She wants to steal his Van Gogh. He wants to steal her heart.
Some people would call Clementine Abernathy a criminal. She considers herself a modern day Robin Hood, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Not exactly on the up-and-up, but she knows what it’s like to lose everything. Her latest heist involves swiping a priceless Van Gogh from its owner, who’s supposed to be an egotistical trust-fund brat.
Turns out Jack David is a sexy, kind-hearted man…and Clementine is in trouble. Falling for her mark would make her the World’s Dumbest Conwoman, but Jack is charmingly persistent, always singing sweet songs in her ear.
And that earth-shattering kiss? She never stood a chance.
Now she’s imagining a fresh start with this dashing man, but that means telling Jack about her past. And other nefarious sorts are after the same painting. Too soon, Clementine learns what it means to risk it all for love.
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God, she wanted to kiss him, and do so much more. To experience sex with someone who knew pieces of her puzzle, who didn’t pity her but lifted her up. If he got his skilled hands on her, she feared and thrilled at what could happen.
“You said you couldn’t ask me on a date,” she said, voice shaky. A pitiful attempt to force their distance.
She’d kissed marks on a job before. She’d play up her prude innocence and nothing more would happen. Rich men, she’d learned, found a hard-to-get woman enticing. A change from gold-diggers hunting for prey. After locating her targeted loot, she’d then feign illness and thank her dates, never to return their calls. A week or month or two later, she’d sneak in and secure her score.
No residual guilt. No longing for what could have been.
Kissing Jack David would wreck her. She knew it. She wasn’t sure she could avoid it, or even worse, fight it.
“I did say I couldn’t date you, didn’t I?” Jack mused, unaware of her turmoil. Or maybe he was aware. It was impossible to hide her trembling limbs. “But kissing isn’t dating, is it?”
“You’re suddenly forward.” As hard as Shy Jack was to resist, Bold Jack was proving more challenging.
“Thing is,” he said, back to drawing sexy circles on his beer bottle, not meeting her eyes. “I’m painfully awkward around beautiful women, which is why I’ve been curt with you at times and generally artless. But when I get comfortable with someone, when trust takes over the nerves”—he looked at her then, right into her eyes—“when that happens, the confidence I feel on stage bleeds into my life.”
He continued staring at her, unabashed, no wobble or skittishness in sight. Shivers erupted along her arms.
This is who I am, his piercing blue eyes said.
I like you. I trust you. I want to kiss you.
Everything she felt in spades. “I think classifying the kiss as dating or messing around depends on the kissing,” she said, breathless.
“Excellent point.” He hummed, still focused on her.
She struggled to fill her lungs.
He smirked knowingly. “Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that I kiss your cheek. Would that be considered acceptable? A non-date kiss?”
The mentioned spot tingled with anticipation. “I believe that would be allowed.”
“And the crescent-moon scar on your shoulder?”
A shaky “yes” was all she managed.
“And the three freckles on your nose, and the birthmark just below your right collarbone, and the one on the back of your neck, that lines up with your spine?” He said all of this with his eyes locked on hers, confident in his seduction. He’d been studying her body without doing so overtly. No different than the way she’d snuck glances of his strapping physique while they’d been running or when emphasized in his tailored suits. Both of them had been lusting from the sidelines.
About the author:
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to enjoy the charm of northern Ontario. When she’s not out hiking with her husband or home devouring books, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.
Her novels have been published internationally.