A Silken Seduction
Janet Lane Walters
New Concepts Publishing
“Done.” Megan Blakefield closed her laptop and sank back in her chair. Move, she told herself. “Friday at last.” Unlike her siblings and co-workers she refused to use the cliché. And unlike most of them she had no plans for the weekend beyond reviewing her rules of life. Should she scrap them and start anew? They certainly hadn’t taken her to the place she desired, a home settled by the man of her dreams. What she’d received as a reward for obeying those rules was a handful of failed relationships.
Her hands dropped to her lap. The next issue of Good Lookin’ was at the printer’s, a perfect ending to an intense week of work and a very long day. She yawned.
The office door opened. One of her brothers stepped inside. “Good, you’re still here.”
She looked up. “No, it’s my ghost.”
“I need a favor.”
“Sure.” She wanted to bite her tongue a moment too late. She’d just tramped on one of the rules. Know what you’re agreeing to before you make a commitment or you’ll find yourself in trouble.
“Thanks. You can pick up Steve Morgan at the airport tonight. His flight arrives around nine.”
“Wait a minute.” Megan’s shoulder muscles tensed. Once more she had leaped into the steaming kettle. She stared at her brother. What did his smile mean? Was this some kind of sick joke? “You want me to do what?”
“Go to the airport and meet Steve’s plane.” He spoke each word as though addressing a child.
“I’m the last person he would want to see. Remember the scene I created three weeks ago.” Though she hadn’t yelled her accusations she had definitely made them. She would never forget Steve’s reaction. After a flash of angry denial he had laughed and resigned.
“Come on. Steve doesn’t hold a grudge. Kiss and make up. He would like that.”
“Right.” Megan glared at her brother. She couldn’t tell him or anyone about the impact of her first meeting with the photographer. He’s the one, her body had signaled. You’re crazy, the sane part of her had yelled. The inner debate still raged every time she saw him. And her body reacted in the same way. She blushed and his knowing green eyes showed he read the strength of the attraction. Then he made another teasing remark that increased her unease. Most of the time she avoided him but how she felt hadn’t changed.
“Remember how he reacted when I accused him of leaking the details of my exclusive interview to that witch at Beauty Spot?”
Mark chuckled. “Yeah, I do. He resigned. Then Allie explained how you shoot first and regret at leisure. He stayed. He even looks on the incident as a joke.” Mark put his hands on her desk and leaned forward. “You never explained why you thought he was the culprit.”
Because she hadn’t wanted to believe the man she’d been dating was the one had been the person to leak the information. “They had a relationship.”
Mark hooted. “They had a fling. At the time you jumped to that conclusion she was a month behind him.”
“She used to be his boss.”
He nodded. “She was but he quit and came to work for us. Be a sport and do the airport run. You’re the only one who can. Dad’s away. Luke’s tied up. Allie’s at Greg’s restaurant and I’m off to check some B&Bs.”
“Maybe I have plans.”
He studied her. “No you don’t. What is your problem?”
She couldn’t tell him how much she felt like a dumb teenager lusting after the school jock when she was around Steve. “I …”
“Meg, you live the closest to JFK and drive that huge sedan.”
“You could hire a limo.”
He nodded. “I could but you know that’s not the way the Blakefields treat their employees.”
She did. And Steve knew the policy. When any staffer was out of town on an assignment unless they were being met by their own, a member of the Blakefield family played chauffeur.
Why was her sedan so important? She closed her eyes and began to plan. The plane landed at nine. They could leave the airport by nine thirty. The drive to the Hudson River village where he lived would take about an hour. Thirty minutes later she would be home. She could handle the temptation Steve posed for that long. “You win. I’ll go.”
Mark patted her hand. “Good girl.”
She considered barking. Instead she waved him to the door. “You owe me.”
He paused. “One more thing. Take the wheelchair that’s in the hall. Steve had a small accident.”
“Just a broken leg and a lot of bruising.”
Megan rolled her eyes. There went her plans for a quick pickup and delivery. She would have to escort him into his apartment. Before she voiced another objection she realized Mark had vanished. She thought about throwing something but the only things on her ultra neat desk were her laptop and a stack of page proofs. “You really owe me and I’ll collect.”
Steve Morgan. A sound midway between a sigh and a groan escaped. She was in trouble. He was hot. So was she but his teasing remarks always made her bristle. His green eyes made promises he would keep for a time. She wanted to believe he could commit to forever but she’d heard about his short attention span. According to her sister there had been at least four women since he’d begun at the magazine group.
You don’t want an affair, Megan reminded herself. Rule number two. Find a man who wants a lifelong commitment. No matter how hard she wished Steve wasn’t that man. She laughed at herself. Saying no to what hadn’t been offered was foolish.
With her laptop in hand she stepped into the hall. Mark hadn’t been joking. There really was a wheelchair outside her door. She pushed the battered vehicle down the hall and rode the elevator to the basement parking garage. After putting the chair in the trunk she drove to her apartment and made an omelet for dinner. Then she checked the arrival time of Steve’s flight.
