Excerpt for Taming Red by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

This page may contain adult content. If you are under age 18, or you arrived by accident, please do not read further.

Taming Red



Billionaire Fairy Tale Romance, Book 1



****



By Philippa Ann Holt

writing as

P. A. Holt









Copyright © 2018 Philippa Ann Holt writing as P. A. Holt

All Rights Reserved

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Published by Bacchanal Press

For more information:

www.philippaannholt.com

Philippa’s Tumblr

Philippa’s Newsletter






Chapter 1



“Take your sweet fucking time, why don’t you?” I complained, wrapping my arms around myself and glaring out at the passing crowds. “We’re going to miss all the action. Why do I do this with you?”

“Because you’re my best friend and wouldn’t let a girl smoke in a dangerous alleyway all alone?” Jordan answered. “Come on, Scarlett. Get over it. I’ll only be another five minutes. Besides, things won’t get really good for another half-hour, or so. It’s early yet and you know the celebration lasts all damn night.”

I rolled my eyes. Best friends. Dangerous alleyway at the height of Mardi Gras. It wasn’t that I felt the need to protect Jordan. More like I didn’t want her to step aside for a smoke and scoop up a potential mark before I got my chance. We might have been friends, but that was just the type of thing she would do. I didn’t put anything past her deceitful ass.

So I glared out at the revelers passing by, a riot of color and glitter and noise. Of course, I dressed to fit right in: red jacket open to reveal a low-cut tank top, denim mini skirt, sheer black nylons, and knee-high boots with come-fuck-me heels. This pulled the victims right in and then we struck. None of the guys we preyed upon got any further than a few drunken gropes with me, because Jordan and I were that good at our work. Flirtation followed by an almost-kiss, and then I’d take their wallet while they grabbed my ass.

Jordan and I would move on before the men knew what had happened to them, find our next marks. If the men we fleeced were fiddles, then we were fucking virtuosos and our nimble fingers were our bows.

Jordan was right. It was early yet on this Mardi Gras night – only nine. But I liked to get that early start to find the crowds with the youngest, dumbest, and richest kids. A drunk twenty-one year old on vacation and spending daddy’s money always parted with it more easily than the locals who knew our thieving ways. And then there was the matter of staking our claim, defending our territory, and keeping the other conniving bitches at a distance.

It wouldn’t do to have someone else displace us, like stupid college girls looking for free beads from guys susceptible to a pretty face and a supple body. No. This was our turf.

I’d spotted a likely group not long before Jordan decided to duck aside for her smoke break. Now, as we threaded our way back through the crowd, I pointed them out to her. Her sharply-lined lips lifted at the corners and she nodded her approval. As far as we were concerned, it was the perfect situation – an annual celebration that saw a lot of tourists and businessmen passing through, guys we never had to see again after a few teasing caresses.

Good pickings could set us up for at least half the year, which meant less time hustling pool. Not that we gave that up entirely, either, but we had to be careful. Sure, it could be an easy few hundred dollars in our pockets, but if anyone caught on, we could get roughed up. I’d take the anonymity of Mardi Gras over our bar routine any night.

Regardless of the dangers, I loved being able to sleep in every day and wake up late in the mornings. Why work hard when I could play harder and take home more money for minimal effort?

Grumbling, I threaded my way diagonally through the crowd and tried to ignore the smell still wafting from Jordan’s general direction. “That’s a dirty habit, Jordan, really. No guy likes a girl who reeks of smoke.”

“I haven’t gotten any complains. Some of them love it. You’d be surprised.” Jordan had lit up yet another cigarette, heedless of the crowd surging around us. She took a few more inhalations, the smoke wisping from her mouth when she exhaled. “Some guys like kissing a smoker. They think it’s sexy.”

“Again, yuck. Seriously. It wasn’t sexy in the 1930s and it’s not sexy now. Besides, we’re not supposed to let them kiss us.” I rolled my eyes toward the group I’d been eyeing. It looked like five guys and two chicks. That was easy enough to assess. The two girls were probably coupled up with two of the guys, which meant the other three would be looking for an easy lay. And, given enough time, the two with girlfriends could be convinced to bump and grind with a stranger just long enough to lose what money they had.

Jordan finally tossed the cigarette to the ground and snuffed it out with her pointy-toed shoe. “Let’s go for it, Scarlett.”

