Can you handle the heat? The authors of Hot and Sinful Nights know you can…so we have this blog hop set up to share our steamiest excerpts from our books in the box set. Follow along the path of the hop to visit all of the authors and enter their individual contests. They’re all listed here at this site: Hot and Sinful Nights Red Bar Contest.
I have a brand new novel coming Sept 26th! It’s called Perfect Match, and it’s exclusive to the box set Hot and Sinful Nights. I have a super sexy excerpt below…AND the first two chapters of Perfect Match for you to enjoy. In honor of the new release, I’m giving away two prizes here on my blog:
1)A signed copy of my book A Handful of Fire
2) 5$ Amazon GC
To enter for my prizes, just read my post & find the rafflecopter at the end of my excerpt. To find the rest of the authors & the Kindle Fire entry, visit the Hot & Sinful Nights page.
From Perfect Match by Alexis Alvarez
“Good choice.” Dylan’s voice rolled over her. “Keep going. Take off your dress.”
“What if I don’t do it?” Fia met his eyes.
He unbuttoned one sleeve and began to deliberately roll up the fabric, little by little. “You want to find out?”
She shot him a challenging gaze. “What if I said I did want to find out?”
“Come here,” he challenged her. He backed up and sat down on an expensive leather couch, black and sleek. While he kept eye contact, he rolled up the other sleeve, exposing his strong, corded forearms. “And I’ll show you.”
“But you’re still dressed.” She ran her fingers under the cloth, touching her own nipples, feeling them harden with her touch.
His eyes burned into her. “Yes, I am. That’s another rule. You have to be naked first. Get started.” His voice was firm, but his smile let her know he was still Dylan, the sexy man who made her smile, even though he was being all dominant. And fuck, she wanted to play this game with him.
“I hope you don’t mind that I’m not wearing panties,” she said innocently, and slid the fabric down to her waist.
“Fuck,” he swore. “You were naked under there all this time?”
“Completely,” she murmured. “So naked. No bra, no panties, just my bare skin.”
“Take off the dress and walk over here,” he told her, pointing between his spread legs.
She wiggled her hips to slide the dress down, then stepped out of it, leaving it on the floor, a pool of blue. His eyes were locked on her body, and she swayed her walk as she came closer, delighting in his tortured expression. “You like?”
“I fucking love it. You’re gorgeous.”
She came to stand where he’d indicated.
“Put your hands behind your back and lace your fingers, if you can. And spread your thighs a little.”
She flushed. “Dylan!”
He ran a palm down her thigh, then up to cup her ass cheek. “What was the rule I told you about? If I’m in charge, then you do what I say.”
“But you’re going to make me get in poses for you?”
“Absolutely.” He smiled broadly. “And you’re going to do it, too, because it will turn both of us on.”
She bit her lip then slowly put her arms behind her back, noticing how it made her breasts stick out. Then, while he was silent, she stepped her legs apart to widen the gap between her thighs. “Like this?”
He sat back and put one arm on the back of the couch, as if relaxing in a club.
Her face burned, but she did it, embarrassed at how wet this was making her.
“Good. Stay like that, Fia.” He leaned his head back.
“For how long?” Her face was hot and her pulse was fast in her neck. She was dying for him to touch her.
“Until I say otherwise,” he told her simply. “And another rule is that you don’t question my commands, you just obey them. Is that clear?”
She nodded. This was so kinky, and it was turning her on more than she could imagine.
“Is that a yes, you understand?”
She sucked in a breath. “Yes, I understand.”
“Yes, you will obey me tonight?” His gaze was direct.
She felt her face burn. “Yes, I will obey you tonight.”
“Good girl,” he said approvingly, and she bit her lip, wanting to argue and tell him she wasn’t a girl, she wasn’t his good girl. Except her pussy had other ideas. Her pussy really, really liked the idea of being his good girl.
Perfect Match is a 75K word story with no cliffhangers and an HEA. It’s a brand-new, exclusive story from Alexis Alvarez, and it’s only available inside the box set Hot and Sinful Nights.
Here’s my giveaway! See that little arrow in the middle of the box — a left arrow, some circles, and a right arrow? Click the arrow to see both prizes available for this giveaway, because there are two: A signed book and a 5$ Amazon GC. Thanks and best of luck! XOXO
a Rafflecopter giveaway
She’s the matchmaker…he’s her sexy client. What could go wrong?
L.A.-based matchmaker Fia Martin has a tough competition: Find the perfect woman for arrogant, handsome TV-host Dylan Chambers, before her rival, Connie Birnbaum, can do it––on national television. If Dylan declares her the winner, Fia’s business will skyrocket.
