When Tucker Morgan agrees to help his eccentric aunt at Sunset Shores retirement village solve a mystery, he has doubts about posing undercover as the spa’s new massage therapist. But running his strong hands over Lainey Cooper’s body gives him on-the-job training—and unleashes a yearning that the former security expert knows he has to indulge.
He touched her and started a fire, but Lainey doesn’t trust herself enough to let it burn—or surrender to the wild side Tucker uncovered. Together they’ve got what it takes to stop a clever con man, but her heart is getting too close to wanting more. What begins as a spirited game to catch a thief soon deepens into a desire neither wants to deny. But can she forget her own past mistakes and give in to a love she knows is forever?
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: About Last Night, Blaze of Winter, and Lana’s Lawman.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||2 MB|
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Tucker Morgan groaned in deep satisfaction as strong fingers worked down his bare back. “With your hands, Steph, you could achieve world peace. One body at a time.” The only response was a short grunt, but then Steph didn’t speak much English. “I think I’m in love.”
There was a light tap on the door. The hands stopped. Tucker’s moan wasn’t one of delight. “Yes?” He felt the tension creep back into his neck.
“Sauna is ready for you, sir. Private, as you requested.”
Tucker smiled and laid his head back down on the table. “Thank you.” Ask and ye shall receive. He could get used to that. It was amazing what a difference a few more zeroes on the bottom of his bank balance made.
Steph resumed the deep massage on Tucker’s lower back. The last time he’d had a massage, it had been administered with more enthusiasm than skill by a young woman while he was on assignment in Singapore. He let his eyes drift shut with a dreamy smile.
His job as head of an international security agency had taken him to some of the world’s most exotic ports of call. But, being a hands-on sort of boss, he’d spent most of his time sitting in hallways outside of posh suites, coordinating exit and entrance strategies, while dining on gourmet leftovers or vending-machine delicacies. And that was only when he wasn’t prowling the grounds, typically at two A.M. during a rainstorm, making sure that there were no lunatics planning to step in and burst the surreal bubble of luxury that surrounded his latest jet-setting client.
A short slap brought him back to the present.
Tucker sat up and pulled a warm white towel around his hips before sliding off the table. He smiled at the two-hundred-and-fifty-pound Swede. “You’re no Yuan Li, Stephan, but you give one helluva rubdown.”
The masseur simply nodded and left the room. How much simpler his job would have been, Tucker thought wryly, if his clients had adopted Stephan’s level of involvement with his customers.
Tucker exited through a back door that led directly into the men’s locker room at the Fairmont Hotel spa and located the saunas. His name was listed in neat, hand-inked script next to number six.
Grinning, he entered his very own surreal luxury bubble and closed the door behind him, then sank down on the cedar bench. No more sitting on the outside, he thought. He picked up a small stoneware pitcher and poured a bit of water on the rocks piled in the center of the room. Sizzling vapor filled the air as he stretched out and rested his head on his arms.
Yep. This was what he wanted, what he’d sold his business for. He smiled to himself, recalling the overseas phone call and the long pause when he’d shocked Gunter Lansdorf by responding with a yes to his umpteenth request to buy out Morgan & Manson Securities. Timing was everything.
Time. Time for himself. No one to worry about, answer to, plan for, think about, protect. It was no longer him taking care of them. He was a them. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Yes, it was good to be a them.
He must have drifted off, because the next thing he knew, someone was touching his back. He was dreaming. The smell of perfume wafted over him. Ah, a good dream. Fingers loosened the edge of his towel. Oh, this was going to be a great dream.
Then came a solid, stinging slap to his backside.
“Hey!” Grabbing his towel, Tucker rolled to a sitting position, whistling in a breath when the steamy bench came into contact with his newly steaming anatomy. “What in the hell—” Peering through the mist, he saw a short woman standing in front of him. His mouth dropped open.
He wasn’t sure, but there had to be a law somewhere against seeing any relative over the age of seventy in nothing more than a small white towel.
“In the flesh.”
Tucker glanced down. In the considerable flesh.
She smiled, reading his thoughts. One of her many irritating qualities. “And it’s damn good flesh too.” She primped at the painfully purple satin turban she’d woven snugly around her head. “Should be, I paid good money for it. Dr. Haarhuis and Sven the Destroyer are very happy men because of this body.”
“I bet they are,” he muttered. When she arched a perfectly sculpted, penciled-on brow, he quickly said, “Sven the Destroyer?”
