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His Cocky Cellist (Undue Arrogance #2)
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One night. One contract. One kiss, and Victor Newcomb will never be the same.
By age 24, Vic has accomplished more than most men achieve in a lifetime. Since childhood he’s tried to be the perfect son, the perfect executive, the perfect heir—and as next in line for the throne of his father’s multibillion dollar textile empire, he’s made his life entirely about discipline and control.
But he doesn’t know what discipline truly means—until he meets Amani Idrissi.
University student. Part-time masseuse. Cello virtuoso. The serene, reserved Moroccan American femme fascinates Vic with his cool allure, changing everything Vic thought he knew about power, about control, about his own sexuality. Yet when cello lessons turn into a business deal of an entirely different nature, Vic quickly realizes he’ll pay anything for the chance to see Amani again. To submit to his touch.
To discover the complete and utter freedom in giving up control.
But the deeper Vic falls headlong into love, the more he realizes he doesn’t know Amani at all. Secretive, withdrawn, Amani seems determined to keep their relationship strictly business. Even if Vic can see the quiet hurts, the old wounds hiding behind those dark, enticing eyes…
How far will he have to go, to win the love of his cocky cellist?
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VIC NEWCOMB LAY WITH THE grass of Prospect Park tickling between his spread fingers and tangling in his hair and scratching at his ears, while overhead clouds scudded across a sky as blue and hard as a marble. Summer heat baked through his waistcoat and shirt, until he was a potato crisping in its jacket and sweat trickled down the back of his neck, seeping under his collar.
At least, he hoped it was sweat and not a particularly enterprising ant, beetle, or other nasty little creepy-crawly that was ninety percent exoskeleton and one hundred percent skittering horror.
“This,” he said flatly, “is not working.”
At his side, Ash laughed, light and carefree. He tilted his head back against the grass, glancing over at Vic, blue eyes sweetly merry. Little shit looked like he didn’t have a care in the world, when he should be a complete stressed-out mess trying to manage the global megacorporation his father had handed him just months ago.
Then again, why would Ash be stressed when the bloody behemoth of a valet—currently sitting rigidly on a nearby park bench—did all of the worrying for him?
Rolling over onto his side, Ash propped himself up on one elbow; shaggy black hair fell across his face. “You just don’t know how to relax properly.”
“I can’t relax when Forsythe fucking glares daggers at me if I get half an inch too close to you.”
“He’s possessive.” More than possessive, from the way Ash flushed, his smile turning shy. “He’s like that with everyone.”
“He knows me. He’s known me my whole life. And he knows I’m straight, and not interested in shagging my shiftless, irresponsible sod of a best friend.” Vic leaned in and pressed his fingertip to Ash’s nose. “So tell him to cut it the hell out. Bastard’s going to hex me, glaring like that.”
Ash crossed his eyes, then pulled back, laughing again and flopping down into the grass once more. “I’m not shiftless or irresponsible.”
“Yes, you are. Forsythe just helps you hide it.”
“Hey!” Ash’s shoulders shook with repressed laughter. “I take offense to that.”
“You don’t, because you know it’s true.”
“…only a little true.” Ash’s laughter trailed into a sigh. “But it’s not so bad being a little irresponsible, Vic. It’s the only way to keep from falling apart, when you do what we do.”
“I don’t have the time.” Vic stared up at the sky, lacing his fingers together over his stomach. “I shouldn’t be here. I’ve got six different board meetings this week, and—”
“—and six different prescriptions for hypertension, and if your doctor said if you don’t slow down you’re going to kill yourself before you’re thirty.” Ash shifted enough to bump his elbow against Vic’s arm. “I’m not really ready for you to die, asshole.”
“Then stop trying to bore me to death out here staring at the sky. What am I watching for, contrails?”
Ash let out an exaggerated groan. “No appreciation for nature at all.”
“A cultivated patch of grass in the middle of New York City is not ‘nature.’”
“You’re not the only one on a tight schedule. I don’t exactly have time to drag you out for a relaxing drive in the country.” With a snort, Ash sat up, leaning back on his hands and squinting up at the sky. “So if a day in the park isn’t your thing, what is?”
“I’m supposed to have a thing?”
“Everyone has a thing. Something that relaxes them. For me, it’s my horses. Managing the farm is work and I only get to do it on weekends, but it takes my mind off the company and lets me slow down.”
Vic grimaced. The warm affection in Ash’s voice when he spoke of that ridiculous bloody horse farm he’d just up and bought one day out of the blue… Vic wasn’t certain he’d ever had anything like that. “What do most people do to relax?”
“Um…go shopping. Go on vacation. Local tourism. Party. Get drunk. Fuck around. Take spa days.”
“What about spa hours? I can’t take an entire effin’ day off.”
“You could if you wanted to. You just don’t want to.” Ash chuckled. “Tell you what. I know this really great masseuse who can turn anyone into a puddle in less than an hour. If I book you an appointment with him, will you go?”
“Maybe.” Wrinkling his nose, Vic sat up and brushed his fingers through his hair, then plucked a blade of grass from his waistcoat. “So being a layabout for an hour while some bloke feels me up is supposed to be relaxing?”
Ash’s brows wiggled. He fished his phone from his pocket and started tapping away. “Sure as hell worked for me.”
“Not all of us cap our ambitions at being the town flirt.” He flicked Ash’s arm, then sighed, leaning on one hand. “Fine. I’ll go. I might have an hour free next week—”
“You’re booked in forty-five minutes.”