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Between the Sheets
By P.J. Mellor
APHRODISIA BOOKSCopyright © 2010 P.J. Mellor
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Oh, yeah, baby, that's right. Bend it, work it." Connor O'Brian slouched deeper into the leather bucket seat of his rental car and groped for his binoculars, his gaze locked on the woman in the red power suit across the street.
He visually caressed the trim ankle flexing above the black stiletto as she attempted to right the REDD HOT PROPERTIES real estate sign in the front yard of the beach house.
His gaze licked the length of tan leg exposed by the tight, short skirt while he mentally urged her to bend over a little farther. He was betting she wore a black thong.
When it became apparent she would not cooperate, his gaze took a leisurely trip along the gentle swell of her ass, shown to perfection, thanks to the tight skirt and the angle of her leg. The flair of her hip had his heart racing.
"Turn around," he urged in a hoarse whisper. "I need to see if the front is as delicious as the back view."
Her spine stiffened, and for a moment, he wondered if she'd heard him. She glanced left and right, then back over her shoulder.
He held his breath. It whooshed out when she again bent to her task, a clump of long, shining dark hair falling across her face, this time giving him a direct view down the plunging neckline of the black-trimmed red jacket. With each movement, her perfectbreasts jiggled in an intriguing manner.
She straightened again and swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. After a quick glance around, she stripped off the jacket and tossed it over a purse and briefcase a few feet away, then resumed her struggle with the sign.
Connor swallowed and adjusted the hardness pressing against the fly of his cargo shorts. Tank tops had intrigued him since puberty, and the form-fitting, wrapped black version the woman wore had just become his favorite.
He swallowed and swiped at the sweat trickling down his temples. If he turned the engine on to cool off, she might notice him.
He wasn't ready yet.
Andrea Redd brushed a strand of hair away from her sweaty forehead and glared at the sign. She'd sunk a million signs just like it over the years. She'd be damned if she'd let this one get the best of her.
The strains of "Five O'Clock Somewhere" filtered through the air above the sound of nearby waves. Abandoning her battlestation, she trudged to her purse and fished out her cell. "What?"
"Isn't that a lovely, professional way to answer your phone." Her assistant Lisa's droll voice echoed in her ear. "I know you prob don't want to hear this, but BFD, because we have a little, um, situation."
"Stop speaking in text-messaging jargon. It annoys me."
"Again, BFD. Everything annoys you lately." Lisa huffed out a sigh. "Do you want to hear what I have to say?"
"Do I have a choice?" Andrea balanced the phone on her ear and attempted to right the sign.
"We lost him."
"Who?" Please don't let it be the new client, she silently prayed. While business was good, it had been better. She'd planned to get back in the game with the next sale.
"Connor O'Brian. Remember? The guy we were supposed to be meeting at the airport this morning? Hello? IDK, is any of this ringing a bell?"
"Of course it is; don't be a smart-ass." She lifted her hair, allowing the ocean breeze to cool her neck. "What I don't understand is how in the hell you could lose him. My God, isn't he ancient, like a hundred or something? How difficult is it to find a doddering old rich guy? The airport isn't that big!"
"There you go, making assumptions again. All I know is the driver stood with the sign until everyone was gone and no Connor O'Brian."
"He has to be somewhere. His hotel? Did you check there?" She thumped the sign, which immediately fell over, so she kicked it for good measure. When had her life taken a wrong turn?
"Of course I checked." Lisa's voice brought her back to the conversation. "If he's on Mustang Island, he hasn't checked in yet."
"Great." Andrea sighed and glanced around. Was there a man in the car across the street? A second glance revealed nothing. "Well, keep trying to find him. We can only assume he'll show up for his appointment this afternoon." She added a quick thanks to her assistant and disconnected.
Connor slumped lower in the seat and held his breath. He could have sworn the woman looked straight at him. A buzz vibrated his hip. He pulled his cell from the holster. "Hello?" he said in a low voice.
"Where the hell are you?" His friend and financial advisor, Bill Farnsworth, bellowed. "I came to have a drink with you before your flight, and you were nowhere to be found."
"Bill, I was only going to Mustang Island. I think seeing me off was overkill."
"Not for you. It was for me. I wanted to make sure you actually left town this time. I need a break."
"You poor slob. I know managing my finances is a real drain on you. Wait! Isn't that why you became an advisor?" He could feel his muscles tensing, so he focused on the shapely behind of the woman and took a deep breath.
"Don't be an ass. You're my friend. I enjoy working for you. But I need a life, too, you know. I'm hoping you'll meet Miss Right and get married and have nine kids. And if you spend just five minutes a day with each child, it will free up forty-five minutes a day I can have all to myself. Is that too much to ask of an old friend?"
Bill was right about him needing a vacation, Connor realized as he pressed the disconnect button after the call. Granted, looking for vacation property wasn't technically it, but it was as close as he was able to get at the moment.
