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Page 2

"Sure." She turned her back to him again. "See you at seven."

* * *

Faith barely made it to the dispatcher's office before her composure broke. Leaning against her father's desk, she gasped for breath, her eyes stinging with unshed tears.

Miguel Santos. Even after all these years, his effect on her was like getting hit by a bus.


She looked at her eldest brother filling the doorway. "Hey."

"John said Miguel was here."

"Yeah." It wasn't fair that his dark sexuality was even more potent now than it had been in high school. He was businessman for God's sake. A "corporate raider," although he called what he did "activist shareholding." He should have a paunch. And thinning hair. Instead he was a delectably mature version of the quarterback he'd been in high school. His dark T-shirt hadn't hidden his beautifully defined biceps or his lean waist. She bet he still had washboard abs and a heavily muscled back. And the rest of him...

Jesus. One look at him and she swore she could feel him pushing inside her. She remembered that all too well. The searing pleasure of his entry. The sensation of utter surrender.

Russell stepped into the office, his blue eyes dark with concern. "What did he want?"

Blowing out a shaky breath, she moved to one of the two chairs facing the desk and sat. "Retribution. He tried to play it off, but he was seething. I could feel it from several feet away."

"Then he's not over you." He scrubbed a hand over his shadowed jaw, his gaze thoughtful. "And we all know you never got over him. Maybe this is a second chance."

"At what? Hurting each other?" She swiped at her wet eyes. Everything was knotted up inside her, making her lightheaded and queasy. "His life is in New York. Mine is here in California."

"Things are different now." Leaning his hip into the desk, Russell crossed his arms and looked back out the door into the busy service bays. Air tools whirred loudly, drowning out the sound of multiple radios, each playing a different genre to suit the tastes of the auto tech who owned it. "Business is hopping. We've got a solid nest egg - "

"I'm not different," she argued. "I don't want to raise a family away from my own family. I don't want to sit in a penthouse apartment, planning dinner parties and waiting for my husband to come home late only to leave early the next morning. I'm not the right girl for that life and Miguel can't settle for anything less. This isn't Pretty Woman, Russ. The girl from the wrong side of the tracks doesn't always end up with the millionaire."

"You did not just compare yourself to a prostitute."

"Cinderella, then. That better?"

"Hardly. In any case, Miguel wouldn't be settling with you," Russell bit out, bristling with an older brother's pride. A consummate ladies' man himself, he didn't tolerate the same nonchalance in men she dated.

"He wouldn't be getting this either." She waved a hand that encompassed her greasy uniform from neck to ankle. "One of the things I've always loved about him was his acceptance of me just the way I am. It turns him on that I wrench and get dirty. If I slipped on a pair of heels and a strand of pearls he'd probably need Viagra to fuck me."

She actually couldn't imagine Miguel ever needing Viagra for any reason, but -

"Whoa." Russ held up a hand. "TMI."

That made her smile briefly. "I have to call Mrs. Santos. Let her know he's on the way."

"How long is he in town?"

"I don't know."

"Are you going to see him again?"

A hot shiver coursed through her. The sexual ferocity on Miguel's face had made her wet. It had always been that way between them, their desire simmering below the surface, ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. "Yes. Dinner. Tonight."

"I'm not sure I feel good about that. If he's pissed off, I don't want you anywhere near him."

Faith's brows rose. "I'm a grown woman. That's not your call."

"You've been hurt enough as it is."

"He's got a right to be mad, don't you think?"

Russ stilled. "He knows?"

"No." She rubbed at the knot of fear and regret in her stomach. "But that doesn't change anything. It's his birthday tomorrow. If he wants to ring in the occasion by working out his frustration in the sack, well... I really don't mind. It's been a long assed dry spell for me and - "

Covering his ears, her brother was up and out the door in a heartbeat.

She was reaching for the phone when he poked his head back in. "What?" she asked.

"I'll run point tonight."

Her love for him swelled and constricted her chest. "You sure?"

"Absolutely. Mom said I'm losing my 'favorite uncle' status to Johnny. Can't have that. I have a rep to maintain."

Pressing her fingers to her lips, she blew him a kiss. "You can drop him off at Mrs. Santo's house in the morning before you come in to work. And have I told you lately that you're the best?"

"I've got a nasty right hook, too. You tell Miguel that if he gets out of hand."

