Authors: Janet Lane-Walters
Seducing the Photographer
At First Sight Book 2
By Janet Lane-Walters
Copyright 2016 by Janet Lane Walters
Cover Art 2016 by Jasmin Attalla
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
* * *
“Done.” Meg Blakefield closed her laptop and sank back in her chair. “Move. Friday at last.” Unlike her siblings and co-workers she refused to use the cliché. And unlike most of them she had no plans for the weekend beyond revising her rules of life. Should she scrap them and come up with a new set? Her present ones hadn’t taken her to her desired place, a home with the man of her dreams. All she’d earned from following those rules was a hand full of failed relationships.
Her elbows rested on the desk. The next issue of Good Lookin’ was at the printer’s, a perfect ending for an intense week of work and a very long day. She yawned.
The office door opened. One of her brothers stepped inside. “Good. You’re still here.”
She looked up. “You must be seeing things.”
“I need a favor.”
“Sure.” She wanted to bite her tongue a moment too late. She’d just mangled one of her rules. Know what you’re agreeing to before you commit to do a favor or you’ll find yourself in trouble.
“Thanks. You can pick up Steve Morgan at the airport tonight. His flight arrives around nine.”
“Wait a minute.” Meg’s shoulder muscles tensed. Once more she had leaped into a steaming cauldron. She stared at her brother. What did his cat in the cream smile mean? Was this some kind of sick joke? “You want me to do what?”
“Go to the airport. Meet Steve’s plane. Drive him home. He spoke each word as though he spoke to a child.
Meg’s emotions tumbled over each other like stones in a polishing tumbler. “I’m the last person he would want to see. Remember the scene I created three weeks ago.” Though she hadn’t shouted her accusations the words had flowed through the open office door. She would never forget Steve’s reaction. First an angry denial. Then he’d laughed and declared he would do no more photo shoots for Good Lookin’. His voice had boomed.
“Come on. Steve doesn’t hold grudges. Kiss and make up. He would enjoy that.”
“Right.” Meg glared at her brother. She couldn’t tell him or anyone about her first meeting with the photographer.
He’s the one.
Her body had taken fire the moment their hands had touched. She knew she’d been taken by the Blakefield curse.
Every time he came near or when there was a casual touch her body reacted and the voice in her head repeated those fatal words. She blushed. His knowing green eyes showed he knew about the strong attraction. He always smiled and made a teasing remark. Though she’d become adept at avoiding him her feelings hadn’t changed.
Mark laughed. “Pick him up.”
“Remember how he reacted when I accused him of leaking the details of my exclusive interview to that witch editor of Beauty Spot.”
Mark chuckled. “I do. He resigned. Then Allie explained how you shoot first and regret at leisure. He stayed. He looks on the incident as a joke.” Mark pressed his hands on the desk and leaned forward. “You never explained why you accused him.”
Because she hadn’t wanted to believe the man she’d been seeing was the one who had leaked the information. “She and Steve had a relationship. Believing he was the one seemed easy.”
Mark hooted. “They had a fling. The day you accused him she was a month in his past.”
“She used to be his boss. How was I to know where his loyalty lay”
“I’ll give you that.” He straightened. “When he came to the group fulltime he cut his ties with her rag. Be a sport and do the airport run.”
“Send a limo.”
“A limo isn’t how we treat our employees. Dad’s away. Luke’s tied up. Allie’s with Greg. I’m off to check some B and Bs.”
“Maybe I have plans.”
He arched a brow. “No you don’t. What is your problem?”
She couldn’t tell him how every time Steve appeared she felt like a teen crushing on the school jock. “I…”
“Come on. Now that Allie’s moved you’re the closest to JFK and you drive that huge four door sedan.”
She groaned. When any staffer was out of town on assignment unless they had a ride arranged, a member of the Blakefield family played chauffer. “You win.”
“Good. Drive the sedan and don’t think about taking a limo or a taxi.”
Why was her vehicle of choice important? She closed her eyes and planned. If the plane landed at nine, she could leave the airport by nine thirty. The drive to the Hudson River village where he lived would take an hour or so. Thirty minutes later she would be home. She could avoid the temptation to jump him for that long.
“You win,” she repeated. “I’ll go.”
Mark patted her hand. “Good girl.”
She debated barking or biting. She waved him away. “You owe me.”
He paused. “One more thing. Take the wheelchair I parked in the hall. Steve had a small accident.”
Meg went into protective mode. “How small?”
“A lot of bruises and a broken leg.”
She rolled her eyes. There went her plans for a quick pickup and delivery. She would have to accompany him into the apartment. She thought about throwing something but the only thing on her ultra neat desk were her laptop, the phone and a stack of page proofs. She ran to the door.
“Mark, you really owe me and I’ll collect.”
The closing elevator door was her answer.
Steve Morgan. A sound midway between a sigh and a groan escaped. She was in trouble. He was hot, but his frequent teasing remarks made her bristle. His green eyes hinted promises he would keep for a time. She wanted to believe he would commit forever but she’d heard volumes about his short attention span. According to her sister he’d dated and discarded at least four women in the three months he’d been a Good Magazine Group employer.
You don’t want an affair. Rule number two. Any man you consider must want a lifetime commitment.
No matter how many stars she wished upon Steve wasn’t that man. She laughed. Saying yes to what hadn’t been and what would never be offered was foolish.
With her laptop in hand she stepped into the hall. Mark hadn’t been joking. There was a wheelchair in the hall. She pushed the chair to the elevator and rode to the basement parking garage. After putting the chair in the trunk she drove to her apartment and made an omelet for dinner. As she ate she checked the arrival time of Steve’s flight.
She was going to kill her brother. Around nine was really nine forty-five. By the time she delivered Steve she wouldn’t have the energy to drive back here.
