Sex, Lies and Contracts
TO MY READERS:
When I visited Newport, Rhode Island and strolled the famous Cliff Walk, I looked at the gorgeous mansions high above the ocean and wondered what it would feel like to live there. I suddenly had a flash of my heroine, standing in the pouring rain, looking to escape her own emotional and physical prison. Later on, when I took a sunset sail, my hero appeared beside me: a true sailor who loved the water; alone; searching for his soul-mate. My story was suddenly born.
Julianna and Jack have much to teach each other about trust, letting go of control, and connecting on a deep physical level. I hope you enjoy reading about their journey as much as I enjoyed writing about them.
Julianna Elizabeth Waters is an old fashioned spinster desperate to break out of her sexual constraints. When her sexy gardener offers her a naughty bargain to belong to him, body and soul, she does things she always imagined of. Being dominated, controlled and spanked have never felt so good..
“You must marry her.”
Jack Alexander Woodward crossed one boot over another and leaned back in his leather chair. He glanced at the delicate woman across the room who shot fierce sparks of fury from her amber eyes. He’d been told by many women his mouth had a natural sulky pout made for sex, but those same lips were able to form a sneer that could intimidate the most demanding of females.
Unfortunately, the woman before him was his mother, and not the least bit afraid.
“Rachelle will be the perfect wife for you. I’ve been patient with you, Jack.”
Victoria Woodward set her teacup onto the rose bordered china plate and gave him the look she had designed from years of raising her only son. “I’ve let you go a bit wild and almost ruin the family name. I’ve been silent regarding your messy affairs and your crazy dreams of sailing the seas. But enough is enough, my dear. You will marry Rachelle by the end of the month and take your rightful place. You will have a son and pass down the family legacy to him.”
He remembered being little and easily admonished by her strict tone. His mother always managed to make him behave by some mysterious womanly power. He fought the urge to fidget in his chair and reminded himself he was thirty two years old, far past the age when he should listen to his mother. Yet, strange fear bubbled within as he looked into her face. Ever since his father passed away, she’d focused on obtaining Jack the perfect wife. At first, he thought it was a logical reaction to her husband leaving her alone. But as the months passed and she insisted on parading a bunch of rich, blue-blood sharks before him, he realized there could be more to the story.
A story with an ending he didn’t particularly want.
“Mother, don’t get me wrong. I understand you want me to settle down and marry. But I need to do this on my own terms. I don’t want some suitable companion who looks good on paper. I don’t want a breeder. I want someone I can love.”
Her eyes softened and pressure eased from his chest. But her words slammed through him like the proverbial nail in his own personal coffin.
“Jack, we’re out of time. If you don’t get married by the end of the month, your cousin will take over Castle Point. You will lose everything. The house, the money, the company. Everything.”
She took advantage of his stunned silence and continued. “I didn’t want you to know what your father had done. He was worried about you—about the legacy. He saw a man who didn’t want to grow up and assume responsibility, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Your cousin is willing to settle down. Bryce is next in line, and he’s not afraid to get married. He wants to take over Woodward Shipping. You’ve always known that.”
The thought of his cousin sucker-punched him low in the gut. Oh, yes, Bryce had sniffed around his legacy his whole life. Always willing to step in when Jack ran off. Ever polite and accommodating to his parents, and consistently whispering sweet nothings in his father’s ear. Love words regarding Jack’s unwillingness to marry and take over the family company. Jack knew those intimate conversations had pushed his father to change the will. His cousin was closer than ever to getting everything his family owned. Everything that belonged to Jack.
Time was officially up.
Jack muttered a curse, ignoring his mother’s disapproving frown. He pushed himself off the chair and paced the thickly piled carpet. Pissed off at his family, but mostly at himself, he realized he’d sorely underestimated the impatience of his old man. The Woodwards, once a large family, were proud of their distinguished ancestry. But generations of uncles had pursued riches in America or adventures overseas, and Jack was the only direct heir to Castle Rock. Built on the site of his ancestors’ medieval castle, the manor house was a reminder of a time when duty surpassed individual wants.