"That son of a bitch!" Andrea slammed down the phone on her desk, then fumed while she checked her nails for chips. Bad enough that Rich, her ex, was still mucking with her life, chipping a newly manicured nail would be the final straw of her lousy day.
"Problem?" Lisa peeked around the door of Andrea's office as though afraid what she might find.
"If Richard Redd was here right now, I'd cheerfully strangle him." Slumping back in the smooth burgundy leather desk chair, Andrea closed her eyes and rubbed her aching temples. "Then I'd castrate him with a dull butcher knife, just for fun."
"What'd he do now?"
"Stole another damn listing. The Hendersons just told me they decided to go with him instead of Redd Hot Properties." She opened her eyes to see Lisa edging into the room, mail in her outstretched hand, and sighed. "Lisa, relax. I've told you before-I don't blame you for anything he does. Or doesn't do."
"Thanks to my mother's dip into the shallow end of the gene pool, before she had the good sense to marry my dad, I'm still related to the scumbag."
Andrea regarded her best friend and ex-sister-in-law with a smile. "Well, at least something good came out of me being married to him. I met you."
"BFF. That's sweet." Lisa glanced at her watch. "But if you don't get a move on, you'll be late to meet Connor O'Brian."
"Connor O'Brian?" Andrea shifted some papers on her desk and scrolled through her appointment list. "I assume you found him, then?"
"Yeah, turns out he took an earlier flight and rented a car. He called while you were out." She motioned to Andrea's phone. "I sank all the data for you. With traffic, you need to leave ASAP. Like now."
Andrea retrieved her purse from the desk drawer. "The preapproval letter is in order, right?"
Lisa chewed on her lower lip. "Well, not exactly."
"What is it ... exactly?"
"Not here yet. But I'm sure it will be, any time now," Lisa rushed to assure her. "Ray wouldn't have referred him if he didn't have the money."
"True, but you know my policy. I don't waste my time on clients without a preapproval of some kind." She dug in her purse, finally dumping the contents on the desk. "Where are my damn keys?"
"In your car, I assume. Remember? You sent it to be detailed this morning. It's out front."
"Right. I knew that." Andrea stood and smoothed her skirt. "Pick all that up for me ... please? I'm going to brush my teeth and do a quick makeup check."
"IOI." Lisa reached for the pile on the desk.
Pausing at the door to her private bathroom, Andrea turned. "What?"
"I'm on it." Lisa did an eye-roll. "OMG."
"Cut it out, Lisa." Andrea twirled. "Do you think I should swing by home and change? I wouldn't want to give the old guy a heart attack." She chuckled. "At least not before he buys a house."
Her assistant smiled one of her damn wan smiles, the ones that always made Andrea nervous. "No prob."
Closing her eyes and counting to ten didn't lessen the feeling of foreboding Lisa's smiles always conjured. "I'm not going to waste precious time with twenty questions." She leveled her gaze on her assistant. "If you're withholding vital information, I suggest you get your résumé in order because you're fired."
Chapter TwoAndrea tossed her keys to the valet and strode through the revolving door of MacClairen's, girding herself for the inevitable feelings of inadequacy that always washed over her when entering the posh hotel. Logically, she knew it was a throwback to her less-than-fiscally-healthy beginning. A knee-jerk reaction.
Less than five minutes later, she breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped out of the private elevator onto the lavishly polished marble entry of the penthouse suite.
She could do this. A deep breath gave her oxygen-deprived lungs a moment to relax. Rolling her shoulders helped. It was a common occurrence; a lot of people held their breath on elevators.
Girding her business persona, she briskly tapped the polished brass knocker, pushing aside the niggling misgiving about Connor O'Brian's lack of preapproval. Surely it was an oversight. It would arrive any time.
The door swung wide, derailing her worrisome train of thought.
The young man standing in the open doorway cocked his head as he perused her from head to stiletto and back again, his sun-streaked blond hair falling boyishly over his forehead.
He was gorgeous-she'd give him that-and he probably knew it. No doubt girls flocked around him like homing pigeons.
She preferred her men more ... mature. Casual sophistication that came with age was very ... reassuring. Comforting. You knew where you stood with older men. They knew how to play the game, censure their facial expressions.
Unlike the young wannabe stud before her, who was all but drooling as his heated green gaze licked her from head to toe, pausing at all the tingling spots.
Which was utterly ridiculous. She was too old to tingle.
She straightened and glared her fiercest don't-fuck-with-me look.
He had the audacity to grin, his teeth white and straight in his guileless face. His long finger pushed up a pair of rimless glasses she hadn't noticed until that moment.
"Hello," she said with what she hoped was just the right blend of professionalism and authority. "I'm here to meet with Connor O'Brian. Would that, by chance, be your father?" Please, Lord, don't let it be his grandfather. Old, she could take. Old, she could coerce into buying. Doddering made her feel, well, too guilty.
