Double the Thrill

Double the Thrill

Susan Kearney

June 2018 $13.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-882-0

Let the games begin!

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Let the games begin!

Bad Boy Zane Masterson, society’s charming heartbreaker, jumps at the chance to switch identities and fix his identical twin’s "boring” reputation when notorious and sexy clothing designer Toni Maxwell makes it clear she’s out to bag the infamous Grey Masterson and won’t take no for an answer.

Toni Maxwell always gets what she wants, and right now she needs a sex scandal of epic proportions to convince an over-zealous ex that their relationship is well and truly over. Grey Masterson is the perfect candidate, even if she will have to hunt him down to work her magic on him.

Switching places is supposed to be a fun diversion, but Zane soon realizes that he’ll do anything to keep Toni, even if it means giving the lady the sex scandal she wants.

Susan Kearney, a native of New Jersey, writes full time and has sold books to the industries' top publishing houses — Grand Central, Tor, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin, Bell Bridge Books, Berkley, Leisure, Red Sage, and Kensington. As an award winning author, Kearney earned a Business Degree from the University of Michigan. Kearney's knowledge and experience spans throughout the romance genre, and her fifty plus books include contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, futuristic, science fiction, and paranormal novels. She resides in a suburb of Tampa—with her husband, kids, and Boston terrier. Currently she's plotting her way through her 54th work of fiction.


Coming Soon!




Toni Maxwell’s mouth went drier than the New Orleans summer drought. She’d never expected anything so big, so in your face. But then how could she think straight under this kind of pressure? The never- ending heat wave must have fried her brain. Obviously, she’d been working too hard on her spring collection, because this couldn’t be happening. Not to her. Not now. She had always expected to hit the big time—but certainly not like this.

Big was one thing. This qualified as enormous.

Toni’s nerve endings danced with agitation and quickly repressed awe. She licked her bottom lip and told herself that she could not be intimidated. She would not say yes, no matter how enticing the offer.

Her inner voice egged her on. Go on. Try it on for size.

"I shouldn’t.”

Oh, pull-ease! Indulge.

Unable to resist the seductive temptation, carefully, Toni reached out, barely breathing, knowing it wouldn’t fit.

It fit perfectly. As if custom-made for her.

"Awesome ring.” Her oldest sister, Bobby, wearing pink running shorts, a pink sports bra, and pink athletic shoes, jogged into the foyer swinging a two-pound weight in each hand and bouncing up and down on her toes as if fearing that if she rested for a second, she’d regain one of the thirty pounds she’d lost during the last year. "Hey, Mickey,” Bobby yelled to their youngest sister in the kitchen. "You better come have a look.”

"Did you break another nail?” Mickey yelled back, in her naturally sultry voice, the one that the brokenhearted men she’d refused to date often called just to hear on the answering machine. "We’re out of pink nail polish.”

"No, I didn’t break a nail,” Bobby replied, continuing to bounce and swing her arms. "Toni’s getting married.”


"I most certainly am not,” Toni contradicted, her stomach clench­ing in protest. She should never have opened the damn box in the foyer. After signing for Senator Birdstrum’s present, she should have run up the stairs to her room where she could have had a little privacy, but she’d never expected an engagement ring—especially not after she’d repeatedlyrefused Birdstrum’s proposals. For attending a fundraiser with him on short notice, she’d thought he might show his appreciation by sending over her favorite chocolate pralines. But a four-carat engagement ring?

Why didn’t the senator understand that no meant no? She gulped, attempting to swallow the lump of welling panic in her throat. And now, before she’d even recovered from her shock at his determination and fixation on her, she had her sisters to contend with.

The four Maxwell sisters shared the two-story house in the French Quarter. Expenses in this part of the city were high, especially for Toni, who had tapped out her funds to purchase the swankiest high-tech fabrics for her spring collection. But her new creations were sure to put her fledgling designer-wear boutique on the map and in the black— especially since several of the evening gowns had been featured in Southern Design Magazine. Her reckless decision to open her own business might soon pay off. According to the article, Toni Maxwell was "on her way,” although her bank account didn’t yet reflect her recent success. But she didn’t live with her sisters just to save money—they also liked one another, most of the time.