For the Woodwards, that time had never ended. The owner of Castle Rock would also run Woodward Shipping Enterprises—the most successful maker and supplier of seagoing vessels in the country. All males of every generation before him had settled down with families in Castle Rock and run the family business. His legacy had been drummed into his mind since his toddler years.
Jack shook his head in an effort to clear his thoughts. The expression on his mother’s face told the true story. If he didn’t marry, he’d lose everything. He cut through the problem with his usual economy of emotion. Whining and bitching about his father’s decision solved nothing. Upsetting his mother so soon after his father’s death would be cruel. He needed a wife.
But it would be on his terms.
His mother’s gaze bore into his back like an irritating bee sting. “I need more time,” he said.
Victoria gave a long sigh, deep with suffering. “Darling, you’ve had years to make this decision. Rachelle is a beautiful young lady and will give you lovely children.”
He wondered briefly if his mother knew about the famous women’s liberation movement where a mate was chosen for love, not breeding. He decided not to test her. Jack gathered up all his emotions for his acting debut. Hopefully, it would be the finale, and he would not have to partake in any other emotional scenes.
“I’m not in love with Rachelle. Yes, she’s lovely, but after a conversation regarding the weather and the china and society gossip, there’s nothing left. I need a woman who’s my match. Someone who won’t bore me to tears in the years to come. Let me have more time.”
“For goodness sakes, why? Do you really believe you’ll find this soul-mate in a few months? You’ve already been through every suitable woman in England.”
He gave a roguish grin, but as usual, his mother remained immune. “Maybe in England. I intend to go to the United States.”
Victoria blinked. “Excuse me? And do what?”
He leaned forward as he sought to convince her. “Hear me out. I understand the stakes, and I’m willing to settle if I can’t find the right woman. Grant me three more months. It’ll give me an opportunity to visit some of our offshore sites and check on our expansion overseas. I need to search for her on my terms, mother. As Jack, the sailor. Not Jack, the heir to Castle Rock. Let me disappear and focus on being me. In that way, I may find her.”
Victoria put down her teacup. Her lioness eyes, so like his own, mirrored pure frustration. Fortunately, Jack spotted another emotion in their depths. Empathy. He almost had her.
He dropped to one knee and seized his mother’s hand. “Three more months. Bryce can run the company while I’m gone. I’ve already settled Dad’s papers. You can tell everyone I’m on a brief voyage to grieve, and when I return, I’ll announce my decision to marry.”
Victoria stared at him for a long moment, then shook off his grip with irritation. “Don’t pull that drama on me, Jack,” she said. “I’m not one of your women.”
He grinned and gracefully rose from the floor. “As you constantly remind me. Thank you, mother.”
Her face softened, though she looked worried. “Search for this lost soul-mate of yours. But when you return, you’ll take over the company and marry. So long as she’s not a prostitute or horrible celebrity, I don’t care who you fall in love with.”
“I’ll make the necessary arrangements.”
“What will I tell Bryce?”
He waved his hand in dismissal. “Bryce will be thrilled to hear I’m gone. Does he know about Dad’s will?”
Victoria shook her head. “Only you and I and the lawyers.”
“I won’t worry about him, then. Let him believe he’ll inherit the whole pie for a while. It’ll keep him happy.”
“Jack, why are you always so hard on your cousin?”
He paused, tempted to tell his mother about the rumors. Bryce Sinclair was a wonder boy in many ways—the perfect confidante and supporter for both the company and his family. Something was off with him, though. Always had been. Jack caught the glimmer of ruthlessness in his face when he thought no one was looking. He’d also seen Bryce in action. But there was no need to worry his mother further. “I’d better go. I’ll call when I get settled.”
He left his mother with her tea and strode out the door.
Julianna stared out at the churning waters and heard her father’s whisper through the harsh wind. She shivered at the first explosion of salty spray and wrapped her arms tighter around her body. Still, she did not move from the cliff’s edge. A storm brewed overhead and she longed to feel the icy cold against her skin. Numbness had been her constant companion over the past week. She needed to feel alive.