The Wildes: Wilde as Lightning

Zoe Amora is dedicated to her career with Fiona James Furnishing, which helps find and sign the next big contemporary furniture artists. But little did she know that her next target would change her life forever when she met him…

Lorenzo Turner Wilde, the hottest, most critically acclaimed wood sculptor in the nation. Each piece he creates is an art form in itself. This woodwork also helps him to hide a secret… he has wild magick. However, these powers have been inexplicably on the fritz for a while.

His work is more than just a business for him and he’s turned down every offer any company has presented… until now.

Will Zoe manage to get the contract she needs to advance her career?

Can Lorenzo find out how to fix his magick?

Is their undeniable attraction to each other natural or something of the magickal kind?

Read An Excerpt

Chapter One

Bet on It

“Damn, Zoe, you know this guy’s an asshole, right?”

With a sigh, Zoe Amora put her rented vehicle in park after a ninety-minute drive through southeast Texas. “He’s not. First, that’s highly unprofessional. Second—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. We don’t call future clients dickwads, even if they deserve the title. I get it.”

“Azalea!” Zoe groaned. It was official. She had the worst taste in friends, almost as bad as her taste in men.

 “Does this mean I can call him that and more when he turns you down? You know since he won’t actually be a future anything,” Azalea said.

“Thanks for that vote of confidence. Seriously, why are we friends?” Zoe frowned, thinking of the large task given to her.

Lorenzo Turner Wilde.

She’d been sent to the other side of the country under the most ridiculous pretense. It was her job to sign Wilde, one of the most critically acclaimed furniture designers of the decade, a man so elusive no one knew what he looked like. Wilde crafted pieces of wooden art so beautiful calling them furniture was damn near disrespectful. A dragon that doubled as a chair. A prowling lioness as the base for a center table. His pieces were life etched in cedar, oak, and mahogany. 

“Lorenzo Turner Wilde is a difficult man to get a hold of, but the CEO is a fan of his work and wants him on her roster. For some reason, she thinks you can reel him in. I’m giving you two, no make that three weeks. No excuses. Bring me back a contract.” 

Zoe was a damned good employee, and when given a task, she always did her diligent best to meet her target. And she was one of the best Acquisition Specialists in the company. Under normal circumstances, Lorenzo Turner Wilde would be just another difficult goal to accomplish. However, Zoe had applied for an advanced position opening up, and her boss made it clear that her chances of getting the job depended highly on whether or not she returned with Wilde’s signature and how long it took her to achieve the task.

No pressure.

“Ze, you know how important this is? Please . . .  just . . .”

“Relax, chica. Breathe in and whoosah out. You’re going to get the contract and it will happen so quickly Braxton won’t even be able to work up another bullshit task in his petty attempts to derail you. You’ll be the new Creative Assistant Director and will finally be able to put me in red bottoms like I deserve. I’m going to need a whole closet of them,” Azalea said with a laugh. “Maybe two closets full. My feet deserve the best.”

Despite herself, Zoe found her lips twitching. Sometimes she wondered what she’d done wrong in a past life to gain Azalea Jones as a best friend. Obviously, she’d been the kind of jerk that kicked puppies. “You’re ridiculous. And not helping. Not. At. All.”

“Was I supposed to be helpful? Oops, sorry about that. I just thought I was the comic relief. I guess I should double-check my lines more often.”

Biting her bottom lip to keep from giggling, Zoe shook her head. Smiling, she murmured, “You’re a hot mess.”

“Only on my best days,” she quipped back.

Rolling her eyes, Zoe sat back and ran a manicured hand through her hair. “Well, I’m here so wish me luck.”

“Good luck, girl, but you’re not going to need it. Wilde would be stupid to turn you down. You got this.”

“Thanks.” For the vote of confidence. For making her smile despite her nerves. For getting her mind off her goal for even a minute.

“You’re welcome. Now, knock them dead and call when you have everything wrapped up.”

“Will do,” Zoe murmured and cut off the call. She slipped her phone into her purse, sat back, and released a heavy breath. The building Lorenzo Wilde called home was less a house and more a manor. A single dirt road, that was more path than street, led from the main road to a three-story house made from golden stone. The genteel property was both out of place in its central Texas location and right at home in the midst of pecan and peach trees.

After a quick glance in her mirrored compact, Zoe slid out of the car. She’d barely taken two steps toward the house when the front door opened. A middle-aged, dark-haired woman with sun-darkened, golden-brown skin stood on the wraparound porch, a large cooking bowl in her hand. She lowered the bowl to one hip and used the other hip to prop open the door. “Can I help you, dear?” she called with a thick, rolling accent that said she was born and raised in the south.

