“Ms. Daniels, can you tell me where you were the night of the
Rose Daniels turned to the man, who had appeared at the grave
site after mourners had started to leave. He had to be a reporter from the
looks of him. She felt her lips tighten in frustration. First the cops, now the
reporters. She rubbed her forehead. The headache, which had started early this
morning, throbbed with increased intensity. With a sigh she pushed around the
reporter and headed for the limo.
“How do you feel being the co-owner of the whorehouse your
late boyfriend left you?”
“Damn!” A male voice over her right shoulder echoed in her
“How about the killer’s poem, Ms. Daniels? Any comment?”
The male voice muttered another oath.
?” Rose asked, not sure she’d heard the reporter
correctly over the outburst and the noise from the retreating crowd, which had
surrounded her at Allen’s graveside. They were moving off, but a few turned to
linger when they heard the reporter’s questions, then the other man’s
expletives. She glanced over her shoulder at a tall male figure. He stood
behind her to the right, glaring at the reporter.
. She knew he’d been Allen’s right-hand
man, but that still didn’t make his being here at the funeral any less
reassuring. He’d always made her feel both restless and reckless at the same
time. Not a good combination for a calm, composed accountant.
“Did you know about the contents of Allen’s will?” she asked,
and watched a red tinge spread over Nathan’s tanned complexion.
“I thought I did.” He crossed over to the reporter and
stopped within an inch of the other man’s face.
A ripple of fear and something else raced through her at the
raw intimidation oozing from Nathan. His presence tripped some unknown
testosterone meter deep within her that she never knew she possessed. She
glanced back at the reporter.
Rose had to be impressed. Nathan’s six-foot-four frame topped
the reporter’s by at least four or five inches, but the man stood his ground
and met Nathan’s glare without a flicker of an eyelid. Oh, God, he’s going
to be mincemeat in a second if he doesn’t back down
. She moved forward and
touched Nathan’s arm.
“Nathan, please, not now.” She tipped her head toward the
Steely muscles flexed beneath her hand, and she felt the
familiar twinge in her clit whenever they came into close physical contact.
Rose shook her head to ward off the inappropriate response of her body. She had
moved in with Allen only seventy-two hours before he had been found murdered in
the office of their penthouse suite. She’d spent the last three days answering
police questions and avoiding the press.
Nathan turned to her.
She felt his intense gaze through the black sunglasses. She
tried to ignore the tingle of excitement his presence elicited from her. Since
meeting him, she’d dreamed of his eyes, his mouth…God, his body…every night for
six months. She bit her lip to stifle a groan of pure need. Not once had
Allen’s manager indicated any interest in her. And how could she be thinking of
him sexually when her best friend had just been buried only minutes earlier?
Hell, he’d barely acknowledged her existence whenever she’d
been in his presence. He would look at her with his gold-green eyes, nod, then
continue with his business. When they were through reviewing contracts and
other papers, he would leave with another nod in her direction. Now Allen was
dead, and this reporter had mentioned the stalker and indicated she
co-owner of a…
“Did you say whorehouse
?” she asked. She didn’t want
to discuss the threatening letters and phone calls with this man. She closed
her eyes, not quite believing Allen was dead. Apparently the bluff hadn’t
worked the way they’d planned.
She opened her eyes and saw the reporter quickly hide a smirk
from Nathan before he answered. He gave her a curt nod and moved closer. “Yes,
Ms. Daniels.” He held out his hand, and Rose shook it. “I’m Mike Townsend. I
freelance for several of the major publications in the area.”
“Yes, I’ve read some of your articles. You’re good, Mr.
Rose noted a gleam of pleasure in the man’s eyes, but he
didn’t puff out his chest like Allen would have. Her late friend had thrived on
publicity and constant mayhem.
She glanced at Nathan, who stood with tattooed arms folded
across a wide chest. Narrow hips tapered down to long, lean legs encased in
black jeans. A glint of gold caught her eye, and her gaze moved up to linger on
the small, gold hoop earrings in each of his earlobes. In his late twenties, he
represented something rugged and wild as sin. She wanted him, but at
thirty-eight, she knew he would be one fantasy she couldn’t have. She’d wasted
enough of her life on domineering, arrogant men. Besides—she looked at his
face—he was too young.
Her mouth went dry when a scene from her favorite daydream
flashed through her memories. The discomfort in her lower abdomen increased to
the point she needed a quick fix
, but she knew masturbation wouldn’t
erase this man’s impression from her mind when he oozed sex like hot, thick
molasses. Rose cleared her throat and focused on Mike Townsend.