Dylan is picky. He’s smug. He reminds Fia that he’s only doing this competition at all because he lost a bet to his TV co-host, and he doesn’t believe in true love. He’s polite on dates picked out by Connie, but the ones Fia sets up? Those seem to end in complete disaster. And every time she tells him to behave, he flirts with her shamelessly.
A stolen kiss turns to a night of unbelievable passion, but Fia knows that Dylan’s not interested in anything more than a fling. How could it mean anything when he’s still going on dates for the TV challenge like nothing happened?
When Dylan chooses Connie’s company for his final dream date in Hawaii, to a woman who looks perfect on paper, Fia figures she can pretty much kiss the trophy goodbye. The problem is, she won’t just be losing the competition. She’s about to lose her heart, too…to the one guy who’s completely unavailable.
Perfect Match: Chapter One
The man sitting alone at the bar was handsome as hell. Every time he shifted, Fia noticed how powerful his thighs looked beneath the expensive suit pants. His broad shoulders held confidence, and his profile, when she caught glimpses–God.
Grace poked her friend. “He’s cute, right? I totally agree.”
Fia rolled her brilliant green eyes and smoothed her silky brown hair. “Calling him cute is like calling Einstein kind of smart, Gracie. Or like saying that John Glenn dabbled in space.”
Grace tilted her head and her red hair shone in the low light. “Oh my God. He’s Dylan Chambers, the new co-host from Morning Brew, right?” She glanced at Fia. “You should know this.”
Fia leaned forward to look. Mingling patrons blocked her way, and she blew out a breath. “I don’t know. Maybe.” Her heart hammered faster. “I think you’re right.” Recognition set in, delayed, but unquestionable. This handsome man was indeed the sexy, panty-melting new co-host of the very show on which she was going to make her debut appearance.
“Go say hello. Tell him you’re coming on the show next month to talk about your awesome matchmaking service that’s going to be the number one new business in L.A. I’m sure he’s heard.”
“One would hope he’s aware of what’s discussed on the show. But who knows. It’s still a while away. Maybe he just gets a little printout five minutes before they go on TV. Besides, I’m on the segment with Chelsea, anyway. The show is her baby, and she does all the big interviews.”
“Right, but he’s always out there too, as eye-candy.” Grace sipped her wine.
Fia craned her neck, but a chattering group of millennials, screeching with laughter, totally blocked her view. “I’m worried that Chelsea is going to be bitchy when I go on her show. Sometimes she can be so mean to her guests, and the audience loves it, but, oh, God. Why did I sign up for this, again?” She clutched her stomach in a gesture of mock terror, but the anxiety was real enough to make her uncomfortable.
Grace frowned. “Free publicity. She is doing the whole process, right?”
Fia nodded and raised her glass. “It is pretty cool. She’ll follow us through the entire match with a bachelor, from the start, where we interview him, to the final dates. It will be a little complicated to find someone–and dates for him—who don’t mind being on TV, but just think about all the clients we can pull in.”
“Complicated? I think you mean easy. Half the people here in L.A. would chop off their pinky finger to get on TV. You offer them a free chance and a date with a sexy partner? Sold.”
“It’s just that I want the match we feature to be perfect, so people think my business is amazing.” Fia swirled the wine in her glass, enjoying the way the lights sparkled off the crystal.
“Come on, Fia. So far, you’ve had a great success rate with matches, and you’re getting new clients every day. And you have such positive feedback online. And the weddings you’ve attended! There’s no way it will go wrong.”
Fia wrinkled her nose. “I’m going to be up there with Connie. She’s been the resident millionaire matchmaker in this city for over a decade, and she’s my inspiration. I want to look good, even when compared to her. She’s comfortable being on TV, too. She’s done whole reality TV shows based on her matchmaking business, so she’s accustomed to having all of the process filmed.”
Her voice trailed off as she tried to sneak another casual glance down the bar. The man downed his drink, then looked right at Fia.
For a second she met his gaze, and felt something spark between them. Then she looked away, embarrassed, when a gorgeous blonde approached him with a delighted greeting, and he smiled, stood, and kissed her cheek. Fia tried not to compare her ripped jeans and soft T-shirt to the blonde woman’s gorgeous skirt and jacket. Or that pretty updo with her messy halo of hair.
She set her glass down, running her fingers up and down the stem. “Besides, rumor has it that he’s an arrogant asshole.”
“Who told you that?” Grace leaned in. “Anyone I know?”
“Well, you know, the people on some of the fan chat boards.” At Grace’s soft snort, Fia flushed. “What?” Her voice rose. “I only checked to read what people say about Chelsea and him, both. I mean, it only makes sense if I’m going on TV. Research.”
