A Little Harmless Pleasure
Book 2 in the Original Harmless Five Series
Part of the Harmless World
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new chapter, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!
She’s a woman at the crossroads of her life.
Cynthia Myers knows she’s being dramatic, but her life is kind of a mess. She dumped her fiance and her father disowned her. Still, she has never been so happy in her life. Or, at least she thinks she is. That is, until that ex-fiance gets married and introduces her to a man who turns her world upside down.
He’s given up on love.
Chris Dupree’s last relationship crashed and burned over a year ago. It left him scarred and wary, unable to even think of dating. That is, until he comes face to face with the sweetest Georgia magnolia he has ever met. A little too much champagne, and a whole lotta flirting, lead to a night of neither of them will ever forget.
A chance for a new life.
A surprise inheritance has Cynthia making her way to Hawaii and to the man who changed her life. They seem to pick up right where they left off, but soon it’s apparent that Chris needs something more. Losing him is out of the question, but can she give him what he needs while being true to her new self?
» WARNING: The following book contains: Lots of sex, of course; propositions from a drunken woman, hot phone sex, southern accents, Hawaiian scenery, and OH MY, a hero who will send tingles all the way to your toes, along with other various body parts. A glass of ice-cold water for refreshment is recommended while reading.
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A Little Harmless Pleasure
Cynthia dabbed a bit of perfume behind her ears and studied her reflection in the mirror. Pale, underweight, boring. Releasing a sigh, she ordered herself to ignore her inner critic. She reached into her makeup bag and pulled out the pale pink lip gloss, wishing for once she’d gone for the red lipstick she’d wanted so badly. Again, as she’d done over the past few weeks, she squashed the need to rebel against her upbringing. A Myers woman didn’t wear trashy clothes or outlandish makeup. She dressed conservatively, spoke softly, and was probably the dullest person on the face of the earth.
She jumped when a loud rap at her bathroom door brought her out of her thoughts.
Anger resonated from her father’s voice, penetrating the bathroom door. He never had a soft voice, but since she’d called off her wedding to Max Chandler, her father had been beyond angry. She cringed thinking about all the arguments they’d had. Well, not really arguments. More like him shouting at her and, as usual, Cynthia just took it. Cynthia drew in a deep breath, trying her best to calm her nerves.
“I want to talk to you right now about this nonsense.”
She swallowed and looked at herself again. If possible, her face paled even more. Getting past the panic that had her stomach flip-flopping, she screwed up her courage and turned to open the door.
At the age of sixty-five, her father was still considered a handsome man. In excellent shape, with more money than he knew what to do with, he could charm just about any woman into bed, and had on occasion. Her parents had an understanding in their marriage Cynthia couldn’t fathom. Her mother had fallen for his good looks and his family background, but Cynthia had witnessed this side of him too often to be charmed. Anger reddened his face and caused his eyes to bulge. His lips turned down in a frown that could scare a gator.
“Cynthia Louisa Myers, I want to know just what the hell you think you’re doing.”
The urge to slam the door in his face came and went without it ever showing on her face. She’d spent years learning how to hide true emotions. It had consequences. Most of the time, she felt numb. It wasn’t until she broke up with Max that she started feeling something again. Unfortunately, her ulcer, which her doctor had just informed her about, started to churn in her stomach.
“I’m getting ready to go to Max and Anna’s wedding.”
There, that was brave. She could handle this. She could do what she wanted without fear. Or without showing it.
“I will not have it.” Her father leaned forward, trying to intimidate her with his size. She wasn’t a short woman, but she was small compared to him—at least in size.
“I’ve said this before. I don’t want you to have any contact with Max and his slut.”
Anger pulsed through her. Another shard of pain radiated from her stomach. “I told you not to call her that. And I don’t care what you say. They both went out of their way to make sure I knew they wanted me there.” And after the way she had almost caused them to break up, Cynthia thought she owed them for their kindness.
Her father’s mouth opened and closed, twice. His face flushed an even brighter shade of red. “Young lady, you will do what I say, or—”
“Or what, Father?” Her voice had gone soft. No matter how many times she went through this, no matter how old she was, she reacted like a child when her father confronted her. She hated that she wasn’t strong enough to yell back. Hated that even now she wanted to curl herself into a ball and cry.
He schooled his features. His eyes, so much like her own, turned cold. The fury seeped out of his face. When he spoke, his voice was no longer hot with anger. “This is what you want?”
She couldn’t contain the sharp bark of laughter that bubbled up. There was no humor in it.
