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Two sisters, one married, one single. Different as night and day – or are they?
Lucy: the single career girl who never seems to like any of the men her sister or her boss’s wife try to fix her up with. Why? Lucy is living a lie. There is a secret desire that lies deep within her, one that only one sort of man can fill. When Matthew Moore, her company’s new client and the biggest account they have ever had, walks into the room, she knows she’s met the man of her dreams. The problem is that Lucy has a strict personal rule about mixing business with pleasure. When he asks her out, she discovers Matt won’t take no for an answer and she relents – with conditions. She’ll soon face the biggest decision of her life when, at the end of their conditional period, she must choose the type of lifestyle she wants with him.
Janie: the older, married sister. She and her husband, Brad, run a horse ranch together. They have two beautiful daughters, and a stable and happy life. Lately, though, Janie is feeling as if they are in a rut. She has been researching BDSM online. When her sister, Lucy, confides in her that she and her new boyfriend Matt are dabbling in the lifestyle, Janie decides it’s time to let Brad know about her feelings. What follows is anger, disappointment, pain, pleasure, and a strong and loving bond as the couple find their way into their new way of life. It is not a smooth transition for either of them. Will they finally find a way to compromise and make it work for them both?
Publisher’s Note: This book consists of two stories; Lucy’s Little Lie and Brad’s Brat. Each contains graphic sexual and disciplinary scenes. If this isn't to your liking, please refrain from reading it.
"I just don't get it, Luce. What was the problem this time?" Janie Perkins took a sip of coffee as she looked at her younger sister, Lucy.
Lucy shrugged and answered, "Janie, you seem to think I'm cut from the same cloth as you. You are living the so-called American dream, complete with the cute husband, two kids, a dog, a cat, the house with the white picket fence, the whole package. That stuff just isn't necessarily me. I don't care if I ever have it. I have a good life. I live in the guesthouse at the Perkins' ranch, I have a decent job, and I don't have to answer to anyone in my off time. I don't need a man to make me feel complete. So, save yourself the headache and stop trying to fix me up with every rancher in western Texas."
Janie shook her head, her long red hair curling around her pretty face. Janie was five years older and had made it her life's work in recent years to find a suitable man for her single sister. "I have to go pick up the kids and go back to the main house to fix dinner. Are you joining us tonight?"
"And if I say no, are you going to find a way to get me there to meet the latest prospect?" Lucy asked sourly.
"I promise there will be no strange guys tonight. It's going to be a nice, quiet family dinner."
"With that being said, I still have to beg off," Lucy said as she stood up and tossed some money on the table. "I have to get back to the office and I'll probably be working late tonight."
"Too bad that hot boss of yours is taken," Janie said as she gathered her packages from her earlier shopping spree.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "Jeb is not my type."
"I just wish I knew what your type is," her sister mumbled as she hugged her. "If you change your mind, stop by."
"Bye, sis," Lucy said as she turned and headed to the door of the diner. Glancing at the clock on her cell, she saw that she had just enough time to make it back for a one o'clock meeting with a client. There was a text from Jeb Haines, her boss at the marketing firm. Hurriedly, she read it, replying that she was on her way. He was understandably nervous about the meeting. The client they were meeting with was a big name in Texas. Matthew Moore was one of the wealthiest men in the area. He, along with his father and brothers, owned one of the largest spreads of land around. They had done well over the years, raising some of the best beef in the state, on their cattle ranch. Now, Matthew was looking to do an advertising campaign to boost the Moore name all the way across the country. Since his father's retirement earlier in the year, Matthew, the oldest son, had begun to think about expanding. Haines Marketing was one of the companies bidding for what would be a very lucrative account. Lucy had every confidence that she could reel him in with her ideas. She had been working nearly night and day for two weeks, trying to come up with the perfect ads. Except for the one disaster of a blind date she'd allowed Janie to set her up on during that time, she had thought of nothing but cattle and beef for days. And she would have been better off to keep it that way, after the date with the last redneck cowboy her sister had tried to pawn her off on. Oh, Tim was good-looking—and he knew it. He seemed to expect her to fall at his feet. And Lucy Harris wasn't about to do that for any man.
Well—that wasn't entirely true. Lucy had a secret, one that no one knew about. There was a certain type of man she was looking for. One she knew she would never find, and one that she doubted even truly existed, except in steamy romance novels. So, she had resigned herself to a life alone. Unless she could meet the man of her dreams, she would rather live the single life, married to her job.
But, enough about that, she had a meeting to get to. She could save her dreams of the perfect man for later, when she was alone in her bedroom at the guesthouse. Janie and her husband, Brad, had invited her to stay there a few years ago, when the apartment house she was living in had burned. It was meant to be temporary, but Janie didn't want her to leave and Lucy just hadn't taken the time to find a new place.
