When Beauty Met the Beast
by Khardine Gray
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Beneath the luxurious lifestyle and the glamor of fame and fortune held by the Vandervilles, lies a dangerous web of secrets and a twisted tale of passion, and suspense.
With wealth, power, and beauty in abundance their dominant name prevails.
But trouble is about to come their way and throw their lives into turmoil.
One man consumed with the quest for revenge seeks to ruin their lives and destroy them one by one.
Witness the brilliantly vindictive plan to bring down Benjamin Vanderville, the deceitful precarious States Attorney of California and his wife Regina, reigning queen of the fashion world.
Fall in love with the warmth of romance that blossoms between Wade Vanderville and Chloe Matthews.
And walk the road of betrayal as Taylor Vanderville discovers where loyalties lie.
The riveting tale of When Beauty Met the Beast will grip you and captivate you right from the start…
**Only .99 cents!!**
I proceeded into the room and walked to where I knew she was, and like the trusted sun that came up every morning, there Chloe Matthews was, unloading clothes from one of the plastic crates. She placed them over her forearm with care.
Good, she was by herself. Everyone else seemed to have gone to lunch and a handful of women milled about at the far end, near the other entrance.
I stopped by the archway and looked at her. The last time I was here she was only a fashion assistant assisting the creative team. Now she was part of it. Taylor had filled me in on her little friend's achievements, oblivious to my fascination with Chloe.
I allowed myself a moment to appreciate her wild beauty that always captivated me. My eyes roamed leisurely over her figure, making up for the five years I missed out on. She looked better than I remembered, with her dainty features, flawless bronze skin, slender body, and slim hips.
I'd always loved her rich, golden blonde locks and had had the privilege of seeing it at different lengths and in a variety of styles over the years. It was long now, just the way I liked it, and hung in graceful curves over her shoulders. The wall lights bounced off it making the smooth strands look like lustrous glass tumbling carelessly down her back. I could see myself happily spending the day running my fingers through it.
She was the only woman I'd ever fantasized about, and I didn't fantasize about anyone or anything. When I wanted something, I took it; I didn't yearn for it or wonder what it would feel like to have it. I usually skipped past all of that and took whatever it was I desired, whether it was a woman or a thing.
However, I'd declared her off limits, unobtainable.
I continued to watch her, appreciating the way her straight-legged beige pants showed off her long, sculptured legs and the silky texture of the cream-colored camisole enunciated the full curves of her breasts. I admired the confidence she exuberated. It was the kind that radiated from someone who had the complete package and didn't care what effect they created. Unlike most women who used their assets to lure and charm you, Chloe didn't need to try.
Her charm and lure were just symptoms, something that came naturally to the perfect woman who didn't have to work hard to get attention.
I didn't know how the hell I could have blown my chance with her. How could I have rejected her willingness to be with me? How I could have said no?
I must have been crazy, despite my good intentions.
As she turned and saw me she jumped, startled by my presence. It made her drop the clothes.
"Jesus, what are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack?" She frowned at me.
I looked over the delicately carved bones in her flawless oval face, her full mouth that displayed generously curved, parted lips, and the dusty rose of her cheeks that grew rosier as her frown deepened.
Looking at her, I could see there was one person who wouldn't be shedding any tears of joy for my return.
She gathered up the clothes, scooped them over her elegant wrists, and glowered at me with those sharp brown eyes that reminded me of autumn. I'd only ever seen colors like that in Japan. Vibrant in the tones and hues. Enchanting to captivate you and entice you to stare. Her lashes swept down across her cheekbones as she narrowed her eyes at me.
"Taylor's friend," I teased. "Look at you all woman sized." The taunt widened her eyes and seemed to infuriate her.
Ours was a relationship that was always a bit all over the place. When she was little, she followed me around like a love-sick puppy. Literally like she worshiped the ground I walked on.
She looked nothing like that girl now.
"Can I help you with something?" she asked.
