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Read a sneak peek: His Innocent Seduction by Clare Connelly

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Read a sneak peek: His Innocent Seduction by Clare Connelly

by Clare Connelly

One night isn’t enough…to initiate her into the world of sexual pleasure!

I enjoy the finer things in life – aged whisky, gourmet meals, beautiful women. So when sweet virgin Millie Davis propositions me, I vow we’ll savour every moment…for longer than one night! Now, I’m tutoring her in exquisite physical passion. It’s completely no-strings – love is too dangerous a game. But how can someone so innocent bring me to the brink of losing control?

 

His Innocent Seduction

 

Sexy. Passionate. Bold

 

PROLOGUE

HE ALWAYS COMES in alone, and more often than not leaves with a different woman. The first few weeks I worked at O’Leary’s bar, a little subterranean speakeasy in Dublin’s finance district, just a stone’s throw from Trinity College, I simply watched him.
I don’t really know why, but I went out of my way not to serve him.
There was something about him that told me to steer clear. That warned me off.
At first I told myself that it was his easy arrogance—I don’t like anyone who has that air of complete self-confidence. I mistrust it.
But as the days trickled into weeks and I became more and more accustomed to it, I’m still keeping my distance.
Then I thought, maybe it’s his appearance? I mean, there’s hot and then there’s walking-on-the-surface-of-the-sun hot. This man is easily over six feet tall, muscled through his shoulders yet slim at his waist, with skin the colour of caramel, eyes that glow like the sky on a bright, starlit night, hair that’s thick and dark, and a square jaw that is always devoid of stubble, as though he insists on controlling every element of his life, even the hair on his face.
He wears suits. Always suits, and expensive ones, I’d guess, if the gleaming gold watch at his wrist and the hand-stitched leather shoes are any indication.
It’s been two months since I started working at O’Leary’s, two months since I first saw him, and in almost three weeks I’ll be leaving Ireland and moving on to the next stop in this ‘experience of a lifetime’ trip of mine. This tribute trip to mum—for mum, who never got a chance to do any of this.
It’s been one month since I first served him a drink.
He ordered a Desert Ray, the most expensive whiskey we have in stock—which is saying something, as this bar is seriously high-end. He ordered it neat, with an iced water back, and he spoke in a thick Irish brogue and looked at me as though we’d met before and were sharing an old secret joke. He looked at me in a way that made my blood heat up and my throat dry out, that made my heart pound so much harder than is wise, and I realised then why I’ve really been avoiding him.
This man is not just the most handsome man I’ve ever seen, he’s also the most sensually distracting human on the face of the planet, and I am definitely no match for him.
I have no skills in that department and even less experience. I’m a twenty-three-year-old virgin and one look from him makes me wonder what it would be like to be kissed by him. Held by him. To have him strip my clothes from my body and…
I can’t think like that while I’m at work.
One month since that first look that spoke of secrets shared and intrigues to enjoy, and I have just about learned to control my outward appearance of temptation, if not the cacophony of my pounding blood. The instincts are there, but not the indications of them.
I have learned that he is a lawyer—and a very good one too. He has his own firm and is renowned across Europe for the cases he wins.
I can see he’s wealthy, in that very rare way. A one percenter. When he pays for his drinks, he slides a crisp note from a folded selection of euros that would easily value in the thousands.
I gather that he is whip-smart, arrogant, and has a dry wit. He knows anyone worth knowing in Ireland. Politicians, celebrities, tycoons. And when he is drinking alone he reads the broadsheets on his tablet, one leg crossed over the other, his pose relaxed, mind absorbing all of the facts contained within the articles.
And I can only imagine that he is an incredibly skilled lover. He simply has to look at a woman to have her stroll to his table and take the seat opposite, to lean forward and smile, laugh at something he’s said, and then stand when he’s ready to leave, curve her body into his side and exit the bar with obvious plans for a night in his bed on her mind…
Yes, he must be quite something in bed, if experience translates to skill, which I suppose it doesn’t necessarily. And yet even just his smile is sensual and I know, in a way that makes no sense at all, that his body would be an absolute gift.
I have learned all these things about him in the last two months, and I still haven’t learned how to handle the growing certainty that I want him.
All of him.
For one night only.
In less than three weeks I’m leaving Ireland. Nothing is going to come between me and this trip—the date of my departure is set in stone. In just under three weeks I’m leaving Dublin, this pub, this man, this opportunity behind. The nights I have left to turn fantasy into reality are dwindling. It’s time to act.
His name, I have learned, is Michael Brophy, and I want him to be my first lover.

