Authors: Desiree Holt
Dancing With Danger
Rachel Windsor knew nothing about Gabriel Peralta except that he was walking sex appeal. He blew into her life without notice, here today then always gone on a puff of wind. But each time he appears, he does things to her body that even her fantasies haven’t conjured up, driving her to orgasms that shake her like a raging storm. His mouth knows every inch of her body. The imprint of his intimate kisses linger long after he disappears.
Now he’s back again, his life unexpectedly on the line. But even in the danger zone his sexual demands are more scorching than ever and this time, Rachel is determined not to lose him—or the erotic lifestyle that binds them.
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
Dancing With Danger
ISBN ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Dancing With Danger Copyright © 2009 Desiree Holt
Edited by Helen Woodall
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication October
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.
DANCER WITH DANGER
To Cindy and Rita, who keep me going on even the worst days and whose friendship is the cornerstone of my life.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Keurig: Keurig Inc.
Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz Inc.
The party had been going on far too long. It was a weeknight so dinner had been scheduled for six o’clock. The hosts had spoken and made their plea, things should be wrapping up now. The room should have been at least half empty. But it seemed no one was the least bit interested in leaving. The din of conversation competed with the sound of the orchestra, which segued from one rhythmic tune to another and people continued to jam the dance floor as well as both bars.
Standing quietly in one corner, Rachel Winters looked glanced over the room. She couldn’t quite conceal a smile of satisfaction. Another successful fundraiser for The Harris Foundation. Despite tough economic times, the people who had the money couldn’t seem to give it fast enough to Sam and Loraine Harris, people with old money and a very old social position. People everyone wanted to curry favor with.
Now the Harrises were mingling with their guests, discreetly collecting checks, their bodyguards in tuxedos and guns never more than inches away. Two years ago Sam had been kidnapped by a terrorist cell who wanted an enormous ransom to fund an arms purchase. Rachel remembered that time vividly. A very black ops agency contacted by one of Sam’s close friends had taken over, faceless men moving soundlessly around the offices, interrogating everyone while a hand-picked team went in to retrieve Sam. Now the same agency provided security 24/7. It had been a difficult time for all of them and Rachel still worried about their vulnerability.
Rachel smoothed a hand down the silken fabric of her signature black cocktail dress. She always wore black, convinced it minimized the flaws in her figure. She saw her hips as too wide, her thighs as too chunky, her tummy as too rounded, especially for someone as short as she was. Now she wished she could kick off the four-inch heels she used to boost her five-foot-two-inch height. Her thick honey-colored hair was pulled up in a sophisticated arrangement that added yet another inch or two. Anything to make her feel less like a chunky miniature lost at an adult function.
Casually she stole a look at her watch. Eight thirty. Should she find some way to signal people the party was over? Sam and Loraine weren’t so young anymore and these functions were always grueling for them. She loved her job and the Harrises treated her like family, which made her take a more personal interest in their welfare.
Serving as director of The Harris Foundation filled her days and nights.
Too bad it couldn’t take care of her heart, which she was sure destined to remain unfulfilled. Why did she have to go and fall for a mystery man anyway? One who appeared without warning and then was gone like a wisp of smoke. No matter how sexy he was, how good in bed, how he drove her to the highest plains of pleasure, he never stayed. Never gave her more of himself than one night at a time and those were few and far between.
She didn’t even know what he did. They’d met at a barbecue given by mutual friends and fallen into bed within hours of “hello”. But even those friends couldn’t—or wouldn’t—give her any information about him.
She knew his name. Gabriel Peralta. That was it—if that was even his real name.
She also knew he was six foot four of lean hard muscle with thick silken black hair she loved to run her fingers through, a hawk nose and eyes like onyx. Hands that could make a woman’s body writhe in pleasure and a magnificent cock that stretched her to capacity and made her explode with its friction.
And scars whose origin he refused to discuss.
Just as he refused to discuss anything else. Whenever she tried to lead the conversation in that direction, he artfully distracted her with his talented mouth and hands and body. In seconds she would be a writhing mass on the bed and any thought of questions disappeared as if it’d never occurred to her.
Weeks would go by without her seeing him, weeks in which she imagined every type of situation her brain could conjure up. He was a spy. He was covert military. He was a mercenary. On the worst days she even wondered if he was married and had a wife—maybe a family—that he spent his time with between his visits to her. But she always dispelled that idea quickly. No man could be so sexually intense with her if he had another woman in his life.
