Author's note: Hello everyone! My, my, it's been a while. I'm posting the Prologue and the first chapter of Sacrifice, Book 3 of The Dark Paradise Trilogy, to be released December 22. For those of you who don't know, Sacrifice is based on characters from Saving Smiles/Brighter Than Anyone and Fatal Attraction/Closer. I am SO excited for you to read it, and because the story started here, I wanted to give you the opportunity to get a sneak peak - it's not posted anywhere else. For those of you who have a blog or would like to receive an ARC in exchange for a review, please check out my profile. There are Google Sign Up forms there for you. To sign up for my mailing list and get a FREE book (Heroes & Thieves, a historical pirate romance), check out my profile page for a link on that as well.
Have a beautiful weekend, and thank you ALL for your amazing, wonderful support!
Onyx City, (Onyx Star, Julie Bent)
All eyes were on Jack Phillip and his date at the Valentine's Ball. He looked sharp in a tuxedo, while she looked beautiful in a silver gown that tumbled all the way down to the ground. Our source tells us the couple kissed at the stroke of midnight, and claimed the dance floor for the majority of the night. This is quite different from the usual brooding Jack Phillip! Can it mean he has found a girl that makes him happy? Oddly enough, we have no idea who this woman is. She is not an actress, a singer, or a supermodel. However, it would be keen for one to note that she is, indeed, the same woman he attended his charity Christmas Eve party with, whom we have never seen before. Mr. Phillip rarely dates the same woman. Can this mean something? We'll be sure to let you know!
Onyx City, (Trendster magazine, Erin Martin)
Everyone wants to know who Jack's new mysterious woman is. And I, Erin Martin, have found it out for our loyal readers.
Take a look at this picture of Jack Phillip at his Halloween party of last year. Let me set the scene; a local burlesque group has just preformed with an unknown singer. She is the woman leaning towards Jack in the picture. Notice the sharp jaw line and the very small, upturned nose. Our picture analysts say that this is, indeed, the same woman. What do you think? Sadly, however, we still have no idea who she is. Any tips would be helpful.
Onyx City, (Onyx Times, Jeremy Starr)
Guess no longer at who Jack Phillip's mystery woman is. Two different sources, which have both chosen to remain anonymous, say that her name is Andrea Shepherd (although she prefers to go by Andie). Our first source, a female, claims that Andie is "not as sweet as she seems" and actually punched our source in order to get closer to Jack. Our second source confirms that her name is, indeed, Andie Shepherd, and that she has been "fucking that asshole Phillip for a while now." A little crass, of course, but it was later found out that he is an ex-boyfriend of hers, locked up for two years on kidnapping.
Well, Andie Shepherd. Good luck with the elusive Jack Phillip. This reporter is quite surprised they have lasted this long.
Onyx City (Onyx Tribune, Kara Lemon)
Gasp! Can it be? Are Jack Phillip and Andie Shepherd over already? Every woman in Onyx is hoping the answer is yes, while many of our male readers have expressed an interest in sweet Andie Shepherd.
Let's start from the beginning, shall we? As everyone knows, the Esteem hotel threw their annual business party, honoring acclaimed businessmen and women in Onyx. Apparently, the happy couple seemed to get separated by a milling crowd. Andie ended up speaking to somebody–that somebody being Seeley Bronson, Jack's only competitor. Bronson recently took over his father's company Bronson & Bronson. Bronson seemed quite charmed with the woman, as we all are, when Jack found them. Suffice to say, he was not happy.
Our source tells us that Phillip and Shepherd went into a separate room, where guests could hear "yelling and shouting." It was Andie who emerged first, and slipped her usual charming smile on her face before disappearing into the crowd. Jack, who has always been known for brooding until he met Andie, delved back into his usual habits. Though the two were separated at the party, our source tells us Jack's eyes were always searching, as though he was trying to keep tabs on his date.
Things escalated after dinner. The two seemed to be having an argument they tried to keep in whispers, but apparently, Jack said something crisp and cold, which led to Andie slapping him and then walking out. He followed shortly after.
Onyx City is holding their breath. This reporter is actually rooting for the couple, and hopes things work themselves out.
