Congratulations to the winner of the Erotic Fiction category in the 2015 Easychair Competition is Making Her His by Lucy Leroux. This category had 36 entries.
“Alex is one hell of a Hero”
“A very different read”
“Cannot wait to read the next one”
For almost five years, Alex has had one obsession. Her name is Elynn.Alex Hanas couldn’t believe that after so many years as a widower, his father was getting remarried. To make matters worse, the American gold digger had a kid—a daughter named Elynn. After months of avoiding it, Alex goes to brunch with every intention of giving his father’s new family the deep freeze. But he can’t pull it off with Elynn’s anxious green-grey eyes locked on him.That was the day his life changed.Four years later, Alex is as close to Elynn as a stepbrother can be. But that’s not enough for him. He wants more…and he’s done waiting.
***Making Her His is the first novel Singular Obsession series. No cliffhangers and no serials. Each novel stands alone. Though it flirts with some bondage, Making Her His is not a BDSM title. Not suitable for readers under 18.***
A horn blared to his right, letting Alex know he’d gotten too close to a neighboring car. “Fuck,” he muttered, gripping the steering wheel to adjust, accelerating through a narrow gap between two trucks.
The wind whipped across his face through a crack in the open window. He really shouldn’t drive so fast when he was in this bad a mood, but he couldn’t help it. Brunch with his father’s new family was more than enough to set off his temper, but on top of that, he was running late. He’d procrastinated at home so long that he barely left himself enough time to get there before they sat down to eat.
Gritting his teeth, he gunned the engine of his vintage Shelby Mustang, whipping through the lanes as fast as the heavy traffic allowed. His father’s estate outside of London wasn’t much farther, but he was still going to be late. Which meant he was going to get another lecture from his father on trying harder to accept his new stepmother. It made his skin crawl just thinking about it.
He didn’t need this right now. He was planning a big business deal with a new Chinese partner, and this was a distraction. Not that he didn’t want to see his father. But the additional presence of Mary and her kid was going to drive him crazy. Attending his father’s wedding to the American gold-digger had been bad enough. Now he had to waste an entire Sunday afternoon on them: the new wife and her nonentity of a daughter, a chubby and quiet teen he’d only seen once shortly after Costas had announced his engagement.
He glanced at his watch as he pulled the car into the long drive of his father’s house. Only ten minutes late. He ran into the large mansion, taking the steps two at a time, and stopped in the foyer to make sure his mother’s watercolor painting was still hanging on the wall. They’d lost his mother, Elena, when he was eleven after a long illness. At the time, his family had been living in New York, after relocating from Greece so she could have the best medical care available. In the end, it hadn’t made a difference, and she’d died. Needing a change, his father had moved them to the UK a few months after she passed.
He had honestly believed his father would remain a widower for the rest of his life. Costas probably had, too. For so long, it had just been the two of them. But that changed when Costas met Mary.
Sighing, Alex conceded that, since his remarriage, his father seemed far more youthful and energetic. The change was so obvious that Alex hadn’t had a choice—he had stopped fighting him over the marriage. At least until they had started arguing over the prenup.
Alex had insisted Mary sign one, but Costas hadn’t seen a need. The series of arguments that followed ended only when Mary, an attractive brunette in her mid-forties, intervened and told Costas she would sign anything his son wanted because they weren’t going to get divorced. Just like that, the fight was over.
Satisfied that the painting hadn’t gone anywhere, his mood was somewhat improved when he was shown to the terrace, where he joined the two people already at the table partaking of a light and elegant brunch. He greeted them hastily and sat down in the seat opposite his father at the head of the table.
The clicking of heels alerted him to Mary’s approach. She stopped short of the table and raised her hand in a brief and awkward wave.
“Hello Alex,” she said with her habitually friendly smile, hovering close to his chair.
His father cleared his throat, “Wouldn’t you rather sit next to me, Alexandros?”
“Why?” Alex asked absently as he reached for a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Picking it up, he noticed a smudge of lipstick on the rim. “Oh, sorry,” he said, but rather than change seats, he simply switched glasses as all the other flatware appeared untouched.
“It’s okay,” Mary said hastily, changing seats to sit on his right.
Costas caught her eye and they exchanged a pointed glance as she sat down. Alex was annoyed. Was it some sort of power play? Did the woman have to have the hostess seat opposite his father? Was she sending a message about her position in the family?
The moment passed as Mary made polite enquiries about Alex’s business dealings with a knowledgeable air. He paused with his fork halfway to his mouth before he remembered that she was a trained corporate accountant, a new employee of Hanas Industries when she’d met his father. Costas had married her only eight months after their first meeting.
Though his father was still nominally involved in the business, Alex was now in charge of the day to day running of the company. It was his ruthlessness and slavish devotion to the company had made Hanas Industries a billion-dollar operation in the last decade. As a result, he had little time for anyone other than his father and a handful of university friends he still kept in touch with. Which was why he was finally swallowing his pride and attending brunch with the new family. He would do whatever was necessary to make Costas happy…within reason.
“Do you not like Chanterelles?” a clear melodic voice asked.
