Read Hidden Agendas Online

Authors: Lora Leigh

Tags: #Romance, #General, #United States, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Contemporary, #Erotica

Hidden Agendas (3 page)

BOOK: Hidden Agendas
6.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"Now how did I know you wouldn't like that?" The other man's voice filled with smug satisfaction. "Boy, you got the look of a man getting ready to drown. Maybe I should save you from yourself."

"How much?"

"I like you, Kreiger." He shook his head. "But she's damned pretty."

Kell pulled a hundred free.

"And I know what Cherry's been teaching her." Tiny's grin got wider.

Kell pulled free the second hundred.

"And she's just the prettiest little piece of candy."

Kell pulled the knife from his boot in a move so fast Tiny barely had time to blink before the edge was pressing against his throat.

He swallowed tightly. "But she ain't that sweet." He reached out and took the two hundreds from Kell's other hand with a tentative movement. "Better you than me. That woman's trouble."

Kell's lips thinned as he lowered the knife and slid it back into the sheath at the side of his boot.

"Don't let anyone else in," he ordered.

"I wasn't supposed to let you in," Tiny grunted.

Kell sliced a hard, killing look back at him.

"But, hey man, I know you and that knife." He grinned. "I'll keep the place clear. Those were the orders anyway. Better hurry, though, show starts soon. It's guaranteed to be a killer."

No shit. Kell was beginning to guess that if Emily Stanton was involved, then no matter what it was, it had the potential to kill.

Her father, a former SEAL, had made a grave tactical error in giving her a taste of excitement as a child before jerking it away from her and trying to marry her off to men determined to control her.

Kell had watched from afar for years, never interfering, despite his disagreement with the senator. He had watched the steady stream of men sent in to guard that delectable body with aspirations of marriage.

Those aspirations never lasted long. A few weeks to a few months. They slinked out of her life with their tails between their legs.

Until two years ago. When she had put her foot down for the first time and refused another male presence in her home. Three months later, Fuentes had taken her. And she had only become more determined since then to learn how to protect herself.

This wasn't a woman who accepted limits, unless they were her own. She made her own rules. And Kell understood that. He respected that. Even if he was determined that before it was over, she would shape those rules to suit not just her needs, but his as well.

He had found a vixen. Taming her wasn't on the agenda, but touching her, tasting her was, and that would take careful planning. Because vixens didn't give in easily.

There would be nothing easy about Emily. But that was okay, because there was nothing easy about him either.

Chapter Two

Emily made certain the long, dark brown wig was firmly in place, the strands of hair hiding the fact that it was indeed a wig. Her makeup exaggerated the arch of her brows and the tilt of her eyes, and the slouchy clothes were nothing like the cool, comfortably loose clothes she normally wore.

Not that she thought Cherry the stripper was fooled. She knew Emily was in disguise. But she didn't know who Emily was and that was all that mattered. When a senator's daughter went for extreme research, she did have to at least attempt a measure of decorum. Especially when said senator's daughter had managed to totally screw up once before and get herself kidnapped.

Her father still hadn't let her live that one down, and he wasn't likely to forget it for a while. She wasn't likely to forget it either, her nightmares assured her of that. That didn't mean she intended to bury her head in her father's cocoon-wrapped hideout and forget about living.

If she did that, then Fuentes and the monster that haunted her nightmares would have won. She wasn't about to allow that to happen.

"So, which outfit?" The stripper Emily had hired to teach her the dance moves indicated a row of gaudy, sparkling material to choose from.

Emily glanced at the row of clothes on the racks as the dancer waved toward them negligently. Cherry Layne was tall, at least five eight without her high heels, and skinny to boot. Damn, Emily hated skinny women.

Long red-gold curls cascaded to Cherry's slim shoulders and framed a kittenish face that held a smile more often than not.

"How about the schoolgirl outfit?" Cherry indicated the little plaid skirt and white top she had hung on the rack. "Men just go wild for this one."

"Eww, Cherry. That's just wrong." She couldn't go there. She was a teacher, for pity's sake. At least, she would be a teacher again after summer break. That was close enough.