Surfer Dude leaned one T-shirt-clad shoulder against the doorjamb, crossing his arms over his impressive chest. "Actually, my father is Connor O'Brian, but-"
"Excellent." Andrea swept past him and set her briefcase on the tiled foyer floor beside a cherry hall table, determined to regain her self-control. She was, after all, a professional. "Please tell him Andrea Redd, from Redd Hot Properties, is here for our appointment."
"But"-he shrugged and closed the door, then leaned against it, his gaze never leaving hers-"my father is in Miami."
Shit. "I'm sorry. I don't understand." In heels, she looked directly into his eyes, which was one of the reasons she preferred stilettos: They gave her power. "Connor O'Brian just arrived on the island. He called my office to set up this appointment. Was there some kind of emergency or ...?"
A slow shake of his head had her struggling to concentrate on his words instead of admiring his assets.
"My name is Connor O'Brian, too. I'm the one who made the appointment." He opened the door, inclining his head toward the hall. "I'm ready to go check out beach houses. How about you?" The grin he flashed was unrepentant.
No doubt about it, she needed damage control. Play nice, her mind screamed while her mouth blurted out, "Let's go, Junior."
"I thought you were going to show me beachfront property," Connor complained when Andrea Redd pulled her Mercedes 600SL to the curb after an uncomfortably silent ten-minute drive.
"This house has beach access." She opened her door and stepped out.
"It looks like it needs painting." He shut his door and glared at the forlorn-looking structure.
"It has that weathered look," she countered, striding toward the front door.
He shook his head to clear it of the lascivious thoughts the sway of her red-clad hips instilled and caught up to her as she inserted her card key into the lockbox on the "weathered" double entry doors. "I may not be from around here, but that," he said, pointing to the water in the distance, "doesn't look like the Gulf of Mexico."
She sighed and turned to pin him with her cool, crystal-blue gaze. "It's a lake, but it has all the amenities of Gulf property. It's really quite a deal."
"What makes you think I'm looking for a deal?" Did the snooty brunette actually think he couldn't afford Gulf property?
"Nothing, Junior, although I have not seen the promised preapproval letter. I just thought it was a good deal and possibly might work for you." A fine brow arched. "Perhaps if you gave me an idea of your price range, I could better narrow it down."
Connor sighed and ran a hand through his hair, wishing he'd gotten another haircut before leaving Houston. He glanced down at his more-than-casual attire and again cursed Bill for not only convincing him to take the trip but also for replacing his normal wardrobe. No wonder Andrea Redd didn't take him seriously. As soon as they were finished, he'd go buy some decent clothes. Wait. His wardrobe shouldn't make a difference. Maybe Miss High and Mighty needed to learn clothes do not make the man. Besides, she worked for him, regardless of what he wore.
"Stop calling me Junior," he finally said, "please."
"I thought you said you and your father had the same name."
"We do. But no one ever calls me Junior. Ever." He edged closer to her, unable to stop the urge to inhale the flowery scent of her perfume. Okay, maybe he also got a perverse sense of pleasure in knowing his nearness disturbed her. He could see it in the way her clear blue eyes widened a fraction and the fact she took a tiny step back.
What had gotten into him? After Whitley's defection, he'd sworn off powerful, high-maintenance women. Hell, in fact, he'd sworn off all women. At least for a while.
But there was something ... different about Andrea Redd.
And he intended to find out what.
Beneath his baggy cargo shorts, his cock stirred in an effort to tell him exactly what it thought about Ms. Redd.
He watched in fascination as her tongue darted out to lick her glossy lips, surprised to realize he wanted to feel that tongue, those lips, on his body.
It was his vacation, after all, pitiful as it was. And it was the first one in more years than he wanted to count. Why not?
Andrea forced her feet to stop retreating, locking her knees to keep them from trembling. Her heart raced, her breath coming in shallow huffs. Every nerve ending stood at attention. The whole situation was ridiculous. The man was young enough to be ... well, at least her younger brother. So what if he oozed sex appeal? She was immune, thanks to her snake-in-the-grass ex-husband and waning hormones.
He looked down at her from his less-than-considerable height advantage, thanks to her heels. She fought the urge to clutch her lapels together like some shy virgin, irritated he had the ability to make her nipples tingle with just a casual glance.
She took a quick peek downward and bit back a smile. Obviously Junior liked what he saw.
Redd Hot Properties could use a sale. Unloading the heretofore unsalable unit she'd just unlocked would just be icing on the cake.
And, really, was a little harmless flirtation, both giving and receiving, going to kill her?
Thinking of possibly unloading the property made her wet. Oh, yes, she could definitely see the possibilities in playing nice. Mutual satisfaction could perform miracles.
Excerpted from Between the Sheets by P.J. Mellor Copyright © 2010 by P.J. Mellor. Excerpted by permission.
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