Twisted Proposal: Central Florida Stories
The sweeter the revenge, the more bitter the cost.
Ethan Ashford prefers the private playrooms of his exclusive club to the backstabbing elite society into which he was born. But when his ailing billionaire father asks him to attend a gala dinner, he reluctantly agrees. Only to encounter an eerily familiar face that freezes him in his tracks.
He quickly realizes the woman isn't Joyce, a conniving social climber who almost ruined his family, but her cousin Siena Maynard, a fledgling fashion designer who pings Ethan's Dom radar from across the ballroom. Even better, her uncanny resemblance to Joyce sparks a plan that will satisfy his hunger for revenge—and his craving to have sweet Siena at his mercy.
Phase one: Dig up every detail about Siena, from her dwindling funds to her brother's shady connections. Phase two: Back her into a corner with one way out—to accept him as her sole benefactor in exchange for her total submission.
Ethan fully expected to take diabolical pleasure in Siena's body, tears, and flesh. But he never imagined she'd sink so deeply under his skin, that losing her would destroy what's left of his soul.
Twisted Proposal is a standalone dark romance in the Central Florida Stories
Ethan took his time. She wasn’t escaping him. Though she didn’t know it yet, the trap was set, and he relished that idea. First, he had to pass by the Armitage table. Daniel shook his head. Of course, he wanted to stop his cousin from following through with whatever he had in mind. Ethan held up a hand in response. He was determined. At the very least, he wanted to hear the Maynards’ proposal. He could make a different decision after that. But right now, the die was cast. Siena Maynard was about to experience Ethan Ashford’s tenacity.
Atlanta in the autumn was cooler than Orlando, and the evening air was crisper. Winter wasn’t far off, which thrilled him. The cloudless sky retained a dark indigo tint, delaying the arrival of night until the last possible moment.
As he’d hoped, it was quiet out in the terrace, and they were alone. Siena was leaning on the banister. He approached her without making a sound and found her with her eyes closed, ignoring the city skyline. Was she enjoying the solitude or gathering her wits for the upcoming presentation? He assumed the latter. Her breath suddenly hitched, and she turned.
Siena’s turquoise eyes fell on him. Ethan stiffened. Her clear gaze stormed through his mind, heart, and soul. The impact surprised him and his stomach clenched as if he’d been punched in the gut. She’d flipped the tables on him. The dominant in Ethan went into full alert mode.
Proceed with caution.
Up close, the resemblance to Joyce wasn’t as strong. Her unexpected arrival, his loathing of the Rudloes, and his initial impression had tricked his senses into creating a perfect illusion. Her features were uniquely hers, and stunning. Now he noticed the straight nose, elegant cheekbones, and kissable, smiling lips.
“Hi.” Her slim fingers flew to her chest, landing between her small breasts. Just the right size for his hand.
She gave him a curious look. “Have we met?”
“I’d remember if we had.” Grasping the banister, he turned away from her. He needed a moment to recover. One full breath and he’d be back in control of the situation with his defenses bolstered. Siena Maynard was danger wrapped up in an exquisite package. Her initial openness and sincerity were disarming. A studied act or the real Siena? Taking into account her family and her relationship with Joyce—a modern Delilah and ultimate backstabber—he’d assume it was an act and keep it in mind as his plan progressed.
“I saw you with the Bernvilles. What brings you to our little celebration?”
“Little?” Her chuckle was a soft chime in his ears. “I can’t imagine what a big celebration would be like.”
He breathed out, ejecting the charming lilt of her voice from his system. If he didn’t find a way to block her endearing personality, putting together a revenge project was going to be tough.
“Well, yes.” He looked at her sideways. “It could be a lot bigger and more lavish. This is a private dinner for our families, a few friends, and, tonight, you. But you didn’t answer my question.”
“The Bernvilles are interested in hearing my business proposal.”
“I see. And who’s your gentleman date?”
“Goodness, no.” Siena’s laughter rang out. The sound was happy and contagious. He had the urgent desire to take her in his arms, rough-kiss her lips to silence while he touched her and learned everything about Siena Maynard.
“Bart’s my brother and escort. Like I said, we’re here on business.”
Good, they were getting somewhere. Here’s a quick prick to her pride.
“I suppose Bart is pitching his business to the Bernvilles. Does he understand how the Big Seven operate and invest?”
Her fair eyebrows knit, and a light blush covered her cheeks. “Bart? What makes you think the proposal is his?” Her tone had gone curt. There she was, the proud Siena she hid from others.
“Nothing in particular. It’s just…”
Let’s add a bit more pressure. “The men in the families run the consortium. None of the wives and daughters are included or interested.”
That wasn’t true. The Wulcotts’ oldest daughter worked in downtown Manhattan. She was a fierce stockbroker and top fund manager for the Big Seven. Siena didn’t need to know that.
Her cheeks paled, and she stiffened. “You’re a little behind the times, don’t you think? Women have ideas and aspirations too. Some even reach fame and fortune. I hope no one tries to manage or control my style and designs. I’ve studied and worked very hard for this.”
He pushed back from the banister. “I’m sure you have…”
“Siena,” Bart called out. “I’ve been looking for you.” He strode to his sister.
As the brother approached, Ethan got a better look. The real resemblance to Joyce was here, in Bart’s dark hair, eyes, and attitude.
Ethan smiled. “I’ll leave you to your escort. It was a pleasure meeting you, Siena.”
“Will I see you at the presentation?” she asked.
Evidently, no one had informed Siena Maynard about the Seven’s hierarchy, best business practices, and established sacrosanct rules.
“This is how it works: no Ashford in the meeting.” He raised an eyebrow. “No presentation.”
Siena’s mouth sagged a little as he bowed slightly and walked away. The brother scowled as they crossed paths.
Ethan reached into the pocket of his jacket for his phone and tapped in Patrick’s number. His friend in New York would find every bit of dirt on Bart Maynard. The guy had to understand who was in charge.