"Oh, I just came by so you could tell me how much you missed me."
Her brows shot up, and she pursed her sparkly pink lips together in distaste.
"I'm sorry, did you leave? I wasn't aware," she retorted in cold sarcasm. She was the only woman who spoke to me like that.
Chloe couldn't stand me. She was right to be on her guard. I was the worst kind of guy for a girl like her. Always was, and while I might have taken her infatuation with me into my own hands years ago and most assuredly broke her poor heart, it didn't stop me from thinking about her.
Now more than ever since I'd sorted myself out. I'd never be the candy-coated, classic-movie kind of guy I pictured her with, but I'd kicked the bad stuff. I thought it gave me permission to see what chance I might still have with her.
"Ouch, doll, you're hurting me." I feigned injury to my heart and laughed. She didn't like that.
"What do you want?" Her lips puckered with annoyance.
"I just told you. Also, I was hoping for another offer to rock my world."
Her face colored fiercely, and her eyes blazed just like they did in the past.
"Jump up my ass, Wade," she fumed, tossing the clothes on a nearby table and placing her hands on her hips to square off with me.
"Baby, is that an invitation? Because doll, I'd love to. Your ass looks great today."
Her mouth dropped, and she glowered at me. "Don't speak to me. Ever." She shook her head and walked away towards the stock room.
I laughed as I watched her storm off, and I stared shamelessly at her fully rounded ass that looked even better than the last time I saw it. She made me hunger to know what secrets hid inside her soft, tempting body. My fingers yearned to touch her, and my mouth to taste her. Looking only reminded me of when she'd twirled around for me wearing nothing but a pink lace thong.
That was a long time ago now, long enough to brush under the rug and file as an act of youth. But I didn't want to forget.
Looked like I'd chosen the perfect time to come back. I smiled to myself as I walked away.
Secrets and Lies
Simmering secrets and lies burst into a tempestuous roil in Secrets and Lies.
Discover who gets burned and who, if anyone, makes it through unscathed.
As Wade’s whirlwind romance with Chloe starts to stabilize, his ex-girlfriend turns up desperate to destroy what firm ground the two have forged. Wade’s love for Chloe has grown so deep that he’ll do anything to protect what he has with her – even if it means spinning a new web of lies.
The Agony of Betrayal
Still reeling from the double betrayal of her father and lover, Taylor barely regains her feet… only to fall in love all over again with her cheating lover. The attraction is so strong she can’t stop herself, even though she knows she must.
Matriarch and Mother
Seeing her daughter suffering is breaking Regina’s heart. She yearns to give all the help she can but… Ben is scheming to use Runway to financially back his bid for Governor. Will her struggles to keep her family safe come at the expense of her daughter?
Wade finally gives in and goes to his ex even though he knows he shouldn’t. But she’s dead and the cops finger him as the killer. Only the real killer is still on the loose and hunting…
A beautiful sunset graced the sky, filling it with the effulgent rays of the sun. It peaked through the blinds at the windows and washed over us, lighting up the room with the softness of the morning light.
Wade kissed his way up from my thighs and slowly made his way up the flat planes of my stomach. He lingered at my breasts and kissed around each nipple before making his way up to my lips. I welcomed the energy from the kiss and the bout of pleasure that surged through me, marveling at the fact that there was no end to the satisfaction this man gave me.
He moved away from my mouth and nibbled on my neck as he rested behind me so he could pull me against his chest.
“I don’t think I can go to work today.” I had already decided to call Lisa and ask her to fill in.
I’d been going into work to try and keep everything going as normal as possible. My presence there helped Regina out, and it distracted me from the worries and stress. This week had been awful and I was worn out from it.
I needed to be with Wade. I needed the strength he gave me and the love I felt when I was with him.
“I think that sounds like a good idea.” I turned in his arms to face him and rested my head back on the silky cream pillows.
I locked my gaze on his gray eyes and handsome face. He smiled down at me, but then something troubling filled his eyes and he glanced down to my chest, away from my stare.
