I’m giving away TWO special Forbidden Arrangement Swag Boxes to celebrate the fact that Forbidden Arrangement is out in less than a month.
The Case: Casually bump into Valentina Ford. Take her out. Be a jerk. And then she’ll go running off to daddy’s perfect match. Easy peasy.
The Mark: Valentina Ford, 28, headstrong, too beautiful for her own good, enjoys trashy reality tv shows. Has a wild side.
The Problem: The second I meet Valentina Ford, she kisses me. And I know nothing about this case is going to be easy.
I’m Sam Valenti. The eldest of the Valenti Four. Yes, I have three other brothers who are even crazier and hotter-headed than me. The teachers just loved us in school. I run The Valenti Brothers Fix-It agency. There is no problem too big or small that we won’t attempt to fix. I’ve found cheating husbands, lost dogs, and even procured a recipe book from a little old lady for a large culinary corporation.
But now I’ve gotten my weirdest case yet. I have to date an impertinent sassy brunette. But there’s a twist, I have to be the biggest jerk she’s ever dated. It’s an unusual case, for sure, but one that I’m willing to take on, for the money he’s offering. It should be a piece of cake.
But then I meet Valentina Ford and I know instantly that nothing about this case is going to be easy. Not one single thing.
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The wind caressed my neck as I made my way down a sidestreet on my hot red Ducati Panigale V4 R. A yellow cab honked at me as I zipped past him towards the bar. I loved riding my bike; even in New York City. I stopped outside the Tied Hog Bar and parked next to a harley. I grinned as I got off of the cool metal and took my helmet off, running my hands through my short dark hair. I checked out my reflection in the window as I made my way inside. Stefano had convinced me to wear a blue dress shirt, to bring out the blues in my eyes and tight black jeans. He said women were attracted to men that looked like bad boys so I had to dress like one; which I thought was moronic. All of us Valenti men were bad boys. It didn’t matter what we wore.
I pushed the door open with my left hand and adjusted my helmet under my armpit as I looked around for Valentina Ford. Hamilton hadn’t given me a photo. He’d said if I was a detective worth my salt, I’d figure out which woman she was. The bar was loud and full of young professionals who were busy trying to out impress each other. Pop music was playing through the speakers and I decided to grab a drink before I got to work. I made my way past a group of guys and felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around in surprise.
“Can I help you?” A pretty brunette with hazel eyes and long hair grinned at me and then back at her group of friends, who were all cheering her on.
“Hey Danny,” She said, reaching up to give me a hug.
“Sorry, I think you’re confused.” I shook my head as I took in her face. She really was quite beautiful.
“Oh Danny, I’ve missed you so.” She said with a giggle and then she wrapped her arms around my neck and leaned in and gave me a long warm tender kiss. Her eyes were sparkling as she pulled back.
“Uhm…” I stared at her wondering what the hell had just happened.
“Sorry,” She winked at me. “That was a dare.” She pointed back towards her friends. “Lindsay over there is getting married and tonight is her bachelorette party.”
“Oh, no worries.” I said, understanding now what was going on. “You have a nice night, M’am.”
“You too, Danny.” She blew me a kiss and then turned around and walked over to her gaggle of giggling friends. I smiled as I made my way back toward the bar. My lips were still tingling from the kiss. That had been a nice way to start the night. The girl had been pretty, almost captivating. But I couldn’t think about her. I needed to concentrate on meeting Valentina; wherever she was.
“Hey,” I approached a bored looking man that was standing behind the bar, idly cleaning a glass.
“How can I help you?” His eyes looked glazed and I was pretty sure that he was high.
“Can I get a corona?” I tapped my fingers against the wooden bartop and looked around. “I’m waiting on a blind date.”
“You and half the crowd.” He grabbed a bottle from the fridge.
“Oh this is a pickup spot?”
“I guess.” He shrugged as he handed me the bottle. “That’ll be $18.”
“What?” My jaw dropped. “For a corona?”
“Welcome to Williamsburg.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled out a twenty. “I don’t suppose you know Valentina?”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “I know Valentino though.”
“The designer.” He rolled his eyes and looked me up and down. I could tell he was sizing me up and finding me lacking.
“Never heard of him.”
“Surprising.” He took the twenty and I watched him put it in the register, take out a $5 note and put it into his pocket. Hmm. I debated saying something, but then changed my mind. I didn’t know if he was ripping me off or his boss and frankly at this moment I didn’t care. I leaned back against the bartop and looked around. My phone beeped and I grabbed it from my pocket.
Stefano: You found your new wifey yet? I rolled my eyes as I stared at Stefano’s message. Sometimes he was an asshole.
Sam: You get your ass beat yet?
