Authors: Maya Tayler
2013. All rights reserved.
No part of
this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or
by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or
mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of
the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
We sat across the table allowing
silence to fill the space. Her arms folded neatly across her chest while I
flooded my coffee with creamer.
“Jillian. He’s your fiancé,” I
insisted, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing such a thing.”
“It’s what you do for a living and I
need to know if he can be trusted.” Her checkbook was on the table before I
could utter another word. Never in all my life would I have imagined seducing
my friend’s future husband, yet there we sat. I hoped for my sake and his that
he was faithful. Jillian Leal was the most successful pharmaceutical CEO in Los
Angeles with the worst dating reputation. If she hadn’t have told me about the
scores of men trying to embezzle from her, the media sure had. At age 30, she
paraded quite the laundry list of half baked Lotharios and her fiancé, Lucca
Moretti, would prove no exception. Her hand quivered as she slid the check
across the table. Twenty thousand big ones.
“Wouldn’t a prenup suffice?” I asked,
trying not to let the size of the check influence me. She shook her head.
“You know it’s not about the money.
Anyway, he’ll be at that new restaurant, Padua, on Highland tonight at 7,” she
said giving her pen a sharp click before dropping it back into her purse. “I’m
supposed to meet him and his colleague there but I’ll call and cancel last
“How will I know it’s him?”
“I dressed him this morning,” she
smirked, “He’s wearing mustard colored dress shoes. They’re hideous. You’ll
spot them right away.”
“And you’re sure you want to do
this?” I asked, hoping to convey my deep rooted concern.
“Well, you’re not going to fuck him,
are you?” she laughed sarcastically as her phone let out a deafening ring. “I
have to take this. I’ll catch up with you later,” she said, leaning forward to
give me air kisses. “Ciao, Bella.”
This was never how I imagined my
life, sitting in a restaurant being asked to test a man’s fidelity. But some
days I wished more than ever that someone like me was around when I took a
Once upon a time ago I was a
self-made millionaire and likely the youngest woman ever to engineer accounting
software. My prototype program, Centax, was the first of its kind to
incorporate tax advice with basic bookkeeping. After selling the rights for a
few million I founded my development company and everything was going smoothly
until I met Jason. He was charming, easy-going, and possessed every swoon
worthy trait of a true swindler. The last thing on my mind was a prenup as we
marched down the Little White Chapel aisle in good ol’ Las Vegas. Two years
later I was broke. And he was off in some foreign country spending my life’s
work. I managed to pin him down long enough to sign the divorce papers and that
was it. I swore I’d never let another woman make my mistake.
It was already 5 o’clock and I was
pressed for time, as always. The faded blue skinny jeans and low back top I was
wearing would have to do. I considered taking off my bra, just in case. Jill
had sprung this proposition on me and left without the slightest detail about
her fiancé. All I knew was that they’d been dating for only a month before
proposed. Jill was never really one to wait around but it certainly came as a
surprise to our circle when she showed up for brunch with a fifty thousand
dollar rock on her hand. She paid for it. He reimbursed her. This wasn’t
looking promising. Either this man was a spineless flop or he was in it for
financial reasons. Either way, I didn’t think it’d take long to expose him.
With only mustard colored shoes and
an Italian name to go on, I guessed I’d figure it out as I went.
By the time I arrived the restaurant
was buzzing. Women in short dresses they had no intention of wearing circled
around the bar, nursing their watered down cocktails. A few of them looked up
from their idle conversations to scowl at me. I could have been the ugliest
woman there. It wouldn’t have mattered. I was in their hunting ground now. They
laughed at unimportant jokes and pretended to be much more inebriated than they
really were while men sized them up. Pathetic. I was that girl once.
The bartender motioned at me, “What
are you drinking?”
“Scotch, neat.” His eyebrows
flickered with amusement as he began to pour. I scanned the room for flashy mustard
shoes but the dim lights lent nothing to my cause. It was going to be a long
night. Taking a hearty swig of the amber colored liquid, I allowed it to burn
down my throat. The sting made me feel like I was alive.
“You know, gentlemen prefer blondes,”
a deep, soothing voice said from behind me. I didn’t bother to turn as I took
another drag of scotch.
“I’m a redhead.”
“And I’m no gentleman,” he replied.
His hand met softly with the small of my back as he flexed his palm inward,
breaking the physical barrier. Clever.
I turned to him, met by fiery emerald
green eyes and a solid, square jaw. Each side of his face smeared with charcoal
stubble that opposed the neatly kept locks resting upon his head. He was
handsome. And if I needed further proof a faint scar adorned the upper left
part of his lip. It was only noticeable when he opened his mouth to speak
"Brandy?" He gestured
towards my glass. Instead, I glanced down at his shoes. Slate colored Armani
boots. Hot. But this wasn't my mark.
"I'm not interested."
"Why? Do you prefer
blondes?" He flashed a winning smirk before signaling to the bartender to
get me another drink.
“I prefer manners. You didn’t ask if
you could touch me.” I gave a curt smile and turned to leave when he caught my
“What’s your name, Red?” Red. Yeah,
I’d never heard that before. Couldn’t this guy take a hint? I searched the room
again for the shoes but it was useless. I could have sworn it was getting
darker as the night carried on. I needed to shake this guy and soon or he might
ruin any chance I had at Lucca…if I ever found him.
