Until I'm Yours

By: Kennedy Ryan

A Bennett Novel


FIRST SIGHT

Trevor



The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Blah, blah, blah, blah.

“How long are we here again?” I glance out the cab window and up at the flock of billboards flying overhead in the Times Square airspace, a confetti skyline swirled with Technicolor and kinetic lights.

“Three months, give or take,” my assistant, Henrietta, says, not looking up from her phone.

I already miss my house in Atlanta. Despite the many miles I log flying all over the world, I’m a Southern boy at heart. A city like Atlanta makes an excellent home base for me. A world-class city with the charm and sensibility of a much smaller town. When I’m in New York, I feel on edge, like the Big Apple is taking a bite out of me. It’s not an easy place to negotiate. It’s a city bursting with possibility and creativity, but it requires a certain amount of armor. Feeling that way for three months…

“We’re lucky to have your sister’s place while we’re here.” Harold, my business partner and best friend of fifteen years, looks at our schedule on his iPad. “We have so many meetings at the UN this month. All the companies interested in buying us out are here in New York. We have several galas in the city over the next few weeks. Makes sense not to keep going back and forth, and just make this our base for a little bit.”

“Yeah, at least we’ll be staying in Brooklyn.” I lean an elbow on the base of the cab window, considering the changing digital billboards while we’re stopped at a traffic light. “Downtown gives me a seizu—”

The word freezes on my tongue when one advertisement in particular catches my attention. Or, I should say, the model does. Her name is nowhere on the ad, but it doesn’t need to be. Sofie Baston’s been one of the most recognizable faces in the world for more than a decade.

She’s naked. Even though she’s stretched out flat on her stomach with her chin propped on her hands, breasts pressed to the floor, she’s obviously naked. Her hair, famously silver and gold, is ruthlessly scraped back, exposing the flawless bone structure of her face. It’s rare to see someone like her wearing no makeup at all, but her face is completely bare. Matter of fact, the product she’s promoting is called BARE.

BARE: Skin care so good you’ll have nothing to hide.

She’s naked, no cosmetics at all, and yet her eyes make a lie of that tagline. She’s utterly exposed, and though her green eyes are the clearest I’ve ever seen, they yield nothing.

“You were saying?” Harold wears a knowing grin, glancing from my face to the billboard before it swipes to the next product being advertised. “I hope you’ll be less obvious when we meet her in person tonight, Bishop.”

“Tonight?” I frown. “What are you talking about?”

“That’s Ernest Baston’s daughter,” Henrietta pipes in, eyes still fastened to her phone. Sometimes I think she has eyes in the back of her head under that ponytail. “She’ll be at the Bennett charity dinner tonight. They’re at your table, if I’m not mistaken.”

I look back at the billboard even though a different image has taken its place. I still see her as vividly as when she stared back at me with those guarded green eyes.

Even when we’re several blocks away and have started discussing our upcoming trip to Cambodia, I’m still wondering how a girl naked on the side of a building managed to hide in broad daylight and show nothing at all.





CHAPTER ONE

Sofie



Sofie, over here!”

“One more shot, Sof.”

“Could we get one of you by yourself?”

My date moves a few feet ahead, leaving me to stand alone, a lightning rod in the storm of flashing bulbs and the chaos of shouts and snapping shutters. A carnival of exhibitionism, and me the main attraction. Red carpets and runways. There’s no place like home.

I stop and strike a pose. Body in profile. Face front. Breasts up. Hips forward. Knee bent. Head high. Like a horse, I could fall asleep standing this way. A very well-bred, expensive horse, and I dare anyone to bet against me.

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