Flirting with Scandal: Capital Confessions

Flirting with Scandal: Capital Confessions

by Chanel Cleeton

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Overview

The author of I See London sets her sights on Washington, D. C., with a sexy new series about three sisters, the secrets they keep, and a powerful blog with a knack for exposing scandals…

Jackie Gardner knows all about dirty little secrets. The illegitimate daughter of one of the most influential senators in Washington, D.C., she grew up surrounded by the scandals and shadows of politics. Now that she’s landed an internship with a powerful political consulting firm, she’s determined to launch her career and take this city by storm.
William Andrew Clayton was born for politics. He knows the drill: work hard, play discreetly, and at all costs, avoid scandal. At twenty-six, his campaign for the Virginia State Senate is the first step to cementing his future. It’s time for him to settle down, to find the perfect political spouse. He needs a Jackie Kennedy, not a Marilyn… 
When Jackie meets Will in the bar of the Hay-Adams Hotel, sparks fly. But the last thing Will needs is to be caught in a compromising position, and an affair with a political candidate could cost Jackie her career. When what began as one steamy night, becomes a passion neither one of them can walk way from, they must decide if what they have is really love, or just another dirty little secret…

Includes a preview of the next Capital Confessions novel, Playing With Trouble

"Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton has it all. A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension, and plenty of breathtaking scandal. I loved this book!"—New York Times bestselling author Monica Murphy

“One hot, sexy, politically charged, provocative and deliciously scandalicious read!! I absolutely LOVED this book and could not put it down!!!” –Four Chicks Flipping Pages

“Move over Shonda Rhimes, there’s a new scandalous writer in town! Political Romance has never been so good! Flirting with Scandal was a fast paced, sexy romance that has me begging for more!” – Margie’s Must Reads

“Forbidden office romance at its finest.” – Life with 2 Boys

“With an amazing plot coupled with lots of awesome political action, this book was a true page turner.”– The Literary Gossip

“Chanel Cleeton has done it again, once again weaving a beautiful and exciting world full of passion, intrigue, and emotion. Flirting With Scandal was an incredible story of politics, following your heart, and learning who you are in the midst of the overwhelming chaos around you.” – Typical Distractions


Praise for the novels of Chanel Cleeton
“A sassy, steamy, and sometimes sweet read that had me racing to the next page.”—New York Times bestselling author Chelsea M. Cameron
“Fun, sexy, and kept me completely absorbed.”—Katie McGarry, author of Take Me On
“I absolutely loved this book!...It set itself apart from the beginning and it kept getting better.”—Examiner.com


Romance novels and politics are two of Chanel Cleeton’s greatest passions. What better than to combine them? Chanel received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, the American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She’s also a graduate (survivor) of law school—she earned her J.D. from the University Of South Carolina School Of Law. A summer cruise in the Caribbean changed Chanel’s life when she met and fell in love with a fighter pilot. A happily ever after later, she’s currently living an adventure with her husband and three pups.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780698193604
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/19/2015
Series: Capital Confessions , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 267
Sales rank: 95,888
File size: 566 KB

About the Author

Chanel Cleeton is the author of the Wild Aces romances and the Capital Confessions e-book series. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, the American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She’s also a graduate (survivor) of law school—she earned her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. A summer cruise in the Caribbean changed Chanel’s life when she met and fell in love with a fighter pilot.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Bachelor Alert! William Andrew Clayton is running for the Virginia Senate. While this blogger hasn’t had the pleasure of debating politics with him, I’ve heard he’s seriously fine. Ladies, hurry while he’s still single . . .

Capital Confessions blog

Jackie

When I was a kid, my mother used to take me to brunch at the Hay-Adams Hotel. When I got older, our outings usually involved a slinky dress and the bar. But when I was younger, before the slinky dresses and overpriced drinks, I thought the Hay-Adams was magic.

We would sit at a corner table, and my mother—perfect hair and makeup, elegant dress that cost more than our monthly food bill—would point out the powerful men who walked through the D.C. hotel’s hallowed halls.

I was too young to understand that the tall man with the funny-looking hair was a senator, or that his companion was a congressman, but I knew there was something about them. Something that made my mother sit up in her seat and take notice when they walked by. Something special.

When I asked her who they were, she would smile and say, “They’re kings and princes—like in your books.”

She would tell me stories about them—some were good, some not so good, but they were all powerful. And by the reverence in her voice, seven-year-old me realized that was the something special, the thing that made them different.

I was eight when I first saw my father—at brunch at the Hay-Adams.

We were sitting at my favorite table, right near the chandelier. When I looked up, the light reflected off the ceiling in dazzling sparks. In my best dress and shiny black Mary Janes, I felt like a princess.

