Don't Miss
Home / Samples / Reluctantly His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Reluctantly His: A Dark Billionaire Romance by Zoe Blake and Alta Hensley – Sample

Chapter One

Charlotte

Without warning, I was snatched from behind and roughly pulled against a hard male body.

“Where do you think you’re going?” growled my father’s head of security, like a junkyard dog deprived of a bone.

Still reeling from my father’s demand that I now be followed around like a child, the last thing I wanted was to deal with anyone.

With my chin raised and my face averted, I wrenched my shoulder, trying to break the guard dog’s tight grasp. It didn’t work.

I swallowed past the lump in my throat and responded tightly, “Kindly unhand me, Mr. Taylor. I’d like to leave.”

Closing my eyes, I envisioned the legato notes of Saint-Saëns’ The Swan to control my breathing and remain calm. Although I used the technique in cello practice, it had become a necessary tool of survival as a daughter in the Manwarring family.

In this family, I wasn’t a beloved daughter or sister.

I was a pawn.

An asset.

No different than a pile of stock certificates to be bought and traded to the highest bidder.

An object.

And apparently, like any object of value, I now needed to be guarded.

His hand shifted to caress the sensitive skin of my inner arm, just under the lace edge of my chiffon puff sleeve. “It’s either Sergeant Taylor, Sergeant—or if I’m pulling your hair, Reid— but never Mr. Taylor.”

Shocked by the subtle yet intimate gesture and his bold comment, I raised my face to his and gasped at the intensity of his dark gaze.

This was the closest I had ever been to him, to any man really.

Wealthy daughters of billionaire families might as well be displayed behind glass.

Always seen, never touched.

Pretty dolls to be admired for their silent obedience.

Recovering, my tongue flicked out to wet my dry lips. “If you are trying to get a reaction out of me, Sergeant Taylor, you are wasting your time.”

The constant pressure on generations of Manwarring women, to know their place and never say or do anything to embarrass the family, had turned me into the perfect diamond. Something bright and shiny with no more emotions than a piece of stone.

His head pivoted to scan the empty corridor before he tightened his hold on my arm and swung us in an arc until we were secluded from view in the darkened alcove which housed a tall, bronze sculpture of a naked couple in a sensual embrace.

My heart raced as panic made me light-headed. Or was it his nearness?

Either way, I knew my father was only steps away in his office.

As I was the last remaining obedient sibling, it had been made clear to me he would not tolerate even the slightest break in propriety.

Not after what Olivia had done.

And certainly not after the scandal my brother had caused.

Reid braced his forearm over my head. “What’s the matter, princess? Are my dirty, lower-class hands too rough for your soft, blue blood skin?”

His comment brought my focus back to the warm, rough sensation of his hands on me. A shiver ran up my spine.

This was wrong. Really wrong.

By breathing intensified.

Princess.

Of course he’d call me a princess. I had heard it all: princess, snow queen, duchess, spoiled bitch. There was no point in complaining or explaining. No one wanted to hear the problems of the poor little rich girl.

Not that I blamed them.

Restrained masculine power radiated off him like heat.

I was used to being surrounded by men with power, but this was different. With those men, their power came from paper. Arbitrary figures plucked from thin air.

Sergeant’s power was primal. The kind that came from heavy muscle, an iron will, and the arrogance of knowing you could break a man’s neck with your bare hands.

I needed to break free from this man before we were caught together.

Rising on my toes, I strained to look over his shoulder to make sure we weren’t observed by the servants. “I won’t dignify that with a response. You have no right to cross the line with me. Now move aside.”

He leaned in close until his breath warmed my cheek as he chuckled, the sound a dark vibration emanating from deep inside his chest. “If you think this is crossing the line, I can’t wait to see your reaction when I—”

My eyes widened as I flattened my palms against his chest and pushed. “Sergeant Taylor, not another word! Let me go!”

Agitation made my voice a high-pitched whisper as I strained to keep it low.

