When Beauty Met the Beast
by Khardine Gray
Genre: Romantic 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…
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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
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…
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He’d woken me up to check on me to see if I was okay. Then he started searching through the house. When I asked him what he was looking for he said it was nothing to worry about.
Then he started looking at the CCTV and decided he’d get a new system because the cameras inside the house weren’t good enough.
He was outside now with a guy who’d come to look at the place and install a new system. All that and it was barely eight a.m. I didn’t even know how he got that man to come out so early. I supposed though that he probably paid him quite a lot.
I wasn’t sure what was going on so I decided to wait in the living room until he was finished, then I’d head out for work. I wanted to get in early so I could leave at lunch time and be at the hospital for visiting hours.
Yesterday I tried to call my parents to let them know what had happened to Taylor. I was actually hoping that one or both of them would come back.
If there was anyone who could make me feel better it was my mom.
Yesterday when I called their home in France I was told that they’d gone to Africa for a mini safari holiday. Then I couldn’t get through to the place they were staying at.
I just decided to try again and got put through to a man called Tunde.
“Hi I’m trying to reach Felicity and Philip Matthews. They could be down as Flick and Phil.” My parents loved telling people to call them that. My mother said it had a certain ring to it that she liked.
“Oh yes, Flick and Phil,” he said in a rich African accent. There was a hint of a smile in his voice. “They’re going to be out on the reserve for another two days but I can get a message to them.”
“Thanks so much. Could you possibly let them know there’s an emergency in L.A. I’m Chloe, their daughter. If they could call me that would be great.” I thought that was the best way to put it so they’d know that there was an emergency, but hopefully not panic too much.
“Sure thing Chloe. I’ll make sure they get the message.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
I sighed with frustration when I hung up. It was just like my parents to do something so extravagant. Who went on a safari holiday in the middle of April? Easter was two days away, most people just rested. But no, my parents were probably riding lions across the Sahara.
I sighed with frustration, annoyed that they hadn’t told me they’d be in Africa. They didn’t usually tell me when they went off on one of their getaways but it would have been nice to be kept in the loop. Particularly during times like this. It would be good for me if they were here, but I needed them too. They’d know exactly what to say to give me the strength I needed, and they’d offer their support.
I sighed with annoyance and stood when I looked over at the clock on the wall and saw the time. I was hoping to have breakfast with Wade, but I had to leave now if I wanted to get all that I had planned done and get to the hospital to stay with Taylor.
Wade came into the living room holding a receipt. I glimpsed the figures on it and thought I saw what looked like ten thousand dollars.
“Did you get your parents?” he asked.
“No, and I won’t any time soon. They’ll be practically out of reach for another two days. I can’t believe they didn’t tell me they were going to be in Africa.”
“Baby don’t get worked up.”
“I just wish they were here,” I frowned. “Sometimes I feel like they stopped being my parents when I turned eighteen.”
“That’s no bad thing.” He chuckled then walked over to the window and looked it over like he was checking it worked.
“Wade, what is going on? You’ve been acting weird all morning.”
“I’m having the place checked out.”
“For what? And what are you expecting, an army of thieves?”
He narrowed his gray eyes at me. “Baby, safety is a priority. You girls leave your house on show for everyone to come through.”
“It isn’t that bad.”
“Yes, it is. It’s terrible. Three women and a cat in a house with the windows and doors open scream come and attack me, or rob me.”
“I forgot how crazy you can be.”
He grimaced at me and frowned when I picked up my bag. “Where are you going?”
“Work,” I replied.
“No, no. Call in sick. Stay with me today and then we can go together to the hospital.”
“Wade, I’m the creative director, I have a lot of work to do and even more because I want to spend some time with Taylor. I can’t just call in sick.”
“Okay, I’ll come with you then.” If that wasn’t weird I didn’t know what was.
“No. I’m fine. You stay here and sort out whatever it is you’re sorting.”
He was already shaking his head before I could finish. “I’ll get the keys. We’ll take the car.”
I watched him go upstairs. I was about to continue the protest, but stopped myself. As annoying as it was that he was super protective of me, it was nice. I had never had anyone take care of me like that. He was just showing me that he loved me, and I appreciated it.
When he came back down he took my hand and led me to the car.
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!
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We were at that phase of a relationship where you’d keep seeing each other until exclusivity was discussed. I was there in my mind. Definitely. He was the most perfect man I’d ever been with.
Everything about him was perfect and I wanted him to feel the same way I felt too. Maybe for him that would come with time.
“Thanks,” Wes said and Chloe left us.
Wes stood up and reached his hand out to take mine. I took it gladly and rose to meet his awaiting lips.
He kissed me softly, sending energy throughout my body. Making me feel as if I were walking on air. I pressed my hands onto the firm muscle of his chest and found myself wondering what the skin would look like there without the cotton t-shirt.
It wasn’t a superhero one today. It was just a casual long-sleeved t-shirt that made his abs look good. That was the first thing I noticed when he walked in earlier.
“Do you want to come to my house?” he asked against my lips.
“Yes.” I smiled into more kisses.
He pulled away with a truly sexy smile and took my hand to lead me away.
A half an hour later I was transported to Wes’ magical world of wonder. We stood in his very large basement. Today it was the exact replica of Matira Beach in Bora Bora. I stood by what looked like the seashore on a perfect day with the bright sun beaming down on us, although evening was approaching. I imagined the gentle swish of the sea at my fingertips, even though we were a few miles away from the beach.
“You like it?” Wes asked in that nervous way that made him look even more attractive.
