Skylar Reed believed that in order to move forward you had to block out your past, pretend it wasn’t there and a new life would automatically fall into place. Meeting Kian Kane made her think that it was definitely true. Life with him is passionate, erotic and fun. He is easy-going and loves her. She loves him. But the past doesn’t stay hidden. Join these two lovers as they learn about sacrifice, trust, and love. Skylar will have to learn about facing her past whilst Kian is going to learn that beauty is only skin deep. He has to learn to see Beneath Her Beautiful.
“Damn! That guy is super hot!” Faye exclaimed next to me.
I flinched at the high-pitched tone of her voice, did everyone have to speak so damn loud so early in the morning—eh afternoon? Coming from Faye, I knew she did this on purpose. I growled deep in my throat hating the fact that this was the fourth Monday in a row that I sat in a coffee shop trying to nurse a hangover. So annoying. Speaking of annoying I glanced at the reason for my hangover and also the reason life as I knew it had changed.
Faye Kane was anything but fairy-like, she was tall and voluptuous with bright red hair cut to her chin and chocolate brown eyes that were just too watchful and intelligent for my taste.
“Don’t you have a boyfriend or something?” I asked her, keeping my head down trying to inhale the scent of coffee steaming out of my mug while also trying—unsuccessfully—to block out the noise from all around us. I mean really, why did Faye always insist on dragging me to a packed coffee shop on Wall Street amongst hundreds of people when she knew I had a hangover? Stupid question because Faye felt the need to irritate and torture my life. At least this time she hadn’t dragged me through Times Square.
My decision to flee London and head to New York stemmed from the break-up with Brandon but once I got here, it was the best decision of my life. I had a swanky job as an assistant to Faye Kane who miraculously happened to be a fashion designer with a bad sense in party planning. So basically I, Skylar Reed, planned out her events, stood by her side during her fashion shows and also made sure she got to her dates in time. Unfortunately that also meant that Faye constantly dragged me to her upscale parties and her binge drinking nights. I felt like I was in this bad kind of movie script. Faye although annoying became my best friend within the first three months of my job since then two years have passed and I am well on the mend from the whole London thing. Of course the only thing that followed me was the thick accent—which Faye and the girl’s at work never failed to tease me about.
“Seriously, Skye, you really need to learn how to control your alcohol. You’re a complete lightweight.”
I glared at her as she poured sugar into her skinny latte—who puts sugar in a completely non-fat drink?
“I had a bottle of tequila with God only knows how many Jagerbombs you crammed down my throat last night, and you’re calling me a lightweight?”
Faye shrugged and her eyes wandered back to the counter where I’m pretty sure that dude was standing. “And for your info, I do not have a boyfriend.”
I snorted. “Right, because they don’t survive the night long enough to be called boyfriends.”
I watched as her gaze wandered back to the counter again. Curiosity getting the better of me, I followed it. The guy was a looker. He had light brown hair cropped in a military-like style and he was dressed in what seemed to be Armani. He was lean and tall. As if feeling the weight of two people staring at him, he turned around.
I was aware of Faye sucking in a breath and in my mind, I couldn’t agree more. He had a baby-like face with the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen. It was then that I realised he was walking towards our table with a bright smile that seemed to transform his face into something else completely.
“Skylar? Skylar Reed?”
What. The. Hell. He knew me?
He grinned. “You have no clue who I am, do you?”
I smiled sheepishly and shook my head.
“You were friends with my sister Chastity in middle school.”
I stared at him as the name ran through my brain. Honestly, I’ve been trying to block out my entire life from two years before and he wanted me to go all the way back to almost fifteen years. I remembered someone chasing me down a wet road with a freaking cockroach, someone trying to cut my hair while I slept and then of course, that awkward moment when I walked in on him with his girlfriend.
“Holy shit! Ryan?” I jumped up and hugged him. “Oh my God! I never thought I’d see you again!”
Ryan laughed. “You mean hoped you’d never see me again?”
