All Night Loverby Sylvia Lett
She's ready for something new. . .
Hoping to start over after a painful divorce, Cassie Mancini moves to Texas and is ready to cut loose. When she attends her sister's bridal shower, she can't resist dancing with the sexy male stripper. There's just one problem. The man isn't a stripper. He's the groom's best man, Dr. Adam Hart, and he's a notorious/b>… See more details below
She's ready for something new. . .
Hoping to start over after a painful divorce, Cassie Mancini moves to Texas and is ready to cut loose. When she attends her sister's bridal shower, she can't resist dancing with the sexy male stripper. There's just one problem. The man isn't a stripper. He's the groom's best man, Dr. Adam Hart, and he's a notorious player. Humiliated, Cassie plans to keep her distance from Adam--even though she can't stop thinking about how good she felt in his arms.
He's ready for her. . .
Adam likes his life just the way it is. By not committing to anyone, he can have his choice of women. But when he meets Cassie, he's blown away by the sizzling chemistry they share. Determined to win her over, Adam sets out to capture Cassie's heart and prove to her that he's now a one-woman man. . .
Praise for Sylvia Lett
"With Perfect for You, Sylvia Lett offers a story of sizzling romance and dramatic suspense. A new writer to watch for." --Deirdre Savoy
"Lett has written a fast-paced novel with suspense, intrigue and romance. This is a real page-turner." --Romantic Times on Take Me Down
"Sylvia Lett is a magician at creating heroes to die for." --Evelyn Palfrey, Essence® bestselling author
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All Night Lover
By Sylvia Lett
DAFINA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 Sylvia Lett
All right reserved.
Chapter OneCassie Mancini sat staring blankly out her bedroom window. It was snowing again. The ground and rooftops were all covered in white, glistening snow. She shivered at the draft and closed the blinds and curtains.
When she looked into the mirror, her tired reflection stared back at her. Her brown eyes had lost most of their sparkle. Her small, heart-shaped face was perfect and free of blemishes. When she smiled, her cheeks dimpled and her twinkling brown eyes lit up her beautiful face. She rarely smiled these days.
She wore very little makeup to cover her natural beauty. Her small, heart-shaped lips held a slight pout. Beside her bottom lip was a small black mole. Long sandy brown hair hung down her back in a single braid. At twenty-five she looked more like seventeen. The only difference between then and now was her petite figure was better than it had been eight years ago. Her breasts were fuller, and her hips were rounder. She had developed both while pregnant and hadn't lost either after the birth of her son.
Giving herself one last critical look, she stepped away from the bureau and walked to her bed. She looked down at her watch, and it registered nine o'clock. It was bedtime. She had the first shift at the hospital in the morning.
She was picking up the remote control to turn off the television when something flashed across the screen and stopped her cold. Trent Mancini! Trent smiled brightly for the cameras.
"Today in a press conference, the president and CEO of Mancini Industries, Trent Mancini, announced his candidacy for mayor of New York. The New York native has issued a challenge to the incumbent for a debate."
She stared openmouthed at the TV screen. She had known her ex-husband had political aspirations, but she hadn't been sure if or when he would finally throw his hat into the race. No more guessing. Trent had made his intentions known to the world.
Cassie got up and paced the room. Okay, this doesn't bode well for me. This could explain why Trent wants to get back together. He wants to play happy family for his political career. Been there, done that. I'm not going through that farce again.
The phone rang, and Cassie walked over and picked it up. She saw Trent's number on the caller ID. Against her better judgment, she took the call.
"Hello," said Cassie, walking over to the window. Looking out, she saw bright lights and heard the distant hum of the subway.
"Hello, sweetheart. How are you? Have you heard the news yet?" asked her ex-husband hopefully.
"I'm fine. Your son is fine also. Thanks for asking. Yes, I heard the news. Good luck with your political career. I hope it works out for you."
