Authors: Nicola Marsh
Tags: #Burlesque Bombshells#2
Laying it all on the line for love…
Adele Radcliff has worked hard to erase the sins of her past. The ex-burlesque dancer is now an accountant in Vegas and has her life on track. Until one steamy interlude with her friend’s brother changes everything…
Reid Harper may be tired of the hand-shaking, back-slapping and baby-kissing, but politics is all he knows. His job consumes him. Until he meets Adele and the gorgeous redhead becomes his new focus.
Reid wants a relationship, Adele doesn’t. A decision reinforced when Adele discovers she’s pregnant. She has too many secrets to hide and can’t risk Reid getting too close.
But Reid has other ideas and when he learns the startling truth, how far will he go to prove their future is more important than the past?
Copyright © Nicola Marsh 2013
Published by Nicola Marsh 2013
All the characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They’re not distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author and all the incidents in the book are pure invention.
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in any form. The text or any part of the publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the publisher.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners mentioned in this work of fiction.
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Reid Harper had shaken enough hands, kissed enough babies and faked enough smiles to last him a lifetime.
His political dream? Fast turning into a nightmare. And he couldn’t tell one damn person about it.
Certainly not his sister Jess, who looked radiant tonight at the wedding of Dorian Gibbs, a friend and campaign investor. He had his best friend, Jack McVeigh to thank for Jess’s glow. Inevitable, those two getting together. He was happy for them. The only glimmer of happiness in his fucked up life lately.
And now his sis wanted to introduce him to some sexy redhead who’d probably distract him for a few hours. Not a bad plan. If he didn’t know that once this wedding ended he’d be on Dorian’s private jet flying back to LA and a ton of problems.
He wasn’t in the mood for more schmoozing. Or flirting, for that matter. Which went a long way to explaining his lousy mindset.
How long since he’d got laid? Three months? Six? Contrary to popular belief, politicians weren’t copping blowjobs from interns behind the photocopier. At least, this one wasn’t.
He’d been too busy cleaning up other people’s messes and ensuring he maintained a squeaky clean reputation to bother with sex.
As they drew closer to the redhead, he wished he could stay on the island a little longer to remedy that fact.
Jess touched his arm. “Reid, I’d like you to meet Adele Radcliff. She’s an accountant at Burlesque Bombshell.”
Out of habit, he held out his hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
A trite greeting he’d trotted out countless times before. But never had he experienced a jolt as Adele placed her hand in his.
“Likewise,” she said, a blush staining her cheeks a beguiling pink, accentuating the startling blue of her eyes.
She had pale porcelain skin that would be prone to blushing, not that many mature women did that these days. At least, not the worldly women he associated with. Ball breakers, most of them.
But what captured his attention most was her russet hair piled in a loose up-do leaving tendrils trailing her neck, a rich, natural red no colorist could ever hope to emulate.
Quickly followed by a purely horn-dog thought; was she a natural red all over?
When Jess laughed, he realized he still had Adele’s hand clasped in his and was gawking at her like an adolescent.
“I’ll leave you two to get better acquainted.” Jess slung her arms around their shoulders for a brief hug. “Have fun.”
Feeling more pumped than he had in ages, Reid intended to. He waited until Jess headed for the beach in search of Jack before turning his full attention to the lovely Adele.
“So you’re an accountant?”
Nice opening gambit, Harper. Real smooth. Not
The bridge of her nose crinkled. Whether at his stinker of an opening line or dislike for her job, he had no idea.
“Yeah, but don’t hold that against me.”
He held up his hands in mock surrender. “I’m a politician serving in the House as a Representative. Can’t get any worse than that.”
“Why do you do it then?”
Her bluntness surprised him. Not many women were so forthright, especially with a guy like him. Amazing, the number of social-climbing, power-hungry females who would fawn and defer to him in the hope of getting a boost up the society ladder by latching on.
None of them intrigued him as much as this refreshingly honest woman.
“Because I was an idealistic fool who had big plans, big dreams and big hopes when I started out.”
“And now?” Her blue eyes twinkled with mischief and his interest in sex surged to life in a big way.
“I’m a weary, jaded soul in search of…”
What? New horizons? New challenges? New thrills?
She leaned forward a fraction, waiting for his response, and he caught a glimpse of cleavage.
Yep, must slot time into his busy schedule for sex.
“I want something more,” he said, his fingertips inadvertently brushing the soft skin on the inside of her wrist, sending a jolt of lust straight to his dick. “What about you?”
She stepped into him, her sultry vanilla fragrance enveloping him in a sensual cocoon, as she murmured in his ear, “I’m all for more too.”
Reid didn’t take risks. Every moment of his entire life had been well calculated. Decisions weighed and measured.
But there was something about this woman, this moment, that befuddled his brain and made him think to hell with conservative choices.
For once, he wanted
For himself. Not for his mom or sis, for whom he’d been the man of the family for too long now. Not for his political party, who idolized him and had him on a fast track to the senate. Not for the public who he vowed to serve with honesty and integrity, despite the few who believed him.
Nah, tonight was all about him.
“Do you want to get out of here?”
He hoped to God she’d say yes.