“Of course. So he’s a dick, you say?” Grace laughed.
“He’s supposedly intolerant of crap and calls things like he sees them. Doesn’t mind insulting people, and Chelsea loves it because it’s good for ratings. Most people love him, but working with him can be…difficult.” She looked back over at him, just to see. The blonde was nestled up against a different man, and Dylan was talking to them both while the bartender handed over new drinks. For some reason, Fia breathed out in relief and pleasure. Although that was ridiculous.
When Dylan got up and strode towards her and Grace, she sucked in a breath. “Grace?” Fia poked her friend.
“Hello.” His voice was deep and more resonant than on TV. “Enjoying your evening? I’m Dylan.” His greeting was for both of them, but his eyes were on Fia.
Grace stuck out her hand. “Yes!” she chirped, smile broad. “I’m Grace, and this is Fia. I recognized you right away because I always watch Morning Brew. I’m so glad you joined the show! It’s actually fortuitous that you’re here, because Fia’s going to be on your show in just a few weeks.”
“Nice to meet you.” Fia held out her hand and felt a flash of desire as he took it in his strong warm one.
“I recognized you from an update in our staff meeting. Remind me why you’re coming on the show?” He tilted his glass, and the ice clinked against the side.
His eyes were undressing her, Fia felt, or maybe it was only that she wished they were, but his gaze made her warm. Those dark liquid eyes and the planes of his face were hitting all the right buttons.
“I’m discussing my matchmaking business, Perfect Profiles.”
“Oh…yes. The…matchmaking thing,” he responded, and his voice was a cross between sarcastic and condescending. “You hook up sexy women with ultra-rich bachelors. How’s that working out, Fia?”
Fia narrowed her eyes. “It’s working out just fine, Dylan.” What the fuck?
“Okay. Great.” This time, there was no mistaking his smirk.
“I’m sorry. Are you not a fan of matchmaking businesses?” She kept her voice professional.
“You could say that.”
“Then why did you invite me onto your show?”
“It’s Chelsea’s show, and she invited you and Connie Birnbaum. I voted no, but I was outnumbered.”
“Oh, I see.” She took a deep breath. “And you came over here to tell me that, as a way to help me feel welcome and at ease, I assume? Thank you. Thank you so much for your consideration.” She raised her drink. “Cheers to thoughtfulness, Grace.”
“Oh! Yes, cheers.” Grace, uncertainty on her face, clinked glasses with Fia. Then she leaned in and hissed, “Don’t make him mad.”
Fia scowled and spoke through gritted teeth, “I will make him mad if I want to, Grace, because he started it.”
He smiled. “I don’t have to like your business model to respect you as a person. It’s clear that you’re smart and ambitious, or you wouldn’t have grown your business in such a short time, to the point where it’s featured on the country’s top morning show. But if you can’t handle criticism, I doubt your business will last very long. Or are your matches as sugar-coated as your words?”
Even though his words were sarcastic, there was a glint in his eye that was more appreciative than deprecating, and the way he looked at her made her feel warm and tingly.
Several thoughts rushed through Fia’s head: This man holding her up against the wall and driving into her, his lips plundering hers, sugar on her lips, his mouth nectar to hers. She shook her head, irritated. “My business has helped many couples find everlasting love.”
“Oh, I’m sure.” His voice was smooth. “Can I buy you ladies a drink while you tell me more about it?” He glanced at her glass. “More wine?”
Fia bit her lip. “No, thanks. Dylan, Perfect Profiles is a serious business, and I try to foster genuine, lasting relationships. Some people have a hard time meeting their soulmate because they’re constantly being pre-judged for their wealth or their looks. My goal is to find people who can search beyond the surface to the real person, and find the one who speaks to their heart.”
“Seems like you’re running a high-class escort business.” He smirked.
Fia was pissed. “I’ve been the mastermind behind over a dozen successful marriages, and my business is only two years old. I spend hours with each client, having them fill out psychological profiles, personality quizzes, IQ tests, and interviews. Then all of my data is entered into the program that I myself created, and I use statistics to find the best possible matches. And it works.”
Dylan scoffed. “Most marriages break up a few years in, especially when built on a weak foundation. Are you sure your hastily organized unions will survive the test of time?” Although he’d just been laughing, his eyes were dark, bleak.
Fia couldn’t help but wonder if he were talking from personal experience, but he had no right to judge her life’s work this way. Her voice rose as she spoke. “I guess I’m not surprised you’re alone then, Dylan, with that kind of an attitude. I have to admit that even I might have trouble finding you a match, and I consider myself an expert, with the city’s top single women at my disposal. It’s been a pleasure. I so look forward to seeing you on the show. Gracie, should we get going?” She stood up and turned away from him.