 

CHAPTER ONE

WHAT A F-ING DAY.
I will never say I crave a drink—watching my father obliterate himself with alcohol and turn into the kind of man who wears cruelty like a skin and indulges violence as a habit has taught me a lesson I’ll never forget about liquor and its ability to remove any veneer of civility and control. But today, this day, I have been pushed almost to breaking point.
Both my secretaries called in sick and the temp I got sent could barely spell her own name, then the key witness in my case went missing and God knows, without him, the defence is almost impossible to make.
Not impossible, but a lot f-ing harder.
How the hell didn’t I see this coming? It’s my job to be three steps ahead; I’m renowned for that.
Perhaps something of my day expresses itself in my bearing because when I approach the bar, the blonde waitress’s eyes widen and for a moment I am reminded of the ocean on the clearest day imaginable. They shimmer with shades of turquoise and aquamarine, slices of colour punctuated with a shimmering black pupil and surrounded with lashes so thick and long they are like feathers.
It’s just gone six and this place is at its busiest. Within two hours it will have thinned out, but for now there are people everywhere, lined up along the bar, leaning forward, waiting to catch the attention of one of the four staff members who circulate across the tiled floor.
Her eyes hold mine for a moment and then her gaze slides sideways, to a woman at my left.
‘What’ll it be, ma’am?’ Her Australian accent is like butter and my lips twist into a curl that I think might be described as disdainful. I don’t mean to be, only the way she ignores me has gone from amusing to annoying—particularly tonight when I really could murder a fucking Scotch.
The woman orders a cocktail and the blonde smiles in acceptance but her eyes jerk to me again and something like fascination flares inside me.
She’s young; I presume she’s a student at Trinity, working here to pay the fees.
She slices a lime, her fingers confident and deft as they squeeze it into a stainless steel container. She adds mint, then ice, a sugar liquid and finally alcohol, before placing the lid on and shaking the drink. She doesn’t look at me again, but it’s too purposeful, like she’s fighting herself to ignore me.
When the drink is mixed, she tips it into a cocktail glass, adds a straw and some garnish then delivers it to the woman. I think I vaguely recognise her—she might work in the same building as me. She’s attractive, with shining brown hair, pink lips and a dimple in her cheek when she smiles.
But it’s the blonde that has all my attention.
She finishes the transaction and then moves down the bar, away from me, choosing another customer. Still I watch her.
‘What can I get ye, Michael?’ Duncan, the owner of the bar, appears in front of me and, despite the obsessive thirst for Scotch I had when I walked in, I shake my head now, declining his service.
He shrugs and moves on to someone else.
I continue to watch her. Once, her eyes find mine and a hint of pink spreads through her cheeks. It is a simple response and yet it’s been so long since I’ve been with a woman who blushes that I’m temporarily blindsided.
She serves a guy at the end of the bar who seems to be watching her with the same kind of thoughts I’m having—his significantly less well-concealed, and finally, as though she’s being dragged through wet cement, she approaches me.
‘What’re you having?’ she asks, her eyes hovering on my lips instead of my eyes, so I smile slowly, and then panic flares in her gaze but she does look at me.
‘You’ve served me before. Don’t you remember?’
‘I serve hundreds of people in a shift,’ she says with a shrug. It’s obvious she’s lying.
‘Where are you from?’ I’m somewhat surprised by my own question. I’ve noticed her before—more than noticed her. I’ve been fascinated by her, but I’m not generally interested in chasing women. Why would I be, when they fall into my lap with satisfying regularity? Different women, rarely the same for long, never a relationship. Perhaps if I’d had a better example of marriage, of domestic happiness, I might have been eager to attempt to recreate it? Maybe to date someone, settle down, even get married. But seeing my father destroy my mother, piece by piece, has left me with very little interest in having a partner in my life—beyond sexual, or business.
‘Australia,’ she murmurs. ‘Are you ready to order? If not, I can go serve someone else while you make up your mind.’
People rarely challenge me. It’s a new experience and I can’t say if I like it or not.
‘Where in Australia?’
She expels a sigh of impatience and now it’s my turn to look at her lips. They’re beautiful. A work of art, full, and shaped like Cupid’s bow, pillowy and soft. It’s a mouth that is kind and sweet, and yet I am imagining it in ways that are far from that now.
‘Tasmania.’ She turns away from me, towards the mirror at the back of the bar, and lifts up onto the tips of her toes so she can reach the bottle of Foords. Her recollection of my drink amuses me, particularly in the face of her suggestion that she serves too many patrons to recall each person’s tipple, but then I see the way an inch or so of her midriff is exposed by the lift of her arms and I’m instantly sobered.
My body springs tight with awareness; desire flushes my system. I ignore it. Desire is an instinct and, like any other, it can be tamed.
She pours a generous measure of whiskey into a tumbler.
Without my asking, she grabs another glass and fills it with water and ice.
‘I thought you didn’t remember my drink?’ I murmur, and her eyes lift to mine.
‘Have you ever been?’
I blank a smile at her attempt to ignore my remark, but I roll with it. ‘To Tasmania? No.’
‘Australia?’
It’s the most we’ve spoken and each question spins around me like a spider’s web. I stay where I am, feet planted to the ground.
‘Yes.’
‘Where?’ She leans forward a little, despite the fact the bar is humming with customers. For a moment, time has ceased to move, people have ceased to exist.
‘The east coast. From Melbourne up to The Great Barrier Reef.’
Her smile is derisive. ‘Tasmania is the best Australia has to offer and you missed it because you bought the tourism myth.’
‘What’s the tourism myth?’ I can’t help asking, reaching into my pocket and pulling out the cash I use. When I’m drinking it’s always cash. It’s nice to have a visual reminder of what I’m spending and what’s at stake. I’m not my father—nothing like him.
‘That Sydney is about all we have to offer,’ she says with a soft smile and a roll of her eyes that is endlessly fascinating.
‘I don’t think that’s the case.’ I hand her a hundred. She ignores it.
‘Why don’t you start a tab?’
Because I’m not my father. Clint Brophy is nothing I’ll ever be. ‘I prefer to settle my debts up front.’
She wrinkles her nose. ‘You’re in here what, three times a week, and you’re carrying at least two grand in your wallet. I think you’re good for it.’
I lift a brow at these two facts she drops at my feet. Small details that she’s noticed—she’s attentive. Observant.
‘Settle up later,’ she murmurs and then shifts sideways down the bar. I watch her for a moment, a frown scored on my face, and then I pick up my drinks, leaving the hundred euro note where it was.
I choose a table at the edge of the room. Along with St Michan’s, these are the only catacombs in Ireland. Dug deep into the ground, they once housed human remains, but these were cleared out in the early nineteenth century and a private investor in the first half of the twentieth century bought the ancient network of tunnels and converted this section into a bar. Despite the lack of windows and the morbid associations, I like it here. Or maybe I like it because of those associations rather than in spite of them.
I am tempted to throw the Scotch back, to drink it fast and feel that burn of warmth and spice all the way down, but I don’t—my thirst is something I will control, always. I touch the glass to my lips, breathing it in first and then pouring just a hint into my mouth. I close my eyes and savour the taste. Strong and peppery.
My phone buzzes and I lift it from the pocket of my suit jacket. It’s Digbey, one of our firm’s investigators.

