A sex toy designer seeking an investor. Two rival billionaires looking to invest. What could go wrong?
When Kyla Harper arrives at the ritzy Whitmore Hotel in New York for the Investor Bonanza weekend, she's completely overwhelmed. Her suit is too cheap, her shoes are too tight, and she feels like a complete fraud. But she's determined to find an investor for her new sex toy, the Partners' Pleasure, and she's not leaving New York without one. That's if she doesn't have a panic attack and die before she even checks in.
Then she meets Bo Reeves and Conrad Cross. The two rival billionaires stir up all kinds of feelings she shouldn't be having—she's looking for an investor, not a one-night stand. Still, she's never had a chance to test the Partners' Pleasure in an actual partner situation, and this might be her only chance to do that—not to mention live out her threesome fantasy with the two hot guys.
But a string of bad luck threatens to ruin everything. The overnight envelope with Kyla's new credit card is late. Bo and Conrad might kill each other before dinner. And Kyla's been outwitted by a six-year-old. And that's before the real trouble starts...
Reader note: this M/M/F bisexual ménage romance contains a BBW heroine, rival billionaires, enemies to lovers, and male male love. Reader discretion is advised for hot romance elements
The Whitmore Hotel, New York City
Saturday, August 1, 3:05 p.m.
I force a confident smile as I enter the lobby of the exclusive Whitmore Hotel.
I so don’t belong here.
Subdued lighting makes the crystal chandeliers sparkle like diamonds. Throughout the lobby, tall, gilded columns reach three stories into the air. Everything looks like real marble, including the tiles set in a graceful geometric pattern in white, grainy marble, and gold beneath my feet.
I take a deep breath. I am smart. I am strong. I am successful.
I keep my confident face in place and try to ignore the butterflies engaged in mortal combat in my stomach. I wish Holly—my best friend and partner in crime—was here, but sending us both was way too expensive. I stand alone in my plus-size, discount-store suit—from the clearance rack, no less—among the high-toned guests, mostly men, milling through the lobby in designer everything with briefcases that probably cost more than my car.
But that will change. I am here at this Investor Bonanza weekend in New York City to find a big-fish venture capitalist to back my new product. And I will get one if it kills me.
I manifest success for myself and my business right now.
I raise my chin and roll my suitcase through the lobby, ignoring the grinding pain in the toes of my left foot from my new shoes. Goose bumps skitter over my skin, both from apprehension and excitement. The place practically reeks of hundred-dollar bills, fancy champagne, and success.
And I will leave here tomorrow night with all of it.
That is, if I don’t leave in a cab five minutes from now because my credit card is declined.
The front desk looms ahead, making my heart race with sudden, absolute panic.
I pull my phone out of my pocket and hit Holly’s speed dial.
She picks up on the first ring. “No, Kyla, the new business credit card still hasn’t arrived. And if you call me again, I’m going to block your number.”
“Give me a break. I’m freaking out here.”
Holly heaves a sigh. “Relax. If your personal card is declined, just call me and I’ll charge the room to mine over the phone. As long as it’s not over three hundred and sixty-seven dollars, cuz that’s all I have available after the web hosting and printing the business plans and brochures.”
I take a deep breath and try to slow my racing heart. “Hol, it’s not the Windy Butte Motel; it’s the Whitmore. It’s like nine hundred dollars a night.”
Holly is silent for a moment. A long, pointed moment. I know she has her arms crossed and is tapping her foot.
“No way,” I say. “Quit thinking it. I’m not calling my mother for money. This is a business trip, not summer camp.”
“Well, I don’t know what else to tell you. Maybe you should ask the universe to manifest it, right now.”
“Shut up. Are you still at the office?”
“You mean, your apartment?”
“You mean, the office?”
“Of course I’m still here. How else would I know FedEx hasn’t come yet? And no, I’m not calling them, so don’t ask.”
I close my mouth with the request unmade. “I wasn’t going to. Jeez.” Then, after a moment: “Can you track the delivery online one more time?”
Holly heaves a heavy sigh. More of a growl, actually.
“No. I’m putting my foot down. Tough love, Kyla. The last four times I checked it said out for delivery. That means it’s out for delivery. And no, I’m not going to go drive around and see if I can find the FedEx truck, so don’t even ask.”
I bite down on my reply. “I wasn’t going to,” I lie.
“How’s your foot?”