I laughed harder and noticed him glancing down.
“This is my friend and boss, Faye Kane.”
Ryan immediately turned on his charm as he shook hands with Faye. “The fashion designer, right?”
“You’ve heard of me?” Faye seemed amazed.
“Of course. My sister always sends me into your stores to buy her clothes. It’s etched in my brain,” he smiled warmly.
“You gonna stand there or will you sit and join us?” I asked.
Ryan grinned and sat down ordering a coffee. “So why’d you leave London?”
My smile felt strained as I tried to keep it from slipping off of my face. “Mixed reasons, guess I felt Faye’s call.”
The tension broke when we all burst into laughter. Ryan went on to telling me about Chastity and how she’s currently touring the world after getting a big break as a model. I gave a half smile while remembering that at one stage I was entering those pageants with her.
“After that entire hour of telling me about her, you haven’t exactly dished on what you’re doing here in the Big Apple,” I pouted mockingly.
Ryan chuckled. “Let’s just say I needed to get away from all the bad things happening back there.”
I looked into my steaming mug trying to pretend that I didn’t get his double meaning. I noticed Faye try to engage him in a conversation and took that as my cue.
“So, I need to get to the office and make sure all is set for tomorrow night’s launch party. Since everyone has the day of I’m going to use the office for some study time.” I smiled at the two and stood collecting my laptop bag.
I grinned at Faye’s startled expression and made my way to the glass doors. Ryan caught up to me though.
“I know what happened with Brandon, I want to say—”
I held up my hand and nodded in the direction where Faye was touching up her make-up. “We have better things to talk about, Ryan. We both left London and whereas my reasons are out in the open, you don’t find me prying into yours.”
Ryan swallowed and looked away.
“I appreciate you being concerned but let us build a friendship on the fact that we’re in a new city with new adventures. Treat Faye well,” I warned and walked onto the busy streets.
The Kane Inc. Tower was situated at the end of Wall Street—after all when you have one of the most successful businesses in the world then it’s only fitting that your headquarters are on one of the busiest money-making streets in New York City. The building was made out of pure black glass, with these really mean looking steel pipes circling around it. It looked as if a roller coaster fanatic tried to design the building, knowing that it was basically Faye’s family building, I guessed it sort of fitted her rollercoaster-like personality.
From the tabloids—and Faye’s constant hero-worship—I knew that the building and the business plans all belonged to her brother. I had never seen him nor found the time to Google him. Faye kept me busy enough that I hadn’t gone snooping into family affairs. From the gossip that circulated around the tower I knew that the mysterious Kian Kane was a man who appreciated the female population a bit too much and not only that but he spent most of his time in random countries managing nightclubs.
I walked into the lobby, sighing as the air of the AC brought me some relief from the heat outside. Miranda the pretty red-head receptionist smiled and waved at me as I passed her desk on my way to the turnstiles. The lobby was huge surrounded by glass with plush white furniture and huge vases of fake white flowers—I wondered what Faye’s brother’s obsession was with white because almost every floor was decorated in the same way.
I took the elevator up to the eighteenth floor of the twenty story skyscraper, and as soon as the doors dinged its arrival to the floor and the doors swished open, I remembered why I said ‘almost’ every floor was decorated with a white theme. Faye’s floor was everything a fashion designer’s floor should look like. You were immediately assaulted with a rainbow of colours. She had portraits of models wearing her garments, a massive L-shaped dark purple couch in front of a black and red desk, the fake flowers here ranged from big sunflowers to blue tulips. I passed the empty desk, the sewing rooms, the model selection rooms, the make-up rooms, passed Faye’s massive office which had double doors, and finally stood in front of a glass door that looked into a rather neat office.
The name SKYLAR REED was scripted in italic writing. My office wasn’t very big but it was just enough for me—to be honest with the kind of pay I received, you wouldn’t find me complaining about the size of my office. I had a love for the colour blue and so I decorated it accordingly. Baby-blue walls, dark blue furniture and the carpet in my office was made up of a selection of squares all in different shades of blue. Wow, guess I just invented a new thing—Fifty Shades of Blue.
