Fate is such a saucy bitch.
It knows stuff.
It struts around and barges right in, whether or not it’s invited…
Money. Money. Sex. Money. Music. Money. Money..Money…and Money.
In simple terms, these are the reasons Jamie Stratton, the British member of Bel Homme, joined the group. Jamie is a pragmatist who loves money even more than he loves his craft, and that’s saying a lot. He’s proud of his nickname, “The Cheap One.”
Jamie’s mum and dad were killed in a car crash when he was three years old, so most of his life, he’s been raised by his grandmother, Julie, in humble surroundings. He grew up in the simple flat above the store she manages—but it’s not just any old store in any old place.
He and his gran have always resided in the apartment above the gift shoppe at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. So while Jamie’s now a fabulously wealthy singing artist with a finance degree and a sharp mind to go with it, a part of him is surprisingly spiritual.
Over in the United States, Jessie Evans is a well-respected psychic medium who could care less about wealth and its advantages. She lives her life in service to others. When tragedy strikes her in a very personal way, though, all her spiritual beliefs are tested. Jessie suffers a horrific loss and is also assaulted by the gruesome perpetrator. She’s in a coma for a week and almost dies. While unconscious, she dreams of an unknown man, a man she knows she’s destined to meet.
Back over in England, Jamie also experiences fantastic dreams about a blond woman he’s never met. In the mystical circle of Stonehenge, and against the backdrop of Bel Homme’s burgeoning fame, their astonishing journey begins.
Jessie has awakened from that coma, and she’s just been released from a hospital in Illinois. Thanks to her acquaintance with the family of Bel Homme’s American member, Michael, she’s been invited to stay at Teddy’s lush country estate in Tunbridge Wells, England while she finishes her recuperation.
Her psychic skills are on hold for now, but one thing she does know: the unknown man she “met” while she was unconscious is very much real.
And Jamie may be a goal-oriented, money obsessed workaholic, but the dreams he’s been having about a beautiful blond he’s never met feel just as genuine.
In this scene, fate finally brings them together.
Money or love. If forced to…which would you choose?
It’s Jamie’s and Jessie’s turn to find out.
His first sight of her was of her bottom staring him in the face. Her panties had ridden up on her right butt cheek, exposing a mole that blinded him like a sunburst. He grabbed the doorjamb as his eyesight dimmed and wavered like the onset of an instant migraine. Everything narrowed down to that tiny spot on her ass, and he thought he might black out from the vision of the thing. It was like a floater in his eye, and he waited for the lights to come bursting out its center and the sharp pain to shoot through his cranium. “Fucking hell,” he heaved out.
At that voice, Jessie spun around, gasped, then shrieked when she started to fall off the stepstool.
Reacting with instinct, Jamie dropped his backpack and charged forward, grabbing her around her hips.
“Don’t touch me,” she screamed, lifting the frying pan in her hand and smacking him soundly on top of his head.
“Ugh,” he groaned out as they both went tumbling to the floor. “Holy shit.” He hit the hard surface first, blocking her fall but not his own. He clutched her to him, his nose now pressed between her plump breasts, which were swaying freely without a bra on under her thin cami-top. His glasses lay crooked on his nose, and he opened an eye and stared into one of her erect nipples. “What in bloody hell are you doing?” he asked into it, still holding on to her for dear life.
“Let go of me,” Jessie yelled and rapped him on the head again.
Moaning in agony, Jamie released her and watched two of her crab-crawl away until her back slammed up against the cupboard. “Are you crazy?” he spit out, sliding his body until it butted up against the opposite wall. There was a major roll of pain shooting through his skull now.
They sat across from each other and gasped for air, their spastic breathing mingling in the space between them.
Jessie loosened her grip on the frying pan as she studied his.
“It’s you,” they said together.
The pan slipped from Jessie’s fingers and clunked on the floor. “You look just like your mother.”
At her shocking words, Jamie tried to slam farther back, but there was nowhere else to go. “My mum’s dead,” he said.
“I know.” Jessie’s eyes filled with tears.
In spite of her vulnerable bleakness and her former warning, he started for her. He’d done it. “I found you—”
She scrambled forward, bringing the pan up between them again. “Stay there. Don’t you touch me,” she ordered.
Jamie put his hands up. “Right. Okay. I’m not moving. Please put your weapon down.” He softened his tone. “Please.”
Jessie let it fall to the floor again and covered her face with her hands. “You must think I’m a nut.”
Jamie gingerly tested the sore spot on his head again. He winced. “Don’t worry about it. You’ve been through a lot.” He couldn’t help but see she had a lot of bare skin showing. “Here,” he suggested, leaning forward, “put this on, if you’d like.” He took off his shirt and tossed it over to her feet, glad he was wearing a Bel Homme tee underneath.
Jessie hesitated, then decided being almost naked in front of him was worse than accepting his generosity, so she grabbed the shirt and slipped it on. “Oh, God. You saw my fat ass.”
“I didn’t look,” he lied.
“Yeah, right,” she mumbled, buttoning up.
“Okay,” Jamie admitted, “I did, but it was no hardship. It’s a really lovely bum.”