“My personal trainer. He used to be the pride of the World Wrestling Federation. Well, until that unfortunate incident with Magnificent Mongo.” She extended her heavily beringed fingers and studied her matching painfully purple polish, then shot him a fast grin. “Ah, well, the WWF’s loss was my gain.”
“This is the men’s locker room, Lillian. How did you get in here?”
“I’m old, my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.”
“Buzzards have worse eyesight than you.”
“It took me all morning to track you down. Aren’t you glad to see me?”
“If I saw any more of you, I’m pretty sure one of us could be arrested.”
He still wasn’t up to Lillian Parker speed, which fell somewhere between light and warp—or warped as the case may be—and he didn’t move fast enough to avoid her firm pinch of the skin above his towel. He yelped—which made him feel like a very unmanly eight-year-old—and grabbed at the edge of his towel.
“A little soft around the middle.” She gave him a quick once-over. “The big four-oh is staring you between the eyes, Tucker. Now is not the time to slack off.”
He didn’t tell her he’d been thinking the same thing. Which was why he’d signed up for an early-morning torture session with the Fairmont tennis pro before his appointment with Stephan.
“Nice buns, though,” she added with a wink.
He’d missed her more than he realized. He flexed his arms in an exaggerated bodybuilding pose and with a bad Austrian accent said, “I might not give Sven a run for his money, but I still got it.” He grinned at her. “And not a scalpel mark on me.”
“Watch it, sonny,” she warned, pointing a well-honed purple claw at him. “It may have been a few years since I’ve swatted that hard butt of yours, but you’re still not too old to take a belt to.”
“Gee, Aunt Lil, don’t you think this has gotten kinky enough?”
She grinned. “Enough with the auntie stuff. You’re making me feel old.”
“Never happen.” Lillian wasn’t actually related to him. She’d been his mother’s closest friend, and after Tucker’s mother died when he was eight, she’d become his salvation. “You’re family, Lillian.” He smiled with true affection. “And for better or worse, you’re all I’ve got.”
Lillian sat down, wrapped an arm around him, and squeezed. He tried not to flinch. “What has Sven got you eating, anyway?”
She laughed. “Welcome back, Tucker. I kept expecting another one of those plane tickets you’re so fond of sending. I’m getting too old to go traipsing around the world to see you. It’s about time you came home. I actually missed you this time.”
“Thanks, I think. And you can’t be too old because you’re ageless, remember? You’ve told me so enough times.” It had been too long, though. He’d kept in contact by phone and flown her out to meet him for semiannual vacations, but he hadn’t found the time to come back to Florida in … “Eight years,” he said softly. He took in a slow breath. Guilt crept in with it. “Has it really been that long?”
“Yep. It was almost seven the time before that.” Then she slapped his thigh hard enough to leave a mark and said, “But you got here just in time. I’m in need of your services.”
“I sold Morgan & Manson Securities, Lillian.”
She waved her hand. “Yes, yes, I got your letter. And how long were you going to wait to visit me?”
He eyed her warily. “Apparently not long enough.”
“Hmm. Not really worried about your inheritance, are you?”
“What inheritance? You’ve always said you wouldn’t leave one red cent when you go, and I’m holding you to it.” He gave her a quick squeeze. “I was going to call you later this morning. I just got down here last night. What sort of trouble are you in this time? Speeding tickets piling up? Is old Sheriff Tumbleweed trying to put you in the slammer again, Leadfoot?”
“Roscoe Tumble wouldn’t dream of trying to bring me up on some trumped-up reckless-driving charge. Besides, that floral landscape arrangement in the town circle was ugly, anyway.”
Tucker wagged his finger. “We’ve talked about this before. Are you still driving that little red Miata? Remember what I said about a low profile?”
She waved away his concern. “This isn’t about my driving record. I need you to do some investigative work for me.”
“I’m not a detective, Aunt Lil. If you really need help, I can give you some names—”
“You’re the closest I’ve got, Tucker. I can’t trust this to someone I don’t know.”
She was dead serious. He covered her hand with his, instantly concerned. “What’s wrong? Are you really in some kind of trouble?”
“No, not me. It’s Minerva. And two of my ladies. I think they might have gotten involved in something …” She lowered her voice. “Shady.”
Her ladies, he knew, was how she referred to her clients at A Cut Above, the hair salon and minispa she’d owned and managed for the last seven years in the nearby retirement village of Sunset Shores. Minerva Cooper owned the café next door and was Lillian’s best friend.