Onyx City (Onyx Star, Julie Bent)
A collective sigh has gone out through Onyx City, as well as a herd of groans. Jack Phillip and Andie Shepherd are not breaking up.
Judging by the picture that was taken of them on the beach just yesterday, it is obvious that these two are still in love. Though it is still winter, Andie Shepherd and Onyx's notorious playboy were walking along the beach. They were dressed for the cold, but the cold didn't seem to deter them. Andie was riding piggyback on Jack's back, and the two were laughing and enjoying themselves. At one point, Jack dropped Andie in the water, which caused the young woman to screech and drag him back inside the cold body of water. Neither was perturbed, however, as their laughing continued.
So, as of now, this couple is definitely on.
Onyx City (Trendster magazine, Erin Martin)
No wonder Miss Shepherd looks so familiar! Look at this picture we have obtained from the Onyx Tribune. Notice Black Wing, of course. But the mysterious woman he is kissing is none other than our sweet Andie Shepherd. Is Miss Shepherd leading a double life? Does Jack Phillip know about this?
Onyx City (Onyx Times, Jeremy Starr)
We have the exclusive interview with Jack Phillip! Here, he talks about business, life after his parents, and his relationship with the sweet Andie Shepherd.
JS: How is life now, Mr. Phillip? You recently turned 22 January 30, correct?
JP: (laughs) Don't remind me! No, but seriously, I've never felt better.
JS: Any good gifts this year?
JP: Oh, of course, but she'll kill me if I went into any detail.
JS: How is Miss Shepherd? You seem much happier now than ever, if you don't mind me saying.
JP: Oh, she's great. I feel happier, to be honest. She is quite a woman.
JS: She is. Many of our male readers have taken a keen interest in her, actually.
JP: I feel very flattered at that. But I must digress that I am very protective of the people and things I love.
JS: Of course, of course. How is Phillip Enterprise?
JP: Well, in this economy, everyone's taken a hit. But we're pulling through it. In fact, we have plans to open up Onyx City's first animal shelter in hopes to rescue stray animals and keep them for as long as they need, instead of sending them to the pound. We have horses, dogs, cats, even a couple of pigs, actually…
JS: What inspired you to open an animal shelter?
JP: That would be Andie. She has a soft spot for animals and has already adopted two horses for us to go riding with. She's never been, so we'll see where that goes.
JS: Speaking of Miss Shepherd, a recent bout of controversy has followed her when it was found out that she was the one in the photo with Black Wing. Do you know what I am referring to?
JP: Of course. Andie attracts… a lot of different people. I find it quite flattering.
JS: Who do you think would win in a fight? You or Black Wing?
CM: I guess it really depends… I mean, a guy who dresses up as an angel is kind of insane, right? But I think all of us, to a certain degree, are insane.
JS: Christmas marked the fifth anniversary of your parents' death. How are you coping?
JP: Well, as best as can be expected. I can only hope that my father and mother are proud of me and what I've accomplished.
JS: I'm sure they are. Do you intend to start a family any time soon?
JP: (laughs) I'm not sure about soon, but I, personally, would love four kids. Growing up as an only child was kind of lonely.
JS: Four kids. (whistles) Well, you can definitely afford it. What does Miss Shepherd think of it all?
JP: She wants four too. We'll see what she thinks after she has the first one, though.
JS: So she's a keeper then?
JP: Oh, definitely. No doubt about it.
At that point, Andie Shepherd herself walked in, and let me tell you, she does have a beguiling smile. Jack immediately placed her in his lap, and kissed her neck. For a man once so private, he seems to be opening up. The two left soon after, holding hands.
Onyx City (Onyx Tribune, Kara Lemon)
Who is Andie Shepherd? We've been getting many questions about her, especially since she's managed to tie down a former elusive bachelor. And how did we miss her? It is obvious that she is naturally beautiful, and quite charming. In fact, one of our sources tells us that upon first meeting Jack Phillip, she called him an asshole. It would seem Mister Phillip doesn't always sweep his women off of their feet.
Andrea Shepherd grew up on the outskirts of Onyx, and went to the elementary, junior, and high school there. Her parents divorced when she was ten, and she and her older sister Keirah (and recent Noir victim) stayed in Onyx with her mother while her father now lives with his new wife and step-children in a small town in Michigan. She applied at Phillip Enterprises as part of an internship program through her high school. It would seem that he was intrigued with her bluntness.
