Avery Beauregard Montgomery has breezed through life on his dazzling looks, six-pack abs, and sparkling personality. But this pretty boy's luck has run out. Fed up with his freeloading and philandering ways, his brother and sister-in-law are turning on the tough love and turning him out of their house. For Beau, that just means moving on--to his sister's Dallas condo. . .
Suitcase in hand, he stumbles in to find not his sister, but her new business partner, Belle--a gorgeous woman with attitude and no time for trifling charmers. Belle has already claimed the guest room and Beau's imagination. All it takes is one look for Beau to want to do some claiming of his own. Now that he finally knows who and what he wants, what will it take to get Belle on the same page?
"Readers who like romance novels full of glitz and glamour will find Beau and Belle's hot relationship entertaining." --Booklist
"Spark, humor, and sassy dialogue bring pizzazz to this flirty fast-paced romance. . .terrific fun." --Publishers Weekly
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Pretty Boy Problems
By MICHELE GRANT
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Michele Grant
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWe're Done, Son
Jewellen—6:12 PM the same day
I was sorry that it had come down to this. Well no, I really wasn't. Enough was enough. I was only sorry that I hadn't put my foot down sooner. Looking into his handsome face, I could almost hear what he was thinking. He's thinking, This kind of thing only happened to other people. Not Avery Beauregard Montgomery.
Beau, natural-born charmer, all-around good-time guy, was not having a great week. He was fresh out of second chances and clearly hoping for a little mercy. I sincerely hoped he could tell from the look on my face, none was forthcoming.
"Beau, you have officially torn your last pair of silk boxers with me," I hissed while standing in the middle of my living room. Okay, maybe I did feel a little bad about arguing with the man who had become my brother-in-law less than two months ago. But facts were facts. Beau was delicious to look at, tough to live with.
He was six-foot four with the sculpted body of a man who worked hard to maintain that physique, close-cropped hair, and almost regal features encased in toasted-toffee-colored skin. His face was a study in symmetrical beauty: perfect spaced eyes, proud forehead, chiseled cheeks, and almost pouty lips. Beauregard Montgomery was an attractive, well-built man who knew exactly the effect his looks had on people and played it for all it was worth.
My husband, Roman, shared the squared jaw, the broad shoulders, and gold-toned eyes, but that's where the similarities ended. Where Roman came across ruggedly handsome, Beau was downright pretty. Roman tended to downplay his looks; Beau used his like a commodity.
Their personalities were also worlds apart. It was at times like this that I couldn't believe that Rome was related to Beau at all. Roman was responsible, straightforward, considerate, unswervingly monogamous. Beau? None of those things, as far as I could tell. I couldn't recall the last job or relationship he'd taken seriously. As far as I could tell, he loved women, his family, premium tequila, his wardrobe, and himself. Not necessarily in that order.
I motioned to the luggage and boxes stacked beside me. "As you can see, I have most of your stuff packed up already."
"Where is lil Chase?" He referred to his nephew, my stepson, LaChayse. Chase loved his Uncle Beau and would not have appreciated this scene one bit.
"He's with his mother this weekend. He can't save you. Would you seriously hide behind a child? C'mon now."
His tone turned cajoling. "Jewellen Rose Capwell-Montgomery! Ma soeur, can we at least talk about this?"
"I've only been your sister for a few months now. I don't consider you fam yet. Talk is cheap, Beauregard. Yours is downright bargain basement at this point. No more talking, brother. You're outta here."
"Ah chérie ..." Beau tended to sprinkle a little Cajun-flavored patois into his speech when he was trying to be extra charming.
I wagged my head and my index finger in tandem. "Don't bring Bayou Beau to me, sir. That's not going to fly. Today it's not that kind of party. I have repeatedly asked you not to dally around with the women in my office."
Beau held his arms out in a "who me?" gesture. "Dally? I don't dally. I delight, I dazzle, I drink in, but I never dally."
My eyes narrowed. "You have a problem keeping your pants zipped, Beauregard. This is a well-known and well-documented fact. I would think you'd be exhausted trying to keep up with all the hot- and cold-running 'lady friends' you keep on tap, but hey, it's your life. Generally, I don't have a problem with your King of the Man-Ho act until it impacts me. Today, it impacts me. My account manager, Lydia, came back from lunch weeping and wailing about doggish men. Guess which doggish man she was talking about?"
Beau grinned devilishly. "That Lynda, she was surprisingly agile. You know she does Pilates?"
"It's Lydia, and that's TMI." I spoke through clenched teeth. "That makes the fourth employee traumatized by your triflingness. I've had it with you." My company, the Capwell Agency, was a small staffing agency with about twenty-five employees. That meant that Beau had broken one-fifth of the hearts on my payroll.
"Jewellen Rose, that's not reason enough to put me out; we're family! Où est mon frère?"
"Brother, I'm right here." Roman gave me a quick kiss as he walked in, answering Beau's question. My husband was solidly built, wide of shoulder, lean of hip, long of leg. He was about one inch shorter, ten pounds lighter, and three and a half years younger than Beau. The expression on his face said his patience with his older brother had run out. Rome was wearing a lightweight silk suit and a scowl. "The question is—where were you on the James job this week?"