Their personalities varied, from conscientious but sometimes rash Mickey to workaholic Toni to bubbly Bobby to Jude, the perennial student. All single, they looked out for one another in their own Maxwell way, which meant everything from blunt advice to shared clothing, comfort hugs, ice-cream binges on dateless Friday nights, and elegant potluck dinners.

Growing up, Toni had seemed to be her parents’ favorite, but her sisters didn’t mind since she always worked harder than the other three put together. She’d studied long hours to make A’s and B’s all through school while working two part-time jobs, one as a retail store clerk, the other sewing clothes for family and friends.

But Toni could only remain serious-minded for so long before she had to blow off steam. This long period of sexual withdrawal was abnormal for her. Back then, as busy as she’d been, she’d still had time to indulge her passion between her busy days of hard work. Recently, her hook ups with the opposite sex had dwindled to zilch, but she fully intended to correct her current predicament. She’d simply been putting in too many hours designing and selling her creations. All that work meant no extra energy for even so much as a weekend fling. Her unconscious had picked up on her body’s shortage of satisfaction, her mind taunting her while she slept with erotic images of a dream man, which had her awakening damp and slick. Self-gratification had barely taken off the edge. She suspected the book she’d just read about actress Lane Morrow’s affair with Grey Masterson, a New Orleans publishing tycoon, had triggered the dreams. Wild dreams. Fantasy dreams.

So, she was eager to meet someone male. Someone hot. Someone who would make love to her for hours and make up for her abstinence. Someone like sexy Grey Masterson. Senator Birdstrum, too old, too stodgy, too bland, didn’t fit the bill.

Dependable, hardworking, the one her siblings relied on when the chips where down, Toni could always count on her sisters to rally around her when she needed them. Back in high school on her prom night, her sisters had covered for her until she’d sneaked in through the three-story window at four in the morning. And they’d covered for her again during college when, on a whim, she’d accepted her French professor’s offer to fly her to Paris for spring break. Between her sexual libido begging to be fed and her too-long-contained reckless nature primed for action, Toni wanted her sisters’ input.

While Bobby might pretend to be enthusiastic about the engagement ring, Toni wasn’t sure of her sister’s true feelings. Toni had always suspected that Bobby harbored a bit of an infatuation for the senator, which Bobby vehemently denied. Still, Toni wouldn’t hurt her for the world. But even if Toni was wrong about Bobby’s feelings, she’d still refuse the senator.

What she needed right now was Mickey’s coolheaded thinking. Her younger sister wouldn’t be swept away by the romantic proposal from an old family friend Toni had dated exactly twice and whom she barely knew. The first time Birdstrum had proposed, Toni had been flab­bergasted. When he’d told her she was the perfect woman for him, she’d been flattered, yet stunned. He’d stated his reasons that they should marry as if he were presenting a bill for a vote. She was beautiful, smart, and well connected. He saw her boutique, Feminine Touch, as hip, her choice of career as clothing designer-retailer as the perfect way for her to remain busy while he worked in Washington. He’d given her logic—but no passion, something she most definitely wanted back in her life.

Her self-imposed celibacy made her now eager to end her exile from the male species. If Birdstrum was as sexy as Grey Masterson or her dream man, she might have been tempted to enjoy a fling with him. But there was no chemistry. No zing. Not even the tiniest arc of lust between them.

And as much as her life had been lacking in the sexual department, even she couldn’t create fire without matches. She didn’t mind starting the fire, but she needed a man who could fan the flames. A man creative in the sack, who knew how to excite a woman. A man as innovative and attentive as Grey Masterson had been in that bestselling book. No wonder Lane Morrow’s book had infiltrated her dreams. She’d denied an essential part of herself for too long, imprisoned herself in her career, and her subconscious was screaming for freedom. Satisfaction. Pleasure.

