Read an Excerpt
By Brenda Jackson
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2004 Brenda Jackson
All rights reserved.
Nine Months Later
Tyrone Hardcastle clasped his hands around a mug of hot chocolate while sitting in a café in New York City in the middle of January, with the temperature less than fifteen degrees outside. He almost envied the two brothers and cousin he'd left behind in D.C. to run things at Leo's.
Almost but not quite.
Even with the cold weather, nothing was better than being in New York in the wintertime. He had grown accustomed to New York winters while a student at Juilliard. In spite of the ice, snow, and cold, there was something invigorating about being back in the Big Apple, even for just a short while, especially since he was here to do something he got a lot of pleasure from: sharing his musical talent with others.
He thoroughly enjoyed his job as entertainment director at Leo's Supper Club, a restaurant he owned along with his oldest brother Noah, his twin brother Tyrell, and his cousin Ayanna. During the year he occasionally traveled to a number of places to keep his finger on the pulse of the music industry, which was the reason he was in New York. He had returned to work as a visiting music professor at Columbia University for six weeks.
Tyrone glanced up, looked out the window, and studied the feminine figure moving across the street, then drew in a deep breath as a sudden feeling of heat slithered through his body. This was the second time he had seen her this week, and both times he had gotten this sudden feeling of acute desire. He wondered if she were someone he knew, but both times he'd only managed to catch a glimpse of her from the back. As she was also wearing a huge overcoat and a knitted cap, he hadn't been too sure. Still, a part of him wondered, what was the possibility of two women having that same sensuous walk? As far as he was concerned, Sydney Corbain definitely had a patent on it. She also had a patent on the sudden rush of passion he was feeling. In all his thirty-three years, she was the only woman who could make him feel such an irresistible attraction.
Thinking of Sydney, he recalled the last time they had seen each other, at her brother's wedding nearly nine months ago. He would never forget that day. They had not exchanged a single word yet somehow managed to take the art of flirtation to a whole new level. They had been rather creative, and she had definitely gotten a rise out of him ... literally.
She'd had all the qualities needed to attract a man's attention that day, and had definitely attracted his. From the moment she walked down the aisle as a bridesmaid his libido had gone into overdrive. Instead of the long gowns that most attendants wore, the three brides had decided to go with short bridesmaids' dresses. There was nothing like seeing a great pair of legs to turbocharge a man's mating instincts, and his had nearly overloaded. He couldn't forget the perfume he'd gotten a whiff of when she passed him on her way to the altar. It had been soft, sultry, and sexy as hell.
At the reception things had gotten even more interesting. After posing for enough pictures to last the brides and grooms until their silver anniversaries, Sydney had changed into an outfit that showed not only a lot of leg but also a nice amount of cleavage. He hadn't been the only man watching her, but he'd been the only man whose interest she had reciprocated.
Since he'd been technically working that day to make sure the music at the reception was everything the brides had wanted, he did not get a chance to speak to Sydney, but he had definitely enjoyed their flirting game. He had asked her brother Linc about her a few months ago when the newlyweds had patronized Leo's one Sunday morning for brunch. According to Linc, she was doing fine and was busy back in Memphis working on an important court case.
Tyrone sighed deeply and made a quick decision to solve the mystery of the woman across the street and why she had made him think of Sydney. When he saw her enter a neighboring shop, he stood, threw more than enough money on the table for his bill, placed the straps to his saxophone case on his shoulder, left the café, and quickly crossed the street.
The evening was still young, and for once he didn't have anything else to do.
* * *
Sydney smiled the moment she stepped across the threshold of Victoria's Secret. Closing her eyes, she inhaled the subtle scent of everything feminine, a trademark of every Victoria's Secret store she patronized. She liked feeling sexy as well as looking the part.
Opening her eyes, she walked into the store and immediately went over to a table where panties were on display. She was beginning to develop a fetish for sexy underwear, and before her were some of the sexiest. She picked up a pair of cotton low-rise V-string panties and definitely liked the feel of the material. She had begun wearing the scanty undies, liking the way they fit, the freedom of movement they provided, and the naughtiness of wearing almost nothing.
Her smile widened as she glanced at the tag. They were on sale! Deciding that a dozen or so were definitely a must-buy, she concentrated on selecting the size and the colors she wanted, then quickly decided that, while she was at it, she might as well buy the colorful sexy-looking bras to match.
"Can I help you, Miss Corbain?"
Sydney inhaled sharply, startled at the deep, masculine voice behind her, very close to her ear. Her heart started pumping enough blood to bring a dead man back to life, and a sizzle of awareness coursed rapidly through her body. She blinked to bring herself out of her sexy haze. Only one man had the power to make her feel overloaded from so much sensuous heat. However, that man was supposed to be in Washington, D.C.
