Sep 14 2017 11:03am

Avery Flynn Excerpt: The Charmer

Avery Flynn

The Charmer by Avery Flynn

Hot, filthy rich, and usually irresistible, Hudson Carlyle just met the one woman in Harbor City who’s immune to his legendary charm. Nerdy ant researcher Felicia Hartigan is the unsexiest dresser ever. She trips over air. And she’s in love with the wrong man. Hudson can’t stop thinking about her.

His regular moves won’t work here. He’s going to need a new plan, starting with helping her win over the man she thinks she wants. And if in the process she ends up falling for Hudson instead? Even better. Step one, charm her panties off. Step two, repeat step one as frequently as possible.

But what if the famous Carlyle charm finally fails him when he needs it most? Or worse, what if she figures out the one secret he’s kept from everyone, including his family, and walks away for good?

Get a sneak peek at Avery Flynn's The Charmer (available September 25, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Hudson had never been more thoroughly ignored by a woman in his entire life. Women loved him. He was funny, charming, and knew exactly what to do to with his tongue to make a woman’s toes curl and her eyes roll back in her head as she screamed her thanks to God, the fates, and anyone in between that he’d been born with a mouth like that. Plus, he had more money than some island nations. That in itself usually got him a slow, appreciative look.

However, Felicia—she of the black burlap-sack of a dress, messy hair, perfect bone structure, and mysterious something in her eyes that only a paintbrush could figure out, had attention for Tyler alone. For his part, Captain Clueless was too busy scoping out everyone else at the fundraiser to notice. It chapped Hudson’s ass and made him even more curious—and if that wasn’t karma telling him to go fuck himself, then he didn’t know what was.

Really, he should excuse himself, make a quick stop at the bar, and then find one of the many society darlings to run off with and work out the crazy taking up space in his head. Instead, he couldn’t move.

The way the light bounced off her features. The way she hid behind those big glasses. The certain something that could only be discovered by getting her on canvas. They all made the center of his palms itch. He had to paint her. It wasn’t a choice. It was a necessity. Good thing for him, she had an obvious, if totally baffling, thing for Tyler, and the man had no fucking clue. That meant his plan to kill two birds with one ant researcher was going to work out just fine.

As she continued to rattle on about honeypot ants—seriously who knew scientists could have such dirty minds? What other excuse could there be for that name—she flashed a wasted smile at Tyler, one that emphasized the fullness of her bottom lip. Hudson would have to mix just the right acrylics to get the shade right, but it could be done. It would be done. When the other guy in their little foursome (Steve? Stan?) walked a few feet away with Tyler, and they started talking about the disaster that was the latest Harbor City Warriors game, Hudson leaned down—way down—to whisper in Felicia’s ear.

“You want Tyler.” He hadn’t meant to blurt it out or make her uncomfortable, but he sensed this woman wouldn’t tolerate beating around the bush. It was refreshing, honestly, to be able to say exactly what he was thinking with a woman. Of course, she’d probably fight admitting it to a stranger. He needed to tread carefully if he wanted to get her to agree to help him. Or let him help her, more precisely.

A pink blush stained her cheeks as her hands fluttered around in front of her like she was about to go all Jackson Pollock on him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she finally said, her soft voice hard to hear with the crowd around them.

“It’s okay, sweetheart. We’re in the tree of trust.” He gave her the smile that always got him extra cookies from Mrs. Esposito. “You like him, but he hasn’t noticed.”

“Of course I like him,” she huffed. “We’ve been friends almost our entire lives. Well, he’s been friends with my older brother Frankie for that long.”

Sounded to him like the buttoned-up ant researcher was protesting too much. “And at any point during the very long and supposedly storied history of your friendship, has he kissed you?” There went that blush of hers again. He tried to clear the teasing, subtle, spicy amber scent of her out of his head before it took his thoughts in a different direction “Pressed up against you?” She tugged the juicy flesh of her lip with her teeth. “Slid his fingers—”

“That’s enough,” she said, her voice a quiet squeak. “What are you, the Non-Relationship Police?”

He waited a beat, just long enough to watch her skin return to its pale, creamy color. Then, unable to stop himself, he teased. “I’m your fairy godmother wrapped in this extremely awesome, sexy package. It’s okay to swoon a little. I won’t judge.”

Her jaw muscles worked overtime fighting a smile before she said in a low tone, “Let me guess, your massive ego turns into a magic wand?”

“That’s not what most women call it—well, except the ‘massive’ part.” He winked and almost laughed out loud when her eyes widened.

