Lace and Lies (Brooklyn Brothers #1)
Excerpt of Lace and Lies
It was a cooler October night. The temperatures were no doubt going to start dropping off as we got deeper into fall weather. I’d probably need to go grab my faux fur jacket, so my nipples wouldn’t poke through my dress for the photos and grace tomorrow’s front page of the society section. Nobody needed that.
I shivered again, just imagining the headlines.
Even the design work etched into the stone walls of the building was impressive. Something from Old World Europe, almost Gothic in nature. Whatever the style, it felt great on my back as I leaned against it, the uneven carvings digging into my tense muscles. Poor substitute for a back massage but hey, I’d take it.
I pulled out my phone and scrolled through my emails and messages. Why, I didn’t know. I knew all I’d find would be work, work, and more work. Nothing personal or exciting. Just reminders of what I had waiting for me come Monday morning.
Knowing my time was about up, I stowed my phone back inside my clutch and pushed away from the wall. That’s when I heard probably the most terrifying sound a woman could ever hear in public.
I could already feel where the sheer material on my back was torn.
And to steal a line from Xander? That was just fucktastic.
Stupid uneven Gothic carvings.
At least it wasn’t the front of my dress, but still. I didn’t need “Designer’s Wardrobe Malfunction at Own Show” to be smeared all over tomorrow’s headlines either. My jacket would probably cover it up, but I still had to walk past dozens of people and cameras just to get to the coat check.
Chewing on my lower lip, I was about to pull out my phone and call Xander or Giselle to have them bring it to me when a deep, rumbly voice came from behind me.
“Need some help there?”
I was embarrassed to say I might have elicited a mousy squeak and jumped in the air. But it would have scared you, too. That was some horror movie shit right there.
The man’s resounding chuckle sent another shiver shooting down my spine. But this one wasn’t due to the chilly night breeze.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
That was all I had. One freaking syllable.
Where did he even come from? How was someone that quiet? Was he a ninja? I couldn’t even turn around to look at him because that would put my back facing the rest of the party. He must have been pretty tall, too, because his voice came from above my head, and my heels raised me to a height of about five-foot-seven.
“Looks like you could use a hand,” he said, sounding almost amused.
Wasn’t it always great when your misfortunes resulted in someone else’s entertainment?
“I, um, have a jacket I can put on.” My voice came out softer than I’d intended. “It’s at the coat check.”
“I got it.”
The next thing I knew, his warm hands were touching my back. His big, slightly callused hands that made my skin tingle.
I jolted. “Wait, what?”
I thought he’d meant he would go get the jacket for me. I’d been about to give him my coat check ticket. Why was he touching me? And could I ask him not to stop without sounding desperate?
Jesus, you’re pathetic.
His hands carefully gripped the sheer material. It was hard not to be distracted by the way his fingertips lightly grazed the skin of my back, almost absently.
“Are you particularly fond of this dress?”
Uh, where was he going with this? “I mean, I made it myself…”
Did he just growl?
He immediately cleared his throat, as if trying to cover up whatever that noise he emitted was. “And you did an amazing job,” he rasped. “But it’s already ruined. If you’ll trust me, I might be able to improve on that.”
“Trust you?” I blurted out before I could stop myself. “I don’t even know you. Hell, I can’t even see you.”
He muttered something under his breath that I couldn’t make out. I could have sworn it sounded something like you haven’t seen me for the last six months, but the champagne must have been getting to me.
“Fair enough,” he said, his voice sounding more gravelly. “Then just trust that I don’t want your big night to be overshadowed by a ripped dress. Not when you’ve worked so hard for this.”
That took me aback. Even more so than the soft, slow movement of his fingers as they pushed my hair out of the way. I typically wore it in waves or loose curls, but I had gotten a blowout that afternoon and left it straight for the show, which meant it was hanging even further down my back than usual.
Why was I still allowing him to touch me like that? Because it’s more physical contact than you’ve had in months, and it feels pretty damn good.
"How would you know if I’ve worked hard or not?”
He paused, his fingers stilling. “It’s obvious to anyone here tonight that you have. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be your name on that wall.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that. He was acting a little too familiar for a stranger with no face.
He grunted, sounding frustrated. “Do you want my help or not?”
Again, for a no-name, faceless stranger with a sexy voice, his abrasiveness weirdly didn’t unnerve me. “I guess—”
I didn’t even get to finish the sentence before the sound of more ripping reached my ears. “What are you doing?”
His hands jerked and pulled, and then I felt the material at my back give way. “Helping,” was all he said.
My outrage was building. “By making it worse?”
He did some more ripping before eventually stepping back.
Funny. The lack of his presence made me squirm in place more than when he was actually looming right above me.
“Trust me,” he grated out. “That definitely didn’t make it worse.”
I reached around to feel for myself, but he batted my hand away. “Hey—” I started to protest, but the clicking of a phone camera stopped me.
Before I could ask what the hell he was doing now, he thrust his phone in front of my face. “Told you.”
The picture was of me, of course, though he’d caught my profile as I was talking to him over my shoulder. My back was completely bare now. He’d just removed all the sheer material and thrown it to the ground. Surprisingly, it nearly looked better than how I’d originally designed it.
Then I couldn’t help but notice the hand that held the phone.
I’d been right about his size.
His hand was huge and made the phone look like a miniature in comparison. His nails were neatly trimmed. And the watch he wore had easily cost him ten grand. I recognized the brand. So, the guy was clearly wealthier than the average American.
“Okay, you win,” I conceded. “It doesn’t look that bad.”
I reached out to snag the phone and delete the picture, but he was quick to pull it away. “Please delete that. Not that I don’t appreciate your help, but I don’t exactly like the idea of some stranger having a picture of me on his phone.” I turned around without another thought.
Everything went into slow motion.
I knew who this was.
And… Oh, my God. Kill me now.