When asked why he fell for her, he told us, "Because she's completely herself." And it would seem that he is right, that Miss Shepherd is quite comfortable being honest. In fact, to win over Mister Phillip, she showed up in "sweatpants and flip flops. Not the most attractive, come-hither thing to wear," she recalls. "But it worked."
And asked about wedding bells? "We're both very impulsive people," Phillip said. "Who knows when we'll get married?"
"If we get married," Andie put in.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Phillip asked her. "You don't want to marry me?"
"Please don't tell me that was not your way of asking me to marry you," Andie said.
"Well, what if it was?" he asked her.
"Then I say no," she said.
And that was the end of the interview. And maybe their relationship? In this reporter's opinion, the answer to the question is no. It is obvious to see, whether you meet them in person or see the pictures, that they are truly enamored with each other and have what it takes to go the distance, wherever the distance may be.
God, she couldn't escape the happy couple, could she?
Not that she was disgusted, by any means. Her sister deserved to be happy. And if Jack Phillip could put up with Andie's stubbornness, more power to them.
In all honesty, there was something about the happy couple that caused a very tiny piece of her to blacken and writhe in jealousy. The easy smiles, the way the two looked at each other, even in the photographs splattered in every tabloid, the way Jack held Andie firmly and gently, strong and sure, as though he would never let her go. The way he talked to her with utter adoration. It was clear Onyx's notorious bachelor was in love.
Only her sister could land someone like Jack Phillip.
Keirah shook her head and put the latest tabloid down on the bar that separated the kitchen from the dining room. She still lived in the mansion Noir had somehow acquired months ago; the Onyx cops never even knew of the place, so at least she had somewhere to hide out while she tried to figure out just how to get him back.
Noir was gone. Disappeared, God knew where. He had saved her life. Risked his life, took a bullet for her.
She needed to get him back somehow. He had already been gone for months and she was clinging to the adage that no news was good news. The problem was figuring out where to start. She had searched his old haunts, talked to his old associates, even gone back to Dr. Hawkins's office to try and get any information from her–as Bombshell, of course. She called mental wards, police stations, prisons; anywhere that might be housing him.
He was gone.
She couldn't say how she knew he was still out there, waiting for her to find him, but she did. It was the only thing that got her through the lonely days.
The one thing she had going for her was the fact that no one knew she was Bombshell. They believed Keirah Shepherd had run away from Onyx after Noir used her to break out from Abby Asylum. She had no idea why people kept giving her the benefit of the doubt. In fact, it kind of annoyed her, but it was the one advantage she had right now.
Her dark eyes flitted over to a picture of her sister. God, Andie looked so happy. She seemed to be growing out her strawberry blonde hair because it was now a couple of inches past her shoulders. Keirah blinked. Had it really been this long since she had seen her sister? It must be, because she had never seen Andie this happy. Her pale green eyes sparkled and her smile was so wide, it crinkled her eyes. She looked stunning.
Keirah shifted her eyes over to Jack Phillip. His face was guarded–a mask. Keirah quirked her brow. What did he have to hide, anyway? He was a billionaire playboy with a woman who was completely, one hundred percent, devoted to him. He had more resources than she could count at his disposal whenever he snapped his fingers. He probably had access to information and closed quarters–he could probably go wherever he wanted, really.
Her eyes narrowed.
Keirah was wrong. Being Bombshell wasn't her only advantage.
She would have to pay her estranged sister an unexpected visit.
Andie was exhausted when she finally arrived at the mansion. However, her tiredness did not overtake her happy demeanor. Another generous donation had been given to her animal shelter, this one by the anonymous donor who was known to donate large sums sporadically. In fact, the more she thought about it, she began to realize this was his fifth donation now in five months. As she locked the manor's door behind her, her teeth gently grazed her bottom lip, feeling slightly guilty. Even though this person never asked for anything back, she still felt as though she owed him something–anything–the least she wanted to do was throw him some kind of ball honoring him. However, she let a sigh escape from her small, upturned nose, setting her keys in their usual spot-a nearby bureau with a green bowl that housed them-before flicking on the lights. She wished she could be surprised that Jack wasn't home yet, but glancing over at the hall clock, she realized she probably wouldn't be expecting him for another couple of hours.
