Read an Excerpt
A Shameless Seduction
By Janelle Denison
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Chapter One"I need a woman."
"You most certainly do. Maybe if you got laid every once in a while you wouldn't be so uptight at the office."
Cole Sommers shot his younger brother a tolerant look from across the expanse of his polished oak desk. "Ha-ha, very funny, Noah. You're a laughriot."
Noah chuckled despite Cole's unhumorous tone. "Hey, it's the truth. Sex does wonders for a guy's attitude. Take me for example. I'm always in a great mood." His trademark bad-boy grin made an appearance, making his blue eyes gleam with satisfaction and purpose. "And judging by your surly attitude lately, I'd say it's been a while since you've blown off some ... steam, among other things."
Cole grunted in reply. Reclining in his chair, he rolled his shoulders, inwardly admitting that he had been tense and restless lately. He just wasn't sure if it was a result of not getting laid, or rather the culmination of some unstimulating sex. The last brief affair he'd had nearly six months ago hadn't been all that mind-blowing and had left him feeling like something crucial had been missing ... like an emotional connection. As a result, he'd become more discriminating when it came to dating and sexual relationships, which had narrowed the field of women considerably and left him celibate and even more irritable than normal.
But with no woman constraining him he could concentrate full-time on his true love. His P.I.firm was his mistress, and Sommers Investigative Specialists was demanding enough to occupy his days and nights.
"You're awfully quiet," Noah said, breaking into his thoughts. "Does that mean I'm right?"
"Hardly," Cole drawled. "Love 'em and leave 'em is your motto, not mine."
"Hell, you don't even love 'em." Noah stretched his long, jean-clad legs in front of him and clasped his hands behind his head. "That's the whole problem, Cole. For you, work comes before pleasure. It's always been that way."
"I've had my share of relationships," he refuted. But Noah was right about his dedication to his work. The wealth of responsibilities he'd taken on at a very early age was all he'd ever known. He wasn't complaining. He loved his job and career. So, at the age of thirty-three, he'd pretty much resigned himself to being a confirmed bachelor, and he was fine with that status. Work and past obligations had consumed him, a single-minded trait that stemmed from the bitter divorce of his parents, his mother's tragic death, and then the loss of the one man he'd always looked up to and thought of as his own personal hero.
Unerringly, his gaze shifted to the eight-by-ten picture of his father hanging on the wall in his office. In the candid photo, his dad was dressed in his police uniform and Cole was standing next to him, a beaming young teenager without a care in the world. That had been years before his father had been shot in the line of duty and Cole's entire life and future had shifted in a way that he'd never, ever expected.
Cole's strict work ethics had been borne out of sheer preservation - for him and his younger siblings. Yet despite the burden and duties he'd accepted as his own, he'd never resented the choices he'd made. He'd like to believe that the past had made him a stronger, better man - albeit one without as great a sex life as his carefree brother.
"If you'll remember correctly, I was left with a family to support at the age of twenty-one," he reminded Noah. "That didn't exactly leave a whole lot of time for play."
The mention of their father's death sobered Noah and softened his features. "You did a damn fine job with me and Joelle. And you've spent the past ten years building this investigative firm into a reputable agency. Hell, we're all gainfully employed because of you. So maybe it's time you put a little fun and excitement into your life and enjoy whatever comes your way."
Cole grinned wryly. "Is that your answer to everything?"
"Most things, yeah," Noah admitted unabashedly. "The fun balances out the stress. Wanna place a bet here and now that I live longer than you?"
"Because of all that great sex you're having?"
Noah's grin broadened. "I'm telling you, Cole, you really ought to give it a shot - on a regular basis, that is."
A frustrated breath eased out of Cole. "Do you think we can get past dissecting my sex life?"
Noah smirked. "You mean your nonexistent sex life."
"Thank you for reminding me of that. Repeatedly."
"Hey, us guys have to stick together. You've spent a whole lot of years looking out for me, so I'm trying to repay the favor."
Cole shot his brother a pointed, direct look. "Can we get back to the original discussion?"
"Sure." Noah sat up straighter in his chair, affecting a serious demeanor. "Let's see, you need a woman and you think I can supply one for you. Is that it?"
Cole cringed when his secretary, Melodie Turner, walked through his open office door just in time to hear Noah's outrageous comment. Her deep brown eyes grew wide with surprise, which quickly ebbed to curiosity as her gaze slid from Noah to Cole. She studied him with a look of feminine interest that made his skin prickle and the heat of awareness settle deep in his belly.
He shook off the subtle reaction and damned Noah for putting thoughts of sex into his head. Dressed in a conservative navy dress that covered her from neck to calves, and with her hair in a neat and tidy French braid, his prim and proper secretary was the last woman to inspire lustful thoughts. Or so he'd been trying to convince himself for the past few months.
She was pretty enough in a fresh, wholesome kind of way, but she wasn't even close to being the type of woman he'd favored since graduating from college years ago. Melodie was too sweet, innocent, and nurturing for his tastes. A quintessential good girl who looked prime for the prerequisite 2.5 kids, dog, and house in the burbs. After raising his brother and sister, he wasn't in a hurry to repeat the process with kids of his own, if at all. Cole had no desire to be tied down. He liked his freedom - to come and go as he pleased, to stay as late as he wanted at the office - the only responsibilities being those he inflicted upon himself.
Excerpted from A Shameless Seduction by Janelle Denison
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.