I gaze down at my shiny, cream-colored stiletto that cut off the circulation in my left toes two hours ago. “Gee, Hol, with all the panic over money, I’ve been so worried about having a heart attack that I’d practically forgotten about my foot. But thanks for reminding me. My toes are probably dead. I’ll probably get gangrene. They’ll probably have to amputate.”
“That’s what you get for not trying them both on.”
“Why the hell would I think they’d be two different sizes? They were connected by one of those little plastic price tag thingies.”
“I told you not to buy shoes at the drugstore.”
I glance around at all the opulence around me, at the bustle of all the professional-looking people and feel like such a fraud. I lower my voice to a stage whisper. “Where the hell else am I going to get shoes for under ten dollars? It was that or my flip-flops.”
“Bet you’re regretting that choice now.”
“Ha-ha,” I say. But I kind of am.
“See any women investors?”
“No, but I haven’t gone into the meet and greet yet. I’m too scared to check in.”
“Go on. I’m sure it’ll be fine. And if not, just call me and I’ll figure something out. We’re in this together, right?”
“Good. I’m hanging up now. Isabel just got here with my lunch.”
“At three o’clock?”
“I’ve been busy.”
“Well, don’t you dare leave until the FedEx guy gets there.”
“She brought my lunch, Ky. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Fine. And don’t have sex on my couch.”
“We’re so gonna have sex on your couch.”
I grimace. “Ew.”
“Hey, look at the bright side, Ky. Maybe you’ll meet some hot guys in the big city and have some mind-blowing sex of your own. Preferably the kind that doesn’t require the Partners’ Pleasure.”
“Oh my God, do you not even know me? Repeat it with me one more time: I do not need a man to make me, or my business, successful.”
“I’m not talking about success. I’m talking about sex.”
“You whatever. Isabel says hi.”
“Hi Iz!” I sing, then add, “Call me the minute FedEx gets there.”
I hang up and slip the phone back into the pocket of my red jacket, which is just slightly better quality than my shoes. A wisp of hair has come loose from my bun, and I sweep it behind my ear.
“Might as well get this over with.”
With a deep breath, I head for the front desk.
“Good evening. Checking in?”
The young man at the front desk gazes at me as if he knows by some kind of telepathy that my card will be declined. He even smiles at me, the vicious fiend.
“Um. Yes. Hello. Kyla Harper? I have a room reservation?”
He smiles at me again. “Welcome, Ms. Harper.” He taps on the keyboard for a moment. “I see you’re with the investment event.”
I clear my throat and smile broadly. “Yes, I am.”
I can do this.
“Are you an investor or an entrepreneur?”
Do I really look as if I could be one of those billionaire investors in their designer suits and European leather shoes that are both the same size?
“Entrepreneur,” I say. “For now.”
“What kind of business are you in?” he asks, still looking down at his computer and tapping keys.
I know this part will freak him out, but I don’t care. I give him my best smile.
“I design sex toys.”
He keeps typing. “How interesting. Is this your first time with us here at the Whitmore?”
“What?” I ask. “No pearl-clutching? No scandalized looks?”
He chuckles as he passes me the little paper folder containing my key card and turns a small tablet toward me. “This is New York. You’ll have to work a lot harder than that to shock people. If you’ll just sign here?”
“Don’t you need my credit card?”
“You booked your room with your event registration, so you’re all set.”
“Right. Of course.” I sign the tablet screen and smile, flooded with relief.
My business is manifesting wealth and success every day!
Take that, Holly.
“Thank you, Ms. Harper. I’ll have someone help you with your bags.”
“No need. I can take care of it myself. Thank you, though.” I grab my key card, collect my suitcase and oversized tote bag purse, and head for the bank of elevators to my left.
I don’t need a man to carry my bags. Or to have mind-blowing sex. Or to make my business a success.
I can do all those things myself.
All I need is an investor to fund the Partners’ Pleasure.
And maybe a new pair of shoes.
As I limp through the lobby, I notice a little girl, about six years old, sitting alone on a sofa near the front desk. She seems scared, gazing around with wide eyes and fidgeting with her fingers. The poor thing looks like she’s about to cry.
She’s way too young to be left by herself in a busy place like the hotel lobby. I look around for whoever might be responsible for her, but the only people around seem oblivious to her. She’s all alone in this sea of strangers.
I gaze at her another moment as my left foot screams to go upstairs and be let out of its half-size-too-small vinyl prison. But something makes me head for the little girl instead.
“Hi, there.” I crouch down to the child’s level and speak softly to put her at ease. “What’s your name?”
The little girl stares at me with wide eyes and trembling lips. “I’m not supposed to tell.”