Chapter 2

Faith stepped out of her classic red Corvette and sucked in a deep, fortifying breath. With one forearm on the frame of the driver's side window and the other on the roof, she stared at the small bungalow behind Victorian Secrets Bed and Breakfast. Its original purpose, back when the property had been built two hundred years ago, was as the housekeeper's residence. The main house was once the governor's mansion. Seated on two acres in the middle of an otherwise modern residential area, the two story bed and breakfast had a wide wraparound porch and huge yard.

God, the place had memories. She was certain Miguel had chosen it for that very reason. To unsettle her, maybe. Which was also the likely reason for why he didn't appear when she honked the horn. He was going to make her go inside, make her face the ghosts of their past.

Faith shoved the car door closed and headed for the bungalow's entrance. Her stilettos clicked across the driveway, beating out a staccato rhythm that couldn't keep up with her racing heart. With effort, she resisted the urge to smooth the skirt of her dress. It was classic black, in a soft jersey and wraparound style. The crisscrossing halves created a plunging neckline that revealed the upper swells of her breasts and a hint of blue lace demi-bra, the hue of which matched her eyes. The whole ensemble was new, from her earrings to her heels.

She thought of it as armor. Her only defense against Miguel was his desire for her.

Reaching the door, she knocked on the inset glass. He called for her to come in, so she entered, but nothing could have prepared her for what she found inside.

"Sorry," he said, sounding completely unapologetic as he scrubbed at shower-damp hair with a towel. "I had a business call that took longer than expected."

He was naked.

She closed the door by stumbling back and leaning heavily against it, her knees weakened by a lust so ferocious it made her dizzy. Brazenly unabashed, Miguel stood in the living room completely nude, his gorgeous caramel-hued skin on display, his beautiful abs and biceps flexing as he dried himself. His body was the stuff of orgasmic dreams, hard and rippling with muscle. Wide shoulders tapering down to a lean waist and hips. Maturity graced him, turning his formerly sinewy and lanky body into a powerhouse of potent masculinity. He personified the fantasy of a sensual Latin lover, dripping sex and confidence, free of any inhibitions.

Her gaze fell to his cock and stayed there helplessly, her mouth watering at his virility. He was half-erect and impressive. When he was fully aroused, as he was quickly becoming under the avidity of her gaze, he was a sexual god. A small sound escaped her, a needy cry as her pussy grew slick and soft with wanting. He had been her first lover, her virginity given to him in the bedroom that waited just a few feet behind him, a room in which he'd ruined her for other men.

Sharp possessiveness sunk its claws into her, curling her hands into fists. The need to claim him, and that decadently sinful body he'd once pledged to her, was so voracious she burned with it. Mine, she thought savagely. He's mine.

The towel fell to the floor.

Faith panted through parted lips as he came toward her in a riveting display of golden skin and sinuous muscle. His eyes, so dark they were nearly black, smoldered with carnal intent. The curve of his exquisite mouth was etched with cruelty. He was so hot with lust and anger she was surprised the dampness on his skin didn't steam away.

A shiver of fear sharpened the knife's edge of her hunger. She was aching with emptiness, tense with expectation, heartbroken that they should be at this place - wanting each other so deeply they were sick with it.

"Miguel," she breathed as his hands caught her by the hips.

"I can't go anywhere like this," he bit out, sounding furious. His face was pressed into her hair, his breathing harsh against her ear. One hand cupped the back of her thigh, kneading with almost painful squeezes as he moved up and under the hem of her dress. He palmed her bare cheek before sliding around to the front, growling when he found the wet satin covering her pussy.

Faith gasped at the electric contact, her hips thrusting forward without volition.

Catching her around the waist with his arm, he hitched her up hard against him. His questing fingers found the edge of her thong's elastic band and eased beneath it, sliding through the silky moisture that slickened her folds to rub her clit.

She jolted against him, her body strung so tight she thought she might snap.

"You're hot and creamy, Faith," he taunted softly, circling the clenching opening of her vagina. "And I'm hard and aching for you. Were you thinking of me when you stepped into this thong and pulled it on? Were you thinking of what it would do to me? How crazed it would make me? Did the thought of me desperate to fuck you turn you on?"

"Of course. It's been a long time. Wouldn't want there to be any awkwardness." Her voice came out with the husky assurance of a practiced seductress, but inside she was a young woman again, madly in love and overwhelmed by a hunger that could only be appeased by a man who resented her.

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