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Authors: Catherine Bybee

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BOOK: Seduced by Sunday
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Val wanted to spend time with his friends, celebrate life as any seventeen-year-old would. His father understood, but didn’t completely approve. Some of Val’s friends at the time went on to do a little time. Not that he fell into the crowd, but growing up in a big city like New York, it was hard not to know kids from all walks of life. His parents had provided well for him and Gabi, but they certainly didn’t live on Park Avenue.

Still, there had been one look between Val and his father, the night Masini senior had died of a heart attack, that stayed with Val his entire life. Val was running out the door with his friends and his father stopped him with an out-of-place hug. When he pulled away, he stared into Val’s eyes. His look said two things:
I trust you. I depend on you.
Now, years later, the feeling inside his veins
matched that of one so many years before. He longed to trust and depend. On someone.

He walked past the Rosenthal/Wolfe villa and tried hard not to stare. Lights were on in the back of the house, but those in the front were dark.

Cameras wouldn’t catch anything tonight.

Tomorrow, however, was an entirely different story.

The next morning, long before the sun rose, Val sipped his first cup of coffee for the day and opened his e-mail.

A picture of himself popped up. Val saw himself staring into the darkened Wolfe villa, the sea at his back.

A shadow fell over her, drawing Meg’s attention from the nap she was trying to take. It might have been unfortunate that she opened her eyes to find a pair of dress pants with a rather impressive bulge hiding the sun, but Meg found herself tearing her gaze away to follow the overdressed path to broad shoulders, partially shaven face . . . dark eyes. “Mr. Masini.”

“Miss Rosenthal.”

“You’re a little overdressed for the pool, don’t you think?”

The weight of his eyes traveled over her exposed skin. The bikini hid the important parts, but didn’t leave a ton to the imagination. She couldn’t tell if Val’s lips twitched with admiration for what he saw, or disapproval. Either way, she felt a little like a Catholic schoolgirl who’d shown up for the first day of school with the wrong uniform . . . which had actually happened to her before her parents decided to ignore her grandparents’ suggestion and that public school might prove best.

His gaze lingered on her thighs and Meg felt the need to squirm. Instead, she simply called the man out. “You’re staring, Mr. Masini.”

He jolted as if his own personal earthquake woke him. “Please, call me Val.”

“We’re on a first-name basis now?”

Val rocked back, placed his hands into his pockets as if he didn’t know what to do with them.

He’d been nothing short of cocky since before she’d arrived . . . this new look suited
her
just fine.

“I welcome all my guests to use my name.”

“Yet you don’t go by Valentino. I’d think you’d prefer only friends call you Val.”

“Are we not friends?”

Meg couldn’t help it, she laughed. “Sure, Val, let’s be friends . . . you can call me Margaret. Miss Rosenthal reminds me of my great-aunt who never married.”

His eyes laughed even though his lips didn’t. “Don’t you use Meg?”

“Let’s not push it,
Val
.”

The man laughed.

And damn, it was a sexy, throaty laugh that brought some of her girlie parts to life.

“Now that we have the name thing figured out, why are you standing over me wearing a three-piece suit while I’m in next to nothing?”

Val’s laugh dried up and he licked his lips. Poor guy really didn’t stand a chance with her. He had to be politically correct while she could dig and dig.

Meg loved digging.

“I wanted to extend an invitation for you and Mr. Wolfe for lunch.”

She lifted her knee, noticed his eyes travel. “Lunch?”

“Yes, that would be the meal between breakfast and dinner.”

Maybe she wasn’t the only one who could dig.

“I can’t speak for Michael. He’s sleeping off yesterday’s tequila from Key West.”

“Ah, yes . . . how was your trip off island?”

“Fun, actually. I’d never been.”

Some of the humor left Val’s face. “About lunch?”

“Is this a formal meal?” She purposely let her eyes travel over his suit. “I have to tell you, midday dress-up while on vacation holds little appeal for me.”

“Casual.”

“You mean you own clothes without starch?”

He tugged on his collar. “I live on an island, Margaret, of course.”

He really was fun to get a rise out of. “Lunch it is then. If only to see what you consider island clothing.”

Val grinned. His eyes swept up her frame, and she felt her cheeks warm. “Though I wouldn’t complain, a bikini might be a bit underdressed.”

Holy crap, was that a compliment? “Why Mr. Masini, are you flirting with me?”

His deep gaze found hers. “Just seeing what it takes to make you blush,
Margaret
.”

He turned and walked his very fine ass away.

Chapter Six

Michael used the morning alone to sleep and consider his options. For a few brief moments the day before, he and Meg had blended with the world . . . yeah, he felt the eyes, the stares, but there were brief moments when no one approached them, no one questioned them.

Something else he saw, which he did whenever he hid in the crash of people . . . couples. Real couples. Not all of them matched the way society still felt was necessary. The image of those couples brought a wave of envy he hadn’t expected. It wasn’t like he hadn’t noticed lovers before.

