The Most Scandalous Ravensdale
Series: The Ravensdale Scandals
Hotshot lawyer Flynn Carlyon is determined to get feisty Kat Winwood to accept her rightful place as a Ravensdale heir. Charming and deeply cynical, Flynn relishes a challenge. He will use any means he can to get Kat to bend to his will, including addictive, spine-tingling seduction!
Kat’s scandalous heritage has brought her nothing but heartache…and now trouble, in the bespoke-suited form of Flynn! He’s the most arrogantly sexy man she’s ever met, and when she ends up his reluctant neighbor, giving in to his wicked temptation is only a matter of time…
An Excerpt from The Most Scandalous Ravensdale
‘I am not serving that man on table nine,’ Kat Winwood said to her co-worker Meg on her way through to the café kitchen. Aspiring actor she might be, but being polite to that Savile-Row-suited, silver-tongued smart ass was way outside Kat’s repertoire. She couldn’t afford to lose this job—not unless she got the dream part in the London stage play. The role that would launch her career so she would never have to wait on another table or do another crappy—no pun intended—toilet-paper advertisement.
Meg glanced at the man before looking back at Kat. ‘Isn’t that Flynn Carlyon? The hotshot celebrity lawyer to those famous theatre actors Richard and Elisabetta Ravensdale?’
‘Yes.’ Kat gritted her teeth and unloaded the tray, stabbing the knives into the dishwasher basket as if it were Flynn Carlyon’s eye sockets. How had he tracked her down? Again?
Kat didn’t want her co-workers or her new boss to know she was Richard Ravensdale’s scandalous secret. The secret child of his two-night-stand hotel barmaid.
His love child.
Ack. Thinking about the tacky words was bad enough. Seeing them splashed all over every London tabloid for the last three months had been nothing short of excruciating. ‘Toenails torn off with pliers’ excruciating. What had love had to do with her conception? She was the product of lust. The dirty little secret Richard had paid to be removed. Obliterated.
So far no one at work had recognised her. So far. She had styled her hair differently so she didn’t look like the photos that had been circulated. She had even modified her name so the press would leave her alone. For the last couple of months Flynn had been doing his level best as Richard’s lawyer to get her to play happy families, but she wasn’t going to fling her arms around her biological father and say ‘I’m so glad I found you,’ any time soon. Not in this millennium. Or the next. If Flynn thought he could wave big, fat cheques in front of her nose, or wear her down by turning up at her workplaces, then he had better think again.
Meg was looking at Kat with eyes as wide as the plates on the counter. ‘Do you know him? Personally, I mean?’
‘I know enough about him to know he drinks a double-shot espresso with a glass of water—no ice—on the side,’ Kat said.
Meg’s eyebrows lifted. ‘You sure you don’t want to…?’
‘No.’ Kat slammed the dishwasher shut. ‘Absolutely not. You take him.’
Meg walked somewhat timidly towards Flynn’s table where he was sitting alone with one of the daily broadsheets spread out in front of him. They exchanged a few words and Meg came back with brightly flushed cheeks and a wincing don’t-shoot- me- I’m-the-messenger look. ‘He said, if you don’t serve him in the next two minutes he’s going to speak to the manager.’
Kat glanced at her boss, Joe, who was behind the hissing, steaming and spluttering coffee machine working his way through a list of early morning orders. If this job went kaput, she wondered how long she could couch surf in order to get enough money together to get a place of her own. At least she had the house-sitting job in Notting Hill starting this evening. The money was good, but it was only for the next four weeks. Come the first of February, she would be homeless, unless she could find another dirt-cheap bedsit. Preferably without fleas. Or bedbugs.
Kat sucked in a steadying breath, aligned her shoulders and walked to table nine with her best be- polite-to-the-annoying-customer smile stitched in place. ‘How may I help you?’
Flynn’s molasses-black gaze surveyed her tightly set features and lowered to the name badge pinned above her right breast. ‘Kathy is it, now?’ His smile was slow. Slow and deliberate. Amusement laced with mockery and a garnish of got-you.
