A Model Engagement
Lacey Reed jumps at the chance for independence with a career in the big city. But her naivety and ambition blind her to the lure of a blackmailer. With her savings gone, she has nowhere to turn when she literally runs into financier Connor Devlin.
Though dazzled by Lacey, Connor sees the desperation she tries to hide. His gut tells him to help, and he hires her as his fake fiancée. Now Lacey has a job, and Connor has put a bandage on a family crisis.
When the blackmailer ups the ante, Lacey resolves to face him down—no matter what the consequences. Does that mean Lacey will lose the only man who’s ever seen who she truly is?
Lacey Lee Reed was at the type of event, which for years had been, if not her life’s blood, then at least her meal ticket. Anyone who knew her, or thought they did, would say she was in her element—smack dab in the middle of a society party with every A-lister in New York in attendance.
But she couldn’t breathe.
The combination of exotic perfumes and expensive colognes in the warm room hit her harder than the kick of a mule. She swayed on her five-inch heels.
Focus, Lacey. You will not have a panic attack in the middle of your best friend’s wedding.
She pasted on a smile as she scanned the sparkling sea of Prada, Gucci and Dior visible over his head, scoping out her escape.
She inhaled again, slower this time, then eased out a steady, candle-extinguishing breath. Ridiculous to feel trapped. Another focused breath. She wasn’t alone. Not by a long shot.
She was in the middle of the most enormous ballroom the Pierre Hotel possessed at one of the splashiest New York City weddings in decades. The VIP crowd was nothing new, nothing she couldn’t handle.
It was individual people that creeped her out.
The old Lacey would have told this SOB staring straight into her cleavage where to go. Politely and with every bit of the charm her mama taught her. But that was the old Lacey. Current day Lacey’s head was spinning, just like it had that one time when they were thirteen and she and Mandy snuck a cigarette out by Mandy’s grandparents’ barn. That memory put a genuine smile on her lips.
Against her every instinct she extended her hand.
“It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Calloway.” The manners drummed into her through generations of Reed grandmas meant she remembered his name, met his lascivious eyes, and continued to smile even as she yanked her chilled hand from his too-familiar grip.
Their three-minute conversation had gone two and half minutes too long. Lacey had learned, at long last, to trust her intuition, and she needed to be gone.
“Please, call me Artie.” He leered toward her again.
She managed a quick step backward, and collided with the kind of human bulk that could be put to good use working Navy’s under-appreciated defensive backfield. Sure hands gripped her elbows lightly, steadying her.
She twisted round and looked up. And up some more. He towered over her, even though she stood at least six feet in her heels. Her pulse slammed through the gate and charged into a full gallop as she appreciated just how well he filled his three-piece bespoke tux.
He was a heaven sent opportunity and she grabbed hold of her chance to escape.
“Su-gar! There you are!” Lacey slathered on the down-home greeting like grease on a hot griddle. “You promised me a dance and listen,” she tilted her head toward the band, “it’s our song.”