For five years they’ve been dancing around a fiery attraction. Now he has her right where he wants her—in his arms—but can he persuade thrill seeking Lacey to accept his deal and take a chance on an office romance?More info →
A half-naked hottie was in her hotel room!
Pinpricks of shock broke out all over her towel-covered body. Her mind went blank and for the first time in her life, Lacey Sanders couldn’t think of what to do. Impulsive by nature, her imagination gave a snapshot reminder of what she could do with him.
Okay, so clearly she knew what to do with a nearly naked man, but she hadn’t invited this particular guy into her room. In fact, she hadn’t invited a man into her bedroom since she realized she had the major hots for Adam Swank, a fellow helicopter pilot for Pleasure Flights—her father’s sightseeing helicopter tour company—which made him her co-worker. And as tempting as he might be, she knew better than to start something with a colleague ever again.
She now had a rule about dating co-workers.
Do. Not. Date. Them.
The intruder’s shirt lay discarded on the bed beside some leaflets, a folder, and a couple of black suit bags.
Her heart galloping, she took in the man’s tanned and toned back as she carefully reversed into the en suite where, until a short while ago, she’d been taking a refreshing shower. The late afternoon sun filtering through the wide tinted window caressed his torso, highlighting the mouthwatering bunch and flex of hard muscle.
The guy had shoulders wide and powerful enough to carry the world.
An inappropriate wave of desire warmed her as her gaze traced the deep groove down the middle of a back bracketed by defined muscles that made her long to graze her nails over them.
How long had it been since she experienced any kind of yearning for a man who wasn’t Adam Swank? And he’d pretty much ignored her ever since they met almost five years ago. As much as she hated to admit it, his ability to ignore the chemistry between them bugged.
Just once she’d like to see him hot for her.
Sadly, that would never happen. Lacey didn’t consider herself the type of woman who shied away from going after what she wanted. And yes, she wanted Adam big time! But even the adrenaline junkie in her rolled the throttle off when it came to seducing her co-worker. It was one thing to have a hot, dirty encounter with a guy she might never see again, but she drew the line at her colleagues. Which was why she and Adam had been dancing around this attraction for years, and why they would continue to do so long after this aviation conference in Washington, D.C. was over.
Her attention skated lower, over her intruder’s lean hips and tight buns encased in well-fitting pants. Lacey’s breath hitched, and she concentrated on trying to keep her breathing quiet, thankful her intruder didn’t appear to have heard when she opened the bathroom door.
Or her initial gasp.
While keeping an eye on the man, she groped around behind her for something she could use to defend herself. From his bowed head and the angle of his arms, she guessed his focus was on his phone, or something in his hands, giving her the extra few seconds she needed. She would not confront an intruder without some sort of weapon. And shutting herself in the en suite to call for help was a useless idea since her phone was currently lounging in her handbag in the wardrobe beside him.
When her fingers connected with an object, she breathed a hushed sigh of relief. Slowly extracting the item she clutched it behind her, satisfied that it carried a bit of weight, even if it was on the light side. But still. The last thing she wanted was to try to defend herself against a potential attacker with a shower puff or something as equally useless.
She held her breath, crept up behind him. Why had she agreed to attend this weekend aviation conference? There were so many other things she could be doing right now, and none of them involved coming face to face with a maybe lunatic. If her father’s health hadn’t been so fragile these past few months, he would’ve attended the conference in Washington D.C. and Lacey would be flying sightseers over California in her helicopter. Instead, she was about to duke it out with a massive man who she’d require every nanosecond of the element of surprise if she stood a chance of protecting herself.
The object gripped tight in her hands, she raised it. The only way she would gain an advantage over a man that size was to knock him out. She was going to swing for him so hard he’d be lucky if his head didn’t bounce across the room. She pulled back to get a good batter’s swing.
“Are you planning to scrub me to death, Lacey?”
Lacey started then froze to the spot, instantly recognizing the smooth seductive tone. Her gaze flew to the mirror partially obscured by the half-naked man. Her stare collided with his. Obviously, he’d noticed her creeping up behind him. In the mirror, her reflection stared back. A scrubbed clean woman stood in a frozen batter’s pose, holding a loofah on a wooden handle like a baseball bat, a fluffy white towel wrapped turban-style around her head and another swathing her body.
He pivoted, and, to her horror, Lacey’s towel took advantage of the moment to slither right off her body.
She shrieked, dropped the loofah and dove for her towel. “Turn around.”
With a grin he was trying not to let her notice, he obeyed. Only, as she fought the towel back onto her body, she realized he could see her in the mirror. The towel slipped through her fingers like she’d buttered them up for the occasion. She shouldn’t have had time to notice, but a grinning Adam Swank was not a sight she recalled ever seeing before. He was the most serious, uptight man she knew, so it was no surprise that seeing him grin like that threw her off.