I whirled around and gazed at him, allowing the ends of my hair to brush against the edges of my elbows.
“I love it. How is…” I giggled, thinking of what I was going to say. This sort of thing was what he was used to, but for me, I’d always be mesmerized. “How are you doing this, Wes? I know I’m in L.A. and I’m not on the beach, and it will be dark in a few hours, but this is Bora Bora. My favorite place on earth.”
Butterflies filled my stomach as I watched the corners of his sensual mouth turn up into an easy smile.
“That’s why I did it. You seen Star Trek?”
I almost jumped for joy. I actually had seen a few episodes of the series. “The holodeck,” I answered, and he looked impressed.
“The holodeck, indeed.”
“You have a real holodeck?” I widened my eyes at him. From what I saw on the show, that thing was amazing. It could project a hologram of anything, anywhere, and place you inside the simulation. This felt like that. If Wes had the technology to do something like that, then that would be phenomenal and I’d be expecting something like a Nobel prize.
“Not exactly, it’s not nearly as sophisticated or futuristic. But it’s good, right?”
“Wes, right now, I’m totally convinced that we’re in Bora Bora. Has Chloe ever seen this? I can’t believe she wouldn’t mention it, this is so cool.” I beamed, grinning with excitement.
He’d been standing by a large rock formation and leaning against the tallest part of it. I watched as he moved away from it and smiled up at him as he came closer.
“Chloe doesn’t know about this.” Wes looked directly into my eyes. “I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and then I thought about how much you love Bora Bora, so that kicked me in gear to finish it. This is the only simulation it does at the moment. I did this for you.”
No one had ever done anything like this for me before. Not even close. I could easily put it down to never being with anyone who was this super intelligent, but that wasn’t what this was about.
What touched me was that he listened to me, knew how much I loved the place, and did something that he knew would have meaning for me. That was the sentiment that I valued.
I was taken with everything Wes did. Everything. He’d presented himself at a time in my life when I needed to be saved. Saved from fear, saved from disappointment, saved from a broken heart. In fact, on that, my heart only started to beat again when I realized how comfortable I was with him. I liked being in his world and in his mind. And…I supposed there was also one important thing that was becoming very evident, and that was the swift development of my feelings for him.
Just now my feelings went through the roof. “You did this for me?”
“Yeah, and look, the cologne brought you back to me.” He chuckled. “I’ve been buying it in multipacks.”
I smiled, wanting to laugh, but found it more important to let him know that something more powerful than his highly valued cologne brought me here and would keep me coming back.
“It’s you, Wes. Just you. I’ll come here, or wherever you are, just to see you.”
I didn’t think my words would have any effect on him but they did. Something flickered in his eyes and I could tell that hearing that come from me meant a lot to him.
I should be worried that my feelings for him were developing way too fast, and that I never felt like I could trust anyone again. Richard had hurt me deeply, and the pain from that whole saga was still there. I should be worried that I wasn’t more distraught about that and basically avoiding men altogether.
But this was Wes, the most perfect guy I’d known all my life. I knew him, and that was perhaps reason enough to trust that he would never be a jerk. Wes would never be another Richard. This man wasn’t made that way. Made to deceive and manipulate. He was the real deal.
Suddenly the sun started going down and the room darkened. Moonlight then took over, turning everything everywhere silver. I talked to him about how I enjoyed walking on Matira Beach in the moonlight. I’d gone into details about how everything looked.
Before me were those details. He’d tried to capture them, all of them. Like how the water sparkled against the moonlight and each sparkle looked similar to the glint of a diamond. He made the palm trees look like jagged shadows, black against the silver backdrop. The sky was inky black and the moon hung like a picture against it.
Again I spun around, looking everywhere, absorbing the magical feeling that filled my soul.
“Wes.” Excitement rippled through me and I took hold of his hand, but he didn’t move.
He held onto my hand, compelling me to look at him.
“What is it? You’re giving me that look again,” I pointed out. It was the look he had where I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, as though he was trying to work out if I was real or not.
“It’s you. You… in the moonlight,” he replied. His voice respectfully low and appreciative.
“How do I look?” I kept my voice low, too, watching the subtle silver tone turn his eyes the same color.
“Taylor,” he began on the edge of a breath. ”Not even the angels could rival your beauty.”
I looked at him, trying to catch myself before my heart could take another step and jump into the chasm of risk people took when they took a chance on love.
But it was too late. In that moment, as I looked at him and his words melted my heart, I fell for him.
I was ready for him even before he moved forward to kiss me. My whole being was.
My soul welcomed the swish of his tongue into my mouth and I indulged on the taste of him. Wes tasted like something rare, something new and exciting.
I pressed my hands onto the solid wall of his chest and a soft moan escaped my lips as our kiss really got going. Desire pooled between my thighs and pulled down heavily on my groin.
My body molded to his when he pulled me closer and gripped at the side of my dress, making both straps fall down my shoulders. I wore a strapless bra, one of my favorites, made of sheer material that was almost see-through. The matching thong was the same.
He stopped when he ran his hands down my waist and brushed the top of my thighs. “We should stop,” he managed through a labored breath.
My own breathing was short and choppy from the sexual heat of the kiss. “Why?” I looked at him with confusion.
“I don’t want you to think that I brought you here just to…” He had that attractive embarrassment again. “Sleep with me.”
“I didn’t think that. But what if I wanted to?”
I couldn’t see his skin quite clearly in this light, but his expression was the face he made when he was blushing. He released me and ran his fingers through his hair.
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.
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