But Dylan was talking over her, his voice harsh. “How do you know I’m alone?”
Fia whirled back around. “Oh, I supposed I just assumed it, Dylan. Just like you assumed all kinds of things about my business.” She knew her words were too sharp for the situation; it would have been better to respond with some kind of clever cutting joke or to have ignored him. But she’d never responded well to contempt and condescension, and she wasn’t going to start now.
“Wait. Fia? I’m sorry.” His voice was urgent, and he stepped forward, putting a hand on her shoulder.
Fia shrugged it off, even though she felt a spark of attraction from his warm touch.
“Listen, I really am sorry,” he said in a low voice. “It’s been a long day, and I’m sorry I insulted you. Can I buy you a drink and we’ll talk for a few minutes? We’ll start over.” He looked at Grace. “Both of you, of course.”
Grace shot a look between the two of them, then said in a chipper voice, “I’ve got to get going to that thing, about the thing. So call me later, and I’ll see you tomorrow!” She waved briefly and waltzed off on her high heels, leaving Fia there glowering at Dylan.
“Can we sit down?” He gestured at the table, and when she nodded and sat, he took Grace’s vacated seat. “Look, I came on strong. That’s what I do. And it’s true that I don’t think much of matchmaking companies, especially here in L.A. But I respect that you work hard at what you do and that it matters to you.”
“Well, I mean, I could say that I don’t think much of television personalities,” she shot back. “Caricatures who show nothing of themselves and reflect back to the seething masses a reflection of their own greed and stupidity.” She shrugged. “But I didn’t do that, did I?” She sipped her wine. “Because I respect that you respect what you do.”
He laughed. “Ouch. Wow. Okay.” He raised an eyebrow.
He looked at her, and despite their words, despite the irritation, desire for him burned fast and sharp. His lips looked both soft and powerful at once. She wanted to trace his jaw, run her hand through his hair. He leaned in. “Should we really start over?”
Somehow, even though they’d exchanged hard words, the look in his eyes told Fia that it was going to be okay, and that he had a humor to him, in him, that made him pliable, light. He wasn’t really pissed at her at all. She’d only stirred his curiosity, roused something sleeping in him, and this made the flame of attraction burn even brighter.
“I don’t know.” Fia crossed her legs and adjusted her t-shirt, and his eyes followed as the fabric tightened temporarily over the swell of her breasts. She felt her pulse quicken. “Would that maybe be like a person backing their car up into a wall, over and over again? Does it make sense?”
He laughed. “Maybe. And then once the car is completely wrecked, we can get out and walk.”
She smiled, despite wanting to stay stern. When he smiled and those dimples came out, holy Jesus, devastation. “So, Dylan, what do you do in your spare time, besides insulting future guests on your show?”
He smiled and his white, even teeth gleamed. Laser much, she wanted to say, but it was appealing.
He shrugged. “I just took this job and my schedule is hectic, so I don’t have much of a routine yet. Ratings are up seven percent since I joined. Viewers seem to rave about my ideas…and my abs.” He took a sip of his drink and smiled again, but this one didn’t seem to reach his eyes.
“Well, once you and your stomach are settled in. What are we talking, like surfing at the beach? Spraying graffiti in the inner city? Coaching little league? Give it a guess, at least.”
“Can I spray-paint my old little league coach? That guy was pure evil.”
Fia laughed. “Oh, sure. That’s totally legit. How can a little league coach be evil, though? Aren’t they someone’s dad?”
“Oh, they are. This one fathered the meanest, ugliest bully you’ve ever seen, and he let his kid pick on everyone else incessantly.”
“You should probably invite him onto your show,” Fia suggested, “and then find him in the bar the night before and tell him how much he sucks. You’ll drain the soul right out of him.”
He grimaced. “If I say I’m sorry again, will you believe me?”
“I’m not sure.” She smiled, but narrowed her eyes. “And I don’t actually feel you were very sincere before.”
“Ah.” But he didn’t go on. He leaned back in his chair and regarded her, a small smile on his mouth. “How about your hobbies? In addition to attacking defenseless television morning show hosts in bars and rendering them speechless, what do you do in your spare time?”
“Well, I don’t go around spray-painting people,” she retorted. “If you’re really interested, you can read my personal page on my blog. It has everything about me listed there.”
“Oh, everything?” His eyes gleamed and he leaned in. “Such as?”