I shook my head at my lame joke, and plopped down on my comfy leather chair. I flip through Faye’s schedule, phone in the caterers to confirm the menus, phone the band and finally, track down all the models. I would be so pissed if a model didn’t show up, I mean, how do you show off a garment if you have no one to wear it?
This job may seem simple especially since I was the youngest of three daughters to the popular District Attorney of London Derek Reed but I had long since left behind my will to follow in daddy’s footsteps. After all he was hardly ever there for me while growing up. All of a sudden when I had realised I wanted to be someone in the media world he decided to reign down on me with his money and pull. Hence the reason I was now a law student that was currently struggling to pull through. You’d think at twenty-two I’d actually put my foot down but no, I still had this incessant need to make daddy proud.
After a few hours of working my ass off for tomorrows launch party and preparing for next month’s one, I decide that I’ve worked hard enough. As I’m exiting the elevator I realise I hadn’t even studied at all for my exams which were due next week. Great! I was an assistant to a fashion designer and I expected to find time to study for my law degree? Yeah, I was so gonna need time of work in the near future. Not like I cared anyway.
Lost in my thoughts and the bitter feelings that always popped up when I thought of my family back in London, I bumped straight into a wall.
I suddenly felt light headed.
No one called me that ever, except one person. One person who I tried my very best to forget, one person who brought back everything that I was ashamed of. I looked up and sucked in a breath.
He was as gorgeous as I remember. His dark hair flopped over his forehead. He had a strong jaw, his lips were thin on the top and pouty at the bottom, his eyes were the colour of dark chocolate, sensual yet playful, and even more disconcerting was the way he wore that suit. It accentuated the muscles of his body, almost as if it was made to fit him. Shouldn’t it be illegal as to how good a guy looks in his suit?
I could see he was looking at me as well. I wished I was a peacock so I could spread my feathers and preen for him—wait what the hell? I did not want to impress this guy! Not really.
“What are you doing here?” we both said. While he was amused and awed, I was pissed.
He frowned and raised a brow at me which had me biting my lips—man, he was hot. Snap out of it, Skylar!
“I work here,” he tilted his head at me. “You?”
I looked around at the almost empty lobby. This was not good. We could not be alone with each other. Well not like that made any difference now did it?
“So do I,” I said. “And now, I have to go.”
I moved towards the turnstiles, ready to bolt when I felt his strong hand wrap around my arm. Immediately there was this electric buzz that flew through my body—just like that night in the club. Flashes of me on his desk, his head between my thighs, looking into his eyes as I straddled him, the heat of his breath as he whispered those daring comments against the window… I closed my eyes and breathed in and out, I needed to get away from him—fast.
“Hey,” he said, I could hear the roughness of his voice. “You want to go for dinner or something? We could catch up.”
I laughed out loud, I couldn’t help it. “We don’t know each other. I don’t think I want to go out with a complete stranger.”
“Really?” he frowned. “Because the last time I saw you—you were having sex with a complete stranger.”
Can you look at the nerve of this guy? I was beyond pissed right now, how could he even bring that up?
“If I can remember clearly, it was you who said you’d be taking me every which way—”
“I was. Turns out you like to be in charge,” he says in a husky tone while running his tongue along his bottom lip.
I curl mine in anger trying hard, desperately, intensely to get rid of the surge of heat that pulsed in my nether regions. Traitorous libido. “Are you for real?”
“Touch and see?” he smirks.
If I slapped him right now, would anyone find out about it? Probably not, I looked at him, and all thought flew out of my head. He had this half smile, his sensual lips tipped up in the corner. Somehow that one act changed his entire face, made him look so edible, and I briefly forgot that I didn’t want to see him. Briefly.
I sighed. “Dude, we just fucked. I don’t even know your name. Besides I was highly drunk.”
