Just one night sex love.., p.12
Just One Night: Sex, Love & Stiletto Series, page 12
Emma lifted her glass in a victory toast. “Yep. And when he thinks the sexual sizzle between you two is completely gone, guess what?”
Riley smiled in awe, finally understanding. “Once it’s gone, he’ll want it back.”
“Yup,” Emma said. “And even more important? He’ll fight for it.”
God, she hoped Emma was right. She wanted this to work. Needed it to work.
Because when she put aside her sass and her pride and her carefully crafted sexy reputation, Riley was just like the thousands of women Stiletto spoke to every month.
She was a woman completely crazy about a guy.
It was time to get her happy ending.
It was time to get her man.
As it turned out, Riley had an ally in her oldest brother.
Granted, Liam didn’t know he was an ally. If he did, he would have canceled his business trip to Amsterdam and bought Riley a one-way ticket to a faraway convent. But as it was, Liam’s firm had landed a high-profile case with a Dutch hotshot, resulting in her brother being rather conveniently out of the country.
It was all the opening Riley needed to put Emma’s plan in motion, and Operation Don’t Mind Me, Just Think of Me as Your Sister was about to commence.
“Sam? You here?” Riley asked, opening the sliding door from his living quarters into the distillery. Apparently the man hadn’t learned his lesson from her last invasion and thought to lock the back door.
Of course this little visit wouldn’t end with a sexual proposition. Oh no. Quite the opposite.
Riley absently ran her hand along a wooden barrel, breathing in the now familiar sweet, bread-like scent. She’d never given much thought to the process that went into cranking out whisky, but she could sort of see how one might get enthralled with it. It somehow fit Sam … being out here alone with just the grains and the … well, whatever else went into whisky.
Or maybe not so alone, she realized as she stepped into the main part of the distillery and heard voices.
They were low, male voices, and she followed the sound until she spotted her prey. Sam was dressed in his usual jeans and T-shirt—gray this time—and talking to a couple of guys she’d never seen before.
Her throat hurt a little at the sight of him—at the memory of what they’d been doing last time she saw him.
Right before he walked out the door and left her naked and aching.
For a brief second, she thought about retreating. She hadn’t been counting on an audience for this performance. Then again, spectators might work to her advantage. He was less likely to be wary if he had his employees as a buffer.
His shoulders went back at the sound of her heels tapping, and his spine went stiff.
Okay, so maybe he was still wary.
Riley had dressed carefully for this occasion, per her friends’ instructions. Simple black pants, a plain white blouse, and a formfitting black blazer complete with everyday black pumps that were professional without being stuffy.
It was the essential New York City work outfit that hopefully screamed, hey, you’re just another errand I have to check off on my way home from work.
Anything too sexy would put him on edge. Anything too far the other way would set off warning bells that she was up to something.
Although, judging from the deer-in-headlights look on his face, warning bells were going off regardless.
Don’t worry. I’m not here to seduce you. At least not in the way you think.
“Hey!” she said, throwing him a megawatt grin. It wasn’t her usual I-know-something-you-don’t-know smile, and she saw from the slight narrowing of his eyes that he noticed the difference. “Am I interrupting something?”
“Obviously,” he said darkly.
His companions weren’t quite as grumpy, and the tallest of the group gave her a welcoming smile. “I can’t even remember the last time we had a woman at ROON. Much less a pretty one.”
Riley gave a tinkling little laugh as she came to a stop beside the men. “Aren’t you sweet? And I’m so sorry to barge in like this. I thought you guys would be all wrapped up by six, but I should have called.”
“Oh, why start now?” Sam asked.
“I’m Riley,” she said, extending a hand to the shorter man on her left and ignoring Sam altogether.
“Rob,” the man said, giving her hand a quick shake after a nervous glance at Sam. “And this is Adam and Cory.”
“You guys all work here?”
“They’re trying to,” Sam said, his hand finding her elbow. “How about I give you a call later.”
“Oh, I can wait until you’re done here. I just have the teensiest favor to ask.”
Sam blanched. No doubt remembering the last favor she’d asked of him.
She gave him a look. You wish.
“I think we’ve got everything we need for the new labels,” Adam said, clamping a hand on Sam’s shoulder and moving away. “We won’t keep you from this pretty lady any longer.”
Riley let her eyelashes flutter. “You’re sweet, but don’t get the wrong idea. Sammy and I here are just old friends. He’s like my brother.”
She saw his eyebrows creep up.
“Oh yeah?” Rob asked, looking at Riley with fresh appreciation now that she was no longer the boss’s woman. “You know, I can wait a few minutes if you want someone to walk you?”
Sam snorted. “Trust me on this one, Rob. If Riley accompanies you to the subway stop, you’ll be the one needing an escort.”
Riley merely gave a demure smile. “Thanks for the offer, but I’ve made this trek a million times.”
“A million, huh?” Sam asked quietly in her ear. “Where was I the other nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine times?”
She ignored him, brushing past him without actually making contact before ushering Rob and the other guys out the door with a promise that she’d absolutely make sure that Sam would eat, but no, she wasn’t at all sure that it would improve his disposition.
