Book cover of “Echoes of Deception: A Contractual Masquerade“ by Anni Etta

Echoes of Deception: A Contractual Masquerade

  • Genre: Romance
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Language: English
  • Author: Anni Etta
Dominic, a Manhattan fashion mogul, and Gen, a Brooklyn waitress, strike an unusual deal: he'll help her out financially, and she'll help him improve his image. But as they spend time together, they realize there's more to the other than meets the eye. Can they overcome their differences and find happiness, or will their secrets be their downfall? ... 

Chapter 1

Dominic Scott could do anything he set his mind to, and he proved it again. At age 28, he was back to be part of the family enterprise. This last month had been a test of his entire being: intelligence, charisma, self-control—you name it, and he beat them all. He proved himself worthy of being part of Scott Enterprises.

Now, he was going to celebrate. That’s why he was here, at this small but really cool bar downtown. Usually, he would regard Fantasy Nightclub as tacky and beneath him, but on a night like tonight, it was just perfect. He looked around; nobody would recognize him here. Nevertheless, he pulled his cap down a little.

Actually, the place was pretty cool. That saying about not judging a book—or, in this case, a place—by its cover seemed true here. The lights were low, the vibes were high, and the music was so good. He couldn’t stop himself from moving his body a little to the sound of Endor’s ‘Pump it Up’ blasting through the speakers. He wasn’t much of a dancer, but his friends were. They were both hotly rubbing bodies with some girls they had just met.

Speaking of girls, he should probably get his ass off that seat and get one for himself. He had been on an involuntary dry spell this last month. With all that pressure, he hadn’t thought of getting laid even once. If this was what working was like, he might have to draw up a sex schedule to make sure he was constantly getting some.

He chuckled into his drink when he realized he was actually considering a sex schedule. He couldn’t be blamed, though—sex was a necessity of life; even science agreed to that. One part of his life shouldn’t suffer because of the other, should it? Might as well start tonight. Yup, tonight. With that, he downed the last of his drink and ordered more. While he waited, he felt someone slip into the seat next to him.

“Hey there, handsome, why are you sitting here all alone?”

Gen was shaking in her pretty little skirt, but she couldn’t let this hot stranger know that. So she flipped her mass of red curls back and asked again.

“Hey.” This time she raised her voice just in case he hadn’t heard her above the noise earlier. He looked at her, and she smiled her best flirtatious smile.

“I asked why a handsome man like you was sitting here all alone when you should be out dancing or something.”

Was she being too much? Why wasn’t he saying anything? He was sitting there staring at her. She was losing her courage. Damn you, handsome stranger. She wouldn’t let him off so easily, so she traced his exposed forearm with her fingertips. His green eyes followed her fingertips as she touched his tattooed forearm. When his eyes met hers again, whatever she saw in them gave her the confidence to continue.

“Your tattoo is sexy, stranger.”

He still didn’t say anything, but she felt him flex his muscle under her fingers, and she smiled. Just then, the bartender brought over his drink.

“Why don’t you get me a drink, hmm?” This time she crossed one leg over the other and fluttered her lashes. She smiled in satisfaction when she saw his eyes dart to her leg, exposed by the slit in her hot red hollowed-out dress.

“Of course, what would you like?” he replied with a sexy smile. She felt her heart skip a beat when she heard his voice, but she quickly wore a flirty smile.

“You don’t talk much, do you, Stranger? I like your voice; say something to me.”

“What exactly would you want said?”

“I don’t know. Anything.”

“Are you here alone?”

“Nah, I’m with my girls, but they’re wherever. I don’t exactly care. Then I saw you and I knew I had to come over. Are you alone?”

“Nope.” He ran his finger over the rim of his drink without taking his eyes off her. “My boys are here too.”

“Oh, that leaves us with each other for company.”

Just then, her drink arrived. He thanked the waiter and gently pushed the glass towards her. She took it but didn’t drink from it just yet.

“Trust issues?” he asked with an amused smile.

“No.” She chuckled and took a sip. He was watching her, so she tried to be careful not to let on too much.

It was a classic drink. A classic margarita. As he watched her take a sip, he figured that she wasn’t much of a drinker. She was tasting the drink. Any regular drinker would know what it was straight up. She took another sip, and he smiled, deciding that she liked his choice after all.

“You like it. You don’t seem to be much of a drinker.”

“What makes you say so?” She cocked a brow as she asked, and he laughed.

“You just seemed to be tasting it. It’s a basic drink, a—”

“Classic margarita,” she cut in. “Everybody on the planet knows that. I don’t drink much, though.”

“You don’t drink much, but you trusted me to place your order?”

“A smart man would make a smart choice,” she replied with a shrug and took another sip of her drink. “And I have had a margarita several times. I’m not new to this, Stranger. I’m not new here either. You are. What’s your name?”

He was there for a reason, and he couldn’t blow it. There was no way he would tell her his actual name. “Ryle.”

“Ryle.” Her nose was turned up, and he didn’t like it.

“What is it?” he asked, taking a sip of his drink.

“You don’t seem like a Ryle. You look stronger than that.”

Shocked, he chuckled. “You think Ryles are weak?”

“Not exactly. But I would expect a stronger name like Desmond or Adrian, you know.”

“No, I don’t, and I should be offended.” He was still laughing. “What is your name?”

She sat up straighter and flipped her hair back again. Hmm, the flirtation seemed to be on again.

“Take a guess.”

Two could play this game. “Amber? Charlotte? Nia? Armani? Destiny?”

She threw her head back and laughed. “Please, stop. You’re just calling all the names you know.”

He liked the sound of her laughter. It was open and free. It made him smile. “So, you going to tell me?”

“Gen.”

“Gen? As in Geneva? Genevieve?”

She shook her head.

“Gen. You’re bad at guessing. I don’t think I should tell you where Gen comes from.”

Raising his glass in a small toast, he cocked his head and smiled. “Fair enough, Gen.”

“Thank you, handsome.”

When the sound of “Boasty” flowed from the speakers, she squealed.

“Let’s dance. Come on.” She slipped off the stool and pulled him towards the dance floor.

He let himself be pulled away partly because he was amused at her carefree attitude, partly because he was tipsy, and partly because he really wanted to know what it would feel like to have their bodies meet.

She was hot; he couldn’t deny it. He was trying really hard not to stare at her boobs or thighs but was losing and losing hard. Now, walking behind her, he couldn’t take his eyes off the roundness of her ass. Her dress was not helping.

When they got to a clearing, she turned around to face him with excitement in her eyes. She wrapped her hands around his neck and whispered, “Dance with me, handsome.”

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