Strictly Business

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Summary

After she catches her husband of 8+ years cheating on her, Valentina feels like her whole life is spiralling out of control. In a bid to take charge and make him hurt the way he hurt her, she employs a fake boyfriend but things don't exactly go as plan.

Genre:
Romance / Erotica
Author:
Layla Knight
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
36
Rating:
4.6 531 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

“What’s your poison?”

Blinking up at the familiar voice that had sounded aloud all of a sudden, I lifted my eyes and stared back at the bartender who was now looking at me expectantly. The smile was quick to slip off his face as he noted the dark, sullen expression on my face.

“Sorry, can I get you something to drink?” He repeated but this time, there was no light humour or teasing in his tone.

“Dolce Red. Light on the ice.” The order rolled off my tongue without me even needing to think about it; Dolce Red being my drink of choice on any and every occasion.

“You have expensive taste.” He chuckled and took a step back. Although, the sound fell on deaf ears as I couldn’t bring myself to offer him a polite smile, not even out of courtesy. “Dolce Red, coming right up.”

As I patiently waited for the bartender to return with my beverage of choice, I couldn’t help but sigh and lift my head to glance around the bar.

It wasn’t very packed. A few groups of people loitering around the tables but that was to be expected on a Wednesday evening. With blue-tinted windows that reflected beautifully when the light shone through, the vintage jukebox at the back which was mostly swarmed by college students teetering on the edge of drunk and somewhat decent music gently blaring from it, I was starting to see the appeal of the place. However, I would have to withhold any judgements as I had yet to see what it was like on a thriving Friday or Saturday night.

The only reason that I had ended up in this foreign bar was because my usual place was currently inaccessible. Like for the next couple of months or until Christmas at the very latest due to necessary renovations.

“One tall glass of Dolce Red, light on the ice.” The bartender returned with a polite smile, placing the drink down on a coaster in front of me. “I had to crack open a new bottle just for you.”

“I feel honoured.” My lips pulled up into a teasing smirk as I glanced back at while reaching out for my drink, raising it to tip in the air in silent cheers. “Thank you…” My voice trailed off as I glanced at him expectantly.

“Wayne.”

“Thank you, Wayne.”

“Well, you’ll feel even more honoured to hear that the kind gentleman at the end of the bar has very nicely instructed me to put that drink on his tab,” Wayne informed me, the teasing grin back on his face.

My eyebrows rose at his comment in surprise, having not expected that, especially since I had only been here for a few minutes at the most.

“Which kind gentleman?” I asked quietly while staring toward the end of the bar but struggling to notice someone who looked either kind or even somewhat of a gentleman. The only one that did tick all those boxes seemed to be a little too old for my taste.

“Oh, he must have moved.” Wayne hummed as he lifted his head and glanced back at the end of the bar while in the midst of mixing up a drink for someone else.

“To where?” I couldn’t help but question as I craned my neck to glance around the bar for this mysterious stranger that had very kindly gifted me a glass of Dolce, my wine of choice. However, there was a very good chance that I was biased given the long history.

“To right behind you.” He smirked before taking a step back and tend to a patron flagging him down for another drink.

“Behind me?” The question was all I could muster up before I swivelled around in my seat only to find that Wayne had been correct in his observations.

The first thing that struck me was the deep chocolate brown of his eyes that stared back at me with such intensity that I almost forgot where I was. The next thing I realised was that I had been staring for a lengthy amount of time and to further my embarrassment, my eyes honed in on the way his eyes lips twitched higher at the corners at my perplexed reaction.

“You must be the woman with the expensive taste in wine.” The handsome stranger quirked a dark eyebrow, his hands casually stuffed in his pockets as he smiled down at me due to the swaggering height difference between us, only multiplied by the fact that I was sitting and he was standing.

“And you must be the kind gentleman to have gifted me it.” I couldn’t help but smile back in response, trying to win brownie points after having been caught ogling him. When he dazzled me with yet another grin, I couldn’t help but smile back at him, more than appreciative of the fine specimen standing in front of me right now.