Ducking into her office to freshen up before Jeb cornered her, she ran into the small adjoining bathroom and brushed her teeth before freshening her hair and makeup. Looking in the mirror as she straightened her skirt, she smiled. Just the right touch of professionalism, she decided, with her floral skirt and cream-colored silk shell, topped by a navy jacket that matched her skirt. Her jewelry was classic and simple and her long blonde tresses fell to her shoulders in a casual style. She didn't want to overdo it, and putting her hair up might have seemed too severe. Navy blue strappy heels completed the picture.
She heard a knock on the office door and, with one last glance at the mirror, ran to answer the outer office door. Of course, it was Jeb, wanting to go over everything one last time.
"Come on in, Jeb, I'm just about ready. Is Mr. Moore here yet?" She ushered him into her plush office with a wide sweep of her hand.
"No, not yet," her handsome boss said as he sat down. "Are you sure everything is in order?"
"Relax, Jeb. I have it under control. I've worked long and hard on these ads. I did my homework. I now know more about beef and cattle than I ever cared to."
"It's too bad your brother-in-law has a horse ranch. He could have been a big help to you."
Lucy rolled her eyes for the second time that day. "Really, Jeb?" she asked. "Come on; let's head to the conference room. I am sure the client will be here soon and I don't want to keep him waiting. I want to make sure everything is set up just the way I wanted it."
They walked out of her office and down the long hallway together. Lucy checked everything to make sure her assistant had done as she had instructed before she left for an early lunch with Janie. Satisfied that all was ready, she sat down to wait for the receptionist to escort Mr. Moore to the conference room to join them.
Glancing nervously at the clock on the wall, Jeb said, "Maybe he isn't going to show."
"Jeb, stop it. He is probably in traffic. A man of his stature would call to cancel if he wasn't going to be here."
"You're right, of course. I don't know why I am so apprehensive about this particular client. Maybe because I know what a boost to the company it will be if you land this account for us. I chose you because I knew if anyone here could pull it off, it would be you, Lucy. You've proven yourself many times over."
"Thank you for the words of praise, Jeb. Ah, there's our call from reception now." She picked up the phone. "Yes, please, bring him on back. Thank you, Melissa."
The receptionist knocked on the door. When Jeb told them to enter, she introduced them to Mr. Matthew Moore.
Lucy felt as though the breath had been knocked out of her as she looked at the man standing in front of her. Matthew Moore was one hell of a tall drink of water. He stood well over six-foot tall, with the muscles of a man who had known hard work on his ranch. His dark hair curled slightly in waves and his eyes were dark and snappy. He was dressed impeccably, in a gray suit that was obviously from one of the better stores, complete with a crisp, white shirt and a gray, navy and maroon striped silk tie. He shook Jeb's hand and when he turned to her, the corners of his lips turned up in a smile. He took her small hand in his much larger one and held it for a moment longer than was necessary, as he said, "Please forgive me for keeping you waiting. My last appointment ran longer than I anticipated. I'm used to being at the ranch, not making back-to-back appointments in the city."
"It's quite all right, Mr. Moore," Jeb replied. "Please, have a seat. May we offer you some refreshment?"
"A good cup of hot, steaming coffee would be great," he said as he unbuttoned his suit jacket and took a seat at the long conference table.
Jeb looked at Melissa, who carried a tray of coffee and cookies to the table before she quietly left the room.
"Shall we get started?" Lucy asked as she stood at the head of the table next to her easel.
"By all means, I'm anxious to see what you've come up with," he said as he took a sip of coffee and helped himself to a cookie. "This is great, I missed lunch," he added.
"I could call out for food," Jeb offered.
"No, that isn't necessary. I'll grab something on my way back to the ranch. I don't want to keep you any longer than I have to. I'm sure y'all have other clients to tend to."
Lucy wasted no time in showing him her ad sketches and presenting her ideas to him. Matthew sat silently, watching her, intent on what she was saying.
When she finished, he stood up and shook both their hands again. "Thank you for your time, Mr. Haines, Miss Harris. I'll be in touch." He grinned at Lucy as he turned to go. Did he really or did she imagine it? She was surprised that she was able to get through her presentation. The man unnerved her.
When he was gone, Jeb looked at her. "Well, how about that? No hint at all as to whether he liked our ideas or not. And now, we wait."
"I'm sure he has to compare all the presentations before he makes a decision. I know you were hoping for an immediate contract but, after meeting the man, it makes sense he would be cautious. Didn't you get that vibe from him?" she asked.
"He is cool and collected, that's for sure."
"And hungry," she added with a giggle. "He missed lunch, remember? Growing up on a ranch, I'm sure he hasn't missed many meals."
"I've been told he and his two brothers learned the business from the ground up, working long, hard hours before their dad taught them the administrative side of ranching," Jeb said.