Beau's easy smile fell away. Technically, he was employed as a site manager at Roman's landscape design company. But standing
out in the hot sun overseeing people working in dirt and fertilizer was not Beau's thing. Actually, hard work was not Beau's thing. He was a gifted salesman, could sell ice to Eskimos. But Beau didn't like to be bothered with the details ... like pricing and budgets and invoices. After his "creative accounting" caused Roman to lose money on two projects in a row, Beau was sent out to manage projects in the field.
I was quite sure of what had happened this week. The weather had been unseasonably hot and humid for springtime. No doubt Beau felt he was far better suited to the indoor pursuit of Lydia.
He shrugged sheepishly, "Bro, it was just this week. But everything is under control. It's just this heat, you know. I'll be back out there Monday."
Roman's jaw went granite hard and his rum-hued eyes turned flinty. He slowly took off his jacket, loosened his tie, and folded his arms across his chest. I had seen this stance before. It was his no-nonsense, "this is how it's gonna be" stance. My man was about to shoot straight, no chaser reality in his brother's direction. "No, Beau, you won't. You won't work in the field, you won't do office work, and you cost me over eighty grand in lost revenue last year. To put the cherry on top the sundae, you slept with my receptionist ... at her engagement party. I don't need the drama. We're done, son."
Beau took a step back and glanced from Roman to me and back again. "Wait, you're firing me and putting me out? All in the same day? Seriously, mon frère. C'est a froid."
I couldn't help it; I pursed my lips into a snarl. "We're cold?! You haven't contributed a penny to this household, you eat your way through most of our groceries, you cook and never clean up, you have me washing your nasty drawers, picking up after you, and taking irate messages from women all hours of the day and night. That's cold. Like your brother said, 'We're done, son.'" I'd had quite enough of his nonsense.
Roman walked over and clapped his brother on the back. "We do this with love. It's all with the L-O-V-E. It's time for you to get out there on your own and be about Beau's business, whatever that is going to be. It's time."
Beau gauged our seriousness one more time. Neither of us cracked a smile and most of his things were packed and stacked in the middle of the room. If nothing else, he was a realist. His free room and board, his money-for-nothing job ... gone.
Beau stood silently for a beat, then nodded with a slight smile and shrug. "Tout va bien." He snatched up the largest of the multiple suitcases, a garment bag, and his laptop case. He shook hands with Roman, came over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Time to be onto the next. Y'all been good to me. Merci, ma famille." He slid his sunglasses on and headed out the front door. It closed behind him with a heavy clunk that resonated through the room.
I turned into Roman's embrace as he wrapped his arms around me from behind. "I know we had to do it, but I still feel kinda bad. Like we're letting him down."
"Beau's my brother. I love him but ... Jewel, please. We have carried that man for over a year and that half-assed merci was the first thank-you we've heard. It was time. Trust and believe he will land on his feet; he always does."
"You're right. I know you're right." His hands traveled down my arms to rest at my waist.
"Babe, I'm always right." He gave a cocky grin.
I rolled my eyes. "Let's not get carried away. You moved him in here in the first place, cowboy."
"You have a point." He stroked his hands from my waist to my hips and pulled me a little closer.
"I usually do, Mr. Montgomery."
"But I wonder, Mrs. Montgomery; do you know what this really means?" His fingers started unraveling the knots holding my wrap dress together.
I liked where this discussion was heading. I started unbuttoning his shirt. Didn't matter how many times we did this, I was still thrilled by the easy heat between us.
"By most standard rules and customs, we're still in the honeymoon phase of this marriage, you know." My dress fluttered to the floor to crumple alongside his shirt.
"True." I tilted my head up and to the left a little as I leaned into him.
Roman inched me closer still. "Umm hmm. This means with him gone and Chase at his mother's ... we can get buck naked and nasty in any room of our house again—anytime we like." He trailed kisses down the side of my neck.
I unbuckled his pants. "Naked and nasty? Why Roman LaChayse, what do you have in mind?"
"Come a little closer and let me show you."
His next action took any remaining worry or thought about Beau right out of my head.
Chapter TwoAvery Beauregard Montgomery
Beau—6:23 PM the same day
"Jesu Christo, what a day!" I muttered under my breath as I slid behind the wheel of my black convertible Porsche. With a sigh, I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. Here we go again. This was getting old. By this, I meant having to start over from ground zero and rebuild.
I mean, merde! One of these days, I was going to do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do. Thirty-eight years old and not a lot of tangible achievement to show for it. No home, no job ... no life to speak of.
This wasn't my plan when I started out years ago. As the first-born child of Avery and Alanna Montgomery, I planned to blaze a trail for my younger brother, Roman, and younger sister, Katrina, to follow. My childhood was golden; I had no recollection of Pops and Madere struggling to make ends meet. When we moved from Louisiana to Dallas, it was an easy transition for the whole family.
After years of civil servant jobs, Pops had opened a trucking company. Madere worked as his operations manager. They worked hard, and the company remained successful until the day they sold it a little over five years ago.