Smile bright, Zoe strode up the stone path. “Good morning, ma’am. My name is Zoe Amora and I’m looking for Mr. Wilde.”

One dark brow lifted. “Really?”

Retaining her smile, Zoe replied, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Interesting.” She hefted the bowl to the side of her plump waist. “Mr. Wilde you said, right?”

“Yes, Ma’am. Is this the Wilde residence?”

She snorted. “Relax, sugar. You got the right property. So, which Mr. Wilde are you looking for? Because I’ve got eight boys and I doubt you’d take just any of them. Even if I offered you a gold bar to take him off my hands.”

“Eight?” Zoe choked out.

Mrs. Wilde’s smile was wide and mischievous. “Yup,” she replied, popping the last syllable. “Eight. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. So, which boy, sugar?”

“Mr. Lorenzo Turner Wilde,” Zoe numbly answered, still wondering why any sane person would take on eight children, let alone that many boys. That wasn’t even factoring in their teen years.

“Well, you’re in the right neighborhood. Come on in.” She pivoted and held open the front door.

Neighborhood? Zoe remained on the bottom step.

“Well, come on now. Don’t want to let out all the cool air. Looks like it’s going to be a hot one again.”

Zoe marched up the steps. “Thank you, Mrs. Wilde.”

“Name’s PJ. None of that Mrs. Wilde stuff,” she said over her shoulder before leading the way into the large house.

Zoe nodded in acknowledgment before realizing Ms. Wilde—PJ—couldn’t see her. “PJ, it is,” she agreed as she followed. The manor house was much more personal on the inside, a testament to the years it housed eight boys. The hall’s right wall was filled with framed photos, showcasing a lifetime of memories and experiences of at least a dozen kids. Everything from baby pictures to college graduations. A dark-skinned boy of African American descent with startling grey eyes. A dark auburn-haired kid with the brightest pair of blue eyes.  A laughing blond with mischievous, green eyes. The breadth of their coloring told her at least some of the boys were adopted.

“Mind if I ask why you’re looking for my boy?” PJ drew out, startling Zoe back to the present just before she would have walked into a wall.

“I’m here to speak to Mr. Wilde about expanding his portfolio by designing a collection for Fiona James.”

She arched one dark brow. “The furniture company?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“PJ, dear.” Gaze heavy, she swept Zoe from her flat-ironed hair to her closed-toe heels. “Is that so?” she said, accent thick.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, good luck, dear.”

You’re going to need it. PJ didn’t say the words, but her flat tone spoke them clearly.

“Thank you,” Zoe replied, feeling decidedly unsettled by Mrs. Wilde’s reaction. Even his mother was wishing her good luck. She should have told Braxton where to shove this assignment. For all she knew, the CEO didn’t even know Zoe’s name, and Braxton sent her after the most impossible artist just to be able to say, “See, I told you she wasn’t a good fit”.

Zoe drew in a silent breath and reminded herself of what was at stake. She was there to sign one of the most coveted and acclaimed artists of their generation, and getting his signature would only boost her chances of getting her dream job.

“Sugar, do you mind doing me a favor?”

She focused on Mrs. Wilde. “Of course not. How can I be of service, PJ?”

“Great. Thanks.” PJ placed her mixing bowl on the kitchen island before striding around it to stop at the southernmost side. Several ingredients-filled ceramic bowls sat atop the table. With deft hands, she picked up bowl after bowl and poured them into a tall, glass canister until it was three fourths full. “Mango Peach Smoothies?” PJ called over her shoulder before dropping the jar into the base and pressing the blender on.

“What? Excuse me?”

She released the button, stopping the machine. “Sorry, this thing is almost as old as I am and sounds like it, but it does the job, you know?” she said with a warm smile and self-deprecating shrug. “Want a mango peach green smoothie? They taste great, my own recipe. The peaches are fresh, straight from the yard.”

“I . . .” Under normal circumstances she wouldn’t accept anything from a potential talent’s family. Nothing about this was normal.

“You won’t regret it. Plus, I was going to ask you to take one to Lorenzo. Wouldn’t be right for you not to have one too. Consider it payment.”

In the wake of PJ’s bright smile, she couldn’t say anything, except, “Sure. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, dear.”

A few minutes later, Zoe found herself back in her car. For the second time that day, she sat parked in front of a Wilde property. Lorenzo Wilde’s workshop. The building was crafted in a similar manner to the family home but on a much smaller scale. Two to three rooms at most.