“What I want? When has it ever been about what I wanted?”
His eyes narrowed until just a little of the soft blue of his iris was visible. A shiver skated down her spine and chilled her. “I don’t know what the hell your problem is, Cynthia, but I will tell you this. If you decide to do this—if you defy me—you are no longer welcome in this family.”
Pain splintered her heart. She might be at odds with her parents at the moment, but she loved them.
“What are you saying, Father?”
But she knew. Breaking off the engagement had been her one act of defiance. Even though she had tried to get Max back, he’d been lost to her from the time she’d ended the engagement—not that he had ever been hers to begin with. He’d finally acknowledged his feelings for Anna, and there was nothing Cynthia could have done about it. And now there was nothing she would do.
“You were raised to make a good match. And you did with Max, but you fucked that up.” She flinched at his unusual use of vulgar language. “I thought maybe we could find you someone else, but you’re a laughingstock. Going to the wedding of the man who dumped you for a tramp.”
“So, what? Now that you can’t sell me, you don’t want to have anything to do with me?” She couldn’t stop the little catch in her voice.
He pursed his lips before flattening them in a straight line. “I’ve given you your choices.”
He turned without another word and left. His angry footsteps echoed down the hall as he stomped away. She swallowed the hurt and anger but felt another twinge in her tummy. Before leaving the bathroom, she grabbed up her medicine and took her dose. After downing the pills, she looked at herself in the mirror, squared her shoulders and told herself it didn’t matter.
It did, but she wouldn’t let it bother her today.
Today, she had a wedding to attend.
Chris Dupree watched Max tie his bowtie as he grinned like a fool.
“You sure you want to do this?” Chris asked, eyeing him with speculation. Max’s grin grew wider.
“You’ve met Anna.” He wiggled his eyebrows at Chris, causing Chris to laugh. “And besides, you’re looking at a fool in love.” Max turned to check out his tux in the full-length mirror. There wasn’t much room for anything else in the church’s groom’s room other than Max and himself.
Chris snorted. “I understand the fool part.”
Max flashed a smile at him in the mirror but said nothing. Chris had been surprised, to say the least, when he’d met Anna. Bold, beautiful, and exactly what Max needed, in Chris’s opinion. Just the opposite from what he’d expected Max to choose.
As rigid as Chris was laid back, Max needed someone who wouldn’t put up with his heavy-handedness. Because Chris wasn’t one to suffer fools, the two of them had hit it off almost immediately when they’d met in college. They’d made an odd couple for a friendship, especially on the campus of conservative University of Georgia. Max, the white son of landed Southern aristocracy; and Chris, middle-class kid, the product of a Creole mother and white father, had somehow clicked when they met in their first macroeconomics class. They were sharing an apartment by the end of that semester, both graduated with honors the same semester, and even after Chris relocated to Honolulu, they tended to talk on a regular basis.
“So, is it true your ex-fiancée is going to be here today?”
“Yeah. Anna insisted. Which is amazing, because—well, if you hadn’t guessed, she has a bit of a temper.” He faced Chris. “But Cynthia smoothed things over at the country club up in Valdosta for Anna. You remember Freddy, don’t you?”
Chris nodded, remembering Anna’s ex-boyfriend and how their fist fight with him landed both Chris and Max in jail.
“He tried to cause problems for Anna and me. Mainly Anna. He used some of his influence to try and keep her from booking the place for our reception. Cynthia took care of it. She’s gone out of her way to make sure everything runs perfectly for the wedding.” He paused, and his smile faded. “I just worry about Cynthia a bit.”
Max grabbed up the ring box and tossed it to Chris.
“Worry about her?”
For the first time since Chris had arrived, Max frowned. “You know her father, Justin Myers. He’s a jackass, thinks women are in two categories—slut and Madonna. And he doesn’t think women have any brains. She’s been raised to make a good marriage, that’s it. So, now that she has defied her father, she’s probably close to getting disinherited. And she’s…a little fragile.”
A sharp knock sounded at the door. Without waiting for an answer, a petite blonde dressed in a conservative suit walked into the room.
“Cynthia, you could have waited for me to say come in. I could have been undressed,” Max said with a smile.
She looked him up and down. “Not like I haven’t seen it before, Max.”
Max’s jaw went slack, then he laughed. “You’ve been spending too much time with Anna.”
