Give Me More

Book 4 in the Fabulous Golds Series

Fashion exec RJ Gold hasn’t seen Grace Hopkins since she turned down his marriage proposal and walked out of his life. While he’s in Saint Lucia for his sister’s wedding, a run-in with his journalist ex is unexpected…as is the story she’s writing on the decades-long feud between his family’s fashion empire and a rival Manhattan house. Grace’s body is as delicious as RJ remembers…but he remembers too much to trust her again.

Grace knew seeing RJ would be awkward. It’s also intense…and red-hot! But she can’t afford distractions from her big break. This story will launch her journalism career to new heights, a dream she chose over RJ years ago. Still, she would rather work with him than against him… Except working together in paradise makes it impossible to ignore the tropical temptation at play!

As their explosive chemistry and rekindling feelings reach a fever pitch, RJ and Grace must decide—can second chances last, or is their desire on a deadline?

Give Me More

Book 4 in the Fabulous Golds Series

Give Me More

Excerpt

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CHAPTER ONE

Unpack. Shower. Masturbate.

Those were the top three tasks on Grace Hopkins’s agenda for her first night in Saint Lucia. She lifted her suitcase onto the bed and opened it, then got straight to business removing clothes she’d folded neatly and stacked inside three days ago.

Her thoughts went to the same replay reel that had been running through her mind for days now, prompting all kinds of memories: Ronald Martin Gold III, thirty-five years old, six feet three inches tall with a bodybuilder physique, rich umber-hued skin, velvety brown eyes, a deep voice that sent a warm tendril down her spine each time she heard it. Of course there was more about the man than that—he was ridiculously rich, heir to a fashion empire, one of the smartest men she’d ever met…and her ex-boyfriend.

She dropped a pile of tank tops and bras into the first dresser drawer and slammed it shut. RJ was going to be at this resort for the next two weeks. They would see each other again for the first time in ten years. To be clear, she’d seen him since their breakup, on television, in magazines and in the framed picture she still kept beneath her bed, which featured him posed in a very rare laid-back position. She’d left that photo back at her apartment in Harlem because it would’ve been ridiculous to pack it into her suitcase. RJ was no longer her man. In fact, as far as she could tell—even though she wasn’t really making it her business—he hadn’t been seriously involved with anyone in a very long time. Like since the night she turned down his marriage proposal.

Shaking her head, she walked back to the bed, grabbed more clothes, went to the dresser again and proceeded to open the drawer, dump clothes in, and close it again. She wandered back to her suitcase.

It was going to be fine. These next two weeks were about work, about finessing the final piece of her career goal with the story of a lifetime. A rough outline of the story was on her laptop and as soon as she settled in for the night, she’d pull out the additional notes she’d gathered and put in some work before going to sleep. That was on her list to do after the shower and the— Her hand closed over what was arguably one of her best investments. Just holding the vibrator sent sparks of desire zinging through her body.

She wasn’t some horny sex addict. Sex wasn’t something she craved or even needed on a regular basis, but when the mood hit she had to soothe it—immediately, or she turned into a cranky nightmare. That was the last thing she needed while she was here. Being around RJ and his family again was going to take all her people skills, smiles and endurance. Her pussy pulsated at that last word as a memory of RJ between her legs, moving as if he owned her body and its pleasure with every stroke, resurfaced.

Her fingers tightened around the wand, which was big and clunkier than some of the newer, more modern versions, but she liked this one. She liked its size and durability, the same traits she’d treasured during the year and a half that RJ was her lover. It didn’t occur to her that she was now moving her hand up and down the length of the sex toy as if it were a real dick—his dick—until her phone rang.

She grabbed her phone off the bed with her free hand and pressed it to her ear.

“Grace Hopkins.”

Hey, Grace. It’s Eddie, just checking in to see how it’s going.”

She rolled her eyes skyward at the sound of his voice. “Hey, Eddie. I’m just getting settled in at the resort.”

You wouldn’t be getting settled in with RJ Gold, by chance? You know, the guy you neglected to tell me you dated.” There was no missing the irritation in Eddie’s tone or the instant alarm she felt at his words. She’d known it was not only wrong to leave out her past connection to RJ, but it was also highly unethical for her to even consider writing this story because of that connection. But she desperately wanted Eddie to accept her pitch and to tell this story.

“It was a very long time ago. We haven’t seen or spoken to each other in ten years.” She frowned, knowing he wasn’t going to let that thin excuse stand.