Wilde’s workshop was next door. PJ claimed it was a walkabout route, ‘but not in those heels, dear’. Zoe had taken her at her word, but after driving for more than five minutes down a mostly dirt road with only trees to keep her company, Zoe wasn’t sure Wilde’s mother had not given her bad directions as an indirect ‘fuck off’. When the path curved to reveal the single-story home crafted from the same stone, Zoe was so relieved she whooped in joy.

She may or may not have spent the last few minutes remembering every scary movie scene that involved a long drive through the woods.

Zoe double-checked to make sure she had everything, including the two smoothies PJ imparted, and slipped from the car. Shoulders back, sunglasses on her face, she marched forward. Her heels dug slightly into the soft ground with every step. Halfway there, Zoe wondered if her shoes were going to make it.

When she reached the front door, she released a heavy breath.

Didn’t break a heel. The way her morning was going, that seemed to be next on the agenda.

Precariously, she balanced the two drinks in one hand and knocked.

No one replied.

Not after the second, third, or fourth round of knocking. Or the pounding she’d done in frustration.

“Fuck,” she cursed low and vehemently. Lorenzo wasn’t in. She’d driven down and across his family land to find he wasn’t even home. For a moment, she was ticked off at PJ for not just sending her on her way. She’d gotten the door shut in her face countless times and could take a rejection. But the bubbly Latina she’d met didn’t seem like the type to send her on a wild goose chase just for the fun of it. 

The cold from the smoothies seeped into her hand, chilling her fingers and reminding her of what she was holding. PJ wouldn’t have asked her to deliver a smoothie to her son if she didn’t think he was in. Zoe could drive back and hand Lorenzo’s drink back to his mother, but she’d come too far to just call it quits. After a three-hour flight and almost two hours driving, she couldn’t just walk away. She reached down and curled the fingers of her free hand around the doorknob.

She didn’t twist it, not immediately, wondering if she should call it a day or brave forward. “Fuck it,” she muttered and turned her wrist. It was probably locked anyway. However, if it was open, it was a sign from God saying, go forth, my child. Or something similar.

The knob turned in her hand.


“Here’s hoping the day doesn’t end with a breaking and entering charge,” she muttered before she gently pushed the door opened and slipped inside. The door silently closed behind her.

A few steps into the building and the thumping bass of a pounding rap beat greeted her. Zoe couldn’t help smiling at the easily recognizable late 90s hit. Apparently, cultured artist Lorenzo was a fan of classic west coast gangsta rap. She didn’t blame him. That era of music had birthed legends, including the artist playing.

She followed the sounds past the first room, a large, starkly white area that housed more than a dozen finished pieces. Dolphins and dragons. Mermaids and Medusas. As sharp and unforgiving as Earth herself and as tender and fanciful as a toddler’s dreams, his art ran the spectrum. Fingers itching to touch, Zoe reluctantly made her way out of the gallery and into a slightly smaller room. She paused at the threshold and peeked in.

An expensive entertainment system took up half of the left wall. Two large abstract paintings bracketed the chrome-toned electronics. The right side of the room housed a beautiful mural that both clashed and complemented the two pieces opposite it.

But as beautiful as the art and electronics were, Zoe barely took them in. Her attention was riveted to the lone man leaning over a large piece of pine at the back of the room.

First thing she noticed was the richness of his dark brown skin. He wore a threadbare, white tee that contrasted beautifully with his complexion. His muscular arms flexed against the fabric as he leaned forward, pressing the chisel in his broad hands deeper against the wood he was working on. Even bent over, his height was evident in the length of his jean-clad legs and naked arms.

She knew the exact moment Lorenzo realized he was no longer alone. All the muscles in his sculpted body froze. Even the music paused, stilling for a moment for the next track to start. The silence was sharp. Deafening. Making her all too aware that she was alone with him.

And she was an intruder.

He lowered his chisel to the table by his hip.

The music picked up, but she barely heard it while focused on his blunt fingers as they lifted the goggles off his face to reveal handsome planes. Heavily lashed, large grey eyes. Thick, arched brows. Broad nose with a bump in the middle. Angular cheekbones. A wide mouth with full lips. A blunt, square jaw heavily shadowed by facial hair. Individually each feature was intriguing, but together they made Lorenzo a strikingly handsome man.

He straightened.

Her breath hitched.

He didn’t turn and look at her. Ask her what she was doing in his workshop.

Instead, he lifted his arms above his head and bowed his back. Her gaze drew along the tall line of his form. The spread of his long fingers. The corded line of his forearms. The intricate lines and curves of ink that adorned his muscular biceps. The broad chest straining against the stained white tee he wore.

The distinct sound of bones cracking startled her, making her step back in surprise.

“Damn, that felt good.” His voice was dark and husky, a rich bass that sent her belly swimming in admiration.

