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The Lover's Secret (No Exceptions #1)

By:J.C. Reed

, until his lips were mere inches from mine. He was so tall I had to lean back to look all the way up. But it wasn't his height that intimidated me; it was that confidence of his, bordering on an inflated ego. I knew what kind of man he was. Men like him loved hard and played just as hard. I wanted to love hard for a night, but could I take the heat?

"If you left it there, you did it on purpose." He made it sound like a fact. His lips twitched, and I couldn't help but stare at their luscious perfection: lips I wanted to kiss and nibble on; lips I wanted to kiss me back; lips that would make me scream his name.

"What are you saying?"

"You're here for a reason."

I raised my brows, feigning surprise. "And what reason would that be?"

His lips moved closer, and for a moment, I thought he might kiss me. An electric tingle washed over me as he whispered in my ear, "Excitement, action, sex-all three, which you so obviously, desperately need today." He leaned back and tucked a stray lock behind my ear, then continued slowly, "You're looking for someone to give you a new sense of reality, someone who will help you forget your crappy day at work and take you on the ride of your life." With each word, his deep tone sent another ripple of hot lava through me.

"You make it sound like I'm a cheater."

He shook his head and leaned forward again. "No, not a cheater. More like someone who's bored with her life and works too hard."

His hot breath tickled my neck, and my thighs clenched in lust. I wanted him to kiss me, but more than that, I wanted him to take me.

"I can offer you that and more, Miss Stewart. All you have to do is join me in my room, which is conveniently located upstairs."

I forced a scowl. I knew I should try harder to brush him off, but there was something about him that entranced me, and it was more than just the promise of getting what I had come for. I was captivated by his voice, his touch, and the hard masculinity of his body.

Fight, Stewart. You're giving in too soon, too easily.

I moistened my suddenly parched lips and smiled. "I know what kind of man you are."

He lifted his eyebrows in mock interest, but said nothing.

"What makes you think I'd choose you when there's a whole club full of potential suitors?" I asked. "Maybe I'm looking for a neat guy, a nice guy, who doesn't usually break the rules, someone conventional and not hell bent on winning another set of panties."

He chuckled, his eyes still on me. "Because you can sense my secret," he whispered. "I never disappoint. One night with me will give you the kind of excitement that lasts a lifetime. While I cannot promise that you'll climax just once and not want more, I can promise you an unforgettable night, Miss Stewart-an incomparable night, I might add, and your only regret will be every second we wasted without sex."

Oh boy!

His confidence was so huge it ought to be listed as the world's biggest in Guinness Records. But was it working? Hell, yeah. It was working far better than I wanted to admit. My heart pounded in my chest as I watched him pull out a keycard from his pocket and place it in my hand.

"Room 521," he said with a smirk. "Be there in twenty."

"I'm not coming." I shook my head, just in case he hadn't heard my weak voice.

He smiled, revealing sexy dimples that urged me to touch them. "Of course you will … and I promise I won't bind you to my bedpost, at least not for the entire night."

The mere suggestion aroused me, and judging from the way his lips were twitching at the corners, I was sure he knew that and was feeling the same way.

"Twenty minutes." With that, he picked up his coat and left.

Craning my neck, I followed his broad shoulders. Only after he disappeared in the crowd did I turn around. A laugh escaped my lips.

"Dammit," I muttered under my breath and stood from my bar stool.

He wasn't just eye candy. He was pure sex, a conjurer of wicked naughtiness. He was a paradise for lady sinners, and I was about to be one of them. I knew it just as well as he did.

Of course I'd join him. After all, a bet was a bet, but first I'd let him simmer a bit, let him think I had ditched him. Maybe my resistance would put a little dent in that big ego of his. I was certain he was completely self-assured I'd play along and join him in his room. Maybe he had kept his voice low on purpose, so I'd chase after him, go in search of him, or whatever would give his ego another boost. Maybe he thought there were no exceptions to his rules, but things would be different today. Today, I was going to be the only exception to his game, because I had no intention of losing to the likes of him.

One of the most interesting things in life was the certainty that nothing would ever remain dull for too long; sooner or later, the unpredictable happened. The trick was standing aside long enough, watching how a set of things and people came together in random patterns that weren't really so random at all, and witnessing how that collision resulted in a burst of new experiences for everyone involved. Good or bad, those experiences brought failure or winning a new meaning.

Just like the green-eyed guy who would be my date for the night.

At least that was what I thought when I headed for the bathroom to reapply my makeup and regain some of my composure. With one last glance in the mirror, I took a deep breath and walked out.

Now that I had his attention, it was time to move to Plan B.

The lobby had filled with evening guests. Turning a corner, I almost bumped into a man who was standing near a big palm tree planted in a massive fiberglass flowerpot.

"Sorry," I muttered and turned away when he looked up from his newspaper and, as our eyes met, a sudden shudder ran down my spine.

He was dressed in a striped business suit. His dark brown hair was parted perfectly, combed neatly to one side. Wh