Saturday, August 11, 2018

Please Welcome E.L. Roux as She Tells Us About Her Fantasy Romance, Unrewarded Love: Magic and Heartache Book 2

Fantasy Romance
by E.L. Roux

What was I supposed to do when my sick mother asked me to help her finish prepping for her fashion show? I wanted to say no, because it meant working with Kyla, a man I detest, but when no one else can help, I have to step up. 

Except I don't trust Kyla. I know he's pretending to want me for unrestricted access to my mother's clothing line. But as the week goes by, I have to admit, he's been more help than hindrance. I hope he doesn't betray my building attraction for him with deceit, I don't think my heart can take the pain.


I didn’t know what to say except for, ‘hell no’, but I wouldn’t say that to my mom. She’d spent all this time taking care of me as a child, working two jobs so we could afford a small rundown apartment, and still managed to make a name for herself in the fashion industry as Pondre. And as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t walk away from her request.
“And your assistant really can’t help?” I asked.
Her silver hair, a close reflection to my own, slid forward, exposing the pointed tip of an ear. Her skin, a darker olive brown than mine, held a paleness to it. The pixie blood, strong in our family, couldn’t charm away the cold biting her in the butt.
Mom coughed weakly into her hand, head angled up by the mountain of pastel pillows stacked behind her. “Perri, you know she can’t. It’s not like her uncle can come back from the dead, and all that litigation she’s tied up in won’t disappear.”
I sighed. “But do I really have to work with Kyla?”
He coughed. “I’m right here.”
“Yeah,” I said, turning toward him, “and I hate you.”
Kyla flashed me a smile from near the foot of my mother’s bed. Kyla was the pinnacle of what it meant to be a nymph; absolutely gorgeous in his heritage’s unique way. His dark hair, tied back at the base of his neck, accented the strong line of his chin and brightened his light oak complexion akin to something you’d see growing strong in the forest his parents still lived in. His eyes were a rich purple hue I’d heard others exclaim looked like monkshood, a poisonous flower you had to handle with care and took years of babying to firmly establish itself. I don’t know how close that flower reflected his personality, but just to be spiteful, I told him his irises looked like grapes. His vanity hadn’t appreciated that.
His elegantly cut figure looked good in whatever he wore—the bastard—and he, like all of Mom’s fans, constantly attempted to get the jump on Pondre’s latest designs. I still believed Mom should feature burlap sacks in her next collection, but she’d yet to try the design. In fact, right now he wore a dark gray suit from my mother’s fall line two years ago. The theme that show had been petrified wood.
I settled back into my chair, eyeing the man too sexy for his own good. It was really too bad he was only after me for unlimited access to my mother, the top designer in the nation, and not because he liked me. He was horribly unpredictable in every attempt to woo me, never doing the same thing twice—which I found kind of romantic, even as I stifled the smile his last gift had given me. The chocolate had been amazing, the rich flavor melting on my tongue with every bite. But he wasn’t going to win me over with chocolate.
I glared. Kyla raised an elegantly shaped brow and turned toward my mother. I was still wondering why he’d been sitting in her room before I arrived. He didn’t need to be here for us to have this conversation.
“I know you need her help prepping for your show this week, but does she really have to put up such a fuss about it?”
“Why are you even here?” I asked as I tucked the soft off-white blankets tighter around my mother, and sat on the bed beside her head. “Shouldn’t you be off in your forest home, frolicking with the trolls?”
“Alas, they won’t have anything to do with me after our last meeting.” He crossed his ankle over his knee, his gray pants exposing just enough sock to be appropriate. Damn, when did I start getting hot and bothered about ankles and the lust-worthy socks that covered them?
I breathed in the scent of mint and brushed imaginary hair off my leggings. He managed to make me feel like frumpy and ill-shaped, like I’d failed to dress appropriately for a meeting at my mother’s sickbed. I placed my hands carefully in my lap. “Were the trolls upset at the number of your bed partners?”