She shook her head, freezing when her gaze made contact with Chris’. His pulse skipped a beat as they stared at each other. The first thing that struck him was that this woman was so different from Anna. With her smooth blonde hair, her cornflower-blue eyes and her beige, nondescript clothes, she was almost the antithesis of Max’s vibrant fiancée. She studied Chris, no expression on her face other than a polite smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Cynthia, this is my friend Chris Dupree. You remember I mentioned him.”
“Of course, Mr. Dupree, you’re the best man. So nice to meet you.”
Did he imagine it, or did her voice just dip lower? It had deepened, along with that upper-crust Georgia accent. A flash of heat licked through his blood. Even after all his years in Hawaii, Chris was still a sucker for Southern women.
He stood and offered her his hand. “Nice to meet you too, but please, call me Chris.”
Her smile turned real, reaching her eyes. A dimple appeared on either side of her mouth, and her face came alive. She took his hand. The moment they touched, her face flushed pink. He’d never been one for petite blondes, especially ones who blushed, but for some reason, he felt a spark of interest.
For a moment, she seemed to hold her breath, her mouth partially open. She looked down at their joined hands and her face turned a brighter shade of pink. She released his hand and stepped back. But she still stared at him, as if he were a forbidden treat she wanted to take a bite out of. His body warmed, even though the A/C was cranked up high. She licked her bottom lip. Chris couldn’t help it, his attention snagged on that plump, pink tongue swiping across her lower lip.
“Did you come here for a reason, Cynthia?” Max’s voice seemed to break the spell.
She blinked, and looked at Max, dismissing Chris. Which annoyed him, for some unknown reason.
“Yes. Your mother and Anna are driving me insane. Anna’s mother, thank the good Lord, is the only calm one of the bunch. Your mother asked me three times if you had the ring. Anna said you’d better be ready the moment it’s time to walk down that aisle. She threatened certain appendages.”
“Tell her I promise. And remind her she’s the one who’s usually late. Is there anything else?”
She shook her head and turned to leave. When she reached the door, she glanced back over her shoulder. “It was very nice to meet you, Mr. Dupree.” Her voice was soft and lyrical, reminding him why he’d missed Southern women. When their accent deepened like that, it made it sound as if they’d just had great sex. She slipped out without another word. Chris had to tear his gaze from the closed door back to his host.
Max stared at the door, then looked at him. “You know I tend to mind my own business.”
“One of the things I like about you, Max.”
Max’s eyes narrowed at Chris’s dry tone. “Nevertheless, Cynthia is not someone you would be interested in.”
He wasn’t that interested, but he still didn’t like Max’s insinuation. He didn’t want to think the friend who had stood up to more than one bigoted jackass in college would let him down now. “And what does that mean?”
Max sighed and muttered something Chris couldn’t make out. “I know you, Chris. You lead a certain lifestyle—”
Max’s eyebrows rose to his hairline. “And when did that stop?”
Chris thought back to Jasmine, his last sub. By the end of their relationship, he wasn’t sure he’d ever trust another woman again, let alone trust one enough to commit to a Dom/sub relationship.
“Bad experience. Decided it wasn’t for me.”
He was sick of trying to fit into a lifestyle where he was considered an outcast. Many within the D/s world didn’t accept switches, thinking of them the way many people thought of bisexuals. They couldn’t understand why someone couldn’t choose one role and stick to it.
“Don’t worry. I won’t eat your little Cynthia.”
Even if the comment conjured up the most delightful imagery. God, she probably tasted like honey.
Frowning, Max tilted his head to one side, studying him. “I don’t think you’d intentionally hurt her. I just saw the look you gave her, and I know you.”
Chris laughed. “Yeah, and until Anna, you weren’t much better. Hell, both of us were pretty bad back in college. But don’t worry. I’ll be nice to Cynthia, and I promise hands off unless she makes the first move.” He thought about those bluer-than-blue eyes and the look she’d given him when she’d seen him initially. “I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.”
Cynthia sipped her champagne, watching Anna and Max dance their first dance. They looked so happy…so in love.
She squelched the sheer envy that whipped through her at the sight of the two of them dancing. It was beneath her, especially since she had almost caused them to break up. And, for once in her life, she would not wallow in her own self-pity.
Cynthia sighed. Okay, she felt a little jealous, but that was to be expected. Max and Anna definitely had something very special. When you were in a room with them, you could feel the energy between them, so any red-blooded American girl would be envious. Even after everything, though, she was happy for them. Happy that they had found each other.
Throughout the day, she’d ignored the looks cast her way—some expectant, waiting for a fight; some pitying, thinking her the jilted party. She didn’t care. She had other things on her mind. Like being homeless.