The entire household was on edge after Eddie’s kidnapping. The slightest sound of a commotion would bring everyone running.

My cheeks burned at the idea of being found in such a compromising position. To any observer, it would look like we were caught in a lover’s embrace.

My father and brother would not have the patience to listen to my excuses. They would assume the worst and lock me in my room until I was thirty.

The small freedoms I currently cherished would be yanked away from me.

Oh, hell.

I really needed to get away from this man. Now.

My fingers splayed across his chest. His skin was so warm beneath the soft, worn fabric of his black t-shirt. I inhaled deeply, and the leather and cardamon scent of his cologne was an unholy aphrodisiac.

This was bad. Really bad.

He didn’t budge as his gaze focused on my mouth. “I can’t do that.”

The breath seized in my lungs. My lips tingled as if he had physically touched them.

Knowing I would deeply regret it, I asked, “Why not?”

The corner of his mouth curled up in a wolfish grin. “Because I’m your new bodyguard.”

Chapter Two

Reid

My objective was simple.

Scare the pretty, pampered princess into running back to daddy and demanding a new bodyguard.

That I had even been approached with this assignment was an insult.

Unfortunately, the Manwarrings weren’t used to hearing the word no.

And while I agreed that their precious commodity needed to be guarded after recent events, I objected to their insistence that it be me.

I had plenty of trained men on my staff who could have taken on the arduous task, but no… they wanted the best.

Only the best for their precious princess.

Fuck my life.

I didn’t have time to be a goddamn babysitter.

The Irish mob were not going to just give up their lucrative business interests and territories.

It was only a matter of time before they struck again, and I needed to be ready for it. It wasn’t only my job, but my reputation on the line.

If something were to happen on my watch, while I was holding up a wall waiting on princess here to finish shopping or brunching or whatever the fuck she did with her empty days, I would be pissed as hell.

Her chocolate brown eyes blinked up at me.

No, not chocolate, that was probably too common for her.

Her silky, mink brown eyes.

You? They made you my bodyguard?”

I pressed the tip of my tongue against the sharp point of one of my canine teeth, the small bite of pain a reminder to control my response.

Stick to the plan.

This is what I wanted.

Still…

My gaze narrowed as I pressed my hips into hers, pushing her more firmly against the wall. “Do you have a problem with that? Is my ten years of advanced military training by the United States Marine Corps not good enough for you?”

Pride. It was just stupid, arrogant pride.

Her lower lip trembled as her big, beautiful eyes misted. “Please. I didn’t say that. It’s just—”

Cupping her cheek, I ran my thumb over her lip, having an insane impulse to feel the delicate vibrations against my skin. My cock lengthened. Would I feel the same subtle tremble along my shaft?

“Say that again,” I ordered.

The skin between her perfectly arched brows wrinkled as she tried to twist her face to the side. “Say what?”

I tightened my grip on her face. “Please. I want to hear you say that word again.”

Like the word ‘no’, I didn’t think the word ‘please’ was in any Manwarring’s vocabulary, but it wasn’t just that.

With her staring up at me as her hands pressed against my chest, looking vulnerable while desperately trying to hide the fact that my presence intimidated and scared her, the word took on a sensual, erotic meaning. I could just picture her on her knees before me.

Begging me with her gorgeous full lips. Please, please, please.

Christ.

My cock hardened further.

Her eyes widened, leaving little doubt she felt the urgent press of my rigid shaft against her abdomen.

Her lips opened. Her hesitant breath caressed my skin as I kept my thumb pressed against her lips. Still, no sound came out.

Suddenly, the single most important thing in my life became getting her to bend to my will, even in this small way. “Say it, princess. Say please.”

Beg me.

Her throat contracted as she swallowed. “Please.”

Air hissed through my clenched teeth as I pushed the tip of my thumb inside her warm, wet mouth. “Say it again.”

Her cool fingers clasped around my wrist as she whimpered.

“Say it again,” I repeated more forcefully.

The sweep of her tongue against my thumb almost sent me over the edge as she rasped, “Please.”