She was going to kill her brother. Around nine thirty was a few minutes before ten. By the time she delivered Steve she wouldn’t have the energy to drive back to the city.
Megan paced around the living room. She needed to revise her plan. She reached for the phone. She could camp on the couch in her sister’s fiancé’s riverfront apartment. In the morning she could visit the Peek-A-Boo Boutique, check the lingerie and speak to the owner about the possibility of a magazine spread for the February issue of Good Lookin’.
She dialed the apartment. The answering machine invited her to leave a message. “Allie, Meg here. I need a place to crash for the night. Bringing Steve home from the airport. Arrive around midnight.” To make sure her sister received the message Megan called Allie’s cell phone and left the message again.
Megan rolled her shoulders and the tense muscles uncoiled. She had a plan to minimize the time with Steve. Was that what she wanted? No, but it was the only way to keep her rules of life.
* * *
Steve sank into the wheelchair the attendant held. His leg throbbed and the bruised and abraded shoulder, back and arm ached. He felt drained. Since the accident that had left him with a broken leg and other injuries he’d had little sleep. A week had passed before he’d been cleared for travel.
The airline employee wheeled him past shops and a food court to an elevator. “You being met?”
“My boss.” They exited the elevator and turned toward the baggage claim area. He saw her. “No.”
The attendant let loose a low whistle. “That your boss?”
“His sister.” Steve swallowed.
“Man, she’s a babe and you’re helpless. Shame.”
Steve grinned. “Hardly helpless but I’m not touching her.” He wanted to but he wouldn’t. Megan Blakefield was trouble. She was one woman who could make him forget he liked his freedom.
“You dead or is she taken?”
“Neither. It’s complicated.” That was the truth. Much as he denied the attraction Megan was able to make part of him stand at attention in less than a second. He reacted that way every time he saw her. She also made him act as rude as a teenager with his first crush.
Steve shifted the camera case. He wasn’t walking her road. She was a forever woman and he was a today and maybe tomorrow man. There was always a new place that cried to be photographed. Have camera and love to travel was his way of life.
“Steve,” she said.
He loved the prim precision of her voice. “Megan, you’re looking … good,” he drawled. Slowly his gaze moved from her short blonde curls over her breasts and drifted lower before returning to her face. As usual she blushed. “Get a bit too much sun.”
According to her sister Megan had rules of life, a large dose of curiosity and a penchant for leaping then looking. Could he push her into a more intimate reaction?
His gaze lingered on her mouth. He wanted to taste her full lips and explore her taste. He wanted to inhale the fragrance of her passion.
Wouldn’t happen. She would jump to the wrong conclusions the way she had when she’d shouted her suspicions about the stolen exclusive. When her voice had lost the crisp cool tones his interest had peaked but his anger had won.
Sure Simone had been his boss and his lover for a brief interval. But he didn’t give secrets away. Megan had apologized. He’d told her the next time she jumped to aim for his bed. Scarlet had been the color of the day with a touch of glacial glare from her blue eyes. Did she remember?
The attendant dropped a duffle on the floor. Steve slipped him a tip. With the man’s assistance Steve carefully made the transfer to the wheelchair Megan held. She fitted the duffle to the handles in the back and pushed him outside. As they crossed the street and went down a ramp the sounds she made brought a grin to his lips. “A bit out of condition, are you? I can show you some exercises to build stamina.”
“Not needed. You’re riding in a relic left from the days when my brothers were involved in sports. Bet that cast weighs a ton.”
“Hardly. It’s fiberglass.”
“Who’s taking care of you when you get home? You are an invalid.”
“Care to see how much of one I am.” He imagined the rosy hue of her cheeks. “You driving back to the city after you leave me off?”
“Not tonight. I left a message for Allie. I’ll bunk on the couch in their home office.”
“Brave woman. That pair can’t leave each other alone. You’ll need blinders and earplugs. They’re in lust.”
“That’s love. They’re engaged.”
“When did that happen?”
“Last week. They’ve set a date for December. So I believe it’s love.”
“Guess so.” He turned his head so he could see her. “Why did Mark send you?”
“I live the closest to the airport and everyone else was busy. I figure I was his last resort.”
Steve sucked in a breath. Was his friend and editor of Good Travelin’ playing matchmaker? Just because Mark had caught him closely observing Megan every chance he could didn’t mean more than an admiration of a pretty woman. Not that being cozy with her for a month of two wouldn’t be great but for forever. No way.
Megan halted the wheelchair beside a gray sedan. She opened the passenger’s door and slid the seat back. Once he was belted in she stowed the chair and bags in the trunk.
Steve had planned to stay awake and keep her company but the long flight, the pain pills and the two beers he’d drunk united. The last thing he remembered was Megan promising to have him home in less than an hour.
* * *
As Megan drove across the Tappan Zee Bridge the clock on the dash registered eleven forty-nine. Why hadn’t Allie returned the call? Was she tied up at Five Cuisines? The restaurant owned by her fiancé remained open until two AM. On weekends she often worked with Greg in the kitchen. As soon as Steve was settled a call to the restaurant was in order. Megan checked her cell phone and realized she had turned it off. Maybe a stop at the apartment would find her sister at home.