“Such a serious expression on a beautiful face.”
She glanced over her shoulder and turned to face Chris Dupree, who was standing just a few feet behind her. Tall, lean, yet well-muscled, with light brown skin, Chris smiled at her, and her knees weakened. He had one of those smiles you could tell would melt the heart of the hardest woman, all teeth, complete with dimples. Add in what looked to be a body made of sinewy muscle, a strong jawline—which Cynthia could never resist—and those twinkling eyes, and the man was Dangerous with a capital D. She’d love to lick him up one side and down the other just to see if he tasted as sweet as he appeared.
Good God. Where had that thought come from? She’d had too much champagne. Or maybe she had spent too much time with Anna. Or maybe it was watching New Romantics, the new Jakob Wulf romantic comedy. There was no other reason for her to be acting this way. She’d never thought herself a bigot, but she’d never even considered dating a black man before. And here she was, contemplating what Chris would taste like. If her father thought breaking her engagement to Max had been embarrassing to the family, he would have a stroke if she dated a black man, no matter how rich he was. Justin Myers came from a good old Southern family, with lots of old Southern money. Just last week she’d heard an aunt refer to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression.
She set her empty glass on a nearby table and arched her brow. “Are you having a good time, Mr. Dupree?”
His smile widened. “Are you going to ignore my question?”
Irritation lit through her, but she suppressed the urge to snap at him. It almost overwhelmed her, the need to tell him to go to hell and leave her alone. But twenty-nine years of lessons couldn’t be overcome by a little champagne. Besides, Cynthia had been raised not to confront problems. Her mother had always said it was better to smile and work your way around it. But more and more, especially because of the last few weeks, she found it harder to do. Twenty-nine years of training down the drain. Just another symptom of spending time with Anna.
She smiled. “It wasn’t exactly a question, Mr. Dupree.”
Her voice had turned coy, all of its own accord. His eyes flared, just a bit, and his smile went from genial to seductive. She blinked as her thoughts scattered. A flush of warmth spread to her tummy and then ventured to the rest of her body.
She reached for another glass of champagne.
“I thought you said you would call me Chris.”
Ahhh, he had the best voice. Deep, almost poetic, the flavor of New Orleans flowing through it. Each time he spoke, she could feel fingers slide down her spine. She took a sip of champagne before answering.
“Sorry. It’s just my upbringing.”
He chuckled. “Oh, I know all about that, Ms. Cynthia. My mother didn’t allow any of her children to show disrespect.”
She didn’t know what to say to that. Apparently, she’d lost her ability to hold idle chit-chat, something she’d excelled at just the day before. It was this man’s fault. He was smiling at her, talking to her in a voice that promised lazy Sundays in bed.
Oh, bad idea, Cynthia. Don’t think about this man and bed. Sex with Chris Dupree was way out of her league. The man oozed sensuality with every move. He looked like a man who knew what he wanted and didn’t have a problem going after it. Max was like that. But where Max had made her nervous, Chris made her uncomfortable. Cynthia had a feeling Chris would know how to ease her discomfort, starting with those magnificent hands. Again, her face heated as her mind conjured up images of the two of them.
What was wrong with her? Hell, she didn’t even like the act. And why was she thinking about bedding this man? Or thinking of any man in that area? So, what if just the thought of him wearing nothing but that smile made her nipples harden?
She cleared her throat. “Your mother sounds a lot like mine. Max said you grew up in New Orleans, but you live in Honolulu now?”
He nodded, his gaze never leaving her face. Oh Lord, she was babbling. She shifted her feet, trying to ignore the dampness between her thighs. Her panties rubbed against her mound, ratcheting up her tension.
“Do I make you uncomfortable, Ms. Cynthia?” He stretched out her name, emphasizing the “Cyn” part of it. She had to hand it to the man—he knew how to make a woman pant. And drool. She was tempted to wipe her mouth to check.
“Chris, I have an idea that you know exactly what you’re making me feel.”
His eyes widened in feigned innocence. “You think I’m doing it on purpose?”
She didn’t miss the way his eyes skimmed down her body, pausing briefly in the area of her breasts. He had to know she was turned-on. Her nipples were pressing against her blouse.
“I don’t think you do it on purpose. It probably just comes naturally.”
He threw back his head and laughed, the sound of it drawing the attention of people close by. Nerves already out of whack stretched thinner, and she drained her glass. She didn’t need this stress. It had been a difficult few months, and now having a man whom she could never handle flirt with her—it was too much. Not to mention the interested stares of people she knew.
