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 (4 page)

I could tell even then this was her first job since
college.  The way she’d panic whenever our paths would cross and retreat into a
nearby office was very interesting.  Pulling her application form, I saw
nothing out of the ordinary except a sparse work history, but that was to be
expected.  She had only been in New York for three months and there wasn’t much
else to her.  A pretty forgettable girl.

But that was no more.

To think, I had originally planned to teach Mercedes that
she was easily replaceable.  And what better example could I use than a plain
Jane admin clerk, plump and innocent.

Boy, was I wrong.

Even now, it stuns me to think how Melody could have eluded
me for so long.

All it took was a personal stylist to pour Melody into a
slinky black dress, for her to look the height of fashion.  The mere thought of
how stunning she looks in that backless gown, how it teases any man to sheer unparalleled
sexual wanting by the way the low cut clings to her ample breasts, almost
revealing too much.

And now I realise that to describe her as plump was a
complete miscalculation on my part.  What her unattractive dresses hid at the
office was a perfect curvy body - buxom breasts and wide hips to make the
perfect balance to her small waist.  It was a classic figure she had - like a
50s Hollywood starlet.  The sort of figure that has driven men wild for
generations.  Far more desirable than the skinny twigs I’m forced to plaster on
to billboards in the name of company image.  No, Melody was a real woman:
purely feminine.

I glance at her now as we walk up the red carpet and a
droplet of sweat drips down my temple.

But her figure does nothing to match the beauty of her
face.  Not only is she anything but plain, but she possesses that natural
beauty that, I know from experience, is rare upon so many women.  And now,
after the professional make up and style team have had their way with her, she
positively glows.  The dark mascara under those intense brown eyes, the way her
beautiful auburn locks tumble down and curl sensually over her naked back, and
the way the lipstick accentuates the ravishing nature of her full lips...

She is incredible.  An absolute beauty, so gorgeous and sexy
that I cannot fathom how she could remain under my radar for so long.  But no
more.  Now she is the person she was meant to be.

And I want her.

I lead her down the red velvet carpet and paparazzi scream
out questions.

Strong!  Strong!  Who is this?

Where’s Mercedes?

Who’s the sex bomb?

Miss!  Miss!  How’s it feel being on Chase Strong’s arm?

I give them an offhand wave and a brief smile.  But Melody
backs up, wide eyed and worry painting her face.

She’s shivering.

Bastards.  All they do is pry and assault my presence, day
after day.  But whether it’s outside my Tuscan villa or below my penthouse in
New York City, I’ve grown very accustomed to being mobbed by their intrusion. 
You cannot be a successful businessman and adventurous playboy without the heat
of their cameras scorching the back of your neck.  But I am used to it - Melody
is an innocent young girl.

“Chase,” whispers Melody.  “Please, I can’t.”

I brush off the paparazzi with a swift hand motion.  “I
think that’s enough, gentlemen.”

They don’t listen.

Melody’s palm clasps my bicep.  I hold her tight and briskly
escort her past the security and into the reprieve of the building’s dazzling
foyer.

She stares at the floor, still shivering.

“Ignore them,” I say.  “They’re nothing but vultures.”

“All those people, they were just gawking at me.”

I place my finger under her chin and lift her head so our
eyes meet.  “Can you blame them?”

Her gorgeous eyes are so large and frightened, I feel a pang
in my gut and my heart twists.

“If you need to go back and have them take pictures, then
you should go ahead.  Forget about me if that’s what you need to do,” says
Melody.

“And what sort of gentleman would leave his beautiful date
alone to have his picture taken?”

“I just meant, if you needed publicity, or whatever.  For
the charity.”

I bite my lip.  She has a point.  The intention of tonight
was to take my very well documented image and connections and use them to
leverage donations for this Leukemia charity.  Certainly a worthy cause, and
the extra publicity it would offer the label would be unparalleled.

But there was no way Melody could manage another minute
outside with those cretins.  Even at times, I find it difficult.

“Get me through this, Chase,” she says.  “Please, just get
me through this.”