“Not yet.” I held up my hands and guided her around to a café near where the group of young people stood, laughing and drinking.

“You’re the one who was so upset that we’re wasting time and money.”

“Yeah, but you’re right. It’s too early. They’re not drunk enough yet and those girls will be on high alert, especially if you go shoving your way in there.” Jordan had long, wavy brown hair, and the kind of large breasts that bounced when she walked. Guys noticed her. “Of course, I could always figure out who’s available and see if I can get a little one-on-three time with them.”

“No, please. There’s a difference between flirting and getting physical,” I reminded her.

She rolled her shoulders back, a motion that lifted her breasts. “Sometimes getting physical is the way to a man’s wallet, Scarlett.”

A grimace of distaste twisted my mouth. “Yeah, if you don’t mind being a hooker. There are lines we drew to protect ourselves.” I had to raise my voice so she could hear me over a passing band, the trumpet music blaring toward us.

“No, those are lines you drew,” Jordan retorted, shrugging as she led me a little closer to the café. As soon as the band had moved on, leaving things back to the normal dull roar, she added, “Sometimes you have to give a guy a little something-something to get more out of him. You can’t always rely on them being drunk to loosen them up.”

Before I could argue further, I noticed a woman with long, raven-black hair sauntering toward us. The neckline, if you could call it that, of her glittering gold dress dipped so low, I could see more breast than anything else. Her focus appeared to be locked on the group of kids I’d had in my sights, but then her gaze snapped to me and she stopped short. When she folded her arms, her breasts nearly spilled out of the dress.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the Red Queen and her bitchy sidekick.”

“Hey, I’m not Scarlett’s sidekick.” Jordan gestured between us with a flick of her wrist. “It’s the other way around, Michelle.”

“Whatever.” Michelle’s glare settled on me. “I’m not as concerned about your slutty friend as I am about you punching me in the face or something, Red, so I’ll just be on my way.”

That was one of the benefits of mine and Jordan’s partnership, at least. Everyone else in the city saw her as the bimbo and me as the scrappy one. On her own, Jordan would probably end up in hair-pulling catfights. At least with me to watch her back, she could act like a bitch in heat all she wanted. It wasn’t always the easiest alliance, but it worked.

Michelle started to turn with one last, wistful gaze at the college kids. But then Jordan stepped forward and took her by the shoulders.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Michelle squealed, squirming in her hold.

“I’m making a deal with you,” Jordan answered before I could step between them. “You can have the kids, because I just realized those crab cakes I had earlier are making me feel like I’m going to throw up.”

“Ew, get away from me!” Michelle flailed and Jordan let her go. “Are you seriously done for the night?”

Jordan turned and looked at me imploringly. “I think so. Scarlett, will you walk me back to the apartment?”

I had no idea where this was going, but I nodded once. “Sure, I guess.”

“Great. Good luck, Michelle. They already look pretty liquored up.” Jordan patted Michelle’s bare shoulder, linked her elbow with mine, and then dragged me down the street.

As soon as we were out of earshot, I said, “Hey, what’s this about crab cakes? Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“Money,” Jordan hissed into my ear. “Two o’clock.”

I turned and there they were, walking dollar signs wearing Armani suits. They had to be out-of-towners – one of them fresh-faced, the other looking more wary and closed, and both fancy as fuck. They were either looking for a good time or looking to get robbed. We’d offer them both.

Jordan and I angled our way through the crowd, drawing closer to our new marks. I knew she was raking them with her gaze, same as me, to assess the situation. One looked younger, with blond hair flopping over his forehead like a California surfer, and eyes slightly glazed over, indicating he was already well into his cups. Jordan would want to work him over and probably even get him in bed with her. She was already eyeing him possessively. The inebriated ones were easy and Jordan liked easy, not to mention men with a hot, athletic physique.

The other had Manhattan posh written all over him – dark hair, narrowed eyes, but an air of nonchalance. It was easy to pin him since I was a native New Yorker, myself. I’d worn it like a target, too, when I first moved to New Orleans. Now, though, I blended. He didn’t. I figured this was his first Mardi Gras, because I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a man like him – a man with model-perfect good looks and broad shoulders. I bet underneath that suit was a body he could probably strut on a Calvin Klein runway. Hips that tapered into powerful thighs and probably a sexy happy trail that led into his briefs. In fact, I’d go even further to bet he was wearing CKs at this very moment, the smooth, lush fabric probably hugging a firm, chiseled pair of hips and thighs…

I shook the thoughts from my head. Cut that shit out. He’s one hell of a fine mark and that’s all.