Suddenly my mother’s head jerked up, her lips pursed in a tight line, her gaze trained on a table across from ours.

“Who is that?” I waited for her to tell me one of her stories—how he was a bad king or something scandalous. But what she said instead stunned me into silence.

“That’s your father.”

Other people had fathers. Mine had been more of a myth. I knew he’d existed at one point, but then he’d left, never to return again. Except here he was, in my hotel. Eating brunch a few tables away. I’d found him.

I stood up and headed toward him, my Mary Janes clicking against the hardwood floors. Behind me I heard my mother’s voice—urgent and shrill—“Jacqueline”—calling me back. I ignored her.

My father sat at the table with three other people. They all stopped eating as I approached, and four pairs of eyes stared at me.

There were two girls—one had pretty brown hair, she looked to be a few years older than me; the other girl was blonde like me, her hair a few shades darker than mine. She looked about my age. A woman sat at the table with them. Her hair was cut in a sharp bob, so different from my mother’s long tumble of waves. Her gaze traveled over me and dismissed me, but it didn’t matter. Not when all of my attention was focused on him.

Like most of the men who came here, my father wore a fancy suit. He was tan, his teeth a bright white. He had my hair, blond, and my eyes, blue. Or maybe I had his. Because staring into his face, I saw myself.

His gaze flickered from me to my mother. I waited for him to speak, for him to acknowledge me somehow, for him to realize who I was—that I was a part of him—but he didn’t do any of those things. Instead he turned, looking away, his attention back on the two beautiful little girls at his table.

I stood there, struggling to find the words, trying to tell him I was his daughter, that I’d found him, but my voice failed me. A slow heat spread across my face, tears filling my eyes as embarrassment rushed through me like a wave carrying me away.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” my mother hissed in my ear, pulling me back. “He’s a very important man. No one can ever know he’s your father. Ever.”

“But I found him,” I whispered, through tears. “He was lost and I found him.”

“He has his own family. He didn’t want to be found.”

That was the day I stopped believing in bullshit about kings and princes.

•   •   •

“You want another?”

I stared down at the nearly empty Jack and Diet Coke. “Sure. Why not?”

“It can’t be that bad, love.”

“I fucked up.”

Hank grinned. “You and everybody else in this town. Just spin it. Isn’t that what you do best?”

I downed the rest of my drink, offering him a weak smile. Hank was my favorite bartender at the Hay-Adams. I didn’t come here a lot, the drinks way too overpriced for my college student budget, but I liked to come once in a while. Hank had been serving me drinks going back to the days when I drank Shirley Temples. In a fucked-up way, this place felt like home.

I needed to come tonight. Needed to remind myself of why I wanted to get into politics in the first place. Needed to drink off the epically bad day.

If a senior staffer had made the mistake I did, they would have been given a serious warning. For a college senior—a lowly intern—to make the mistake, well, let’s just say I was terrified I’d be fired tomorrow. My big D.C. career, over before it even started. Let’s not even add in the sad embarrassment of potentially being fired from a job I wasn’t even getting paid for.

“Haven’t seen your mom in here in a while,” Hank commented.

“She’s in the Caribbean with a congressman.”

There were few secrets in D.C., and my mother was basically a legend. She was a groupie’s groupie, except politicians were her rock stars, and elections her sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s a good guy.”

I smirked, not surprised Hank already knew who I was talking about. Discretion wasn’t exactly Janie Gardner’s forte.

“Sure.” We both knew my mom wasn’t with him because he was a “good guy.”

I leaned over the bar top. “Give me something good, Hank. Anything. I’m desperate here.”

You wanted to know the real D.C. dirt? Bartenders saw it all.

“Let me think.” He grinned, leaning closer, my coconspirator in scandal. “Guess who’s having an affair with a page?”

“Senator Michaelson. Old news.”

“There are rumors of an inquiry on campaign finance.”

I laughed. “Brian at Yellow Bar already told me that one.”

It was pretty hard to stump a girl who’d grown up on political scandals as bedtime stories.

Will

Seriously fine?

Who wrote this trash? A high school girl? It was supposed to be a political blog. Sure, it tended to focus on the scandalous and occasionally steamy, but reducing my campaign to a few words about my looks pissed me off. Nothing about the issues or the good I could do my district in Virginia.

It was bad enough that I wasn’t a native son, my ties to the state limited to my grandfather’s legacy. I’d spent months trying to convince my prospective constituents that they could trust me to represent them, and in a few sentences, some blogger had diminished me to little more than a candidate on a reality TV dating show.

Fuck.

