Home > Sinful Desire (Sinful Nights #2)

Sinful Desire (Sinful Nights #2)
Author: Lauren Blakely

Chapter One


The light was playing tricks on him.

The golden haze of the late afternoon sun, and its halo glow, was some kind of illusion. No way, no how, was it possible for anyone to be so gorgeous that she actually shimmered.

Mirage was the more plausible explanation for the platinum blonde stepping out of the Aston Martin at three o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday in July, looking as if she belonged in a gangster movie. She was the woman they all fought over. The woman who brought the men to their knees.

From the pinup dress, to the pouty lips, to the gleaming car that stretched a city block—or so it seemed—she was…

Glamorous. Sultry. Voluptuous.

Ryan’s fantasy woman.

No question about it.

This was lust at first sight. Pure, unadulterated lust knocking around in his chest and threatening to make matters in his charcoal gray slacks harder than he needed them to be right now.

But he was willing to deal with that problem because the woman could not be ignored. A groan rolled around in his throat as he stared shamelessly over the top of his aviator shades. He walked along the palm-tree lined sidewalk that framed police headquarters, cycling through his best opening lines, even though he had a hunch a woman like that—a woman who wore a black dress with a cherry pattern and bright white sunglasses—had heard them all. Busty and bold enough to pull up to Vegas’s municipal building at midday looking like sin come to life, this woman wasn’t going to be wooed by lines or a standard come-here often?

With one hand on the car door, she glanced to the left, away from him, and pushed her sunglasses on top of her hair. In her other hand, she held a phone, a notepad, and a pen. She bumped her rear against the car door, shutting it with her ass.

What a lucky car door.

He half wished she’d drop the pen, just so he could swoop in and pick it up. Bend down, grab it before it rattled to the street, and gallantly present it.

Then he’d get her number with that pen. She’d be the type to push up the cuff of his shirtsleeve and write it on his arm.

He scoffed at himself. As if that would work. But something had to, because the clock was ticking, and he was ten feet from this heavenly vision. Checking his watch, he saw he had two minutes to spare before he met with the detective. He could do this. He could meet her in 120 seconds.

The sun pelted its hot desert rays at him, radiating off the sidewalks, as he ran a hand along his green tie and cleared his throat. She looked up from her phone, and instantly they locked eyes. Hers were blue like the sea. As she caught his gaze, she arched an eyebrow.

This was it. No time for lines. Just fucking talk to the gorgeous creature. “Seems I’ve been caught staring,” he said as he reached her, claiming a patch of concrete real estate a foot away.

“I’m afraid I’m guilty on that count, too,” she fired back, her voice laced with a torch-singer sultriness, her words telling him to keep going.

She had the pen in her hand and she twirled it once absently.

He tipped his forehead toward it. “Incidentally, I’m astonishingly good at picking up pens that beautiful women drop outside our fine city’s government buildings.”

Her lips twitched. Red. Cherry red and full. He wanted to know what they tasted like. How they felt. What she liked to do with them.

She brought the pen to her lips, danced it between them, raised her eyebrows in an invitation, and then let it drop. It clattered to the sidewalk. “Is that so?”

The pen was like a promise. Of something more. Of flirting, and then flirting back. Of phone numbers to follow. And then some. Oh yeah, so much and then some.

“That is so,” he said in a firm voice, bending down to pick up the writing implement, just as Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ crooned from her phone. He rose, and she was tapping her screen, sliding her thumb across it.

“Must answer this. But thank you so much for the pen. By the way, I like your tie.” She reached out to trail a finger down the silky fabric, her hand terribly close to his chest. Then she held up that finger, asking him to wait.

“So good to hear from you,” she said into the phone, keeping her eyes on him the whole time. “I can’t wait to see you tonight at the gala at Aria,” she said, arching an eyebrow at Ryan as she emphasized that last word. “It’s going to be a fabulous event and we’ll raise so much money. My only hope is there will be some gorgeous man there in a green tie who can afford a last-minute ticket.”

He shot her a grin—a lopsided smile that said yes, the man in the green tie could absolutely afford a ticket.

He nodded his RSVP to the gala. She waved goodbye and walked down the street.

Suddenly, Ryan had plans that night.

* * *

Ryan wondered if everyone he encountered today had been hired from Central Casting. Because the detective was straight out of a script. If there was a dress code for police detectives, rule number one must be: thou shalt not tightly knot a tie. John Winston had taken that to heart and was sporting the slightly-loosened look, as if he’d been tugging on his navy tie all day, frustration increasing as he questioned belligerent suspects. Then there were the other hallmarks of the job, from the striped button-down with the cuffs rolled up, to the paper cup of deli coffee on the desk in his office. Even the stubble seemed to have been custom ordered to fit the part of homicide detective.

Funny how people could look like their jobs. Briefly, Ryan wondered if the blonde was a movie star. He wouldn’t be surprised.

“Thanks for coming in,” Winston said, shutting the door to his office behind them. Glass windows looked out over the rest of the department, and a sea of half-empty desks. Ryan wasn’t sure if that meant business was good or bad in homicide. “Have a seat.” The man gestured to a frayed brown office chair. “Ordinarily, I’d chat with you in a witness room, but they’re all full right now.”

So it was a busy day here.

“This works fine for me. What can I do for you?” Ryan asked as he sat down, eager to glean any details he could about the reopened investigation into his father’s murder.

Winston had called earlier in the week and asked him to come in. To help shed some light on the case, the detective had emphasized. “You’re not the target of the investigation. This isn’t about you. But you are a potential witness so I’d like to talk to you,” Winston had said on the phone.

Ryan was flying solo here today. Bringing a lawyer in for routine questioning would make it look as if he had something to hide. He did have something to hide, but he didn’t need an attorney by his side to keep the vault in his brain locked tight. That had been sealed for eighteen years, and no crowbar would get it open, so he wasn’t worried.

He was, however, damn curious. He wanted to know what Winston knew about his family. About his mother in prison. About his father, six feet under. Ryan quickly scanned the detective’s desk for any clue as to who John Winston was—a family photo, pictures of the detective with his kid, maybe even some sports memorabilia. But there were no telltale signs, save for an autographed baseball in a plastic case amidst a neat desk covered only with newspapers and a stack of Manila folders.

Ryan was left to his own devices to construct his character bio for John Winston, and he certainly didn’t need a photo on the desk to know the chances were good that Winston was a cop because his dad had been one, or because someone he cared about had been a victim of a crime.

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