“Such as why do you care?” She leaned in too, although it didn’t make sense, and the air between them seemed charged with electricity. Just a few more inches. A few more inches and those delicious lips would be right upon hers. She could smell his cologne and the whiskey on his breath. She was close enough to see the small wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, and the barest stubble beginning to appear on his jawline.
“It would be remiss of me not to research a guest on the show.”
“So it would.” If she could feel the heat of his words, could he feel hers, too? His eyes were magnetic. His hands were on the table, one tapping, the other wrapped around his glass, the ice melting into the amber liquid, light refracting from it. Her hand was close to his. If either of them reached out, just a short distance, they could touch. “But if you save everything to the last minute, how can you do a thorough job in just one night?” Her voice was low and sultry.
“I can do a very thorough job in just one night, Fia.” His voice was low and direct, and his smile, dirty and wicked, made her melt. She sucked in a breath. “I can get more done in a night…” he paused and lowered his voice, “than most people can get done in weeks. I’m that good.”
She widened her eyes. So suggestive, and so, so cocky. “I’d like to see you try.”
He laughed. “Do you? I’d love to show you, then.” His voice, so sexy, made her catch her breath.
She flushed. “That’s not what…You know? I really do need to get going. I have a lot of things to prepare for some meetings tomorrow.” She stood up and reached for her purse.
He stood too. “Well, I look forward to seeing you on the show. Very much.” He gave her his hand, and the sparks that flew up her arm made her tingle.
“I’m sure you do.” She smiled at him.
* * *
As soon as she got home, she called Grace. “So we insulted each other and then we sort of started getting along. He flirted a lot, but I think he does that to everyone. He’s hot, but he really hated on my service. I’m worried he’s going to try to trash me on TV or something.”
Grace was thoughtful. “He’s too professional to do something like that, no matter what he feels personally. Besides, Chelsea has been bringing him in when they run the ‘Who Does It Better’ segment. Aren’t you going on for the ‘Local Business Blast’ segment?”
“Oh, yes. Good point. Now I feel better.”
Grace added, “Everyone loves ‘Who Does It Better,’ though. Last week he visited two trendy sushi joints and talked about which one he preferred. It’s a huge hit with viewers. They love his sarcastic wit and the way he sort of mocks things even when he’s complimenting them. And both sushi places got extra business, even the one that wasn’t his favorite. Even being on the show is great for a business.”
Fia felt relieved. “Well, there’s no way he can test out two dating services, so I think I’m safe. I’m not going to think about him anymore.”
But that night as she prepared her notes, she couldn’t help but feel a small flash of excitement at the idea of meeting the arrogant but sexy Dylan Chambers face to face…again. And her dreams were full of other, less verbal encounters with Dylan, and these were the kind of steamy dreams that had her awakening with a breathless longing that had no words.
Perfect Match: Chapter Two
“Tell me again why they call it a green room?” complained Grace, looking around the long, narrow waiting room lined with shallow couches and an ice-bucket full of bottled waters. “It’s the kind of beige that belongs on tired old bedpans.”
Fia tried to laugh. A few weeks had passed since she’d met Dylan in the bar, and today—finally—she would see him again, face to face, while Chelsea interviewed her and Connie on the live Monday morning taping of Morning Brew.
She tried to calm her racing heart by taking deep breaths. She also tried not to stare at the other featured matchmaker, Connie Birnbaum, who was pouring words into a cell phone and had been doing so for the past fifteen minutes. Fia noted that Connie, in her early sixties, had killer legs and bombshell curves, which were accentuated by her trendy suit.
“I want to say hi to her ahead of time,” Fia murmured to Grace. “But she’s so…busy. And I’m so…about to pass out.”
“You know I’ll be in here if need me,” Grace reassured her. “I mean, you need anything? Just scream, GRACIE! BRING ME MY—whatever it is—and I’m on it. Promise.”
This time Fia laughed for real. “Oh, Grace. That would so not endear me to any potential clients out there in viewer-land.”
Grace patted her hand. “No matter what happens, this is getting your name out there.”
Fia bit her lip, all of Dylan’s criticisms coming back to her. “But what if he’s right? What if I am only temporarily hooking up rich men with pretty girls? What if all the marriages do start to fail?”
Grace raised her voice. “Fia! Stop it! You’ve been to the weddings. You’ve seen how in love those couples are. It’s more than what he said and you know it. You just have stage fright. Stand up and walk around. It will help burn off your nervous energy.”
Fia stood and marched in place. “Not helping, Grace.”
Connie looked over and finally stowed her phone. She strode up. “Fia Martin? I’m Connie.” She touched her white-blonde hair, arranged into a complicated bun atop her head, and extended her hand.
