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The Lover's Secret (No Exceptions #1)

By:J.C. Reed

The Lover's Secret (No Exceptions #1)
Author: J.C. Reed

Big, white snowflakes fell from the darkening November sky, coating my hair as I walked past the empty benches in Central Park. Even though dusk hadn't yet fallen, the street lights were on, casting their soft, golden glow on the white-speckled path.

Only ten minutes to go.

My high heels made hardly a sound as I trekked through the thin layer of snow covering the asphalt. With each step I took, my heart raced faster in my chest. The blonde wig hid my chestnut locks and stood in strong contrast to my little black dress, making me feel like someone else. I wrapped my coat tighter around me, even though the fabric was too thin to stave off the cold wind. It really didn't matter; my on-edge nerves had me boiling inside.

This was it … the big night I had been waiting for.

I couldn't wait to play the game. I couldn't possibly get there fast enough.

Eager to get to my destination, I urged myself forward, hurrying my pace toward the busy streets of New York City. Only a few more minutes, and I finally reached the hotel. Men turned their heads as I strode into the luxury foyer and shrugged out of my damp coat. The snug little number I had borrowed from Sylvie, my best friend, was so tight it kept riding up my thighs, garnering even more stares. The material was as thin and light as silk, and so low cut that anyone who cared to look would catch an ample glimpse of my cleavage, but at least it wasn't transparent. The dress, coupled with sinful, seven-inch heels and stockings that hugged my legs like a sheath, made me feel like a hooker and completely out of place; almost as if I didn't belong in this expensive hotel that screamed old money and high society-a rich world that was foreign to me.

I stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, and not just because of my clothes-or the lack thereof. Simply put, my outfit wasn't something I wore every day, or ever. But I'd really had no option. Today was an exception, because the instructions had been clear:

Wear something provocative.

So I had selected something daring from Sylvie's skimpy wardrobe. Not the most daring ensemble, but the one that would still fulfill the request without making me want to hide behind the nearest tree.

With a sigh, I draped my coat over my arm, and then held it up to my chest in a weak attempt to hide some of my exposed cleavage as I made my way across the foyer to the back.

The doors to the club were wide open. I breezed through them, barely acknowledging the curious glances of the bouncers, and stopped for a moment to familiarize myself with the interior rooms. The club was dimly lit and carefully designed with elegant, upholstered chairs facing a long, narrow bar area. To my right were what looked like private tables, as well as a circular dance floor with mirrors hanging from the ceiling. Everything sparkled and shined, polished to perfection. The entire atmosphere screamed money and sex. Even the air smelled forbidden. All that seemed missing was a troupe of half-naked dancers I assumed would arrive soon enough.

And then my glance caught him, and my breath remained trapped in my throat.

He was sitting at the bar; his beautiful face, framed by his dark hair, was turned away from me. His gaze was glued to the glass in his hand and the swirling, golden liquid inside it. Dressed in a tailored black suit that did nothing to hide the perfection of his sculpted body, he was sexy, no doubt about it. But what really drew me to him was the mystery surrounding him. Even from across the room, I could tell instantly that he was the kind of man I would never have gone for a while ago. The kind of man I would have invited into my bed on a whim. He was the kind of man I wanted to fall under my spell.

I strolled over and perched myself on the bar stool near him. Far enough to watch him without giving the impression that I was desperate for company. Close enough for him to notice me. I crossed my legs, purposely allowing my borrowed dress to ride up just a little bit higher. The barman took my order, and for a moment, I turned away from the hot stranger. The next thing I knew he was gone.

Confused, I swept my eyes around the half-filled room, but there was no sign of him among the other patrons. Disappointment washed over me at the prospect that my outfit might not have been sexy enough to attract him to the extent I had expected.

Game over before it had even began.

With a dissatisfied sigh, I turned my attention back to my glass.

"Are you looking for me?" a deep voice with the slightest hint of a Southern accent whispered behind me, caressing my senses like an exhilarating summer breeze.

I sat up straight but fought the urge to put some distance between us. His voice was so sexy, a delicious tug formed inside me. Something much deeper pulsated within my core, urging me to play my cards right this time. I turned around ever so slowly, my gaze searching his, and for a moment, I was rendered speechless at the naughty glint in his eyes.


Talk about stunning.

Barely a few inches away from me stood the man I had watched earlier. As he stepped nearer and his hands brushed mine, my skin began to tingle. He was so close I could feel his hot breath on my lips and the heat emanating from his delicious body and light bronze skin. His shoulders were broad and his arms looked like they could carry a woman where she belonged-in his bed-but the most stunning feature about him were his dark green eyes that reminded me of haunted woods covered in morning dew, and lush meadows.

Eyes so beautiful, they had to be made of sin.

Was it the varied shades of green that gave the impression? Or his irises that looked like cracked stones on a beach? People always said the color green was calming, but it wasn't calming at all. It was like a wild garden inviting you to run in onl