"Aw, Cassie, don't be that way. You know I love you and TJ. You are my family. I'll be tied up in meetings tomorrow, but I'll be by next week. There's something I want to ask you."
Her heart was filled with dread. She knew what he wanted to ask her, and she wasn't about to give him the chance. "I'm busy next week. Trent, it's been three months since you've seen TJ. He's been asking about you."
"That's your fault. You took that right away from me when you blackmailed me into giving you full custody. This is on your head."
"If you had wanted to see him, you know I would have allowed it. I'm not going to argue with you about this. I know you never wanted a child and it's my fault for getting pregnant. I've heard it all before, Trent. You gave him up without a fight. The information my lawyer had on you wouldn't have stood up in court, and you know it. It was a cop-out on your part. You got exactly what you wanted. No wife, no child, and no child support. I also got what I wanted, you out of my life." Cassie slammed down the phone. The phone rang again, and Cassie snatched it up. "I'm done, Trent. Leave me alone."
"Cassie, it's not Trent. It's your father. What's going on?" her father asked, his voice filled with concern. "Is Trent harassing you?"
"Dad. Hi," said Cassie, breathing a sigh of relief. "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine. How are you?"
"Missing my little girl," he answered honestly. "Honey, I think it's time for you to come home. You are alone in New York with no family."
"It's not that simple, Dad."
"Yes, it is. You are alone with a small child in New York. Honey, your family is here in Dallas. We can help you with TJ. I worry about you. Okay. I'm done with the lecture. The other reason I'm calling is your sister. Monica is getting married next weekend. I know you received the wedding and shower invitation. Honey, I want you to be there. Your sister misses you, too. It's time to put this family back together. Trent Mancini is not worth what he put this family through. Come home, Cassie. Not just for our sakes, but for yours and your son's. I love you, sweetheart."
"I'll think about it. I love you, too, Dad, and I'll talk to you later," said Cassie sadly, then replaced the receiver. Once the receiver was down, the dam broke and she dropped down to the floor in tears.
Cassie had seen her family only three times in the past six years, since she'd left Dallas. They did not like or approve of Trent, and Cassie had sided with her husband over her family. They had all warned her about him, and she hadn't listened. She had been young and in love and had thought Trent was her Prince Charming. After their marriage, she had soon realized how wrong she was.
At last, she dried her eyes and came wearily to her feet. Her father was right. It was time to go home.
After checking in on TJ, she took a shower and went to bed. Closing her eyes, she prayed sleep would soon come, but alas, it would not be that easy. She had too much on her mind to sleep. She sat up in bed and lifted her laptop from the nightstand next to the bed. She turned on the computer and waited for it to boot up. Cassie began searching the Web for flights to Texas. Once satisfied with the price, she booked one-way tickets.
Getting ready for work on Monday was always hard for Cassie, but today was especially hard. She had decided that it was time to go to Dallas, and that meant turning in her resignation.
She hit the alarm button twice before drowsily climbing out of bed. After taking a shower, she proceeded with her morning ritual of getting ready. Turning on the coffeemaker, she went into TJ's room to get him ready for day care.
She looked around the room with regret. The wallpaper was blue and white with clowns and balloons. It had taken her so long to find the right wallpaper for this room, and now it didn't seem to matter so much.
TJ was fast asleep in his toddler bed. His chubby little arm was curved around his favorite teddy bear. Cassie couldn't resist touching his dark, straight hair. She dropped a kiss on top of his head. He moved slightly under her light touch.
"Honey, wake up. It's time to get up, sweetie."
His brown eyes popped open, and he sat up, rubbing his sleepy eyes. At four and a half years old, he already had his father's good looks. He had his father's hair and build. He was a small replica of Trent. The only things he had inherited from his mother were her stubbornness and her eyes.