"Yes, I read that during my research of their history," she agreed. "Well, there isn't much we can do until he makes a decision. I'll put all this away in my office until we get an answer from him." She began to gather her materials.
Alone in her office an hour later, she finally sat down in the leather chair behind her massive desk. Finally, allowing herself to let her mind wander to the man she had met earlier, she thought about her feelings at first sight. If she was lucky enough to land his account, she would have to get those feelings out of her mind. He exuded masculinity—a dominance that she craved in a man. Yes, that was her secret. For all her insistence that she didn't need a man in her life to make her complete, the truth of the matter was that was exactly what she needed. She had realized long ago that she needed a man to take her in hand. One who would care for her in ways most normal men didn't know how. Not one of the men her sister introduced her to, who always acted as if she was so desperate for a man that she would cater to their every wish. No—that was definitely not what she wanted. She wanted a man who would always take her needs and desires into consideration, a man who would take care of her—in every sense of the word. He would take care of her fantasies, her sexual desires, and her discipline, when needed. To the world, she seemed like a woman who went after what she wanted and didn't take no for an answer, especially in the business world. But, in all actuality, that was not who she was. Yes, she was independent and capable. She had proven she could survive alone. And she would continue to do so, if she never met the man who could complete her. The problem was she might have just met that man. However, Matthew Moore might become her biggest client. She sure as hell couldn't expect him to be the man of her dreams, too, could she?
Shaking her head to rid her mind of such distracting thoughts, she tried to focus on her work. But erotic images kept playing havoc with her brain as she wondered what Matthew's lips would feel like against her own. How would it feel to have him hold her against his hard, strong body? And what would that giant hand feel like on her bare bottom? Damn it, Lucy, stop. You've lived a lie this long, you can surely get through this assignment, if you get it, without revealing what it is you really want. Matthew Moore, that's what I really want, she thought as she stood up and stretched to relieve some of the pent up tension she felt.
She finally gave up and told Jeb she was calling it a day. "There is no reason to stick around here waiting for the phone to ring. I've worked overtime for two weeks on this project."
"Sure, go on home and enjoy a nice, quiet evening for a change. I'm sure we'll hear, one way or the other, in a few days."
She didn't want to go to the ranch yet. If her sister saw her pulling into the driveway, she would insist that she join the family for dinner. Instead, she went to the mall and walked around. She was just coming out of a shop after making a small purchase when her cell rang. She fumbled in her purse to retrieve it and sighed. It was Jeb! What now?
"Hey, Jeb, what's up?" she asked as she found a bench to sit down on.
"Thought you'd want to know," he began. "Got a call from Matt Moore a few minutes ago and it's a go! There is one condition, however."
"A condition?" she asked.
"He insists on working only with you. Seems your ideas bowled him over. I hope you don't mind, but he asked for your number and I gave him your cell."
"Sure, no problem," she mumbled as she fidgeted on the bench. Her heart had just about leapt out of her chest at the news.
"Good work, Lucy. A bonus is in the works for you on this one," her boss said. "I'm heading home to pick up my wife and take her out for a celebratory dinner. Enjoy your night."
"Have fun, give my best to Sheila," she said as she ended the call. Okay, so she had secured the account. Matthew Moore wanted to work only with her. She was really going to have to rein in the intimate thoughts that kept running through her head at the mere mention of the tall, dark-haired man.
She didn't have long to let it all soak in because her cell beeped again. She saw that it was an unfamiliar number. Guessing that it was the man in her thoughts, she answered with a professional tone, "Hello, this is Lucy Harris."
"Miss Harris, Matthew Moore here. I'm sorry to bother you after you've left the office. I was hoping to catch you but your boss said you'd already gone home."
"I ducked out early this afternoon to do some shopping," she said. Why am I explaining to him? "It's been a hectic few weeks at the office."
"So, you're still in town? You haven't gone home yet?" he asked.
"That's right," she replied.
"Great, how about we meet for dinner and go over your ideas some more?" he asked. "As I told Mr. Haines, I've decided to sign with Haines Marketing. We'll be meeting tomorrow to go over the contract."
"Uh… sure, you name the place and I'll meet you there," she said, her stomach doing flip-flops as she spoke.
He said the name of a local upscale restaurant. "My treat," he added.
"I can be there in about thirty minutes," she said. "Will that work?"
"Yes, I'll call and reserve a table. My parents are friends of the owners so I'm sure it won't be a long wait."
She sat for a moment, gathering her wits about her. Finally, she found her way to a public restroom and checked her appearance before taking her purchases to the car and heading in the direction of the restaurant. All the way there, she sternly told herself that it was a business dinner. She must be on her most professional behavior—no looking across the table at the great hunk of manliness and imagining him in her bed.
