
Cynthia's sharp intake of breath told him he'd hit a bullseye. Climbing into Brock and Tracy's car, on her way back to the mainland and her flight home, she shot him a look so full of poison, he wondered where he might find an antivenin.
Now, a few hours later and right on schedule, Sadie vocalized doubt over the viability of their marriage. He knew that he – that they as a couple – needed to get back on track. The sooner the better.