More than the deep tan of his golden complexion which made me envious as I always burnt instead of gaining a tan, this man was the embodiment of all my wet dreams put together. With his light brown curls, arched eyebrows, high cheekbones, sharp jaw and straight nose which was very well-rounded at the tip – not to mention the softest part of his face – I couldn’t believe he had been the one to buy my a drink, silently wondering what I had done to deserve such a pleasure. His full lips and dark, smouldering eyes just further sweetened the deal.

While he wasn’t conventionally good-looking with his harsher features, he was a definite sight for sore eyes and I was more than enjoying myself trying to take all of him in.

The only unfortunate part was that it was apparent to me that he was some years younger than I would have liked. To put him down for twenty-seven would be a push but it appeared that he didn’t mind in the least. This was further proved when he dropped himself down on the barstool next to me.

“Guilty.” He chimed with a cheeky grin, gesturing for Wayne to top up his drink.

“No Dolce for you?” I cocked a questioning brow while eying his drink; Jack and coke.

Turning his head to face me, a low chuckle sounded aloud. “Far too rich for my taste.” His lips twitched up slightly at the corners. “My taste buds are shit. I’ve grown up drinking the cheap stuff so anything fancy, my taste palette doesn’t know how to appreciate it.”

“Is that a British accent I hear?” I asked after a few moments, having not listened to anything he had said as his accent had demanded all of my attention.

“Yes.” He grinned and confirmed with a nod. “I was born and raised in London, England. I’ve only been here for a couple of months.”

“So, what brought you over to New York?” I rotated my body on the stool to face him, making a show of giving this handsome strange my special, undivided attention.

“You’ll have to get me drunk to get that kind of information out of me.”

“Why is that?”

“I’m a very private person.” He simply shrugged in response, though the teasing glint remained in his eyes.

“I can respect that.” I chimed quietly and once Wayne the bartender dropped by to give him a top-up of his drink as he had earlier requested, we both raised our glasses in cheers before indulging ourselves.

As outwardly handsome as this stranger was, it very quickly became evident to me that there was so much more to him than what met the eye and before either of us knew it, we had downed two drinks each. As handsome as this stranger was, it was evident that there was so much more to him than his drinks and overall charming nature and before either of us knew, we had downed two drinks each. While he was completely fine, I was starting to feel a little bit giddy with the liquid coverage pumping through my system, having always been somewhat of a lightweight.

Even though I wanted nothing more than to forget what I had witnessed earlier and the only reason I was here entertaining this man was because of that, deep down, I knew that drinking away my issues was not a solution.

“Forgive me, but I never did catch your name.” He stated after a few moments, momentarily catching me off guard with the sudden change of topic.

Blinking up at him in a sense of daze, it took me a few moments to process his words before understanding began to settle in.

“That’s because I never gave you my name,” I smirked, very aware that he was only fishing for information.

To be fair, we had spent the last half hour talking and flirting back and forth, but not once had we thought to exchange names, having been swept away in the heat of the moment.

“You’ve got me there.” The handsome stranger held his hands up in surrender, more than amused by my teasing antics that were only influenced by the abundance of red wine in my system.

“My name’s Randolph Armstrong but most people just call me Randy. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” His lips pulled up into a dazzling smile as he held his hand out, one which I didn’t hesitate to accept in a firm grip of my own. “Now, do I have the pleasure of learning your name?”

“Benedetta Dolce.” Technically, it wasn’t a lie as I had used part of my name, opting for my middle name and omitting the first, simply because we had just met and I hadn’t decided yet if he was a serial killer or not.

“Dolce, like the wine?”

“Just like the wine.” I laughed softly at the inside joke but decided not to comment further as this I was determined to get away from everything today, myself included.

“Well, Benedetta, I know this might be a bit bold considering we just met,” Randolph chuckled lowly, bowing his head just slightly to run his fingers through it. A nervous habit, perhaps? “But going off the vibe you’re giving off right now, would you be opposed to going home with me or even getting a room with me for the night?”

