UNMASKING CINNAMON - Sinful Seven Book One by Eve Knight
Sneaking into a masquerade party provides Stephani with the perfect cover as the sultry siren Cinnamon. Will her secrets remain hidden once Chad, her willing playmate for the evening suspects her to be a woman he loved but lost? Can he unmask Cinnamon to again love the real woman underneath?
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Unmasking Cinnamon by Eve Knight
Stephani Holbrook needed a change. It was an ordinary Saturday, and she’d made plans, as she did every weekend, to attend the same boring predictable parties, with the same uninteresting mix of couples, acquaintances, and singles looking to score.
“Well, I’m not going this time,” she announced out loud, leafing through the daily paper. “There are hundreds of better parties to attend to help bring back some excitement and good luck in my life. I’m tired of kissing the same snakes. It’s about time I found a prince of my very own.”
She was just like her mother, Stephani acknowledged.
After her parents’ divorce, her mother had remarried immediately, but it hadn’t lasted. She found man after man but eventually ended up alone. I’m thirty-three and headed down that same rutted path.
She spotted a blurb about a party being held at the swanky and very trendy Arabesque Hotel with the Sinful Seven as hosts. Unable to contain her excitement, she sprang to her feet, doing a jig around her living room, holding the paper close to her chest, a killer of an idea tumbling through her mind.
The Sinful Seven were seven wealthy and successful bachelors hell-bent on raising hell, spending money like it was water without a drought in sight, demanding and accepting nothing but the best of everything. The reason? All to put on the lavish parties while inviting the most beautiful women and those at the top of their game to attend.
I’m just going to have to make sure I receive an invitation. This might be just what I need to break the chain of bad luck I’ve been dragging around. Flipping open her cell phone, she dialed her best friend, Alicia Williams.
“Hey you, what’s up?” Alicia answered, yawning.
“Get your sorry butt up and over here. I have an idea that I think you’ll want to hear,” Stephani ordered, throwing down the paper, her heart going into double-time as she marched from one end of her picturesque front window to the other.
Alicia groaned. “God, what scheme are you planning now, Steph? Does it involve damaging anyone’s house or car?”
Stephani beamed, recalling the adventures she and Alicia’d had during college. “Nope, it’s even better. Have you checked out the paper yet today? Do you know what tonight is?” She waved airily at her next-door neighbor walking past her window, sending Stephani a puzzled glance as she passed.
Alicia’s voice sounded far away as her friend put her on speakerphone. “Well, it’s an ordinary, dull Saturday night. Just another depressing day in my stressed-out boring life.” Sounds of her shower ran in the background. “And no, I haven’t seen the paper. Why would I want to anyway? I’m tired of reading the same junk every day. Let all the pop stars kill themselves. I don’t care.”
Stephani laughed at Alicia’s bitchy humor. She imagined her plan might just banish her friend’s case of the blues. “Well, sorry about that, hon,” she said carelessly, feeling even more certain that her idea would blow Alicia away. “Didn’t mean to add to your depressed state, but I think my plan will help you erase those weekend saddies.” She paused in her manic pacing to catch her breath, a cold bead of sweat trickling down her back. I’m counting on it.
Stephani walked through the empty ranch-style house she’d won in her latest divorce settlement and into her rectangular bedroom with its king-sized bed holding center stage. She threw open the double doors of her closet that took up one wall and started tossing garments onto her cream-colored silk bedspread.
“Tonight’s the night when the Sinful Seven throw their no-holds barred, anything-goes, invitation-only party at the Arabesque Hotel, and guess what? You and I are going.”
Laughter broke out over the phone line. “Yeah, right, Steph. Real cute joke, but how? We’re not invited.” Alicia gasped, then squealed. “Oh my God! We’re not sneaking in.”
“Not exactly. We’re just going to be very discrete.”
“Oh Jesus! We are! You know once you’re inside, you can’t walk a few feet without someone watching your every move. That’s because every year the Sinful Seven throw a party with different themes. It’s so private, so exclusive, they don’t even allow any reporters in to photograph the guests, since some of them are so famous, and so wealthy. “
“Well, sounds like too much fun to pass up. What are we waiting for? I’ve always wanted to meet Brad,” Stephani purred, her wicked grin reflecting back at her from the mirror on the closet door. “I wonder if Angelina would want to play too.”