Sometimes she thought what an idiot she was, living for the rare visits with nothing in between. A smarter woman would tell him to go to hell and get on with her life. But no man she met came even close to measuring up to him. In any way. So there didn’t seem to be anything to get on
. She’d stopped circling the dates of his visits on the calendar, just focused on her work and accepted the pleasure he brought when he magically appeared.
She was imagining him in her head, wondering when he’d appear out of the darkness again, when a smooth male voice cut into her thoughts.
“I would love to have one dance with you, Miss Winters. If you don’t mind.”
She shook herself from her reverie to find Lincoln Harris standing in front of her with an expectant smile. Dancing with him was last on her list of things she wanted to do. Just being with him gave her a headache. She didn’t like the man. The fact that he was handsome in a classical sense and kept himself in top condition didn’t offset his personality. He was egotistical, self-involved and arrogant.
Unfortunately he was also the heir to the family fortune, CEO of Harris Industries since his father’s semiretirement and president of the foundation board. He wasn’t someone she could easily brush aside. Or god forbid, offend in any way. Any imagined slight on her part could make her life very difficult. Board meetings that he ran gave her fits but she’d learned long ago how to deal with the Lincoln Harrises of the world. She just wished Sam and Loraine weren’t quite so blind to him.
Rachel rubbed her forehead. Tonight for some reason she was edgy and Lincoln Harris wasn’t a recipe for calm. However, she put on her public smile and held out a hand to him, reminding herself it was just part of the job. Even if she couldn’t stand the guy, her paycheck obligated her to be nice to him.
“Of course.” She forced her lips into a smile. “It would be my pleasure.”
Rachel, what an accomplished liar you are.
The orchestra swung into an old familiar ballad and Lincoln led her onto the dance floor. He would have pulled her tightly against him but she put her free hand on his shoulder, ensuring at least an inch or two of space between them.
“You’ve done an excellent job tonight,” he complimented her. “I believe this is our best turnout yet.”
“It took a lot of people to make this happen,” she demurred, turning her face away from his. The scent of his cologne was overpowering. “You and your parents have really carried your message to people. The right people.”
“Don’t be so modest. You deserve a lot of credit for the work you do.” He tightened his arm around her slightly. “I’ve been watching you for a long time, you know. You’re smart. You have elegance and grace, always know just the right thing to say to people.
An asset to the foundation. Perhaps when this is over we can share a quiet drink together. Talk about…things.”
And I know just the kind of things you’ve got on your mind, you repulsive lecher.
While she was searching for a polite way to turn him down a hand touched her shoulder and a familiar voice broke into the conversation and she knew what that edgy feeling tonight had been—her radar working overtime. “Sorry. The lady has other plans.”
Even after all this time, after so many long absences, Gabriel Peralta’s honey-smooth baritone could still make her knees wobble and her pulses pound. She was stunned that he’d showed up at a place like this, an event with so many people. Usually he slipped into her house in the dark of night and left the same way.
Lincoln glared at the man behind Rachel, anger and outrage chasing briefly across his face. “I’m sorry. Have we met? I’m Lincoln Harris. And you are…”
“A close…friend of Rachel’s.” Gabe’s hand tightened on her shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us. I’m only in town for a short while and we have a lot of catching up to do.”
In a smooth maneuver he slipped her from Lincoln Harris’ arms and into his and began moving them away, his feet catching the rhythm of the music. She glanced over Gabe’s shoulder and caught the controlled anger on Lincoln’s face before he melted back into the crowd. She hoped there wouldn’t be a price to pay.
Rachel realized suddenly he was wearing what she considered an unusual outfit for him. All she’d ever seen him in were jeans and t-shirts, sometimes with a leather jacket if the weather was cool. But tonight he had on an expensively tailored charcoal gray suit, white shirt with gold cufflinks and a conservative tie. He looked exactly as if he belonged with the invited guests. It added a new dimension to her impressions of him.
With her face pressed to Gabe’s chest, she inhaled his distinctive scent, all male with a hint of the outdoors and something citrusy. She would never tell him that she still had a t-shirt he’d left several months ago that she slept with every night, holding the smell of him close to her.
“I’m impressed with your outfit,” she told him. “Did you have to borrow it?”
His chuckle rumbled against her body. “Believe it or not I actually own real-people clothes.”
“How did you get in here, anyway?” She had committed the extensive list to memory and she knew for sure his name hadn’t been there. “The guest list is completely vetted and our security is top notch.”
He chuckled softly. “Yes, I know that. But I have connections.”