Fia shook, still marching. “Nice to meet you. I’m a huge fan. You were the inspiration for me to start my own business.”
Connie acted as if marching adoration were a normal part of her day, which maybe it was, thought Fia. It was hard to tell about other people sometimes. “I’m not interested in getting into a brutal battle out there,” Connie announced. Her diamond necklace flashed in the light as she turned to smile at both Fia and Grace. “Right?”
Fia bit her lip, slightly confused. They were going on ‘Local Business Blast,’ where Chelsea featured local businesses. And although there would be inevitable comparisons and web comments on who liked which business better, it really wasn’t ever touted as a combative thing. Maybe Connie just wanted to clarify that she wasn’t going to be a bitch?
Fia nodded and stopped marching. “I’d just rather focus on what we do well. I’m sure we each have specific strengths, right? I’d like to play it off like we can complement each other. Different firms for different clients.”
“This doesn’t mean I won’t try to sell myself hard,” Connie warned Fia. “And get the competitive edge. But I don’t play dirty. My clients want to see that I’m professional and courteous to everyone.”
Fia cleared her throat. Connie must be used to working with really cutthroat people! “I know you’ve been doing this for years and you’re good at it—very good. And I’m good too. I have confidence that my techniques really help people find lasting love. I like knowing that we can be competitive but still supportive.”
The set assistant beckoned. “On set, please.”
Now Fia was seated in a plush red chair, crossing her legs and tugging her skirt down, smelling the minty breath of the man who was wiring her up with a microphone, and looking into a sea of bright lights as she heard, “Five, four…” and then Chelsea’s luxurious, smooth voice:
“Hello and welcome back to Morning Brew and our live studio audience! We have two matchmaking companies here today on our ‘Local Business Blast’ segment. First there’s Connie Birnbaum from Matched by the Millions. She’s been the resident love mistress in town for almost two decades and was featured in five seasons of a reality TV show based on her business! Connie’s secret is her gut—she says that when a match is right, she feels it in her stomach. And she has years of successful matches to prove her right.
“And here we have newcomer matchmaker Fia Martin, from Perfect Profiles. She’s only been in business for two years but already boasts a remarkable track record at helping couples find love. Fia’s claim to fame is her proprietary computer program, which ranks a person’s potential matches by percentage from one to one hundred. She says that when she finds a person who ranks eighty percent or higher for a client, it usually results in a lasting love match.
“Let’s learn more. Are you—and we all know you’re looking for love out there, viewers, let’s be honest—are you going to do better with a matchmaker who matches you from her physical instincts, or one who matches you from her brainy computer? Let’s get to it!”
The audience applauded wildly, and Fia gulped. She didn’t like being described as merely a “brainy computer”. There was so much more to it than that.
But Chelsea leaned forward, her elbow on her pant-suited knee and rested her chin in her hand as she looked at Connie. “Connie Birnbaum! I’m such a fan,” she gushed. “I had to watch every episode of your show. My favorite was the one where the millionaire made all of his potential dates help pick through trash at his recycling plant! They were all wearing heels, and it was hilarious when they dissed him. But then, despite his attitude, you still found him love. I heard that he’s still married to the girl who told him off, right?”
Connie laughed. “He sure is, Chelsea. I knew it in my gut when I saw those two together that I had to push, and I was right! The sparks turned into a bond of forever love. I always make it a point to talk to the clients about life and goals, but not to get every single detail. I don’t want to lose the forest for the trees. Once I get a snapshot of their character, if you will, I then think about all the potential matches. And when I get that warm feeling in my gut, I know I’ve found the best possible match.”
Chelsea shook her head and smiled. “Well, with hundreds of success stories, your method must surely work! And now let’s turn to Fia Martin. Fia, you’re more of a trees matchmaker, right? You actually try to get every single detail possible for your computer program?”
Fia hoped her voice wouldn’t shake. “That’s right, Chelsea. There are so many nuances and subtle details that make up a personality, and I’ve found that it’s critical to get information from all aspects of a person’s life—life experiences, psychological personality profiles, likes and dislikes, political leanings, even tastes in music and food.”
She paused to breathe before continuing. “But it gets even more complicated before it gets simple. I enter all of the data into my program and use a proprietary algorithm to parse the data and analyze it, compare it to the information of each potential partner. Eventually the program comes up with a number that shows the match potential as a percentage.”
Chelsea wrinkled her nose. “Give me an example. Let’s say, for instance, that I have an inveterate bachelor who needs true love. I sign him up for your service, and he goes through all these insane hours of interviews. What happens next?”
