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The loaded question was one I'd pondered on and off for over a week. Staring at the garment bag hanging on the back of my closed office door, I contemplated the gem concealed behind the zipper. A siren of a dress. Red. Slinky. Sexy as hell. It'd set me back a small fortune when I'd ordered it from Barneys New York, but I'd really had no choice. Desperate times and all that.
I'd yet to try it on, but when I'd ordered it from the website, I'd easily gleaned it was the type of dress meant to make jaws drop and tongues wag. Precisely what I needed for my younger sister's engagement party. My risqué ensemble would no doubt distract my family from their usual nitpicks and might even possess the power to stun them all into silence. A first in their collective lives.
My suit of armor was one strategic survival tactic for the weekend's ostentatious event. The pièce de résistance would be to have a devastatingly handsome man by my side. A nonverbal eat-your-heart-out directed at my sister's fiancé, Seth Corbett III. The man I was supposed to marry. That love train had jumped the tracks when I'd discovered him and Lizzie in our bed together. Doing things Seth had never done to me in the three years we'd been together.
Oh, it was hell having to face the two of them with a smile. Hence, the need to arm myself. And I knew just the deliciously sinful man to take with me to the party. Michael Houston. Famous photographer. Master flirt. Hottie extraordinaire.
Michael had been my rebound guy after Seth and Lizzie had ripped the rug out from underneath me. He'd also done things Seth had never done to me in the bedroom.
Thinking of my very brief, albeit ultrasteamy affair with Michael made my cheeks flush and my clit tingle. A natural response to such a wicked man.
It also caused that loaded question to pop into my head again.
Wearing the curve-hugging, off-the-shoulder dress to the engagement party would take all the nerve I possessed. Which wasn't a lot, unfortunately. Fiona Carlisle was a sensible, conservative twenty-seven-year-old woman. Not a femme fatale, by any stretch of the imagination.
Asking Michael to be my date for the evening would also test my willpower because he was damn difficult to resist. He liked to be bad, plain and simple. He was completely unapologetic about his flirtatious nature and highly skilled when it came to seducing women. He'd certainly swept me off my feet-right as I'd sworn off men because of Seth's infidelity.
Michael was a renowned womanizer. He liked the thrill of the chase. I suspected he considered me a challenge because he was typically in hot pursuit of me whenever he was in town. Somehow I'd managed to not fall into his bed again following our little fling. No easy feat.
In fact, his persuasiveness made me hesitant to ask him for this ginormous favor. I feared the sexual itch I had recently developed, now in desperate need of being scratched, would weaken my defenses. The last thing I wanted was to cave to temptation. As excitingand satisfyingas sex with Michael was, I'd barely escaped my last go-around with him without incurring more damage to my heart. He had the ability to make good girls like me fall a little too hard.
As I considered all this, my assistant's voice came over the intercom.
"Bad news," Jane said with a hint of warning. "Your mother's on line two."