He didn’t regret his life . . . how could he? He’d been sought after since before he was twenty years old. Hollywood, movie producers, and his fans made him a common name on the big screen. He loved his Hollywood life a good 95 percent of the time.

When he’d told Meg he wanted Hollywood and a love life, he’d done so without much thought. Since then he’d thought of nothing else. Here he was in arguably one of the most beautiful, peaceful places he’d been in years, and all he could do was want more.

Michael reached for the bedside phone and dialed in to his assistant. Tony answered on the third ring.

“Tony!”

“Damn, Michael . . . I thought you were shitting me about your cell phone being off.”

Michael might have been alarmed by Tony’s intensity, but that was a normal operating tone for the man. “Meg warned you.”

“Who takes away your cell phone? That’s terrorism, dude.”

Oh, the drama.
“Tell me all the tabloids are free of my image.”

Tony laughed. “The price of no cell phone might work for you, but not for me. I’ve got nothing showing up. I’ve been watching, too.”

Meg had laid out instructions to Tony as if she were his client and not Michael. “We were in Key West all day yesterday . . . anything from there?”

“There were a few tweets, but nothing concrete.”

Michael felt a smile pulling at his lips. “You call the island if that changes.”

“I will. When will you be back?”

“I’m not coming back early.” Not if his plans worked the way he wanted them to.

“Enjoy, Michael. Let me know if you need anything on this end.”

“I will.”

Michael hung up and dialed another number. “Hey, Ryder, it’s Mike.”

Val half expected Meg to show up in a bikini, high heels, and red lipstick. As it was, she managed a sundress and simple sandals.

The red lipstick was a bonus.

She was alone.

Gabi greeted her at the gate; from the instant pout from his sister, Val knew Michael wouldn’t be joining them.

Wind kicked off the ocean, spraying the smoke from the barbeque right into his face. Val waved it away and managed his grill. He lowered the heat and closed the lid. When he glanced up, he noticed Margaret’s eyes on him.

She did the sweeping thing he’d done to her earlier in the day and offered a slight nod. Short-sleeved silk and cotton pants might seem overkill for a lunch barbeque, but it was cool and unstarched. He’d have to ask Carol how much starch was used in his suits and if it was really needed.

A hand slapped his back, snapping him out of the Margaret Rosenthal thrall. “You didn’t tell me you’d have so many beautiful guests.”

Val looked into the eyes of an old friend. “All my guests are beautiful.”

“And young . . . too young for my old ass.”

Val smiled. He’d met Jim the first six months after he’d opened the resort. Rest and relaxation were a tall order for the man who had said
I don’t
to his fifth wife. Problem was, the man didn’t know how to be single . . . didn’t know how to wait for the right woman. He was only in his early sixties, he’d raised a few kids, not all of them his, and had more experience in life than Val had in his big toe.

“Not all my guests are in their twenties,” Val told him.

Jim nodded toward Meg. “That one is.”

Yeah, Val knew . . . Margaret Rosenthal was a few months away from her twenty-seventh birthday. She looked it, too. The memory of her in a bikini staring up at him wouldn’t leave his brain anytime soon. How he’d managed to string two coherent sentences together by the pool, he’d never know. Still, he’d invited her, wondered if she’d bring her roommate, and planned on getting to know her a
little better. He needed to know if she was behind the pictures, or if someone else was watching her.

Val heard the meat on his grill sizzle and lifted the lid to make sure he wasn’t charring their lunch.

“Oh my God, you’re Jim Lewis.”

Margaret had managed to cross the room in a breath. Only she wasn’t looking at Val, she was looking at Jim with star-filled eyes.

“And you’re my future wife.”

Margaret Rosenthal blushed. Her cheeks grew crimson in a flash, her smile more radiant than Val had yet seen. The green-eyed monster known as jealousy smacked him upside the head.

“Holy crap. Seriously? I meet Jim fucking Lewis on Fantasy Island and I can’t even take a picture?”

Jim let loose a belly laugh . . . and the man had a serious belly to offer a baritone that would rock Carnegie Hall.

“Those are the rules, Miss . . . ?”

“Meg. Holy shit.”

She extended her hand, blushed even further when Jim kissed the back of it.

“Meg? You just met him and he’s allowed to call you Meg?” Val couldn’t come up with anything else.

“I’m having a fan moment here, Masini. Let it go.”

Val watched her fan moment and realized he was seeing the real Margaret Rosenthal. This woman, the one with the unfiltered tongue and wide eyes, was the woman determined to make her way onto his island.

This woman Val wanted to know . . . thoroughly.

“You’re too young to know about
Fantasy Island
.”

“My parents had tapes. I keep looking for the Mini-Masini, but he’s not here.”

Jim tapped his chest and roared with laughter. “That hurt. I’m so old.”

Meg giggled . . . looked around and lost part of her grin. “Sorry. Of all people, I should know not to jump on a celeb.”

“Of all people?”

It was Val’s turn to step in. “Margaret is here with Michael Wolfe.”

“The actor?”

“Yeah,” she offered. “Wow . . . I’ve listened to you since . . . forever.”

BOOK: Seduced by Sunday
12.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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