The Proposal meets Two Weeks Notice in Ann Marie Walker's
new standalone romantic comedy, Black Tie Optional!
BLACK TIE OPTIONAL
Wild Wedding #1
Ann Marie Walker
Releasing May 30, 2017
St. Martin's Press
The Proposal meets Two Weeks Notice in Ann Marie Walker's new standalone romantic comedy, Black Tie Optional, which New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst calls, "a fun, sexy romp that will keep every reader entertained!"
Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after youâve screamed so loud you canât breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface heâs pure perfection.
Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time.
Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous dayâs site visit.
So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.
Just like clockwork, Olivia thought. She watched the gas-guzzling SUV roll to a stop alongside the curb, its hazard lights blinking as if some sort of justification for bringing a full lane of Chicagoâs morning rush hour to a grinding halt. Every day the sleek black car stopped in exactly the same location so the almighty Coleman Grant III could get the same extra hot, double shot Americano from the same big-chain coffee shop, bypassing the smaller, neighborhood establishments trying to stay afloat as corporate America runs them into the ground.
A mountain of a man in mirrored aviator shades jumped out of the front seat to open the rear door, giving Olivia a clear view of the luxury vehicleâs interior. Two leather captainâs chairs with fold down keyboards and armrest tablet holders sat facing several television monitors mounted above what appeared to be a full-service bar. Forget running a business, it looked as though Coleman Grant ran NASA from his back seat. Honestly, what could possibly be so important that it couldnât keep until he got to the office? The commute from his Gold Coast penthouse to his Loop headquarters was less than two miles. Hadnât the guy ever heard of just chilling out with some tunes?
Olivia approached the car just as Grant climbed out of the back seat. He paused to button the jacket of his navy blue Tom Ford and for a moment she forgot he was an arrogant, self-righteous prick hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time. For a moment, she allowed herself to take in the physical perfection standing in front of her. From his dark wavy hair that stood in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that seared her skin, to his full, sensual lips - everything about Coleman Grant oozed power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart-stopping, gasping-for-air-after-youâve-screamed-so-loud-you-canât-breathe kind. But then his eyes narrowed and his lips curved into a knowing smirk and Olivia remembered exactly who she was dealing with.
âMr. Grant,â she began.
The bodyguard moved to step between them but Grant waved him off. âMs. Ramsey, what a surprise,â he said, not at all surprised since this was the eighty-third day in a row she had approached him. Not that it mattered. She had no plans to stop these sidewalk sessions until he either agreed to her demands or filed for a restraining order.
He made his way toward the coffee shop with Olivia tight on his heels. âYou know, most people simply make an appointment with my assistant.â
âIâve tried that, Mr. Grant. But for some reason your schedule is always full.â
âPity,â he said, his voice void of all emotion. When he reached the glass doors, he yanked one open. âPlease, after you.â
Bastard. Normally he charged in like he owned the place, never mind if she or anyone else got a face full of door. How dare he try to throw her off her game by acting chivalrous. As if the man had a courteous bone in his body. Olivia stood frozen in place, debating how best to handle this latest twist in their balance of power. As she did, Coleâs gaze raked her from head to toe, from her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots splattered with mud from the previous dayâs site visit.
She hated to admit it, but the scrutiny of his gaze was unnerving. And it wasnât just the laser like focus. There was something about his expression, as if he wasnât looking at her fully clothed in a shop brimming with customers, but rather undressing her with his eyes. She shifted in place, debating if she should call him out for his piggish behavior or simply stick to the topic at hand.
âSuit yourself,â he finally said, stepping through the doors and leaving her alone on the sidewalk.
Not so fast. She took a deep breath and joined him at the service counter. âMr. Grant, as Iâm sure youâre aware, the northern long-eared bat was recently granted protection as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.â
âRather difficult to forget given your daily reminders. Although I must say, Ms. Ramsey, you disappoint me. No visual aids today?â He turned away from the counter with his extra hot, double shot Americano to find Olivia standing behind him with an 8 x 10 glossy in her hand. âAh, it seems I spoke too soon.â
âThis particular species of bat has been the most impacted by white-nose syndrome and the resulting decline in their numbers is whatââ
âThose really are the most vile creatures,â Grant interrupted. âHave you ever considered taking up the cause of a more appealing animal, say a manatee?â
âThere arenât any manatees in Lake Michigan.â
âPrecisely.â He smirked. âPerhaps you could move? Iâm sure you could find some poor, unsuspecting Floridians worthy of your attention.â He raised his left hand and for the first time Olivia realized he was holding a second cup. He thrust it in her direction and without thinking she took it, dropping the photograph as she did. âYou seem like the type who would order your latte with a hundred and one specifications, but hopefully skinny vanilla will do.â
Olivia blinked. He bought her a coffee? What the actual fuck? Did he really think he could charm his way out of the hot seat? She had spent her entire adult life and most of her teens speaking on behalf of those who couldnât. It was going to take a lot more than a few random acts of fabricated kindness to get her off his back.