* * *
Matthew Moore sat in his car and thought about his afternoon. The morning had been hectic as he went from ad agency to ad agency, listening to prospective agents trying to sell him on their ideas. The last one had run so late that he'd missed lunch and was late for his one o'clock. Matt had done his research on each of the companies and their key employees. He knew, before meeting her, that Lucy Harris was single. He learned that she was the top in her field, well respected and considered quite intelligent when it came to marketing campaigns. What he hadn't been prepared for was her tasteful beauty. She was professional, yet soft, in a gorgeous sort of way—petite and blonde, with sparkling blue eyes. She knew her stuff, too. Hell, he'd been sold on her marketing ideas from the moment she'd begun speaking.
It didn't take long to make his decision. He had called his brother and consulted with him before calling Jeb Haines. His brother, Nate, helped him with the running of the ranch, while their younger sibling, Mark, actually still worked the ranch. Mark preferred it that way.
He found himself wondering, over a cup of coffee and a sandwich, after he'd left the Haines agency, if Miss Lucy Harris was one of those all-business, you-don't-mess-with-me types. Somehow, he didn't think so. She may appear so, but he'd almost bet his bottom dollar that underneath that cool, professional exterior, lurked a soft, sexy kitten. And he wouldn't mind finding out, either. But, once the business decision had been made, he would have to keep everything above board. At least until the job was finished. Besides that, his particular tastes most likely wouldn't appeal to a woman like her. Or would they? You never could tell. Sometimes, the most successful women were the very ones who wanted a man to take care of them in private. And take care of her, he certainly could do.
The maître d’ at the restaurant assured him that a table would be ready for him in thirty minutes so he straightened his tie, looked in the rearview mirror and smoothed down his unruly dark locks, unsuccessfully, before turning his car in the direction of the eatery.
He felt much more comfortable in jeans and cowboy boots, having grown up wearing those most of his life. Only since he'd taken over the business side of the ranch, had he been forced to present a professional demeanor. He tugged at the tie, wishing he could take it off and throw it on the seat. Hell, why couldn't he? It was going to be a casual business dinner, wasn't it? When he pulled into a parking spot at the restaurant, he did exactly that. Much better, he thought as he opened the door and swung his long legs out the side of the vehicle.
He looked up and there she was. All five-foot-three of her, standing in front of him.
"Well, hello, you been waiting long?" he asked.
"No, I just got here a few minutes ago. I saw you pull up and thought I would come on over so we can walk in together," she replied with a nervous smile.
He stood up, locked the car and put his keys in his pocket before placing his hand on the small of her back. "The table should be ready," he said as they walked toward the entrance.
Sure enough, in a matter of minutes, they were sitting at a corner table with menus. Matthew ordered a bottle of wine. "Just one glass, since we are both driving," he said to her when the waiter walked away.
"Of course, I'm not much of a drinker, anyway," she said as she avoided looking at him and pretended to peruse the menu.
"One small glass to toast our new working relationship is acceptable, though, right?" he asked in a teasing tone.
"Of course," she said again, still not meeting his eyes.
After tasting the wine, a few minutes later, he nodded to the waiter. Once the man poured two glasses of wine and left them again, Matthew raised his glass. "A toast to the successful pairing of Moore Ranches with Haines Marketing, may it be a fruitful union."
He grinned as she held her glass up and touched his with it. Oh, the double meaning to his words—he had to force himself to change the direction his mind was taking. Little did he know her mind was going down that same road.
Lucy smiled at him as he asked if she saw anything on the menu that appealed to her. "Do you mind if I order for both of us?" he asked. "I know all the best dishes here."
"Be my guest, Mr. Moore," she said, setting the menu on the table.
And so it began. Matthew ordered their dinner and then struck up a conversation relating to the campaign. He was determined to keep the conversation casual, yet somewhat business driven. In truth, he wanted to pick her brain, he wanted to find out everything there was to know about Miss Lucy Harris. He wanted to know her likes, her dislikes, her favorite color, her favorite song. This was not good—not good at all, if he wanted to maintain a working relationship with this woman, this tiny blonde hurricane who had blown into his life.
Luckily, the waiter brought their lettuce wedges shortly into the conversation. As they ate, he asked her about one of her sketches and offered a slightly different spin on the idea.
He watched as she took a sip of her wine and pondered his suggestion. He found himself waiting anxiously to see if she would agree with him or argue. He took note of the way her brow wrinkled and her eyes snapped. Ah, so she was a feisty one. He liked that.
Finally, she looked at him and said, "I think your suggestion has merit, Mr. Moore. When I get in to the office tomorrow, I'll play around with it before you come in to discuss the contract. Fair enough?"
"Fair enough," he replied with a grin. "And, please, call me Matt. Mr. Moore is my dad."
"Okay, Matt, in that case, I guess you should call me Lucy."
The next course, perfectly grilled steaks and twice-baked potatoes, arrived and, for the rest of the meal, they chatted about his ranch.