Her steady gaze sparked with understanding and something more. Something that made his blood fizz with expectation.
“I’d love to.” Her fingertips brushed his and he clasped her hand before she changed her mind. “But I’m sharing a villa with Chantal.”
“Damn. I checked out this afternoon because I’m flying out in a few hours.”
“Oh.” Disappointment downturned the corners of her lush mouth. He knew the feeling. No frigging room and a gorgeous redhead who had the same thing on her mind he did: sex.
“We could take a walk on the beach?” she said, glancing at the ocean over his shoulder. “I took a walk this morning, found a fabulous cove.”
His blood that had been fizzing a moment ago? Rushed south in a big way at her boldness.
“Secluded, I hope?”
She nodded and squeezed his hand. “You know I’m not in the habit of seducing politicians, right?”
“And you know I’m not in the habit of seducing accountants?”
She laughed, a soft sound that made him want to ravish her on the spot. “Starlets and models, yes. Accountants? Highly doubtful.”
“You’re beautiful.” He captured her chin, leaving her no option but to meet his gaze. “Honestly? I haven’t seduced anyone in a long time.”
Her skeptic eyebrow quirk spoke volumes.
“That makes two of us,” she said, her hint of bitterness surprising. “Let’s make a pact.”
“You have a plane to catch soon and a public life to head back to.” She hesitated and gnawed on her bottom lip, the display of vulnerability endearing. “Why don’t we spend a few hours together then continue with our respective lives?”
“A secret island assignation, huh?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Then I head back to Vegas, you to wherever, secure in the knowledge our seduction skills are safe for another six months.”
“I’m based in LA.” He laughed. “Speak for yourself. Been more like nine months for me.”
“Try twelve.” She wrinkled her nose, a cute gesture at odds with her coolly elegant appearance.
“How is it someone as beautiful as you hasn’t had—” he bit back sex, too personal, “—a date in a year?”
“No time or inclination.”
She was lying. He saw it in the quick look away, in the tiny twitch of a muscle in her jaw.
Not that he cared. He didn’t need to know her darkest secrets. For the next hour before he boarded that jet and returned to his miserable life, the only thing he needed to know was how he could pleasure this gorgeous woman.
“Know the feeling. About the lack of time,” he clarified, enjoying the spark of amusement in her eyes. “The inclination? Always there.” He shrugged, bashful. “It’s a guy thing.”
She laughed as he intended. “For two people in a lengthy dry spell, we’re doing an awful lot of talking and not enough seducing.”
He tugged on her hand so she landed flush against him, the feel of her soft curves a powerful turn on. “I’m all for moving onto the seducing part. Starting now.”
Her nipples grazed his chest and he bit back a groan as she leaned forward to murmur, “Follow me.”
He didn’t need to be asked twice.
He would’ve followed Adele to a nearby volcano and walked on lava if she’d asked, he was that goddamn horny.
For a guy who’d been taking care of himself to relieve pressure rather than any real enjoyment, his dick had suddenly become the center of his universe. And it demanded retribution, in the form of one sizzling redhead who led him across the beach, around a rocky headland and into a cave that looked like something out of a movie.
“Wow,” he said, releasing her hand long enough to slip off his shoes and socks, surprised by how much he liked feeling the sand beneath his feet.
When was the last time he’d been to a beach, let along strolled on the sand? Five years ago? Ten?
He remembered visiting Bondi Beach in Sydney with Jess a decade ago on their outback adventure…had it really been that long? Was his life that screwed up he didn’t take time out to enjoy the small things?
He knew the answer to that question and the resounding ‘hell yeah’ pissed him off.
“Spent the morning here,” she said, slipping off her sparkly stilettos and heading deeper into the secluded cover. “Chilled out. Did some thinking.”
“Looks like a good place for it.”
He could do with a private cove back on the mainland, a place to think. These days, he never seemed to have a private moment. Everyone wanted a piece of him, from his employees to the contributors to the voters.
It wearied him. More than that, he was exhausted, drained in a way he’d never thought possible. When had his dream turned into an ugly, strangling responsibility that dragged him down?
“You okay?” She sat on the sand and patted beside her. “Pull up a thinking spot.”
Smiling, he shrugged out of his jacket, undid his bow and dropped them on the sand, before sitting beside her. “I drifted off for a moment, thinking about stuff I need to deal with when I get back.”
“You never turn off in your profession?”
“Rarely.” His hand snaked across the sand to take hold of hers. “For now, I’d rather focus on being turned on.”
She blushed again, her cheeks luminous in the moonlight. “Want to hear something crazy?”
“Crazier than us meeting fifteen minutes ago and contemplating hooking up before we go our separate ways?”
The corners of her mouth curved. “Yeah, crazier than that.”
“Go ahead, hit me with it.”
“Now that we’re here, I’m nervous.” She cleared her throat. “Kinda like first date, first prom, first time, nervous.”
She was utterly, bewitchingly, adorable.
“Do you have any idea how refreshing it is to hear someone express themselves honestly?”
“You find my nerves amusing?”
“I find you completely intriguing and beguiling and dazzling.”
He didn’t give her time to answer, hauling her close and covering her mouth with his. Her lips opened in surprise and it was all the invitation he needed.