designs on the dj chaper 1

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Designs on the DJ Episode 1

Sydney﹒

It started as a game, a way for Drew to distract me from my anxiety during parties. First, locate the most alluring guests and make up stories about them, often of a sexual nature. Next, separate for a spell, mingling and flirting with the subjects of our game if we were so inclined. 

I tracked my fiancé’s movements through the ballroom swagged in glitzy black and gold. Some of the New Year’s Eve crowd, dressed in their 1920s costumes, danced to the piped-in jazz music. Others lubricated their personalities with gin-infused drinks. Many appreciated Drew’s inky black hair, olive complexion, and how well he wore his suspenders and newsboy hat cap.

He loved plying his charms and had unfailing intuition when it came to people, never restricting his admiration to one gender. I reserved my attention for the truly exceptional candidates. Tonight he paused only long enough for a polite word or a high-wattage smile. Apparently no one inspired him either.

Before Drew completed the circuit, the owner of the hotel stopped him, a serious expression on his college friend’s face. They’d be a few minutes. I grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing white-gloved waiter and escaped out the closest set of French doors.

Crossing to the low stucco wall, I welcomed the solitude. The extroverted half of our coupledom got off on the people and energy, but I preferred the empty real estate. The rhythmic lull of waves crashing against the Florida shore loosened my shoulders, settled my nerves, and fueled my urge to go to bed. Unfortunately, I’d promised Drew we’d stay until midnight. 

The door opened behind me. My absence had been noted. Picking up my long pearl necklace, I twirled it around my fingers as I turned. And froze.

The stranger halted as if he hadn’t expected to find the balcony occupied. He lifted his flute glass in a casual “oh hey” salute. Then his eyes blazed a path from my silver jeweled Manolos, up my bare legs to the fringe of my gray flapper dress before finishing his inspection at my beaded headband.

When he made no move to approach or retreat to the ballroom, I stood taller and rolled my shoulders back, resisting a grin when he raised a brow. 

“Can I return the favor?” I asked.

Both brows rose high on his forehead then settled into a satisfied expression. Stepping to the center of the balcony, he held his arms wide and executed a slow 360. 

In equally frank appreciation, I admired his thick dark blond hair spiked in a trendy bedhead fashion. The dim lighting masked the color of his eyes, but the iridescent blue button-down shirt and black vest contrasted against his pale ivory skin and accentuated a lean muscular build.

“Like what you see?” he asked when facing me again.

Tingles shot along my skin, the rich baritone and British inflection an unexpected bonus to his roguish good looks. “And what I hear.” 

“Gets them every time,” he admitted. “But your accent is bloody sexy too.”

“My voice wasn’t what your eyes devoured.”

“Oh, that’s damn sexy too.” He joined me at the railing, close, but at a respectable distance. “I’m curious if you’re the trifecta?”

I shrugged. “Depends on what your kryptonite is.”

“The fact you said ‘kryptonite’ earns you bonus points, and the more you speak the more promising it looks.”

“Maybe not that promising.”

“Bollocks. Of course. You’re here with someone.” His shoulders sagged and his smile slipped a few notches.

How like a man to equate a woman’s unavailability to her having a partner. “Maybe I just think you’re hideously unattractive.”

He pondered my call-out for about two seconds. “Either way, I’m buggered. Which is it?”

We’d only exchanged a handful of words, but the Englishman intrigued me. As soon as I confirmed my status, he’d mark me as off-limits and the game would end. I’d no longer be able to enjoy the timbre of his voice or the way his full lips shaped each syllable.

“You’re smart,” he added, drawing me back.

“Excuse me?” 

“You’re smart. Because that’s not only my trifecta but my luck.” He leaned against the balcony wall while he ticked his fingers. “American, beautiful, smart. And taken. Or…not taken with me.”

I warmed at the compliment as I sneaked a peek inside. When I didn’t locate Drew, I dropped my gaze in mock modesty. “I’ve been known to do crossword puzzles in ink.”

He threw his head back in a hearty chuckle, the sound throaty and real. I loved a person’s natural laugh. When the moment passed, he nodded at me. “I should return inside. If I stay out here I’m going to discover more things about you I can’t have.” 

But he didn’t move, peering through the door panes to the ballroom. “Your significant other won’t kick my arse for talking to you, will he? He’s probably some massive bodybuilder.”