“I’ll take the Ken doll,” Jordan muttered as she leaned back just a bit so her breasts thrust forward provocatively. She did have a lot to thrust and I envied her those ample curves. With a glance down at my own petite body, I sighed and offered a nod.

Big, confident men like Manhattan always went for the tiny, delicate girls like me. It wasn’t something I cared for, though. Bears in human clothing thinking they could feel me up, pick me up, and treat me a bit like a rag doll. But as long as they were drunk and their money moved from their pocket to mine, it didn’t last long and it hardly mattered. They usually had no clue what’d happened by the time I disappeared. It was worth a couple of hours of mild degradation for the few hundred dollars it put in my pocket.

“Good thing we spotted them before Michelle did. I can tell that one’s going to need some warming up.” Jordan leaned against me and said, “We need to get their attention. Let’s walk in front of them and then make out with each other.”

“Again?”

“It worked last time. We got almost a grand each that night, the guys were so careless.”

I slanted a glance over at Manhattan. “He doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would fall for lesbo porn action.” And I, personally, would have preferred not to kiss Ms. Cigarette Breath.

“Yeah, but his friend does. Let’s just try it.” Jordan leaned closer, her intentions obvious as her face turned to mine.

“Please, no. Let’s just talk to them. Look, they’ve stopped at one of the stores. Go talk up the Ken doll and get us started. He looks susceptible enough.”

Jordan sighed. “And then you’ll play little miss innocence and give city guy the doe eyes, and say something like, ‘Well, we better keep them out of trouble,’ and join us. Doesn’t your act get boring?”

“Making out might work, but so does my line.” I turned my face away and focused on not losing the guys in the crowd, resolved to avoid kissing Jordan and tasting her smoky breath.

“Fine, then.” Jordan turned her full gaze on the Ken doll and let her breasts lead the way. If I had been just another random woman who didn’t know her, I would have laughed at Jordan, would have whispered to my friends about what a slut she was, how obvious her antics were, would have put her down as pathetic.

But I knew Jordan’s way of getting attention also got results. Other women might call her names, but Jordan wasn’t afraid to use what she had and I sort of respected that.

“Hey there, boys.” Jordan was right next to the men now, angling her body toward the blond’s and tossing her hair coquettishly. “Just passing through or looking for some Mardi Gras shenanigans?”

“Shenanigans?” the blond said, a mischievous grin on his face. “Nice word. I could go for some shenanigans with you. What’s your name, gorgeous?”

“Jordan.”

“Of course it is. I’m Chad and this very serious looking man is Logan, and we would love to get into shenanigans with you tonight, if you can handle us both.”

Jordan giggled and turned to give him a full frontal view of her cleavage. There on the thriving, crowded streets of New Orleans, every woman had everything on display, and Jordan certainly wasn’t afraid to work it to keep men’s eyes on her. Her breasts remained elevated by a strategically aligned demi-bra just under her low-necked top. She played the shameless hussy so well, while I got to pretend to play the innocent ingénue.

So I kept my eyes fastened on the store’s window display as Jordan worked her magic. It was something to behold, the way she could throw herself at a man so blatantly without batting an eyelash. She was damn good at it. Me? I had no problem with taking on the role of the demure sidekick. If Jordan was the bad cop, I was the good cop. If she was the one who negotiated, I was the one who closed the deal. It worked for us and we worked as a team.

With very little effort, she talked the Ken doll – Chad – into buying her a drink. His kind was pretty obvious to me. He was a rich boy, probably since birth, and used to having girls fawn all over him. Probably went to some fancy private school where he was the most popular and then a prestigious college where he got all the pussy. For him, Jordan would be just another passing fancy. He’d probably already figured out he could get some cheap, hot thrills, and then move on with his life.

The other one, though?

Logan didn’t appear to be easily impressed by Jordan’s flirtatious antics. His grimace made it clear that he was exasperated, but he was along for the ride. Why? If my guess was correct, Chad was his guest, they were in New Orleans on a business trip and mixing that business with pleasure, and it was Logan’s responsibility to ensure he didn’t get into too much trouble. Chad was either a client or potential business partner, and it was up to Logan to also keep him happy. Apparently that meant babysitting him while he got drunk and flirted with a local floozy.