Then the absurdity of the situation hit her. This man wasn’t hitting on her. Men like him would never be interested in Cynthia. A bubble of laughter escaped before she could stop it.
“Seems like you two are having a good time.”
Cynthia jumped as Max’s disapproving voice cut through their laughter. She peeked back over her shoulder and had to fight a giggle. The thunderous expression on his face reminded her of a big brother itching to bust a few heads on her behalf. She would always see him as that and would have even if they had married. The one smart thing she did was break off their engagement. Anna slipped around him and approached Cynthia and Chris.
“Good Lord, we can’t have that, Max. We spent a freaking fortune on the reception. People enjoying themselves is something we wouldn’t want.”
Anna winked at Cynthia. She couldn’t help it, she laughed again. When a waiter walked by with another tray of champagne glasses, Cynthia traded her empty one for a full one.
“Anna, Max is right. A Myers does not show enjoyment in public. One might think they were…I don’t know…” she said, leaning forward and almost falling, “human.”
She blew a lock of hair out of her eyes and straightened, losing her balance. Stepping back to steady herself, she came up against something very solid, very hard. Her body jumped to life as arousal swept through her. Chris’s crisp, clean scent enveloped her senses. For a half second—okay, a whole second or two—she thought about leaning into him, having his arms wrap around her, feeling his lips brush her ear.
Anna laughed. “I think you should get something to eat, Cynthia.”
Cynthia shook her head and pulled away from Chris. If she stayed close to him like that, she would end up embarrassing herself by rubbing up against him. And there was no need for that. She was a Myers. It simply wasn’t done. Although it would be really nice to kiss him. His lips were full, sensuous, and Cynthia would bet her newest pair of Jimmy Choos that the man would make her bones melt. And she had never been a melty kinda woman.
“I’m fine. Just need to slow down on the champagne.” With that announcement, she drained the glass of its contents and slammed it down on a nearby table. Her head wobbled, slightly off balance, as if it were floating about three feet above her body.
“Cynthia, I think you need to sit down.” Max’s eyes clouded with concern.
She snorted. “I don’t need to sit down. I need to dance.”
The band began playing another waltz. She grabbed Max’s hand. “I’m borrowing your husband, Anna.”
Anna laughed as Cynthia led Max to the dance floor and further away from the temptation Chris Dupree presented. Even as lightheaded as she was, she knew her life was beyond complicated. And Chris, with his sinfully beautiful body, was one extra complication she needed to avoid.
End of Excerpt
A Little Harmless Pleasure
by Melissa Schroeder
is available in the following formats:
This is the 20th Anniversary Edition. It includes new scenes, a new chapter, and surprises for every Harmless Addict!
A Little Harmless Pleasure
Finishing A Little Harmless Pleasure, quite simply, just left me happy and satisfied, and very anxious to dive into A Little Harmless Obsession, which I luckily had ready and waiting for me.
This is a fun, easy read that will keep the reader entertained. Cynthia's growth after getting out from under her father's thumb is well written. Chris, likewise, is an interesting character. Their attraction to each other and their growing relationship are exciting.
This book has some funny moments and is very hot, sexy hot. Great second book, enjoyed it a lot.
— Zany Rin
The sex scenes where scorching. I loved how Cynthia finally became more self assured and confident. The BDSM is very light. There is some fun with handcuffs, some anal play, light spanking. I can't wait for Evan's story to come out.
So for erotica readers who like feelings and romance, this is a book for you. For those who like BDSM, this is a book for you. For those who like a lot of sex, this is a book for you. Do I really need to continue? This book has just about everything an erotica reader could want and done so very well to boot! Now, of course, I can't wait for the next chapter in the 'Harmless' series and only hope it stars May and Evan!
The thing I enjoyed most about this book is watching Cynthia come out of her shell and grow from a debutant, bred to do what her parents ask of her to a woman confident in herself and her sexuality. Let's face it, Cynthia was a biotch in the first book; so to see her mature and come into her own was quite rewarding.
Chris and Cynthia had excellent chemistry. It was intense and passionate.
...so hot that I thought that my IPAD would melt...
I loved this scorching read, I loved both Chris and Cynthia...
A little dirty and a whole lot of fun.
— Debra S
It's a gripping storyline with endearing characters, drama, lots of emotions and steam...
— Lyne C
Excellent! This authors series set in Hawaii are always such a joy to read.
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