With her business going so well, she intended to take some time to appease her desires and find the zest missing in her life. Toni had no problem throwing herself into a one-nighter with the right man. She was young, single, and enjoyed sex. While she might make her choices with a recklessness that made Mickey shudder, Toni’s decisions had a way of turning out to be good ones. A new adventure would replace her erotic dreams with stimulating reality. But first, she had to extract herself from her unfortunate situation with the senator.

With not even a droplet of attraction between them, turning down Birdstrum had been a no-brainer. And ever since he’d proposed the first time, she’d refused more dates with him, blocked his numbers from her cell phone, and had let the house’s land-line voicemail answer his calls. Yet he’d continued to send her flowers and notes that repeated his offer of marriage. She’d never imagined he would buy her a ring, though. A four-carat diamond engagement ring! The man must be delusional to think she’d accept. It was downright scary to think that the senator enacted laws and represented his constituents so well when he had no clue about her non-feelings toward him. The ring was the last straw. It was time to put a stop to his antics.

Of all her sisters, Mickey would understand the cloud of trouble looming on the horizon and threatening to break over their heads like a deluge. Indeed, Toni could already imagine her eyes narrowing with some kind of scheme to get her out of this mess. A mess made even more potentially disastrous by the fact that it could involve their father, who wanted a job with Birdstrum.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

The two youngest Maxwell sisters might not look much alike, but they often thought alike. Toni was blond, average in height, slender with feminine curves. Luckier Mickey oozed sex appeal, but didn’t seem to know it. With her blond hair streaked naturally by the summer sun, a voluptuous figure, and a brain that never quit, her sister was not only a man magnet—she possessed uncommon good sense.

Toni really needed some down-to-earth advice. Mickey glided into the room now as if she were walking down a runway, followed by the wondrous aroma of baking bread wafting through the air from the kitchen. Mickey was probably whipping up one of her wonderful Cajun meals, but she still managed to look pulled together in her hip jacket and slacks, likely bought at a thrift shop, and carefully protected from splatters with a funky apron.

Before Mickey could even look at the ring, never mind give advice, Jude rushed through the front door. "Those idiots called me a tree hugger.”

"Well, you are,” Mickey said, not unkindly, leaning forward to peek at the ring Toni held in her shaking fingers.

Jude was wearing jeans and one of her "Save the Gulf” T-shirts. As a full-time student and part-time lobbyist for several environmental groups, her lifelong cause—trying to prevent oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico—had recently taken a back seat to lobbying for better protection of animals. Jude took in strays the way other women col­lected shoes. Thanks to Jude’s charitable heart, the four sisters lived with an iguana, three cats, two dogs, and a fish tank that currently housed a turtle.

Jude’s flashing green eyes flitted to the sparkling ring like a honey­bee to a gardenia, and she skidded to a halt, almost tripping over their white cat. "Oh, my. That’s not costume jewelry, is it?”

"Senator Birdstrum’s aide delivered it,” Toni explained. At least with all her sisters here, she’d only have to tell the story once. Though, God knew, there wasn’t much to tell.

"He sent someone else to propose for him?” Mickey asked, her perfectly arched brows drawing over a frown of disapproval.

"It’s kind of sudden, isn’t it?” Jude looked from the ring to Toni, then bent and scooped the cat into her arms.

"He won’t take no for an answer.”

"Typical man,” Jude muttered.

Toni sighed. "And I only went out with him twice.”

"You must have made quite an impression.” Bobby giggled.

Toni could see by Bobby’s expression that her sister thought she’d hooked up with the senator. Toni might have been working too hard this last year, but she had a reputation for having fun. And if a new guy she met had the right combination of intelligence, charm, and sex appeal, Toni dived right into the relationship. So now explanations were in order. "We didn’t have sex.”

"It’s been a while for you, hasn’t it? You might want to try getting it on again sometime this millennium,” Jude told her with a straight face, her tone sarcastic. "It’s good exercise.”