Another sigh escaped from her, this time from her lips, and she began heading down the hall and up the stairs. It was just after seven, and she still hadn't eaten dinner yet, but due to all of the complications and papers and donations to go through at work, she really hadn't noticed. Her feet, incredibly sore from the high heels she was wearing, began to lead Andie's body up the grand staircase. When she reached the top, she turned left, heading all the way down the hall until she reached their bedroom.
Andie knew she should be used to the fact that she was living with someone, let alone the notorious Jack Phillip, but there were times when it baffled her to no end. Out of all the people, he chose her. And, in turn, she chose him. Love was a wondrous thing when one took the time to think about it. Finding a person that loved her more than she could ever know; finding someone that she loved more than she could possibly comprehend… It was astounding. She felt so incredibly lucky, but as of late, they didn't really spend too much time together. In fact, she felt as though she was beginning to miss him, which seemed ridiculous, due to the fact that they lived together. Maybe if she slipped into something more comfortable… something sensual.
When was the last time they made love, anyways? A week now? Her brow perked up as she felt her lower stomach contract, almost as though it was scolding her for allowing her to go without him for so long. A mischievous smile decorated Andie's lips as she set her purse and briefcase down in her corner of the room before heading over to her walk-in closet looking for the perfect outfit. Her eyes traveled over her slinky lingerie, most of which had been provided by Jack himself, while some had been bought by her own hands. She sighed after fifteen minutes, not finding exactly what she was looking for. Andie turned, crossing her arms over her chest as her eyes flicked across the room. Her green orbs stopped when she saw the white collared shirt Jack had discarded last night. She frowned, noticing that it was still on the floor, but pushed the thought out of her head. This would be perfect.
As she walked over to the shirt, she began to discard her own, deciding to leave a trail of her articles of clothing in hopes to add to the environment she wanted to create. When Andie reached the shirt, she was naked, save for her black pumps. She threw the shirt on, only buttoning two buttons in the middle. Then she removed her hair from the elastic holding it up and raked her fingers through it a couple of times before positioning herself on the bed somewhat seductively. Now all that was left to do was wait…
Jack Phillip was probably more exhausted than Andie. When Beverly dropped him off at the manor at eight thirty, he told his aunt she was relieved from her duty that night. He figured Andie was probably already sleeping; she had been working so hard the past few months, and though his desires kept trying to get him to make love to her, he didn't want to press her. He ran his fingers through his hair, still not used to the feeling of the buzzed chops that met his fingertips rather than locks of hair. However, his lips curled into a smirk as he thought about the way Andie's eyes would darken into a forest green every time she looked at him. The edge of her teeth would graze her bottom lip and her left brow would rise just slightly. How he had wanted to be in her mind; how he had wanted to read every dirty thought that would never pass through those full lips of hers. He stifled a groan, realizing his body was reacting to his own thoughts, and at that moment, he wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms, to kiss her lips, to make her moan his name.
There were far too many stairs for his taste as he all but dashed up them, leaving his briefcase at the top of the stairs. As he made his way to their bedroom, his fingers began unbuttoning his shirt. The door to their bedroom was slightly opened, he noticed, and light cascaded through. She must be in there, either reading or sleeping. However, when he pushed the door opened, he wasn't expecting Andie to be doing… what she was doing. There she was, her hair tumbling down her shoulders and resting over her perky breasts. Her head was poised back, resting on the pillow behind her, exposing the long column of her throat. She was wearing one of his shirts; God, he loved it when she wore his clothing, especially if it was solely one article. Her eyes were closed, but she wasn't sleeping fully. He assumed she was dozing as he let his shirt fall next to her own discarded pieces of clothing. The shirt was long enough to hide her most private of parts, but it left her legs quite exposed. They were positioned in a very welcoming way, her right leg bent over her left one. And black pumps were still on her feet. She was teasing him, he realized, as he slipped his white wife beater over his head, and God, did he love it.
Jack leaned on the bed and he watched for a long moment as she breathed in deeply, her breasts rising and falling in time. He never took his eyes off of her as his right hand wrapped around her left ankle and his lips kissed her leg.