Kat tried to ignore the faint prickle in her breast where his gaze had rested. ‘Would you like the usual, sir?’
His eyes gleamed. ‘In a cup, preferably. It doesn’t taste quite the same when it’s poured in my lap.’
He was baiting her. Goading her. She. Would. Not. Bite. ‘Would you like anything with your coffee?’ she asked. ‘Croissant? Muffin? Sour dough toast? Eggs? Bacon? No, perhaps not bacon. We can’t have you being a cannibal, can we?’
The corner of his mouth tilted in a smug smile, making him look like he thought he’d won that round. ‘What time do you finish work?’
Kat gave him a brace-yourself-for-round-two look. ‘I’m here to serve you coffee or a meal or a snack. I’m not here to give you details about my private life.’
Flynn glanced towards the coffee machine. ‘Does your boss know your true identity?’
‘No, and I’d like to keep it that way.’ Kat gripped her pen to stop herself from holding it to his throat to make him promise not to tell. ‘Now, if you’ll just give me your order…’
‘Richard’s agent has organised a Sixty Years in Showbiz celebration for him later this month,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be a This Is Your Life format. I want you there.’
His tone suggested he was used to getting what he wanted. Every. Single. Time.
But Kat hadn’t been cast in her kindergarten nativity play as a donkey for nothing. The most intractable mule had nothing on her. ‘Why would I want to go to some ghastly, alcohol-soaked bragging fest about his theatre career when he paid my mother to get rid of me before I was born?’
Just like he’d tried to pay Kat to keep away once the news had first broken of her existence. Where had her father been when she’d needed a father? How many times during her childhood had she prayed for a dad? Someone to provide for her. Someone to protect her. Someone to love her.
Richard hadn’t even had the decency to come to see her face to face but had sent his arrogant, up himself lawyer Flynn Carlyon.
‘You’re being unnecessarily stubborn,’ Flynn said.
Unnecessarily? Of course it was necessary. Her pride was necessary. It was all she had now her mother was dead. Kat leaned down so the customers at the nearby tables couldn’t hear. ‘Read my lips. N. O. No.’
His hooded gaze went to her mouth, his face so close to hers she could smell his aftershave, a citrus blend with an understory of something else, something that reminded her of a cool, dark pine forest where secrets lurked in the shifting shadows. He had recently shaved but she could see every tiny dot of stubble along his lean jaw and around his nose and mouth, the signal of potent male hormones surging through his blood.
His eyes dipped to the open V of her shirt. Only the top two buttons were undone, revealing little more than the base of her neck, but the heat in his gaze made her feel as if she was standing there bare breasted. She straightened as if someone had fisted the back of her shirt and pulled her upright.
Do. Not. Look. At. His. Mouth. Kat chanted it mentally while her eyes continued their traitorous feasting on the contours of his lips. He was smiling again as if he knew exactly the effect he had on her. How could a man she hated so much have such a gorgeous mouth? He had the sort of mouth you could only describe as sinful. Smoking-hot, sex up against the kitchen bench sinful. Sex with the curtains wide open sinful. The upper lip was straight across the top, but the lower lip more than made up for it. It was full, sensual. The midpoint in perfect alignment with the sexy shallow cleft in his chin.
The only reason she was obsessing about his mouth was because she was doing ‘Winter Deep Freeze’ with her best friend, Aerin Jones. Their celibacy pact had started in November and, with only a month to go, Kat was determined to win. She had to prove a point, not just to her best friend, but also to herself. No way was she going to play out the script of her mother’s life. Bad date after bad date. Sex that scratched an itch but left filthy finger marks on the fabric of her soul.
Who said Kat couldn’t go three months without sex?
She could. And she damn well would.
One of the customers tried to move past, bumping against Kat so she had to suck in her stomach and press herself against Flynn’s table. The brush of his trouser leg on her knee sent a lightning zap of heat through her body. Hot. Searing. Scorching. So scorching she expected to look down and see a singed and smoking hole in her thick black tights.
