Home > Seduction (Bayfront Billionaire #2)

Seduction (Bayfront Billionaire #2)
Author: Calista Fox


Chapter One


What to do when the door is only partially open?

Liliana Hart stared at the massive double doors of the music room on the second floor of the mansion Jackson Sterling, her new employer, had recently purchased in the hillside cove of Bayfront, California.

His über-efficient estate manager, Greta Hamlin, had told Lily to never disturb Mr. Sterling. Or the musician he was creating compositions with for a highly anticipated CD, Lexington Alexander.

Lily had been instructed that if the doors were closed, she should leave the afternoon tea service on the table to the right of the entryway. If they were open, it was acceptable for her to proceed and set the tea.

But goddamn it, Greta hadn’t said a word about what to do when one door was closed and the other was cracked open.

Lily’s teeth ground. It was her first official day as a lady-butler for both Sterling and Alexander. Two internationally acclaimed classical musicians, who apparently had more money than God. Not that Lily was unaccustomed to being surrounded by the rich and affluent. The majority of the paternal side of her family were butlers. Lily was the first female Hart to don the tails and white gloves, though she wore a short black skirt in lieu of sharply creased pants.

Regardless, she was impeccably dressed—Greta and a designated tailor had ensured it. Her white shirt was crisp with an abundance of starch, and she wore a black silk tie tucked behind the line of shiny silver buttons on her snug-fitting jacket, the cutaway material miraculously moving with her so it wasn’t cumbersome. Low leather heels and tights also all in black completed the ensemble. Her dark hair was pulled back in a tidy bun at the nape of her neck and she’d methodically applied her makeup, with the complement of crimson lipstick and a smoky accent to her tawny eyes.

Her appearance was only one critical part of the position she now filled. Greta had spent the last week intensively training Lily on every nuance of serving the two men who occupied this top floor of the mansion. Both had been in Manhattan on business while Lily had gone through the daily routines with Greta. Now they’d returned and here she was, standing at the end of the mile-long, pale-gray-and-alabaster marble corridor, staring at her first conundrum.

She was tempted to set aside the fancy silver tray she held in her hands and phone Greta to ask for directions. But a drawn-out, beautifully wrought chord on a violin kept her rooted where she stood, at the end of one of the many expensive Persian rugs.

That would be Jackson Sterling playing. He was the violinist.

Lexington Alexander was the concert pianist.

The chord eased gracefully into another. Equally drawn out. And another.

The music ribboned through her belly, twining upward, stealing her breath. There was a chilling vibrato behind the notes. Mysterious and evocative, yet . . . painful.

Captivated, Lily listened intently as the soft notes hinted at a fragile love affair that could be shattered at any moment. She could easily envision naked bodies entwined, hearts and souls consumed by the sensual music. But the euphoria was only meant to be temporary. This was the type of composition reserved for tragic endings and heartbreak. Loss and devastation.

The hallway filled with emotion, wrapped around each intimate chord. Lily had always been deeply moved by haunting music. That was why she was an avid fan of the opera and had considered herself fortunate that her inaugural foray into the world of butlers had been with Sterling and Alexander.

Her skin tingled and a gentle shiver cascaded down her spine.

But before the brilliant crescendo of torment came . . . there was silence.

A heartbeat later, the partially opened door slammed shut.

“Oh!”

Lily jumped at the unexpected gesture. The sudden volatile, resonant sound riding the heels of such a stirring piece.

The handles of the tray she held slipped from her gloved fingers and the afternoon tea service crashed to the marble floor, the crystal vase holding a single red rose exploding into tiny shards, the silver pot spilling its contents, the delicate china cups and saucers splintering.

There was her tragic ending.

Shit!

She whipped off her gloves to keep them pristine and stuffed them in her pocket. Then she crouched on bended knees, reached for the elegant teapot, and set it upright on the tray. She draped the two linen napkins over the puddle on the floor.

“Don’t touch the glass.”

Lily started again, taken by surprise. The warm timbre of a male voice came from behind her. She hadn’t heard anyone approach, so distracted was she by the violinist and the seductive web he’d woven.

“I was actually about to grab the rose,” she managed to say, her own voice a bit breathy.

She laid the fresh bloom on the tray as well but didn’t lift the heavy, ornate creation. Instead, she stood, smoothed a hand over her skirt, then turned to face Lexington Alexander, boss number two.

The air rushed from her lungs in one quick stream. Lily had to fight the gaping of her mouth.

Jesus.

He was even sexier in person than he was in photos on the Internet.

Taller than she’d envisioned, towering over her by a good six inches. He had broad shoulders and rock-hard biceps that strained against the short sleeves of his light-blue polo shirt, which went wonderfully with his glowing cerulean eyes.

He had sandy-brown hair, a tad on the long side. An engaging smile that revealed perfectly straight white teeth set against an insanely handsome, tanned face.

Holy hell.

He was gorgeous.

Her already racing pulse skyrocketed at the sight of him.

Not. Good.

Remembering that her reasons for being in the mansion were strictly professional, she thrust a hand toward him and said in a distressingly awestruck tone, “Liliana Hart, sir. At your service.”

His palm slid across hers.

Damn it all to hell, she’d taken her gloves off. So she felt the heat of his skin and the strength in his long, tapered fingers. And it sent a jolt through her.

“Pleasure to meet you, Liliana,” he said, his smile still vibrant and welcoming.

“Lily is fine.” She still couldn’t breathe properly.

Perhaps it was the residual mesmeric effects of the music that made her heart hammer in her chest and her pulse echo in her ears.

Yeah. You keep trying to convince yourself of that.

Because it’d be seriously disastrous if she was instantly hot for one of the men who signed her paycheck.

Lexington Alexander told her, “Have Greta send Henry up to clean the glass and polish the floor.”

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