Witness bought ticket to London. Met in pursuit.

My scowl is reflexive. For f-’s sake. I knew it was a wildcard but I thought I’d sold him on testifying.
An untrustworthy witness is already less than ideal, let alone when the witness is reluctant. I’ll have to paint this to the jury somehow. Explain it away.
Slowly, I drink the Scotch, watching the activity of the bar spin around me.
But I’m not left to my own devices for long.
Ten or so minutes after I’ve sat down, she moves to the table. The blonde. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen her out from behind the bar and I take a moment to look at her properly. Black jeans with one knee fashionably ripped and the white T-shirt that is part of the O’Leary’s uniform, with an apron that comes only halfway down her thighs.
‘You forgot this.’ She places a stainless steel plate with eighty euros on it down on the table.
‘Thanks.’
‘Did you want anything to eat?’
She’s been here a while. A couple of months, I guess. And we’ve barely spoken. Why do I get the feeling that she’s trying to talk to me tonight? That she needs to talk to me?
‘No, thanks.’
She nods but stays where she’s standing, her teeth digging into her lip. It’s like she’s on the edge of a cliff, words locked inside her. I’ve done enough interviews to know when someone’s sitting on something.
‘What’s your name?’
The question unsettles her more than it should. Her gaze slips back to the bar and then she breathes out, as if she’s forcing herself to inflate and deflate her lungs. She’s nervous.
I do have that effect on people—not intentionally but, more often than not, my reputation precedes me. I’m known for being ruthless, determined, cold-hearted, cynical, power-hungry. All adjectives that do describe me but they make me laugh for the image they create, like I’m some kind of dragon. Still, I rarely disabuse anyone of that idea, because it serves me well to have people intimidated by me.
‘Camille Davis,’ she says softly, the pretty name catching in her throat. ‘But everyone calls me Millie.’
Both names suit her. She is elegant and gracious—Camille. But youthful and kind of sweet-seeming, with a constellation of freckles dancing across the bridge of her nose—Millie.
‘Well, Millie, why don’t you join me for a drink?’
Her eyes flare wide and her pulse begins to hammer hard in her throat. I can see it, the rapid beating beneath her fragile skin.
‘I—’ Her tongue darts out, tracing the line of her lower lip. ‘I’m working.’ The words are practically mumbled and then she hastens away, leaving me with a brooding frown and a sense of confusion at what just happened.
I have a standing reservation at Petit Pois, but I’m in no rush to leave the bar. I sit back in the chair and tell myself my reluctance has nothing to do with the pretty Australian, and everything to do with the sharp left turn my case has just taken.
* * *