“That’s smart. I can tell you mine, though. I’m Kyla.”
The girl hesitates, her eyes darting back and forth as if she’s unsure of what to say. “I’m Emma,” she finally stage-whispers behind a cupped hand. “I’m six.” She gives me a creepy jack-o’-lantern smile and points to the empty spot. “I lost a tooth.”
“So you did,” I say, glancing around the lobby. “Where are your mommy and daddy?”
She lowers her head, her lower lip quivering. “I don’t have a mommy or daddy.”
A rush of panic races through my veins. “You must have someone with you—a grownup who takes care of you?”
Emma shakes her head again, her eyes filling with tears. “No.” She looks down at her feet, which are dangling above the floor in their shiny black Mary Janes. “I’m an orphan.”
I glance nervously back at the front desk for help, but all the agents are too busy checking in guests to catch my eye.
“I have an idea,” I say, taking a seat next to Emma and unzipping my suitcase. From inside I pull the little stuffed shark Holly bought me to remind me of my goal this weekend. But in addition to the big teeth, it’s got fluffy pink fur, big, long-lashed eyes, and a sparkly tiara.
“I think my friend here is lonely,” I say. “Do you think you could keep her company?”
Emma’s eyes widen with joy, and she nods enthusiastically.
I hand her the shark, and the little girl pulls it in for a tight hug. “I love her. What’s her name?”
I glance back at the front desk, but the agents are still busy. “Uh…Miss…Sharkey Shark.”
Emma gives me a look of pure pity. “That’s not a very good name.”
“I know. Maybe you can give her a better one.”
“I’ll call her… Miss Pinkytooth Sparkleshark!”
“Wow. Good one.” I turn and see one of the front desk agents finishing up with a man in a tan overcoat. “You stay right here, OK? I’m just going to go talk to that lady at the desk, and I’ll be right back.”
Emma nods without looking up, her attention riveted on Miss Pinkytooth Sparkleshark.
I step up to the front desk, waiting a moment for the woman to finish tapping on her computer.
“Hello, checking in?”
“No, actually, I just noticed that there’s a little girl sitting there on the sofa all by herself. She says she’s…an orphan? I wasn’t sure what to do, but I thought maybe you’d be able to help.”
A frown of concern falls over the woman’s face. “An orphan?”
I nod and step aside, turning to point to the sofa.
My heart leaps into my throat. A moment later, I see the little girl heading for the elevators with the man in the tan overcoat. He’s smiling down at her and pulling a black suitcase as well as a smaller Lilo and Stitch suitcase behind him. Emma bounces excitedly at his side, showing him Miss Sparkletooth Pinky-Whatever.
“Is that her?” the desk agent asks. “Her dad was just up here checking in.”
I let out a little laugh. “Her dad. Right. Looks like I just got scammed by a six-year-old.”
The woman scoffs. “Lucky she didn’t get your wallet.”
As I head up to my room, I tell myself that if a six-year-old can sell me the Brooklyn Bridge, then I sure as hell can sell my idea to an investor.
I’m smart. I’m strong. I’m successful.
Ten minutes later, I hobble through the door of my hotel room and kick off the shoes from hell.
Suddenly, any thought of my toes completely vanishes.
The room is like something out of a fairy tale.
I set my suitcase on the stand as I gaze around. The room is bigger than my entire apartment over my parents’ garage. The bed alone is the size of my entire bedroom, which is also my living room, office, and a good portion of my kitchen. The bed is so tall I’ll probably need a set of those little steps to climb in, like my sister has for her Shih-tzu.
The voluminous down comforter is turned back, and there are little chocolates on the huge collection of pillows. Godiva. I unwrap one and pop it into my mouth. On the little table next to the window, a basket overflows with complimentary fruit, cheese, crackers, two glasses, and a bottle of red wine.
“Oh, hell yeah.”
I crack that baby open with the corkscrew from the basket. It’s only twenty past three, but I pour myself a big glass and dig into the crackers and cheese. I haven’t eaten since breakfast before I got on my first of three planes at 5:00 a.m., not counting the little pretzels I got on one of the flights and the lunch-size bag of chips some kid left in the seats at the gate, which I promptly rehomed.
I flop into the deep wing chair next to the table, chewing my cracker and cheese, and let my head fall back with a heavy sigh.
I made it.
I manifest success for myself and my business right now.
I take another sip of my wine, close my eyes, and let the tension wash out of me.
It washes out a lot faster after I down the glass.