I grinned, giving in to his persistence. “No, he’s built similarly to you. We all have a type.”

“I knew it.” He straightened from the railing and thrust his champagne glass in my direction. “To the lucky bastard who got to you first. Cheers.” 

The bubbly tickled my palate and the way his neck muscles bobbed as he swallowed tickled something else. “Are you here with a date?” 

He also seemed too high-caliber to be available. Of course, he could be a serial killer, or still living with his mother. I’d known him for all of ten seconds. However, his eyes sparkled with sincerity and his mannerisms reminded me of Drew.

“No,” he replied. “I’m here working.”

That sparked my intrigue. I studied him, searching for hints. Not hotel management; they were all dressed in tuxedos. The waitstaff and bartenders wore white jackets and gloves. I’d dismissed his shirt and vest as part of the party’s prohibition theme, but the cut and trendiness didn’t track as some cheap costume shop knock-off.

“Figured it out yet?” he teased.

“No, but give me a minute.”

“Told you. Smart. You want to puzzle it out for yourself. The not-smart-ones don’t care.”

He sipped the last of his champagne while I cataloged clues. No rings, only a watch with a massive face peeking out from his shirt cuff. One ear sported a significant diamond stud, and the other, a small silver hoop. Head to toe screamed musician.

“What’s your favorite band?” I tested my theory: most musicians had an obscure and eclectic taste in bands and artists, something far beyond the Top 40 songs I liked.

“Interesting opening question. I like all kinds of music, but if you had to pin me down…”

The double entendre floated in the air while he named some group I never heard of before. Definitely into music. If there’d been a live band playing I would’ve tagged him as a band member or part of the crew, but the hotel hired a DJ for the New Year’s Eve party. 

With a flutter in my gut, I pressed in close to the doors. The stage set up at the edge of the dance floor was empty.

“From the satisfaction in your eyes, you’re almost there,” he said.

“The Ainsbury brought in an internationally renowned DJ to do the countdown and rock in the New Year.”

“You are bloody smart.” He shifted his glass, extending his hand. “Jameson Ryder.” 

I shook his hand, a zing traveling up my arm and tightening my nipples. “Sydney Cash.” 

We continued clasping, his grip warm and confident. Then he lifted my hand and pressed his soft lips to the top, shooting another jolt of awareness along my skin. With a final squeeze, he backed away, intending to leave. 

The loss of contact and his penetrating stare flushed through my body. Before I could think of a way to extend the moment, the French doors swung open. Jameson had to brake or get knocked in his admittedly admirable ass. 

Drew filled the opening as he searched the balcony. “I knew I’d find you here, hon.”

Jameson schooled his features as Drew met me halfway and slipped an arm around my waist. With a soft squeeze at my hip, he telegraphed his approval. “Did I interrupt anything?” 

“No, I was leaving,” Jameson said, ducking inside before Drew or I could stop him.

“You found one on your own,” Drew said as Jameson disappeared into the crowd.

I laughed. “I found you on my own.”

“Touché.” 

He yanked me close. Caught off guard, I flattened my palms against his chest to steady myself. The skin beneath his white dress shirt radiated heat, and the gleam in his dark brown eyes hinted it was from more than the crowded ballroom.

“Did you find any?” I asked.

“Nah, a lot of empty heads and overflowing cleavages.” He guided me into a shadowed corner of the balcony, a compromise between his affinity and my aversion to PDA. “As usual, I’m going home with the smartest, sexiest woman here.”

Gliding his hands over my ass, he ground me against his pelvis as he eased my skirt up. Then he slipped a hand to the edge of my barely-there panties to graze his finger along my core.

He removed it and sucked off my slickness. “He was sexy, wasn’t he?” 

I dropped my head to his chest, the evidence of my arousal still swirling in his mouth and my panties. “His accent.”

“I want to bend you over this railing and take you while the hot toddy is still fresh in your mind. But let’s dance a couple of songs and we’ll get out of here.”

For once I wasn’t in a hurry to leave the party. “He’s the DJ.”

He broke into a panty-dropping smile and gave my lips a hard smack. “This keeps getting better. Let’s go inside and take advantage of his…oral…skills.” 

Jameson using his tongue for something other than priming up a crowd flooded me with more heat. Drew, ever observant and his smile broadening, escorted me into the ballroom as the DJ took the stage.

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I'm Stella

I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense why-choose stories.

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