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As a social blogger, Ronnie Flynn—aloof, beautiful, cool as a cucumber—is desperate to get to the society event of the year: Simon and Sadie’s engagement party on Seguro Island. It’s no surprise that her name isn’t on the guest list, but as always, Ronnie has a backup plan. A plan that involves the handsome Del Franklin.
Del agrees to a swap: Ronnie gives him the scoop on his estranged wife’s dirty secrets and he takes her as his date to his boss’s party. The handsome, buff man of Italian descent has only one condition; Ronnie had better be good. No snooping. No manipulating. No digging for dirt. Or else.
With crossed fingers, and in spite of Del’s threat of putting her over his knee for disobeying, Ronnie ‘promises’ to be a good girl. Right. She’s not worried about Del. Her code of keeping a healthy distance will protect her heart, and her backside. She’s too wily to get caught, anyway.
Ronnie sees. Literally. She can channel people’s feelings and see into their hearts. All her life, she has been hiding this secret weapon—her psychic ability—because what she sees is often too hard to understand and impossible to share. If she can handle that secret, surely she can handle Del. Or can she? He’s not like anyone else. Nothing has prepared her for him. She shouldn’t react like this to his dominance. She’s an independent, wealthy woman in her own right. No man will tell her what to do. Yet, there is something about this sexy dominant Latin lover that makes her pulse race.
Will Ronnie allow Del to break her code of keeping a healthy distance? Will seeing Ronnie open Del’s eyes to a new world? Will the two of them ever see life the same way?
Publisher’s Note: Seeing Ronnie contains elements of domestic discipline and sexual themes.
*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***
Ronnie Flynn didn’t change her morning routine just because she was having coffee with Del Franklin. Even though meeting him would be her most important appointment of the year, she stuck to her usual regime: yoga, meditation, and breakfast of a fruit smoothie with coconut milk and a dash of nut butter. Routines kept her grounded.
After tidying her kitchen and laying out her clothes, she showered and spent the better part of an hour fixing her fiery red hair into an elaborate updo. Then she put on an old-fashioned white garter belt with a matching lace bra which she covered with a green sundress bought just for the day. The cotton fabric was dotted with tiny deer that, from a distance, looked like polka dots. With a modest high neckline and a hem that reached the knees, the dress was 1960’s vintage, bought online. It hid Ronnie’s seductive lingerie completely which was just as well because she wore those feminine touches for herself, not for any man. Frugal by nature, Ronnie only splurged on new clothes when a situation warranted them. Meeting Del Franklin was a New Clothes Event.
Checking that her French manicure was still flawless, she picked up the keys to her Mercedes convertible, smiled at herself one last time in the mirror, and stepped into the summer sunshine.
Del Franklin picked his way around the customers in the Lightning Bird Café, nodding and saying hi to a few familiar faces, until he reached the last empty booth. Even though it was mid-morning, the place was jammed with office workers. People jostled around the counter and crammed around tables, laughter and conversation rising to a deafening level. The smell of coffee and fresh cinnamon rolls hung in the air. He slid the reserved sign under the condiment rack and looked out at the old-fashioned diner. Styled to capture the atmosphere of a bygone era, it had big booths, chrome swivel stools at the counter, and a milkshake machine that could churn five metal cups at the same time. The furniture was upholstered in brick-red leatherette.
Walking into this café was like stepping through a time machine—other than the commercial espresso machine and signs that said no smoking and free wifi. This place transported Del to an era when life was simpler and more predictable, and he loved it.
Ten minutes early for his meeting with Ronnie Flynn, he planned on using the time to catch up on email. He’d never met her before but he’d seen her from a distance and she was gorgeous: long red hair, green eyes, blinding smile, and curves that didn’t stop. Women who looked like her were rarely on time. They knew the world would wait for them.
She’d invited him for coffee and he’d said yes out of curiosity. Ronnie was a social blogger and he knew that news of his failing marriage was like chum to a shark for her. As he sat, trying to concentrate on an email about cross border tax law, a tattooed hand slid a cup of Americano in front of him.
“Hi Chloe.” He smiled at the server whose peacock blue hair matched the color of her poodle skirt. “Is Ellie in?”
“Yo, Del.” Chloe said. “Yes, she’s in the kitchen, grumbling about the produce order that was short shipped. Do you want to see her?”
“Maybe later,” Del said, his mouth parched at the sight of a voluptuous beauty walking into the café. Ronnie Flynn moved like a conquering hero and at every table and booth, people spoke to her or waved. Some of the younger men and at least one of the women looked like they’d leap in front of a bus if she asked them to. It was as if Ronnie didn’t know he was sitting there waiting for her as she stopped to chat first with one person and then another. No hurry. No rush.
He glanced at his watch. She was five minutes early. Maybe that’s why she moved so slowly. To his annoyance, she didn’t seem to have noticed him as she shared the dazzle of her smile with everyone else in the café.
His chest tightened. He wanted her to acknowledge his presence, to smile in a way that everyone would know she was there to see him.