“Please”—she looked around at the near empty cemetery—“tell
me what you were talking about a minute ago.”
“I think you need to hear this from your attorney, Rose.”
Nathan’s deep voice sounded husky and dark. “But, I’d like to know about
Like naked skin sliding over black silk
. Rose looked
around, scared someone could hear her thoughts. Rose felt another heat wave
spread over her, but this time the blush settled in the crotch of her
pantyhose. She shifted her hips in the confines of her skirt, but the tight
material did little to ease her discomfort. She glanced up and stopped her
He’d removed his sunglasses, and his gold-green eyes watched
her every move. With his blond hair and tawny skin, he looked like a lion or
tiger, about to pounce.
“I-It’s nothing Nathan.”
Mike Townsend cleared his throat, and Rose turned back to
him, trying to ignore the sexual pull of the man behind her.
“Aren’t you concerned about the killer being a possible
“No!” She hesitated and glanced at Nathan, hoping he hadn’t
heard the question. “I mean, the police already know about the poem, Mr.
Townsend. They’re looking into any enemies Allen may have had.”
“What about your enemies?”
She didn’t like the frown on the reporter’s face and feared
he’d continue to pry into something she didn’t have the strength to discuss at
the moment. Her back to Nathan she let her eyes plead with the man to drop the
subject. When he shrugged, she felt some of her tension leave her shoulders.
“According to my sources, Mr. Richard’s estate is tied up in
an investment he made several years ago.” He flipped his notepad open and
studied the contents. “That being the case, if you follow certain stipulations
he has made, you will be a very wealthy woman—”
A loud thump
sounded behind her like someone slammed
their fist into a wall followed by a threatening voice. “How the hell do you
know all this?”
Rose flinched, but ignored the distraction. She focused on
Mr. Townsend’s words. So far, she didn’t know what Allen’s will contained, but
she had no intention of discussing the terms with this man. Nathan might think
her naïve, but she did have some sense of business. “I don’t know about Allen’s
will, Mr. Townsend, but I don’t intend discussing it with anyone until I’ve
spoken to my lawyer.”
“Are you worried about having to share your inheritance with
others, since your…association…was so short?”
They don’t have to know we didn’t sleep together.
“I assume you’re speaking of Allen’s ex-wives?”
“Not necessarily, but what type of allowances do you think
Mr. Richard would give his first three wives?”
“Did they know what kind
of business their husband
“You can bet your sweet ass they knew.” The words were an
angry snarl in her right ear, and Rose jumped at Nathan’s nearness.
That’s it. I’ve had enough
. She turned to him. Even
though Allen had insinuated she might be interested in dating the man, she’d
declined. Not because she didn’t find Nathan attractive, but, because he made
her feel out of control. Something she refused to allow since she’d left her
overbearing ex-husband and tyrant father.
Besides, she didn’t believe in casual sex. It didn’t matter
what her secret fantasies might be, she would never act on them, especially
with a man who had a different girlfriend on his arm every week. Would she
And yet, his sudden protective streak confused her.
“Excuse me, but why are you still here? I thought being
Allen’s business manager, you would be out taking care of “—she waved her hand
in the air—”business.”
“Lady, you just became my business.” Green eyes narrowed on
her, and he looked her up and down with a slow and thorough perusal. When his
gaze reached her breasts, her nipples hardened, and he smiled a lopsided grin.
“Let’s just say I’m an…interested party.”
Her reaction had been pure instinct; she felt a flush spread
up her neck to the roots of her hair. He had mentally stripped her of every
piece of clothing she wore in three seconds flat. She wanted to cover her
breasts but resisted the urge. Instead, she raised her chin and stared at him.
“Interested in what, exactly?”
“Meooow.” His eyebrows rose and he laughed. “You were always
so polite and demure whenever I saw you with Allen. I always wondered what
you’d be like…aroused.”
Rose’s hand moved to her blouse, but faltered. She would add
fuel to the fire if she fanned herself. She looked away from his body to study
his face. Not handsome, but chiseled and lean with grooves etched on either
side of his mouth, like he smiled a lot. Women would be all over him.
She sniffed at the thought and had to bite back a groan. Up
close and personal, his scent assailed her nostrils—all male with a hint of
some kind of spruce cologne.
She had never believed in instant attraction. Rose swallowed
against the unwanted sexual awareness she felt toward him ever since she’d met
him six months ago. He might be a lot younger, but she recognized him as a man
with years more worldly experience than she had.
Her palms were sweaty, but she didn’t dare wipe them on her
dress. He’ll know I’m attracted to him
The reporter smiled and nodded. “Oh, so you’re Nathan Graham.