Cherry's grin was wicked. "Sweet girl, you don't know the fantasies you're missing out on."

Emily shuddered and shook her head with a grimace. "Not me. No, thank you."

The stripper only laughed and fingered through the outfits again.


"Ugh." Emily grimaced. "Keep going."

"There's not a lot here that will fit you." Cherry frowned as Emily cast her a mocking glare.

"You don't have to rub it in." She sighed.

"Sweetie, you got curves," Cherry said. "I'd love curves, but some of these outfits just trash a solid body."

She held up a pair of thongs and wispy bra as an example. "Not exactly curvy material." She laughed.

"Not exactly my material either." Emily shook her head. "Let's keep it simple."

Very simple. She didn't want to flash every inch of skin, just see how sexy it felt to do the dance. Kira swore it would awaken hormones she didn't know she had. Cherry promised it would make her feel hot and desirable.

"Hmm. How about this one? It would go perfect with your figure as well as your personality. Nice and sweet on the outside and all slut on the inside."

"Slut?" Emily lifted her brows, not knowing if she should be offended or amused.

She had never been considered slut material in her entire life. Prude. Ice queen. Frigid. But never slut.

Maybe she should just take it as a compliment, she thought, amused.

"On the inside, sweetie." Cherry's eyes sparkled with mirth. "Men love the public good girl and the private whore. Haven't you figured that out?"

No. She hadn't. But she admitted, her education was lacking.

"Interesting," she murmured, wondering if she had managed to hide the fact that she didn't have a clue what the stripper was talking about.

"Now, some of the highbrow types like to pretend they don't want it." Cherry shrugged. "Men like that come here. They have their little madonnas they married, and they have their hot little tarts on the side.

But some men, men who know how to treat a woman, now, they understand it."

And she was supposed to find one of those where?

"Here, try it on." Cherry handed her the outfit.

It wasn't exactly a costume; rather it looked more like a simple business skirt and white cotton blouse.

But it would work.

"Did you get the sexy undies I told you to pick up?" Cherry asked as she laid the skirt and blouse on the chair beside Emily.

"Wearing them now." Emily grinned at the thought of the sexy, lacy underwear she was wearing. "Are you sure this is going to work?"

"Perfectly." Cherry waved a manicured hand negligently at Emily's question. The owner was supposed to arrange for one of the bouncers to be available for her lap dance. "Timbo doesn't cheat his customers.

He'll have someone out there and you'll knock them dead."

What was the point in going to the trouble to learn the exotic dance steps and, specifically, the lap dance if she couldn't try it out on someone? The research she needed was specific. And if she didn't find a way to convince her agent that her characters could and would get nasty, then her writing career was over before it ever even truly began.

"Get hot!"
Cicily had told her. "
Get nasty. Show the editors that your women know how to be
women and your men know how to love them, or you 're not going to sell."

She rolled her eyes at the thought of it as she dressed in the short skirt and blouse. Get hot. Get nasty.

She needed to get sex before she dried up and turned into an old prune.

Her bad-boy heroes weren't bad enough and the women they loved were cardboard characters. Perhaps she was the problem. The cardboard writer. How did one write hot when one never had a man desirable enough to get hot over?

Biting her lip, she stared back at the woman in the makeup mirror. Herself. She could do this. Her friend Kira said dancing for a man would make her feel hot. That tempting him, seducing him, was a major turn-on. Unfortunately, so far, it had just been work.

"Ready?" Cherry tilted her head to the side, her long red hair falling over her shoulder, as she gave Emily an encouraging look.

As ready as she would ever be after nearly a week of instruction by the drill sergeant Cherry had turned out to be.

"Ready." Yes. She could do this.

Emily slid her feet into the ridiculously high black heels Cherry had placed on the floor in front of her then pressed her hand to her stomach before following the other woman from the dressing room.

"I'll be watching you," Cherry assured her. "And remember, the guy Timbo got to practice the lap dance is not allowed to touch you. I'll be watching and so will David. If he tries, he's hamburger meat. Okay?"

David was the ridiculously large bouncer who adored Cherry. They were the oddest couple, but Emily had to admit, they seemed to match.

