What does the man who has almost everything want? Brilliant, self-made multi-millionaire Brent Schoenfeld yearns to be attractive. He’s tired of his solitary existence which he blames on his bland appearance. He wants women to want him. Skeptical but verging on desperate, he undergoes a mysterious procedure which promises to transform him into the object of every woman’s desire: a decision that will change his life forever. One million dollars later, Brent sees no difference in his outward appearance. Yet beautiful women are fawning over him and even competing for his attention. After decades of self-loathing, the temptation for physical validation is too great, and Brent begins a sexual juggling act with cataclysmic consequences. Beware your heart’s desire.
Upgrade is currently ranked #1 on the Goodreads Listopia List for Best Well-Written Sexy Books (Sexy without being raunchy, good plots, characters you will like). Available for all eBook formats from Smashwords and in print or Kindle editions from Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Don’t miss the interview with Stephen Hise featured today on The Indie View.
Here is an excerpt from Upgrade:
The rest of the week couldn’t pass quickly enough for him. Every day since they’d met, he’d found some pretense to call Danielle, just to hear the sound of her voice. It carried him away. As for the rest of the week, he was unconsciously willing time forward, keeping himself busy as possible to avoid the anxiety of waiting and waiting for Friday to come. He produced a prodigious amount of work, but Margaret always seemed to stay one step ahead of him.
Friday finally arrived. He’d made reservations at his favorite upscale Italian restaurant, la Vita Ricca. He had taken the Lexus to be detailed. Twice, he had called her himself when he could have had Margaret do it just because he wanted to hear her voice.
Her home was in a gated community on the West side of town. He couldn’t help showing up a few minutes early. She answered the door on the third ring. She protested that she wasn’t quite ready yet, and invited him to come in and fix himself a drink.
Looking at her, he couldn’t tell exactly how she wasn’t ready. She looked fantastic. He made himself a drink while she padded around upstairs doing something or other. It took an additional half an hour, but she came down the staircase like a debutant looking resplendent in a cobalt blue dress with a plunging neckline that cinched in at her tiny waist and flowed elegantly away from her hips to her knees. She descended the gentle spiral with the grace of royalty, all the while bestowing upon him the most serene and beautiful smile.
She could see he was awestruck, and was pleased about it. When she had reached the landing, she twirled for him and said, “Well?”
“I don’t have the words,” he said in an almost hypnotized voice. “What’s the word above beautiful?”
She giggled and plucked at the lapel of his Armani suit jacket, “Well, you’re no slouch yourself. If I didn’t know better, I’d think we were on a date.”
He extended his arm as he thought a gentleman should, and she accepted immediately, “And why shouldn’t we be?”
She returned a pleased look. He opened the car door for her, and watched as she gave him just a flash of thigh before getting her skirt situated.
They arrived at the restaurant and the Maître d’ led them to a wonderful secluded table on the balcony level with a spectacular view of the city lights. He sent for an excellent vintage Tuscan wine of his acquaintance; a wine that is discreet and elegant, rich of bouquet, with a supple texture and a great finish.
The food was excellent as always. The symphonies of Giovanni Sammartini and Antonio Brioschi lilted softly in the candlelit air. The restaurant owner came to their table to see if everything was proceeding according to their every wish; and it was.
Her conversation was as sparkling as her eyes in the candlelight. She was so easy to talk to, so easy to listen to. Her voice carried a faint trace of an accent. He couldn’t quite peg it, but it seemed vaguely Southern. Everything was perfect—simply perfect. Just as dessert came, his phone vibrated and he reflexively reached down to get it. Kim’s voice said, “Hi honey, I’m fine, thank you.”
His brow knit as he wondered whether Danielle could hear. He made a quarter turn in his chair and said in a hoarse whisper, “I’m sorry. Listen can I call you back? I’m in the middle of something.”
“Can you just tell me if we’re on for tomorrow night?” she insisted.
“Let me just call you later, okay. I really have to go now, goodbye.” Then he hurriedly hung up and switched his phone off.
He looked at Danielle. She had an amused look on her face. “Oops!” she said. “Was that a girlfriend? Did we forget a date?”
“No, no, it was just an acquaintance—I mean, I see her sometimes, nothing serious.” He flushed and turned to his dessert. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Oh, don’t worry, Brent. I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me, though,” she said, and smiled flirtatiously. He began to feel a little better. The conversation continued as if the untimely interruption had never occurred and they enjoyed their desserts and coffee.
He drove her home and walked her to her door. He rather expected to be invited in for a nightcap, or perhaps more. Instead, she turned to him after unlocking the door and planted a long and tender closed-mouth kiss on his lips. He embraced her and slid his hand slowly up from her waist toward her breast, but she gave a little laugh and intercepted him with her own hand, pushing him back in place on her waist.
She pulled slightly back from him and gazed into his eyes and said, “Thank you for a wonderful evening, Brent. I hope we can do it again sometime.”
He didn’t say anything, but the expression of confusion and disappointment on his face spoke volumes. She tilted her head a little, affecting a look of minor, if not mock sympathy. “Brent, I think you’re wonderful. You are smart and charming and sophisticated. Maybe we could have something special, but you’re still sowing your wild oats. I don’t think you’re ready for any kind of real relationship yet.”
He started to speak, but she put her fingers to his lips and continued, “I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I am very attracted to you, but I am not about to become any man’s plaything. If that’s what you want, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I’m a good girl and I intend to stay that way until I’m with the right man.”