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One Night with the Tycoon

By:Katherine Garbera

(Whiskey River Book 3)

Chapter One


Juliette Rossi stood in the corner trying to remind herself she didn't  need anyone by her side. Since she'd returned to Whiskey River from  Paris, she'd felt like it had been the right move. Let's face it, she'd  had few options left to her. She'd gone as far as she could with the  family-owned perfumery and they had made it quite clear that unless she  was family she wouldn't go any further. So she'd moved back home.

Normally she didn't have time for parties. She felt more comfortable in  her business casual clothing than in formal wear. Which might have  explained why she'd tripped walking into the Kelly Ranch house. They had  their own ballroom.

For a girl who'd grown up in a comfortably middle class neighborhood,  she was a little awed by that. But her mind as always was pulled back to  the lavender lotion and making her mark on the high end market.

Getting their goodie bags ready to go was her main priority. Something that would be easier if Ariana had come with her.

"I'm here."

Shocked she glanced up. Ariana glowed in a way that only a woman in love  could. As upset as Juliette had been to lose the Parker property to  Trey Kelly, she felt that the result of bringing Ariana into contact  with Trey Kelly had been worth it. When Ariana had shown up at the  party, Juliette had been thrilled because she knew that meant Ariana and  Trey had made up.

She wore a short black dress and shiny black cowboy boots shot through  with turquoise. Her hair looked different. She'd pinned it up on one  side, with curls hanging down, and on the other, her hair obscured the  right side of her face to cover her scar. But not as much as it would  have pre-Trey.

"Me too," Chloe Cooper said. Chloe and Juliette had become friends in  France and when Juliette had come back home to Texas, Chloe had decided  she was ready for a move as well. They all lived together at Lavender  House.

Chloe had come back from Paris with her. She had effortless style she  had picked up in Paris. It was hard not to emulate it when everything  around them had been fashionable. Tonight, she had her chin length,  brown hair brushed artfully around her heart shaped face. She wore a  slim fitting, black sheath and bangles up one arm.

Ariana, Juliette, and Chloe stood by a table near the front door. The  Boots and Bangles Gala was a huge event and Lavender Dreams had been  working nonstop to get their new hand lotion ready for distribution.  Giving away a small three ounce tube of Lavender Love to each person at  the party might have seemed like a big, but Juliette knew that once  people tried the lotion and started using it, word of mouth would spread  and they'd get the boost in sales they needed.

The three of them had spent the previous night assembling a clear  cellophane bag that included the Lavender Love lotion, their business  card for Lavender, and a sprig of lavender. She thought they were simple  and classy. Just as their shop was.

"That's the last of our goodie bags. I sure hope this works," Ariana said.

"I know it will."

"Of course," Chloe said. "Juliette is good at predicting the next big  thing. It's how she progressed so fast at Des Jardins Perfumerie."

"Up until they remembered I was a Texan and not one of their blood," Juliette said.

"You still sound pissed," Ariana said with a laugh. "Do you wish you were still there?"

"Not at all. I just want to have a really huge success so I can thumb my nose at them," she said with a laugh.

It was true. She hated to lose. And they way the Des Jardins family had  dismissed her because she wasn't a blood relative had really upset her.  She'd been loyal to them. Many other companies had tried to lure her  away and she'd turned them down. And look how they'd paid her back.

"Well, none of that matters now. I'm glad we're working together," Ariana said.

"Me too. We needed Whiskey River," Juliette said.

"Whiskey River needed us too," Ariana said, hugging her.

"I'm glad you and Trey made up."

Ariana smiled. She had on a pair of boots that Juliette recognized as  signature Kelly Boots. Juliette had stubbornly refused to buy a pair of  Kelly Boots for tonight since she knew everyone else would be wearing  them. And had paid a fortune to have a pair of boots shipped overnight  from California. Though to be honest the scar had faded a little with  time and the help of Ariana's special new lotion. Ariana was excited  about the possibilities, and so was she.

"Looking good. I hope it was something I said. I'm glad you decided to come," Juliette said.