The blog had been a thorn in my side from the beginning. Not that I was alone in that. Half of D.C. had been caught with their pants down in Capital Confessions over the past few months. It was just another headache in a long line of them. I needed a drink and a moment of peace where I didn’t have to hear the words, “polls,” or “demographics,” or “election.”

I glanced down the length of the bar, struggling to catch the bartender’s attention. It was busy tonight, even for a Monday. Busy enough that bartenders were slammed filling drink orders. One guy on the end was engaged in conversation with a girl—

Okay, fair enough, I would be, too.

To borrow a phrase from Capital Confessions, the girl was seriously fine. More than seriously fine. If I were going to use my own words to describe her, I would have gone with totally fuckable.

She was tall—legs for days, showcased by a black skirt short enough to show them off. She was tan, her skin the perfect canvas to highlight shockingly blue eyes, and long, straight blonde hair. She leaned across the bar, and her tits thrust forward in her shirt, and my mouth went dry, my tongue all but hanging out.

Danger.

She laughed at something the bartender said, the sound low and sultry, winding its way through me like a siren’s call, breaking through all of the D.C. noise.

She was the kind of girl you noticed, and by the smile on her lips, she knew it. She raised her glass to her mouth, draining the liquid in one gulp, and then she turned and our gazes collided. Everything around me disappeared except for her.

She didn’t shy away. I liked that. Liked the challenge that flickered in her eyes as she met my gaze head-on. She looked young, younger than I’d expected, and there was something vaguely familiar about her—like I’d seen her around before, and yet if I had, I would have remembered.

Her lips curved slowly, widening into a blinding, megawatt smile. Christ. Her eyes sparkled with the kind of mischief I’d been warned about my entire life, and I could practically hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me, “This one looks like trouble.”

I couldn’t afford this shit, not with an election in a few months. Girls who looked like they could chew you up and spit you out—and make you like it—were to be avoided at all costs. Especially during an election year.

And yet I moved down the bar, my feet carrying me toward her. At the end of the day, I was running for the Virginia Senate, not dead.

Jackie

“Incoming,” Hank whispered, stepping back with a wink.

I barely heard him.

The guy walking toward me had all of my attention now. I’d noticed him across the bar; it had been impossible not to, but he was something else in motion.

I loved men. Strange for a girl who’d grown up without a father and with a revolving door of “uncles.” But I did. I loved the way they moved, the sound of their voices, the touch of their hands. This one moved with a casual grace that suggested an athletic background—lacrosse, maybe, or hockey—something preppy and something with a stick.

He was tall, six feet or so, dressed in a navy suit and a crisp white dress shirt. He was impeccable and yet . . . his silver tie was just a bit askew, as if he’d been tugging at the knot. His dark blond hair was a bit tousled, like he’d been running his hands through it. He looked older than me, mid-twenties maybe, and then our gazes locked and I stared into the most shockingly green eyes I’d ever seen, and stick a fork in me, I was done.

Maybe today was starting to look up.

He stopped in front of me, forcing me to tilt my head up to meet his gaze. For a moment we just stared, sizing each other up. He grinned and suddenly his whole face transformed. It was an endearing, blinding, “trust me” kind of smile, and I was pretty sure with a smile like that he could have anything he wanted. Even me. Especially me.

“Hi.”

Wow. His voice matched the total package. It was crisp and cool, with a touch of New England that made me think of summers in the Hamptons, and polo matches, and things that never seemed sexy until now. Somehow he made “hi” sound like an invitation. Or maybe it was the way his gaze traveled down my body and back again like a hot caress.

I took another sip of my drink before giving him my full attention. I needed the moment to calm the fuck down. I was just tipsy enough to feel flustered and reckless enough to want to play. Dangerous combination.

I turned in my seat, re-crossing my long legs. My skirt hem crept up and his gaze trailed back down.

I flashed him another smile like a one-two punch. “Hi.”

He leaned forward, his arm propped on the empty seat next to me. “I’m Will.”

He looked like a Will, or perhaps more accurately, a William. He was the kind of guy who should have Roman numerals after his name. Everything about him screamed old money, prep schools and yachts, and aunts with nicknames like “Bitsy.”

“I’m Jackie.”

I didn’t offer a last name, liked him better for doing the same. Thanks to my mother’s legacy, my last name was one I hesitated to drop in this town. But then again, something about him didn’t quite fit here. He didn’t look like he was from D.C., like he’d been raised on political intrigue and scandal like I’d been. He was still shiny and new. I liked that.

His eyes narrowed, the easygoing expression wiped from his face, covered by something shrewd, and I wondered if I’d misjudged him after all. There was more there—more than just a nice face and a hot body.

“You look familiar.”

