Title: Cinderella Busted
Author: Petie McCarty
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cinderella's fairy tale moves to Jupiter Island, Florida where Lily Foster, owner of an eclectic landscape nursery, is mistaken for a wealthy socialite by billionaire resort developer Rhett Buchanan. Overdue for a little romance in her life, Lily is anxious for one fabulous date with her handsome prince, so she cultivates her inadvertent masquerade.
Rhett Buchanan has become jaded with the Palm Beach social scene, dominated by scheming women desperate for more money -- his money. Rhett falls hard when he meets Lily Foster. She is a breath of fresh air after the smog of gold diggers constantly surrounding him.
For Rhett and Lily, it's love at first sight until her deception comes to light and pitches their relationship into a disastrous tailspin. Well-meaning friends are determined to intercede and resort to inept high jinks to reunite the estranged couple while a wicked ex-girlfriend plays dirty to keep the couple apart.
Rhett answered on the second ring, and her heart woggled wildly in her chest. “I was afraid you’d changed your mind,” he said. “Where are you?”
Lily felt her face break into a wide grin. He had worried, too. How cool was that? Considering who he was. “I’m sorry I’m a bit late.”
It was Tammy’s idea to make you sweat, but I can’t tell you that.
“If I’m still invited, I’m at the corner of Gomes and Estrada.”
“Of course you’re invited,” he said quickly. “Come down three more streets to Larkin and take a right, second house on the right. I’m out front waiting for you.”
Lily heaved a loud and contented sigh. The way he said waiting for you made every single vertebra in her spine quiver in unison.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes,” she said breathlessly and didn’t even flinch at her inability to sound cool and calm.
Rhett Buchanan was waiting for her, and if his voice alone did that to her, what would his touch do? She felt her grin stretch even wider. For tonight, she was Cinderella. She intended to enjoy every minute and hope Prince Charming didn’t pry enough to find out she was a gardener.
At least she felt beautiful, arrayed in the brand-new cocktail dress she and Tammy flew over to Niemen Marcus to purchase that afternoon. Two hundred dollars’ worth of black chiffon in horizontal tiers with a silver pendant of cubic zirconia stones and matching drop earrings. Tammy had also found a pair of sexy black sandals for her, not too tall since Lily didn’t often wear heels. An outfit worth every penny she had spent.
“Well, here goes everything,” she murmured and put the Porsche in gear. “Please, Lord, just let me have a good time this one night.”
She made the turn as directed and found the entire street lined with cars on both sides. The second house on the right was lit up like a Christmas tree, and as promised, Rhett waited in the middle of the front yard. Attired in a navy-blue suit, cream-colored shirt, and dark tie, he looked every inch the billionaire.
Good grief, Lily! The richest man in Florida is waiting out front for you like a high-school boy at a birthday party.
She forced herself to breathe. Why, oh why couldn’t Rhett be poor, so they could have a chance together? She didn’t want to like him because there could be no future for them. But just looking at him made her feel tingly all over.
Just one night. Keep telling yourself that, Lily. Just one night.
She slowed to a stop in front of the house, unsure what to do since there was not a parking place in sight. Rhett spotted her immediately and hand-signaled someone in front of the house as he strode toward the Porsche. A valet jogged to the Porsche, and Rhett reached her side by the time the man climbed in the driver’s seat.
Rhett slid the valet a bill. “Don’t let anything happen to the young lady’s car.”
The valet grinned and took off.
Rhett took Lily’s hand in his. His touch felt warm and confident. He pressed a kiss against her knuckles and smiled. “I’m so glad you came.”
Her hand felt white hot at the spot where his lips had touched her skin, and she yearned to reach out and touch the spot. She felt dizzy and weak-kneed and couldn’t ever remember anyone gallantly kissing her hand.
“Me, too,” she said and inwardly groaned at her ineloquent response. “I mean, thank you so much for inviting me.”
He didn’t move and stared as though he were memorizing her features. She could drink in the sight of him all night, and his sensual gaze did funny things to her heart. Good grief, was this what the poets meant by love at first sight?
No, no, no. Just one night, Lily. Just one night.
“You look stunning,” Rhett said finally and stepped back to scan the dress, too.
She felt the grin explode onto her face, both ineloquent and involuntary. No help for it. “Thank you.”
Gracious, did he still have hold of her hand? How had she missed that? Without thinking, she squeezed his fingers, and his eyes immediately twinkled, then darkened. He leaned in and gently brushed his lips across hers like a stealth bomber on a strafing run, mission over almost as soon as it began.
Before disappointment could filter to her brain, his lips pressed again—more firmly now—and she felt the tip of his tongue part her lips. The only other part of him touching her was the strong hand enveloping hers. His tongue gently played with hers, their lips together with only a fine pressure, and the tingling sensuality made her sway. His other hand cupped her elbow as he pulled away.
“Steady?” he asked softly.
She nodded, completely incapable of speech or even breathing for that matter.
“I hope my kiss did that,” he said, his voice whisper-smooth.
Her chagrin evaporated. She smiled and willed air into her lungs.
“I wanted to stake my claim before I took you inside and was forced to introduce you to anyone.” His eyes twinkled again. “I remember how you affected me the first time I laid eyes on you, and I don’t want anyone inside getting any ideas.”
Shoot me now, and I’ll die happy.
Her heart bucked wildly behind her ribs, and she wanted to ask, how did I affect you? But no words would come with her heart performing wild-mustang pirouettes and making it hard to breathe again. So she kept silent, desperate to look poised and elegant for this sensual man. She settled for what she hoped was a dignified smile.
He smiled back. “All right, let’s head inside. Remember, you’re with me.”
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Cinderella Busted kicks off the Cinderella Romances series. Each story delivers a light-hearted retelling of this classic fairy tale enriched with plenty of action and suspense.
Enter to win a $39 Amazon (US) gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Canada account to win. Runs August 24 – September 2, 2021. Winner will be drawn on September 3, 2021.
Petie spent a large part of her career working at Walt Disney World—"The Most Magical Place on Earth"—where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night, including her new series, The Cinderella Romances. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job to write her stories full-time. These days Petie spends her time writing sequels to her regency time-travel series, Lords in Time, and her cozy-mystery-with-romantic-suspense series, the Mystery Angel Romances.
Petie shares her home on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee with her horticulturist husband and an opinionated Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in No Angels for Christmas.
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