"Easy for you to say. You have a boyfriend.”

Toni had been so wrapped up in the store she’d been on a sexual diet, and she missed everything about lovemaking. Touching and cares­sing. The scent of honest male sweat. The relaxation that came with losing oneself with another person. Good sex was like European choc­olate, flavorful and yummy, and her mouth suddenly watered with a craving that she needed to satisfy soon. But she didn’t want her sister’s pity. "I’ve never really been interested in him. I only hung out with the senator at Dad’s urging.”

Their father specialized in drawing up budgets for the governor in the Department of Professional Regulation. But she well knew that he aspired to move to Washington, D.C., and work for the powerful Senator Birdstrum, head of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Her father’s dream was one of the reasons she’d agreed to date the senator. However, this was one time she should have said no to a favor for the father she adored.

Toni might like to have fun, but she had her standards. A guy had to appeal to her. From vivid descriptions in Lane Morrow’s book, she could imagine indulging her fantasies with a man like Grey Masterson, but never with Birdstrum.

But how could she have predicted that Senator Birdstrum, who otherwise seemed normal in every way, would become fixated on her? Toni breathed in, then let out a frustrated sigh. "Apparently Birdstrum’s been telling mutual acquaintances that we’re engaged. I assured a customer just this morning that it was only a rumor.”

"You can’t marry him,” Mickey told her.

Toni resisted swearing under her breath and petted the cat Jude held instead, but took little comfort from his warm purr of affection. "Of course, I can’t marry him.”

Her sisters nodded, all three in agreement. Between the four of them, they would think of some way out that wouldn’t jeopardize the family’s interests.

Charming, arrogant, and honest, Birdstrum was a capable senator. He also refused to accept her refusal to marry him. She’d already told the man no. She didn’t know what else to do. Her father would never get the job he coveted in Washington if she dealt too harshly with the powerful senator. On top of that, Mickey could lose the cooking-school scholarship the senator had arranged for her, and Jude would lose her best lobbying connection.

The senator’s diamond ring had come out of left field. And now she was in a real old-fashioned pickle. What the hell was she going to do?

Mickey led them all into the kitchen where they gathered around an antique table with four chairs from different periods from New Orleans’s past, all covered with soft, yellow seat cushions which gave the room a homey feel. After they’d moved in last year, they’d patched and polished the lovely mosaic tile floors, dark wood paneling, and original ceiling medallions, and refurbished the antique wood ceiling fan. From the kitchen they could see into the now darkened dining room filled with potted palms, a fluted iron post railing, and flickering gaslights which they could turn on when guests arrived to show off the turn-of-the- century chandelier. But the sisters preferred to camp out in the kitchen where they could also look outside through beveled-glass windows to the draping weeping willow tree over their home’s private courtyard.

There had to be a way to avoid the senator, but in her bleak frame of mind the only way out seemed to be to flee the state. In reality, though, she knew she couldn’t leave her home. She loved living here and couldn’t imagine just disappearing and giving up her home, her sisters, her business.

Mickey did most of the cooking, and the scent of the bread she took out of the oven combined with the gumbo simmering on the stove normally made Toni’s mouth water. But as one sister ladled soup and another sliced the warm homemade bread, her unsettled stomach warned her not to eat. Not until she figured out a solution to her di­lemma.

"There’s no avoiding the senator without leaving the state. But I’m not going.”

Jude set a bowl of gumbo in front of her. "Why should you leave?”

"I’m not sure what else to do. Last week, the newspaper ran a small article about the senator’s engagement. Although he didn’t mention my name, that won’t last long now that he’s delivered the ring. I’m afraid of what he’ll do next.”

"Why don’t you tell the newspaper that he’s insane?” Jude suggested.

"I can’t ruin his career just because he sent me a diamond ring. He’s a good senator. And I don’t want to hurt Dad’s chances of getting the Washington job with Birdstrum.”

