Read Perfect Harmony Online

Authors: Sarah P. Lodge

Tags: #Romance, #love triange, #secret babies, #Contemporary, #billionaire love story, #coming of age, #workplace, #wealthy, #International, #billionaire romance, #new adult, #Genre Fiction, #Literature & Fiction

Perfect Harmony (3 page)

And if it caused Richard and Liz to be filled with jealousy
then it would be even sweeter.  All the times I’d left them alone in the
apartment, begging Liz to look after Richard for an hour here and there whilst
I worked late, and she was too polite to say no.

All this time, I thought she was doing it as my friend.  Not
as a rival.

And then, for them to betray me like they did, and who knows
how often it’s been going on...

I have no one, now.

No one except Chase.

“I can’t dance,” I say.

His scans me with his intense gaze.  “Impossible.  Look at
you.”

“When I used to have singing lessons, I had one teacher who
was so adamant about being able to dance as well, like a singing dancing all
package deal.  The singing I always loved, still do...but the dancing...  If I get
on that floor, I’m going to be treading all over your feet.  All my past
boyfriends certainly complained.”

His smile reappeared.  “You just haven’t had a man who was
able to lead.”

“Maybe,” I murmur.  “But when that many guys-“

“How many?” he interrupts.

“I’m sorry?”

“How many boyfriends has there been?”

“I don’t think...”

“You’re a young woman.  Nineteen, at a guess.”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“I find it hard to believe that such a young lady as
yourself would have had that many boyfriends.  How many? Eight?  Ten?”

I couldn’t tell Chase my number.  This man is so suave he
thinks ten is a small number.

“Three,” I say.

“Only three?”

“Well, technically four, but one was Jim Jonson, the
neighbour’s kid, when I was five, so I didn’t think that really counted.  Plus,
we only went out for an hour before he broke my Barbie.”

Chase lets out a light chuckle.  “And the others?”

“One guy in high school, lasted a week.  Then a guy in
college.  Four days.  And then Richard.  Which has...had been three months. 
Until he...you know.”  My cheeks burn red.

“Betrayed you and broke your heart?”

“Something like that.”

He takes in a sharp breath.  “So, you sing?”

“Yeah, since I was a kid.”  A full smile beams across my
face.

“How fortunate.  The charity organisers wanted me to coral a
woman from the label’s talent pool to sing a number to the guests.  I had someone
booked but she...she wasn’t able to make it.  Maybe you could take her place?”

“Oh no, not in public.  No way.”

His face softens.  I expect him to ask further questions but
he lets the matter slide.

“You own a record label, I mean, can’t you get someone else
to sing?”

“Not at such a late hour.”

“What about yourself?”

“I don’t sing,” he says, tersely.

“But I read in Celeb magazine that you used to do karaoke
before you started up-.”


I don’t sing
.”

I shut up.  His face is hard and his eyes sharp.

“It’s the donations, I care about,” he says.  “Not some
silly singing.  If you can’t do it, then the matter is irrelevant.”

The look on his face - I find it impossible to reconcile how
this man who I have read so much about singing in his past, this playboy heart
throb who woos the finest girls and is CEO of a record label for nearly a
decade, could refuse to sing.  And at his own charity function of all things. 
I just doesn’t make any sense.

“Enough talk,” he says at last.  “Let us go.”  He grabs my
arm and tries to pull me away.

The effect he has on my body is mind-blowing.  Just a touch
and a shiver ripples through me.

I gulp and back away.

“I still don’t get it,” I say.

“Get what?”

“Why me?  You never said why you want to take some silly
little admin clerk nobody with you.  You’re really really famous.  And rich. 
And sexy.  Why do you want me?”

Chase lets out a baritone laugh.  “You know, no one has
every asked me why I wanted them before.  You really are interesting, Melody.” 
He wanders over to a hidden closet nestled in the wooden panel underneath a
large impressionist painting.  “Very interesting, indeed.”

He pulls out an immaculately pressed tuxedo, even more
beautiful than the one he’s wearing.  He replaces his current tuxedo with the
new one, taking extra care over the cufflinks, his hands sensually moving up
and down those thick wrists.

After the first cufflink, he turns to me.

