Say Yes by Lucia Franco
I broke all the rules.
He knows my true self.
Our relationship is far from a game.
I’ve never felt this close to a man.
James Riviera is everything I never knew I wanted. Powerful, sexy, alluring, and completely mine.
Now he wants to make me his wife.
I only have to say yes and I’ll have forever, but forever isn’t as lasting as people believe.
*Say Yes is a 200+ page companion novel to Hush, Hush, and should be read in order.
Excerpt Say Yes by Lucia Franco
Sleep eludes me as I fight off this horrible headache.
I turn over and curl onto my side. Light from the cracked door spills across the bed and I place a pillow over my face to block it out. Sleeping in a pitch-black room has always helped in the past, but this time it isn’t working. The main cause of my headache is stress. I’ve had so much on my mind lately I’ve hardly slept.
I yawn and close my eyes, feeling the pull of sleep finally taking me under. I’m nestled under a pile of blankets when a door outside my room slams, startling me awake. I gasp and my heart seizes in my throat as my bloodshot eyes widen for a split second. I lay in silence for a moment, my eyes growing heavy and I begin to drift off again, until I hear James yelling from the other room.
“You tell that little fuck he has one last chance to come clean with me or I’m dropping his case, and he can go beg another lawyer to take him on pro bono.” A pause of silence. “Reece, I was paraphrasing… Yeah… I’m not in the mood. Remind him I was the fifth person he spoke to who finally said yes. He’s facing life in prison. Let him know if he doesn’t come clean with everything by the time I get back, I’m dropping him. All I need is two minutes with him and I’ll know if he’s lying.”
I swear I can feel James’s tension through the walls. My heart is saying go to him while my body is urging me to wait.
He’s quiet as he listens to Reece, and I catch the clatter of ice cubes falling into a snifter. The glass meets the marble countertop with a sharp clink and the lid pops from what would only be a bottle of cognac. I know him like the back of my hand. He’ll give it a little spin after he pours and take a quick sip before he responds to Reece.
I move the pillow off my face, stretch my arms above my head, and inhale. My body is desperate for sleep, but I want to see James more.
“Thanks, Reece. Just stay on top of it. I’d hate to drop him, but maybe it’s time he learned a lesson.”
After a pause, James lets out a lively laugh.
“Yeah, she’s here. Stop thinking about her like that, you fuck,” James says, and I know he’s joking. “Yeah, I’ll tell her you said hi. All right, man, yeah. See ya later. Thanks again.”
A tired smile tips my lips. I like hearing them banter. James and I had discussed the possibility of bringing other people into our bedroom since we are officially a couple now, but we’d both decided it was best if we didn’t. Reece has been trying to get us to recreate that hot night the three of us shared a few years ago, but James and I always say no. We’re both comfortable in our relationship and don’t feel the need to bring anyone else into it.
Quite frankly, I’m not sharing him.
James’s footsteps echo as he strides down the hall toward our bedroom. I sense his riled presence and see a shadow appear before he opens the door and pushes his way into our room.
I love when he calls me Val. Normally, a sly smile would curl my lips and my blood would rush with desire of what’s to come at the sound of that nickname.
But today I just want someone or something to put me out of my misery. Maybe I’ll see if Natalie will bring me her weed pen. He doesn’t hit the light switch because he knows I have a headache from hell, so he leaves the door open just enough to be able to see me.
Wide steps eat up the distance. James is standing at my bedside, looking at me with a piercing gaze like something is simmering beneath his skin, itching to come out. The contrast of blues in his eyes always come out when the lights are turned down low. He places his glass on the nightstand, then leans down to press a kiss to my forehead. My eyes close and I smile, even though he can’t see it. I love his forehead kisses. Reaching for him, I wrap my arms around his shoulders and pull him to me, making him climb into bed. He comes to me without hesitation.
James is positioned on his side so he can spoon me, but I curl up next to him instead and nuzzle his neck with my nose. I need to feel his body pressed to mine. He wraps a strong arm around the back of my neck and scoots closer to me. I guess he needs me too.
“Feeling any better?”
“Mmmmm,” I hum under my breath, then nod.
“Yes, it’s a dull headache now, but a lot better. It helps being in your arms.”
I release a sated sigh and burrow myself into his chest. Being in James’s arms is the only medicine I need.
“I would’ve come home sooner if you needed me.”
Angling my chin up, I press my lips to his and feel his salt and pepper beard tickle my skin. I shake my head and say, “Not necessary. Everything okay at work?”
James hooks my knee with his hand and scoops my leg around his hip so that I’m partially laying over him. A little purr vibrates in the back of my throat at feeling the heat of his body warm mine. He lays his hand at the crest where my thigh and hip meet and gives me a good tug.
“It would be if this client of mine would get his act together. This kid doesn’t seem to comprehend that he’s facing life in prison. He thinks it’s a joke and figures since he’s got my firm to rep him, he’ll walk scot-free. Too bad it doesn’t work like that.”
“How old is he?”
“That’s unfortunate,” I say quietly. “Hopefully he’ll come around. He only has so much time before he seals his future with bars.”
James is quiet for a moment. I know he’s stewing over the situation and that it bothers him. Attorneys are taught to leave their emotion at the door, but they’re humans too, and occasionally, a case gets to them.
“Yeah, I hope. I’d hate to see him wind up as another teen statistic, and that’s the route he’s going down.”
I don’t like the sound of hopelessness layering his words. James is a good man with a good heart. He’s constantly offering a helping hand to anyone who needs it. To see him troubled to this degree bothers me and causes this need to unfurl through me to take his mind off things.
My palm glides over his wide chest, feeling his strength beneath the expensive material. A fire burns inside of me at having someone like James—the strong and silent type—hold me like I’m the only thing that matters in this world.
Pressing into him, I roll against him until he’s lying on his back. I rise to my knees and straddle his hips. I lean over and linger above his mouth, purposely arching my hips back with a sexual slide of my pussy. James grips me, his hands come to rest on my rounder hips.
“I heard you call out to Val when you walked in,” I say, my voice taking on a huskier tone. I know what he needs, and I want to give it to him. James needs his mind taken off work and what he can’t control. He needs someone to take the reins and make him forget his own name.
I’m that girl.
I reach for his black tie and slip my middle finger through the knot to loosen it, then pull it off completely. My touch searches for the black buttons of his dress shirt so I can remove it too.
James slips his hands under the oversized shirt I’m wearing and presses into my skin as I undo his buttons. His hips give a little surge into mine, causing a tide of tingles to flow through me. My body turns lax for him, and my eyes roll shut at how divine his hands feel on my skin.
“I did,” he murmured.
Val. We made a deal when we officially started dating almost two years ago. When I become Valentina for the night, all cards are off the table and I am at his mercy. Not that I’m not every other night, but on Val nights, it’s different. We’re different. I don’t say no. I wear what he wants me to wear, and he is relentless all night. Anything I’ve voiced about liking or wanting to try with him, he gives it to me. Being open with our sexuality is what drew us together in the first place. Happy sex life, happy wife. That’s the motto, right? Although I’m not his wife, it’s pretty much the same thing. James loves that he makes me happy. He even walks around with a goofy grin on his face all the time.
At first, I worried that Valentina was who James wanted and not Aubrey, but he’d assured me that wasn’t the case. He said he liked to change things up a little, and I couldn’t fault him for that. Who doesn’t? I know I do. He was open and honest with me. It keeps things interesting and fun for us. I never know when he’s going to call out for her—it’s always a surprise—and I never regret it. Usually, I’m eager for the next time before we’re done.
“Only if you’re up for it,” James says.
Move aside, Aubrey. Valentina’s up.
“I’m always up for you,” I say, dropping my voice to match the mood. James loves when I go full Valentina on him.
My fingers reach the last button. I push his shirt open to reveal the colorful tattoos on his chest. For fifty-six, he’s in better shape than most twenty-year-olds. Brawny, virile, and still hot as sin. James Riviera is all mine. It’s hard to see the actual designs in the shadows, but I know the colorful swirls of ink on his skin by heart. My palms slide up his abs, feeling each rib of muscle, then over to his pecs. I scoot down to undo his belt, but he reaches out to stop me before I can even pull it free.
My eyes snap to his. Without saying a word, James flips me over so he’s looming above me. He pulls me in with his steel gaze like there’s something he has to say, and I’m lost to him. He lowers his body and gives me his weight. My fingers thread through his hair while I revel in the touch of his bare chest between my thighs.
“Val can wait until this weekend,” he says, and my brow creases in confusion. “We’re going to Tahiti for a week. I already have it set up and cleared your schedule with your assistant, and I made sure the cats are well taken care of.”
My eyes widen in surprise, my heart rushing fast from excitement. Before I can respond, James says one more thing that makes me a goner for him all night.
“Right now, give me my Aubrey and let me make music with her body.”