“Chloe.” He met my gaze again.
He suddenly looked nervous. Him. Wade Vanderville, looked nervous.
I didn’t think he was capable of the emotion.
“Is it too soon… Is it too soon to ask you to move in with me?”
My jaw dropped and I had to ease myself up on my elbows.
Now he looked worried. “It’s okay if you think it’s too soon. I understand,” he quickly said with a soft smile. “It is too soon, right? I was just hoping we could pretend that we’ve always been together. That would make it like 25 or so years. And, when you think of it that way, then it’s a long time.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t believe what he was saying to me.
“Wade, you want me to move in with you? Here?”
“Yes.” He sat up.
I pulled the sheets over my chest and sat up too.
“I just hate when I’m not with you. I know you love living with Kelly and Taylor and you’re happy by the beach, but I just had to ask. I promise I won’t annoy you, and you can do what you want with the place. I just want you here with me, so I can take care of you, make you happy and protect you.”
A troubled look filled his eyes as he said protect.
I thought of how he’d acted over the last few days. Getting a new security system, taking me to work and staying with me practically the whole time. If I made the slightest sound he’d be at my side asking me if I was okay and inspecting everywhere to ensure I was safe.
That had only been over the last few days.
“Wade, do you think something’s going to happen to me?”
The worried look on his face gave me the answer. I felt touched by it, and by his desire to be with me. I guessed that this was the effect of what happened to Taylor, but then there was that whole thing last weekend when he had this same worried look and he’d felt strongly enough to pack my bags and demand that I go with him. He was worried for my safety then too.
“I just want to make sure you’re safe. And I want you with me. Please, will you at least think about it?”
Think about it? I just did. I had only dreamed of being with this man my whole life.
“Yes,” I replied in an instant with a bright smile.
“You’ll think about it?” He looked hopeful.
“No, I’ve thought and I’m saying yes.” I giggled.
“Really?” He looked so excited.
“Yes, I will.” I laughed as he pulled me into his arms again and held me.
“Thank you, beautiful Chloe.” He always knew how to make me feel happy and precious to him. He pulled back so that he could look at my face. “I love you, Chloe.”
Only God knew how much I loved him too. Love was perhaps too meagre a word to describe what I felt for him. But since it was the only word I knew I said, “I love you, too, and you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
He shook his head and rested his forehead to mine. “No baby, it’s you. It’s always been you.”
Into the Rabbit Hole
Wade’s been arrested, a killer is on the loose, and Ben’s crimes are catching up with him. Will anyone in this family emerge from the chaos unscathed?
Chloe and Wesley dig deep to discover what is really going on and to prove Wade’s innocence. The deeper they dig the more the shocking truth becomes visible. Will they discover the man behind the drama? What happens if they do?
No Longer Hidden
The light finally shines of the crimes that Ben has committed, but unleashes more trouble. As always Regina is caught in the middle, but this time it’s worse. She doesn’t know where she’ll begin to fix things.
Forgive and Forget?
Can Taylor forgive, forget, and finally move on? Will she be able to see the world with the fresh clear eyes that only forgiveness of a betrayal can give? Will she be able to trust again?
Kiss and Make Up
Can Chloe accept Wade’s past and all the chaos ebb to allow the deep, romantic love they so richly deserve?
Follow the twists and turns to the stunning conclusion of Into The Rabbit Hole!
She didn’t deserve to die.
She was a nice person.
Her family would be devastated. I could just imagine the tears and the heartbreak. They may never get over her death.
I understood. I’d never been able to get over my mother’s death.
Time never healed me; it only made my loss feel worse. Every day was worse. Maybe it would have been different if my mother had died of natural causes. Maybe I could have accepted that and tried to move on.
Murder was different; it meant she had a chance to live, but someone else took it from her.
They called me a psycho. Maybe I was. I certainly thought like one, but they made me that way. Benjamin Vanderville made me this way, so they could all thank him.