“No! The other way.” Her command came out breathless and squeaky, and still, she couldn’t get the towel to stay put.
He turned back to face her, still grinning. Her heart skidded. It had nothing to do with the shock of finding Adam in her hotel room, and everything to do with the desire he’d unleashed in her just from standing half-naked two steps away.
“For the love of peace, Adam, close your eyes.” She didn’t wait to see if he complied, she gave up the towel fight, threw it at Adam’s head and bolted for the en suite, locking the door behind her.
“Oh, shoo-oh shoot-oh shoot.” She snatched the complimentary bathrobe from the hook on the door and wrestled her way into it. “Kill me now.”
How had he even gotten in?
“What are you doing in my room, Adam?” she yelled through the shut door. There was no way she was going back out there to face him. They’d spent five years strictly as colleagues. Now he’d seen her naked she wouldn’t know where to hide her face.
“What are you doing in my room, Lacey?” The smooth, deep voice returned a little muffled through the door.
“This is 501. My room. What room are you in?”
“We can’t both have been booked into the same room.” She tugged the sash tight and knotted it, then added a second knot, her movements quick and jerky from shock, embarrassment and the shameful knowledge that Adam didn’t even have to try in order to turn her on. “There must be a mistake.”
No, Shay wouldn’t have. Her best friend was an incorrigible prankster, and she knew Lacey had a crush on Adam, but even Shay wouldn’t do something like this. Besides, Shay hadn’t made the conference booking. Rayne—her father’s personal assistant—had.
“Lacey, come on out so we can talk. I refuse to conduct this conversation through a shut bathroom door.”
“I’ll come out when you leave.”
“I’m not leaving. Not until you come out here and we figure this thing out.”
“There’s nothing to figure out. One of us is in the wrong room, and since I got here first, I claim it.”
“You can’t just claim the room.”
“I just did.”
“Lacey, please.” Was that a chuckle she heard? “I’m sure we can resolve this—”
“If you’re laughing, Adam, I promise you, I’ll—”
“I’m not laughing. Just come out.”
Despite his effort to bank the low rumble, she detected the laughter clear in his voice. In all the time she’d known him, Lacey couldn’t remember an occasion when strait-laced Adam cracked even a half smile, yet here he was chuckling at their predicament.
“This isn’t funny, Adam.”
“We have a huge problem. We can’t spend the weekend sharing a room.” She leaned her back against the door and slid down until her robe-covered backside hit the tiled floor. “It’s unprofessional. Since I was here first, you should leave.”
“And go where?” A soft thunk against the door followed by a swish sound told her he had mirrored her sitting position against the other side of the door. They were on the floor, back to back, with the en suite door between them. It was silly but the thought of them sitting so close sent goosebumps along her skin and warmed her insides. “This is my room, too.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The room has one queen-size bed. It isn’t even a twin room. You are not staying here.” She looked over her shoulder as if she could see him through the wood and pointed her finger against the door. “And before you pull rank, I was here first. You need to find another room.” Lacey stood, unwrapped the towel from her head, and began to towel dry her hair.
Since when did she become such a coward? The incident had happened so fast, there was a good chance Adam hadn’t even seen anything. She was overreacting. Besides, she couldn’t hide in the hotel bathroom the entire weekend. Even if Adam had seen—gulp—her entire naked body, so what? One naked female was the same as another. She was positive a man as attractive as Adam would’ve seen more nude women than she able to count.
“Somewhere along the way, someone made a mistake.” Shay was zany, but she’d never do a thing like this to Lacey without warning her first. “Why don’t you go down to reception and have them recheck the bookings while I get dressed and phone Dad’s assistant?”
“How about I wait while you dress and we can both go down to the reception?”
Lacey paused in towel drying her hair. Damp strands of honey-copper hair covered her face. A shiver of dread at having to face Adam cascaded through her. “I don’t see the point.”
“If it turns out we’re sharing a room, I want you to hear it from the concierge.”
“Unless someone deliberately messed up the booking, this room debacle is a mistake.” Her father was more than wealthy enough to foot the bill for two hotel rooms.
“Then we’d find that out together.” Another soft thunk and a rustle told her he was back on his feet. “Let’s make a deal. I wait outside the room while you throw on some clothes, and we go down together.”
“Why don’t I meet you at the desk in ten minutes instead?”
“Deal.” A few seconds passed. Had Adam left? She reached out, had just grasped the doorknob when his deep-timbered voice vibrated through the door. “And, Lacey?”
“Yes?” She cleared her throat, disliking the pathetic weakness obstructing her voice.