She straightened to find slate eyes watching her.

The heat of his gaze swept along her body—across her breasts, down her legs. She shifted, wondering if she went wrong with her pantsuit. Suddenly hot, she worried she had overdressed for the Texan summer.

“Good morning,” he murmured with an upturned lift of his mouth.

Zoe tried not to notice the interesting part between his front teeth or the fullness of his bottom lip. It was pretty damned difficult. The man had a beautiful mouth. It was made for kisses. 

And more.

“Ah, I see she’s already got you doing errands?”

“Huh?” she replied. Then felt a flush as she realized what she’d said. Huh? Great. The first thing she said to the Lorenzo Turner Wilde was, ‘huh’. Awesome beginning. This was going so well.

“My mom.” His square jaw lifted slightly. Her eyes landed on the smoothies. She’d forgotten all about them. Damn it. What was wrong with her? He wasn’t that fine. “Oh, right. Here. Sorry. Yeah, she sent this along.” She held out one of the plastic containers.

He strode over to her, long, denim-clad legs closing the gap separating them. Just before he reached her, he ran his hands down the front of his jeans, wiping them clean. The act drew her attention to the length of his legs and the strength of his thighs. No man should look that good in a pair of throwaway jeans. She flushed with a different kind of heat, wondering at the power there.

He could probably fuck for hours.

“Thanks.” His fingers brushed across hers. A tingle of lightning raced from her fingertips and up her arm to coalesce in her breasts. Her nipples pebbled, and she was intimately aware of the feel of her lace bra against the suddenly sensitive tips.

“You’re welcome,” she croaked.

“Straw?” He walked over to the entertainment system and opened a drawer. One hand dipped in, he turned to her. “Want one?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“No problem.” He pulled out two straws and held out one.

She accepted it, making sure their fingers didn’t touch.

With a light gaze on her, he lowered his straw to his drink and took a long sip. One dark eyebrow lifted, and he lowered his drink. “You going to try yours?”

“Yeah, sure.” Unable to maintain the weight of his eyes, she lowered her head and focused on her smoothie. “It’s good,” she said after a moment.

“Yeah, my mama’s been on the whole green smoothie kick for decades. Long before it was cool, so she knows better than most what she’s doing.”

“It shows.” She took another sip.

“Got to ask, am I one of your responsibilities?”

Images of her taking care of that hard, dark body filled her mind. Her sip went down wrong, and she coughed out, “Excuse me?” as she tried to clear her airway.

“You okay?”

“Fine. Perfect,” she lied.

He eyed her dubiously but continued with the previous conversation. “Bringing me snacks isn’t one of your tasks, right? As mama’s assistant? I swear that woman forgets I’m in my thirties, have my own house and business, and won’t starve if she forgets to drop off whatever dessert she baked the night before.”

“Oh, actually, I’m not her assistant.”

That same eyebrow lifted. “You’re not?”

She shook her head.

“Oh. You’re not her employee.” He shoved his free hand into the front pocket of his jeans and rocked on his heels. “Shit. Sorry about that. Well, just thought . . . well, the suit. And the smoothie. And she mentioned interviewing someone this week. I thought maybe she hired someone and . . . Sorry.”

Teeth digging into her bottom lip to stave off a laugh, she waved him off. “Don’t worry. It’s an honest mistake.”

He chuckled. “Still, I should know better than to assume. I’m pretty sure there’s a famous saying about that.” He lifted his cup. “Thanks for bringing this down.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Well, if you’re ever looking for a job, let me know. I think you just might be a keeper.” There was just enough warmth in his tone to let her know he wasn’t just talking about employment.

Chuckling, she gave him a small smile. “I’m flattered. Really, I am, but I’m already gainfully employed.” Even before she finished, she knew her denial was a lie. If she met Lorenzo on the street or at a bar, she’d definitely take him up on his offer. Unfortunately, professionalism was her cross to bear. She never mixed work with pleasure, and no matter how fine Lorenzo was, she wasn’t going to start with him.

His grin widened. “I can work with flattered and turn it into very interested.”

She laughed. The sound burst out of her almost the moment she heard his words. He was slick; she had to give him that. Still laughing, she shook her head. “You’re good.”

He took a step forward. “Sweetheart, I’m the best.”

The husky note of his voice dug deep and curled in her belly. Zoe’s pussy tingled with desire. Her laughter stopped, and despite her arousal, she maintained her smile. “Mr. Wilde—”

“Ah,” he said, “Bringing out the last names, huh? That puts me at a distinct disadvantage since I don’t know either of yours.”