“Don’t give me that crap!” Eddie had a reputation as a yeller with a keen eye for detail. Right now, he was giving Grace her first taste of both. “You came to me pitching a story about the feud between Ron Gold and Tobias King. You said there was dirt there and you could dig it up, put it in black and white, and expose the dominating duo for their sordid backgrounds amid the impeccable designs that made them the best in the fashion industry. You said this was going to be the scoop that all fashion magazines, digital and print, wanted and would boost our print circulation. What you didn’t say was that you’d be cuddling up with your ex at the same time!”

Grace was certain Eddie had taken her story pitch way out of context, but she wouldn’t risk telling him that at the moment. The feud between RJ’s father, Ron Gold, CEO and lead designer at RGFashions, and Tobias King, owner and designer at King Designs, was nothing new. It had been going on for more than thirty years and began with the two men working at RGF when Ron’s father was still alive. Ron and Tobias grew up attending private schools and then college together, carrying their friendship into the fashion industry while being groomed by Ron’s father. Then one day, that was over. Tobias left RGF and started King Designs. Before Tobias’s first runway show, news surfaced that Ron had accused Tobias of stealing RGF designs to open his own fashion house. After his initial denial, Tobias never spoke of the design debacle again, until earlier this year when a similar situation occurred, only this time it was found to be true.

As Eddie continued to grumble, Grace thought back to the most recent development in the Gold/King feud.

A disgruntled designer from King Designs, Lenzo Fuchetti, coerced a receptionist from RGF to steal a design for a couture wedding gown. Once pictures of the King Designs gown were featured in a tabloid alongside RGF’s gown with the headline accusing Ron Gold of stealing, Tobias and Ron went to the police to request a full investigation. When that was complete Tobias was the first to submit a public apology to Ron. Since that was also the time the men learned that Tobias’s nephew Chaz was dating Ron’s daughter, Riley, the two men decided it was time for the feud to end.

Grace wasn’t convinced that was the whole story or that these two families were actually burying the hatchet they’d been swinging at each other for so long. Which was why she’d gone to Eddie with the idea for this in-depth exposé. Now Eddie knew she had a personal connection to the story as well, having dated Ron Gold’s son. There was no need for her to ask how he’d found out. News was Eddie’s business and the Daily Gazette, where he was editor in chief, had a big entertainment section. The Golds and figures in fashion often appeared there.

“Look, you’re right I should’ve told you about being involved with RJ, regardless of how long ago it was. But I promise you I can be unbiased. I can get this story and the boost in your circulation, Eddie. And when I do, you’re going to return the favor by giving me a byline and a permanent column because I’m a great investigative reporter and you know it.” She’d graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and had built her career so far writing freelance. It was all that mattered to her. She already had a couple interviews lined up for this story, and coming here to the island where Riley Gold was about to get married would put her in close proximity with all the players.

His frustrated huff was loud and he mumbled a few curses before continuing. “Hell, I don’t even remember who I was sleeping with ten years ago, so I guess that could be considered a long time. But you listen here, if I let this slide and you stay on this story, I don’t want a watered-down version of what Ron Gold’s been peddling to the media for the last thirty years. I want the truth mixed with some juicy scandal. You think your boyfriend’s going to give you that scoop?”

“First, he’s not my boyfriend…anymore. RJ and I are incredibly old news and besides that, this is business. I’m dedicated to my career, just as RJ’s dedicated to his. He’ll respect that I have a job to do.” At least that’s how she hoped it would go down. For the past few days, thoughts of how RJ would react to seeing her after all this time had been mingling with memories of the deeply emotional relationship they’d shared. A relationship she’d walked away from and promised herself to never look back on—until now.

“Yeah, those are some nice words you’re shooting me. Just like that pitch you sent me a couple weeks ago. But I need more. You’ve got twenty days to deliver that story or I’ll make sure no syndication ever takes a pitch from you again. Got it?”

“Got it,” she replied through clenched teeth, and disconnected the call.

How dare he speak to her that way? She wasn’t some newbie in the field of journalism. She’d been building her portfolio with stories in a variety of industries, on blogs and in magazines, and she’d even done a review in the New York Times two years ago. Of course, her name had been buried at the end of the article with more credit going to the new cosmetics product she’d been endorsing, but it was still a shining moment in her portfolio.