Fia took a deep breath. “Well, I’d run his profile and find his top four matches in the system. Each woman would have a number by her name showing the percentage likelihood that they would hit it off. I like to aim for percentages in the eighties or higher because that usually leads to a good match. But sometimes I’ve sparked lasting connections from people who only rated in the sixties for each other.”
“So if I understand this,” Chelsea probed, “my bachelor would get a list of four names and would then get to date each one?”
Fia replied, “Sometimes the bachelor stops the process early because he’s already found a person he’s crazy about and doesn’t wish to pursue further dates. But yes, he can choose to meet each of the four if he likes. Or he can wait until more women enter the system, and can try again.”
Chelsea turned back to Connie. “And let’s say I sent that same bachelor to your service. You’d get to know him, then use your gut feeling to match him up with a few women? How many are we talking here?”
Connie laughed. “Well, it’s not so mathematical over here, Chelsea! Sometimes there are three women whom I think might match him, sometimes seven, sometimes only one perfect woman. And it’s up to him if he wants to meet them all at once for a mixer, or individually. I really like to work from a warm, friendly standpoint—not from behind an impersonal computer screen.”
Fia felt her face burn, and cut in with, “I absolutely agree with Connie that the process needs to be personal. I also definitely create a space that’s welcoming and makes a person feel that they’re being valued. Because each individual is unique.”
Chelsea leaned in. “Well, I have a surprise proposition for you two! Ladies, both of you have already agreed to have our cameras follow one man through your system while he goes on dates to find true love. But I have a special request! If you’re up for the challenge, I’m going to enroll my co-host Dylan in the matchmaking system at both of your companies! He’ll do ‘Who Does It Better’ for finding love!”
The applause that followed her pronouncement was, in Fia’s opinion, powerful enough to rattle the ground and start an earthquake rumbling toward the coast.
“Who will find love for Dylan? Will it be Connie and her gut feelings, or Fia and her computer program? Viewers, you’re going to want to stay tuned over the next few weeks as we follow Dylan around on his dates and find out what he thinks about the two top rated matching services in town!
“This is your backstage pass, ladies and gentlemen, to find out what makes these matchmaking services tick, and where you’re going to want to spend your money to find the love of a lifetime!”
To Fia’s shock and horror, Dylan came out and sat down in the red chair next to Chelsea, smiling a taut smile.
The audience roared their approval and chanted his name. “Dy-lan! Dy-lan!”
Fia mentally scrambled to get her bearings. So, wait—what? Instead of just being featured separately, now they really were going head-to-head in a competition…with Dylan as the man who needed love? Had Connie known about this ahead of time, and that’s why she mentioned twice that she didn’t want it to get too intense?
But Fia didn’t have to time to ruminate because the show was proceeding.
Chelsea laughed and poked her co-host playfully in the arm. “Dylan really didn’t want to do this,” she explained to the audience. “But as you also know, he lost that on-air bet to me last week about whose team would win the championship, and I got to choose his penalty. Plus, I’m his boss, so he had to do what I say.” She smiled smugly.
The audience screamed and roared with applause, loving it. Dylan shifted in his seat, glowering.
Chelsea beamed. “Ladies, if you’re local, you’re in luck! Just join up at one of these two highly-rated agencies for a chance to date Dylan or another wonderful man. If you trigger the gut test, or blast past the ones and zeroes, it may be you having a romantic date!”
The audience shrieked louder if possible, making Fia wonder if eardrums could actually rupture from too much feminine decibelage.
Chelsea grinned at Fia and Connie. “Ladies, please tell me you’re up for the challenge. I mean, no pressure to participate. You can choose any bachelor you want to feature. But backing out would be a sign to everyone that you can’t help my man here find love.” She laughed as if this were a joke they’d already discussed.
Connie was smooth. “Of course I’m in! You know I’m always up for a challenge.”
Fia licked her lips. “More than willing! I’m confident I can find Dylan the perfect woman.” Her mind raced, trying to figure this out: What, how, who?
Chelsea clapped her hands. “Yay, yay, yay! Dylan, what do you think of this?”
He frowned and crossed his arms, and the audience laughed. They seemed to love Dylan-in-a-mood situations.
Dylan looked directly at Fia. “I have my doubts that either of you can find me real love. Besides, I wonder if you’d even have someone at your business, Fia, who’d be willing to date me? Given the issues you seem to have with my personality?”
Fia bit her lip and answered as sweetly as she could. “Oh, Dylan! I’m certain that we have many wonderful women who would match well with your unique personality and characteristics!” she said, then mouthed to him, “like hyenas. Or vipers.”