I give her a knowing smile and nod.  “Let’s go inside.”

She swallows so hard I can hear it, but there is gratitude
in her face.

“You know,” I say, “every other woman I’ve dated would have
loved being on display for every magazine in the country...  Revelled in it,
even.”

“Well, I guess, I’m not like any other woman you’ve dated.” 
She fidgets with her neckline.

“No,” I say, “I guess you’re not.”

She holds me tighter and a blazing heat rockets through me.

I want to touch her, more than anything.  The way her
fingers wrap around my arm fills me with carnal desire.  My mind begs me to rip
the dress apart with my bare hands and cover her amazing body with my lips, to
lick and nibble her breasts and fondle her hair and stoke every inch of her,
all the way down her soft thighs... and further down to her...

I inhale a sharp sobering breath.

No.  This is wrong.  Very wrong.

She’s an employee.  Not to mention, she’s so innocent and
only clinging to me out of a broken heart.  I never screw with women on the
rebound - it’s unseemly.  Especially not when there’s so many other beautiful
women out there who are far too easy to possess.

Melody is completely off limits.  Sex with her would be
complicated and very risky, to me and to my business.  I cannot allow myself to
feel this desire for her, no matter how much it blinds me.

Even if she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.

But is she?  Maybe my lust and desire for her is clouding my
judgment and making me see a treasure more glistening than reality would have
me believe.

I look down her curvy body and my skin prickles.  The way
the black fabric of the dress hugs those breasts, and the sensual curve of her
neck up to that pale skin of her face, framed by those gorgeous locks of soft
auburn hair...

No, I’m right.

The desire I have for her is wrong and forbidden, and part
of me doesn’t care.

Why could I not take an employee as a lover?

Her eyes dart back to the floor.

“You’re beautiful, Melody.”

She shakes her head.  “I wish you would stop saying that.”

How can she not realise her beauty?  It blows me away every
time.  Any other employee would have used such aesthetically pleasing looks to
seek attention from her bosses.  They would have used it to climb the corporate
ladder and live a life of spoils off every wealthy man in my empire. 
Especially me.

“I’m not beautiful,” she says.

I narrow my eyes.  “Are you calling me a liar?”

“No, no, you’re not, not really, I mean.  You’re just being
nice.”

“Melody, look at me.”

Her face rises and I fix her deep wonderful eyes to my own.

“Let me tell you something about me.  I don’t do pity
dates.  If you are here on a date with me it is because I truly believe you are
worthy of my standard.  And my standard happens to be beautiful women.  And it
is a high standard.  I look at you now, and no one can compare.”

The frustration and worry drips away from her face, replaced
with a look of innocence and wonder.

“You... you really think I’m nice looking?”


Nice looking
?”  I shake my head in amazement.  “You
are
beautiful.
No ifs and buts and anything else.  You are truly
beautiful, my princess.”

She blushes a hot red and for a second I realise just how
young she really is.  Her application said nineteen, but there are so many
different types of nineteen year olds out there - some flirty and sexual and
devil may care.

And some were like Melody.  Quiet and reserved and innocent.

A sense of empathy warms me - I was once like her.  I
remember a time when my open heart caused me to be reckless in the name of
being accepted and loved.  A sharp awakening forced me out of that place, but I
still remember how it felt.

And to see Melody act so young, it not only fills me with a
sense of nostalgia, but also a peculiar longing to embrace her in my arms and
protect her from this world.

I push the feeling down deep inside where it can no longer
haunt me and tempt me.  There is no possible way I could go through tonight
feeling this way about her and have things not fall apart.

She lifts her head up and her eyes sparkle in the radiant
light of the crystal chandelier.

“Princess?” she says, her face lit up with a smile so
breathtaking that my heart summersaults in my chest.


My
princess.”  I bring her hand to mine and kiss it
gently.  “I told you that every woman would be envious if you accompanied me to
this ball.  But I failed to mention that every man will be consumed by jealousy
for me when they see you on my arm.”