Allen Richard’s star protégé, and Ms. Daniel’s—”
“New partner,” Nathan said.
?” Rose jerked her head toward Mike Townsend,
then back to Nathan.
A large hand with long fingers and a grip of steel took hers.
She tried to break his hold, but Nathan wouldn’t let go. Whenever she pulled
back, he exerted enough pressure to pull her forward a few steps. The heat of
his body radiated through the silk of her blouse, and his unique scent smothered
her. A dizzy haze crossed her vision, as a cold sweat peppered her forehead.
She grabbed his arm for support and felt corded muscles flex beneath her
Rose looked up to find his hungry gaze narrowed on her. She
shook her head. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”
* * * *
That makes two of us, babe. Nathan wanted to hit
something. Five years of his life down the drain. Shit! He could have
killed Allen if the man wasn’t already dead. The bastard had promised him the
business when he died.
Nathan looked at the tiny hand on his arm and wondered what this
woman could have done to his friend to make him leave her half of his business
assets. He’d met her a few months ago when Allen had brought her to the main
office. Allen had indicated they were special friends. Nathan had felt
his eyebrow rise and had held back a snort. Right. He should have
guessed what that meant. But—he let his gaze travel over her blonde, curly hair
and pert nose—she didn’t look like a hustler.
Her skin held a gray color, and she looked like she would
pass out any second. Nathan frowned. She wasn’t Allen’s usual type, but for an
older woman, she wasn’t bad-looking. Hell—who was he kidding—she’s
gorgeous. Even with his eyes closed he could picture her petite figure with
its sexy curves. Her blue eyes begged a man to jump in and drown. He’d done a
double-take the first time they’d met.
Humph, go figure. Maybe the old coot had fallen in
love and, in a span of three days, blown everything Nathan had worked for.
At that moment, Rose swayed toward him, as if her knees had
given way. He couldn’t say if the move was an accident or not, but on reflex he
caught her weight in his arms. With a grunt he lifted her up, one hand under
her bottom and one under her back. His hand moved over the swell of her hip.
Hmm, nice ass. He ground his teeth together. Dammit.
His plans were in the shitter, and here he was groping the ass of his new…partner.
“What are you gonna do with her?” Townsend asked.
Nathan gave him a look he hoped said go to hell. The
man was a pain in his ass, coming here and pouncing on Rose with news
she…correction, they…should’ve heard from Allen’s lawyer.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe lay her on the ground?”
“Right.” The other man moved to take his jacket off and
spread it across the smooth grass. Nathan wondered what kind of story Mike
Townsend really wanted. He remembered Townsend mentioning a stalker.
“What’s this about a poem?”
“You don’t know?”
“News to me.” Nathan took a few steps and laid Rose down as
easily as he could. She weighed less than a feather, but his back hurt like a
mother. He’d spent hours trying to “console” the girls over Allen’s death. He
arched his back and heard his spine pop, then he let his gaze travel over her
petite form. Wonder what she’s gonna think about Allen’s girls?
She moaned and eased onto her side. Her skirt rode up her
thighs and exposed pale, creamy skin through the nylon of her pantyhose.
Another turn onto her back and the edge of her skirt shifted to tease him with
a glimpse of a dark shadowy patch between her thighs.
Waste. With legs and skin like hers, she needed thigh
highs attached to a wisp of a black garter belt to leave her open and free
for…His dick rose against the zipper of his pants. He turned his back on her,
but couldn’t stop wondering what color pussy hair she had. Nathan shook his
“Well, Townsend, what’s the deal?” He faced the reporter and
fought a surge of anger at the other man’s gaze traveling over Rose.
“Do you think she’s okay? Shouldn’t we call an ambulance?”
Nathan didn’t look back at the blonde goddess stretched out
on the grass. “No, she just fainted. Probably the…shock…over Allen’s sudden
death and finding out she’s an heiress.” Right. She’s probably in shock
over the fact she’s got to share half of the pie with him.
Nathan had no illusions when it came to women. In the world
he’d grown up and now lived in, the women were hard and money-hungry. He looked
at Rose for a second and focused on the rise and fall of pert breasts through
the outline of her silk blouse. He couldn’t classify her in quite the same
category as Lila and the other girls who worked for him. He clenched his jaw
and fought the pull of attraction for his late boss’s girlfriend He’d sworn off
older women years ago when he met Allen and had made enough money not to starve
Oh, he still found them attractive, but these days he did the
choosing. He chose the time, the place, and the women he wanted to bed. And,
more often than not, he chose younger women, who didn’t make him lose control
like he’d done when he’d been younger and hungry. Hungry for food. He looked at
Rose. Hungry for love. Back then, he’d done anything to please them in hopes
they’d love him enough to take him home with them.