She stepped back once the customer had gone, pen poised pointedly. ‘Espresso? Water no ice?’
‘He’s your only living parent,’ Flynn said.
Kat sent him a look that would have frozen mercury. ‘So? With relatives like him, lead me to the nearest orphanage. I’m checking in.’
Something moved in his gaze as quickly as a camera-shutter click. But then his lazily slanted smile came back. ‘Are you going to get my coffee?’
‘Are you going to take no for an answer?’
His eyes beneath those dark, winged brows roved her lips. Did he feel the same flicker of animal attraction deep and low in his belly? Kat could feel it now. The pulse of lust thrumming in her blood every time his dark eyes trapped hers, as if he too were thinking of what it would feel like to have her stripped naked and pinned beneath his body.
Or against the kitchen bench.
Be still her heart, her pulse, her giddy-with-excitement girly bits.
Another customer came past, but this time Kat turned so her back was to Flynn. Big mistake. She could sense his gaze on her bottom, burning through the layer of her boring black uniform to the satin and lace secrets beneath. She turned and carefully masked her features, but even so she could feel the warmth glowing in her cheeks.
‘What are you doing for dinner this evening?’
Kat put her hands on her hips, anchoring her resolve in case it took it upon itself to quit its shift. ‘I suppose this is a rarity for you? A woman actually having the willpower to say no to you?’
The glint in his eye made something in her stomach swoop. ‘Nothing I like more than a challenge. The harder, the better.’
Joe came up carrying a tray of coffees. ‘Kathy, are you working the floor or flirting with the customers?’
‘Sorry, Mr Peruzzi,’ Kat said. ‘This customer has a…a complicated order.’
‘Tables seven and ten are waiting for their bills,’ Joe said. ‘And tables two and eight need clearing and resetting. I’m running a café, not a freaking dating agency.’
Kat smiled sweetly even though her back teeth were glued together. ‘There isn’t a man inside this café I would be even remotely tempted to date.’
Joe hustled past and Flynn said, ‘Would you be remotely tempted to serve them some coffee?’
She held his mocking look with steely intent. ‘You won’t win this, Mr Carlyon. I don’t care how many jobs you make me lose. I will not be told what to do.’
He leaned back in his chair as if he had all the time in this world and the next. ‘By the way, you were great in that toilet-paper ad,’ he said. ‘Very convincing.’
Kat could feel her back molars grinding down to her mandible. At this rate, her dental hygienist would be charging a search fee. The only thing more humiliating than doing a job like that toilet-paper gig was having your worst enemy see it. ‘So, just the coffee, or would you like a full breakfast to clog your arteries?’
He gave a low, deep chuckle that made the backs of her knees shiver. ‘I’ll have some cake.’
Kat frowned. It was seven-thirty in the morning. Who ate cake at that hour? ‘Cake?’
‘Yep.’ He winked at her. ‘And I’m going to eat it too.’
‘What was that all about?’ Meg asked when Kat came back to the servery. ‘You’re so red I could cook table four’s buckwheat pancakes on your cheeks.’
‘I swear to God I’m going to explode if I have to go anywhere near that man,’ Kat said. ‘I seriously do not get what women see in him. So what if he’s good looking? He’s an arrogant jerk.’
‘I think he’s gorgeous.’ Meg’s expression had that whole star-struck thing going on. ‘He has such dark-brown eyes you can’t tell where his pupils begin and end.’
Kat got out a large slice of devil’s food cake and liberally coated it with cream. ‘There,’ she said. ‘That should fix him. If that doesn’t give him a heart attack, nothing will.’
‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his heart,’ Meg said. ‘He looks like he seriously works out. And he’s so tall. Did you see him stoop as he came in?’
‘I suppose he has to be that tall to allow room for all that ego,’ Kat muttered, picked up the coffee and made her way back to his table.