“Stephani!” Alicia gasped, her voice rising. “Be serious.”
“Oh, honey, I’m deadly serious.”
“I don’t think they’ll be there this year.”
“Damn, Allie, you’re slick. Have you stowed him away?”“ Stephani teased. She loved yanking Alicia’s chain. “Did we miss them last year?”
“No to both. If Brad were here, I wouldn’t be talking to you. And last year was a mythical theme, and I heard from Jen, who had a friend who had a friend who went, that there wasn’t anything she didn’t see. Orgies, role playing, bondage. If you could think of it, it was there.”
“Then we’ll just have to make sure we’re there. I can’t wait to give those one hundred and sixteen muscles it takes to have an orgasm a much-needed work out.”
“Steph.” Alicia’s contagious candied giggle drizzled in her ear. Stephani’s lips twitched. “Only you would know something so quirky. Okay, I’m in. What do we need?”
Stephani finally found the short, short black leather mini skirt and the matching thigh-high boots she’d wear as part of her sexy on-the-prowl outfit. Throwing the boots on the floor beside the bed, she continued, “Have you talked to Jen’s friend’s friend about this year’s party? Do you know what this year’s theme happens to be?”
From the other end of the line, Stephani heard Alicia throwing papers about. She was probably sitting in her office, a room that resembled a tornado zone. “No, but let’s see. I thought I read something about it in an interview with Chad Miller—you know, the hottest and most successful member of the Sinful Seven?”
“I used to know a Chad Miller.”
“I know,” Alicia said. “I thought we weren’t going to talk about the no-good loser who broke your heart ever again. You’re not thinking that he and this Chad Miller are one and the same, are you?”
Stephani couldn’t reaffirm her friend’s observation. “I honestly don’t know, Allie.”
Alicia took a long, loud slurp. She drank coffee by the gallon. “Hell, Steph, the Chad Miller who broke your heart was the loser of the biggest variety. He led you on so bad.”
“You don’t have to remind me of all he did to hurt me. I thought we were going to get married and everything. I loved him.” Stephani cringed at the bitter, pathetic desperation in her words. With her stomach roiling at recalling her past, Stephani plopped down on her bed.
Alicia sighed. “I know you did, sweetie. I know you did.”
“It sometimes feels like just yesterday when he ended things between us.” And my love life skated downhill, and I crashed and burned.
“Yeah, I know it’s been hard on you, but you’ve moved on. You’re much stronger and more independent than you’ve ever been. You just…don’t have good taste in men, that’s all.”
“Gee, thanks,” Stephani muttered at her friend’s lack of tact.
“I meant that in the nicest way, honey,” Alicia soothed, her words doing just the opposite. Stephani couldn’t help it if she had a permanent tattoo on her forehead advertising her to all the losers of the world.
Needy neurotic with heart on sleeve.
“You just let your heart get tangled up too quickly when there’s nothing there to get caught up in. It’s fun to just find a man for a night or two. You must really be feeling down. I think a wild ride is just what you need.”
“No buts. You’re the one who called me with this totally awesome idea, remember? I’m your best friend. I know you better than anyone in the world, better than your exes, your family. You’re not going to reason your way out of getting laid tonight. I’ll make sure of it.”
“But what if this Chad is the Chad from my past? What then?”
Stephani heard Alicia typing away on her keyboard. “So what?” she countered. “So what if he’s the a-hole who trampled your heart? Who says you’ll even meet up with this Chad Miller? Do you know how mammoth the Arabesque is? There will be like a thousand or more people there. That place can easily hold ten times that number. The chances of you bumping and grinding with Miller are one in a million. And if you do even manage to see him, screw his brains out, then tell him he was the worst fuck you ever had in your life. That will at least be a small revenge for what he put you through.”
Her friend did have a point, Stephani decided, her stomach settling. But acting maliciously for the sake of doing so wasn’t her style. “I knew you’d make me feel better. You’re right, as always. I’ve done fine without him for the past ten years. If I do see him, I’ll find the nearest man and choose him instead. Chad always got a little jealous when I got distracted by other juicy fresh meat.”
Alicia’s breath hissed through her teeth. “Now that’s one guy I wouldn’t mind finding tonight. Consider me your partner in revenge. If this Chad really is him, I’ll have my fun with him, break his poor little heart and stomp on the pieces. You know the Arabesque belongs to Miller, right?” she asked as an afterthought. “Read it in that interview.”