Stefano: Dad wants you to know that we’re all expected for Sunday dinner with his new main squeeze.
Sam: ARGH. Do I have to go?
Stefano: All four brothers are summoned.
Sam: How many girlfriends do we have to meet?
Stefano: Well, if he has thirty years left, that’s about thirty more.
Stefano: He invited Sienna as well.
Sam: What the hell? Is he really that dumb?
Stefano: Dumb and inconsiderate. Yes!
Sam: How do you know he invited her?
Stefano: Because Elise will be there as well.
I was about to type more when I froze. The gaggle of girls from earlier on was next to me and one of them had just said something I was very interested in hearing.
“So Valentina, is Shane coming tonight?”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood on edge. Valentina? As in my Valentina. I took a quick look to the side to see if I could figure out which one was Valentina. There were five of them standing there. The bride was obviously out, unless Valentina had gotten engaged and planned a bachelorette party in the last twenty-four hours.
“No, he’s not coming.” The sultry voice was recognizable. It was the woman who’d kissed me. Whoa, I was in shock. She was beautiful. Some may even have said stunning. I allowed myself a few seconds to process everything. Valentina was the woman who had kissed me. Valentina had a boyfriend or at least a man she was seeing according to her dad. If she’d kissed me, a random stranger then it didn’t exactly say much about the seriousness of that relationship.
“Oh no, I thought he’d paint us all or sing us a song.” One of the other women said and I tried not to roll my eyes. Some women were so impressed by such nonsensical talents.
“He’s getting ready for a show tomorrow.” Valentina said, a huge smile on her face. “He’s going to be trying to sell his goods in Central Park.”
I took a chug of my beer and took a step towards Valentina. “Hey Sandy.” I said stopping next to her, grinning down into her surprised hazel eyes. She blinked as she looked at me and then smiled back.
“Hey Danny,” She bit her lower lip in a flirtatious way and twirled her hair with her fingers. I noticed that her fingernails were a bright red. She liked to stand out. “Come back for some of that Summer Loving?” She winked at me and I grinned.
“I had a feeling it was a Grease reference.”
“Only the best musical film ever made.” She laughed and nodded. “So how can I help you kind sir.”
“I thought I’d come over and introduce myself, seeing as we’re intimately acquainted.”
“We are?” She tilted her head to the side and stared at my face, a capricious expression on her face. “Oh the kiss?” She giggled and shook her head. “It was just a kiss.”
“It was just a kiss?” I stared at her, shock running through my head. Since when was a kiss just a kiss? What woman could kiss a Valenti and not fall under our spell? My dad always said that the was the curse of the Valenti men, we were so potent and inticing that every women we came into contact with couldn’t help but fall for us. Granted, I hadn’t expected Valentina to express her love after one kiss, but I’d expected her to swoon or something. She was acting like it all meant nothing and I found that hard to believe because my lips were still tingling from the feel of hers against mine.
“A kiss is a kiss is a kiss, is it not?” She smiled at me sweetly. “Plus it was a dare, no big deal.”
“Hmmm,” I looked around at her friends. “So are you all participating in that dare?”
“No,” One of the other women blushed. She was shorter than Valentina with short brown hair and brown eyes. She giggled slightly as she sipped her bright pink fruity cocktail. “That was Valentina’s dare, we will all do something different.
“I see.” I smiled at her and she took a larger gulp of her cocktail.
“Not so fast, Gabriella,” Valentina warned her. “You know how quickly vodka goes to your head.”
“It just tastes so good.” Gabriella licked her lips and shrugged. She looked at me for a couple of seconds and smiled. “I heard that the more weight you carry, the more alcohol you can drink before getting drunk.”
“Gabriella, stop it.” Valentina shook her head and laughed. “You’re not even that big.”
“I’m plus-size.” Gabriella shrugged and I watched as she played with her hair self-conciously. She definitely wasn’t as skinny as a pole, but she had a beautiful curvy body. I knew some men preferred no curves, but I wanted to tell her that any real man would love her body. Plus size or not, it didn’t stop her from being beautiful.
“So what?” Valentina said. “You’re the most gorgeous woman I know.”
Gabriella beamed with happiness at the compliment. I stared at Valentina for a few seconds wanting to correct her. The most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen in my life was Valentina Ford; though I didn’t want to say that. I didn’t even want to think that. This was a case. The last thing I needed was to make this more complicated than it had to be. Hamilton had already deposited fifty grand into the agencies business bank account.
“Can I buy you all another drink?” I asked as I looked at the other women as well. I really wanted to concentrate on Valentina, but I knew the way to get in with one woman was to pay more attention to her friends in situations like this. I hated the game, but sometimes you were forced to play it.
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