TJ rolled out of bed and ran into the bathroom. A moment later he came back in the room with his toothbrush in his mouth. He smiled at Cassie, then left the room again. Upon returning three minutes later, this time without his toothbrush, he picked up the Superman sweat suit his mother had laid on the bed, then proceeded to dress himself. Cassie watched him with pride and smiled when he walked over to her for help. He was growing up so fast.
Forty-five minutes later Cassie dropped him off at day care and made him promise there would be no more fighting. He was very stubborn and only wanted to do what he wanted to do. TJ was missing out on a man's influence in his life. His grandfather would soon remedy that.
After waving good-bye to TJ, Cassie hopped back in her car and headed to the hospital. She arrived at the nurses' station a few minutes early. She quickly logged in to the computer and typed up her letter of resignation. She would work through the first shift on Wednesday. That would give her time to get everything in order for their flight out on Friday.
The hardest part was saying good-bye to her best friend, Laura. She and Laura had started at the hospital on the same day. Laura had been the one to laugh and cry with her through her good and bad times.
On Friday morning Cassie was up bright and early, loading suitcases into her car. She moved quietly around the apartment to keep from waking the sleeping imp. But TJ soon woke up, and she took the sheets and covers off his bed and packed them while he got dressed. Then they went out to pick up breakfast and brought it back to the apartment.
TJ was unusually quiet during breakfast. Cassie knew he was a bit scared and edgy about moving away from the only home he knew. She and TJ were finishing breakfast when the doorbell rang. TJ jumped to his feet.
"I'll get it," said Cassie. "You finish eating." She waited until he was back in his chair before she went to answer the door. Looking out the peephole, she saw Laura.
"Where's my favorite little boy?" asked Laura, looking around the room for her godson.
"He's eating breakfast," said Cassie, closing the door behind her. "He's a bit nervous about leaving his home."
"That's understandable," said her friend, setting her purse on the coffee table. "How are you doing? Having any second thoughts?"
"Do the words terrified and petrified mean anything to you? I know in my heart that I am doing the right thing, but I know Trent is going to freak when he finds out I'm gone."
"Aunt Laura," said TJ excitedly. He ran into her open arms, and she hugged him, planting a kiss on his dimpled cheek.
Laura frowned. "I still can't believe you are leaving. Now who am I going to tell all my deepest, darkest secrets to?"
"I'll only be a phone call away. You have Dad's number and the address. I will call and write often," Cassie assured her.
"We'd better get going if I'm going to get you guys to the airport in time." Laura took one of the large rolling suitcases, and Cassie took the other one.
Cassie looked around the apartment one last time. This was it. Laura was making sure all her furniture was donated to charity. Cassie didn't want to take anything with her. She wanted a fresh start.
They shared a tearful good-bye with Laura at the airport. She couldn't bring herself to go inside the terminal to see them off.
Cassie watched her son shift nervously in his seat. This was TJ's first airplane ride, so she had let him sit by the window so he could see out.
When the plane landed in Dallas, they made their way to baggage claim. Cassie took the bags off the conveyor belt and rolled them outside to the curb. TJ was by her side as she nervously waited for her father to pick them up.
A few minutes later the silver Mercedes pulled up to the curb. Peter Randall got out of the car, and Cassie had only a few seconds to appraise her father before he pulled her into his embrace. Cassie returned his hug. Peter released her and kneeled down and hugged TJ.
Peter Randall was tall, well over six feet, and athletic. His short brown hair was parted on the side and tinged with gray at his ears. His face was handsome, though he had a few worry lines on his forehead. His eyes were a striking gray. He was dressed in a pair of black slacks and a gray-and-black sweater. Even though he was casually attired, everything about him screamed money. His walk, talk, and mannerisms all spoke volumes about how he had been raised.
"It's good to have you home, sweetheart, both of you. Here, let me get your luggage." He clicked the button on his key chain, and the trunk of the Mercedes opened. Peter placed the bags in the trunk and then opened the front passenger door for Cassie and then a back door for TJ. "You made it just in time. If you're up to it, I can drop you off at the club for your sister's bachelorette party. It's at a local jazz club called Have Hart."