‘Here you go.’ She placed the plate, the coffee and glass of water in front of him.
Flynn cocked an eyebrow. ‘Aren’t you going to give me a cake fork?’
Kat rounded her eyes in mock surprise. ‘Oh, you actually know how to eat with cutlery, do you? I would never have guessed.’
His lopsided smile did that swoop and dive thing to her belly. ‘You should be on stage.’
‘Yeah, well, that’s the plan.’
‘So how’s that going for you?’
Kat wasn’t going to tell him anything about her audition in a few days’ time in the West End. The AR Gurney play Sylvia couldn’t have come along at a more opportune time. It was one of her favourite plays and she knew deep in her bones she was right for the part of the dog Sylvia. Audiences worldwide loved the notion of a human playing a dog. If she landed the role and did it well, it could launch her career. She wanted the part on her own merit, not because of whose DNA she shared. She didn’t trust Flynn not to leak something to Richard Ravensdale, who might then open doors she wanted to open with her own talent.
‘I’ll go and get that fork for you.’ She gave Flynn a tight smile. ‘Or would you like a shovel?’
His eyes held hers with implacable intent. Hinting at an iron will that was energised, excited, exhilarated by the mere whiff of a challenge. ‘I’d like to see you tonight.’
‘Not going to happen,’ Kat said. ‘I have an appointment with a cat and a fur ball.’
That glint was back in his eyes. ‘I didn’t know you had a cat.’
‘I don’t,’ she said. ‘I’ve picked up a new house-sitting job. The agency I work for occasionally rang me this morning. The person they had for the post had to pull out at short notice due to a family crisis. Apparently the cat is one of those ones that are too precious to go to a boarding centre. It has—’ she put her fingers into air quotes ‘—issues.’
‘How long will you be house-sitting?’
‘Where in London?’
Kat gave him a cynical look. ‘Why would I tell you? You’d be on my doorstep day and night pestering me to meet my sperm donor.’
The corner of his mouth tipped up in an enigmatic smile. ‘So, I guess I’ll see you when I see you.’
Not if I can help it. She swung around and stalked back to the kitchen.
Flynn’s gaze followed that deliciously pert behind until it disappeared into the servery. The thrill of the chase had always excited him but this chase was something else. Kat Winwood was hot. Flames, flares and hissing and spitting fireworks hot.
It was amusing to set the bait and sit back and wait for her to take it. She pretended to hate him. To loathe the ground he walked on, the space he occupied. The air he breathed.
But behind the fiery flash of her green-grey gaze he could see something else. Something she was at great pains to conceal. That betraying flicker of attraction. The way her pupils flared like spilled ink. The way she swept the tip of her tongue over her lips. The way her eyes kept tracking to his mouth as if drawn there by an invisible, irresistible force.
He felt the same stirring in his body whenever he was near her. Lust rumbled and rolled through his body like a cannonball. It was taking longer than usual to get her to admit her interest. But that was what made him all the more determined. The challenge made his blood tick and flick with excitement. He was used to having anyone he wanted. Dating had become almost boring. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had said no to him.
Not since Claire had walked out on their engagement.
He ducked back out from under the crime-scene tape in his mind that blocked him from thinking of how desperate he had felt back then. Desperate to be with someone. To have a family. To have a future to make up for the blank space of his past.
He wasn’t that ‘commitment with a capital C’ man now.
He was a lower-case lover. The chase, the conquest, the ‘don’t call me I’ll call you’ was how he played things now.
And he wanted to play with Kat Winwood.
He wanted to feel her sexy little body gripping him like a clamped fist. To feel her mouth breathing fire over his skin. To feel her tongue twisting, twirling and tangling with lust around his. He wanted to hear that cute little Scottish accent screaming out his name as she convulsed around him.
Kat might be playing it cool, but how long could she ignore the heat that flared between them?
Especially when he was going to be a lot closer to her than she’d bargained for.
A whole lot closer.