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Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen - Romance>Contemporary
When old enemies are thrown together, all bets are off...
Way back in high school, golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet. Now a decade older and a head turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was-- and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can't refuse.
A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She's certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn't count on Cade's determination. Because he's never gotten over her-- and he's not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red--hot future...
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Sensuality Rating: Not rated
Present day, the ninth of November
The bastard was late. Ava Spencer cursed the man she was waiting on as she paced the front foyer of the Wolcott mansion, alternately hugging herself against the cold and trying to rub some warmth into her arms through her coat sleeves. The place had been closed up for several weeks, and between the wind currently buffeting the mullioned windows and the rainstorm that had blown through earlier, leaving a Seattle--centric damp--to--the--bone chill in its wake, she was freezing her ass off.
She would've turned on the heat, but there was little point. If the guy ever deigned to get here, she'd be showing him the mansion from attic to wine cellar. And while Jane kept the front parlor and hidden closet in Miss Agnes's upstairs sitting room climate--controlled for the preservation of the Wolcott collections that weren't currently sold or on loan to museums, it would take until noon tomorrow to warm up the rest. And although she had turned on every light in the house, the illusion of warmth from the yellow glow of the lamps and overheads didn't come close to replacing the real thing.
A laugh that went a little wild escaped her. Like that was the crucial issue here. Because... It's not some guy, Av. It's Cade CalderwoodGallari.
Jeez Marie. She couldn't believe she'd agreed to this. So, yes, she was concentrating on the minutiae for all she was worth to keep from thinking about him. Because it was too freaking late to second--guess herself now.
She froze for an arrested second. Hell, no, it wasn't! The heavy feeling in her stomach lightening, she snatched up her purse and started down the hallway to the kitchen. Its exterior door was the direct route to where she'd parked her Beemer. Cade was late? She was out of here.
Headlights swept the east wall across from the kitchen archway, stopping her dead. "Shit."
She did a little dance in place to shake off the tension that had her tighter than an over--wound watch, throwing in some yoga breathing for good measure. Exhaling a final gusty breath, she nodded to herself. "Okay. Time to pull on your big girl pants."
She forced herself to shove down her irritation over Cade's tardiness, over the fact that he breathed, and bury it deep. It's been thirteen years, girl. He's a footnote, someone who no longer matters. Who hasn't mattered for a very long time. So it probably wouldn't do to snap his head off first thing.
But, oh, boy. The temptation.
She watched him through the back--door window as he climbed the steps and stopped beneath the porch light, and her annoyance surged back with a vengeance. She fought it to a standstill once more, pushed out a final exhalation and reached out to unlock the door.
The knob turned before she could open it, and he blew into the kitchen, shaking himself like a wet dog and sending raindrops flying in all directions from his sun--streaked brown hair. Looking beyond him, Ava saw that it had begun to pour again.
"Man, it's wet out there!" He flashed her his trademark Gallari smile, white teeth flashing and deep creases bracketing his mouth. Only she noticed that this time the blue, blue eyes glinting between dense, dark lashes held... something. Wariness maybe or... calculation? Something cooler and edgier than the smile that for years had haunted her dreams.
It just bugged the hell out of her that she felt his impact like a cattle prod to the breastbone. Why was it like this every damn time she laid eyes on him: this immediate, visceral one--two to...
Playing DirtyBy: Susan Andersen