“Nope, didn’t know that. What else did it say?”
“Well, he dropped hints about the party, so we’ll have to see if we can put it together. Ah, found it!”
Stephani located a red-sequined halter top and tossed it next to the skirt.
Alicia read aloud bits and pieces from the article. “Chad Miller clawed his way up the path to power and success, single-handedly made his own fortune, adding yet another hotel to his booming enterprise. Divorced third wife, settling for an undisclosed amount. Blah, blah. Here we go—the good stuff.”
Stephani went to her dresser and rummaged through her drawers to find the perfect pair of stockings and panties to go with her ensemble. “It says here, and I quote—” Alicia cleared her throat with a dramatic flourish. “This year’s party will be like none we’ve held in the past. Even our guests will be surprised to learn who’s who, since their identities will be shielded from view. But all secrets will be revealed at midnight.”
“Revealed,” Stephani whispered, fingering the lace garter she withdrew from a dresser drawer. She gasped, waving the thin lace as it came to her. “Maybe it’s a masquerade. Shielded identities, secrets, all being revealed, or unmasked, at midnight. That’s got to be it! What else could it be?”
“You’d better hope it’s a masquerade. We’ll be shit out of luck and booted out right on our nearly naked gussied-up horny asses if it isn’t.”
“Oh, come on. You’re not scared, are you?” Stephani goaded. “Not thinking of backing out, are you?”
“Well, I don’t know. This isn’t like egging Professor Thompson’s house when he gave you a C on that test, or tee-peeing Dr. Powel’s car when she threatened to fail you. If we’re caught, we could go to jail.”
“Then I’ll expect you to bail us out, since you’re the Assistant DA and everything. Come on, Alicia. This is our chance to have our most daring fantasies come true. We’ll be wearing masks. No one will bother us. I’m going to dye my hair blonde and use contacts.” She lowered her voice to a seductive purr. “My name’s Cinnamon. I have the perfect plan. If we hurry, we’ll be able to make it. Stop trying to be like my mother, and get ready for the wildest night of your life.”
* * * * *
Later, dressed in their short, screw-their-brains-out outfits, Stephani and Alicia waited outside a private entrance to the Arabesque Hotel. Security detail was tight, those being admitted having to show a pass to the two guards on duty.
“Bad idea,” Alicia said, her red lips pursing as another limo dropped off its occupants. “There’s no way we’re getting past those beef cakes.”
Stephani trained her gaze on the tallest of the seven men now entering the hotel. They were all hotter than hot, but there was something about the way that one moved with controlled, deliberate steps. Unlike his companions who hurried inside, he stood with his profile to her, taking in the view.
He turned, his silver gaze focusing on her. Stephani shivered, tendrils of liquid heat unfurling low in her belly. He examined her from head to toe, his assessing gaze spreading that heat lower. Her skin sizzled as he took a step forward, her studded heels superglued to the cement.
The clear intention written in his eyes as he looked his fill made her nipples tingle and thighs quiver.
From behind her mask, Stephani licked her dry lips. Between her thighs, her pussy melted.
A chorus of loud voices drew his attention. His smoldering gaze lingered for an endless moment before he finally turned away. As she watched the slow swing of his hips, his tight leather pants clinging to his firm ass brought her heart rate up a few notches.
“Hello, are you in there?” Alicia wagged her finger in front of Stephani’s nose. “They’ll never let us in with all this security.”
“Will you relax?”
Stephani wasn’t going to let Alicia wimp out on her now. Not when heaven was just a few steps away, her would-be devil in disguise hiding among the angels. She’d needed something like this for a long time. Posing as a seductress named Cinnamon might just sever those links of bad luck and set her free.
“I’ll get us in,” Stephani said as a bead of sweat trickled down her spine. Perhaps hoping for more than just a fun time was foolish, but this could be her one chance to be something she had always wanted to be, but never been….. Desirable.
Her hungry gaze returned to the man disappearing inside. She had to have that guy. She would have him, she corrected herself. She couldn’t wait to see him up close, to see his face, his eyes, to taste his mouth, to see and play with his package. Oh yeah, I’ll get us in there.
Alicia blinked, her gaze finally landing on Stephani’s intended play toy. “Ooh, he’s smoking, honey. Did I see two twins get out of that limo, or was that just my libido talking? Wouldn’t mind having a ménage tonight. Twins would make it even better.”