One of her dainty hands snagged a glass of champagne from a passing waiter, and she tossed the whole thing back like a trooper. When she set the empty glass back on the bar, her shoulders shook with silent laughter. “I can’t believe you started this conversation about one man and expertly turned it into a dissertation about your own junk.”

“I wouldn’t call this a ‘dissertation.’ More like a thesis statement at this point, wouldn’t you agree?” He spied a waiter at the end of the bar refilling his tray with bubbly, and Hudson subtlety nodded for service. While this conversation was turning to one of his favorite topics—himself—he needed to steer things back to Tyler.

“But I think I can help you snag Tyler without the aid of my ‘magic wand.’” He squashed the immediate revolt in his pants and grabbed two flutes of champagne from the offered tray. He handed one to Felicia, curious if she’d pound this one back, too.

“You think so, do you?” she asked, all eyes for Tyler while she sipped at the bubbly liquid. Pity.

“Thinking doesn’t factor into it. I’m just that good,” he said, watching her work out the possibilities with that super fast mind of hers before she tossed the rest of the champagne back like they were in a frat house. He smiled. That’s my girl. “This is all about the heart. You want Tyler to see you as a woman—his kind of woman—and I can help you do just that.”

When it came to what made women irresistible, he knew it all—one of the many benefits of being a lifelong connoisseur.

Felicia’s face lit up with wry amusement, and she managed to get her soft voice above a murmur. “Are you offering to make me over into what the patriarchy has decided is attractive?”

“No,” he said, slipping off the superficial charm like a snake shedding its skin. “I’m offering to help you get what you’ve wanted, probably since perfect Tyler first became friends with your older brother Freddie.”

“Frankie,” she said reflexively.

“Whatever.” He shrugged, knowing the key to getting her to agree was in appealing to her scientific mind. Earlier, he’d gotten a glimpse into the way she thought while she’d excitedly explained to him and Tyler about her ant research. She was methodical. And driven. “You don’t strike me as a woman who gives up on what she wants without at least an experiment.”

For a second, he had her. He would have sworn it in a court of law.

Then, that perfect bottom lip of hers straightened out and flattened. “I don’t, but I’m also not the type to trick a man into believing he’s getting a different sort of woman. Thank you for the offer, but I think I’ve got things under control.”

With a little tilt to her stubborn chin and a shake of her head, she turned to leave, but he shot out his hand to stop her. It started as a tingle the second his fingers curled around her forearm and built to a vibration that shot straight to his dick the longer he held her. He should let go. He didn’t. He stepped closer, eliminating the distance between them. He was supposed to be persuading her, not picturing all the things he’d like to do to her and wondering what sounds she’d make when he did them.

“Look, Matches, there’s no doubt about it, my ego is huge, but my reputation is well earned.” He studied her gaze carefully. “No one else out there can help you get Tyler as well as I can. You’ve been trying for years, haven’t you?” He watched, fascinated, as her skin turned rosy. “Yeah, that pretty pink blush tells me everything I need to know. You want him, and I can make sure you get him.”

Of course, he had zero plans for her to actually end up with Tyler. His instincts said this woman was more. Definitely more than Tyler deserved. Sure, he’d agreed to help mend fences between Tyler and Hudson, but he could do that without Felicia ending up with Captain Clueless. Tyler had been Sawyer’s best friend, not his, and he owed no loyalty to the guy who’d made his brother’s life miserable for the last umpteen years. No, he had a much better way to mend their friendship, while at the same time showing Felicia she deserved more than her stupid childhood crush. He was going to save her from herself. Then, of course, she’d owe him and let him work her out on canvas.

“And what do you want in return?” she asked, her voice breathier than it had been before.

“To paint you.” Her eyebrows reached her hairline in a split second, and he rushed to assure her. “No one would ever know.” No one could know, or he’d risk exposing his secret life.

“Is that the new ‘let me show you my etchings’?” she asked, looking down at where his fingers pressed into her flesh, though she didn’t try to free herself.

“Tick tock, Matches.” Adrenaline surged through him, shrinking his world until she was the only thing in it. “What’s it going to be?”

She flicked her gaze up at him, her blue eyes scrutinizing him behind her thick glasses. “Why are you calling me Matches?”

The truth came out before he could think of a charming lie. “Because they’re small, but when you stroke them just right, they can burn the whole place down.”

Copyright © 2017 by Avery Flynn.

Learn more about or order a copy of The Charmer by Avery Flynn, by visting the author's site.

Avery Flynn is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous romance novels, including the Killer Style series, Tempt Me series, and Sweet Salvation Brewery books.

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