Cassie nodded. "I'd love to surprise Monica. You don't mind keeping an eye on TJ?"
"I'd love to spend some time with my only grandchild. I had the cook prepare a special meal for us. So, is this a visit, or are you home to stay? Where does Trent fit into this picture? Please tell me you are finished with him."
"You don't beat around the bush, do you, Dad?" Cassie asked, looking over at her father.
"There's no point in it." He looked over at his youngest daughter. "So which is it, Cassie?"
"We're home to stay. Can we talk about this later? I really don't want to get into this in front of TJ." She did not want to discuss her failed marriage or her ex-husband with her father.
Cassie saw the sign on the door, CLOSED FOR PRIVATE PARTY. She knocked on the glass door. A security guard unlocked it.
"Hi. I'm the bride's sister. I'm a little early for the party. Can I wait inside?" She waved to her father and watched him drive away.
"Sure, come on in," said the hulking bodyguard as he let her inside. "The caterer is still setting up the food. The DJ is here, but the entertainment has not arrived yet. He should be here any moment."
Cassie looked around the nightclub in appreciation. It was very upscale. She sat down at the bar. She couldn't wait to see the look on Monica's face.
"Hi," said a voice behind her. "You're a little early for the party."
Cassie twirled around on the bar stool to face the man behind the voice. Her eyes lit up as she took in the handsome man standing before her.
In the words of her best friend, really yummy.
He was a little over six feet tall, with broad shoulders, a flat stomach, and long, muscular legs. He was definitely an athlete. His hands were medium sized and well groomed. His nails looked almost like they were manicured. His skin was coffee with a hint of cream. His hair was black and short, and he had a neatly trimmed goatee.
Strong, muscular biceps bulged beneath the short sleeves of his black silk shirt. The first few buttons were open, and a sprinkling of dark, curly hair peeked out. Around his neck was a thin gold chain. His legs were encased in a pair of snug black leather pants. A matching leather jacket was thrown casually over his shoulder.
Her eyes moved down his body in appreciation. He was quite appetizing, although overdressed, unless he was the entertainment.
That's it. He has to be the entertainment.
Dark, penetrating eyes raked over her in appreciation. His eyes moved from her red chiffon blouse down to her black slacks and matching high-heeled boots and back up again. Her sandy brown, long hair was pinned up on top of her head. She wore minimal makeup on her heart-shaped face. Her lips were outlined with a soft plum lipstick. He found himself getting lost in her sultry brown eyes.
Adam was definitely impressed by her. He couldn't tell how tall she was from her position at the bar, but he could see enough of her. Her legs were slim, and so were her hips. He could easily make out the outline of her breasts beneath her blouse. Red was a good color for her.
There was something familiar about him, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. She frowned as he strode past her and went back behind the bar. She watched him scoop up some ice and squirt water in a glass. He placed the glass on the counter in front of her.
"Thank you," said Cassie. Recognition dawned on her. She remembered where she'd seen his smiling face. She's seen him on a billboard as they were leaving the airport. "Now I know where I've seen you. You're the billboard guy. You do the strip-a-grams."
"Excuse me?" Adam laughed, facing her. Is she for real? If she wasn't, she was a great actress. She thought he was a stripper. He didn't know if it was a compliment or an insult. Should he play along with her, or tell her who he really was? His first instinct was to tell her.
"The bodyguard said the entertainment should be here shortly, and you are definitely dressed for the part," she said matter-of-factly.
He stared at her in silence, not bothering to correct her.
"I can't believe my stepmother has a stripper at Monica's bachelorette party. I can see I've missed a lot. If you need to practice, I won't disturb you. I'm really not into that kind of thing, but knock yourself out."
Excerpted from All Night Lover by Sylvia Lett Copyright © 2010 by Sylvia Lett. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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