Admittedly I no longer saw the boundaries that existed to keep right and wrong separated. I just saw revenge; everything else was details. However, I did feel for Merissa because of all she’d been through with her involvement with Wade Vanderville and the loss of their baby.
I’d been on the fence for a long time on her part in this game. In the end I’d decided that her death was necessary.
Merissa was a sacrifice for a cause. A necessary sacrifice.
My cause might not have been her cause, but she served her purpose well.
It was time to speed things along and really get my plan in motion. It was time to get serious and up the game.
The time for simply scaring them all was over.
I answered my phone and pressed it to my ear as it rang.
“What’s next boss?” said my truly psychotic partner in crime.
If people thought I was a psycho I wondered what they would think of my friend. This man had no heart and could kill without blinking an eye, or having any form of afterthought.
Life and death were nothing to him.
Our stories were similar: both were products of revenge. Merissa’s was, too. Revenge was the essence of what we had in common. That was why they were so easy to recruit for this grand scheme.
However, only this guy could have killed Merissa so effortlessly. There was something soulless about him that didn’t care about right and wrong. He’d offered straightaway to kill her without any thought to it at all.
“Come back here, we have things to do,” I said into the phone and lowered it back to the table when my friend hung up.
On the flat screen TV before me the press were having a field day.
Wade Vanderville arrested for murder.
That was the headline, and boy was it on every single channel. I’d flicked through a few minutes ago and yes, every channel was reporting the latest Vanderville scandal.
I’d timed it perfectly with Taylor’s little tryst a few days ago. That had been for fun more than anything, but still timed perfectly. People like them did themselves in. I’d gotten to know their personalities and behavior over the time I’d watched them so knew what they were likely to do even before they thought about their actions.
That made me one step ahead of the game. Admittedly, Wade was a wild card because I never anticipated his return and that everything would play out so well.
I wondered what they’d all think now. Their precious Wade, arrested for murder. The guy had no alibi, no witnesses, nothing. My friend had left the knife right by Wade after he covered the thing with his fingerprints.
It was funny. And comforting. This plan couldn’t have gone better, even the mishaps were working in my favor.
My years of waiting were paying off dramatically, and finally I was beginning to feel some form of justice. It would never help with my loss, but it was something.
I could still remember the day when my mother was taken away from me.
That was always clear in my mind, as if it had only just happened.
I sat back in my chair and rested my head against the padded leather of its back. Images of her flooded my mind.
Images of her life.
Images of her death…
Next month would be twenty years since she was taken from me. Twenty long years.
She’d never had justice, never even had a proper funeral. Her family never got the chance to lay her to rest properly and say their goodbyes. She deserved so much more than that.
Aaron. That was my name. That was the name she gave me.
I’d gone by so many names since then that Aaron just seemed like another alias. Another alias for that time in my life when I’d been the talented son of Rachel Dean and the fallen marine Kennedy Bryce.
I remembered what it felt like to be their son. The same as I remembered that awful day of her death. As if it was happening right before my eyes.
The tenseness in the atmosphere. The smell of anticipation in the air. And… uncertainty…
The day she died would always be burned in my memory.
I’d just turned seventeen and was studying extremely hard for my SATs. I was en- route to going to Harvard to study medicine. I wanted to be a surgeon.
That day she came home in a heated fluster. I was in my room going over some mathematical equations when I heard her come home. She would normally call out to me when she arrived but that time she didn’t. It was me that had to go to her. I found her in her room packing.
I closed my eyes and remembered it all…
Khardine Gray is a contemporary romance author who lives in England with her husband, two kids, and three crazy ferrets.
She is well traveled, cultured, and a woman with a passion for dancing and ice skating.
When not writing you can catch her shopping, indulging on pizza and hot chocolate, or hanging out with her family and friends.
No need to spend money on an airline ticket. Simply pick up one of Khardine's books to become immersed in the fascinating stories and characters she creates.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!
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