Moments later Megan parked in one of the visitors’ spots in the complex lot. Bright lights on poles illuminated the area. She studied her passenger. A lock of his dark auburn hair lay on his forehead. Asleep, he looked innocent, a state she knew he’d graduated from years ago.
She sucked in a breath. Her body said, “attack” while the sane part of her yelled, “run.” Staring at him wasn’t removing the temptation to touch his face and taste his skin. Move, she told herself. Don’t be a fool. Acting on an impulse will bring more trouble than you need. But she wanted. Her hand hovered over his forehead. She jerked it back.
Megan left the car and popped the trunk. What would happen if she kissed him the way she’d dreamed of since he’d joined the magazine group?
Do not go there. A rule of life was to resist the lure of a buff body and dreamy eyes.
She opened the passenger’s door. “Steve, wake up. You’re home.”
He reached for her. She ended sprawled across his lap. Though his eyes were closed his mouth found hers. Heat sizzled from the touch and shot to her groin.
“Danger,” a voice shouted.
“Enjoy,” another whispered.
His lips parted. His tongue brushed across her mouth. She felt the heat increase and she knew she had to resist. He would accept everything she had to give and walk away. She would be left with bruised emotions. She pressed her hands against his shoulders and pushed away. “You don’t want to do this.”
“Seems I do,” he said. “You’re blushing. How far does the red extend?”
Megan nearly cracked her head on the frame of the car. “You’re not going to learn.”
He winked. “Is that a challenge?”
She pointed to the wheelchair. “Get in. I’ll deliver you and your things so I can check in with Allie. She never answered my call.”
“Try the restaurant. Or better, we could stop by.”
“I don’t think so.” The object was to see him home and leave before desire changed her mind.
He moved into the chair. She handed him the camera bag and her overnight case.
She pushed him to the door where a security guard let them in.
“Welcome back, Mr. Morgan. She do this?” The elderly man guffawed.
“Not her. A mountain.”
While Steve entered the enclosed mail room, Megan ran down the hall to her sister’s door. Please be there, she begged. She pressed the buzzer, waited and pressed again. When there was no answer she returned to the foyer. A series of yawns made her realize how tired she felt.
Steve arched a brow. “You set?”
She shook her head. “She’s not at the apartment. Once I have you safely stowed I’ll call Five Cuisines.”
The elevator ride of a single floor lasted too long. Steve’s scent permeated the small space. She felt an urge to break all the rules of her life. That could bring delight or disaster. She felt torn between sanity and madness. Her lips still burned from the kiss. Her breasts felt full and the throbbing low in her belly reminded her of an urgent wish to be with Steve.
He handed her the apartment key. She opened the door and pushed him into the large living room. Moving the wheelchair across the plush dark blue carpet was a chore. She pushed him down the hall to his bedroom. As they entered she glanced through the large window and saw the moon reflected on the river’s dark surface and the distant lights of the bridge. “Nice view. Almost like the one from Greg’s place.”
“Should be. His apartment’s below.”
The bedroom wasn’t what she’d expected. The scene wasn’t set for seduction. Plain deep green drapes matched the bedspread and the carpet. The furniture was dark and masculine.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” Had she really asked that question? The gleam in his green eyes said she had. “I mean … to make you more comfortable.” Lord, what imp had grabbed her tongue? She felt her skin heat and knew the flush had spread along her neck.
Steve laughed. “Now there are several things on my mind but I won’t ask. Yet. You need to make a call.”
Megan breathed a sigh of relief. She retreated to the living room and called Five Cuisines. What she heard from the hostess caused her to land on the couch with a thud. Was this a joke or a stroke of fate? What was she going to do? She had to drive back to the city, something she had hoped to avoid.
“Megan, could you give me a hand?”
She walked to the bedroom. She’d been on the go since a five AM workout in the gym. Her body felt like rubber. She was too tired to drive to the city and the temptation to remain here was strong.
Steve pushed the wheelchair from the bathroom. “Could you undo this cast boot?”
“Sure.” She loosened the Velcro straps and slid the boot free. “Where do you want it?”
“By the bed. Hopefully I’ll be able to put it on.” He moved from the chair to sit on the edge of the bed. “Did you reach Allie?”
She shook her head. “Seems she and Greg are away until Sunday. Shame she didn’t mention that when I saw her this morning. Let me get you settled before I go.” She paused. “Is there a motel or hotel nearby?”
“There’s a motel but it’s midnight. They’re probably full.”
“Maybe there’s a B&B.”
Her shoulders slumped. “Guess I’m leaving for the city.” She covered her mouth to hide a yawn.
“Stay here.” He grinned. “I won’t be jumping your bones.”
But she might jump his. “I’d better go.”
“And have an accident. How do you think I’d feel then?”
Her resolve faded. “Thanks.” For better or worse she would stay. Her rules of life were in danger of being shattered.