Surprised, Alex turned to the daughter, Ellie something. He found himself staring into a pair of eyes with the most arresting color combination. They were a deep green and grey, like moss on a stone. The girl continued speaking, but he didn’t hear her. He was too busy noticing the details he’d gotten wrong. She wasn’t fat after all. Her small, heart-shaped face was dwarfed by the large plastic rims of her glasses. And her form was as petite as her mother’s. It was just that she was wearing the most ridiculously oversized sweatshirt and a loose pair of pants that probably hung off her when she walked.
“It’s okay to eat them. They’re perfectly safe,” she repeated.
Confused, he focused on his fork and the pasta dish he’d been enjoying, a light angel hair liberally tossed with pieces of golden Chanterelle mushrooms.
He ate the forkful he’d been holding and answered. “I like them fine. Why wouldn’t they be safe?”
Mary cleared her throat. “Elynn collected the Chanterelles herself yesterday. She’s an avid mushroom hunter and a budding mycologist.”
“A budding mycologist?” he asked dumbly, feeling a little thrown off course.
“Mycology is the study of fungi,” Elynn informed him animatedly, a little glow lighting up her face. “Cook took me out to her favorite woods last month to show me some good hunting grounds, and I’ve been going on my own since. Well, with Andrea,” she corrected, gesturing to a female bodyguard patrolling on the lawn.
Frowning, Alex’s eyes followed the woman’s retreating figure. Since when did his father employ female bodyguards? And why did they appear so visible? Guards were a necessary part of their world, but when they were at home, they were usually discreet and blended into the background. With a frown, he recalled that there appeared to be more of them in recent months.
Elynn studied his face and squirmed in her chair. “You don’t have to worry. I know how to tell a Chanterelle from a Gomphus. To be absolutely sure, I had the pharmacist confirm my findings,” she explained earnestly.
“I’m not worried,” Alex assured her, although he wasn’t exactly sure now. “What’s a Gomphus?”
“Gomphus floccocus is the false Chanterelle. It’s poisonous but isn’t really that similar. Not if you know what you’re looking for. But it’s always important to check with a local expert when you move so far away from your normal hunting ground. Things that appear to be an edible you’re familiar with might be something entirely different. It’s very nice that pharmacists can identify mushrooms for you here. I wish they did that back home. It might prevent several unnecessary deaths,” the girl finished uncertainly, looking as if she wished she hadn’t started speaking.
Alex was completely thrown now. He stared at his dish stiffly, imagining that the bits of mushroom had started to glow a radioactive green.
“Don’t worry,” Costas cut in. “The mushrooms are the same Cook uses all the time.”
“Yes! I don’t mean these at all. It’s just that in the U.S., there are a number of mushrooms that get confused for edibles from other countries and there are an unfortunate number of poisonings,” Elynn continued in a rush, as though to reassure him.
“Like what?” he asked, picking up his fork with a bravado he wasn’t sure he felt.
Once Alex resumed eating, Elynn continued. “Well, for example, there’s a mushroom called Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom, that bears a strong resemblance to the Paddy Straw mushroom common in Asia. New immigrants, with history of mushroom hunting in their cultures, go out and find the death cap thinking it’s the edible and…well, after you eat it, only a liver transplant can save you,” she finished in a chagrined tone.
Alex nodded at her and ate the dish in silence, refusing to admit he was worried about being poisoned. Costas made a concerted effort to ease Alex’s tension with a steady stream of business-related small talk. Mary also added to the conversation, but Elynn remained relatively silent. She seemed anxious that she’d upset him over the mushrooms and kept giving him worried little smiles whenever he managed to catch her eye again.
Despite his intentions to remain cold and aloof with his father’s new stepdaughter, he couldn’t stop himself from trying to put her at ease. He knew she was enrolled at an exclusive girls’ school nearby.
“What are you studying?” he asked between bites.
Elynn blushed. “Oh, everything. This semester, mostly Organic Chemistry and Physics as well as Biotechnology. That last one’s the funnest of the three. In addition to that, there’s the normal stuff…English, Calculus, and History,” she said ducking her head shyly and avoiding eye contact.
Alex raised a brow. It was a demanding course load heavy on the science. He asked a few more polite questions, and she responded with her eyes mostly on her plate. She was seventeen, although in her loose clothing she looked fourteen.
“And your extracurriculars?” he asked when she remained quiet, her plate untouched.
She shrugged and played with her fork. “Science club, chess club, astronomy club, and Mathletes.”
Wow. And he thought he’d been a nerd in high school. Elynn didn’t seem to have any of the hobbies or interests a girl her age should have. Not that he was entirely sure what those were. However, her pursuits were definitely of an unfashionable geeky bent. She wouldn’t be popular at school, he thought, and then wondered why he cared.
Brunch ended with Alex in a quiet and contemplative mood. He’d come here fuming, with every intention of giving his father’s new family the deep freeze. But he hadn’t been able to pull it off with those anxious green-gray eyes on him. He departed with a cordial enough farewell and drove back to London, noting at least two additional bodyguards on the property as he drove away. ****
Elynn collapsed on her bed, shoving her head under a pillow to muffle her groan. Alexandros probably thought she was a basket case. Or worse, a poisoner.