I almost felt sorry for Logan. Almost.

After all, the guy probably had more money than my entire family put together and that meant a good night for me. Furthermore, guys like him had earned their money the old-fashioned way: by screwing over the little people. And I, most certainly, was one of the little people.

Oh yes. The more I thought about it, the more I relished the thought of taking him for as much as I could.

As soon as Jordan went in for the kill and Chad succumbed, following her into the crowd, I moved into her vacated space. This put me just close enough to Logan to speak to him in a normal tone of voice, but not too close.

“Hi, sorry about her. I’m Scarlett.” I offered my hand for him to shake, but he didn’t accept it. “Um, we should probably make sure they stay out of trouble,” I said, my inflection meant to indicate that I wasn’t happy about the idea, but rather resigned to watch over my friend.

The glance he slanted me wasn’t sympathetic. It might have even been downright hostile, the way his jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed even more. So much for trying to establish a bond of commiseration.

When I looked into those eyes again – those impossibly vibrant blue eyes – heat suffused my entire body. Well, fuck. But why not feel at least a teensy bit lustful? I mean, he was hot, after all. It wasn’t a crime to find a man attractive.

“Or not,” I said, finding my tongue again. “I’ll just go see if I can keep Jordan on the up and up, then.”

And I moved away to follow my friend, not caring if the glowering hottie followed me. I knew exactly where Jordan was going – into one of the darker, seedier bars just a few doors down the street. There, she’d whip out the pool cues, challenge the guys, and we’d earn our money one way or another.





Chapter 2



What the fuck was a sweet little thing like her doing out on her own during Mardi Gras without a man to look after her? And what was she doing following her friend into a place like this? A place with low lights, a dingy bar, and a man who looked like a biker serving the drinks.

I didn’t know, but I knew I didn’t like it.

As she sauntered toward the pool table where Chad and her friend had gone, I watched her hips sway, the denim miniskirt moving with the motion. She was tiny, but that didn’t stop her hips from moving invitingly, rolling with that purposeful walk of hers.

The last thing I wanted to do was babysit Chad, but he was a potential investor and investors needed to be kept happy. So I had brought him to Mardi Gras, his genius idea, since we had to look at a hotel here in New Orleans. How we’d ended up in a seedy place like this, I didn’t know. I guess he was following his head. Not the right one, either.

I’d visited New Orleans on occasion and had a good time, of course. I suppose I could let him have some drinks, play some pool, maybe even hook up with loose ladies who weren’t all that concerned about striking up anything other than a passing acquaintance for the night. He’d enjoy it, because that was just Chad’s way.

That wasn’t my kind of thing, though. Cheap thrills didn’t turn me on.

But little Scarlett with her wide, brown eyes and long honey-blonde hair sure did, and I felt my dick harden as I watched her cross the room and lean over the pool table. She didn’t do it in a particularly provocative manner – just leaned in slightly to say something to her friend and shake her head – but I envisioned bending her over that hip-high green felted table, and driving my erection into her then and there. I imagined she’d be wet and waiting. All I had to do was step up behind her and start plowing that pussy.

A moment later, I shook off the thoughts. It was the first time I’d reacted to a woman like that since I was a teenager with out-of-control hormones. Not even my last girlfriend had stirred that kind of lust in me.

Then again, Blair had been an upper East side porcelain doll and nothing about that was appealing, unless one was looking for a marriage.

I wasn’t. I was, apparently, looking for a fast fuck with something sweet and innocent. So I joined the game because, damn it, I couldn’t stop myself.

Scarlett looked up at me from beneath her lashes, the glance shy and almost fearful. It lasted only a moment before she dropped her gaze and fiddled with the pool cue her slender fingers were now curled around. I played with the idea of seeing them wrapped around my cock, instead, both her hands holding my turgid flesh as she realized exactly what I planned to do with her.

“Do you want to play?” she asked, her voice not quite carrying over the music.

Oh yes, I wanted to play, though I had no idea why I felt so strongly about it.

I reached out and grasped a pool cue from the rack on the wall, finally finding my voice. “Only if you’ll be on my team, Scarlett.”