Her arms filled with at least fifteen pairs of panties, she slowly turned around, tilting her head back to take a good look. Her eyes grew wide in surprise, and for a brief moment her words stuck in her throat as she tried to speak. Finally, after swallowing deeply, she found her voice.
"Tyrone Hardcastle! What are you doing in New York?" She allowed her gaze to soak up just how good he looked in his black leather overcoat, a sax case over his shoulder. And as always, his features were calm, composed, and utterly handsome.
Tyrone smiled and crossed his arms over his chest. "I should be asking you the same question, although I think it's obvious," he said, indicating the bundle of brightly colored panties she cradled tightly in her arms.
Sydney shook her head. There was no point in getting embarrassed, although it wasn't every day a man was present when she purchased her underwear. Even Rafe would not have dared.
She continued to hold Tyrone's gaze, transfixed. His smile was a complete turn-on, vibrantly alive, sensuous, and blatantly male. She had always appreciated his smile, but found that she appreciated it even more today. The weather was rather cold outside, but he was definitely thawing her out. "Well, these purchases are only part of the reason. They're an added perk, I guess you can say," she finally answered. "There's nothing like a Victoria's Secret sale."
Tyrone glanced around at all the scantily clad mannequins, then tilted his head at her. "You like shopping at this place, do you?" In his mind he was imagining her wearing some of the items he saw on display.
"Yes." She decided to quickly change the subject. "You never told me what you're doing in New York." She wondered what he would think if he knew that since her brother's wedding, he had been the object of her fantasies and a participant in many of her heated dreams.
"I'm in town for six weeks as a visiting music professor at Columbia University. And you?"
She smiled. "I'm getting much-needed rest. For the past four months I've been involved in a very taxing litigation case. I'm proud to say that I won, but it took a lot out of me. When a friend who's a television news correspondent asked me to come here and stay in her apartment and watch her dog for three weeks while she did an assignment in Barcelona, I jumped at the chance."
She glanced at the snowflakes falling lightly outside the store's display window and added, "Although I wish it could have been summer instead of winter."
Tyrone shook his head and laughed. "Sweetheart, winter is the best time to be in New York."
Sweetheart. Although she knew he hadn't meant anything by the use of the endearment, it sent shivers up her body just the same. And then it started happening — the attraction she'd come to expect intensified. She knew the exact moment that he picked up on it as well. Her long sigh echoed simultaneously with his, and his eyes darkened as her gaze was drawn to his lips. He had such a pretty mouth for a man, one that was meant to kiss and be kissed. Then there was everything else about him: tall, muscular build, very nice features, and sandy brown hair. A woman couldn't do much better, unless she happened to meet his identical twin.
Sydney blinked upon realizing he had said something. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" she asked, embarrassed he had caught her staring.
A grin tilted both corners of his mouth. "I asked what were your plans for later. Would you like to have dinner with me?"
His grin did things to her insides. "Dinner?"
"Yes, dinner. And since I know that you like French food, an evening at Au Petit Beurre would be nice."
She raised a brow. "And how do you know I like French food?" she asked, although she already knew the answer.
He laughed then said, "A little birdie told me."
She couldn't help but laugh along with him. Since one of the grooms at the wedding, Franco Renoir, was part French and part African-American, a number of tasty French dishes had been prepared, compliments of Tyrone's twin Tyrell, who was Leo's master chef. Sydney had spent a lot of time at the buffet table and, as Tyrone had watched her closely that night, he would have definitely noticed all her activities.
But then, she had watched him that night as much as he had watched her.
"So, what about dinner, Sydney?" More than anything he wanted to take her out. The attraction that had been there between them from the first still burned, and there was no way he could walk away from it this time.
She sighed deeply, knowing there was no way she could turn him down. "What time do you have in mind? I'd like to finish my shopping first, then go home and change."
He nodded. "All right. I need to go back to the hotel and change as well. And I want to call my parents. Today is their fortieth wedding anniversary."
Sydney smiled. "Oh, that's wonderful." And she really meant it. She was proud of the number of years her own parents had been happily married. They would be celebrating their thirty-fifth anniversary later that year, and she and her three brothers knew their parents were still very much in love. She always planned to have that sort of happy ending for herself. It had been her goal after finishing law school to meet the perfect man, get married, and have his children. She had thought she'd found him in Rafe only to discover that was not the case. But she refused to give up. She truly believed there was a man out there somewhere who believed in love and marriage as much as she did.
"Thanks. I think it's wonderful how long they've been married, too," Tyrone said, although he'd never really given the longevity of his parents' marriage much thought. However, her words made him stop and appreciate what they had together.
He checked his watch and asked, "Would seven o'clock be okay?"