My eyebrows shot up at that in surprise, having not expected him to be so honest in his pursuit as that was something I wasn’t used to. Not that I had spent much time on the dating scene. Not in a very long time, anyway.

“Vibe? What do you mean by that? What kind of vibe am I giving off?” I decided to tease even though he was spot on with his observation.

“I’m not very good with words but if you’re willing, I’d be more than willing to show you exactly what I mean.” Randy grinned at me, a teasing glint in his eyes. “You don’t have to say yes, but I’ve really enjoyed your company so far.”

“And?” I couldn’t help but question as I noticed that he was holding something back.

“I’m very interested to see where this could go, and I’m not quite ready for tonight to end.” Randy shrugged his shoulders, refreshingly honest for a stranger I had just met at a bar. “What do you say?”

Needing a moment to gather my thoughts and make sure my head was in the right place – it wasn’t but I didn’t have the energy to deal with that right now as I desperately needed something, or in this special case, someone, to help me forget – I threw back the little of the wine that remained in my glass.

“I think I’d like that, too.”

If Sung could do it, then why couldn’t I?

With that thought in mind, I accepted Randy’s hand and allowed him to pull me out of the bar. Before I knew it, we had hailed down a cab and booked ourselves a room in a hotel for the night.

Even though this was the sort of thing that I never did or even entertained the thought of, I deserved this one night because that’s all it was.

Just one night.

Once we got into the hotel room and settled on the bed – somehow, I had landed myself on his lap – I couldn’t help but think back to what I had witnessed not even just a few hours ago.

As I had gotten into the cab after having arrived at JFK, I was excited to get home and see my husband after having been away for nearly two weeks. While in the long run, two weeks wasn’t a long time at all but in all the time that we had started dating, we hadn’t been away from each for even half that time so it was safe to say that I was relieved to be back.

Well, that was what I had thought, anyway.

As much as I wanted to believe that they simply hadn’t heard me, I knew that they were just too into each other to even realise that they had company.

When I had let myself in through the front door, I realised that something was wrong straight away. Not because the house was messy and had a strange, musky scent about it like it hadn’t been aired out in two weeks but rather, because there were a pair of panties in front of the door which certainly didn’t belong to me. The fact that they were too frilly for my taste and one size too small just further confirmed what I feared.

Leaving my suitcase by the door and venturing into the living room, I held my breath only to have it knocked out of me. With all the noise they were making and both their backs turned to me as my husband, Sung, gave it to her from behind and bent over one of the armchairs, I didn’t have to worry about them realising that I was there.

All I needed was just one look and then I was out of there.

I took my car to my favourite bar in the city but as that had been shut down due to renovations, I had somehow ended up at The Rocky Mountain and now, here – getting a room for the night with a man I had picked up from a bar.

Despite how walking in on my husband cheating on me with his assistant who just happened to be more than a decade younger than the both of us done more than traumatise me, I was determined to not let it get to me and if this was how I needed to process it all, then so be it.

If he could do it, then I could do it. It was as simple as that. Except, it wasn’t and I was having a harder time processing it than I was prepared to admit.

“Benedetta? Are you okay?” The sound of his husky voice caused me to blink back to reality only to find that he was no longer kissing my neck but rather, staring down at me with his lips tugged down in a slight frown and concern evident in his eyes.

“I’m great.” I lowered my voice to a sultry tone and pressed my hands against his chest, demanding that he get up.

Even though his lips pulled down into a deeper, questioning brow, Randolph complied. Lifting himself off me, he took a hesitant seat on the bed but was quick to go flying backwards as I all but launched myself at him.

“But things are about to be perfect,” I whispered directly into his mouth, my teeth raking over his bottom lip, a promising glint in my eyes.

-

This story probably won’t come to Inkitt until mid-April so if you would like to read ahead, you can on my Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/LaylaKnight

Layla Knight

24.12.2020

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