“I also lost my date,” he says.  “I believe you know Ms.
Bell?”

“I...uh...yes.  Not personally, obviously.  But I’ve seen her
on TV.”

I didn’t want to say anymore.  She was everything a man
could want in a woman - gorgeous, thin, famous, with the sort of blond locks
that curl at the shoulders like a 50s Hollywood beauty.

“She’s nothing like me,” I say, my eyes on the floor.

“Exactly.  Imagine the look in her eyes when she sees you as
my date?  If she thought she could order me around like some silly little
lapdog, she’s got a lot to learn.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back at
her, but finding you here in my office... it was meant to be.”

“You want to use me?”

His powerful body marches over to the desk and takes my hand
in his own.  His other hand cups my cheek and lifts my head so our eyes lock.

“Like you will be using me,” he says.  “We’re both after
revenge and we’ll both achieve that revenge by being on one another’s arm. 
It’s perfect.”

“I’m not sure.”

“No need to hesitate.  Tonight you shall be my
princess

Before the night is over, this Richard will be on his knees and begging you to
forgive him.”

A shock roars through my body.

He called me a
princess
.

But it’s revenge, and I may be hurting and depressed and
feeling sorry for myself, but I know deep down how wrong this is.  But I want
these feelings to be over because, more than anything, I’m just exhausted from
crying.

Maybe Chase is the key?  Maybe what he promises is the
elixir to my problems?  But the way he makes me feel is so conflicting - being
this close to him makes me feel like I’m caught in a spell, full of wonder and
admiration.  But then part of me is petrified of him and every minute I remain
in his company, I know he gets closer to finding out the truth.

Damn it.  How can I feel this way?

“You’re in love with him,” says Chase.

“What?  No, it’s just, this whole idea, I don’t feel
comfortable playing with people’s emotions like that.”

He nods.  “I’ve had my eye on you for a while now,” he says.

My lips part.  “You’ve been spying on me?”

“Think of it more as observing.  Every other woman here
makes it a point to bump into me and ask for advice and knowledge.  They think
it’s going to make me want them, but they’re nothing but sycophants.  They’d
cheat on their husbands and partners in a second if I offered them what I’m
offering you.  Yet you resist.  Loyalty is a very impressive quality in a
person.  And such a person does not deserve a man who would betray them so
easily.”

His eyes are locked to mine.  One hand brushes down the back
of my neck and over my shoulder.  I’m paralysed by his gaze.

“But, again, this is another irrelevancy.  Our romance will
be nothing but a sham.  A magic trick to control the audience.  After tonight,
it will be as if we never said one word to another - no phone calls, no dates,
no dinner.  You will revert back to being my invisible employee and I’ll return
to being your boss.  It is for one night only."

I dry swallow.  His touch is electrifying, his fingers now
tracing my skin.  “You’ll forget I ever existed?”

“Completely.  It will be as if we never met.  And we never
will.”

This is perfect.  If I can get Chase to forget I ever
existed then there’s no way he’ll figure out the truth about my family.

There’d be no reason for him to look into my colorful job
application and see all the holes.

I’d finally be able to flee.

Go on.  Runaway.  It’s all you ever do.

Richard’s voice is in my head.  God, he was such a bastard
this morning.  How could he say such hurtful things?

You tell me that your singing is your world, but every
time I’ve tried to get you a gig or an agent, you’ve lied and avoided and run
away like a scared little girl.  I thought you wanted to spend time with me,
but you’d rather be by yourself.  Either you never wanted me and you never
wanted to sing, or you’re nothing but a coward.

It’s been nearly twelve hours, but his words still sting.

There was no truth in them.  He was just trying to hurt me. 
He just wanted to cover up his affair with Liz and feel big and powerful.

I did nothing wrong.

How dare he think he could talk to me like that?

A renewed vigor courses through my body.

I’m going to make Richard eat those words.  All I’ve ever
wanted is to be one of those women you see out there, dancing and carefree,
laissez-faire and dressed in the most beautiful of clothes, laughing and
singing and loving every second of life.

All in the arms of the most wanted man in the country.

I’m not a coward.  And if not being a coward takes someone
who’s ruthless and brave, then I’m going to take lessons from the best.