"Me, too," Chloe said. "I would have stayed home if you had."         

     



 

The ballroom at the Kelly ranch house was decked out for a party. The  accents were a combination of all the things that made the Kellys  famous-whiskey barrels supported tables in the corner near the bar.  Boots had been used extensively in the décor, and the chandeliers  glittered.

She heard the sounds of Paloma Kelly-Boots's first wife-directing people  around in the silent auction room. She had been in charge of the Boots  & Bangles fundraiser for as long as Juliette could remember. The  house was sophisticated and luxurious but also down-home and welcoming.

"I left the gift basket for the silent auction in my car," Juliette said. "I'll run and get it, you want to go talk to Paloma?"

Ariana shook her head. "You just drop it in there when you're done."

"You're in love with her son, you can't keep avoiding her," Juliette said. "You should go cosy up to her."

"I don't think anyone gets close to Paloma unless she invites you," Ariana said. "I'm not sure how she feels about me."

"I'm sure that doesn't matter to Trey. He knows how he feels about you and everyone else can go to hell."

"Exactly. He's not one for seeking approval from anyone else."

"I can respect that. So are you two going to live together?" Juliette  asked. "Doesn't he have to stay here to inherit or something? What about  Big Boy and Little Joe?" she asked naming two dogs that had Ariana had  rescued. "I've grown fond of them. Will they move, too?"

"Yeah. We haven't figured that out yet. There's still a lot to discuss.  We just got back together tonight," Ariana added with a laugh.

She hugged her cousin. "It's going to be great. If he asks you to marry him, I get to be your maid of honor, right?"

"Yes," Ariana said and then smiled as she looked past Juliette. Standing  in the doorway was Trey. He cut a dashing figure in his tux with his  hand-tooled boots. He held a dress Stetson in one hand and the other lay  against his side.

The look that passed between them was so filled with love. Juliette felt  the little pang of jealousy again and quickly squashed it. Ariana  deserved some happiness after what had happened with "the asshole", as  Trey called him.

Ariana took a step toward Trey and then glanced back at Juliette.

"Go on. I'll take care of anything else that needs doing."

She watched her cousin go to the man she loved and felt that pang in her  heart. She'd often been told she was too cold, too business-like in her  approach to relationships. She was never the woman who was wooed or  romanced. Probably because she was too busy being blunt.

"I want a man to look at me like that," Chloe said.

"Me, too," Juliette admitted.

"Well tonight I say we both find a man who will do that," Chloe said  with resolve. They'd both had their reasons for leaving Paris.

"Okay. How are we going to do that?" Juliette asked.

Chloe laughed. "Stop trying to boss everyone."

"I don't know if I can."

"Well, with the right man that won't matter."

She thought about that as she went to get the basket for the silent  auction. When she went into the auction room, Paloma was on the other  side talking to Emma Belding and one of Paloma's assistants took the  basket from Juliette. They gave her a receipt for her donation and  invited her to come back when the auction opened.



Wyatt Kelly heard the whispers as he entered the courtyard where the  annual Boots and Bangles charity gala was being held. He ignored them as  he walked toward the bar. God knew tonight he needed a drink more than  ever.

The gala had been his father's party. Always. It felt even more to Wyatt  now that his father had died. When his dad had been a toddler he'd  thought the event was for him, little "Boots" Kelly. His parents had  indulged the charming toddler and Wyatt admitted to himself that if  they'd not given in to him as much maybe he wouldn't have been … well, his  dad was his dad.

Sure, he'd been surprised when he learned he had two illegitimate  half-brothers. Twins. But he hadn't been shocked. A man who was that  charming around women, and who had barely ever heard the word no, moved  through life expecting it to bend to his will, and it did.

"Whiskey neat," he said as he got to the bar. The event company that had  been planning the gala for the last decade had pulled out all the stops  once again. His mother, Boots's first, Paloma, sat on the board and  ruled over the event like a queen. Good luck to any of Boots's later  wives who tried to horn in on her territory.         

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