Taylor Page never wanted anything but a career in major league baseball. Through talent and guts, she’s finally landed a position as Assistant General Manager of the Philadelphia Patriots. The only problem is that most men in baseball still don’t take a woman exec seriously, especially a thirty-year old blonde with no on-field experience. She needs to do something big to convince her bosses she has what it takes to run a team.
Veteran Pittsburgh outfielder Ryan Locke’s career is in jeopardy when a suddenly unreliable throwing arm comes on top of rehab from a major injury. A single parent with a troubled daughter and an alcoholic mother to provide for, retirement is out of the question. Ryan’s best hope is for a trade to an American League team as a designated hitter, allowing him several more years of play.
When Taylor needs a replacement for an injured first baseman, she comes up with an innovative but risky idea: convince her boss to make a trade for Ryan Locke, and then convince the still talented slugger to play first base for the Patriots. With Ryan dead-set against that plan and both their careers on the line, neither Taylor nor Ryan can afford the explosive physical attraction between them. But despite Taylor’s best efforts to resist Ryan’s campaign of seduction, she’s not sure she’s got the willpower to keep from playing along.
While Ryan paid the bill for their drinks, Taylor slipped out into the hallway, too jittery to wait in the lounge. And though it was unlikely that anyone from the party downstairs would come up and stumble across them, she loathed risking even the slightest chance.
The part of her brain not completely swamped by the need to be in Ryan’s arms was knocking hard on the inside of her skull, telling her to run, not walk to the nearest elevator and flee the hotel. But with all the will in the world, she couldn’t. As she watched Ryan through the glass doors of the bar, taking in his easy and unconscious masculine grace as he exchanged a few words with the waitress, she knew she wanted him as much as she’d ever wanted anything in life—including her job with the Patriots. Nothing had ever come close to that before, and the idea that a potential relationship with Ryan did come that close filled her with reckless exhilaration.
It also scared the pants off of her. Well, her panties were definitely coming off tonight, but not as the result of fear.
She retreated down the hallway and lurked by the door leading to the stairwell. Taylor knew she was acting like a crazy person, but since Ryan’s room was only two floors down there was no point in risking an elevator run-in with someone they knew. She wished she wasn’t such a coward, but just saying yes to this and then actually following through was using up her current store of courage, and then some.
Ryan pushed open the glass doors of the bar and strode into the hallway. He glanced toward the elevators, frowned, and then quickly scanned the corridor. When his gaze lighted on her, he smiled. He came to her with a quick, long-legged stride that told her how eager he was to be with her. That set off a lovely glow of warmth inside, and eased the tension that spiralled through her like a corkscrew.
“So, we’re doing our best to evade detection, I take it,” he said as he came up to her. He glanced at the high-tech security camera placed high on the wall on the opposite side of the stairwell. “Do you want me to disable the camera?”
She mentally winced even as she let out a reluctant laugh. “I know it’s stupid, but I think it makes sense, don’t you?”
He took her by the elbow and steered her through the heavy metal door into the stairwell. “Are you kidding? I love the idea of sneaking around with a beautiful woman.”
As the door clanged shut behind them, he surprised her by pushing her up against the hard concrete wall at the top of the landing. Deliberately, he covered every inch of the front of her body with his, pressing his already impressively hard erection into her belly as he captured her face between his big hands.
“Sneaking around makes everything so much dirtier, don’t you think?” he murmured as he feathered kisses along her cheekbone and down to the corner of her mouth. “And way hotter. Already I can’t wait to be inside you, baby.”
God help her, but Taylor loved how he took charge. Given the current state of her nerves, it was just what she needed.
She answered him with a satisfied sigh, sliding her hands around his neck. Angling her head, she felt her tensions unspooling as his lips moved from her jawline to the sensitive flesh below her ear. But when he nipped her earlobe, the resulting shock jolted her back to her senses.
“Jeez,” she exclaimed, giving him a smack on the shoulder. “What are you, a vampire?”
His low, husky laugh made her go weak behind the knees. “Come on, Taylor. I think you liked it.”
Damn it, she had liked it. In fact, the thought of him making little love bites all over her body was a surprisingly exciting thought. Not that she intended to admit that to him.
