Stephanie Spicer returns in her sixth novella by Gemma Stone, and finds herself haunted by her past. As she pitches for an important new account that she desperately needs to win to please her boss, she confronts her ex-boyfriend and now must consider his offer to restart their relationship and smooth the path to business success.
But can the level-headed and sexually-charged business woman put the pain caused by her former lover behind her so easily? With her fingers still burning from the last time, Stephanie can try to win the account, but she knows she’ll be risking further heartache.
Excerpt from Dangerous Beauty
Stephanie looked up and down the vision of womanliness that sat across the table from her and knew that she needed to unburden her problem. The flickering flame of the candle on the restaurant table reflected in Jess’ eyes and she sensed that Jess was now looking into her very soul. Although the hotel restaurant was not busy, Stephanie hushed her voice to avoid being overheard as she imparted her news.
“It’s complicated, Jess, but I’ve fallen in love with a man I know I cannot have.”
“How so? I can’t imagine anyone being out of your league.”
“Maybe not, but he’s married.”
“The worst thing is that I know he loves me too. It’s serious. But I also know it’s impossible for him to be with me. His wife must suspect something’s wrong, as she arranged for him to be moved in his job back to the US where she lives and works.”
Stephanie’s thoughts began to drift as she imagined the feel of Rick Martin’s hands on her body; the feel of his mouth against hers, and the hardness of his body as he pressed against her and entered her.
Why, oh why, couldn’t things have stayed as they were? Rick and I should be together forever. There must be a way…
“I take it divorce isn’t on the cards then?” questioned Jess. “Just how serious is he, or is he just playing you along?”
“If only it were that easy. He’s a senior manager in his company, and his wife is also one of the high-ups. He’s got responsibilities, respect, and standing. A messy divorce and very public showdown wouldn’t be a great career move.”
“That’s not everything in life. You know that.”
“And what can I offer him, Jess? A one-bedroom flat with a mortgage, long work hours, and a history of broken relationships. Christ, even my mother thinks there must be something wrong with me. I’m twenty-nine years old in a few day’s time, and she’s always telling me it’s a good age to marry, as if I’m going to land Mr. Right tomorrow.”
“And your mother knows everything?”
“Well, maybe not,” giggled Stephanie. “She and my father got divorced when I was a teenager. But my little sister is settled down and expecting a child. I suppose my mother just wants to see me happy.”
“I’m sure all mums want their children to be happy, Steph.”
“I just don’t know what to do, Jess,” said Stephanie, tears beginning to well up in her soft eyes.
Jess reached across the table and held Stephanie’s hands. She looked Stephanie in the eyes and smiled with the sweetest smile that Stephanie had ever seen on her face.
“You’re going to be playing a waiting game, if this really is serious. Things will happen when the time is right for both of you. You’ll find a way, I’m sure.”
Stephanie began to warm to the idea, but still hesitated.
“And what if he doesn’t make the first move? I want him so much, but I don’t want to blunder in and wreck both of our lives.”
“You won’t, Steph. And you have that rare thing that most women would die for: a dangerous beauty that will keep a man coming back for more, whatever the consequences.”
Stephanie looked across at Jess’ expressive face, framed by her long, dark hair. She could feel herself melting at the warmth emanating from Jess and once again wanted to run her fingers across her light ebony skin.
“Thanks, Jess. I just hope he does come back to me, and soon.”
“In the meantime, I think you have a few other distractions. The guy in Spain; your LA girlfriend, Asha. Me, even?”
Stephanie laughed out loud at Jess’s teasing.
You’re right as always, Jess. I’ve got more than enough to think about right now.
“I’ve even got some work to deliver too in between the complications of my love life. Which reminds me, we’ve still got to have that discussion about the meeting tomorrow.”
“Then I suggest we retire to your room, and get ourselves relaxed and in the mood to brush up on some facts and figures for the morning.”
“And which figures would you like to brush up on tonight, Jess?”
“You mean whose figure would I like to brush up on tonight?”
“Whatever you like.”
“That’s good. I very much do like,” whispered Jess.
“Then let’s not wait another minute. Are you ready for a briefing session?” smiled Stephanie, as she took Jess’s hand and the pair headed to her bedroom.