Andie let out a sigh but her eyes had yet to be opened, though her lips curled into a grin. This only encouraged Jack, and he began to trail soft, wet kisses up her leg. His hands slid between her legs, parting them. Immediately, he could feel her heat, her arousal, causing his own eyes to darken and his own arousal to throb with impatience. A guttural growl erupted from his throat when he realized she wasn't wearing any underwear, and his eyes shot up into hers. She looked down at him, the same look in her eyes, and her eyebrow rose just slightly. She was biting her lip, almost expectantly, but instead of waiting, she said softly, "I've missed you." She paused after that, not waiting because she needed him to say something in return, but because she realized everything she wanted to speak to him about could wait. "Touch me," she said, her voice pleading.
That was all Jack needed, and he pushed himself up so he could capture her lips with his. The kiss was not soft, nor sweet, but was filled with a burning desire, almost a desperate need. They had not been with each other for a long while, at least it seemed that way to them, and they needed to get their fill. His tongue ran across Andie's bottom lip, and she allowed him entrance to explore the mouth he already knew by heart. His right hand gripped her jaw gently as his left hand ran through her untamable hair, losing themselves in her soft tresses. He needed this, more than he realized.
Her hands placed themselves on Jack's bare chest, loving the feel of his skin against her own. They trailed downward, her fingertips soft as they moved over his rock-hard abdomen, and she reveled in the fact that his torso twitched underneath her fingers. She loved being the cause of pleasure for him, and she loved knowing that out of all the women he had been with, only she had this effect on him. He knew it too, and his lips began plundering her throat as his hand pulled away from her hair and ran down her collarbone until it held her breast securely in its grasp.
Andie let out a low moan, Jack's favorite sound, and he looked up at her, watching her head lean back as her body arched up naturally in response to his touch. His thumb began softly caressing her nipple until it was fully erect before capturing it with his lips. His right hand grabbed her free breast, and Jack made sure to inflict pleasure on both parts of her. Andie's arm wrapped around him as her other hand clenched the back of his head, wanting him to be closer to her, if that was even possible.
Jack's right hand left her breast after a long moment, trailing down the soft curves of her stomach masked only by the thin material until his fingers found the swell of her heat, buried beneath soft, kempt, curls. His sharp, jade green eyes watched as he teased her; he loved watching her facial expressions. Her full lips were parted slightly, and her green eyes were rolled back behind closed lids. Her breathing was heavy, and through it, sighs and moans could be heard. As his fingers began to dance almost wildly, her grip on him tightened, and he could tell by the way she pressed hardly down on her lip, she was getting close.
"Come for me, Andrea," he murmured, just as breathless as she was. She didn't have to do anything; just watching her got him hot and bothered.
Andie opened her eyes very slightly, meeting them with Jack's. A small smile threatened to erupt onto her face, indicating she was very pleased with the use of her full name in such an intimate setting. Jack, of course, knew this. He knew her inside and out, both literally and figuratively, and yet he was still so consumed by her. He doubted he could ever tire of the way her body would quiver and shake underneath him, the way her soft curves complimented his hard body. He loved making love to her; he loved that he was the only person who would ever see her this way for the rest of her life. She had such a sweet demeanor about her when the two were in public, but he knew better. If people just looked into her eyes, there would be that dark, mischievous sparkle that said more than words could say.
When her sighs turned into whimpers, he knew she was close. He leaned forward and gently kissed her throat, down, down. One kiss here, another kiss on her collarbone, before capturing her nipple back between his lips. Her sharp intake of breath was a sign of releasing all her tension, and he watched with aroused awe as her body began twitching underneath his fingertips. The most beautiful smile eclipsed her face as a flush overtook her cheeks; it was a prize any man could hope to win from her, but it was his. She was his.
Andie leaned up, toward Jack kissing his lips softly. "Make love to me, Jack," she whispered against them, and then tilted her head down so she could kiss his jaw line. "For hours…" Another kiss was placed on the pulse radically pounding against the inside of his throat. "And hours…" She took his earlobe between her lips as her hands slid down his defined arms before resting on his stomach, and she pressed down her lips firmly, causing Jack to moan. "And hours," she concluded, her lips just near his ear.