“Well, maybe a bit,” she admitted in a grudging voice. “But there’s no need to go caveman on me.”
He braced his forearms on either side of her head while still keeping his pelvis plastered against her. Almost unconsciously she couldn’t help giving a little wriggle, and his eyes rewarded her with a flare of sexual heat.
“One second I’m a vampire and the next I’m a caveman,” he answered with mock complaint. “If I didn’t know better, I would guess you had a thing for alpha males.”
She snorted. “Trust me. I have more than enough alpha males in my life without having to resort to fantasies about vampires or cavemen.”
He appraised her with a smoldering, narrow-eyed gaze that made her just a wee bit nervous and more than a little hot.
“Um, Ryan, what are you—”
“Caveman,” he said with a nod, cutting her off.
And before she even had a chance to catch her breath, he quickly stooped and then tipped her over his brawny shoulder. When he stood, she found herself hanging over his back in the classic fireman’s carry, with his hand on her butt and her purse dangling down around his knees.
“What the hell are you doing?” she forced out with a strangled cry.
He began jogging down the stairs, bouncing her stomach against his shoulder and forcing most of the air out of her lungs.
“From my intimate knowledge of you, I’ve decided that you’re more the caveman type,” he said. “I just can’t see you as a Twilight kind of gal, to tell you the truth.”
“I’m not the anything type,” she said in a breathless pant. “And this is insane.”
He was moving down the stairs with effortless motion, one hand skimming lightly over the railing and the other planted firmly on her cheeks. Predictably, her skirt had hiked up when he’d thrown her over his shoulder, and part of his hand was resting on her naked flesh. Today of all days had to be the one when she wore a thong. That wasn’t her normal choice of underwear, but her little black skirt was so tight that anything else created panty lines. So to say that she felt virtually naked and exposed was something of an understatement.
She was also beginning to get incredibly excited at the thought of what Caveman Ryan was going to do her, and that kind of instinctive response was bringing the blood rushing to her face.
Of course, that probably had more to do with the fact that she was hanging upside down. Oh, well, at least she had a nice view of his very fine ass underneath the soft leather of his jacket. And it was only two floors down, so she supposed she could let him have his little fantasy.
But when he pushed open the door to his floor without putting her down, Taylor let out a startled yelp. “Ryan, put me down! What if someone sees us?”
He gave her ass a little squeeze. “Don’t worry, gorgeous. I looked first. There’s nobody around.”
She craned around, peering along the softly lit hallway in the direction of the elevator. The corridor was empty, and the only sound was the tread of his shoes on the thick, burgundy colored carpet.
“And here we are at my door,” he said, smugly cheerful. “Just one second more and—”
When the door next to Ryan’s room opened Taylor almost had a heart attack. From her upside down position she could see an older couple emerge, the man dressed in a tuxedo and the woman in an evening gown, fur stole, and pearls. Even hanging off Ryan’s back she could see the consternation written all over their well-bred faces.
“Good gracious,” exclaimed the woman in a horrified voice.
“Oh, hi,” Ryan said, as friendly as anything. “My wife was feeling a little tipsy, so I’m just helping her back to the room. We’re celebrating our anniversary and she got a little carried away.”
Taylor had to repress the impulse to dig her nails hard into Ryan’s butt. Instead, she managed a weak wave.
“Well, I never,” huffed the woman, dragging her husband down the hall toward the elevators. But even she hustled him along, the man turned back toward Taylor and Ryan and, grinning like a maniac, gave them a thumb’s up.
Taylor groaned, letting her head thunk down in the middle of Ryan’s back as he carried her into his room. He bent at the knees and gently set her on her feet, holding her by the shoulders for a few seconds until her blood settled back where it belonged.
“I’m going to kill you,” she promised as he got busy with her blouse.
About The Authors
V.K. Sykes is really two people - Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That's where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can find V.K. on the web at http://www.vksykes.com and Vanessa at http://www.vanessakellyauthor.com.
Vanessa is also a member of Rock*It Reads, a group of traditionally published authors who are committed to bringing high standards and professional quality to their independently published works. Members include New York Times bestselling and award winning authors like Pamela Clare, Monica Burns, Elisabeth Naughton and Kris Kennedy. You can find Rock*It Reads on the web at http://www.rockitreads.com.
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