“Claire. My name is Claire. Now, will
you let go of me?” I snapped, yanking my arm away from him. His features
softened and he withdrew his hands in an apologetic manner.
“Usually any woman showing that much
skin wants the attention. I just wanted you to join me and my colleague for a
drink.” He gestured toward a booth on the back wall of the restaurant. Another
man sat slouched towards the end of the booth, holding a drink and impatiently
tapping his foot. He was wearing mustard colored dress shoes.
“Sure!” I blurted out before he could
say another word. My eagerness didn’t seem to surprise him as he placed a hand
on me again and guided me toward the back of the room.
“My name is Liam,” he said, allowing
me to scoot into the booth first. A few more sentences tumbled out of his mouth
but I had a hard time catching them. As the amount of patrons rose so had the
noise level. I politely shook hands with the other man, Lucca, and he proceeded
to pound his drink.
, I thought.
Let’s get this show on the
The three of us made small talk while
I attempted to engage Lucca. Nothing. He muttered some nonsense about work and
seemed alarmed when I placed my hand on his knee. Maybe he wasn’t an easy mark
after all. Maybe Jill had found someone she could truly dominate. He certainly
wasn’t anything to write home about. Sure, he was handsome in a safe kind of
way. Pristine black hair, clean shaven, with a dimple pressed into his chin.
But his skin seemed sallow under the muted lighting and the suit he wore sagged
around his shoulders. He had poor posture or needed a new tailor. Either way,
his inability to sustain my attention made me listen more closely to Liam whom,
to my surprise, wasn’t a complete douche.
When the waiter came by Liam was
polite, bought another round, and kept his hands to himself. He even managed to
get Lucca to talk more, or maybe that was the alcohol. I attempted once more to
break the physical barrier with Lucca as I casually placed my hand on his leg.
This time he didn’t jump and his eyes drew up to meet mine. Bingo. All I had to
do was isolate him. Nothing would happen with Liam in our company and I didn’t
want to drag this night out any longer than necessary.
“Excuse me,” I said, “I need to use
the ladies room.” My eyes zeroed in on Lucca and I gave a slight wink. He
seemed to get the clue. I slid across the seat towards him as he clambered out
quickly, but not before I could graze my body against his. Winding my way
through the restaurant, I found the restrooms sequestered by the kitchen. It
was a long empty hallway that mimicked the claustrophobic design of the dining
room. On any other night the weak lighting would have been off putting, but for
this…it was perfect.
It would likely take a few minutes
before he mustered up the courage to follow me. He seemed like the nervous
type. I took out my phone and messaged Jill:
Nothing yet. Night is winding down.
Will call soon.
I noticed the hall was littered with
random pieces of art. Examining a cluster of Picasso-like canvases, I squinted
my eyes to get a better look. Shapes. And more shapes. I never really
understood the draw of Picasso. To the right, perched prominently at the very
end of the hallway was a ceiling to floor waterfall feature with speckled river
rock. This was definitely more my style. The water cascaded to the floor,
leaving small puddles before the sun-shaped drain absorbed them. Occasionally
the drain would be slow to drink its relentless load causing the liquid to pool
near the hallway tile. It was enthralling.
A hand reached around the front of
me, skirting its way along my waist. My eyes unfocused on the water that
continued to rain down in front of me and I sighed. His hand dipped below my
navel, easing into my panties while another reached around to cup my breast. A
heavy groan escaped my lips as I clasped the back of his neck. His fingers
probed between my thighs lovingly stroking my clit. It had suddenly become too
heated for a public scenario.
I attempted to stop him and offer to
exchange numbers but he grabbed my hair and steered me into the janitor’s
“Not here. Not like this,” I said in
a sultry tone.
“You act like you don’t want it,” Lucca
hissed as he pawed at my top. He stopped and I sensed him step away, “You do
want it…right?” No. I wasn’t supposed to at least. My profession didn’t leave
room for personal fun. His hands returned to my shirt, preparing to pull it
over my head as I ran my hand along his jaw. He had more stubble than I had
noticed but I enjoyed the rough sensation. Just as he slid a hand underneath my
top the closet door swung open. We pushed away from each other like two horny
teenagers. It hadn’t gotten that far and I was ashamed to think it might have
until the light cast upon our faces.
“Liam!” I gasped, the crowded space
filled with just enough light to distinguish his scar. The man who had opened
the closet door, a drunk no doubt, stumbled forward and smiled.
“Is this the loo?”
I exchanged looks with Liam who
pointed the man in the right direction before shutting the door again. Flipping
the light on, I hoped to deter the situation. Even under the fluorescent bath
he was beautiful. His hands rested on my hips, pinning me gently against the
door and I fought the urge to blurt out what was really on my mind.
“This was a mistake,” I stated,
trying to keep my tone flat and void of any emotion. The adrenaline was still
pulsing through me and it would have been nice to simply resume our rendezvous.
His thumb fluttered across a little bit of skin peeking out from my jeans and
the wild look in his eyes seemed to yearn for a reaction. He deserved
something, a moan or perhaps a kiss as he held me firm, but I had a job to finish.