I’m not sure I’m cut out for self-pubbing. So far, it seems like things go wrong at just the right times! First the computer was running at a snail’s pace. Then Amazon decided to stall out on posting it. And finally, the electricity went off today. Big boom outside–power gone.
But I promised myself I’d have this sucker ready for release on September 20th.
And dammit–it’s released!
HE WANTS TO BELIEVE SHE’S TELLING THE TRUTH.
SHE WANTS TO BELIEVE THEIR GAME IS A LIE.
AFTER ALL, A LITTLE FLIRTING NEVER HURT ANYBODY.
When her best friend’s boy-toy offers to help Veronica snare the man she wants, she doesn’t take it seriously. But the games begin to work, and every day in Brant’s company is a sexy new lesson. It’s the most fun she’s ever had—until the fantasy becomes too real, and unexpectedly dangerous.
Brant is fine with pretending to be Veronica’s lover—if it gets him the priceless antiques his employers think she’s stolen. Believing the worst about people has always worked for him. And if teaching sweet little Ronnie the neglected art of subtle seduction gets him what he wants, he’s all in. And maybe one deadly step beyond
“Now, let’s see the new stuff,” Brant murmured. “I don’t have all night—unless, of course, you invite me to stay over.”
He had no idea, dear God, how much she wanted to do just that. Everything in her world came alive when she was with him. Ignoring the chill that snaked up her spine, she dipped into the bag, barely managing a half-hearted grin. “It’s just a skirt.”
His spirits seemed to lift, and he was suddenly his old self. “No it’s not. It’s a black leather skirt. Oh, momma…”
“It was a silly thing to do.” She held it up, already regretting the impulse that made her buy it. “I’ll be paying for the darned thing for the next three months. And with winter coming, gas bills will be going up—”
“Put it on.”
She started at the sound of his voice. It had dropped nearly a suggestive octave and had a raw, ragged edge. “We don’t have to go through this, Brant. I tried it on in the store, and—”
“I want to see you in it.”
If he had been lewd about it, she could have laughed it off. If he had insisted, or said he wanted to see it to anticipate Lang’s reaction, she could have refused. But this wasn’t part of their silly charade. This went beyond clothing and tutoring and innuendo. This was naked temptation baring itself, at last, between them.
He wanted to see her in it. She knew it.
Ronnie retired to the bedroom to change without a word of argument. She slid into the fitting black skin and stared at her image in the mirror, dissatisfied. He just wanted to see the skirt. There it was, beneath the tattered tee and above the knee socks and sneakers she wore to do her cleaning. It should have been enough.
Wrenching the bandana, socks, and shoes off, she ripped into her closet, trying to find something quickly, something that would do the skirt justice—without making it seem too obvious that she was trying to impress. And she was, she admitted to herself grimly, anxious to impress this man.
A few moments later she studied the effect of a clinging coral-colored sweater against the black leather, and approved. The leather hugged her hips and showed off the shape of her legs, and the full-sleeved sweater plunged into her cleavage and brought color to her skin. She decided to go braless and barefoot. And as an afterthought, just for good measure, she left the top button of the sweater undone. He would, she thought, appreciate the statement.
Now all she needed was the nerve to walk back into the living room.
She heard him pound his shot glass on her coffee table, and relaxed into a small smile. After all, it was only Brant. Brant, her mentor. Brant, her buddy. Brant, who belonged to her best friend.
“C’mon, woman. Show your wares. It’s nearly closing time!”
Ronnie padded silently into the room, locking her trembling hands behind her back. “I’m here.” She barely recognized her own voice. It had gone soft and whispery. “And I come bearing leather.”
He sat perfectly still, his drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. There seemed to be no expression on his face at all, but his eyes—his eyes, she swore, seared right through her and scorched the paint off the wall behind her. She shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other, wondering if he approved, waiting for him to say something.
It was the longest moment of her life.
Brant seemed to be barely breathing. And then slowly, silently, the lengthy ash from his cigarette bowed and crumbled to the floor, leaving a red-hot tip burning bright between his fingers. “Mon dieu.”
“Un-oh, he’s breaking out the cheesy French. It’s too much, isn’t it? Too short, too tight. I thought so.”
“Turn.” His eyes narrowed, and he made a small circle with his forefinger. “Lift your arms and do a slow turn for me.”
Ronnie closed her eyes, breathing deeply. Sliding her fingers into her hair, she lifted it off her neck and held it up. The leather clung to her body, like the heated hands of a passionate man and made her want to move. With swaying hips, she turned slowly, sensuously before him, stunned by the erotic feeling it evoked in her. She might have been doing a striptease for a lover, so intense was the sensation.
Coming to a stop, she opened her eyes in time to catch the hungry gleam of male appreciation on his face. Easing forward to the edge of the sofa, he butted his cigarette. But the heat remained in his eyes and his voice was whiskey-hoarse. “No. Not too short, not too tight. Made for a woman with great curves, just so it can be peeled away, very deliberately, very carefully. Perfect. Too damn good for him, in fact.”
A warm sense of feminine satisfaction surged through her as she finger-combed her hair back into place. Hot damn, she had turned the teacher on.