“I’ll do it,” I say.

Chase nods.  “Excellent.  But remember: it is only for
tonight.  After that-.”

“-Yeah yeah, you’ll go back to being my boss and showing Ms.
Bell who’s in control, and I’ll go back to the admin desk and hide in the
shadows like usual.  I understand, Mr. Strong.”

“Chase.”

“What?”

“Chase.  You should be calling me by my first name if we’re
to pull this off convincingly.”

“Chase.” I smile.  The way the words touch on my lips - it
sounds amazing to say out loud.

He snorts.  “You really are an interesting girl, Melody.”

He takes my hand and begins to lead me out of the office. 
“Come.”

I pause again.  “Wait!  I don’t have a dress!”

“Then I better buy you one.”

He leads me to the end of the hall and summons the elevator.

“Mr. Strong, I mean Chase.”

“Yes?”

“You can’t buy me a dress.”

“Why not?”

“Because, you just can’t.”

He strokes a lock of my hair across my temple and tucks it
behind my ear.  “I can and I will.  You will let me do whatever I deem
necessary and I will give you a night you’ve dreamed of your entire life. 
Beautiful clothes, gorgeous jewellery, the envy of every woman in New York. 
And, of course, your sweet revenge.  It shall be fun.”

The musky scent of his clean skin billows against my face,
so full of power and seduction and pure want.  He skin feels so hot against my
own, his fingertips grazing the back of my ear.

I’ve never felt this way - a sense of longing and need
consumes me, rough and hot and begging for his touch on my virgin body.

“Yes,” I say, my voice nothing more than a breathy whisper. 
“I’ll do anything you say.”

The elevator dings, but he holds my head, our eyes locked
into each other as if the rest of the world has melted away.  He brings my hand
to his mouth and presses his sensuous lips on to my skin.  My heart races as I
feel his warm breath send shivers up my spine, and a flame ignites, begging to
race throughout my body and consume every inch of me.

His dark green eyes bury into my soul and his lips curl into
a smile.

“That’s my girl.”

CHAPTER TWO

––––––––

Chase

––––––––

T
he limousine’s door flies open and I’m blinded by the
pounding flashbulbs of paparazzi cameras.

Chase!  Chase!  Over here!  Mr. Strong!

They scream my name over the din as the evening mist rolls
through the open door and seeps under my tuxedo.  It is a September evening,
and one hell of a cold one at that.  I can feel the clammy fog dampen around my
face.

I stare up at the Wiltshire Building - a towering skyscraper
that escapes into the billowing clouds like a needle injecting the sky.  Around
the pinnacle, dark rain clouds bleed like ink and threaten a downpour of
biblical proportions.

And I couldn’t be happier.

The cold is rough and hard and exactly what I need to face
those bastard paparazzi - a sobering breath of fresh air to fool the people
inside.

My feet hit the red carpet and I rise like a king, bulb upon
bulb exploding in my face.

Strong!  Strong!  Chase!  Hey!  Over here!

My lips curve into a smile and I reach inside the limo to
take Melody’s hand, but she’s cowering in the darkness like a scared mouse.

I keep my hand there for a moment and she finally takes it,
and she steps out, every bit my queen.

Thank god for the cold slap of the weather.  Anything to
wake me up from the limo ride with Melody.

How could she not realise she’s beautiful?  It pains me to
understand how one woman can be so self-deceptive.  Just the merest touch at
the office and my body tightened.  The desire was positively overwhelming,
shooting through my veins and filling me with an intense need.

A need for her.

How could she not realise?  The entire limo ride was like
torture.  Only inches between us but impossible to touch.

Her arm wraps around mine with the grace of a princess, and
I feel the gentle pressure of her palm against my sleeve, and the warmth of her
touch against my jacket.

The delight makes me shiver, and I look down at my date.

She’s come a long way from the frightened clerk too
petrified to show her face and leave the shadows of the office.  She tried her
best to remain unnoticed, but it was pointless.

Because I noticed her.  How could I not?  Those rosy cheeks
and auburn hair.  Beautiful.  And how she’d wear such shapeless dresses, like a
country bumpkin just off the first morning train into the city - naive and
clueless, and little more than a teenager.

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