She grins uncontrollably, her cheeks bright as rubies
against her fair skin.  “Wow.  You really know how to lay it on nice and thick,
don’t you?”

I grin back, our eyes locked together like magnets.

A powerful force races through my body like an earthquake.

Every time I look at her, her beauty confounds me again and
again; every time I see her is like the first time, and her visage never fails
to blow me away.  She truly has the most perfect combination of sweetness and
sex, lush and full lips so sensual and wanting, and curves that make my body
cry out in desire, deep into the most fathomless pit of my heart.

No, that’s silly.  Not my
heart
.  It is mere lust
that is making me feel this way - lust so controlling and all consuming that it
masquerades as more.  But that is the nature of wild animal-like desire on a
man’s mind.

Love is a fallacy.  Sex is only the real truth between men
and women.

Sex with Melody is all I want.  Nothing more.

But I refuse to act on it.  I am not lust’s slave.  I am a
grown man and a powerful one at that.  Who else has built a media empire before
they’re even thirty?  Who else is worth so much money that it is uncountable? 
No one controls me but me.

And I am done with one-night stands.

Once Mercedes realises she cannot control me, she will fall
back into my arms and then I shall make it a point to propose like she
expected.  But on
my
terms.

She’ll make a fine trophy wife.  I may not love her and she
may not love me, but marriage for people like us isn’t about love - it’s about
consolidating power and influence.  Bella Music has a stranglehold on the
European market, and as the owner’s daughter, our marriage would be the perfect
opportunity for both her family and mine to extend our empire.

It makes complete sense both practically and pragmatically. 
What does love have to do with anything?

But I will propose when I’m good and ready, not when it
suits her and especially not when it suits her father.  I know he pressured her
into assaulting me with rapid fire questions earlier this evening in the limo
ride to my office.

Chase, darling, when are you going to propose?  It’s been
months and daddy’s getting frustrated.

But then again, she was enough of a self-entitled brat that
maybe I should have expected her ultimatum.

Do it.  Now.  I refuse to wait any longer.  If you don’t
then I’m leaving and I’m finding someone else.  You think you’re the only hot
guy out there that wants what I’ve got.  I’m fucking stunning and I’m famous
and I’ve got legions of fans in every corner of the globe.  Every powerful man
out there is gagging to have me so you should be fucking grateful I’m here with
you.  Propose now, or I walk.

Suffice to say, she wasn’t happy when the limo door flew
open a minute later and I ordered her to step out on to the curb.

No body gives me an ultimatum.  Especially not a jumped up
daddy’s girl who only has a singing career because her father owns a record
company.

The relief of freedom washes over me like a cool breeze.

The day had certainly started off interesting, but now, here
with Melody, it is becoming more enjoyable and surprising by the second.  I
cannot wait to see what else the night has in store.

Arm in arm, I lead Melody through the foyer and to the top
of the stairs that overlooks the Wiltshire ballroom.  We pause for a moment and
drink in the sight - hundreds of guests dancing and singing and gossiping,
sipping drinks under the gigantic crystal chandeliers, exquisite paintings
hanging from every wall, all whilst the band continues to play.

Melody holds me close, but I see a true smile on her lips. 
As her eyes take in the room from our vantage point, a few people spot us above
watching the crowd.

A hush descends and slowly every person in the enormous ball
turns to us and stares.

“They’re doing it again,” whispers Melody, trying her
hardest to not break her nervous smile.

“Are you ready?”

She nods.

“Come.  Let me show you my world.”

We descend the steps and enter the dense throng.

As we stroll across the ballroom, I turn to each guest in
turn and offer my thanks.  Some I chat lightly with: the stockholders enquire
for trading tips, board members offering their own gratitude for my part in the
event, and my various movie star and singer friends.  The mayor shakes my hand
and raises a glass of champagne, grinning as he admires Melody under my arm. 
The other women greet me and flirt, tossing their hair back and stroking the
champagne flutes, as they always do.  But this time, they follow this with
gawking and glaring at Melody by my side, a look of dispassionate envy on their
faces.

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