The question popped out before I could stop it. It wasn’t like I cared one way or another.
“Apparently not enough. They were unhappy with me when I refused their company.”
I snorted, not believing him for a second. He was rarely without female company. “Why would you do that?”
“Why do you think, dear?” my mother chimed in, voice soft and difficult to hear. “He’s only been courting you for the last five months.”
I jerked, almost falling off the bed. “That’s not true.”
“I don’t know why you think that,” he said, tugging down the cuff of his perfectly pressed jacket. “I’ve been bothering you every day since I informed you of my intent.”
“That’s exactly why.” How could anyone trust that he was serious when he came out and stated something as ridiculous as that, especially as he was handing me a unicorn lollipop with a smear of blue ice cream still on his lips? I’d never fought so hard to not kiss someone in my life.
He squinted, and I could see the fine mental gears turning behind his gaze. “I see.”
My mother smirked at him. “I told you so.”
“You’re quite right, Pondre. I don’t know why I didn’t listen to you in the first place.”
“My daughter likes a challenge.” She smoothed the blankets at her hips. “You took all the fun away when Perri no longer had to guess at your intentions. Pixies enjoy chaos.”
“Wait.” I glanced frantically back and forth between the pair. “That wasn’t what I intended at all.”
“Are you sure?” His flirtatious gaze swung my way. “It certainly seemed that way to me. If it’s mystery you want,” he said, standing up, “then it’s excitement you’ll get.”
Shock held me still as he closed in on me. He leaned down and pressed a warm kiss to my cheek. “I’ll be seeing you later.” Straightening, he winked at Mom and left the room with a smug swagger. I glanced at my mother as I heard the front door close.
“What the hell just happened?”
She smiled before coughing roughly into her hand. “I’d hazard a guess, but I’d rather you not throw that Kleenex box at me.”
Glancing down, I frowned at the box clenched in my fist, the cardboard crumpled. “I wouldn’t do that.”
Mom softly laughed. “You and I both know you would.”
I sighed and placed the box back on the white nightstand where she could reach it easily. “Tell me again why I’m doing this?”
“Because you love me and would do whatever I needed you to do in my time of need.”
“Oh, lay off it,” I said tapping her foot under the covers with my own. “You’re not dying.”
“No, but this cold is definitely kicking my butt. I won’t be able to fix the last minute things that normally pop up before a show. I need you to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
“But why does Kyla have to help?” I winced at the whine in my voice. I was a twenty-seven-year-old woman; I could handle this on my own, damn it.
“Because, believe it or not, he actually knows how my shows are run.”
I crossed my arms belligerently. “Yeah, because he’s been to most of them.”
“And,” my mother said, speaking over me, “he knows all the players involved and will insure you won’t get the run around by anyone.”
I glanced at her as she frowned. “Like anyone would try and one up you.”
“You’d be surprised.” A pillow fell to the floor as she shifted on the bed. “People are always trying to play the long game or get the advantage. They think I’m one failed show away from the end of my career, and they’ll be able step into my shoes as soon as I’m out of the picture.”
I snorted, handing the fluffy pink monstrosity back to her. “As if. We both know it takes more than a single show to ruin a career.”
“And more than one to make it.”
Her next cough sounded particularly wet.
I check the window; the breeze floating through the slight opening kept the room smelling fresh. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take you to a hospital, or at the very least have a nurse make a house call?”
“No, no.” Mom waved away my concern. “I’ll be fine in a few days.”
“But you still want me to help out?” I was back to whining again. Shows weren’t at the top of my favorites list, mostly because we’d done so many of them when I was a kid.
“Perri Antibel Rosa, you will knock this nonsense off right now and help your mother finish a wonderful, life-changing show.”
I rolled my eyes. “There’s no end of drama with our family.”
Mom coughed delicately into her hand. “I have no idea what you mean.”

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