Years of practice kept my smile from slipping even a notch. “Familiar” could mean a lot of things.

“Really?” I affected a bored drawl. If I’d learned anything from my mother, it was how to make men work for it.

“I’ve seen you around.” He rattled off a list of events, half of which I’d been to, while I used the opportunity to size him up. I realized I’d seen him around, too—at parties, a lecture at Georgetown. He was familiar and yet he wasn’t—I’d seen pieces of him—an elbow here, his face in profile there, a laugh heard across the room, a smile meant for someone standing behind me, perhaps.

Given the events he’d listed off, he was somehow peripherally involved in politics, although given the nature of D.C. that wasn’t surprising. Still. It should have been enough to warn me off. There was a reason I usually gravitated toward musicians and artists.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

I flashed him a smile, upping the wattage to lessen the sting. “I buy my own drinks.”

He looked thrown. They always were, but on him it was kind of cute.

“You can sit, though.” I gestured at the seat next to me.

He hesitated. “Is the buying-your-own-drinks thing what you use to give guys the polite brush-off, and now you’re just offering me the seat because you feel sorry for me, or do I actually have a chance here?”

I laughed. The buying-my-own-drinks thing went hand-in-hand with the paying-for-my-own-meals thing. I knew guys thought it was weird, but if they had a mother who lived her life having her way paid by men, they’d understand.

“Why don’t you sit and see?”

Chapter Two

Looking for the perfect place to meet your next boyfriend? The bar at the Hay-Adams has been particularly popular lately, especially for a handsome state senate candidate.

Capital Confessions blog

Will

Smooth, really smooth.

Admittedly, I wasn’t at my best tonight. I didn’t pick up strange girls in bars. I wasn’t even sure this was a pick-up. All I knew was one moment I saw her, and the next my feet carried me toward her. My brain lagged behind.

I sat down in the chair next to hers and ordered a martini. I could practically feel the bartender’s amusement as he took my order, his gaze darting back and forth between us before he left to make my drink.

“So where are you from?” I asked, struggling to take charge of the situation.

“I was born here. I’ve lived here my whole life.”

“That seems rare.” I didn’t mention . . . and kind of depressing. I barely tolerated D.C. I viewed it as a means to an end, a place where I was forced to get my hands dirty from time to time.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Connecticut.”

She grinned. “I figured. You have the northeastern preppy vibe going on.”

Awesome. My campaign staff was working on erasing that.

“Let me guess, Yale? And you played lacrosse?”

I winced. There was something in her tone, something fairly mocking. Maybe I was predictable, what-you-see-is-what-you-get. But there was nothing wrong with predictable. Predictable was dependable, and it was going to get me elected. Some perverse part of me wanted to tell her I went to a state school in the Midwest and played football.

“Harvard, actually.”

I’d always been honest to a fault.

She grinned. “Was I right about the lacrosse? What position did you play? Center?”

The bartender set my martini on the bar in front of me, sending me a pitying look before walking away. I was beginning to think this wasn’t the first time he’d watched this happen.

I took a long swig of my drink before setting it down, needing the burst of liquid courage. Today had been a bitch, and this girl needling me wasn’t doing a ton for my ego. And yet some masochistic part of me liked her screwing with me. It wasn’t a game I got to play very often . . . ever.

“Midfielder.”

Her gaze traveled down my body, a mischievous glint in her eye, and my dick responded instantly, not giving a shit about my humiliation.

“You look like an athlete.”

“Really?” I drawled.

“I figured it would be a sport with a stick.” Her tone faintly purred with sex and innuendo.

I choked on my martini, the alcohol burning its way down my throat. Jesus. I couldn’t remember the last time a girl made a dirty joke—albeit a terrible one—to me. College, maybe? Years ago.

“That’s a horrible line,” I sputtered.

Her grin widened. “True, but you’d be surprised how often it works.”

“No, I wouldn’t.” I let my gaze roam down her body leisurely, taking in the tight little curves and the long legs. I needed to get the upper hand here. Somehow. My voice dropped, my tone husky. “I think we both know you could have any man in this bar.”

“Even you?” Her tone was teasing, but there was a dare behind her words.

And fuck if I could ever back away from a challenge.

I leaned forward, invading some of her space, much as she’d done to me. I was close enough to make out a hint of her perfume—floral and spicy. Close enough that if I’d leaned forward an inch farther I could have captured her full, pink, fuck-me lips. Some girls might have blushed or backed away, but she did neither. Her stare was unblinking, the same challenge in her voice evident in her gaze.

Her eyes looked like they’d seen too much, lived too much, and yet underneath the hard edge she was younger than I’d originally thought—all barely contained exuberance and energy. Yet another reason this had the potential to be a spectacularly bad idea.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-one.”

