Read an Excerpt
A fraction of a second after the bracelet hits the bottom of my deep pocket, I feel a strong hand on my shoulder. I whirl about in sudden panic and find myself staring into the iciest blue eyes I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t know whether to faint or cream. In any case, the clit-ometer rises another notch, and I unconsciously wriggle a little in my tight jeans.
‘You’ll have to come with me, miss,’ the man says quietly.
I thank God that this posh establishment is so damned snobby they’re extremely hushed about shoplifting incidents. The silent walk back to the security office with the plainly clad store detective escorting me gently by the elbow appears no more out of the ordinary than a gentleman accompanying his woman around the store. It gives me time to try to think of a quick and easy way out of this mess. I absolutely have to make sure that I’m not arrested. It would never do. Daddy would have a fit. He’d put punitive restrictions on me. The hindrance of my freedom would be intolerable and a criminal record would ruin any possibility of my marrying into the upper crust of this town.
I compose myself as much as possible as Mr Security Man leads me to the back of the store and through the double swinging doors that open into the warehouse. He quickly manoeuvres me around forklifts and between high stacks of empty wooden pallets until we reach a locked wooden door marked Eric Lexington, Director of Security. As he draws out a large ring of keys and fits one into the lock, I survey him more closely. He’s very attractive, about six-four with thick brown hair that keeps wanting to fall on to his forehead despite the fact that he’s slicked it back with some sort of product. He’s sporting a nice 5 o’clock shadow – the kind that Hollywood has made acceptable to wear even when dressed to the nines. His bottom lip is full and generous and his chin is square and rigidly set. His charcoal suit coat fits snugly across his shoulders and I am able to catch a glimpse of his muscular thighs rippling beneath his trousers as he uses his knee to nudge open the door when it sticks in the jamb. A lusty spark goes off in my mind. It appears that this predicament might not be so hard to extract myself from after all – hard being the operative word.
‘In here,’ he instructs with a curt nod of the head.
I precede him into the dark room and almost stumble over a chair by the desk. He quickly flips on the fluorescent light and apologises for the close proximity of the quarters, explaining that his regular office is being renovated and he’s temporarily being holed up here. I sit quietly in the chair to which he directs me, trying to seem a little more vulnerable than I actually feel. It will be necessary to first appeal to his sense of pity and, then, to his sense of desire if I am to carefully escape prosecution. I fold my hands on my lap and softly clear my throat as he turns to close the door.
‘Now,’ he says, finally spinning about to face me, ‘would you like to tell me what you were doing back there?’ He leans back against the closed door, a sardonic smile touching his face as he waits for what he knows will be a lame answer.
‘Well,’ I begin hesitantly, ‘I’m not quite sure I know what you mean, Mr –’
‘Oh, I think you do,’ he interjects, nipping my first little plan in the bud. I decide to finish up this pathetic little scenario and quickly move ahead to Plan B.
‘I was shopping. See for yourself.’ I hold up the bag for his inspection.
He gingerly takes it from me and peers inside. With a barely suppressed grin, he removes the undergarments and places them in a neat pile on his desk. Checking the receipt, he notices the obvious absence of the bracelet and looks up at me with a wry smile. ‘I was talking about the jewellery.’
‘Oh – oh! You mean the bracelet!’ My hand flutters up to my throat and then quickly into my pocket, drawing out the heavy silver bauble. I fail to notice, however, that the clasp of the bracelet has caught the strap of the purple thong, and it is now left peeking over the rim of the coat pocket.
‘This?’ I ask innocently. ‘I’m buying this.’ I realise that he’s not buying my story any more than I’m buying jewellery. ‘Really, I am. I’m just so forgetful and in such a rush, I must have accidentally slipped it into my pocket. Here,’ I offer, pulling my wallet from my purse, ‘I have the money to pay for it.’
His eyes mock me, I think to myself. The bastard is actually enjoying this. If he weren’t so gorgeous, I’d be offended.
‘I’m not interested in your money, miss. It’s a bit late for that now. I’m a little more interested in this.’ He leans over me, his breath dangerously heavy on the hollow of my throat. I gasp and draw back as his arm brushes my already tingling breasts. His hand slips deftly past my purse to retrieve the thong from my pocket. He stands back up, twirling it around his index finger.
‘What about this?’ he demands, the laughter hinting in his voice.
He has me cold now. I know it. It’s time to play for keeps. ‘Look … sir. I can’t afford to get in trouble. My father has a lot of money. I –’
‘I’m not interested in your daddy’s money either, missy. Do you think my loyalty to this establishment can be bought and sold like … like a pair of panties?’ He accentuates his last quip by tossing the thong back at me.
The purple silk smacks me in the chest and I gather it up in my hand. He’s playing with me. OK then, I’d do well to give him a little taste of his own medicine. I lower my lashes coyly, and lightly flick my top lip with the soft tip of my pink tongue, as if debating some desperate decision. I see the tightening of his thighs beneath his trousers and I know I have him hooked.
‘I would never suggest that you were dishonest,’ I protest with feigned shock. ‘But,’ I continue, greedily eyeing his belt buckle, ‘maybe we could still come to a satisfactory arrangement – you know, just between the two of us. No one else needs to become involved.’