This story was going to be her crowning glory. Yes, the moment she’d thought of it, she’d immediately recognized the conflict of having once been involved with RJ. But what better way to prove how much she’d grown as a journalist than to write a story that she was close to, with integrity and honesty. This story was going to get her permanently on the staff at the Daily Gazette and she’d finally have proof that her career as a journalist was just as real and noteworthy as her sisters’ careers as concert pianist, psychologist and obstetrician. Eddie Kane and his threats weren’t going to throw her off track. To solidify that statement, Grace tossed the phone toward the bed but heard it roll across the floor.

Wait, roll?

A quick glance toward the sound had her looking back at the phone still in her hand. “Dammit!” She dropped the phone and hurried toward the vibrator on the move, hoping to get to it before it passed through the patio doors she’d opened upon first entering the room.

She chased it, another curse about to pass her lips, when to her horror the stupid thing picked up speed and eased under the railing, right over the edge of the balcony. “Great,” she muttered. “Just great!”

Stomping back into the room, she grabbed the key card off the dresser, stuffed it into the back pocket of her denim shorts and yanked open the door. It was nearing eleven at night, but the last thing she wanted was for someone to come across her vibrator on the sidewalk first thing tomorrow morning.

The Marina Bay was a gorgeous luxury resort perched on a hilltop. The views would be stunning in the daylight. As it was getting late, there weren’t many people out, at least not in the part of the resort where her room was located. The penthouses, suites and private villas were on the other side of the hill. Regular rooms for people uninterested or unable to cough up five-hundred-plus dollars per night were in the two buildings on her side.

She stepped outside. The tropical air mixed with the light scent of chlorine, as she’d noticed when she’d opened her balcony doors earlier. She suspected her room faced one of the resort’s many outdoor pools. Cursing because she should’ve brought her phone so she could use the flashlight, but she headed towards where she thought the vibrator might’ve fallen. Stone pavers created a walkway amid plush green grass, and she inhaled deeply as she continued to move about in the dark.

The balmy evening breeze was soothing and the island scent was comforting. If only she were in her room, showered after her travels and lying on the queen-size bed. But no, her first night on the island couldn’t go that well. Instead, she was walking around, dragging her feet over the grass and keeping her gaze down in search of her trusty sex toy.

“Ha! Maybe that’s the story I should be writing. ‘Woman on a twilight search for runaway vibrator.’”

And now she was talking to herself!

Wow. Grace hoped the rest of her trip turned out better than this.

Insomnia was his worst enemy and it apparently planned to stalk him even while he was on this forced vacation. RJ walked with assured steps. He pulled his phone out of the side pocket of the sweatpants he’d slipped on and made his way downstairs to explore the resort.

The brochure boasted five sections of Marina Bay, all situated amid the tropical hills of the very scenic Saint Lucia. He had to give it to Riley and Chaz—they’d definitely picked a gorgeous place to get married. It was also a great spot to insist their family spend the two weeks leading up to their wedding together. RJ had one of the many private villas at the top of the hills. The view from every angle of the space was nothing less than spectacular. Room service was phenomenal, and the bed was just the right amount of soft and firm. So why the hell wasn’t he tucked into it drifting into a blissful slumber?

Because he rarely ever slept. If he was sleeping, he wasn’t working and if he wasn’t working, things weren’t getting done. It was a simple enough equation.

Tonight, he was walking instead of sleeping, checking emails and trying like hell to push thoughts of couples, love and wedding vows to the furthest corner of his mind. As his sister had put it last week, when she’d been in his office giving him more information than he needed to know about her wedding, “love is in the air.” Frowning, he swiped his thumb over his phone with a little more force than was necessary.

There was to be no working for the next fourteen days—that decree had come directly from his mother. RJ loved Marva Gold with every breath in his body, but he had no intention of totally refraining from work. Six months ago, Riley and Chaz had agreed to allow certain aspects of their wedding planning to be available for the media as part of their continuing marketing plan for the Golden Bride collection. So far, sales had been on an upswing as a result of two Gold siblings’ weddings—Riley’s and their brother Major’s. Major had been first when he’d married Nina Fuller. The head of RGF’s marketing department, Desta Henner, had created an ingenious strategy to plan a fake engagement to boost sales—and it had led to Nina and Major’s actual wedding. Desta would be planning her own wedding soon. She was engaged to RJ’s other brother, Maurice, after a ski trip last winter had brought them closer together. That left all his siblings paired up, and RGF sales—which was his department—shattering records during wedding season. A smile ghosted his lips as he silently congratulated his siblings on a job well done. Though he accepted that their newfound happiness had increased his workload.

