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Harlequin
June 2, 2014
ISBN 9781460361726

Take Me

#Prequel

Don't turn away from me. If you want this, you have to watch. You can't pretend you don't want it, that you don't want me.

Sydney is in freefall. Her life has just been turned upside-down by a devastating loss and Travis Howell is standing with his arms open, ready to catch her. But can she let him? For years Sydney's fought her feelings for the boy next door. He's all man now, but Sydney can't forget the social divide between them.

After sharing one—incredible—night together, Sydney is ready to run. But Travis is determined to prove just how good they are together. Over and over again!

Find out what happens next in this short prequel to the amazing Fifth Avenue Trilogy!

Collect all three novels in the Fifth Avenue Trilogy:

AVENGE ME by USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates

SCANDALIZE ME by USA TODAY bestselling author Caitlin Crews

EXPOSE ME by USA TODAY bestselling author Kate Hewitt

Also In this Series:

Excerpt

Christmas 2004 –

Chapter One

The party was a glittering affair. Every Treffen event was. From the immaculately dressed wait staff, to the lilting strains of Christmas carols being played by a string quartet, all the way down to the golden marble floors of the ballroom.

Sydney Davis wondered, idly, how common it was for a law firm, even one as prestigious as Treffen, Smith and Howell, to have a ballroom. But she decided it didn’t really matter since she was here, and she was just going to soak in all the fancy. And it was dripping with fancy.

She’d been exposed to most of this stuff at some point during her life, but it was only these past few years she’d been included in it.

Thanks to Travis Beringer. Who had wandered away from her at some point during the party. Probably looking to get kissed under the mistletoe. Which was the hazard of bringing a date who would never really be your date.

Travis was her best friend in all the world. Had been from the time they’d first seen each other in the hallowed halls of his family mansion. Her mother had been on the housekeeping staff, but that hadn’t stopped Travis, or his family, from treating them like equals. So much more than they’d ever been given before by a family her mother had been employed by.

Then they’d gone the extra step and actually taken interest in her. Eventually recommending her for a scholarship position at a very prestigious, private, all-girls school, which had led to her entrance into Harvard, and eventually to the annual Treffen Christmas party.

Not that the party was that important. But she had been excited to be included. It was a chance to make some professional connections, and with graduation on the horizon, it was particularly important.

She knew Austin Treffen, law student, and son of their host, through her former roommate, Sarah Michaels. And also through Sarah she’d met Hunter Grant and Alex Diaz. Powerful connections that she knew would serve her well later on. Hunter was a star athlete, making a name for himself in the NFL while Alex was on the cusp of a prestigious career in journalism.

Every inroad forged was valuable for someone with an eye for politics. As long as none of them were too salacious.

But there was nothing salacious here. Here, there was nothing but glitter and diamonds. Old money, with a sprinkling of people like her. People who had been lucky enough to have been given the assist that allowed them to crawl up from nothing and into a world of endless possibilities.

She looked across the crowded room and saw Jason Treffen, who was, for lack of a better term, holding court. He wasn’t only the host of the party, but the focus of it. Wherever Jason was, he drew a crowd. He was so magnetic, it was almost off-putting.

Sarah had been working for him for a while and her comments about her boss always left Sydney feeling a little uneasy. Sometimes Sarah seemed to verge on an obsession with him, other times, she seemed fearful and edgy. And lately she hadn’t said much at all. They’d drifted apart a bit since Sarah had moved into the city, but Sarah had been even more distant recently. Sydney

had mostly put that down to her recent breakup with Hunter, which had thoroughly devastated her friend.

Tonight Sarah didn’t looked devastated. She was, looking stunning, if exhausted. Though, Sydney hadn’t seen her since they’re first arrived.

Jason suddenly broke away from the crowd, his eyes meeting hers, a smile on his lips. And she found it hard to look away. There was something about him. Sheer charisma. He would be an excellent politician, and yet he seemed content to stay a lawyer, devoting most of his time to taking high profile cases where women had suffered injustice in the workplace.

He was an idol for someone with her ambition. A man who’d built an empire, and managed to make a difference at the same time.

“You must be Sydney,” he said.

“Yes,” she said, holding out her hand. When he shook it, she felt a vague whisper of disquiet and she wasn’t sure why. “Mr. Treffen it’s very nice to meet you.”

“You as well. Are you enjoying my party?”

“I am.”

“Sarah’s told me a lot about you,” he said. “She speaks highly of your intelligence.”

“That’s nice of her.”