She was about to tell him not only where he could stick his latte but how in her twenty-eight years on earth sheâd never ordered a âskinnyâ anything, when he turned toward the door. She bent to scoop up the photo then hurried after him, fast talking her case all the way to the curb where his bodyguard stood waiting with the door already open. As usual, Grant didnât say a word, much less defend his stance. Instead he simply flashed a grin that would have made her drop her latte, not to mention her panties, if she didnât find him to be lacking in not only morals and ethics but quite possibly a soul.
He gave her a quick nod before ducking into the car. âUntil tomorrow, Ms. Ramsey.â
With that, the door slammed shut and the SUV pulled into traffic to the sound of protesting horns.
âAsshole,â Olivia muttered under her breath. âGorgeous asshole, but still.â She turned on her heel and started down the street with her head held high. Coleman Grant III might have been trying to make a mockery of her attempts to persuade him, but their standoff was far from over. A slow grin curved her lips as an idea began to take shape. Sheâd just pulled her smartphone out to send herself a reminder when it began to vibrate in her hand.
âAre you bringing your swimsuit?â her best friend asked before Olivia had even managed a hello.
âTo the desert? Youâre joking, right?â
âI wasnât sure.â
âCassie, I know youâve had your head buried in cookbooks for the past few years but surely you can remember how a vacation worksâ¦lounge chairs, suntan oil, blended drinks with tiny umbrellas that make you say ridiculously inappropriate things to cabana boys.â
âI have never said anything inappropriate to a cabana boy. And thatâs sexist by the way.â
âCabana person?â Olivia laughed at her own joke. âIâm playing. But youâve got to lighten up a bit. Weâre headed to Vegas, Sin City, what happens there stays there and all that.â
âYou sound like a tourism ad.â
âAll Iâm saying is you better be ready to party Hangover style.â
Cassie snorted. âYeah, cause that worked out so well for them.â
âI promise I wonât leave you stranded on a hotel roof.â
âThis is a bad idea. I should be staying here and looking for a job.â
âYouâre the sister of the groom. You canât very well ditch out on the bachelor/bachelorette festivities. Besides, if I can break my âHarass Coleman Grantâ streak for a few days, then you can certainly give the stand mixer a rest.â
âHowâs that going by the way?â
Olivia groaned. âNew day, same story. â
âMaybe itâs time toââ
âMove on? No way.â While it was true that working freelance allowed Olivia a certain amount of latitude, she prided herself on never giving up. There was no way Coleman Grant was going to blemish her perfect record. âIâll just have to double my efforts.â
Cassie laughed. âIâm actually starting to feel sorry for the guy.â
âDonât be fooled by the looks. He might be hotter than Ryan Reynolds and Ian Somerhalder combined, but underneath that perfect exterior beats the heart of an ogre.â
âSounds like someone has wet panties.â
âWhy Cassandra Miller, is that smutty talk I hear coming out of your mouth? There may be hope for you yet.â
âDonât change the subject. Youâve got the hots for this guy.â
âHardly. Heâs eye candy all right, but heâs also a spoiled, self-centered asshole who think itâs his way or the highway. Not this time though.â Olivia nodded to herself. One way or another he was going to give in to her demands. Coleman Grant III had finally met his match. He just didnât know it yet.
Ann Marie Walker writes steamy books about sexy boys. She's a fan of fancy cocktails, anything chocolate, and 80s rom-coms. Her super power is connecting any situation to an episode of Friends and she thinks all coffee cups should be the size of a bowl. If it's December she can be found watching Love Actually but the rest of the year you can find her at AnnMarieWalker.com where she would be happy to talk to you about alpha males, lemon drop martinis or supermodel David Gandy. Ann Marie attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago.
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