Quinn’s house was built on the side of a cliff. The tri-level home was probably about five or six thousand square feet with an unobstructed view of the ocean from all three levels. During the day, the rooms were filled with light. At night, electric blinds protected the privacy from those who would try to capture a glimpse of how the beautiful people lived.
Shannon left her shoes in the foyer by the garage door and walked barefoot through the living room. Music played. She didn’t recognize the man singing, but she was sure he was one of Quinn’s latest finds.
A couple of lamps had been left on to guide her, but she could have found her way blindfolded. She ignored the elegant furniture, the expensive artwork, the too casually arranged throw pillows and headed for the stairs.
Down a floor was the kitchen and another living room. This was where Quinn spent most of his time. The upper floor was for entertaining. A dumb waiter allowed whatever catering service he was using to deliver food quickly and easily.
Instead of elegance, this level was all about comfort. Oversized leather furniture and a giant TV on the wall dominated the room. The electronic equipment could probably intimidate a NASA scientist. Being a successful music producer paid well.
Shannon circled to the final staircase and took it down a floor. She passed a small guestroom and walked into the master.
The glass doors were open. Cool night air and the sound of the ocean mingled with the scent of wood burning in the fireplace. There was a large, custom bed, a couple of chairs and a man. Her attention zeroed in on the latter.
Quinn had been reading. He put down his e-reader and rose as she approached. His blond hair was too long, his blue eyes slightly hooded. He was the kind of man who took what he wanted and he looked the part. Despite the loose cotton shirt and chinos, he was dangerous. Like a beautiful, yet venomous snake—the more appealing the appearance, the more you had to beware.
She dropped her bag onto the carpet. He removed his shirt by simply pulling it over his head and tossing it aside. His pants followed. Being Quinn, he didn’t bother with underwear.
Shannon studied the honed lines of his body. Defined muscles swooped and hollowed. The man was pushing forty and yet could have easily been hired as a butt double for stars half his age.
He was already aroused.
She hesitated. Just for a second. It was like being in the first week of a diet when cravings were insistent and tempers ran high, and someone offered you a brownie. Did you accept it and promise to start again tomorrow, or did you do the right thing, take the empowering step and walk away?
She knew she’d already made her decision. Answering the call had been the equivalent of picking up that brownie. Now all she had to do was take that first bite.
She walked over to him. Quinn drew her close and kissed her. With the stroke of his tongue, she surrendered to the inevitable and promised herself she would do better tomorrow.~ Chapter 4 ~
“And hold,” Nicole said, her tone encouraging. “Five seconds more.”
Pam stayed in the plank position. Every muscle in her body trembled with the effort, but she was determined to make it the entire minute. The image of her naked self still haunted her. The least she could do was give her all in exercise class.
“Time,” Nicole called. “And you’re done, ladies.”
Pam collapsed onto the mat for a second to catch her breath. Her stomach muscles were still quivering. She would be sore well into tomorrow, which was kind of depressing considering she did three classes a week.
She rose and staggered over to the shelf that held the cleaner spray and the towels, and wiped down her mat and the equipment she’d used. The other students did the same. She kept her eye on Shannon, wanting to make sure they had a chance to talk. She figured of all the women she knew, Shannon was the one most likely to have a referral. Or at least be able to get one.
“She’s trying to kill us,” Pam said, moving next to the annoyingly firm redhead.
“I think that, too.”
They collected their personal belongings from the cubbies by the waiting area. Lulu stood and stretched. Pam stuffed the blanket Lulu had been on into her tote, then walked toward the door. Lulu walked along with her.
When they were outside and heading for their cars, Pam scooped up the dog and wondered how exactly she was supposed to bring up such a personal topic.
“Do you have a second?” she asked.
Shannon stopped and faced her. “Sure. What’s up?”
Pam took a second to admire the other woman’s smooth face. No saggy jawline for her. And her skin was really bright. Pam had noticed a couple of dark spots on her cheek and forehead. All that time in the sun when she’d been a teenager was coming back to haunt her. Day by day her complexion was moving from human to dalmatian.
“I don’t mean to imply anything,” Pam began, wishing she’d planned this better. “Or be insulting. It’s just…I don’t know who else to ask.”
Shannon’s mouth curved into a smile. “I suddenly feel like you’re going to ask me if I’ve had a sex change operation. The answer is no.”
Pam tried to smile. “It’s not that. I was thinking about maybe getting some BOTOX and wondered if you knew anyone who ever had or something.”
“Oh, sure. That’s easy. Of course I can give you a name. I have a person.”
Pam frowned. “A person who does it?”
“Because you get it?”
“I have for about five years.”
Pam’s frown deepened as she studied her friend. “But your face is so smooth and natural looking.”
“Which is kind of the point,” Shannon told her. “I’ve been using it to prevent wrinkles.”
“They can do that?”
“They can.” Shannon moved her hair off her forehead. “I’m trying to scowl. Any movement?”
“So it works. I’ll email the contact info for the place where I go. They’re very good. The shots hurt—I won’t lie. But after it’s done, it’s no big deal. Then about a week later, you have fewer wrinkles.”
“That sounds easy,” Pam murmured, even as she wondered if she’d left it too long. She was years past preventative care.
“I love it,” Shannon told her. “But I will warn you, it’s a slick road to more work. I’m flirting with the idea of injectable. Maybe a little filler in my lips, that kind of thing.”
“Filler?” Pam’s stomach got a little queasy. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
“So start with BOTOX. The rest will be waiting.”
They chatted for a few more minutes, then headed to their cars. As Pam strapped in Lulu, she sighed.
“I was kind of hoping she would tell me I didn’t need anything done,” she admitted.
Lulu wagged her tail.
“Be grateful,” she told the dog. “You’ll always be a natural beauty.”
Text Copyright © 2015 by Susan Macias Redmond
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.
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