Lacey gasped, glanced down at her terry-covered body to the general vicinity of where the heart shaped birthmark resided just above her pubis. His remark had banished the flimsy hope she’d clung to.
Adam had seen everything.
The precise click from the room’s outer door left her in no doubt he’d left. Lacey yanked open the en suite door and bolted from the bathroom. In seconds she had the outer door double locked and the chain in place, before she scrambled into underwear, jeans and a plum tank top. With stuttering breath, she opened the wardrobe and retrieved her cell from her tote.
Four messages and two missed calls.
Lacey’s chest tightened. Ever since her father’s heart scare three months ago her stomach knotted whenever she discovered missed calls on her phone. The day he’d been rushed to the hospital she’d been base jumping over the Rockies and had missed all the frantic calls to locate her.
She never wanted to go through that again. Sinking onto the bed beside Adam’s things, she checked the missed calls and waiting texts, relieved that they were from her best friends Shay and Hayden wanting to know if she was bored to death at the conference yet.
Lacey smiled. She’d touch base with them later. After she and Adam got the room mix-up sorted.
Her smile faded. She would have to brave it and face Adam way sooner than she was ready.
* * *
He hadn’t meant to tease her. Adam was not the teasing type, and the remark had shocked the heck out of him. He’d intended to reassure Lacey that he’d seen nothing, but when he opened his mouth, the playful comment had slipped past his usually reliable filter.
“I’m sorry, sir,” the hotel receptionist said as her gaze flicked back to the computer screen. “The system has been glitchy all day. Just let me see if it’ll let me in.” She sent him the smile he was used to receiving from women. The type that said: I’d love to get to know you better.
He gave her his usual polite lip-pull in response. The only woman he would’ve liked to get to know better was currently booked into room 501, and he was pretty sure he was the last man she wanted to see right now.
“Who did you say booked you in?” the receptionist asked, her fingers flying over the keyboard with impressive speed.
“Oh dear. I see what happened.” Her attention flicked back to him. “Simon sometimes reverses numbers. Usually the last two digits. It seems he put you in 501 when you’re meant to be in room 510.”
“Yes, I think that’s what he calls it. I’m so sorry for the mix-up, sir.” She collected the keycard for Adam’s room and handed it over. “Room 510 is opposite 501. If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know.”
He smiled, tempted to ask her to delete room 510 from beside his name and leave him in room 501 with Lacey. But he was not that kind of guy, and while he found himself more attracted to Lacey Sanders than he’d been to any other woman in a long time, he couldn’t ignore the perils of falling for a woman like her.
“Thanks.” He gave back the keycard to Lacey’s room and ignored the resulting sense of disappointment.
“Hey, Adam.” Lacey’s voice caressed his senses as she came up behind him. “I tried to get Rayne, but she isn’t answering, which, I have to admit, leaves me a little suspicious.”
He took a moment to tamp down the weird, excited tug to his gut before he turned to face her. Had she always been this beautiful? Sure, he’d noticed how attractive she was—he wasn’t blind or stupid—but was it him, or was she even more striking? The tank top and jeans hugged her amazing figure in a way that revived the jaw-dropping mental image of Lacey in her nudity. A nudity he’d had the pleasure to take in not so long ago. Her hair cascaded over her shoulders in a carefree fashion that made him think she’d done nothing more than towel dry, then finger comb it before coming down to reception.
The sight of all that damp, tousled hair tempted him to tell her that, yes, he was indeed booked into room 501… with her. But he still wasn’t that guy.
“It’s okay, I’ve got it sorted. Simon is numerically dyslexic and put me in room 501 when he should have given me 510.”
She fell into step beside him. “Phew, what a relief.” She swiped the back of her right hand across her forehead in a dramatic brow-sweep. “That could have been embarrassing.”
Adam glanced at her. He didn’t know any woman capable of bouncing back from such an awkward experience with such ease. “More embarrassing than earlier?”
She flashed him a grin that hid any discomfiture. “I’ve decided to forget the last half an hour ever happened.”
“Do you mind if I hold onto the memory?”
“I insist you forget every second from the moment you entered room 501 until you walked back out again.”
“You do realize you’re asking me to perform an impossible feat?”
“You’re a talented guy, Deal-Maker. I think you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”
Adam stopped walking, slipped his hands into his pants pockets, liking the way Lacey’s breath hitched as her gaze traveled over his chest and snagged on the buttons he’d left open.
“That’s a compliment of the highest esteem, but I just can’t get the image of that alluring little birthmark out of my mind. Not even under threat of a beat down with a loofah.” He pivoted on his heels and sauntered toward the elevators, leaving Lacey gaping after him.