He could feel her hot breath against him, her long fingers skillfully maneuvering his belt so that before he knew it, it clattered to the floor. She looked up at him expectantly, a coy smile resting on her lips, and he couldn't help but lean down and take full advantage of the offer she had just given him.
As Jack thoroughly kissed her soon-to-be bruised lips, Andie's fingers unbuttoned Jack's pants, and slipped between the material so she could feel his arousal in the palm of her hand.
Jack groaned against her lips, and he twitched underneath the soft skin that was currently touching him. "God," he breathed raggedly, "you don't know what you do to me." Before he realized what he was doing, he quickly removed the white shirt from her body, thankfully not ripping it with impatience so the shirt ended up damaged (which he had done on previous occasions). She was completely naked before him, a sight he would never fully get used to. He had memorized every curve, every freckle, every inch of her skin, and still he wanted more. He could stare at her for hours, fully clothed or not.
Andie leaned forward once again, curling her fingers around the back of his neck, so she could whisper, "Take off your pants. I want to feel you inside of me."
Jack stifled another groan, but did not need to be told twice. In a manner of minutes, he was completely naked. Andie let her eyes unabashedly scan every inch of him. Lord, she would never tire of his beauty, of his perfection. Just looking at him as he straddled her was enough to get her wet, and for the umpteenth time, she thanked her lucky stars that she was marrying him. Jack positioned himself over her, before slipping inside of her with ease. Her slick insides welcomed him, and both could not contain a sigh of content from escaping their lips if they tried. This is where they were supposed to be; this is where they belonged. He wasted no time, and proceeded to rock inside of her. His hand gripped down on her thigh, pulling it at an angle so he could dive deep inside of her. He wanted her to feel him; he wanted to feel every aspect of her.
"Look at me," he demanded in a breathless voice. "I want to see you watch me."
Andie's eyes were nothing like Jack had ever seen before, and he reveled in the way they watched him make love to her. She did as he requested; they were nearly a very dark green. She stifled a moan, biting her lip and leaning her head back. Her body felt so natural against him, as though they were literally made for each other.
"God, yes," she whispered, her eyes slitted but still capturing every angle in Jack's face. "Don't stop."
"Never," Jack breathed as he felt his fiancée's legs coil tightly around his lower back. Her heels were pressing into him, wanting him to get as close to her as possible. Her breasts were pushed up against his chest, and his hand released her thigh to grip her hip.
"Come with me," she purred, a dazzling smile etched out onto her face. "I'm so close, baby."
Jack furrowed his brow, ready to do any and everything she asked him. He was sure if she asked for the moon, he would manage to get it for her. Andie's breathing hitched, and Jack felt her tightness squeeze against his member, letting him know that she was ready for release. He continued to pound inside of her, feeling bits of sweat accumulate against his brow. Suddenly, Andie's eyes opened, locking themselves into Jack, and a smile littered her face. He could feel her release herself against him, and then he heard, very softly, his name escape from those lips. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen, really, and before he knew it, he was following suit, releasing every ounce of him inside of her.
As he felt himself soften inside of her, he rested his head on her shoulder, not wanting to sacrifice the heat their bodies accumulated through the duration of their physical activity. He loved her with every inch of his being, and he loved showing her. He loved that she found him irresistible, and would show him. Never had he been so addicted to making love to one person before.
"I know you have to leave soon," Andie said, breaking the comfortable silence. She was rather fond of listening to Jack breathe, actually; it told her that he was alive, that he was safe, at least for now. And for whatever reason, his heartbeat made her feel safer than ever before. "But," she continued, "you had better get back soon so I can make love to you again." She kissed his sharp cheek. "And again…" She tilted her head and kissed his pulse, which was trying to get control of its self. "And again."
Jack chuckled against her, the vibrations going through the both of them. "I promise," he told her, looking up to her and kissing her jaw. "God, I needed that more than you could possibly know."
Andie grinned, wrapping her arms around him and holding him close. "Trust me," she murmured in his hair. "I know."
Before either of them could say anything more, the doorbell rang.
Andie frowned. "Who's that?" she asked.
Jack shrugged. "Hell if I know."