As for him, the solitary life worked just fine. A fact that was helpful tonight as he continued walking along the property, lifting his gaze up from his phone every few seconds so he wouldn’t trip and fall on his face. That or be scared by something going bump in the night. Another smile formed as he glanced at the time on his phone. Just after eleven and here he was—a relatively good-looking man—opting to entertain himself with a walk instead of cuddling in bed with a nice warm body, as all his siblings undoubtedly were.

He didn’t even want to think about why his choice to remain single had begun to bother him lately. It was a decision he’d had to make, to protect not only his heart, but also his sanity. For the life of him, he still didn’t understand how the one relationship he’d once cherished had gone so horribly wrong.

The pinging notification sound pulled him from his thoughts, and he watched as two new emails from reporters appeared. They were each looking for any family member who’d tell them the location and date of the wedding, or at the very least provide a Zoom link so they could offer their readership first-look snapshots. The answer was a resounding no, as he, his staff and his relatives had stated so many times before. While Riley and Chaz had given the media access to some of their wedding plans as part of RGF’s ongoing marketing campaign, the wedding date and location was private. He deleted the emails. Seconds later, he nearly lost his footing as something rolled beneath his feet.

“Oh, no! Dammit!”

RJ heard the woman’s voice but he was too busy trying to regain his balance to really look at her. She’d bent down and scooped something up from the ground—the object that had almost led to him busting his ass.

“I’m so sorry. That was my fault. I apologize,” she continued, pushing her arms behind her back.

Shaking his head now, trying to hold on to all the curse words running rampant through his mind, he glared at her instead. “What the hell is th—” The rest of his words died in his throat as he stared into familiar whiskey-brown eyes.

He tried blinking repeatedly, hoping that when he focused his gaze again, he’d be mistaken, but that hadn’t worked. Now the air froze in his lungs, causing his chest to constrict, and one strangled word tumbled from his lips. “Grace?”

She took a step back, her mouth opening slightly, then closing without a word. That’s how they stood for the next…he didn’t even know how many seconds had passed, and he didn’t dare speak again. As if she’d figured that out, she cleared her throat and finally spoke. “Hello, RJ.”

No, this couldn’t be. Was he sleepwalking? Hadn’t he just thought about his past relationship? Yes, and he’d pushed that memory way back to the place he’d buried it for the last ten years. Only now, it was right here, just a couple feet away from him.

Grace Hopkins. His Grace.

The first and only woman he’d ever loved, the woman he’d wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Dragging a hand down his face, RJ shook his head as if that were going to clear all this away. She was still standing there wearing very short shorts that showed off the rich mocha complexion of her long, gorgeous legs. A white T-shirt fit perfectly against the curve of her breasts and a gold heart pendant dangling from a choker necklace brushed over the hollow of her throat.

“It’s good to see you again,” she said when it seemed she might be the only one capable of speaking at this time.

Memories tangled and fought inside his mind. Grace had been his everything. She was the first and only woman to claim his heart. A heart she’d held so tightly in the palm of her hand that she’d been able to crush it with one, simple word—no. Muted pain rested in the center of his chest.

He hadn’t seen her since that awful night years ago, but now she was here. It was Grace’s voice he heard, her smile he saw as her lips tilted slowly. She eased an arm from behind her back to wave her hand at him as if they were long-lost friends. He didn’t know what to say or do, which was uncharacteristically strange for him. Trying to get his mind right and act like he had some semblance of brain function, he gripped his phone tightly in one hand and nodded.

“What are you doing wandering around out here in the dark?” It wasn’t the most pressing question at the moment, but he was still working up the nerve to ask the other one.

She shrugged, shifting her weight from one foot to the next, and dropped her arms to her side. “Going for a walk, which actually seems like the same thing you were doing.” He should’ve expected the quick and snappy response. It was her signature and matched her ambitious and flirtatious personality perfectly. She loved to talk. Where some women might like cuddling after sex, Grace had been a talker. Those were the nights he’d learned so much about her. Unfortunately, the one time he’d needed her to be chatty, she’d clammed up and walked away from him for what he thought was going to be forever.

He had to ask her. It made the most sense that this next question come, he just didn’t know how he was going to feel about her answer. “It’s been a long time.” He dodged the bullet again.

“Yeah. It has.”

“You look…um…you look—” He noticed something else that made this entire scenario stranger. “Is that a vibrator?”

end of excerpt

Give Me More

is available for preorder in the following formats:

Harlequin DARE

May 1, 2021

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