Shit. She was young.

“Are you still in college?”

She nodded. “You?”

“I graduated ages ago.”

Her smile deepened, a hint of a dimple flashing at the corner of her mouth. “How old are you, Harvard?”

“Twenty-six.”

Twenty-one-year-old girls who looked like she did were pretty much kryptonite for soon-to-be state senators. If my brain were in charge I would have thrown some money on the bar for my drink and gotten the hell out of there. But I didn’t. There was something about her, something that felt like a burst of color in a sea of gray.

And then she leaned forward, her arm brushing against me. Her fingers curled around the edge of the pick of olives in my martini. I watched, mesmerized, as one by one, she slipped the martini olives into her mouth, her eyes on mine the entire time.

Fuck me.

Jackie

I wasn’t sure what possessed me to go for the olive trick. Maybe it was the Jack; maybe it was the fact that he was hot and I desperately needed a distraction. Or maybe it was just that he looked a little uptight, sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar suit, and I couldn’t resist the urge to rumple him a bit.

At first glance he seemed like your average rich, preppy boy. Cute in an All-American way. Vanilla. I tended toward motorcycles, lean muscles, and tats, as far from vanilla as you could get. But this guy—this guy had “nice guy” written all over him. He was the kind of guy you would bring home to mom and dad—well mannered, classy, definitely not my type. But he took the shit I handed out with a grace that impressed me. I was in full-on bitch mode and he wasn’t backing away. So I upped the stakes a bit, waiting to see his reaction.

Silence hung between us as anticipation filled my body. I was playing with him; he knew it, and I knew it, and I fucking loved the game. His move.

But he didn’t make a move. He didn’t do anything. He just sat there, his gaze intent, speculative almost. His smile had been blinding, but his stare was equally unsettling. He looked at me like he was trying to make out all of my secrets, and for a girl like me that was a dangerous game to play.

I’d had just enough Jack to put this evening firmly into the category of not one of my best ideas. I didn’t do one-night stands. I didn’t do relationships, either, but stranger sex was so not on the menu. He could be an ax-murderer, or a pervert, or really bad in bed. It was time to call it a day.

I reached for my bag, pulled out a twenty, and slid it across the bar top.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, Harvard—”

He moved forward, just an inch, but enough that his hand reached out, circling my wrist. We both froze the instant he touched me. His eyes widened, almost as if he were surprised by his own actions.

We both looked down at the same time, our gazes glued to the spot where our flesh met.

His hand was tanner than mine. It was easy to imagine him outdoors—sailing, maybe. Maybe he still played lacrosse. He looked so masculine, and physical, and something about the sight of his hand—long, tapered fingers, neatly trimmed nails—was enough to make my breath catch. His hands, like everything else about his body, were big. With him arched over my chair, it was impossible to not feel like he dominated me.

We didn’t look at each other, instead we both watched as he turned my hand over, palm up. For a second I forgot to breathe. Everything around us, the sounds of glasses clinking and deals being made, fell away. I forgot that I was at the Hay-Adams, forgot everything but the image of his hand, so male, so strong, so capable, encircling mine.

I waited. It must have been only seconds, and yet it felt like an eternity. Waited until I felt it, the brush of his finger, featherlight, on the inside of my wrist—stroking, teasing, tempting—unraveling me with the slightest touch.

I went completely still, my body anchored by his. The fire alarm could have gone off and I wouldn’t have moved an inch. My eyes closed, savoring the feel of his hand on my bare skin.

It was the kind of touch that was nothing and everything at the same time. It was an invitation, a proposition, a claiming, possession. With one finger, the power completely shifted.

My eyes fluttered open, unable to resist the urge to watch. His fingers stroked the inside of my wrist, lazy patterns and swirls that somehow looked like art. Each touch sent a shiver through me, my nipples tightening, heat flooding my body. I’d never been so turned on in my life, and all he’d touched was the inside of my wrist.

Will

I thought I knew my fair share about sex. Lust. Desire. Ever since I lost my virginity to Allison Daniels in the eleventh grade, I’d enjoyed sex. But as soon as I touched this girl, I realized—

I hadn’t been doing it right.

Somehow stroking this girl’s wrist felt like the most sexual thing I’d ever done, which was both sad and electrifying, and made me want to touch a whole lot more than just her wrist. There was something about her. Something that made you stop what you were doing and stare. She looked like trouble—the kind you couldn’t wait to get into.

She closed her eyes, her lips parting, and I knew I wanted those lips—on me, around me, covering me in her warmth. I wanted to see her face when she came, to hear the moans that would escape from her mouth. Somewhere between the martini olives and my fingers teasing her flesh, I’d stopped caring about my reputation.