Mickey poured lemonade, then took a seat. "Come on, eat. We’ll put our heads together and think up a way out.”

"Don’t take this the wrong way, but why does he want you, any­way?” Jude asked.

Toni shrugged. "He thinks our family is solid, that my past won’t embarrass him, and because I have a hip career, he thinks marriage to me will help him attain the young votes in his upcoming election.”

Jude swore, Bobby sighed, and Mickey shook her head.

Toni appreciated her sisters’ support and suggestions—she did— but they weren’t helpful. "If I make an enemy of the senator, my business will likely go down the tubes, too. Birdstrum has powerful friends, lots of influence in this city. If he puts out the word, women will avoid my boutique.”

Bobby tore off a piece of bread and dipped it into the gumbo. "So, if you can’t refuse, then we have to think of a way to make him change his mind.”

Toni raised a questioning eyebrow. "Not a bad idea coming from someone who only wears pink,” she teased. "But how do I get him to back out?”

Her sisters might squabble among themselves, but against an outsider, they pulled together. Unfortunately, they had yet to come up with a usable scheme.

"We could set him up with another woman,” Jude suggested.

"I don’t think so,” Toni shook her head. "The senator doesn’t have feelings for me. Actually, I’m not sure he’s capable of having feelings for anyone.”

"You could claim you’re engaged to someone else and only dated the senator because you had a fight with your real love,” Bobby sug­gested, hungrily eyeing the bread, but stoically denying herself.

"Who could I claim as a fiancé? Between coming up with new designs and opening the retail operation, I haven’t dated anyone in the past year.”

"Two years,” Bobby corrected, "but who’s counting?”

Toni restrained a frustrated sigh. One of the reasons Birdstrum wouldn’t take no for an answer was that there was no other man in the picture. If her sisters were worried about the lack in her sex life, it must be really obvious. When had she stopped paying attention to men? She liked men and they liked her. Except for her recent drought, she’d never gone too long without some special man in her life. But compared to her sisters, she now lived the life of a saint.

Last year, Mickey’s heart had been broken and she’d sworn off men, but she’d come in last week after a date with a happy grin and smudged lipstick. Jude had her steady guy, and since Bobby had lost weight, she’d been something of a party girl. Sure, they’d all gone through ups and downs with various men over the past few years, but Toni had been alone way too long. She needed to find a man. Needed to put energy into going out, looking good, having fun, working off some sexual steam. Toni was ready for a mad, passionate love affair, the kind that made her flushed with lust and lighter than air. But first she had to lose Birdstrum.

"What about Alan?” Mickey suggested. "His looks could make any­one jealous.”

Alan had been Toni’s high school sweetheart. Gorgeous but with no sense of humor, they’d both gone their separate ways after he’d taken her virginity the night of the junior prom. She hadn’t planned on having sex that night, but her curious and reckless nature had taken over and she’d never regretted her decision. Alan had been sweet, careful, and ex­perienced. He’d shown her a very good time. "I don’t think Alan’s wife and two kids would appreciate him trying to act as if he’s my fiancé.”

"Okay, so Alan’s not a good choice. What about one of your college boyfriends?” Jude suggested. "The redhead was cute.”

"And also unavailable. He’s attending Stanford Law School.” Not only had the redhead been cute and smart, he definitely knew how to please a lady. They’d met during a study session for history that had turned into a passionate all-nighter. Once again, she’d made a hasty decision that had turned out quite well. During the two years she’d spent with him, she’d matured into a woman who knew how to please herself as well as her lover. Ever since college, redheaded men always made her feel warm inside.

Bobby sipped her lemonade and tossed a napkin over the bread, probably so she didn’t have to face temptation. "Paul Summers?”

"He went to Tibet to find himself and study with his guru.” What Toni didn’t mention, but hadn’t forgotten, was that Paul’s study of yoga had extended into the bedroom. He’d been a master of self-control, and she’d benefited both physically and emotionally from that experience.

"Steven Pascal?”

"He’s gay.”

