PLEASURE AT MIDNIGHT (March, 2019)
Sent to Madrid to talk his firm’s top client out of canceling her tour, Roderick Drake quickly realizes pop star Genevieve Harris isn’t the diva he pictured. In fact, she’s irresistible. Genevieve wants a life away from the paparazzi—shared with the gorgeous lawyer who fulfills her in every way. Faced with devastating betrayal, can she trust her emotions and the sensual music they make together?
Geneviève Harris inspected her French manicure. She pretended to admire her nails, but she was listening in on her mother’s conversation with Roderick Drake. As usual, Althea was up to her old tricks. Her mom wasn’t happy unless she was calling the shots, and it was times like this—when Althea was plotting and scheming—that Geneviève wished she could fire her. But she couldn’t. Wouldn’t. She felt guilty for even having the traitorous thought. She owed her success to her mother, and if not for Althea’s drive and tenacity, Geneviève wouldn’t be an international pop star. Her mom didn’t wait for things to happen, she made things happen, and even though Althea didn’t have a business degree from Harvard, she acted like she did, and could outwit anyone, including record executives, event promoters and seasoned professionals.
Her ears perked up. Convince Geneviève to finish the tour, or you’re fired? Geneviève scoffed. As if she’d let Althea fire Roderick. Before retaining his counsel last year, she’d done her homework about the popular, New York attorney. She’d searched the internet for information about him. And the more articles she read about the Columbia University graduate, the more Geneviève was intrigued by him. Success was sexy, and Roderick was an overachiever destined for greatness in the legal world. His clients included actors, singers, bestselling authors and artists, and everyone he represented raved about him.
The first time Geneviève met him she’d drooled all over her Gucci pantsuit, but what impressed her most about Roderick Drake wasn’t his good looks, or his smooth-as-silk baritone; it was his confidence, how he carried himself, his strength. Unlike everyone else who worked for her, Roderick wasn’t afraid of her mother and didn’t back down when Althea lost her temper.
“Bye, honey,” Althea said with a smile and a wave. “See you in a bit.”
Geneviève was annoyed with her mom but she bit her tongue—for now.
“Let’s discuss the incident at the airport,” Roderick said, sitting down at the table.
Glad she was wearing dark, sunglasses, she admired the attorney’s good looks. His low-cropped hair, his neatly trimmed goatee, his blinding-white teeth and flawless pecan-brown complexion. Damn, he can rock a suit! A year ago, Roderick was an out-of-shape groom-to-be, but today he was chiseled, dapper and fine. Why are all the good guys taken? she thought. Why can’t I meet someone as successful and charming as Roderick-fine-ass-Drake?
He smelled of spices, and his scent was intoxicating. Over the years, Geneviève had met some of the biggest names in the entertainment business, but none of them excited her. Not the way Roderick did. It was hard to be in his presence without gawking at him, and every time their eyes met she had to remind herself to breathe.
Wetting her lips with her tongue, she fingered the ends of her wavy, shoulder-length hair. Gosh, I wish my mom had told me we were having company, she thought, crossing her legs at the ankles. If I knew Roderick was stopping by I would have done my hair and makeup, and put on something cute.
Roderick clasped his hands together. “Let’s talk.”
“Let’s not, and say we did.” Geneviève acted as if she couldn’t be bothered to discuss her problems, but deep down she was glad Roderick had made the trip to Madrid. Her interactions with him had always been positive, and she could count on him to tell her the truth even if she didn’t agree.
Her thoughts returned to last year. She hadn’t seen Roderick since he’d attended her post-Grammy celebration party in Philadelphia. He’d arrived at her estate with his fiancée, a perky blonde with a fitness trainer’s body, and she’d reluctantly posed for a picture with the happy couple. “Congratulations on your marriage,” she said now. “How was the wedding?”
His face darkened, and his shoulders tensed. Why was he mad? Had she crossed the line by asking about his personal life? Was he having problems at home? Seconds passed before he spoke, and when he did his voice was so low Geneviève had to strain to hear him.
“My engagement ended.”
Boy! Spill. The. Tea! For some reason, she wanted to cheer, but resisted the urge. She didn’t know Toya, or have anything against her, but Geneviève never thought the socialite was good enough for him. Sure, she was pretty, but Roderick should be with someone who was ambitious and successful, not a woman who spent her days shopping, waxing and Tweeting.
For the second time in minutes, Geneviève gave Roderick the once-over. Took in his stoic demeanor and rigid posture. Is that why he’d lost weight? Why he wasn’t his usual playful, jovial self? Because he was bummed about the demise of his engagement? Roderick was her attorney, not a friend, but Geneviève wanted to hear more about his breakup. Before she could ask him, though, he changed the subject.
“I know you’re busy, so I won’t take up too much of your time.” Roderick opened his briefcase, took out a yellow notepad and a gold-plated fountain pen. “Tell me what happened at Madrid-Barajas International Airport on New Year’s Day. I saw the footage online, but I want to hear your side of the story.”
Geneviève dropped her gaze to her lap, and fiddled with the charm bracelet at her wrist. It was a Christmas gift from Demi, and every time she looked at it a smile warmed her heart. Geneviève didn’t want to talk about the frightening incident at the airport days earlier; she wanted to discuss the legal ramifications of canceling the rest of the European tour. She’d been in the public eye ever since she landed her first TV commercial at eight years old, and after two decades in the entertainment business, Geneviève needed a break.
And now was the perfect time. Yesterday, her sixth studio album was certified triple platinum, and her singles, “Savage”, “Salty Girl” and “Don’t Tweet Me, I’ll Tweet You”, were burning up the Billboard charts. She’d amassed a fortune beyond her wildest dreams, and she would never have to worry about going to bed hungry again. Tired of living out of suitcases and being hunted by the paparazzi, Geneviève was ready for the next chapter of her life. She didn’t want to just sing about love; she wanted to experience it for herself. But first, she had to shake her mom, and the record label.
And Roderick was going to help her—whether he liked it or not.