I moved forward, my arm brushing against hers, our bodies just barely touching. I had to fight the urge to not press against her. I was drowning in her scent, in the feel of her skin against mine. I was drowning, and I held on to her like she was my lifeline, when ironically she would be my undoing.

My mouth hovered against her ear, just barely grazing the sensitive flesh. She shivered, a soft sigh escaping her lips. Whatever tenuous grip I had on my sanity fled.

“I want you.”

I pulled back, waiting to see her reaction, lust and need pumping through my veins. I felt like the first time I’d asked a girl out on a date—nervous, edgy, afraid she was going to turn me down flat. I could just see it now in Capital Confessions—which state senate candidate was turned down by a mysterious blonde?

Her eyes fluttered open, a shocking blue framed by a fan of lashes. Her head tilted to the side, her expression inscrutable as she studied me. I prayed that whatever she saw in my face and in my eyes met with her approval.

Did I look the way I felt? Tired, a little strung out from too much caffeine and too many months of celibacy, a little worn-out from the Washington machine. She was so vibrant, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was old and boring, and standing here with my dick in my hands thinking, please pick me.

She stood up from her chair, my hand still wrapped around her wrist. For a moment we just stared at each other, and then she tugged me forward, and god help me, I let her.

Jackie

I didn’t know what I was doing. I walked through the bar at the Hay-Adams, Will trailing behind me. He released my hand as we made our way through the crowd, which was fine with me. I didn’t need people gossiping about me, assuming I was just like my mother, looking for the next wealthy man to take care of me. I needed this to be completely unremarkable, especially when it felt like it was anything but.

He followed me through the lobby, silent. His head was ducked, and it occurred to me that I knew next-to-nothing about him. What if he was married? I hadn’t seen a ring on his hand at the bar, and yet I was living proof of how many men failed to keep their marital vows.

“Are you married?”

He blinked. “No. Are you?”

“No.”

I studied him, searching his eyes. He had a trustworthy face, but I’d been around politicians enough to know how little that meant.

I grabbed his left hand, staring at his ring finger, looking for a tan line, something to prove he was lying.

He shook his head, his tone wry. “I’m not married. No girlfriend. I haven’t had a girlfriend in months, almost a year. You?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend, either,” I joked.

“I’m serious. Boyfriend?”

“No boyfriend.”

“Not recently?”

“Not ever.”

His jaw dropped. “You’ve never had a boyfriend?”

I didn’t know why people had this reaction. I was twenty-one, hardly a spinster. Their reaction was even more comical when I explained I didn’t want one.

“Are you a virgin?” The word came out in a strangled gasp.

I laughed. “No.” My voice dropped to a mock whisper. “Are you?”

He shot me a look.

I shrugged. “That settles it then. Neither one of us is a virgin.”

“Wait a second.” He tugged on my hand, bringing me against his side.

I stared up at him. “What’s wrong?”

He shook his head. “I need a minute. I came here for a drink, and it’s like we went from zero-to-sixty in no time at all.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“I don’t do this. Ever. I don’t pick up girls in bars. I don’t have one-night stands.”

I met his gaze, my playfulness erased with his words. “Neither do I.”

“And yet here we are.”

I closed my eyes. “And yet here we are.”

“This is crazy.”

It was crazy—totally, utterly, crazy. And it felt too good to resist.

I stood up on my toes, leaning my body into his. I wanted to kiss him, but something held me back. I was starting to think his would be the sort of kiss best done in private, in the darkness, where he could strip me bare. So instead I settled for brushing my mouth against the base of his throat, leaving a swift kiss there, inhaling his scent, reveling in the feel of his body against mine. I wanted this more than the reasons why I should talk myself out of it.

I pulled back, but Will caught me, his hands holding me still against his body. His mouth hovered near my ear, his touch sending a thrill down my spine.

“I want to fuck you all night.”

My jaw dropped. He said the words casually, releasing me as if nothing had happened. As if he hadn’t just said the single hottest thing I’d ever heard. It was a promise, and a challenge, and a dare all rolled into one heart-stopping sentence that made me want to collect on every single word.

There had been three guys before tonight. My first was my best friend in high school. He’d been sweet, and funny, and by senior year neither one of us had done it, and we’d both wondered what we were missing, so we’d said “what the hell,” which in hindsight had probably not been the most earth-shattering way to lose my virginity, but it had been comfortable, and my experience could have likely been a lot worse.

Two and three had been repeats in college, artistic types who played the guitar afterward and doodled on my skin with a pen. They’d been nice guys, and the sex had been fine, but that was it—it had just been fine.