Her smile dimmed. He was right. She hadn’t introduced herself. She held out her hand. “My name is Zoe Amora—”

Warm and rough with calluses, his palm graced hers. A bolt of electricity danced along her palm, tracing the lines. She barely managed to hold her smile at the sensation. Christ, if that was what a handshake did, she could only imagine the pleasure she’d feel if he touched her more sensitive parts. Quickly, she backtracked from the thought. Only danger lay there.

“A beautiful name for a gorgeous woman.”

She tilted her head slightly. “Thank you. I’m with Fiona James and we’re very interested in working with you to get your designs into more homes.”

He dropped her hand as though scalded. “Fiona James Furnishings?” he asked. The lack of emotion in his voice was such a sharp contrast to his earlier mood it left her reeling. “You’re from the furniture company.”

“Yes, Mr. Wilde.”

“Well,” he drew out as he took a measured step back. It was only an additional foot, but it felt like miles separated them. “I’m sorry you came all the way out here for nothing.”

“I came to Heartsville to speak with you, Mr. Wilde. The trip was definitely worth it. As I said Fiona James loves your work and we’d love to make you part of our team.”

He snorted. “Yeah, well, that’s not happening.”

“I understand you’re reluctant, but—”

“Look, lady, I don’t know who or what made you think I’d be interested in helping you and your company make cheap, third world manufactured knockoffs of my pieces, but they were very wrong. Now, if you—”

“Yo, Lo.” A light skinned, black man several inches shorter than Lorenzo entered the room. His eyes were riveted to the stack of papers he held. “I’ve got a question about . . .” He stilled at the sight of her. “Lo?”

“What’s up, Al?”.

The man rolled his eyes and walked over to Zoe. He shifted the paperwork to one arm. Hand out for a shake, he introduced himself. “Allen Anthony. I work with Lorenzo.”

She clasped his hand. “Really?” she couldn’t help asking while darting a look at Lorenzo. The man frowned so heavily she thought he’d break something.

“I’m his office manager.”

“Partner,” Lorenzo corrected, frown deepening.

“Zoe Amora of Fiona James Furnishings.”

“You guys are based out in Chicago, aren’t you? Well, you’ve come a long way out to speak with my boy here.”

She gave him her brightest smile. “Well, he is the best.”

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Lorenzo coldly injected.

She turned slightly. “It’s not flattery if it’s the truth,” she replied with a broad smile.

He bristled in irritation, having his own words thrown back at him. She instantly regretted her quip. She was there to convince the man to work with her company. Antagonizing him would not aid her.

“So, Fiona James is interested in Lorenzo’s work?”

“Yes, we’d love for him to join our family and design his own, exclusive line.”

“Huh? Really?” Allen questioned.

“Mr. Wilde does beautiful work. We recognize his artistry and believe his work should be in homes all across the globe.”

“It already is. Just last week we shipped pieces to six continents,” Lorenzo said.

“Yeah, we’re not doing too badly,” Allen murmured. “I’m guessing Fiona James would like to produce a select number of his designs.”

“That would be correct.”

“You got anything in writing? If so, I—we—will read it over and get back to you.”

“Like hell, we will,” Lorenzo snarled. 

 Before either Allen or Zoe could reply, Lorenzo grabbed his partner’s arm and pulled him across the room. Allen snatched his arm out of his grip and strode back out the door he entered in from. Lorenzo followed.

Zoe stood in the middle of the room, wondering what just happened and if Allen’s presence made things better or worse.

It didn’t appear that it was hurting her situation, but she couldn’t help feeling she’d made a mistake speaking to him.

Lorenzo Wilde had shut down any conversation the moment he heard her about her company. The man wasn’t remotely interested in hearing her offer.

At least Allen was willing to read over her proposal.

With a sigh, Zoe lifted her smoothie and returned to drinking it. His mom had gone through the effort of making it. The least she could do was finish it. Plus, it was just too damned tasty to waste. Just when she’d taken her last sip, the men walked back into the room, Allen first.

“Ms. Amora, as I said, if you have some paperwork for us, we’ll look it over and get back to you in . . . a week.” 

“Sounds perfect.” She dug into her back and pulled out the proposal she’d drafted up. “Of course, we’re open to negotiations,” she told Allen as she handed it over.

“Of course.”

“I’m willing to consider your little offer, but only if you’re willing to spend this week working with and for me.”

Allen whipped around to stare at Lorenzo in a mixture of anger and horror. “That was not what we talked about, Lo.”

Arms folded against his broad chest, Lorenzo shrugged. “Yeah, well, if she wants us to join her company, she’ll learn how I run mine.”

Zoe gifted him with her widest smile. “In that case, would you like me to start now, Mr. Wilde?”

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