Meg paced around the living room. Her plans had to be revised. She reached for the phone. She would camp in her sister’s fiancé’s apartment. In the morning she could visit Peek-A-Boo boutique, check the lingerie and speak to the owner about the possibility of a magazine spread for the February edition of Good Lookin’. What she’d seen of the bras and panties Allie had purchased had turned her thoughts in that direction.
She dialed Greg’s apartment. The answering machine invited her to leave a message. She received the same response on Allie’s cell and left the same words on both. “Meg here. I need a place to crash for tonight. Bringing Steve home from the airport. Be there between ten and midnight.”
Meg rolled her shoulders. The tight muscles uncoiled. She had a plan to minimize the time spent with Steve. Was that what she wanted? No, but it was the only way to keep her current rules of life.
* * *
Steve sank into the wheelchair with the attendant’s help. His leg throbbed and the bruised and abraded shoulder, back and arm ached. Since the accident had left him with a broken leg and the other injuries he’d had little sleep. A week had passed before the doctors had cleared him for travel.
The airline employee wheeled him past shops and a food court to the elevator. “You being met?”
“My boss.” They exited the elevator and turned to the baggage claim area. He saw her and groaned. “No.” He blinked but she didn’t vanish.
The attendant whistled. “That your boss?”
“His sister.” Steve’s hands clenched. Pain shot along his left arm.
“Man, she is one hot babe. Shame you’re helpless.”
Steve grinned as several X-rated thoughts arose. “Hardly helpless but I’m not touching her.” He wanted to do more than touch. Meg Blakefield was trouble. She was one woman who could make him forget he liked his freedom.
“You dead or is she taken?”
“Neither. It’s complicated.” That was the truth. She was a forever woman and he was a today man. There was a new place to photograph and a new woman to explore.
Have camera. Willing to travel. His way of life.
Steve shifted his camera. Much as he denied the attraction, Meg was able to make him stand at attention in less than a second. She also brought out the rudeness of a teenager with his first crush.
“Steve,” she said.
He loved the prim precision of her voice. “Meg, you’re looking good,” he drawled. Slowly his gaze moved from her short blonde curls, over her breast and drifted lower before returning to her face. As usual she blushed. “Get a bit too much sun?”
According to her sister, Meg had elaborate rules of life, a large dose of curiosity and a penchant for leaping before looking. Could he push her into a more intimate situation?
His gaze lingered on her mouth. He wanted to taste her full lips and taste her. He wanted to inhale the fragrance of her passion.
Wouldn’t happen. She would jump to the wrong conclusion the way she had when she had shouted her suspicions about the stolen exclusive. When her voice took on a cool tone his interest had peaked but his anger about the accusation had won.
Sure Simone had been his lover and boss for a short time. Once he’d stopped working for her their affair had ended. He didn’t give secrets away. The truth appeared and Meg had apologized. He’d told her the next time she jumped she’d better aim her delectable body into his bed. Scarlet had been the skin tone of the day, plus the glacial glare in her blue eyes. Did she remember what he couldn’t forget and fantasize about?
The attendant dropped a duffle on the floor. Steve slipped him a tip. With the man’s assistance Steve transferred to the wheelchair Meg held. She fitted the duffle straps around the handles and pushed him outside. As they crossed the street and down a ramp her grunts and groans made him grin.
“A bit out of condition are you? I can show you some stamina building exercises.”
“Not needed. You’re riding in a relic from the days when your brothers were involved in sports. Casts generally weigh a ton.”
“Hardly. It’s fiberglass.”
“Who’s taking care of you when you arrive at your apartment? You’re an invalid.”
“Care to see how much of one I am.” He imagined her rosy cheeks. “Are you driving back to the city tonight?”
“No. I left a message for Allie. I’ll bunk on the couch at their apartment.”
“Brave woman. I hear they can’t leave each other alone. You’ll need blinders and ear plugs. They’re in lust.”
“They’re in love. They’re engaged.”
“When did that happen?”
“Last week. They’ve set a date for December. See, love is the verdict.”
“Guess so.,” He turned his head so he could see her. “Why did Mark send you?”
“First I live closest to the airport. Second, I was the only family member without plans for this evening. Guess I was his last choice.”
Steve sucked in a breath. Was his buddy and editor of Good Travelin’ playing matchmaker? Just because Mark had caught him watching Meg every chance he had meant nothing more than a man admiring a pretty woman. Not that being cozy with her for a week or two wouldn’t be great, just not forever.
Meg halted the wheelchair beside a grey luxury sedan. She opened the passenger door and slid the seat back. Once he was belted in she stowed the chair, his duffle and a camera case in the trunk.
Steve had planned to stay awake and keep her company but the long flight, the pain pills, the two beers he’d drunk and the movement of the car joined forces. The last thing he heard was Meg promising to have him home in an hour.
* * *
As Meg drove across the Tappan Zee Bridge the dashboard clock registered eleven forty-five. Why hadn’t Allie returned her call? Meg had kept her earpiece in place and the phone on waiting to hear her sister’s voice. Was Allie tied up at Five Cuisines? On weekends she often worked with Greg. As soon as Steve was settled Meg had to investigate. She had to find her sister and a place to spend the night as far from temptation as possible.
Moments after exiting the bridge, Meg pulled into a visitor’s spot in the complex lot. Lights on poles illuminated the area. She studied her passenger. A lock of auburn hair lay on his forehead. Asleep he looked innocent, a state she knew he’d graduated from years ago.
She sucked in a breath. Her body screamed ’attack” while her head yelled “run.” Staring at his face didn’t remove the temptation to touch him and taste his lips.
Move. Don’t be a fool. Impulsive action means more trouble than you need.
But she wanted him. Her hands hovered over his forehead. She jerked them back.