No one had ever made me feel like they had to have me. No one had ever told me they wanted to fuck me. No one had ever made me believe it. Of course, I’d never been this reckless, either.

Now that we were out on the street, swallowed up in the hustle and bustle of D.C., I held his hand. I was afraid if I let go, one or both of us would wake up and question what we were doing. My brain warned me none of this was a good idea, but my body told my head to shut up and go along for the ride.

“So where are we headed?” he asked.

I struggled to think over the pounding of my heart. “Well, we could go back to my place, but I have a roommate.”

He hesitated, and for a minute I felt really young. “I have a town house in Alexandria. If you’re not comfortable, I understand.”

My lips twitched. I loved that the guy who just said he would fuck me was now unfailingly polite.

“You mean if you’re a serial killer or something?”

“Something like that.”

“Hank vouched for you.”

“Hank?”

“The bartender.”

His eyes narrowed. “When did he do that?”

I grinned. “He wouldn’t have let me leave with you if he didn’t know you were a good guy. Hank knows everyone.”

“And how do you know Hank?”

“He served me my first Shirley Temple. He’s known me my whole life. Trust me, if you’d been a bad bet, Hank would have told me.”

A cab pulled up behind us, and Will stared down at me, his hand on my elbow holding me back.

“Why me?” His voice was quiet, but I saw the question in his eyes, could hear the confusion in his voice.

I could have given him a lot of answers. I could have teased him, flattered him. I could have evaded his question with little to no effort. Instead, I settled for honesty.

“Because when you touched me, I had to have more.”

I turned around and got into the cab.

Chapter Three

Senator Reynolds seems to have taken young Mr. Clayton under his wing. What’s that saying about “the company you keep?”

Capital Confessions blog

Will

I hadn’t even kissed her.

The thought kept running through my mind as I sat next to her in the cab, her leg grazing mine. Her hands were folded in her lap, her gaze trained out the window. Part of me wanted to tell the cab driver to turn around and take us back to the hotel. Part of me was wondering if this was turning out to be the stupidest decision of my life. And part of me was too far gone to care.

This was risky. On one hand I was single, so having sex shouldn’t exactly be front-page news. But the Capital Confessions mention this morning made me nervous. I was young to be running for the Virginia Senate and I needed to keep my nose clean.

We turned, the familiar sight of trees and cobblestone streets greeting me. I wondered which part of town she lived in, where she went to school. I knew very little about her, and yet I felt like I knew her intimately. Or at least I would know her intimately.

The cab came to a stop in front of my town house. “We’re here.”

I paid the driver quickly, hoping she wasn’t going to argue over the bill. I followed her out of the cab and led her to my front door, the pounding in my chest intensifying with each step.

I’d thought about taking her to a hotel, booking a room at the Hay-Adams, preserving the anonymity of tonight. But it felt rude, and seedy, and tacky. And ever since I’d seen her, the image of all that long, blonde hair laid out on my navy pillows had imprinted on my brain. So here we were.

Jackie was silent while I unlocked the door and punched in the alarm code. She followed me in, her gaze traveling around the town house, taking in the décor.

“Nice place for a single guy.”

I actually felt myself blushing. “My mom decorated it.”

She shot me an incredulous look.

“She likes decorating.” Maybe my voice sounded a touch defensive . . . whatever.

“And your mom’s in Connecticut? Let me guess, Greenwich?”

I nodded. “Yeah, but she grew up in Virginia.” I held her gaze. “To avoid you busting my balls over it all night, yes, I’m filthy rich. Yes, I was born with the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth, and yes, my mother is probably a little too involved in my life. But I like my mother, and I’m her only son, so occasionally I do things like let her decorate because it makes her happy and—”

She kissed me.

Her lips were cool, hesitant at first, then bolder. She pressed against my mouth, her tongue darting out, grazing mine. She sucked on my bottom lip with her teeth, running her tongue against it. We stood apart, our mouths the only part where our bodies touched.

I just stood there while Jackie kissed me, caught off guard, powerless to do anything expect drown in the sensation of her mouth on mine. And then I couldn’t take it anymore and I reached out, wrapping my arms around her waist, pulling her against my body. Hard.

Jackie

Whoa.

There was something to be said for playing lacrosse. A lot to be said for playing lacrosse.

His body was all muscle—hard, lean, a little bulkier than I normally would have liked, but the kind of bulky that made you feel small, and feminine, and you were too fucking turned on to care if that was a good or bad thing. He wasn’t my type, not by a long shot, but he was definitely going to be the best sex I’d ever had.

There had been a moment when I was in control, a moment when he let me kiss him, but then it was gone, erased by the pressure of his mouth against mine, his hands molding my curves, his hard body leaning into mine, giving me a preview of what it would be like when he was inside me.