Jessie glared over at him. “What a cheesy line. I know what I look like. ”
Jamie stared. She didn’t believe him? She thought he didn’t like what he’d seen? She was crazy. “No, really.” Well, wasn’t that positively brilliant, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say—and he couldn’t stop gaping. It was her. The woman in his dreams. She was right in front of him, alive and in person. “Your name. What’s your name?”
“I’m Jessica Evans—Jessie, the so-called world-famous psychic medium who couldn’t even predict her own assault.” She held up her hand when he went to comment, and he kept his mouth shut, thank God. She couldn’t stop staring at him. He looked so much like her, it was almost too much to take in.
“I’m James,” he returned, sliding across the floor and sticking out his big hand. “Jamie Stratton.”
Jessie’s tone was dry then. “I was in a coma for only a week. I know who you are. The whole world knows who you are.” And then he surprised her by smiling full out, and it lit up his whole face. He had the most beautiful smile she’d ever seen, and it melted her like nothing else he could have said. Immediately, she felt contrite. “Um…I’m sorry. That might have been a little rude.”
Jamie thought she was delightful, and he wanted to touch her again. “Let’s share a friendly handshake then,” he suggested blandly, but his words were a sham because what he really wanted to do was climb right inside her body. Then he waited…his arm outstretched, his hand extended. Do it, he begged inside. Do it.
What would his grip feel like? Jessie wondered. She leaned forward and found out, placing her hand in his. It was hard and warm, just like the rest of him.
For immeasurable moments, they didn’t move. Neither their hands up and down, nor their bodies. They just sat there, hands clasped together, and looked.
Then, simultaneously, they each scooted even closer.
Jamie entwined their fingers. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jessie.” He was savagely hard, and he wanted to take her right here on the floor. He’d actually done it. He’d conjured her up out of thin air. He mentally shook himself. He was the one who was nuts.
“Hi,” Jessie got out, realizing that for the first time since the attack, she liked being touched, and by this relative stranger, but he wasn’t a stranger. This was the man she’d come back for. She started remembering things and where she’d been while she’d been unconscious. If she told him that story, he really would think she was insane. Reluctantly, she released her hand from his, more linked in a finger embrace than anything resembling a handshake, her fingertips lingering along the surface of his, taking their time to disengage.
“I’m going to say this right out,” he said. “We look alike, you and I.”
“I was just thinking the same thing,” Jessie agreed. “I can’t believe I never noticed that before, but you do look different in pictures. Here in person, though, we’re very similar.” She studied his pretty blond curls. “Maybe it’s because you wear your hair like a girl’s.”
Jamie’s smile vanished. “What’s that supposed to mean? Women love my hair.”
“I didn’t mean anything bad. It’s beautiful, but it’s really long for a man. That’s all I meant.”
“You think I should cut it?”
“I didn’t say that. For God’s sake, it’s your hair. Wear it any way you’d like.” She couldn’t believe this. Now they were arguing with each other.
Jamie made a decision. “In this relationship, you’re going to be the girl.”
“What relationship? We just met each other.” That wasn’t precisely true, she thought in amazement as he jumped up and went over to the cupboards.
“Right,” Jamie muttered, slamming one drawer and opening another. “She’s only been following me around for what feels like forever.”
“Bloody hell, where are they?” Jamie shoved the drawer closed, stepped over her, and yanked open the drawer on the end. “Hair like a girl’s. I don’t believe this.”
Jessie fought back a grin. He certainly was entertaining. “Jeez, what are you looking for?”
He found the scissors and held them up. “These. I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair for a while now. Can you give me a decent snip?” The look of her sitting on the floor, staring up at him, almost brought him to his knees. It was her, here in the same room with him. He still couldn’t believe it. “God,” he mumbled.
“How much do you want taken off?” she asked.
Jamie considered for all of two seconds. “About five or six inches.” When she stood up, leaving the frying pan behind, he zeroed in on her familiar eyes, and his dreams roared back again. Swaying, he backed up and grabbed the counter. “Bugger,” he got out.
Jessie stepped forward. “Are you all right? I hit you pretty hard.”
She was close now, and Jamie slowly reached out and gently skimmed his fingers over her tender cheek. “I can’t believe I’m touching you.”
She closed her eyes at the feel of his calloused hand caressing her. “You’re warm.”
“Look at me, Jessie,” he murmured, wrapping his palm around the side of her neck. When she did, he tightened his hold. Her hair was a bit damp, and her eyelashes held droplets of water. Still, she was simply beautiful. He cupped her face with both hands now. “I’m terribly sorry I startled you.”
Clearing her throat, Jessie nodded then retreated, and he let her go, thank God. Needing to get the focus off herself, she motioned toward the scissors. “Listen, I’m no expert, but if you’re serious about your hair, I’ll trim it.”
Jamie realized he was. “All right.”
“I may hack it to death. Are you sure?”
Jamie smiled, eager for her nearness any way he could get it. “Quite.”
“Let me go get dressed,” she said, stepping back. She motioned toward the sink. “If you can find some pliers, you might want to tighten that faucet.”
Jamie moved his eyes over her damp hair and skin again, her semi-naked state. The sound of the tumble dryer now registered, and he put the pieces together. “Ah,” he said, grinning, “it ambushed you.”
“Yes, just before you came in.” She kept moving backwards. “I really need to put some clothes on.”
Jamie agreed. His erection was killing him. “Right, of course.” When she was gone, he sagged against the counter and whispered, “Good God.”