I leaned my forehead against hers as I pulled her breath into my lungs. My free hand pushed into the soft waves of her hair as I anchored her head within my grasp. I thrust my thumb deeper into her mouth. “Suck it.”

Pale pink manicured nails pressed crescents into my wrists as she squirmed within my embrace, trying to dislodge my hand.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Although still my plan, my intent had changed.

Over the course of my duties, I had often noticed her.

Watched her.

It would have been impossible not to.

She was just so beautiful, but it was a distant, fragile beauty.

As if she were a porcelain figurine too delicate and expensive to touch.

But now, her warm, soft body was pressed against mine.

Finally.

And I was finding it difficult to keep my baser instincts in check. It was taking all my disciplined training not to flip her around, press her against the wall, and pound into her from behind like a fucking animal.

Especially as I watched those full lips pursed around my thumb as she obediently sucked it.

Fuck me.

This was my boss’ precious daughter. His innocent, precious daughter.

Men like Lucian Manwarring didn’t fool me.

I’d seen it countless times in the upper ranks of the Marines. Officers who were brutally unfeeling and ruthless when it came to the training of the men below them, but who wouldn’t hesitate to take a bullet for those same men.

A leader needed to be cold and calculating to protect the unit.

Surviving in the upper echelons of corporate America and among the high society families of New York City was a daily war.

And while the consequences may not be deadly, there were still casualties, like not being the ideal father. I knew that from personal experience, which was why I saw right through Lucian.

I had been hired to guard the protective wall he had built around his daughter… not to tear it down.

Still… I was only a man.

With a guttural moan, I pulled my thumb from her mouth and grasped her jaw, forcing her head back. My lips lowered… stopping barely a breath away from touching her.

Instinctively, I knew if I kissed her… it would be game over.

Her body trembled.

I pressed into her more deeply as my gaze fixated on her closed eyes. The thin skin of her eyelids gave the rapid movement of her eyes beneath them away.

It would be so easy.

Just a taste.

Just a small lick to see if she tasted as sweet as in my fantasies.

The distant murmur of voices, carried as a faint echo down the expansive hallway, broke the spell.

Curling my hands into fists, I launched myself backwards until I was a respectable distance from her.

Charlotte swayed at the sudden loss of my body pushed against her own.

My arm rose, ready to catch her.

Her thick eyelashes fluttered as she opened her eyes. For just the barest of seconds, she stared back at me through an unfocused haze of burgeoning awareness.

Then she slipped behind her father’s protective wall.

The color rose on her cheeks as she swiped the back of her hand over her lips as if to wipe the taste of my skin away.

Possessive anger came to life from deep inside my chest. I had to fight the impulse to grab her hair and force her to her knees as I reached for the zipper of my pants, almost overwhelmed by the driving need to imprint my taste, my scent, my mark on her.

With her chin tilted up, she stepped out of the traitorous alcove shadows, back into the glaring light. “Obviously, this is not going to work. I’ll ask my father to assign someone else as my bodyguard.”

Objective achieved.

My plan had worked.

Which was why what I did next made absolutely no sense.

Chapter Three

Charlotte

“Nice try, princess. You’re stuck with me.”

I clutched the pearls at my throat.

To have this man following me around, always standing close by—watching over me—would be a disaster. My upbringing had not equipped me with the skills needed to keep a guard dog like Sergeant Reid Taylor on a leash.

I desperately wished that wasn’t true. I had plenty of friends who reveled in their feminine power over men, who loved flirting and taunting and keeping them dancing at the end of their fingertips, but I was most definitely not one of them.

Even the very idea has me practically breaking out in hives.

It was a truth universally acknowledged that some women were Elizabeth Bennett and others were her misunderstood and overlooked middle sister, Mary.

Substitute the cello for the piano, and I was the perfect fit. Poor, plain Mary.

And everyone knew, the Marys in this life didn’t end up with the handsome and powerful Mr. Darcys.

“Please don’t call me princess.”