To my delight, she shivered visibly and kept her gaze demurely lowered. It was clear the other girl – the one hanging off Chad – was the leader and Scarlett was the follower, the friend who hung back while the other made questionable choices. Scarlett was probably the one who got her friend’s drunk ass into a cab, made sure she made it safely home, and then went home on her own, wondering why she put up with the girl.

I could change all that. I could take her away tonight and change her life.

Instead, though, I watched her so-called friend mock her pool skills and psych her out of making what should have been an easy shot.

Scarlett turned around to face the wall. “I’m sorry,” she told me. “I should have gotten that.” Her cheeks darkened with a blush. She looked so sad, like someone had just stomped her puppy.

What a bitch that Jordan was. I’d show her.

When I lined up my shot, Jordan lifted her brow and said, “Do you really think you can manage that?”

Without answering her, I thrust my stick at the cue ball. It rolled across the felt, knocked into the four, which in turn dropped into the corner pocket, hitting the seven on the way and sending that ball into a side pocket.

“Well, I guess that answers that question.” Jordan turned away from me and blew a kiss to Chad. “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”

The game ended with Jordan and Chad winning. Barely.

“Let’s do it again,” Jordan chirped. The bitch’s enthusiasm was annoying.

“No,” I said shortly.

“Oh, come on.” Chad dug into his pocket and pulled out his wallet, then waved some bills in the air. “Let’s get serious. More beer and more billiards. It’s fucking Mardi Gras, after all. Let’s party.”

“I don’t think he wants to.” Jordan put her hand on Chad’s arm and shook her head. “He’s afraid of losing to a girl again.”

If steam could blow from my head, I knew it would. But instead I pulled out my own wallet and said, “Lady, you get the beers,” and passed a fifty to Jordan. “And Chad, you’re on.”

“No, please don’t.” Scarlett was at my side, all doe-eyed and anxious. “Why don’t we just sit down and enjoy our drinks, and then you gentlemen can be on your way. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than spend Mardi Gras in a place like this. All the action is outside.”

“All the action could be inside, too,” Jordan answered and leered suggestively at Chad, who returned the expression.

I clenched my jaw and matched Chad’s bet on the edge of the table. “Another game won’t hurt.” That, and it would also keep Scarlett where I could see her, out of the grasp of the rowdy crowd just beyond that door.

And the second game certainly didn’t hurt. Much. Even though Chad and Jordan won again by the smallest margin. Scarlett’s expression was absolutely miserable now. I certainly didn’t blame her for the loss, but she looked ready to cry.

“I’ve got an idea,” Jordan said when Chad handed her the six crisp hundred dollar bills. “What about an opportunity to win this money back?”

“I’m game.” Chad had another beer in him and an idiotic grin on his face.

“Except…” Jordan drew out the word as she trailed her fingers up Chad’s suit jacket. “We swap partners. I take Scarlett, you take Logan, and we go double or nothing.”

Chad chortled and shook his head. “I didn’t hand you that money just to have you lose it all.”

“But come on! You never know what the next game holds. After all, it’s not just skill, but luck as well.” Jordan leaned in and her hand dropped lower on Chad’s body, down to his abdomen, and then lower still.

The thought of her hands on my body disgusted me. Instead, I turned to Scarlett, who looked positively green at the idea of another game.

“Let’s do it,” Chad said with a smirk. “I’m all for some guy on girl action.”

“Oh, I’ll bet you are,” Jordan purred, tossing her hair. “Get over here and trade places with Chad, Scarlett. Just one more game and then you can go tuck yourself into bed with some warm milk.”

Scarlett’s steps were slow as she crossed over to Jordan, dragging the pool cue with her. Chad racked up the balls and bowed. With a flourish of his hand, he said, “Ladies first.”

As Jordan stepped up to break, I locked gazes with Scarlett. She looked away quickly, but not before I saw a shimmer of tears at the corners of her eyes. I hated for her to lose, but I also hated to fork over another three hundred dollars. Still, once the game was over, we could leave and be on our way, so I resolved to show no mercy.

After Chad, Scarlett stepped up and analyzed the table. I saw a shot that wasn’t exactly obvious, but looked fairly easy, if only she viewed it from the right angle. But she was on the opposite side of the table and leaned over it to shoot, her long hair obscuring her expression.

The cue ball tapped one of the striped balls into a pocket, split, and took out another. Scarlett straightened and squealed, jumping up and down. “I did it!”


Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-13 show above.)