I cheese another cracker and take a bite, sitting back with my eyes closed for another few moments.
All I have to do now is go down there and tell all these rich, snooty business investors—stuffy old men—that I design sex toys.
I’m gonna need more wine.
41,000 Feet over New York
Saturday, August 1, 3:11 p.m.
“Sir, we’re landing in five. Buckle up.”
I hit the button for the intercom to the cockpit. “Thanks, Cap.”
As I reach for the seatbelt, I glance out the window of my private jet at the clouds rushing by below. This investment thing in New York City is ridiculous. Probably won’t be any serious businesses worth investing in—not at an event called Investment Bonanza. Bunch of wannabes visiting the Big Apple looking to fund their little homemade whatevers.
But it isn’t like I have anything else to do this weekend.
And Max in Palo Alto is on my ass about some guy some other guy knows who has some new app to show me.
“Anything on that website look even remotely promising?” I ask my assistant, Kenji, on the other side of the cabin.
“Meh…” He shrugs, gazing down at his phone. “A local restaurant chain in Iowa looking to go national.”
“A new business productivity app. Not sure what it does…”
“Send that one to Max. Ask him if that’s the one he wants me to look at.”
I look over at Kenji. “What.”
“Some lady has a new sex toy.”
“A sex toy?”
Kenji looks up from his phone and grins. “I wonder if it’s generating any buzz in the marketplace.”
I let out a little laugh. “Who is she?”
Kenji swipes around on the page he is viewing. “Kyla Harper. No connections that I can see. But…wow.”
“She’s got a pic on her profile,” Kenji continues. “Does not look like the kind of woman who needs a sex toy.”
Kenji passes his phone to me.
“No, she does not.”
The woman is gorgeous. Thick red waves. Light eyes, green, maybe blue. Sophisticated looking, but with a glint of something playful in her smile.
Playful? Well, yeah. She makes sex toys.
“Check it out,” Kenji says, standing over my shoulder and pointing to the product description. “The Partners’ Pleasure. Says it’s designed for couples and more. It’s got a wearable device you can control from your smart phone. Apparently, it not only vibrates, but…thrusts.”
“Thrusts?” I scan the text Kenji is pointing at, but my gaze is drawn back to the woman’s picture.
“And it has some kind of artificial intelligence.”
“An AI sex toy?”
“Apparently it monitors the user’s actions and reactions and adjusts to the, quote, most pleasurable settings.”
This weekend just got a whole lot more interesting.
“Find out what time she’s presenting.”
“You’re looking to get into sex toys?”
“I’m looking to get into her.” I scroll down, hoping to see a picture of the toy. There isn’t one. “How the hell does she expect to get an investor if she doesn’t even show any pictures of the thing?”
Kenji shrugs. “I have no idea.”
“Amateurs.” I chuckle and hand Kenji’s tablet back to him. “Send it over to Max and see if he can start some due diligence on this woman. We’ll call it…the Mystery Gadget: You might not get it, but she’ll get it on…”
Kenji chuckles and types away at his phone. “Max will never go for this, you know. We’ll have to work around him. If you’re even serious.”
I shake my head. “If I listen to Max, all we’d ever do is tech start-ups. Luckily, Max doesn’t own this company. I do. If I say it’s a go, it’s a go.”
“You got it,” Kenji says. “I’ll send you the link to her profile. Sure you don’t want me to come along? You know, to take notes?”
I chuckle. “Nice try. But you’re handling that meeting in Miami.”
I lean back in my seat, thinking about the redhead.
A vibrator? Really? That’s her product?
I like her already.
Anyone who can try to hawk a fancy new vibrator is worth at least a conversation. And maybe even a private demonstration. For due diligence purposes, of course.
“See if you can get dinner reservations for that restaurant, the ritzy one at the Whitmore. I have a feeling we may be working up an appetite.”
Newport Harbor, Newport, Rhode Island
Saturday, August 1, 3:16 p.m.
I step back from the lower deck of my yacht, Winner Takes All, as the winch lowers my little catamaran into the water. I have been waiting for a day like today for weeks—hot, sunny, with a pushy, off-shore wind I can actually have a little fun with. It’s later than I’d like—I had a meeting I couldn’t get out of—but the long summer days mean there’s still hours of good sailing still to be had.
The Winner is anchored off the coast of Newport—one of my favorite places to go boating on hot summer days like this, with plenty of nightlife to have fun when the sun goes down.
I haven’t had enough of that recently, either.
