1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What's a little blackmail between strangers?
Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.
Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps career-ending shots of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop those photos from hitting the press.
Layla didn’t intend to take compromising shots, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use them. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?
The song changed to the one he’d requested, and the melody settled over them. He led her into a loose circle, his hand at the small of her back. She lifted her eyes, slowly, to meet his gaze and locked there. He leaned closer, then spun her away as the music’s tempo picked up. She met him move for move as he turned her on the floor then pulled her close again as the song slowed.
Her body flowed like music now, melting into his arms, and she closed her eyes as they swayed. The song picked up again, and he let it take control, guide him. When the music stopped, he pulled her in from one last turn, and they ended as they’d begun: in one another’s arms.
After a moment, they both looked around. A new song didn’t start, and people were simply staring at them. His breath came in short bursts. All of those people watching while he struggled not to throw her over his shoulder and carry her to the nearest bedroom, it made him furious.READ MORE
Then, he decided to stop fighting it. He couldn’t not kiss her, and it wasn’t going to be the kind of kiss she’d want her parents hearing about. Her body shook against him, her lips open and inviting.
He released her, looking around at the partygoers already breaking apart and resuming their festivities. “Excuse us,” he said and took her hand to tug her through the crowd.
Down the hall, he opened the first unlocked door he found and gave her a gentle shove inside. He fumbled for the light, cursing softly. Finally, he switched it on and could make out a bed littered with jackets and evening wraps. He turned the door lock behind him because anyone who wanted their coat in the next fifteen minutes would have to wait.
Layla turned on him. “Why would you do that?”
He cupped her cheek in one hand, caressing the corner of her mouth with his thumb. He let the other hand drift to her hip and pull her close. So much like their dance, but so much more reckless. He knew that. He didn’t care.
She whispered his name, and he grazed her forehead with his lips. “Just a kiss.”
Layla nodded once, and he closed the distance slowly, until his mouth covered hers. He held himself back. Some part of him he didn’t even recognize wanted to pick her up, hike her dress to her waist, and bury himself inside her. Desire had never bit at him like this.
Forcing himself to keep his hands where they were, a delicious sort of torture, he drank her in with a kiss. He held it in check until she moaned breathlessly into his mouth. Pulling back, her cheeks were flushed.
Another shockwave crashed through him at the desire mirrored in her eyes. “Come home with me.” His voice came out hoarse, surprising him. He needed her as soon as he could get her into his car and drive her back to his suite.
“Are you... Have you never had a lover?” She wasn’t the type of woman he’d normally pursue. He typically found comfort with divorcées, women who wanted the same no-complication, no-promises relationships he preferred. Still, such a passionate woman, Layla seemed unlikely to have abstained all her life.
She barked a bitter laugh, not like her usual wickedly seductive laugh. He still held her face in his hands. She didn’t pull away, but breath stuttered from her, and she’d begun to tremble badly. “Please don’t make me tell you here,” she said. “I didn’t expect any of this. It’s happening so fast; my heart feels like it’s going to explode from my chest. But those people out there, they’re not my friends. I can’t talk about this here.”
The apprehension coming off her in waves cooled him like an icy shower. “All right.”
“Please don’t be angry.”
He let his hands drop. “Listen to me, I’m not angry. I’m going to take you home, walk you to your door, and say good night. Nothing else. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Her eyes fluttered shut. “Thank you.”
Right now, all he wanted to do was soothe her worry. He refrained from stroking her hair, from taking her in his arms again, worried she would misinterpret him. He didn’t even understand the wellspring of feelings her pleas had broken free.COLLAPSE
Read Chapter One.