I watched him study me with his chocolate eyes, there was something about the way he looked at me. It was as if he knew I was trying to make him believe a bunch of crap. No matter how much I had loved Brandon, but nothing ever came close to the way he played with my body. His lips, his body, his…
“Alright. By the way my name is—”
“I told you, I don’t want to know anything about you. We met once, like two years ago when I was completely drunk. If I were you, just forget about it.” I watched his eyes look at me from head to tone, making me uncomfortable. “It was a bad stage of my life I’d like to forget it.”
“Hmm,” he said and turned away without looking back at me.
I needed a drink or ten.
After a nice hot shower in my little bathroom, I sat on my beat up lazy boy and watched re-runs of The Vampire Diaries. I mean where the hell was a Stefan Salvatore when I needed him? But then I guess I was more of a Damon Salvatore girl. Going for the bad boys eventually got me in trouble didn’t it? Should I just stick to Stefan? But Damon is kind of redeemable… Why the hell am I contemplating which of the fictional characters I should be with?
I rolled my eyes and munched on my Mac-n-Cheese. I looked around my loft, smiling to myself. It was nothing like the upscale apartment that I shared with Brandon.
The loft was a massive open space with my untidy bed shoved in the corner where the large windows were. A complete home theatre system in front of it—you had to have the best of the best in entertainment when working in the industry. I had a small bathroom stuffed into another corner of the room which was hidden from view with a heavy red curtain. My kitchen took up the other half of the loft, with its long counters, rusted up taps and my big fridge. A girl had to have a big fridge! Towards the centre I had a desk where I did my work. All in all, this was home. I loved it.
Somewhere my phone rang. I looked around, saw it lighting up on my bed and cursed the Phone Gods to hell.
“Hello?” I answered when I finally picked up.
“Oh my Gee!” Faye shrieked into the phone.
“I’m pretty sure it’s, oh em gee,” I rolled my eyes. “What are you so excited about?”
“Ryan Clarke is the hottest man to step on this earth and he’s pretty good in bed.”
My mouth dropped open. “You slept with him? After what, six hours?”
“Oh don’t judge. He definitely didn’t,” she giggled.
She was right though, I shouldn’t judge. After all, wasn’t I the person who had monkey sex with someone whose name I refused to know? I groaned at the flash of memories and focused on Faye.
“So are you seeing him again?”
“I think so. Just haven’t really had an occasion to bring up,” I could hear the disappointment in her voice.
“Why didn’t you just invite him to the launch tomorrow?” I asked while making my way over to the kitchen to pour a glass of wine.
“What launch?” she asked. “OH SHIT! The launch!”
She hung up on me. I stared at the phone for a good couple of seconds. Faye was erratic but she was good at heart. I just hoped she made it for the launch tomorrow. Knowing Faye, if she felt she wasn’t ready, she’d cancel the entire show and wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at the amount of money she’d lose.
I slid in to bed much later in an oversized t-shirt. The cool sheets and comforter caressed my bare legs. This was what I loved the most about my life. At the end of every night I could crawl into bed, without the weight of someone next to me and with no care about anything but myself and my work.
Lying in bed I stared at the dark ceiling, I didn’t regret coming here and living this new life. What I did regret was all the things that led me here. I flashed back to the night of the club. I remember leaving so fast, almost bolting out of the door.
That guy made me feel so alive that I had completely forgotten all about the episode with Brandon or the fact that I torched our apartment. His one touch on my stomach had sent electric waves of desire straight to my sex drive and blocked out all coherent thought.
I was scared that night. I got lost in his gaze, his movement, his lips, tongue…
What was worse was the way he looked at me at the end, like he was going to tell me to get off him and leave. So I wanted to do it first.
One thing was for sure, walking away from him that night was one of the hardest things I had to do—almost as hard as it was to watch him walk away from me today. All I hoped was that he and I never came into contact again. I had a feeling that I would never be the same again.
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