Series: Billionaires in Disguise: Maxence #2
Author: Blair Babylon
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Dree Clark thought tall, ripped, thoroughly hot Augustine was her knight in shining armor, until she discovered he was her priest.
Dree is on the run. Her dead ex-boyfriend owes a whole lot of money to drug dealers, so when Catholic Charities offers Dree a mission to Nepal as a nurse, Dree jumps at it. Until she meets the Catholic priest who’ll be leading the mission, and he’s the rich, sexy billionaire from Paris.
But he has a new name, Father Maxence Grimaldi.
Well, she’d told him to lie to her.
She just never thought he’d lie about being a priest.
Now, she’s journeying far out into the wilds with the hot priest.
And oh God, they’re riding motorcycles, and he’s wearing black leather with a priest’s collar.
And there aren’t enough darned tents to go around.
She’s not going to be able to keep her hands off of him.
Her throat was nearly too tight for words. She forced out, “It’s not safe for me to go back to Phoenix. I told you everything that happened with my ex, Francis. There is some weird stuff going on there with the police and, I think, other drug dealers. So, I called up Sister Annunciata, the principal of my Catholic high school that I went to in New Mexico, and she called up a friend of hers, Father Thomas—”
“Father Thomas Aquinas from Immaculate Conception in Phoenix,” he said with her, in unison. “The Catholic Mafia strikes again.” Augustine shook his head.
Not Augustine, Maxence.
And yet, he was still the astonishingly tall, ripped, beautiful specimen of a man Dree had met in Paris.
But, he was named Maxence. She had to remember that.
Deacon Father Maxence.
The white tab of the Roman collar on his shirt shone in the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the windows, accusing her.
He had not been wearing that in Paris, and he should have been.
“Yeah,” she said. “Father Thomas said he could get me on a plane for somewhere far away from the southwestern US without any questions asked. So, here I am, far away from the southwestern US.”
Augustine nodded. “Nepal is very far away from the southwestern US.”
“Didn’t he or somebody tell you I was coming? Did you know?”
“The Catholic Charities division managing the project emailed me yesterday that a person named ‘Andrea Clark’ had been assigned to us.”
He was pronouncing it wrong, Ahn-DRAY-ah.
She corrected him, “Andrea.” ANN-dree-uh.
“I thought it was amusing because you had mentioned that Clark was a very common name,” he said, “that there was a university and shoes and department store, and other things also named Clark. So, I thought that the person coming must be yet another Clark. It did cross my mind that they might be a cousin or distant relative of yours, but I assumed the person would be male.”
“I can’t believe you thought I was a guy.”
He frowned. “Well, there’s the name, Andrea.”
“There you go again, mispronouncing it. I thought it was weird the way you said it when we were in Paris when you were talking about your cousin. I’ve never heard anybody pronounce it that way, Ahn-DRAY-ah. Who even says that?”
He looked up at her, his eyebrows raised in exasperation. “That’s how you pronounce Andrea. I’ve never heard anyone say it the way that you do, ANN-Dree-uh. Andrea is a boy’s name.”
“Andrea is a girl’s name. It’s always been a girl’s name. It’s how you get Ann, which is a girl’s name.”
“Andrea is one of the most common name for boys in Italy. It’s more common than Marco or Leonardo. My cousin’s name is Andrea Casiraghi, and I assure you, he’s male. Every Andrea I’ve ever known has been a male. Why would I think it was different now?”
“I can’t help the fact that your cousin’s parents gave him a girl’s name.”
“It’s not. Andrea is a male name.”
“Well, I assure you I’m not a male.”
“I’m well aware of that.”
“I should say you are. Speaking of which, why are you wearing a Roman Catholic priest’s shirt and people are calling you father? Are you impersonating a priest? That has to be a crime or something. This is weird.”
He flipped his hand in the air toward the door. “As Sister Mariam said, I’ve been ordained as a deacon, not a priest, so I am called Deacon Father Maxence. I have a vocation to be a priest but have not been ordained as one yet.”
After being a nurse in an inner-city hospital for years, Dree had a finely tuned bullshit detector. “Deacons are supposed to be either married or celibate.”
He shrugged. “Not yet.”
“Do you mean to tell me that you are waiting for God to grant you the ability to keep your pants on? It doesn’t work like that.”
He bit his lip, his white, even teeth pressing his full lower lip in a way that Dree had done just two days before.
And wanted to do again.
No. He was a priest.
Or close enough.
And she was detecting some mighty large bullshit.
She said, “Don’t you have to go to confession and enumerate your sins and say penance like the rest of us do, or do deacons get a free pass?”
“Deacons do not get a free pass. I’ve had to do the rite of reconciliation twice for our time together in Paris.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet you did.” Something rather stupid in her felt pride at that. “You should’ve told me you were a deacon and supposed to be celibate.”
One side of Maxence’s mouth rose, and the depths of his dark eyes sparkled with mischief. “I’m rather glad I didn’t.” He sighed. “And now I’d better go to confession for that, too.”
Dree snorted at him. “Having some impure thoughts?”
“You have no idea how impure my thoughts are right now.”
“You’ve got to stop doing that, Augustine. Speaking of which, what is your real name? Is it that Maxence thing or something else?”
“I was baptized Maxence Charles Honoré Grimaldi. Because I have been ordained as a deacon, you can call me Deacon Father Maxence or Father Maxence.”
Her tone sharpened. “‘Yeah, it’d be too suspicious if I called you daddy.”
“I’m passionate about books and literature. The best books are intense, enthralling stories that readers can get lost in for days. Books delve into what it means to be human and connect us to each other Books allow us to live all our possible lives Books open us to loving each other and the world more. I write intense, deeply imagined romance novels for serious readers because the world needs more love.” ~~Blair Babylon
Blair Babylon is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author who used to publish literary fiction. Because professional reviews of her other fiction usually included the caveat that there was too much deviant sex and too much interesting plot, she decided to abandon all literary pretensions, let her freak flag fly, and write hot, sexy, suspenseful romance.