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 blonde 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 angel 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 her luscious bottom staring him in the face. Her panties had ridden up on her round left cheek, exposing a mole that blinded him like a sunburst. He seized the doorjamb as his eyesight dimmed and wavered, mimicking the onset of an instant migraine. Everything narrowed down to that tiny spot on her arse, and he thought he might black out from the vision of the thing. It was sexy floater in his eye, and he waited for the lights to come flashing out its centre and the sharp pain to shoot through his cranium. “Fucking hell,” he heaved out. At the sound of his voice, the blonde spun around, gasped, then shrieked when she started to fall.
Flinging his bag away, Jamie lunged and caught her around her hips.
“Don’t touch me,” she screamed, then lifted the frying and smacked him soundly on top of his head.
“Ugh. Holy shit,” he bit out as they both went tumbling to the floor. 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 as he opened an eye and ogled one of her erect nipples. “What in flamin’ hell are you doing?” he asked into it, still holding on to her for dear life.
“Let go of me,” she yelled and rapped him on the head again.
“Oh, Gawd,” Jamie moaned out. He released her and watched two of her crab-crawl away until she bumped into the cupboard. “Are you bonkers?” he got out, sliding back himself until he butted up against the opposite wall. There was a major roll of real pain shooting through his noodle now.
Sitting across from each other, they gasped for air, their spastic breathing mingling in the space between them.
Jamie stopped rubbing his head and blinked her face into focus.
She loosened her stranglehold on the frying pan as she studied his.
“It’s you,” they said together.
The pan slipped from her fingers and clunked on the floor. “I met your mother,” she burst out.
At her shocking words, Jamie tried to slide farther back, but there was nowhere else to go. “My mum’s dead,” he said.
“I know.” Her eyes filled with tears. “So is mine.”
In spite of her anguish and her former warning, he started for her. “I found you—”
“Stop!” She snapped up the pan and brought it between them. “Don’t you touch me.”
Jamie raised his hands and stayed put. “Right. Okay. I’m not moving. Please put your weapon down.” He softened his tone. “Please.”
She let it fall to the floor and covered her face with her hands. “You have every right to think I’m insane.”
Jamie gingerly tested one of the lumps again. He winced. American women were vicious. “Don’t bother about it. You’ve been some nasty business lately.” He couldn’t help but see she had a lot of bare skin showing. “Here,” he said, leaning forward and taking off his shirt. “Put this on if you wish.” He pitched it over to her feet, glad he was wearing a Bel Homme T-shirt underneath.
Jessie hesitated, then decided being semi-naked was worse than accepting his generosity, so she snatched the shirt and slipped it on. “Oh jeez, 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 very lovely bum.”
She curled her lip. “What a load of crap.”
Jamie reared up slightly. She didn’t believe him? She thought he hadn’t enjoyed what he’d seen? She was batty. “No, really.” Well, wasn’t that 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.” He looked so much like her. “Didn’t Mike tell you?”
“Oh, I just assumed—”
“I’m James,” he said, gliding with caution toward her across the floor. “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 quicker than anything he could have said. Immediately, she felt contrite. “I’m sorry. That might have been a little rude.”
Jamie thought she was delightful. He held out his hand. “Let’s share a friendly shake, then,” he proposed, but his words were a sham because what he wanted to do was climb right inside her body. Still, he waited with his hand extended. Do it, he begged silently. 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 incredulous moments, they didn’t move. Neither their hands up and down nor their bodies. They just sat there, hands clasped, and gawked at each other.
Then, simultaneously, they scooted even closer.
Jamie entwined their fingers, and his voice was a rich murmur. “There. Much better.” He’d done it. He’d conjured her up out of thin air. He mentally shook himself. He was the one who was mad as a hatter. Savagely ready now, he wanted to take her right here on the floor, and his smile filled with devastating invitation. “Hello.”
“Hi,” she got out, realizing that for the first time since the attack, she welcomed 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 more bits and pieces of where she’d gone and who she’d met been while unconscious—and how had she not recognized him sooner? His face was famous around the world. A pain shot through her head as she tried to recall more details. How frustrating it was to be so confused. When he squeezed her hand and pulled slightly, she blinked and looked down. Oh, he was trying to let go. “Sorry.” More linked in a finger embrace than anything resembling a handshake, her fingertips lingered along the surface of his and took their time to disengage.
“We do look alike,” he blurted out.
“Yes!” Jessie agreed. “Even your darker eyebrows and lashes are like mine. I can’t believe I never noticed before, but you’re different in pictures. Here in person, though, we’re much the same.” She admired his pretty curls. “Maybe it’s because you wear your hair like a girl.”
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 guy. Girly hair.”
“You think I should cut it?”
“I didn’t say that. It’s your hair. Wear it any way you wish.” Now they were arguing with each other.
Jamie made a decision. “In this relationship, you’re going to be the girl.”
“What relationship? We have no ties to 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 been haunting me for what feels like forever.”
“What are you doing?” Jessie asked him, but he continued to ignore her and continued grumbling to himself.
“Where are they?” Jamie shoved the drawer closed, stepped over her, and yanked open yet another. “Girly hair. What complete and utter bosh.”
Jessie softened. He certainly was entertaining. “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. Could you give me a decent trim?” 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. “Shite,” he mumbled, putting the scissors down.
“How much do you want taken off?” she asked.
Jamie considered for all of two seconds. “About five inches.” When she stood, leaving the frying pan behind, he zeroed in on the mole dotting her face, and his dreams roared back. Reeling, he grabbed the worktop. “Bugger,” he got out.
Jessie bounced forward. “Are you all right? I hit you pretty hard.”
She was close now, and Jamie moved slow and steady as he reached out and gently ran his fingers over her scars and discolourations, lingering on that mole. “It’s real.”
Jessie’s eyes slid closed at the feel of his calloused fingers caressing her. “You’re warm.”
“Look at me,” he said, wrapping his palm around the side of her neck. She opened her eyes, and he fell into them. He was floating in magical blue. Swallowing deeply, he examined her with laser-like precision, fighting his fury at the sight of her fading bruises. Her hair was a bit damp around her face, and those lush eyelashes of hers held droplets of water as if she’d washed herself. Despite her recent trauma, she was his ideal. “You’re not afraid now?” he asked her.
“No, not of you. You only startled me before. And you’re not . . . him.”
As though it were the most natural thing in the world, Jamie gathered her to him and hugged her. In contrast, his words weren’t so gentle. “Jessie, if I ever meet him face to face, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.”
She felt it then. Inside, something settled and a healing began to take place. Clearing her throat, she retreated, and he let her go, thank God, because she wasn’t strong enough to deal with all of this yet. Needing to get the focus off herself, she motioned toward the scissors. “Listen, if you’re serious about your hair, I’ll cut it, but remember, I’m no barber.”
Jamie didn’t care. He just wanted her to touch him. “No worries,” he said and gave her his most promising smile. “I’m on holiday and in the mood to do something dangerous.”
Jessie gulped. She’d never met a sexier man in her life, and here she was at the lowest point in her life. “Let me go get dressed,” she said, stepping away. “If you can find some pliers, you might want to tighten that faucet.”
Jamie moved his eyes from the wet sink to her, putting the missing pieces together. He stifled his grin this time. “Ah, it ambushed you?”
“Yes, just before you came in.” She kept moving. “I really need to put some clothes on.”
Jamie agreed. His erection was killing him. “Yes, of course.” When she was gone, he sagged against the worktop again and slid slowly to the floor. Weaving his fingers through his hair, he flinched when his smarting skull complained. Carefully, he leaned his head against the cupboard door. “Oh Gran, you’ve been right all along.”