She smiled. "Yes, seven will be fine."
He nodded. "Give me your address."
She rattled it off to him and he wrote it down on a piece of paper. "Strivers Row? That's a real nice part of Harlem," he commented.
"Yes, it is. My friend is doing quite well for herself."
Tyrone shifted his sax strap to the other shoulder. "Well then, I'll see you at seven. He started to walk off, then turned around, smiled, and added, "You may as well get a purple pair, too. I think that color would look good on you."
She couldn't help but laugh again. "I'll think about it, Mr. Hard-castle." She watched as he left the store, keeping her eyes glued to him until he was no longer in sight. His nearness had really scrambled her brain. Before walking off to where the bras were located, she snatched an additional pair of panties off the table — purple — thinking it was a shame he would never see her in them.CHAPTER 2
Sydney checked her appearance once again in the mirror. She had no qualms about going out with Tyrone, in fact she was rather excited. Chalk it up to her still being on a high after winning that court case, as well as the fact that she was away from Memphis, where her behavior would not be scrutinized and used as a possible weapon against her father's reelection bid.
She smiled and for a brief moment thought how in New York she could do just about anything she wanted. Being the only daughter of Judge Warren Cobain was pretty difficult at times, especially when wanna-be politicians didn't play fair, ran dirty campaigns, and thought nothing of smearing someone's reputation. Such was the case in the last election, when her father's opponent had spread vicious rumors about her parents' marriage. Sydney had found out the hard way that no one was spared when someone was obsessed with winning.
She also had to confess there was another reason why she looked forward to her date with Tyrone, one she had only owned up to while getting dressed. She liked challenges, and Tyrone Hardcastle was definitely a challenge.
Raven had been full of information about him since her sister Robin had dated Tyrone's twin brother Tyrell a few years back. Tyrone was known to date a lot of women but would not hesitate to put the brakes on any involvement that started taking precedence over his music. He was a born musician, a gifted artist, whose first love was his music.
Sydney tossed her hair back to apply her lipstick. Music or no music, the bottom line was that the two of them were deeply attracted to each other. He knew it and she knew it, and in that way the two of them had forged some sort of intimate bond. Whenever he looked at her she felt passionate, wild, filled with the most wanton kind of lust.
In a way, his attraction to her was comforting, especially after Rafe made it seem like she'd been lacking in the bedroom. He thought she had been criticizing him one night when she'd tried suggesting ways to boost their sexual pleasure — specifically hers. She'd read an article in a women's magazine about how a woman should be able to openly communicate with her mate and tell him what she wanted in the bedroom, especially if the pleasure was becoming one-sided. She had noticed that their lovemaking had started getting rushed and was usually over before she'd even reached sexual fulfillment. He would roll away, satisfied, and she'd be left wanting.
After reading the article, she decided to broach the subject with Rafe, and all she'd ended up doing was crushing his male ego. He'd said that if she wasn't getting anything out of their sex life, it meant she wasn't putting enough into it, which was her fault and not his. He further declared after a somewhat heated and downright nasty exchange, that he had no intentions of altering his style of doing things. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing wrong with his technique. He had left angry and had not called her for four days. That night had shown her he really didn't care about her feelings. The world revolved around Rafe and his wants. It had also shown her it was time to wise up and do something about her situation. Life was too short to have to put up with unnecessary foolishness.
The next time he'd shown up at her place, she had asked for her key and told him to get the hell out of her life. That had been over a year ago. In the beginning, he had called constantly and sent her flowers numerous times as an apology, but she hadn't felt inclined to forgive him for being selfish and inconsiderate. He had learned a hard lesson — that he had his ego, but she also had her pride.
Rafe had been the first guy she'd slept with. At the time, she thought they had a promising future together, not knowing then that he was the type of man stamped "Fragile, handle with care, and proceed with caution." She was grateful that she had too much confidence in herself to believe what Rafe had said about her being totally lacking. She may not have been a pro in the bedroom, but she hadn't been a complete failure, either. She believed there was a man out there whose buttons she could push and who could definitely push hers, and she needed to do some button-pushing, fast. Ever since her breakup with Rafe she had poured all her time and energy into her work. Now it was time to try and relax, loosen up, live a little, and have fun.
Her thoughts immediately went to Tyrone Hardcastle and the attraction they felt whenever they saw each other. He could make her toes curl and her breathing unsteady just by looking at her. No matter how tired she was at night, as soon as her head hit the pillow she had fantasies about him. It had been that way since their encounter at her brother's wedding last April. She didn't want to think of how her bedroom experience with him would be, if the real thing came even close to her fantasies.
Excerpted from Irresistible Attraction by Brenda Jackson. Copyright © 2004 Brenda Jackson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.