Most of the after-work crowd has cleared, though there are enough people to keep us busy. I continue serving, pretending I’m ignoring him. But Michael Brophy sits with his back to me and I find I can’t stop watching him.
Am I really going to proposition a man I don’t know for sex?
This whole trip is supposed to be about adventure. New experiences. The last promise I made to my mother was that I would live a little before settling down. We plotted this together, planning where I’d go, what I’d see.
Don’t make my mistakes, Millie. There’s so much more to life than work—go. See it for yourself. Have fun. Be careless. Be silly. Then come home and do the sensible thing.
Between my medical degree and caring for a terminally ill mother, I really hadn’t made a conscious decision to be sensible. I’d simply put my head down and done what needed to be done. But, within months of graduating, my mother had died and I was left with that promise I’d made her and enough of an inheritance to make her dreams for me come true.
So here I am in Dublin, the first stop in what I’ve loosely planned to be a two-year adventure. And after six years of study, five of those simultaneously nursing Mum, I’ve woken up and realised that I am actually a woman. With normal impulses and needs, and suddenly they’re blaring inside me, demanding indulgence.
Before I can second-guess myself, I move out from behind the bar, heading to his table, fuelled only by instinct and adrenalin.
His lips curve into a half-smile when I approach.
‘Millie,’ he says slowly, his voice throaty and my name like magic in his mouth.
‘Would you like anything else?’
He lifts his eyes to mine and the very air between us seems to spark. A frisson dances down my spine. He holds the tumbler in the palm of his hand, cradling it, and his manner is contemplative. Thoughtful.
‘I’ll have another, if you’ll join me.’
‘I’m…still working,’ I say softly.
He shifts in his seat, looking over his shoulder, then turns back to me. ‘It’s not busy. Take a break.’
Such command! Such confidence. My first instinct, that I didn’t like his arrogance, reasserts itself, but it is quickly subsumed by other more immediate considerations.
I could take a break—Duncan wouldn’t care. But I’m not sure I want to concede to this man—not yet. So I stay standing, and eye him with some of the wariness I’m feeling. ‘This won’t take long.’
I’ve piqued his interest. I search for something to say to get me out of this but draw a blank. Besides, I want this.
Life’s too short for timidity.
‘Go on.’ He reclines in the chair, his large frame relaxed, his eyes intense.
‘It’s simple,’ I say, telling myself it really is simple. He hooks up with enough women for me to know that sex means very little to him. And I want this to be meaningless. A transaction. My virginity, for his experience. A first time that is pleasurable, that means nothing. A memory, for the album I’m collecting on this trip of a lifetime.
‘What’s simple?’ he asks, leaning forward a little, so that I catch a hint of his masculine fragrance, earthy and spiced, and my insides kick in immediate response. His legs are long, his thighs muscular. His pants strain across them and I force myself to hold his gaze. If he agrees to this, I’ll have time to admire his body later.
Be brave.
Be brave.
Be brave.
‘I want to go home with you. Tonight.’
One thick brow lifts, sardonic amusement the only emotion I can detect on his handsome, rock-hard features.
‘I see.’ He runs a finger around the top of his glass, a smile flickering on his lips.
‘I’m serious,’ I say with a shake of my head, swallowing past the sense of panic, ignoring a desire to wrench the words back into my mouth.
Suddenly the itch to fast forward three weeks and leave immediately for Paris wraps around me. The mortification is intense.
Heat stains my cheeks. ‘But maybe that’s a stupid idea. Forget about it.’
I take a step towards the bar but his hand reaches out, catching my wrist. It’s the first time we’ve touched and I think the feeling will stay with me for ever. Sensation zaps under my skin, setting miniature explosions raging in every cell. I’m electrified.
‘I didn’t say no,’ he growls and my stomach squeezes. His eyes latch onto mine, and I imagine what he’s like in court—formidable, intimidating, inquiring. And whip-smart. ‘Why?’
I swallow, knowing this is kind of the point of no return. I want this. I’m actually surprised by how much I want this. Now I just have to own that.
‘Because I’m a virgin, and I want you to be my first.’

 

His Innocent Seduction by Clare Connelly will be available in-store and online from June 17th 2019

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Sexy. Passionate. Bold

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