Dylan laughed. “I can read lips, Fia. Your suggestions are definitely…more than interesting.” He drawled out the word interesting, making it seem like Fia had been whispering something illicit to him.
“Oh, that’s good,” said Fia in a saccharine tone. “That will save me the trouble of having to scream at you when you’re being difficult. But I can handle difficult. I’ve been able to find matches for people who don’t seem to work within the typical bounds of polite society.”
Dylan leaned forward to lock eyes with Fia. “So you’re ready to take me on, then?” His voice was ripe with double meaning, and Fia felt her heartbeat quicken.
“More than ready,” she answered, her voice coming out a tad more seductively than she’d planned, making her blush and clear her throat.
Chelsea cut in, “Wow. It looks like this is going to be way more than interesting, folks! Lip reading and readiness. Whew!” She pretended to fan herself. “Connie, what do you want to say to Dylan?”
Connie looked shrewdly from Dylan to Fia, and stated, “I’ve never met a man whom I can’t match, Dylan. I welcome the challenge to find you the perfect woman. I won’t stop until you’re happy.” She had a small, quizzical smile on her face, and she cocked her head to the side.
“And it gets better! Perfection and happiness. A woman who will stop at nothing! Viewers, you can find all of the information on these two dating services at our website,” Chelsea continued. “Thanks for tuning in today, and keep watching for updates on Dylan’s love connection!”
The camera lights blinked off and Chelsea pulled off her mike. “Whew! That went even better than I expected. Good job, ladies. Dylan. The audience was eating it up. Hang out until my peeps get with you about all the details, ‘kay? We have contracts prepared for you both, and then we’ll do planning. Lots and lots of planning!”
She darted off the set, disappearing behind equipment, and Fia looked around uncertainly until an assistant un-miked her and led her back to the ‘beige’ room to start on the paperwork.
“Oh, Fia, that went well!” Grace exclaimed, hugging her shaky friend. “I watched on the monitor. Luckily Chelsea wasn’t in Super Shark Mode. You were cool and professional. Except, ah, when you talked to Dylan. Then you sort of seemed, how do I say it?”
“Predatory?” cut in Connie with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, exactly!” exclaimed Grace. “Like you were hunting him. And he was hunting you right back.”
“That’s ridiculous,” scoffed Fia, sinking into a beige couch. “I was trying frantically to think of what to say. That just—came out. But I’m so psyched that she pitched us both to the audience. We’ll both get business from this, I’m sure of it.”
“And so when will you meet with Dylan?” Grace was pure eagerness.
“I don’t know. I still don’t even know for sure if this is going to happen. I mean, she just said it out there for the first time. He doesn’t even want to do it. I bet he doesn’t even follow through.”
“Oh, it’s real. And I never back out on a promise,” said a rough voice behind them, and Fia started as Dylan entered the beige room, followed closely by Chelsea.
“No, when I commit to something, I stick with it,” he continued, pinning Fia with his dark eyes. “I hope you can say the same.”
“Of course I can,” said Fia, sticking up her chin. “So, since both of us are promise-keepers and valiant truth-tellers who never break an oath, then I’ll expect you at seven o’clock tomorrow morning to begin the interview process and the surveys.”
Dylan chuckled. “That’s fine. I guess we’ll be working together… closely.”
“Working together closely to find you a girlfriend,” said Fia firmly, feeling a tinge of dislike at those words.
So he was hot, what did that matter? She worked with hot, handsome guys every day without giving them a second thought, except to find them the perfect match. Why did the thought of hooking this arrogant, condescending jerk up with another girl suddenly have her all twisted up?
Chelsea cleared her throat. “So he’ll meet with you first, Fia, that’s fine, I’m okay with that. My assistant will set up all the details. And Connie, you’ll be later in the week. And we’ll have a camera-man follow him around on the dates. I want footage for the viewers! Dylan, I’m counting on you to help everyone understand what it’s like to enter one of these exclusive dating services. So give it your best shot!” She punched him lightly on the arm.
Dylan grimaced. “I never give anything but, Chels.”
Chelsea rolled her eyes. “Yeah, sure. This is going to be fun.”
“Sure, for you,” said Dylan. “You love torturing me on air.”
“Just because the viewers love to see me torture you on air!” shot back Chelsea.
Fia liked the jokey bickering. It was part of what made their show so fun to watch—that, and the handsomeness that was Dylan, she had to admit.
And what she didn’t want to admit was that she was looking forward to working with Dylan one-on-one. And by “one-on-one,” what her devious mind seemed to want was something far more personal than interviews and questionnaires.
Perfect Match is available now for just $0.99 in the box set Hot and Sinful Nights:
Thank you and happy reading! XOXO – Alexis