I grew up as an athlete, a scholar, and generally known as "that nice Montgomery boy" around the neighborhood. Sometime in junior high, I sprung up eight inches, all arms and legs. My ass was gangly. My head was too big, nose too prominent, lips too wide for my face.
Thankfully, by the time I reached high school, I had grown into both my features and six-foot-four frame. It seemed like overnight I went from being the smart, nice boy with quiet manners to "that dude" that guys envied and girls wanted. I liked the feeling; I liked it a lot.
I excelled in sports without very much effort and excelled in my classes with very little studying. Apparently, I looked good doing both. Vividly, I can recall the day that I realized the full advantage of attractiveness. I had stayed out with a friend enjoying a lil female companionship the night before a major project was due. For the first time, I skipped turning in a homework assignment.
When I got to class the next day, my teacher asked me why I hadn't turned in my assignment. I had no valid answer so I decided to wing it. On a whim, I walked up to Miss Whisler's desk and knelt beside her looking into her eyes. In a soft voice, I apologized, swearing it would never happen again. After a slight pause, she blushed. Then she told me it was okay, just this once.
My friend, who was just as nice, held the same grade point average, but wasn't quite as easy on the eyes, was given an incomplete and an afternoon in detention. It was a turning point for me. I got it. In an illuminating moment it was all clear to me. Beyond brains, beyond brawn, beyond brown skin, and whisky-gold eyes ... I had "it"—that indefinable charisma that drew people.
You can call it charm, maybe it's second nature, I don't know. But I realized I had it, and I was going to make it work for me. Having "it" meant that, sure, I could work hard for extra credit, or I could spend that time in a more entertaining pursuit and charm my way to the grade I wanted anyway.
Yeah, yeah—I realize that the day I decided to use my looks, wit, and smile was the day I stopped trailblazing. It was the day I got comfortable. But I'm not sure that if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't do it exactly the same way.
I had a combination of academic and athletic scholarship offers. Baseball was the sport I loved. I played short stop; I could run, hit, throw, and jump with minimal contact. I chose Tulane because it was back home (still considered Louisiana home), and I knew I could be a big fish in a little pond there. Baseball paid for my first two years of college. Officially, I majored in marketing. Unofficially, I majored in women. I received high marks for both pursuits.
Right before my junior year, a talent scout from a modeling agency "discovered" me in Café du Monde late one summer night and sent me to New York. Modeling part-time paid for the last two years of college when I transferred to LSU. Once I graduated, I moved to New York and modeled fulltime.
What they don't tell you about modeling? It's boring as hell. The majority of your time is spent waiting around or running to catch a flight. You are treated like a commodity and not a very smart one at that. But tell me what else I could do that paid me $5,000 plus expenses for two days' work?
I lasted for ten years; that's five times the average male model's career. I earned a decent nest egg that, contrary to popular belief, I have not blown through. I buy myself a new car every two years and pick up jobs here and there, as I see fit.
At thirty-eight years of age, I was a man still waiting for my purpose in life to reveal itself. I wished it would hurry the hell up. There had to be more than this. Forty was just around the corner. I had no intention of becoming "that guy"—the one who had all the potential and pissed it away. The one still chasing twenty-year-old tail in his forties. I couldn't be that guy. If I knew nothing else, I knew I was better than that.
But for right now, this instant? I needed a place to lay my head for a minute. Wiping my hand down my face, I started the engine and made a ten-minute drive south along Central Expressway.
That's how I found myself, fresh off a firing by my brother and an eviction by my sister-in-law, standing outside my sister's high-rise condo in downtown Dallas, hoping (praying) she was out of town.
Kat was a model as well and frequently jetted off for days at a time. I was pretty sure that she was doing a beach shoot on the other side of the planet and would be there for a week or so. At least I hoped so. If Kat was home, she would want explanations; she would want chatter and explanations, and I wasn't in the mood for any more soul searching.
With my laptop case slung over my left shoulder and a garment bag in my hand, I leaned on the doorbell. After a few minutes with no response, I dug into my pocket for the spare key I had made for emergency situations such as the one I found myself in now.
"Kat?" I called out as I stepped in the door. "Katrina? It's Beau."
Still no answer. With a relieved sigh, I set the bags down in the entryway and ventured deeper into the unit. I strolled past the open great room with kitchen and living area attached, ignored the guest rooms and bath for now, and headed for the master suite.
It wasn't until I was outside the master bath door that I heard the shower running and Maxwell crooning.
I sighed. A brother cannot catch a break today, I thought as I pushed open the door. Fog and the strong scents of ginger and peaches wafted heavy throughout the area. I stepped deeper into the room. Kat's shower was a huge glass-and-tile enclosed box on the far side of the room. Without pausing, I yanked open the shower door and dove into my explanations. "KitKat, it's Beau. I'm staying a few nights. No lectures, okay?"
Excerpted from Pretty Boy Problems by MICHELE GRANT Copyright © 2012 by Michele Grant. Excerpted by permission of DAFINA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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