"Kevin Mc—”

"Don’t even think it.” Kevin McPherson had made her pulse pound and her knees weak. They’d met in a bar after a football game. He’d been great in bed, but the Tulane backup quarterback’s vocabulary had been limited to two things: football and sex. If he’d had a brain, she would have married him in a minute. However, she’d enjoyed their time together way too much to hold his lack of intellect against him. Toni held up her hand to forestall any further suggestions. "There’s no one suitable from my past.”

When she’d graduated college, she’d considered her social life normal. She’d never been overly concerned that she hadn’t yet found the right man to share her life. Now with still another three years until she reached her thirtieth birthday, she had plenty of time to meet that special someone. And thirty was by no means her deadline. Toni knew what passion felt like, that heady, giddy, floating-on-air feeling, and she’d be damned if she’d settle for less than the best. She wanted a man who she could respect, a friend to share her life with, a lover to have blazing hot sex with, a soul mate to snuggle up to at night—unfortunately the senator didn’t come close to her stringent requirements.

"How long until the senator returns to New Orleans?” Mickey asked.

Toni shrugged. "Why?”

Mickey grinned. "Well, what do politicians hate above all else?”

"Losing an election?” Jude guessed.

"Admitting to doing drugs?” Bobby added.

Toni frowned at Mickey. "Answering questions about adultery?”

Mickey’s eyes sparkled with amusement. "Politicians hate scandals. If you create a scandal, you’ll no longer be perfect in his eyes.”

Mickey’s idea had merit. Toni’s hopes rose. All her life she’d played by the rules, been the good girl, the responsible daughter, the con­scientious sister. She’d had several discreet flings, of course, but for the most part had reined in her reckless nature. But her method of dealing with the senator—up-front honesty—wasn’t working. It was time to switch her modus operandi. "So, what kind of scandal are we talking about?”

"To work in New Orleans, the scandal has got to be juicy,” Jude chimed in.

"Oh, I like that, the hotter the scandal the better.” Bobby sighed dreamily.

"One that won’t hurt anybody,” Mickey added.

"I’ve got it.” Toni grinned with satisfaction, knowing her idea could get rid of the senator and accomplish her goal of jumping back into the dating scene all at the same time. "I’m going to create a sex scandal.”

Mickey rolled her eyes. "Create a sex scandal? I thought you’d conquered your reckless streak. You’d better think this through.”

"And just how are you going to create a sex scandal?” Bobby asked, her eyes glimmering with encouragement.

"I need to hook up with someone famous. Someone hot. Someone in the news. Get my picture taken with him.”

"In bed?” Mickey asked.

"Only if I like him. A scandal is mostly innuendo and rumor and manipulating the press. I’ve just got to find the right guy.”

"Don’t we all,” Bobby muttered.

"Poor Senator Birdstrum,” Jude said. "He won’t know what hit him. When our Toni puts her mind to something, she always carries through.”

Mickey grinned. "Yeah, and, amazingly, things always seem to work out.”

"But I still need the right man.” Toni glanced at page one of yester­day’s newspaper, did a double take, then picked it up with triumph. "Someone like Grey Masterson.”

"He’s perfect,” Jude agreed.

"Perfectly yummy,” Bobby said.

Mickey grunted. "I just read that actress’s book about him.”

Toni grinned. "So did I. The man’s nothing if not sexually creative.”

Jude leaned over and stared at Grey Masterson’s photograph. "I agree he’s the perfect man for a sizzling all-nighter.”

Toni didn’t bother to contain her enthusiasm. "Why limit myself to one night when I could have two or three?”

"But how are you going to meet him?” Bobby asked.

"I’ll get creative.” At the challenge of arranging a meeting with the gorgeous newspaper publisher, excitement burned through Toni’s veins like bubbling hot wine. She couldn’t wait to make up for two years of sexual abstinence. She only hoped he was as sexy in person as he looked in the newspaper. She was going to have fun with Grey Masterson. Lots of fun. Hot, sweaty fun.

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