Dianna Harrington is known throughout the world as "The Face"-the stunningly beautiful spokesmodel for her family's fashion empire. She could probably have her pick of any man she wants. But Dianna would rather kick back and relax with a good friend-namely Alex Stewart, who she's known, and harbored a crush on, her whole life...
BUT CAN YOU TRUST YOUR HEART?
Ever since they were kids, Alex has been Dianna's protector and pal, a shoulder to cry on. But as the brother of her best friend, Alex always seemed untouchable. Now a handsome, successful New York lawyer, Alex never realized how lonely Dianna's life has been-or how innocent she is in the ways of love. Alex wants more than anything to reach out to her, to heal her heart. But is his desire worth the risk? After a lifetime of longing building up between them, somethings gotta give. Maybe all it takes is just one kiss...
A SEDUCTIVE KISS (Grayson Friends series, # 5) in mass market paperback and Ebook.
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Excerpt: A Seductive Kiss, Francis Ray
People thought Dianne Leigh Herrington had the world on her personal yo-yo string. Strikingly beautiful with an exquisite face the camera loved, she was known around the world as The Face, the only model for the House of Harrington’s print advertisement and lead model for their runway shows. She was on the A list, got into all the exclusive night spots, was voted one of beautiful people in People magazine, sought after by some of the richest men in the world.
Those who thought she lived a fairy tale life were wrong.
In a one-of-a-kind haute couture strapless blush pink evening gown created especially to show off her smooth bare shoulders, shapely curves, and long legs from the side-split to mid thigh, Dianne sipped her vintage champagne in a quiet corner of the lavish Plaza hotel suite, and fought not to sigh.
She was lonely. So, what else was new?
Dianne could recall few occasions in her life when she had truly felt happy and wanted. Tonight, with her two closest friends in the room, should have been one of those rare occasions. It wasn’t. She felt too much like the odd man out, just as she had always been.
So, she did what she always did when she felt left out, smiled, sipped her drink and pretended she didn’t have a care in the world. Too bad it wasn’t true.
She should be content for once to observe rather than be observed. But the more she watched the obviously in love couples circulate around the suite, the lonelier she became. Because, just like always, tonight when the party was over she’d go home alone.
While she enjoyed her glamorous career as a model and spokeswoman for the House of Herrington House, who visited some of the most fascinating cities in the world, she wanted more out of life. She was frequently in the company of other models or people in the fashion industry. They tended to go out in groups, but before the night was over, they usually paired up with someone in the group or with someone they’d met. Dianne wasn’t into casual affairs so she always ended up alone.
The couples in the room had what she’d longed for all of her life, unconditional love. She wasn’t jealous, she just wanted what they had, wondered what it felt like to be totally loved and wanted.
As an only child she’d been barely tolerated by her self-absorbed parents. Her mother, beautiful, elegant and always perfect, was a slave to fashion. Her handsome father’s unrelenting passion was golf. They looked good together, and freely enjoyed being the recipients of the Harrington’s fashion fortune. Neither would have dreamed of working. If they thought about Dianne at all it was when it was convenient or when it made them look like the loving, charitable couple they pretended to be in public.
What a bunch of crock, Dianne thought as she took another sip. Her parents only loved themselves. They even bought their own Christmas presents since they reasoned that they knew what they wanted better than anyone. Dianne seldom made their Christmas list unless they hoped to gain from it somehow.
No matter how many years had passed, Dianne still thought of the Christmas Eve when she was five years old. With TV cameras glaring, her parents had made a very public display of donating her toys to those less fortunate. There had been no cameras the next morning when her mother presented herself was a flawless diamond necklace and earrings to match. Her father’s gift to himself was an exclusive country club membership at one of the most renowned golf clubs in the country.
Dianne shook the memory away. She was her own woman now. She had her beloved grandfather to thank for that. A sharp pain lanced though her. She still found it difficult to believe he’d been gone for four months. He’d believed in her. He hadn’t thought she was too fat or too stupid for the D collection to be named after her. Both she and the line were instant hits. That had been fourteen long years ago. Modeling for Harrington was all she knew.
In the quiet of the night, that thought often frightened her. She should be able to do something beside strut down a runway, pose for a camera, and spout how fabulous their clothes made a woman look and feel.
Laughter brought her head up and around. Each woman there had accomplished something in her own right. The men were just as successful. Her parents would have forgone anything to be there. The women were beautiful, the men gorgeous, but it was the unmistakable love in their eyes when they looked at each other that drew Dianne’s attention, time and time again.
She was the only single woman there. She’d been invited by her best friend since childhood, Catherine Stewart Grayson, to help celebrate the successful closing of Sabra Raineau Grayson’s Broadway play. She was Catherine’s husband’s sister-in-law. There was already talk that she would win another Tony for her role. She could add it to her growing collection of awards, including an Oscar. There had been a cast party last night but Pierce Grayson, Sabra’s husband, wanted tonight to be just family and close friends.
In the room were Luke’s brothers and sisters, their spouses, Sabra’ sister, Laurel, and her new husband, Zach. Also in attendance were Shane Elliott and his wife, Paige, who was Zachary’s sister. Looking uncomfortable but resigned in a tuxedo was Trent Masters and his famous wife, Dominique, Luke’s cousin. They were all interrelated or friends. Luke’s mother, Ruth, her brother and his wife had already gone to their rooms. Dianne was the outsider as she’d always been,
Her slim fingers tightened on the stem of the flute, then eased. She wasn’t going to feel sorry for herself. She wasn’t the only single person there at least. Her gaze went to the silent man across the room. She met Rio’s unflinching gaze. He simply watched her. To another person his unblinking gaze might have been unnerving, but she had grown up with parents who looked through her.
“You’re all right?”
The sound of the rich baritone voice made her smile. Dianne turned, aware she’d see Alex Stewart, the only other unattached male in the room. Catherine’s big brother had been the extra special bonus of having her for a best friend. “Of course,” she said, still smiling up at him. It had always been easy to talk with Alex. He had also been her first crush.
“Good,” he said, starting down at her with his handsome, butterscotch-hued serious face. He had thick lashes her friends would kill for, a straight nose, and a mobile, sensual mouth she had been wondering how it would feel against her mouth entirely too much about lately. “You’re here to have fun.”
Dragging her gaze away from his lips, Dianne thought of the issue at hand. Alex had always looked after her. Somehow he’d always known what to do to make her feel better. She wondered if he could give her what she needed this time as well.
She wanted a man to look at her as if she were his world, as if she made his life better. She realized she wanted that man to be Alex. The realization didn’t surprise her. Somehow she knew he’d be a gentle, considerate lover. He was steady and dependable. He would also be discreet, another of her requirements.
Too many times she’d heard men brag about a conquest when the relationship ended. Some of her women associates shrugged it off. Dianne knew she wouldn’t be so blasé. It would wound her deeply. Outwardly she might look secure. She wasn’t. Growing up she’d been told too many times by her parents how utterly worthless she was.
Alex didn’t think so she thought as she gazed up at him through a sweep of her lashes. But was he the man who could ease the ache in her heart and soul?