Little Black Dress


By James Patterson

With Emily Raymond

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Can a little black dress help a New York magazine editor live out her wildest fantasies . . . or will it be her downfall?

Magazine editor Jane Avery spends her nights alone with Netflix and Oreos-until the Dress turns her loose. Suddenly she’s surrendering to dark desires, and New York City has become her erotic playground. But what began as a fantasy will go too far . . . and her next conquest could be her last.

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I spotted it on the Bergdorf sale rack: see-through black chiffon layered over a simple black sheath, cut to skim lightly over the hips and fall just above the knee. Paired with a thin gold belt, there was something Grecian, even goddessy, about it.

It was somehow subtle yet spectacular. Not a dress, but a Dress.

When I tried it on, I was no longer Jane Avery, age thirty-five, overworked editor at Manhattan’s Metropolitan magazine and recent divorcée. I was Jane Avery, age none of your business, a card-carrying member of the media elite, a woman who was single and proud of it.

Even at 40 percent off, the Dress was a minor fortune. I decided to buy it anyway.

And that purchase changed everything.

Chapter 1

In the opulent limestone lobby of the Four Seasons New York, I handed over my Amex. “A city-view king, please.” No tremor in my voice at all. Nothing to betray the pounding of my heart, the adrenaline flooding my veins.

Am I really about to do this?

Maybe I should have had another glass of rosé.

The desk clerk tapped quickly on her keyboard. “We have a room on the fortieth floor,” she said. “Where are you two visiting from?”

I shot a glance over my shoulder. Honestly? About twenty-five blocks from here. My knees were turning into Jell-O.

Behind me, Michael Bishop, a thumb hooked in the belt loop of his jeans, flashed his gorgeous smile—first at me, then at the clerk. “Ohio, miss,” he said, giving his muscled shoulders an aw-shucks shrug. His eyes were green as jade. “Mighty big city you got here, darlin’,” he said, a drawl slipping into his voice.

“Oh—Ohio,” the clerk repeated, like it was the most beautiful word she’d ever heard. She looked like she was unbuttoning his shirt with her eyes as she handed me the room key.

Very unprofessional, if you ask me.

But then again, how professional was it to check into a hotel with one of Metropolitan’s freelance writers—who, by the way, had obviously never even been to Ohio?

If he had, he’d have known they don’t talk like cowboys there.

Michael Bishop lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan; I lived on the Upper West Side. We’d known each other since our first years in the magazine business. Today we’d met for lunch, to go over a story he was writing for Metropolitan. The café, an elegant little French place with fantastic jambon beurre sandwiches, was close to my office.

It was also close to the Four Seasons.

We’d laughed, we’d had a glass of rosé—and now, suddenly, we were here.

Am I really about to do this?

“If you want tickets to a Broadway show or reservations at Rao’s, the concierge can assist you,” the clerk offered. By now she’d taken off Michael’s shirt and was licking his chest.

“Actually,” I said, “we have other plans.” I grabbed Michael’s hand and pulled him into the elevator before I lost my nerve.

We stood in front of our reflections in the gold-mirrored doors. “Really?” I said to mirror-Michael, who was as gorgeous as the real Michael but yellower. “Ohio?”

He laughed. “I know, Jane—you’re a former fact-checker, so the truth is very important to you,” he said. “I, however, am a writer, and I take occasional liberties with it.” He stepped closer to me, and then he slipped an arm around my waist. “Nice dress, by the way,” he said.

“Do you also take occasional liberties with your editors?” I asked, trying to be playful.

He shook his head. “Never,” he said.

I believed him—but it didn’t matter either way. This had been my idea.

It wasn’t about loneliness, or even simple lust (though that obviously played a part). I just wanted to know if I could do something like this without feeling weird or cheap.

I still wasn’t sure.

The hotel room was a gleaming, cream-colored box of understated luxury. A bottle of Chardonnay waited in a silver wine bucket, and there were gourmet chocolates arranged on the pillows. Through the giant windows, Manhattan glittered, a spectacle of steel and glass.

I stood in the center of the beautiful room, holding my purse against my body like a kind of shield. I was charged and excited and—all of a sudden—a little bit scared.

This was new territory for me. If I didn’t turn tail and run right now, I was about to do something I’d barely even had the guts to imagine.

Michael, his green eyes both gentle and hungry, took the purse from my hands and placed it on a chair. Straightening up again, he brushed my hair away from my neck, and then he kissed me, gently, right above my collarbone. A shiver ran down my spine.

“Is this okay?” he asked softly.

I remembered the way he’d kissed my fingers at the café. I remembered how I’d said to him, Let’s get out of here.

I wanted this.

“Yes,” I breathed. “It’s more than okay.”

His lips moved up my neck, his tongue touching my skin ever so lightly. He traced a finger along my jawline and then slowly drew it down again, stopping at the low neckline of the Dress.

I waited, trembling, for him to slip his hand inside the silk.

But he didn’t. He paused, barely breathing. And then he reached around my back and found the slender zipper between my shoulder blades. He gave it a sharp tug, and the black silk slid down my body in a whisper. I stood there—exposed, breathless, thrilled—and then Michael crushed his lips to mine.