She had been psyching herself up for this brunch for over a week, ever since Costas had confirmed that his son had finally agreed to come. Vowing to do anything to make it go well for her mom’s sake, Elynn had prepared dozens of talking points. She had written them out on note cards and quizzed herself in an effort to avoid becoming tongue-tied in front of her intimidating new stepbrother. It was the exact same strategy she used before doing any presentations in front of her class at school. Her notecards helped her cope with the stress of being in front of an audience.
But all of her careful preparation had turned to dust the second Alexandros had stepped onto the terrace. He was just too much. Too big, too handsome, too powerful. He exuded confidence and aggression, even when he was being polite, like today. It really hadn’t been as bad as the last time she’d seen him. The wedding didn’t count—he’d sat in the back and had left just after the I do’s.
No, the last time she’d really seen him was when he’d come over to talk his father out of marrying her mother unless she signed a prenup. There had been a huge argument between father and son. And an angry Alexandros Hanas was a sight that was hard to forget. Thus, all of her work to come up with dozens of ideas for conversation.
Elynn figured that she would be able to avoid becoming mute in his presence if she was prepared. Now she wished she’d been unable to speak. Instead of using her prepared topics, she’d stupidly rambled on about mushrooms. Poisonous ones.
The door opened and she heard her mother sigh and walk across the room. She sat on the bed, causing it to shift slightly under her weight.
“He thinks I tried to kill him,” she moaned from beneath the pillow.
Mary laughed. “I doubt that.”
“You saw his face. He turned green.”
“No, he didn’t. His complexion is naturally that olive color.” She laughed again.
Her mom was certainly a lot calmer now that brunch was over. Especially if she was capable of laughing. It was probably a manifestation of her relief. Elynn knew her mother had also been stressed out all week about seeing Alexandros too.
Mary tried to shift the pillow off her head, but Elynn held it tight. She did, however, move it enough to be understood. “I’m sorry I’m acting like this. He just makes me so nervous. All I wanted was for it to go well,” she said, her voice still partially muffled by the pillow.
“It did go well. As well as could be expected under the circumstances. And don’t worry if Alex seemed a little…put out at first. He’s a thrill-seeker. Thrill eating shouldn’t be too much for him to handle—not that there was ever any question about your identification of the mushrooms,” she added with a reassuring pat.
That was enough to make Elynn pop her head out from under the pillow. Her mother was right. Alexandros jumped out of airplanes for fun. He also went deep sea diving and spelunking. There were pictures scattered around the house of him doing all sorts of crazy things. Alexandros probably ate dangerous things all the time, like Fugu sushi—the kind that could poison you if it wasn’t prepared perfectly by a highly trained chef. He seemed that type of man.
“We don’t have to do that again anytime soon, do we?” she asked hopefully.
Mary smiled bracingly, expelling her breath in a rush. “We will if Costas can convince Alex to make the time. He wants us to be a close family, but I don’t think we have to worry anymore. The worst is over.”
Elynn didn’t know who she was trying to convince. “Well, that’s great,” she said, trying to sound as if she meant it.
The thought of seeing Alexandros on a regular basis was enough to make her want to dive back under the pillow.
Alex had just gotten back to his place when he got a call.
“How did it go?” Calen asked without preamble.
Calen McLachlan, along with Sergei Damov and Gio Morgese, were his best friends. After they graduated from university, it had gotten a lot harder for them to get together, especially since Sergei had moved to New York and Calen had gone back to Boston. Alex had seen a lot more of Gio, who was based in Rome, up until his dear friend got married. But it had always been Calen who called the most often. Which was good on days like today.
“Better than I thought it would,” Alex admitted as he threw his keys on the side table.
“So you didn’t slip up and call Mary a gold-digger to her face? No leaping across the table or sudden emergency messages calling you away?”
Alex rolled his eyes as he tossed away his sport coat. “Nothing happened. Things were tense at first, but I didn’t want to make a scene. The kid was nervous enough.”
“The fat girl? The moody one?”
“Elynn,” he acknowledged, turning the simple but unusual name around in his head. “Except she’s not fat or moody. She’s just shy and wears really baggy clothes. She’s actually kind of sweet.”
“Is that so? That’s a major change of heart,” Calen observed drily.
“Yeah, well, maybe I’ve been a dick about this whole thing,” Alex admitted grudgingly.
His widowed father remarrying wasn’t the end of the world. His family situation was nowhere near as complicated as Calen’s or Sergei’s. He should be grateful.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Calen said. And he had been. His friend was very fond of Costas, probably because of his more complicated relationship with his own father. “Granted, a certain amount of suspicion was justified in the beginning,” he added. “But the prenup was signed and your father is happy. Costas deserves a little bit of companionship, even if it means you’re saddled with a new little sister.”
Sitting down, Alex frowned. “She’s not my sister. And I won’t be saddled with her. Elynn’s a nice kid, but I doubt I’ll see her very much at all.”