“I don’t think you were seeing things,” Stephani said. “Like I said, I’ll get us in there so you can find your twins, and I can get my guy.”
After the limo carrying the seven hunks pulled away, a delivery truck pulled up. The guards temporarily deserted their post. Staff rushed in and out, unloading the truck’s cargo. “Grab a box,” Stephani said, seeing her hottie naked in her mind’s eye. Fitting in easily, they each grabbed a box and slid inside.
Once past detection, they followed the noise to the lobby where people milled about in couples or groups. “Holy shit!” Alicia’s eyes bugged.
“I know,” Stephani breathed. “It’s so luxurious and expensive.”
Alicia pointed to one of the three teardrop-shaped chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, diamonds glinting off the marble pillars and erotic ice statues decorating the lobby. Two fountains bubbled over with champagne, while the heavy, thick scent of orchids and roses filled the air from urns overflowing with the lovely, colorful blossoms. “I could pay my rent for a year with one of those diamonds.”
Adjusting her lioness mask more securely over her face, Stephani glanced about for her prey. Signs declaring ‘auction at eight’ with an arrow pointing to a corridor to the left, and ‘theater now open’ down the hall to the right, proclaimed some of the entertainment to be had.
“Where do you want to start?” Stephani wondered. Maybe it wouldn’t be as easy as she’d thought to find her mystery hunk. He’d disappeared into the crowd. There were many guys in leather, but she’d know his sexy swagger anywhere.
“Let’s try the auction. I’m up for some buying and selling,” Alicia leered.
Chad Miller glanced about the opulent entryway of his hotel as the last of the five hundred guests arrived. The party he held each year along with his six good friends was the golden ticket everyone wanted, but few received.
Even on an ordinary day, the Arabesque outshone the other locales on the Miami strip; but tonight, with the mystique and mystery surrounding the party, the air around the hotel buzzed with vibes of the forbidden as a battalion of security guarded the property. From the well-trained doorman to the team members monitoring the many screens displaying the pleasures to be had by the party-goers. From the indoor atrium with its hidden alcoves, to the saunas and bathing pools, to the private rooms where two lovers or more might indulge in their most wicked fantasies, to the rooms with two-way mirrors where others might watch their play, and the large penthouses to be used exclusively for group action. Yes, there was much pleasure to be had at the Arabesque.
Chad readjusted the lion’s mask over his face as he strolled into the marble lobby with its two fountains bubbling over with Cristal. The loud dance music flowed through the large space, pulsating off the vaulted ceiling. Ice sculptures carved to depict lovers entwined in various erotic positions were scattered throughout the lobby, their poses meant to arouse and tantalize. The guests paid well to attend, coughing up $2,000 to raise a cool million for the charity causes chosen.
As he headed toward the elevators to find some entertainment of his own, Chad beheld the lioness to match his lion as she sauntered up the stairs leading up to the second-floor gallery. She was the woman he’d seen just before entering the hotel. She’d given him a hard-on with just one glance. He’d never forget such vivid eyes.
Her dagger-like, coral-painted nails glided up the mahogany banister, caressing the wood like a treasured lover. A red velvet mask hid her features. She stood tall, about five eleven, with short blonde hair that fell in thick waves down to her bare shoulders, which supported a graceful neck where a chain dangled. The charm or medallion nestled in her deep cleavage, and a red-sequined halter molded itself to her generous breasts, their firm nipples visible through the thin material, while a silk vest accentuated her smooth, tanned long torso. Lust shot straight to his cock as his gaze roved lower to a pair of endless legs encased in sheer stockings and a pair of thigh-high boots. A lace garter peeked out from beneath the hem of an ass-hugging black leather mini; he wanted to tug it down those impossibly long thighs and see what treasures it hid.
Changing course, Chad followed.
With certain, confident strides, she strode down a corridor past closed doors, her alert gaze roaming everywhere before she stopped at a door with a two-way mirror. Chad approached her to stand at her right, noticing the spark of interest appear in her eyes as she watched a threesome with two men and a woman in full swing. She didn’t look like an innocent with those eyes, but Chad figured that she was a newcomer to this kind of party.
Chad wondered what natural shade her violet eyes concealed. He wondered if her hair was a disguise as well, but tonight was a night for secret fantasies to be revealed and fulfilled.
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