I turn and find Hannah, one of my stews, coming down the stairs to the lower deck. “Yeah?”
She holds out a cell phone. “It’s your assistant. She says it’s important.”
I let out a long, low breath. “I told her yesterday…I’m not working this weekend. And Saturday is officially the weekend.”
“She told me you’d say that. And she said to tell you that if you don’t come to the phone, then Conrad wins.”
Hannah shrugs. “That’s what she said.”
I let out an angry groan as the breeze blows a strand of my dark hair into my face. “Tell her I’ll be right there.”
I thumb my radio for the deckhand working the winch. “Sorry, Evan, but you’re gonna have to pull the cat back in. Something’s coming up.”
Sliding my shades off my face, I let them dangle from the neoprene strap around my neck and grab the cell phone from Hannah. “This better be good, Jenna. All I want is one weekend. Just one. I just want to sail the Hobie Cat too fast, then go down to the wharves and drink too much, and maybe find some equally drunk woman, or guy, or maybe one of each, and come back to the Winner Takes All and have equally drunk sex. Is that too much to ask?”
“Not at all,” my assistant replies, too chipper for her own good. “I’ll just tell Conrad he can have whatever he wants. See you Monday.”
She lets out an annoying little laugh. “Geez, you really do need to get laid. Maybe you should let Conrad have this one and stick to your original plan—boats, wharves, drunk sex, whatever.”
“What’s this about Conrad?”
“Ever hear of Investment Bonanza?”
“No. It sounds stupid.”
“It does. It’s a thing at the Whitmore in New York this weekend. It’s more or less speed dating for business owners and investors looking to hook up.”
I scoff. “Sounds even stupider.” I turn and gaze longingly at the choppy water as the wind ruffles its surface, then at the quaint New England town across the harbor.
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Little bird told me.”
“Little bird. I’m starting to lose patience with all this cloak and dagger shit, Jenna.”
“And yet you always like to hear him sing.”
“Whatever. What’s Conrad planning on investing in?”
“Don’t know yet.”
“What’s on the table? Is there an attendees list of some kind? I can probably tell just from looking at it. I know that son of a bitch better than he knows himself.”
“Hold on, let me bring up their web site… OK, looks like your standard issue start-ups. Restaurants, ten-year-old software ideas, some lady who makes her own fudge. Some guy who wants to start a newspaper—like, on actual paper.”
“That’s it? Why would he bother with that kind of stuff?”
“Wait…check your texts.”
My phone chimes as Jenna’s text comes in with a link to the event.
“Sex toys?” I raise my eyebrows. “Do people even buy those?”
Jenna sighs disgustedly. “Yes, Bo. People buy sex toys. Haven’t you ever—”
“Of course I have,” I lie. “How do you know that’s not what I had planned for this weekend?”
“OK.” She doesn’t sound convinced. “Do you think this sex toy is what Conrad’s looking to invest in?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
I gaze down at the picture of the woman who runs the sex toy company. Kyla Harper. She’s gorgeous. Long red hair, healthy, full-figured curves in all the right places, eyes that reach out and grab me and won’t let me look away…
“I thought you said you knew Conrad better than he knew himself?”
“Oh, yeah, I know him.”
I’ve been enemies with Conrad Cross since junior year in high school, when we were running mates for class president and vice president, and he ditched me at the last minute to run with Buffy Highmore.
And he’s been screwing me over ever since.
The last time was two months ago. The bastard swoops in and pulls a deal I am making right out from under me. He invests way more than he needs to, just to make sure the business owners choose him to finance their product launch instead of me.
Of course, I had already spent nearly a hundred grand on all the due diligence, lawyers, travel…
Payback’s a bitch, though.
“Make a few calls,” I tell Jenna. “See if your little bird can find out for sure if he’s interested in this sex toy. Then get me registered for this event and get me a room.”
“Hold on, texting them now…”
I let out a terse breath and gaze across the harbor. Some lucky bastard has his little catamaran nearly vertical on the wind.
“Little bird says it’s definitely the sex toy.”
“Of course it is.”
“Event’s at the Whitmore. I already got you the Presidential Suite, checkout Monday morning.”
“Fine. Get with the stews here on the yacht to pack what you think I’ll need. Whatever else is appropriate.”
“What’s her name again? The sex toy woman?”
Kyla Harper. If Conrad has her little sex toy business in his sights, the poor woman won’t know what hit her.
But now that I have her in my sights too, neither will Conrad Cross.
“Tell Jake I’ll need the helicopter ready to go in thirty minutes.”