Beauty and the Bachelor

By: Naima Simone

She may be the highest bidder, but this bachelor’s price is blackmail and passion…

Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake—the stunning daughter of his enemy—is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail...followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.

Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father’s shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse—oh so much worse—is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood.

Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it’s tough when he can’t keep from touching her–or thinking about touching her–all the time. She’s not fairing much better since she’s engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family...along with her heart.

To Gary. 143.

Chapter One

During Lucas Oliver’s first week as a new transfer student to the Chicago public school system, he’d witnessed a fight between a kid who should’ve been a sophomore in college, not high school, and a tall, skinny freshman.

Well…“fight” was a bit of a misnomer.

The skinny kid, Terrance Wallace, had tried to walk away—probably applying that “turn the other cheek” rhetoric he’d learned in Sunday school. He’d ended up sprawled on the floor, that cheek busted.

The following year, Terrance returned to school beefed up and full of ’roid rage. The prey had suddenly become the predator, handing out the same beatdowns he used to suffer.

Lucas had learned two valuable lessons then. Well, two and a half.

One. Get before you get got.

Two. Preparation is the key to successful revenge.

Two and a half. Steroids are some nasty shit.

Now, years later, standing in a crowded ballroom at an event hosted by the Rhodonite Society, a philanthropic organization comprised of Boston’s wealthy elite, Lucas possessed an affinity for Terrance. True, Lucas’s own revenge plan had taken considerably more time to set in motion than a summer of pumping weights and shooting up. Fifteen years longer.

Still, as he hovered on the cusp of realizing his dream of retribution, reflecting on every long, hard year felt sweet. As sweet as it must’ve been for Terrance to plant his fist in the mouth of the thug who’d made his life a living hell.

He lightly traced the thin, flattened ridge of scar tissue under his right eye, picturing its twin that bisected his eyebrow. Bitterness throbbed inside him like a wound unable to heal because his memories insisted on ripping off the scab, keeping the injury fresh and angry.

Every scar. Every agony. Every humiliation. Every moment of fear—they were all worth this moment. He watched his quarry hold court among his peers, laughing and basking in his power, his glory, completely unaware he was being hunted. This moment of happiness would be the man’s last before he suffered the same pain and devastation he’d so carelessly meted out to others.

Lucas studied the face of the man who’d betrayed Lucas’s family so deeply, the scars on his face didn’t compare to the ones carved into his soul.

And smiled.

“Oh, shit, you’re smiling,” a voice said to his left.

He slid a sidelong glance at Aiden Kent, his business partner and best friend since high school. Hell, his only friend. Most people called Lucas the Beast of Bay Bridge Industries—or “cold-blooded,” “bastard,” or “son of a bitch.” But not “friend.”

“Since you’ve ignored my advice up until this point, I’m not holding out hope you’ll listen to me at this late date. But, once again, I’m going to put it out there. I don’t agree with this,” Aiden stated. “Buy his business, ruin his reputation. Those are fair game. But you should leave his daughter out of it. She’s innocent.”

Lucas glanced across the room again, his gaze landing on the “she” Aiden mentioned. Statuesque. Elegant. Hair straight as a ruler and the color of sun-bleached wood. Skin like the richest, purest honey.

And guilty by association.

“Your concern is duly noted…again,” Lucas drawled.

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