His jaw tightened. He had to remember the major difference
between Rose and his girls lay in the fact she convinced poor, rich bastards
like Allen to leave her expensive gifts before she put out. What else
could it have been? Look at how Allen had left her half the business after he’d
promised Nathan everything.
He watched Rose shift on the soft grass, and her blouse
opened to reveal a hint of the curve of her breast. Nathan felt the familiar
twinge in his groin. Shit. This situation had just become complicated.
He rubbed a hand over his face. He wanted her. He’d known that six months ago.
After Allen had asked him if he might be interested in dating Rose and he’d
declined. He had been too afraid that what he felt when he was around her resembled
the need he had experienced when he’d been a teenager. He had no intention of
going backward in time.
Allen had been disappointed, but that hadn’t stopped the old
man from taking her to live with him in his penthouse. The unexpected move had
hinted Rose was “off limits,” and Nathan had tried hard to rein in his libido
whenever he happened to be around her. That had rankled, but Nathan had
respected Allen. If the old man had decided he wanted her, then Nathan would
have to live with it. So he’d buried his desire and done his job, trying to
ignore her whenever she came by the main office.
“Did you know about your new partnership?” Townsend asked.
Nathan shrugged. “You know, ‘Q&A’ works two ways.”
He hesitated long enough for the reporter to catch his meaning.
When Townsend nodded, he decided to give the reporter a little information. He
didn’t want to, but Nathan needed to know more about this stalker. If he
found the person responsible for his mentor’s death, he’d personally kill him.
Taking a deep breath he answered Townsend’s question.
“The lawyer called me this morning and told me to come by
this afternoon to discuss the will.” He snorted. “I thought the business was
mine until a few minutes ago, but I guess Allen changed his mind.”
“How much do you think her share of the business will be?”
“Well, that’s hard to say. The type of…um…assets that Allen
dealt in are hard to put a price tag on.”
“Uh huh, I bet.”
Nathan shook out a cigarette and put the butt in his mouth.
He patted his jeans pocket for his lighter, but couldn’t find one. With an
irritated sound he jerked the cigarette from his lips, and threw the whole pack
across the grounds. He forgot he’d made a decision to quit.
“Any chance you could hazard me a guess?” Mike Townsend
scratched his head. “I mean, you are in the business, so to speak.”
Nathan narrowed his gaze against a stab of jealousy. “Just
trying to sniff a story, Townsend, or thinking of making a move on the heiress?”
The reporter’s face turned beet red. He stabbed a finger in
Nathan’s direction. “I happen to be a damned good reporter, Graham, and this
lady is going to be big news before all of this is over.”
Nathan stiffened. “What’s over?” He stepped closer to the
other man. “Give, Townsend.”
Townsend hesitated, then shrugged. “Nothin’, just instinct,
but there was a note connected to the knife sticking out of Richard’s back.”
“And, the poem contained Rose Daniels’ name.”
Nathan suspected the slime knew something, but didn’t look
like he wanted to share the information. He’d play ball with him and see how
far he’d get.
He rattled off a few numbers and calculated them out loud.
“Well, counting the fact that the business is open every night of the week, I’d
say…ten girls at twelve-hundred a night for seven nights…over fifty-two weeks…that’s
“Four million three-hundred sixty-eight thousand dollars a
Nathan turned at the same time Townsend did toward the sound
of a high-pitched feminine voice. He thought he’d come on the spot at the sight
of Rose Daniels in a disheveled state.
Sweet Jesus. Nathan gripped the edge of a tombstone in
an attempt to ease the throb in his balls. Sweat broke across his upper lip,
and he felt a vein in his temple pound in beat with his fierce pulse, which
shifted through various parts of his anatomy. No wonder Allen had scooped the
woman up. If he couldn’t hurry up and get her into his bed, he might have to
resort to more desperate measures, like marriage.
The clip she’d used to capture her curls with had broken, and
blonde hair cascaded around her shoulders. Two buttons of her silk blouse had
pulled apart to reveal a black push-up bra. Any red-blooded man within one
hundred feet would be enticed by the ample cleavage exposed. The combined sight
of her skirt, still hiked up around her hips, and her black spiked heels,
tapping against the grass, resembled that of an angry dominatrix.
Wrong! The throb eased to a dull ache. He might have a
roll in the proverbial haystack with her, but he would never go anywhere near
an altar to say I do. He may have made a post-mortem promise to Allen
that he’d watch out for Rose, but the word “commitment” and Nathan Graham had
decided against each other years ago.