When Caleb Smith saved Francesca Hamilton from a nasty situation with her father, she was beyond grateful. Sure, it landed her in Caleb’s bed wearing his engagement ring, but neither of them took that seriously. It was a means to an end, and he was so sexy and exciting, she was enjoying the ride. It wasn’t Caleb’s fault her feelings were changing, leaving her wishing things between them were real rather than pretend.
Caleb took the FBI’s assignment because he wanted to end the tyranny of a man who’d hurt the people he loved. Odds of success were slim and the danger high, but he knew the risks. Francesca didn’t and was completely in the dark about her family’s “business.” And the more time he spends with her, the harder he falls for the gorgeous blonde. But to finally get retribution, he’ll have to destroy her world…
The party was a loud, glittery event that had to have cost the annual income of, at least, a highly paid lawyer. It was stunning, exciting, and if someone lit fireworks in the huge ballroom, Caleb Smith wouldn’t have been surprised, but it wouldn’t have impress him either.
She did, though. Across the crowded room of milling guests, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her…the hostess, Francesca Hamilton. That she’d noticed and liked it tapped into a thrilling, primal possessiveness he couldn’t remember ever having felt before. She shook her head, cascading long curls over bare shoulders, and then licked her lips. Her strapless, black dress revealed lots of leg, a tiny waist, and seemed to cover her breasts by dint of will. She looked comfortable in her skin…and dress. Whereas, Caleb hated his tuxedo and patent leather shoes that pinched. His collar and bowtie strangled, and he couldn’t wait to exchange it for his black jeans, T-shirt and roomy biker boots. Francesca liked it, though, if her lingering gaze over his chest, and abs was any indication. When her hot perusal settled somewhere in the vicinity of his cummerbund, her gaze had the effect of a caress, stabbing his gut with a jolt of desire.
Her gaze lifted, and locked with his. The crowd faded away and it felt as if Francesca and he were alone in her father’s ballroom, the distance between them a temporary challenge, soon to be overcome. Tonight was the culmination of a week of wooing, and his patience was thin, his mark squarely at bull’s eye.
Francesca was the full package, and Caleb had spent more than one night this week thinking about her when he should have been sleeping. He’d instead lay awake, unsettled, imagining her wrapped around him, naked, and sweet-smelling…it made his mouth go dry just thinking about it.
Holding her gaze, Caleb sipped bourbon from the thin, cut glass, purposefully telegraphing his sensual thoughts, ready to rein in his intensity at the first sign of hesitancy. He was thrilled when her eyes instead widened with excitement, her lush lips parted, and when the man at her side touched her arm to gain her attention, she startled. And her breasts, barely restrained by satin, jiggled. Yes—he took a deep, calming breath—they jiggled.
The urge to cross the ballroom to force her companion to back off was overwhelming. Insane, in fact. Caleb had begun to think of Francesca as his. It wasn’t true. And this lack of mental discipline didn’t bode well; wanting Francesca Hamilton to the point of pain, wanting to make love to her, longing to witness her succumbing to ecstasy in his arms, to taste her as she fell. That was not cool and indicted he was losing perspective. Seducing Francesca into desiring him, and desiring her in turn, were two very distinct things, and he needed to make sure one didn’t get in the way of the other.
From the moment he arrived at this party, Caleb was on target, wasting no time as he zeroed in on Francesca, calculating when best to approach. His focus had been absolute—seek her gaze, send his signal, and hope she’d be brave enough to bite the lure he dangled.
Kris Rafferty was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the youngest of four in a rambunctious Irish-American family. She became obsessed with books early on, and remembers her first library adventure. She wrote her first story when she was six and never stopped. She received her BA at U/Mass Boston, married the love of her life, has three perfect children, and earned her third degree black belt in Parker American Kenpo Karate. She plays classical piano, loves road trips, and is a fanatic for warm water ocean. If she’s not writing, she’s reading all sorts of romance. Ms. Rafferty lives happily ever after in North Carolina, writing.