She paused at the side of the dance stage as Cherry moved across it, her long legs eating the short distance until she stepped into the sound cubicle. Seconds later, the music began.

Emily sauntered onto the stage, moving in time to the music, hips swaying, counting beats to movements, wondering where the pumping adrenaline was that Cherry talked about. The need to feel sexy. The need to ...

Oh. My. God.

She stopped in the center of the stage.

There came the blood. It rushed to her head, raced through her system, and sent her senses into overload. She had seen the men that came to the establishment over the past two months, several of them, and none of them looked like this.

This was male chocolate. A smorgasbord of it. It was bad boy extreme and wicked temptation. Leaning back in a chair, muscular arms crossed over a broad chest, a dark gray T-shirt tucked into jeans that were covered with snug leather chaps. Dark glasses covered his eyes, and his expression was frankly sensual.

Black hair fell just a little long over his collar, shaggy and windblown, and framed a face that had her mouth at first drying, then watering with the need to taste those starkly male lips. To taste, to touch. He was tall, hard, muscular, and bad.

If the dictionary had a description of a bad boy, it would be this man. This was lust incarnate. It was pure erotic heat and sexual hunger.

He was a panty creamer.

She had met a few of those over the years. As far as looks went, they could do exactly what he was doing to her now. Making her cream. But she had never gotten close to one. Well, except one. But just within a few feet. She had definitely never gotten as close as a lap dance was going to require.

She trembled as she stared at him, her lips parting as she fought to draw in air, her limbs shaking with sudden nerves. She was insane to do this now, today. When she was weak. When she was restless.

When her awareness of losing time, losing the opportunity to have the ultimate adventure, was so clear in her mind. When her own independence felt at risk. At a time when her hormones were spiking.

They did that sometimes. They were doing that now.

They were reminding her that intimacy be damned, she needed to be touched. She needed to be held.

She needed more than a one-night stand, though.

Then those beautiful eatable lips kicked up in a mocking grin. A cynical dare that had her eyes narrowing and her senses balancing. She heard the music then, the sexual beat, the erotic undertones, and the sensual, sexual core of her soul awoke to it.

She imagined the only bad boy she had fantasized about for years as she let the bad boy watching her spark the memory of the first.

Kell. Tall. Broad. Bad. She remembered him. Eyes as green as emeralds. His unsmiling countenance, his air of wicked knowledge. The way he made her wet with just a look.

Just like the bad boy across the room was making her wet. Making her feel. Assuring her she was alive.

Emily began to move. Gripping the dancing pole, she stared back at the arrogance in this man's expression, the mocking curve of lips that she remembered, though she knew they weren't the same. The full contours she wanted to nibble, and she set out to seduce—a memory—

That was not a kindergarten schoolteacher. This wasn't the eighteen-year-old he had danced with or the young woman he had stayed carefully out of sight from over the years. But it was definitely Emily Stanton.

When she walked out on the stage, the breath had punched from his chest with a force that left him dazed. She was dressed like a teacher. The slim black skirt and white blouse buttoned modestly. Heels made her taller, but made her legs sexier. Legs that could wrap around a man and hold him in place as she arched to him. Legs that had his back aching to feel them tightening there.

As she stood there, poised like a frightened doe, his lips kicked up in a mocking grin. The innocence was a damned good effect. Almost good enough to believe.

The narrowing of her eyes surprised him, but her movements shocked him. With seductive skill, her arm lifted, her hand gripping the metal pole beside her, and her body began to sway to the music.

Beneath his jeans, his cock was throbbing with joy as she began to move against the phallic symbol she gripped. Leaning her back against it, her features flushed, her eyes gleaming with sensual awareness, one hand lifted to the first button of her blouse.

His mouth went dry at the hint of cleavage. Breasts a man could get lost in. Fill his hands with. His hands itched with the need to be filled.

The hard techno beat of the music throbbed with sex. It pulsed and pounded around them, swayed with her body and stroked over his nerve endings. For God's sake, he was almost panting.

BOOK: Hidden Agendas
6.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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