We kissed deeply. Hungrily. I ran my palms up his strong arms, his broad shoulders. He reached under me and lifted me up, and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He tasted like wine.

I whispered my command: “Take me to bed.” Then I added, “Please.”

“So polite,” he murmured into my hair. “Anything you say, Jane.”

He carried me to the giant bed and laid me down on it. His fingers found my nipples through the lace of my bra, and then my bra, too, seemed to slip off my body, and his mouth was where his fingers had been.

I gasped.

Yes, oh yes. I’m really doing this.

His tongue teased me, pulled at me. His hands seemed to be everywhere at once. “Should I—” he began.

I said, “Don’t talk, just do.” I did not add Please this time.

I wriggled out of my panties as he undressed, and then he was naked before me, golden in the noon light, looking like some kind of Greek demigod descended from Mount Olympus.

I stretched up my arms and Michael fell into them. He kissed me again as I arched to meet him. When he thrust himself inside me, I cried out, rocking against his hips, kissing his shoulder, his neck, his chin. I pulled him into me with all my strength as the heat inside me rose in waves. When I cried out in release, my nails dug into Michael’s shoulders. A moment later he cried out too, and then he collapsed on top of me, panting.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d really done it.


Spent, we both slept for a little while. When I awoke, Michael was standing at the end of the bed, his shirt half buttoned, his golden chest still visible. A smile broke over his gorgeous face.

“Jane Avery, that was an incredible lunch,” Michael Bishop said. “Could I interest you in dinner?”

I smiled back at him from the tangle of ivory sheets. As perfect as he was, as this had been, today was a one-time deal. I wasn’t ready to get involved again. “Actually,” I said, “thank you, but I have other plans.”

He looked surprised. A guy like Michael wasn’t used to being turned down. “Okay,” he said after a moment. “I get it.”

I doubted that he did.

It’s not you, I thought, it’s me.

After he kissed me good-bye—sweetly, longingly—I turned on the water in the deep porcelain tub. I’d paid seven hundred dollars for this room and I might as well enjoy it a little longer.

I sank into the bath, luxuriant with lavender-scented bubbles. It was crazy, what I’d done. But I’d loved it.

And I didn’t feel cheap. Au contraire: I felt rich.

Chapter 2

I swiped a free Perrier from the office fridge—one of the perks of working at Metropolitan—and hurried to my desk, only to find Brianne, my best friend and the magazine’s ad sales director, draped dramatically across its cluttered surface.

“You took the looooongest lunch,” she said accusingly. “We were supposed to get cappuccinos at Ground Central.”

“I’m sorry,” I said distractedly. I could see the message light on my phone blinking. “My meeting…um, my meeting didn’t exactly go as planned. I’m going to have to work late tonight.”

“Oh, merde.” She gave a long, theatrical sigh. “Pas encore.”

I couldn’t help smiling. Brianne was one-quarter French; the rest of her was full-blown New Jersey. On a good day, she was funny and loud, as effervescent as a glass of Champagne; on a bad day she was like Napoleon with lipstick and PMS.

“Can we do it tomorrow?” I asked.

Bri still looked sulky. “You realize, don’t you, that you stay late because you’re avoiding your complete lack of a social life?”

“I stay because I care about my job.” I tugged discreetly at my bra. Somehow I’d managed to put it on wrong.

“So do I,” Bri said, “but you don’t see me here at nine p.m. on a Friday.”

“You’re in a different department,” I said, unwilling to admit that she had a point.

She took one of my blue editing pencils and twisted her pretty auburn hair around it, making an artfully messy bun. “I was going to set you up on a date tonight, you know.”

“We’ve gone over this, Bri,” I said firmly. “I’m not interested.”

Bri lifted herself from my desk and stood before me with her hands on her hips. Five inches shorter than me, she had to crane her neck up. “I know how much you love your Netflix-and-Oreo nights, honey. But it’s time you got back into the game.”

I did love those nights, even though I’d be the first to admit that too many of them in a row got depressing. “I’m not ready to date, Bri. I like the sidelines.”

Bri held up a manicured finger. “First of all, you’ve been divorced for almost a year and a half.”

“Thanks for keeping track,” I said.

Bri held up another finger. “Second of all, this guy’s practically perfect.”

“Then you date him,” I suggested. “You’re single now too. Aren’t you? Or did you fall in love again last night?”

Bri giggled. She gave her heart away like it was candy on Halloween. “There’s the cutest guy in my spinning class,” she admitted. She drifted off into a dreamy reverie for a moment. Then she shook her head and snapped back to attention. “Hey. You’re changing the subject. We’re talking about you and your nonexistent sex life.”

A blush flared hot on my cheeks.

Bri immediately widened her eyes at me. Her mouth fell open, and then she nearly shouted, “Oh my God. You got laid last night!”

I looked wildly around. “Shhh!” I hissed. My boss’s assistant was five feet away at the Xerox machine. She didn’t seem to have heard Bri’s accusation, though. Turning back to my friend, I made an effort to keep a straight face. To look serious and professional. “I did not get laid last night,” I said.

I got laid an hour ago.


On Sale
Jul 5, 2016
Page Count
144 pages

James Patterson

About the Author

James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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