His silver, wolf-like eyes widened, then narrowed as he took a step toward me.

With a hot, humiliating rush of blood to my cheeks and throat, I realized my mistake.

Please.

Oh, hell. I’d said please.

I’d never be able to use that word again. Ever. Without thinking about him… and his… his thumb in my… mouth!

Laughter cut through the tension as a group of servants approached ever closer to where we stood, no doubt heading upstairs to right the bedrooms for the day.

I licked my lips. “Mr. Taylor.”

“Reid,” he corrected, his gaze on my mouth.

With my hand covering my lips, I mumbled. “Sergeant Taylor, you said yourself that you are overqualified for the task. Surely you must realize how unsuitable this arrangement would be for both of us.”

His mouth lifted at the corners again in that infuriating wolf-like grin. “I disagree. And don’t call me Shirley.”

I shook my head, confused. “I didn’t call you Shirley. I said surely.”

With his hands on his hips, he tilted his head back and laughed. “It’s from Airplane.”

“Airplane? I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t have any trips planned.”

He glanced past my shoulder as the three women came within view.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught their curious glances. I wanted to turn and boldly stare them down… but didn’t.

With hushed whispers, they pivoted and made their way up the wide marble and mahogany staircase.

Sergeant Taylor kept his face averted, watching them even as he stepped closer to me.

When they were out of view, he turned his full attention back to me. Reaching out, he lifted my chin with his finger. “You’re adorable. It’s from a movie.”

“Oh,” I answered lamely, unnerved by his close proximity and the reminder of how boring and awkward I was. Just call me Mary.

“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to be a good little girl and go write out your daily schedule for the next week for me. Your father didn’t seem to know it.”

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. The very idea of my father taking an interest in my cello lessons and charity events was absurd. My mouth opened to object.

He raised an eyebrow. “Eh. Eh. Eh. No objections. Whether you realize it or not, your father is only trying to protect you.”

I huffed as I pulled my face out of his grasp. As I waved my hand in front of me, I said, “Fine, but does it have to be you?”

My eyes widened as I slapped my hand over my mouth.

Never in my life had I been so forward as to actually say what was in my head.

Alarm bells rang in my ears.

I had to get away from this man.

He chuckled. “I don’t need to tell you that your father always demands the best.” He then leaned in close, his lips almost brushing mine. “And I’m the best, princess.”

The long hem of my gown tripped me up as I stumbled backwards in my haste to get away from him. There was no mistaking the sensual, double entendre to his words. “Please… I mean… not please…. I mean…”

Oh, hell.

His hand wrapped around my upper arm again, holding me steady. “Shhh, babygirl. Everything’s going to be fine. As long as you obey my rules.”

“Rules?”

“Actually just one rule. You never—ever—exit this house without me by your side. Understood?”

Sliding behind the comforting shelter of propriety, I whispered, “It’s not appropriate for you to call me babygirl.”

“You’re absolutely right. It’s not appropriate.”

His thumb swept over my skin in an intimate, daring caress—deliberately crossing the line.

I shook off his hold and backed up. “I have to go.”

“Where?”

My splintered mind scrambled to come up with a lie. “Just upstairs. To my bedroom.”

There it was again, that flare of white-hot awareness in the silvery depths of his eyes.

Was everything a double entendre with this man?

His hot gaze moved over me. “Perhaps I should accompany you?”

“No!” I cleared my throat. “You said yourself I would only need your services outside the house.”

He tilted his head to the side as his hands moved to his hips.

Without volition, my gaze moved over his chest, then lower, catching a glimpse of the rigid bulge in his pants.

Oh. My. God.

He followed my gaze, then grinned. “Actually, my services would be available to you at anytime… and anywhere.”

Dammmmiiitttt. Another double entendre. It was as if we were sparring with double-edged swords, and I was losing.

My back hit the newel post. “That won’t be necessary.” I then turned and scurried up the stairs.

He called after me, “Don’t forget, princess. Not one foot outside this house without me.”

Read More Info and Buy!