Brilliant Disguise

Christian Bane is an expert at deception. It’s part of his job as a Smithson Group agent. But having been left to die by a woman he loved means a calculated seduction–even under the guise of work–has him wanting to get in and get out without getting involved.

Natasha Gaudet loves hot cars, so when she arrives at her godfather’s estate to find a sexy import—and an even sexier stranger waiting in the shadows—she’s intrigued. But things aren’t what they seem and soon Natasha is caught in a dangerous game.

The closer Christian gets to Natasha the harder it is to deceive her. His intel is faulty; Natasha’s no more a criminal than he is. They’re both being played and neither will get out alive without the other, no matter the trust—and intimacy—working together requires.

“Fast-paced from beginning to end, packed with pulse-pounding intrigue. Readers won’t want to put this one down.” — RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars

The man she assumed to be Wick’s visitor was tall and lean and frighteningly attractive—frightening, because the intensity of his gaze was not the least bit dimmed by the darkness or the shadows. If she’d been the type to shiver, her Jimmy Choos would not have been the best choice of footwear. The way he was looking at her? Looking into her? Looking through what she showed the world for what she might be hiding? She would have shaken out of her shoes by now.

He had to have come from the water garden. Perhaps he’d seen her stop on the walkway. The garden took up a good eight hundred square feet, and any number of the benches along the water’s edge, as well as at least two Natasha could think of nestled deeper into the lush foliage, offered a perfect view of the path rising from the garage to the house.

Approaching from that direction gave him the advantage. She stood in the full fall of moonlight, yet all she could see were his eyes.

Well, that and his build, which had a lot to do with the buzz of energy sizzling at her nape. Hot-bodied cars. Hot-bodied men. Both hit her right where it counted. He drew closer, and she waited, her gaze taking in his long legs and his stride that made clear he was in no hurry.

He wore black dress pants and boots. Ostrich, she decided, as the leather appeared distressed rather than the gloss more natural to crocodile. Pricey boots, she knew, because footwear ran a close second to her love for cars. His shirt was dress white, with collar open and cuffs rolled to mid-forearm. He’d tossed his suit coat over his right shoulder and held it there hooked on his thumb.

A watch, platinum, she was certain, hugged his left wrist. No ring on that tell-tale third finger. That she noted right before his hand came up and his car keys came flying. She snagged the silver ring from the air, lifted a brow, and watched as his gaze dropped to the throbbing beat at the base of her throat.

“She’s open,” he said, now no more than ten feet away.

As much as Natasha longed to slide down into that smooth leather seat and get her hands on the wheel, she waited. She waited because no car could spike her pulse like a man. She slipped her index finger through the ring, spun the keys around and into her palm, keeping her gaze steady and losing the battle with a smile.

“Just like that? No terms? No questions? The keys are mine?” Wow. Not a crack or a waver. She actually pulled it off.

He grinned. Not broadly, nor with his eyes, which she thought might be a shade of aqua rather than the bright sky blue she’d first thought—oh, why couldn’t this be happening in daylight? There was so much of him that she wanted to see.

And then his grin widened, the right corner of his mouth quirking upward. It was enough. She was in love. No, lust, she corrected, determined never again to confuse the two. Oh, but he was gorgeous.

“You caught me feeling generous.”

“Generous?” She swung the keys around once, twice, catching them again as they smacked into her palm. He now stood close enough to touch, and having the key ring to hold onto was a very good thing. “I’m thinking more along the lines of insane. You just handed, what? Four hundred thousand dollars to a woman you’ve never seen before?”

“The professor asked if I would mind a delay in dinner as he was waiting for his assistant to arrive.” The stranger tossed a quick glance toward the mountain of work she’d left stacked on the sidewalk with her jacket and purse. “I’d say those files make you the assistant. That means if you run off with my car, I’ll know where to find you.”

“Then run with me,” she said without thinking. “Wick will kill me for my lack of punctuality. I might as well be granted a last request before he carries out the sentence.”

“That’s a hell of a stiff fine to pay for being late.” He grinned again. This time with both sides of his mouth.

She saw the dimple on the left and was a goner. “For a ride in that car? I’ll make the sacrifice.”

He moved his left hand to his hip. The platinum case of his watch caught the moonlight and flickered. He gave a lift of his chin. “You’ve got the keys.”

She opened her fingers, her gaze caught by his, her palm beginning to sweat as she offered up the ring. “You want them back?”

He didn’t move. He simply stared, his gaze even more intense with so little distance between them. She wanted to ask what he was looking for, what he expected to find. She had no secrets, yet she kept her mouth closed. Intuition told her the thoughts going on behind his eyes would quickly dispel this two-strangers-and-a-Ferrari fantasy she wasn’t finished living.

When he remained silent, she withdrew her offer, palming the keys. She wanted this ride in a very bad way. “I’ve never had an accident. I’ve never been ticketed. I’ve never been stopped. Not even for a warning.”

This time when he shook his head, she swore he was also shaking off a chuckle. “I suppose you want the top down.”

“Yes, though my stylist will definitely kill me.”

He moved closer still. A flicker in his eyes was her only warning before he reached up to finger a lock of her hair. “Do your decisions always invite this hovering crowd of executioners?”

Her voice. Where was her voice? “What can I say? I enjoy living dangerously.”

His touch as well as his gaze lingered there where he rubbed the strands between forefinger and thumb. “Then it seems we have more than a few things in common.”