Then they were alone.
A month earlier, they would have been circling each other and trying to ignore the sexual tension in the room.
A week earlier they’d have been all over each other, embracing that sexual tension.
And this time … the sexual tension was behind them.
At least that’s what she was letting him believe.
“How’s your mom?” she asked, following him to his bar, where he’d retreated the minute the other men had left.
“Good. Better. I talked to Carl—that’s her boyfriend—yesterday, and she’s at home resting. All of her tests came back fine.”
“I’m glad.” His hands never stopped their cocktail making even as he studied her. He twisted the top off a jar of cherries, plucking one out with a toothpick and handing it to her before dropping one into each cocktail glass.
She let the silence last for several seconds before she forged ahead with the plan. “I came to apologize.”
Nothing. Not even a surprised blink.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” she asked.
He held her gaze for several more seconds before shrugging. “Let’s just say that over the years, I’ve learned that any Riley McKenna ‘apology’ is best received with a helmet.”
“Because I’m finding that as much as you like to pretend you’re a straight shooter, nothing’s simple when it comes to you and men.”
She leaned forward, helping herself to another cherry from the open jar. “Sounds to me like you’re calling me manipulative.”
“It does, doesn’t it?”
Riley shrugged. “Well, let’s just say hell’s frozen over and this apology is for real. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I’m mortified about the other night. Seriously.”
“By which part?” He poured the dark brown liquid into each glass. “The fact that you were going to sleep with a man for th
“Oh, I’m used to the first one,” she said cheekily, clinking her glass against his. “Occupational hazard.”
“That’s what hookers say about STDs.”
She tilted her head. “Well, great news, Compton. It’s about to become not your problem.”
Sam studied her carefully, obviously searching for her angle. He got a little crease between his eyebrows that told her he couldn’t figure it out.
“Why are you really here, Ri? Was your tactic to apologize first to wrangle a corresponding apology out of me? Fine. I’ll apologize for leaving you in that hotel room like I did. But we both know it’s best that I did. It never should have gotten that far in the first place.”
It took all of Riley’s self-control not to smirk. The horse was being led right to the water, and he had no idea.
“Exactly.” She reached forward and pressed her fingers to the back of his hand briefly, pulling back before he had a chance to suspect the touch was anything other than friendly and instinctive.
This entire plan depended on him believing that she wasn’t the least bit attuned to him.
“It’s weird, isn’t it?” she mused. “That after so long of having that weird simmering-tension thing between us, when we were on the verge of actually doing something about it we realized it was all smoke and mirrors.”
Sam blinked. Blinked again. “Wait. What?”
“You know,” she said, wrinkling her nose and waving her hand. “The awkwardness of that whole evening. I was so sure it would be explosive, and instead it was just weird.”
He recovered quickly. She’d known he would. “Right. It was …”
“Kind of like kissing your sister?” she supplied.
His eyes fell on her mouth for just a split second before looking away. “Sure. Aren’t you glad now that I stopped it? Even under bad circumstances?”
“So glad. Which is why I hate to be in this awkward situation of asking for another favor …”
She winced as though dreading the question she had to ask next.
He gave a long-suffering sigh. “Another favor? I don’t have to get naked for this one, do I?”
“Not unless you want to.”
“Let’s hear it.”
“So every year, the company that owns Stiletto likes to make believe that it isn’t located in the middle of the country’s urban center and hosts this nightmare known as the annual softball tournament.”
He frowned. “Softball? In Manhattan?”
“Central Park. Anyway, this year, Stiletto is paired up against Oxford.”
“The guy magazine with all the stupid advice?”
“Right. So all the employees are strongly encouraged to bring a plus-one to ensure enough players for each team.”
“Well, I guess it’s a damn good thing you’ve got an older brother who played baseball in high school and college.”
“See, usually that is a good thing. Except when said brother is out of the country, and the game is on Saturday.”
Sam swore softly. “Right. That damn Amsterdam thing.”
“What about Patrick?”
“Yes, I’m sure my other big-shot brother would be more than happy to take a day off from his super-important job to travel four hours from Boston for a softball game.”
She gave him a withering glare. “You know full well that Meg doesn’t do well in group activities. She can’t even gracefully lose at charades at Christmas without accusing her own children of cheating. And Kate …”
“Has probably never even seen a softball,” he finished for her.
“So you’ll do it?” she asked, giving him the platonic, don’t-mind-me smile she’d been practicing in the mirror. “You can play softball, right?”
“Yes, McKenna, I think I can figure out how to manage a game of softball with a bunch of women who write about shoes and orgasms.”
She clapped her hands. “So you’re in?”
He hesitated. “And this is strictly as friends, right?”
“Oh gosh, of course. I don’t think I can even picture us as anything else now.” She gave a dramatic shudder.
“It wasn’t that bad,” he muttered into his drink.
She pressed her lips together to hide the smirk as she stood. “You’re the best. Seriously.”
