One winter evening, wealthy Minneapolis businessman, Bram Hartwick, blows into town along with the fast-falling snow. The sparks Bram and Shannon create succeed in heating up the chilly Midwestern night, not to mention plenty of holiday weekends in the year that follows…
But is their relationship only for special occasions, or might it be the elusive everyday love that neither of them thought could be found?
Bram strode over to the counter where Shannon and Jake the Prick stood.
“Bram!” she cried, her expression and her voice indicating delight. He hoped it was genuine. She leapt away from Jake and threw her arms around him. “You got here early!”
Not early enough, apparently. He held Shannon for a long moment, then he kissed her hard on the mouth, tasting alcohol.
With a lethal look in Jake’s direction, Bram reached for Shannon’s glass, sniffed it and said, “Mind if I have a taste? It’s been a long drive.”
“Sure,” she said, grinning up at him. “Jake made it, but I’ve had more than enough already.”
Bram took a tentative swallow. Long Island Iced Tea. With a mix of seven different kinds of liquor, those things were damn potent, but its strength was disguised by the kind of flavorful fruitiness women loved…and every man on the planet knew that. Only dishonorable men exploited it, though.
He gazed into the defiant green eyes of Jake Marcolis, loathed him with every fiber of his being and knew with absolute certainty that he was going to beat the bloody crap out of the bastard. And soon.
Shannon, for all her luscious curves, was still a lightweight when it came to alcohol, and she seemed to be getting a little unsteady on her feet. How many of those drinks had she had?
“You hungry, sweetheart? I wasn’t in the mood for fast food on the way here, so I’d planned to fix myself a little something when I got up to the room. Join me?”
“Of course,” she said, laughing. “I made sure the kitchenette in the Astaire Suite was fully stocked.” She paused. “Good thing, too. I never got around to eating dinner. I’m starving.”
Bram shot another glare at Jake. From the guilty look in his eyes, the assistant had known about this, too. Jake would be sorry. Bram would deal with him later.
“Well, goodnight Jake,” Shannon said cheerfully. “Drive home safe, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah, Jake,” Bram said. “Drive home safe.” Or not.
The assistant stood to his full height, five-foot-ten, maybe—Bram was taller so it didn’t matter—and waved a farewell to Shannon. “Goodnight, babe,” he told her.
That guy was so dead.
To him, Jake continued to raise his hand, but he subtly lowered the thumb, index finger, ring finger and pinky of that hand as he turned toward him, so Jake’s “wave” goodnight was a whole lot like a flip off. Bram suspected this was entirely intentional.
As far as he was concerned, the gauntlet hadn’t been thrown down—it’d been hurled to the floor with a smack. And Bram was not one to let a challenge like that go unacknowledged, either in business or in his personal life.
Jake the Prick had better watch his back.
“Let me take you upstairs,” he whispered in Shannon’s ear once the assistant had left the building. “I’ve got a lot to show you, and you know I’m an impatient man.”
She shivered in his arms then hugged him tighter. “I’d been worried, you know,” she admitted, “about how it would feel when we were face-to-face again. It’s been such a long time.” She pulled him by his necktie down to her and planted a long, wet kiss on his lips. “I’m not worried anymore.”
He led her to the stairway, aware of her slight stumbling and unusually relaxed posture as they wound their way to the suite. “I’m glad you’re not worried. You have nothing to fear from me.” Except the untimely demise of your assistant. “I was looking forward to seeing you so much, I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow to get here.”
She grinned at him as she fumbled with the door key. “Bram, I think I’m a little drunk.”
He eased the key gently from her fingers. “I know you are, sweetheart. But, like I said, you don’t have anything to fear from me. I’ll take care of you until you’re thinking clearly again. Okay?”
“Okay.” She paused as they entered the suite, watching him as he tossed his bag on the chair and kicked off his dress shoes. He felt her eyes scanning him. “Then what’ll you do? Once I’m thinking clearly again, I mean?”
He smiled at her, enjoying her warm and open expression, her waterfall of auburn waves, her intelligent and imaginative way of being, and he said, “Then we’ll have wild and raunchy sex until you shriek. Sound good?”
She threw her head back and laughed. “Well, yeah…”
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