“Ronnie Flynn,” Chloe said with open admiration. “Oh my god. She’s more beautiful in person than she is in her pictures.”
Del’s hands moistened and his shoulders slumped. He hadn’t expected her to affect him this way and he tried to figure out the source of her power. She was prompt, early in fact. The dress with its pleated skirt and tucked in waist was straight out of an old movie. It suited the mood of the café perfectly, as if meeting him here was a role she’d assumed for the day. His pulse pounded in his ears.
Her hair was pinned up in a French twist with stray locks framing her face. When she tipped her head to speak to various people, the loose tendrils fell in front of her eyes and she used them to maximum effect, flicking them off her face or peeking through them like a maiden looks from behind a fan, to tease whoever she was gracing with her attention. Yes, from ten feet away he could see she was flirting and he realized it was for his benefit. She might not be looking at him but she stood where he could see her, turning her face just enough to let him see her tantalizing smile and playful eyes.
Her open sensuality transcended her modest clothing and she exuded sexuality like an electric force field. Del felt jealous, angry, and hungry all at the same time. When a young Chinese man whispered in her ear, she giggled and touched a forefinger to the man’s lips. Del wanted to take her by the arm and frog march her to his booth.
Suppressing that impulse, he stood and said gently, “Ronnie?”
“You’re here already?” she asked, wide-eyed, as if she’d only just seen him. She smiled at him as though he was a long-lost friend and the heat of that look made him want to possess her even more.
She minced over to the booth, placed one slender hand in his and stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. She wasn’t that much shorter than him but standing on tiptoes suggested a certain vulnerability. It was another seductive move and his already racing heart accelerated.
Her kiss burned as if he’d been branded. Del touched the spot her lips had brushed his skin and rubbed at her lipstick. He hated lipstick.
Chloe gawked at them, as if she was waiting for some spectacular bit of drama to unfold. Del slid back onto the bench of the booth. “I’m drinking Americano. What would you like?”
Ronnie leaned toward him, nailing him with her piercing green eyes. “I don’t think what I want is on the menu.” She flashed a brilliant smile and turned to Chloe. “I’ll have Bengal spice tea, thanks. And a glass of ice water.”
“Something to eat?” Del asked.
“I’ve just had breakfast.”
“It’s after ten.”
“I work the night shift.”
“You texted me at eight.”
“And went back to bed,” she said in a throaty, bedroom purr.
Del tried not to stare into those kaleidoscope eyes. Her irises, the color of a tropical green sea, were ringed with black. A man could drown in that ocean. He blinked twice and looked down at his coffee cup, flipping the handle to his left hand.
“So,” he said.
“So?” Her voice was melodic and the slight scent of roses reached him across the table.
“You invited me for coffee. You said you had something that might interest me.”
“I do.” She sat still, not offering any more. Her hands were folded in front of her on the table, as chaste as a nun.
“Are you going to give me a hint?”
“Well, you might have something I want.”
“An invitation to the big engagement party on Seguro Island.”
Del sat back as if he’d been stung. He rubbed his chin and frowned. The CEO of the company where Del worked, Simon Jacobson, and his fiancée, Sadie Donohue, were celebrating their engagement that weekend. Guests were invited to enjoy a dinner and dance on Saturday night and Sunday brunch at Simon’s luxurious island house. Del was an upcoming young star in the company, a superstar at international tax law and one of the very few people in the company to receive one of the VIP invitations. He thought about the invitation that he’d been handed by Simon’s executive PA and the fact that he’d already RSVP’d that he’d be coming, plus one. The invitation, electronically coded, was sitting in the bottom drawer of his desk.
“Well. Do you?” Ronnie asked, tilting her head to one side like a puppy.
Del remained silent while Chloe placed a cup and teapot in front of Ronnie. He waited until Chloe was gone before he answered.
“I do,” he said. Now that he and Heather were split, he’d changed his mind about going because he hated parties at the best of times. Facing one alone was unthinkable. He hadn’t considered the invitation might have any intrinsic value. Looking at Ronnie sitting there, her lips parted in a half smile, he started to consider what it might be worth. He asked, “What do I get in exchange?”
“Everyone knows you and Heather have separated.”
“They do? I didn’t realize we were such a subject of interest.” Del said. He favored a quiet life. Movie and games with the kids appealed to him more than big parties or swanky gallery openings. The idea of being in the limelight made his stomach roil.
Ronnie tipped some ice from her water glass into her teacup and raised it to her fire- engine red lips. “Fortunately for me, they do. And the more details they can get, the better. You deal in intangibles so you appreciate that information is power. And I have a lot of information.” She blew on her tea and took a dainty sip.
It was a few weeks since Del’s estranged wife, the lovely Heather Turner, had left him in his new bachelor digs, formally ending eighteen years of marriage. They’d shared their lives since middle school, right until the moment, a few months ago, that Heather had announced calmly that she needed space. Instead of sighing at the cliché, Del asked what that meant to him. She said he had to leave. The next day they sat down with their fourteen-year-old daughter and thirteen-year-old son and told them Dad would be moving out soon. Jessica asked if he would still drive her and her girlfriends to their soccer games on Saturday morning. When he said yes, of course, she turned her attention back to a game she was playing on her tablet. Ethan asked if Dad would leave behind his prized carbon fiber bike with the electronic gear shifter. Del said probably not. The four of them finished their taco lunch, prepared by Del, and went their separate ways.
When Del returned from a business trip one Friday night, Heather collected him at the airport, something she hadn’t done for years, and drove him to the spacious Kitsilano duplex she’d rented for him. She pointed to the second and third bedrooms, both of which had a single bed and a desk, and said the children were looking forward to decorating their rooms. He looked at her questioningly and she said that she was prepared to let them spend every other week with him, when he wasn’t traveling for work.
He’d stood in the doorway of the master bedroom and surveyed the way she’d furnished it: a queen-sized bed, two night tables, and his favorite painting, a moody oil picture called Storm at Black Rock hung over the bed. He had been lost for words at how quickly Heather had shifted gears and broken the bonds that had kept them together for decades.
On the other hand, it surprised him how natural the break felt now that it had happened. Closing the door on that part of his life was sad but also strangely right. Heather and he had grown up together and now they were ready to go their separate ways.
The writing had been on the wall for a long time and she’d provided a soft landing. His new place was comfortable, well located, and fully equipped. All his clothes were there, the fridge was stocked and his books sat on shelves in the living room. High speed WIFI had been connected and a TV stood in pride of place in the living room. It was the small TV from the basement exercise room but it was all he needed. As always, he admired Heather’s amazing efficiency.
As she walked out the door, she handed him a parting gift: a separation agreement to peruse. They were both lawyers, but he had specialized in tax law while she’d made her reputation in family law, a reputation that made other lawyers dread the mention of her name.
For over a year Heather and Del had lived like brother and sister, ever since the fiasco when she had brought BDSM and power exchange into the bedroom. He’d stepped into the dominant role as if he was born to it. For the first time in his life he truly understood who he was meant to be. While he embraced his new identity, Heather shrank from the role she’d taken on. After a few unhappy months, she called it quits with the erotic play.
Del accepted that his hardheaded wife wasn’t cut out for the submissive role. When, a few almost-celibate months later, she suggested they try again, he found himself looking forward to being in charge. Late one evening, she invited him into the bedroom where the restraints, the blindfold, and the assorted paddles and floggers were laid out on the bed. She was wearing a form-clenching black corset, fishnet stockings, and stilettos that could have doubled as lethal weapons. He grinned, picked up the leather cuffs, and held one open to her.
Heather had pushed him away with an indignant snort. She told him, from now on she was going to be the top. Del said that was never going to happen, not with him anyway.
He folded his arms and watched her stuff the expensive collection into a black garbage bag. He assumed, incorrectly, she’d put it out for curbside collection the next morning.
After that, their pitiful sex life spluttered and died completely. The problem was that he had tasted the joy of turning a woman over his knee. A vanilla relationship would never satisfy him again.
Since then he’d wondered if he was meant for life in the twenty-first century. Maybe that was why he loved the Lightning Café so much. It spoke to him of a time when men like him ruled the world. Well, maybe not quite like him. Del was third generation Canadian by nationality, but his heritage was Italian. His grandfather had taken an English surname, Franklin, to try to blend in with the local population. As if that could ever happen with the family’s olive skin and passionate personalities. But Del had married a WASP princess from the British Properties and that came pretty close to assimilation.
When his phone buzzed at eight that morning, he expected it was Jessica’s daily I love you Dad text. To his curious delight, he found Ronnie’s invitation for coffee and grinned wildly, even though he had no idea how she’d found his cell number.
He wondered how easily he might seduce her. It had been so long since he’d had sex, he found himself thinking this way with almost any new woman he met. Heather was the only woman he’d ever slept with and it was time to broaden his horizons. Rumor had it that other men had tried to bed the beguiling Ronnie Flynn, but none had succeeded. One of the guys he regularly played squash with told him Ronnie Flynn was like an oleander bush: lovely to look at, poison to touch. That only made Del more interested. He liked to succeed where others had failed.
What did they call it now? Hooking up? He’d have to learn an entirely new skill set, mastering the moves that most boys had perfected by the time they left high school. Once he found the right partner and had consent, he was confident in his abilities. With Heather, he worked hard to learn how to please a woman. She used to joke that that his sensual lovemaking made her so hot she could melt the polar caps.
He wanted more than that in his next relationship. While his partner’s pleasure would always be important, he knew he needed more. He needed a woman who would accept him as the head of the relationship. Which was why, before they’d even said hello, he had imagined Ronnie standing in the shower with him, the water plastering her flaming hair to her ivory white skin, her bottom spanked to a throbbing shade of red that matched her tresses.
As she’d walked across the café toward him, that image had taken hold in his head until it was almost all he was thinking about by the time they said hello. He imagined her in his arms, soft and vulnerable, compliant in a way that only came with submission. Would she trust him enough to give him that gift? He’d let his instincts guide him.
Now she was sitting across from him and the heat between them was explosive.