He gave her a half smile. “I’m trying to think about it as paying it forward. I’ll remember your recent string of favors next time I need something from you. Say … Yankees tickets?”
“I’ll keep my eye out.” She winked. “See ya around, Sammy.”
“You’re leaving?” He looked a little surprised at the rapid departure, and dare she say … disappointed? Then again, that could have been her stupid, wistful heart being a pain in the ass again.
“Got a date,” she said with quick glance at her watch. “One of Mitchell’s friends from Wall Street.”
She watched his face carefully, but he revealed nothing. “So he’s going to be the subject of your story? The anniversary issue that you have to make personal, or whatever?”
“Well, that depends,” Riley replied casually, tossing back the rest of her drink.
“How good he is in bed,” she said with a cheeky smile.
This time Sam’s poker face wasn’t nearly so impressive, and Riley had to turn on her heel so he wouldn’t see her elation at the raw possessiveness that had flashed across his face.
“See you on Saturday,” she called over her shoulder.
Sam didn’t respond, and Riley knew it was because he was brooding.
Once out of sight, she dug her phone out of her bag and sent a text message to Emma.
“So how am I doing?” Riley asked, trotting back to the dugout and plucking Grace’s water bottle out of her hand. It was icy cold. Of course. No lukewarm water for Grace, even though she hadn’t had access to ice in hours. She was like half MacGyver, half Martha Stewart.
Julie wrinkled her nose. “I’d say you’re doing all right. Your fielding skills suck, but you’ve gotten on base plenty, although I’m pretty sure that’s because your Yankees T-shirt is a child’s size medium, and your boobs are … ahem … not medium.”
“Or childlike,” Grace added.
“I wasn’t asking about my softball skills,” Riley said, handing the now empty water bottle back to Grace. “But since you went there, I’d just like to point out that my fielding skills are just fine.”
“Really?” Emma drawled. “Because last inning, the ball literally sat still at your feet for a good forty-five seconds while you fanned Maria’s brother with your eyelashes.”
“I’m sorry, did you not just see me speed across home plate?” Riley asked, pointing at the field.
Julie pursed her lips. “I thought I saw a brunette trot across home plate. I didn’t see anything resembling speed.”
“Says the woman who struck out twice in a row without even trying to swing. You’re lucky Mitchell’s so good. Who knew that Wall Street had sports skills?”
“He’s sporty like that,” Julie said, delicately nibbling a sunflower seed between perfect white teeth. “It’s pretty annoying actually. The other day he asked if I wanted to go on a ‘light bike ride.’ Honestly. It was freaking freezing.”
“Could be worse,” Grace said. “At least your fiancé’s not a previous baseball all-star and on the opposing team.”
“That’s what you get, going steady with an Oxford guy—”
Riley stopped trying to steal Grace’s second water bottle, and she knew from the sudden stillness on her other side that Emma and Julie were in a similar state of shock.
“Grace,” Julie said, her voice never losing its trademark sweetness. “Did you just drop the F bomb?”
“What? No, I just—” Grace’s hand flew to her mouth in horror. “Oh God.
Riley lightly tapped Grace’s naked fourth finger. “Oh God, indeed. A fiancée without the pretty ring? Not that that’s what matters, but—”
“There is a ring, and it’s perfect, but not really softball appropriate, and I—”
Grace’s babbling was stifled as three squealing women mauled her.
“You’re engaged?” Julie asked, mopping her eyes.
“It was supposed to be a secret until I had the right chance to tell you guys,” Grace said, trying to squirm out from beneath the group hug.
“Well, consider that cat out of the bag,” Emma said, glancing around at the curious stares.
Riley found she was wiping tears from her own eyes. Tears. “I can’t believe you didn’t call us first thing. Oh, Gracie, you’re so happy.”
“Of course she’s happy, she’s marrying that,” Julie said, pointing at Jake, who looked gorgeous and completely at home on the pitcher’s mound. Like everyone else, he’d stopped playing to stare at the spectacle the four women made, and the cocky grin on his face said that he knew exactly what they were talking about.
Riley was dying to look toward her left, where she knew Sam was standing on third. She resisted. Barely.
Slowly the game resumed, although Grace wasn’t off the hook. Not with her best friends.
“Go ahead and call me crass,” Emma said, “But um … if the ring’s so beautiful, where is it?”
“At home,” Grace said, grabbing one of the helmets off the hook and preparing for her turn at bat. “I didn’t want to take away from … you know … the softball game.”
Riley lifted a skeptical eyebrow. “Uh-huh. Because we’re all hoping that this goes from an annual obligation to a regular league. Try again.”
Grace sighed. “Okay, I didn’t want to take away from your day.”
It took Riley a full ten seconds to realize that Grace was talking about her. “What do you mean, my day?”
Grace lifted one of the bats before exchanging it for another one. Not that it would matter. Grace was even worse at batting than Riley was at fielding and Julie was at, well … everything.
Emma was the only one with any sort of athletic skill. Something that Alex Cassidy had definitely taken notice of, if Julie’s attraction radar was working correctly—which it usually was.
by Lauren Layne / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes