What happens when two control freaks meet their match?
Rory Doyle likes to be in control: in control of his career, in control of his home, and in control of his relationships. The one thing he can’t control is his reaction to feisty ex-pageant queen-turned-real estate agent Ashley Richards.
Ashley Richards is a woman with a plan; always has been, always will be. She’s got her sights set on conquering the Atlanta commercial real estate market, and the last thing she needs is Rory Doyle disrupting her carefully planned life.
After their best friends get their happily ever after, Rory wants to take his relationship with Ashley to the next level, but Ashley has other things to worry about, including planning the perfect wedding for her best friend. Add a bonus complication of the biggest challenge of her professional career and she definitely does not need the distraction of Rory’s sexy Irish brogue and his hot dancer’s body.
Can Rory convince Ashley to listen to her heart or will she decide that he doesn’t fit in with her plans?
Of Baubles and Boudoir Sets
But now, here he was, at Phipps Plaza in the heart of Buckhead, on Black Friday, determined to buy Ashley Richards the perfect Christmas present. Rory left his car with the valet attendant and walked determinedly through the upscale shopping mall, making a beeline for the jewelry store.
And he was anxious as hell.
Rory stood in the middle of the Tiffany’s, trying to decide if he had made the biggest mistake of his life by merely walking into the jewelry store. He felt vaguely nauseated as he walked up to the counter where Andre, Ashley’s favorite salesperson, stood.
“Mr. Doyle, very nice to see you again. How can I be of help today?” Andre asked with a pleasant smile.
Rory exhaled loudly. Thank God Andre’s working today. At Rory’s silence, Andre prompted, “Is Miss Richards going to be joining you today? I have some things picked out for her from our latest collections.”
Now this is an excellent salesman, thought Rory.
“Ashley’s out of town, but I’d like to see the collections. I have a mind to get her something special for Christmas.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Doyle. Please, have a seat and I’ll bring the items up.” Andre gestured toward a chair and then smoothly walked away to begin removing trays of jewelry from under the gleaming glass of the display cases.
Rory tapped his foot nervously as he watched Andre make his way over to the low table.
“Okay, Mr. Doyle. Do you have anything in particular in mind?” Andre smiled at Rory again, his voice low and soothing.
Rory placed his hands on the edge of the table. “What’s she looked at most? What about necklaces?”
Andre nodded and put two trays in front of Rory. Each tray held a single necklace. Rory wasn’t actually much of one for jewelry, but these pieces took his breath away. He had seen these when they’d been in the store a few weeks earlier on the pretense of finding his mother a gift. Rory touched one of the necklaces.
“Miss Richards has looked at that particular piece several times.”
Rory nodded. He knew she definitely had her eye on this one, but to buy for herself, not to receive as a gift.
Rory shook his head. “No, I think I’ll let her pick out her own necklace. What about rings?”
Andre looked at Rory, his head cocked to the side. “Mr. Doyle, if I may be so bold to suggest something.”
“Sure. Please do.”
Andre thought for a full minute before he said, “You might consider the assumptions that a woman might make when receiving a diamond ring from a man.”
Rory blinked. Andre nodded his head quickly and widened his eyes, and then Rory widened his. “Oh! Oh, yes. Okay. No rings right now. Definitely. Good call, man.” He blew out a breath.
“There are bracelets in the collection that are simply stunning, and appropriate to wear to the office or for an evening out,” Andre said as he set two additional trays in front of Rory.
He didn’t even have to think about it. The bracelet was perfect. Exquisite and finely detailed, but not fussy.
“That is an outstanding choice, Mr. Doyle. That would be my first choice.”
Rory blew out another breath and handed over his credit card.
Walking out of the store, the blue bag clutched securely in his brawny fist, he grinned and headed across the aisle. Now, a little something for me, he thought.
Ashley turned her body this way and that, trying to decide if the tasseled bra and thong set was too much.
The saleswoman, Betsy, knocked on the dressing room door. “Miss Richards, do you have everything you need?”
Ashley sighed. “Betsy, please come in here and give me your honest opinion.”
Betsy came into the spacious dressing room and appraised Ashley, her head cocked to the side as Ashley turned around in front of her.
Betsy cocked her head at Ashley. In all the years she’d been acquainted with the woman, she had never, ever known her to pick out lingerie for a man. This fellow was special.
“You said it was a surprise for Christmas?” Betsy asked. Ashley nodded. Betsy blew out a breath and clucked her tongue. “I hate to say it, because it looks stunning on you, but it might be a little much.”
“That’s kind of what I thought,” Ashley said with a sigh. “I’ll just get my usual things and not worry about a special something this time. Thanks, Betsy.”
Betsy nodded and slipped out of the dressing room, and Ashley began to pull her clothes on. She gathered up her selections and went out towards the register…and then stopped dead.
What is Rory doing here? He thinks I’m still out of town!
“Shit. Shitshitshit,” she said as she ducked behind the curtains that led to the dressing room. She listened hard for what Betsy and Rory were saying.
“Sir, I’ll be right back. Please continue looking around,” Ashley heard Betsy say as she ran back into the dressing room.
Betsy buzzed into Ashley’s dressing room, somewhat breathless and her face flushed.
“Shh! That’s him! That’s him!”
“That’s the man that…” Ashley broke out into nervous giggles.
Ashley Richards was giggling over this man? Oh, boy.
Betsy tried to maintain her professionalism. “Is that the gentleman you’re…surprising?”
“I’ll be right back. Sit tight, Miss Richards.”
It seemed like hours passed. Good God a’mighty, what is taking her so long? Is he buying the whole damn store?
Just when Ashley despaired Betsy ever returning, the saleswoman knocked once and bustled into the dressing room, her arms full of silky, lacy things.
“These are what he liked,” Betsy said as she hung up several sets of lingerie. “He has very…consistent taste.”
Ashley eyed all the sets and her jaw dropped. “These are all….”
Betsy cleared her throat. “Ouvert is the name of the style,” she said demurely as she thrust one set at Ashley. “Try this on. I’ll be right outside.”
Ashley tried on the entire set, including the suspenders and stockings, and faced the mirror. She turned around slowly, surveying herself in the mirror, and a wide smile spread across her face.
“Knock, knock,” Betsy said. “How are you doing?”
“I’ll take the complete Elly set in black and nude. And the Lui-Lui in black.” Ashley picked up the first set she’d tried on and grinned even wider. “And the Zarrinia.”
“A girl has to have options,” Betsy said.
Yes, a girl does.
Meet Josie Kerr!
She has an M.Ed. in Secondary English Education, but discovered that she hated high school more the second time than she did the first, so she decided to meld her love of technology with her education background and became an Instructional Designer. When not writing articles about how to fire someone without getting sued or why you should really not apply for jobs using your SexxyStud99@aol.com email address, she writes steamy romance novels that feature grown-up Heroes and Heroines.
Want to purchase Josie’s novels?
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