“Not at all, I suspect it’s just true. I wanted to tell you, if you’re ever looking for a job that might compliment the classes you’re taking, I always have things available here for bright young women.”

Flattery warred with a strange, sinking sensation. She wasn’t sure why the sinking sensation. Maybe just because of the way things had been going with Sarah. She should be flattered. Jason Treffen would be a valuable name on a résumé for her. A letter of recommendation from him would get her places.

“Thank you so much,” she said, “I’m honored. When school starts back up again I’ll reevaluate my schedule and come see you.”

He patted her arm, his smile paternal, but the feeling his touch left behind…very not. She wasn’t sure what to make of him. “You do that. Please.”

He turned and walked away then, stopping at the next group of people, smiling, greeting everyone by name. He was a force, no question about that. Regardless of her slight, weird and baseless misgivings, people seemed to like him and the value in the connection could not be overstated.

“You look lost in thought. Or are you simply in awe of your surroundings?”

She turned toward the sound of Travis’s voice and caught a hint of his scent – clean skin and fresh aftershave. And she let herself have a moment where his sheer beauty took her breath away. She’d known Travis since he was a boy, but at the age of twenty-two he was very much a man now.

His shoulders and chest were broader, the softness long gone from his face, replaced with a chiseled edge that made him look both beautiful, and a little dangerous. His eyes were the same. That light, sky-blue that seemed to promise her the world every time he looked at her.

And his lips…well, they were the same, but they were much more distracting than they’d been when they were younger. Of that she was certain. Until recently she’d never been quite so aware of the shape of them. Or that they looked vaguely sinful.

But that could also be because she had been boyfriend-less, and ergo, sexless, since sophomore year, when her one-and-only boyfriend had broken things off with her to move on to more WASP-ish pastures and she’d been too busy studying and generally trying to prove that she absolutely belonged, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to do anything about her love life.

“Just pondering things,” she said.

He snagged two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter and held on out to her, which she took gratefully. “Pondering what things? You’re on break, remember? You aren’t supposed to be thinking about school or studying or your political ambitions.”

“I didn’t get here based on lineage, Travis, I’m here because I work hard. ” “And because my father writes a damn good letter of recommendation.”

“Sure, that too. Which is yet another reason for me to make sure I surpass every expectation. I don’t want to tarnish your father’s hallowed reputation.”

“If you cut him, it’d stain your dress blue,” he said, gesturing toward her red gown. “That means he can survive any scandal you throw at him. You could tug your top down and waltz around the room and it would never reflect poorly on him.”

“But it would get me tarred, feathered and chucked out of high-society,” she said. “The only thing that’s blue in my family lineage are the collars. The blood is just red.”

He arched a brow. “Don’t ever bleed around these people and they’ll never know.”

“That’s my plan.”

“Do you want a dessert to go with your champagne?”

“Do you have to ask?”

He smiled and shook his head, moving in the direction of the balcony, where the table with the chocolate cake was set up.

She watched him for a moment, sipping on her fizzy drink. He really was very handsome. His tux was custom fitted to his physique. And yeah, you could tell.

Suddenly a scream shattered the music, Silent Night breaking into a million pieces as more screams followed the first and people began rushing to the balcony, to the windows.

Sydney froze, watching the commotion, watching as Travis set his cake down and moved closer to the windows before taking two, stumbling steps backward and then turning to face her, his skin waxen, his lips pressed into a thin line.

“What happened?” Sydney asked.

“Let’s go,” he said.

“What happened, Travis?”

“Don’t look,” he said. “Please don’t look.” He was shaking as he reached out and grabbed her, his fingers, curled around her arm trembling, “don’t look,” he said again.

She started to panic then, fear rising up in her chest, grabbing her by the throat and shaking her.

“Travis, what?” she asked, knowing she sounded crazy and hysterical now, but not caring.

Jason Treffen was trying to speak over the roar of the people, but for once, it seemed like he didn’t have control. It seemed that whatever had happened had lessened Jason’s power, if only for a moment. Because no one could pay attention to Jason, not now, they were all glued to the windows. And Travis wouldn’t let her see.

“It’s Sarah,” he said, pulling her from the room. “I don’t want you to see.”

“Sarah?” she asked, picturing her friend as she’d been earlier in the evening when they’d met at her Manhattan apartment to get ready for the evening. Sarah’s dark hair had been swept up into a bun, her gorgeous figure wrapped in a crimson gown. So alive. So beautiful. “I have to help, I have to see-”

“You can’t help,” he said, his voice rough. “You can’t help.”

“Why can’t I help?” she asked.

“She’s dead.”

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