His touch wasn’t gentle or light, not at all what I expected after his earlier embarrassment and awkwardness. He held me and touched me like a man who knew exactly what to do with his hands, exactly what his body needed. He caressed me like a man who was going to give me an orgasm I’d never forget.

I’d felt in control the whole night—well, most of the night—but when he touched me, everything changed.

Will broke away for a minute, his hands fumbling with my jacket buttons. He pushed the fabric from my shoulders, pulling it down until it fell to the floor. Underneath I wore a low-cut ivory silk shirt. He stared down at my breasts, his gaze penetrating.

My nipples were hard points, visible through my lacy bra and thin silk top. I flushed, warmth flooding my body. There was something about the way he looked at me. I was used to quick sex, fun and fast. But no one had ever stared at me before. Not like this. Not like they were memorizing the shape of my body. I felt a ridiculous urge to cross my arms over my chest, to move away. I felt shy, and that was definitely a first.

He reached out, his fingertip grazing my nipple through the silk. It was the lightest touch and yet it was enough to have me biting back a moan as I pushed my breast into his hand. Who knew gentleness could be the hottest thing of all?

He groaned as he palmed my nipple, fisting his free hand into my hair, tugging on my long, blonde locks. His touch was so many contrasts—gentle and almost reverent, hard and dirty—and I liked them all.

He cupped my breast with his hand, brushing his thumb over my nipple, his gaze intent. My nipples pebbled beneath his touch as he rubbed the silk between his fingers, the soft glide of the fabric against me turning my body into a series of throbbing points, dying for more. He tugged on one and then the other, drawing a direct connection between his hands and the moan they tore from my mouth. And then he lowered his head and captured the bud between his lips and sucked hard, the friction of his hot mouth—his teeth—and the silk, driving me mad.

“You’re really good at this,” I hissed.

He laughed, the sound vibrating against my breast.

Boys that looked like he did weren’t supposed to be this good at it. Boys who wore suits and ties, and let their mothers decorate their homes, were supposed to be into missionary. This was all kinds of freaky naughty, and I so wanted more.

I reached down, running my hands through his hair, stroking his neck, pulling him closer to my body, rubbing up against every inch of his big, hard cock. I wanted him to devour me. I wanted him to never, ever stop touching me.

His mouth left my breast, the cool air hitting me like a shock after the warmth of his mouth. He moved to my waist, tugging at the silk, pulling it out from my skirt. His hand dipped under the fabric, and his knuckles grazed my bare stomach, sending another pull of lust through me. I moaned again, the sound loud and raw, filling the quiet hallway.

“Christ. I want to take my time, but I’m going to lose it if I’m not inside you now.”

I gasped, struggling to form words. “Good, because I can’t take much more foreplay.”

My hands drifted down his neck, running over his shoulders, molding the muscles there, loving the strength and power beneath my hands. I wanted him inside me, hot and hard, filling me, giving me the release I craved. And then I wanted to do it again, all fucking night.

He moved out of my reach, pulling my top up, over my bra, over my head. My hip bumped against the entryway table, knocking over a vase. It hit the floor with a loud crash.

“Shit.”

Will ignored it, his gaze riveted to my cleavage. His hands reached out and slipped my bra straps down, off my shoulders, my breasts spilling over the sheer cups.

“I broke your vase,” I mumbled.

“It’s fine.” He reached out, his tongue grazing the sharp line of my collarbone, moving lower. His hands curved under my bra, his head bent as he cupped my breasts, lifting them, his mouth, warm and wet, coming down on me.

“Ohmigod.”

My head lolled back, his palm moving to the small of my back, arching me forward, cradling my body in his embrace. My gaze drifted to the ruined vase, the shattered glass on the floor amid a pile of papers that had suffered a similar fate. Pictures of Will in a business suit lay on the floor staring back at me . . . pictures of Will and . . . my gaze narrowed . . . you had to be kidding me . . .

I stared down at my father’s face.

Fuck me.

Will

One minute she was trembling in my arms, her body responding to my touch, the next she . . . wasn’t.

I froze, pulling back. Jackie was against the wall in nothing but a bra, her skirt, and heels. Her skin was flushed in all the places my hands and mouth had just been. Her face was pale, the remnants of desire still evident. But her eyes—gone was the light I’d seen at the bar, the mischief that had attracted me in the first place. And all I could think was what the fuck did I do to make that light disappear? I was pretty sure I’d do anything to get it back.

Her eyes opened a bit wider, running over my appearance, focusing on my face, and it was all I could do to not feel like I’d been judged and found wanting.

“Who are you?”

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