Rule Breakers, #4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: June 2, 2015
Number of pages: 217
Jennifer Chance’s Rule Breakers series turns up the heat as a wealthy playboy and a beautiful con artist engage in a high-stakes game of seduction.
As dominating in business as he is in bed, Rand Sterling Winston IV always gets what he wants. And even before he realizes that she’s scammed him into paying triple the cost for her friend’s painting, he wants Dani Michaels. To catch her alone, Rand demands that she personally deliver his purchase. The attraction between them is immediate and electric, and he knows she feels it, too. So when the part-time petty thief rebuffs his advances, he gives her a choice: a night in jail or an evening with him.
Despite her checkered past, Dani has never met someone like Rand: brooding, intense, and oh so tempting. Only a man with a broken soul could make control feel this dangerous. Still, when Rand proposes a no-strings, no-holds-barred affair, Dani’s more than a little intrigued. It’ll be the trickiest con she’s ever run and a chance to indulge her steamiest fantasies—nothing more. But as their encounters grow increasingly intimate, Dani uncovers a vulnerable side to Rand’s steely exterior and opens her heart to the ultimate risk.
Dani found herself staring into a large, graciously appointed reception area that screamed money, and a whole lot of it. The oil paintings on the walls glistened in muted silver frames, the chandelier looked like it had been dusted about fifteen minutes ago, and the gleaming dark-metal receptionist’s desk—looking ever-so-slightly like a coffin at a state funeral—blended perfectly with the charcoal-gray walls and champagne-colored carpet.
The woman sitting behind the desk appeared to have been purchased out of the same catalog as the rest of the room. She looked up at Dani without a trace of warmth, then smiled as if she were passing a kidney stone. “Miss ...?”
“Michaels,” Dani said brightly, holding up the painting as she strode forward. “Are you Ms. Pearson? I was asked to deliver this to you from the Palm—”
The secretary cut her off with a raised hand, pressing a button on her desk console. “Mr. Winston will be with you shortly.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Dani said. “I can just give it to you.”
The woman flinched as if Dani had just offered to give her herpes. Instead of answering, she gestured to the large chairs scattered around the monochromatic space, a gentlemen’s club for the color-blind. “May I get you anything to drink?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” Dani’s phone chose that moment to buzz again. She set the painting on the secretary’s enormous desk, then reached into her purse while tracking Ms. Pearson’s scandalized expression. “This will just take a moment, I’m sure.”
Between them, one of the lights on Pearson’s desk console flickered green. Her face unfroze enough to betray relief. “Mr. Winston is ready to see you. I’ll take you right in.”
Dani shrugged. Sorry, Jimmy. Today he was well back in her line of crazy. He’d have to wait his turn.
Ms. Pearson knocked lightly on the door, then waited a nanosecond before swiping her keycard. Dani heard a lock unchink, and lifted her brows in appreciation. Key-locked security during business hours? They really must be worried about the barbarians at the gate. She followed the woman inside, taking in the massive space as she was formally announced. It was chock-full of carefully spaced furniture, paintings, and a surprising number of objets d’art, some of them quite small. And quite expensive-looking. And quite definitely within easy reach.
Don’t even think about it, she warned herself. And yet ...
“Thank you, Helen. Please get home safely.” The rich, cultured voice seemed to flip on every nerve ending in Dani’s body, and she shifted her attention back to her mark. She’d forgotten how much power the guy’s voice held.
Rand Sterling Winston IV stood at his desk, but his warning wasn’t lightly made. His entire office was encased in glass, and the storm had picked up outside, the rain now battering the glass as the night crowded down. “I’ve ordered the car brought round,” he said.
Ms. Pearson stiffened primly at Dani’s side, and Dani sensed her subtle not-glance. That’s right, Helen. We’re totally going to screw on your desk while you’re gone. “I’m not yet finished —”
“It can wait. I’ll be in early tomorrow.”
The secretary heard the same subtle command that Dani did. Funny, it didn’t seem to bother the woman so much. “Of course, Mr. Winston.” She turned to Dani. “Miss Michaels.”
Dani nodded, holding up her wrapped package like a peace offering. She’d tried to convince ol’ Helen to take the painting off her hands back in the Platinum Ballroom. It wasn’t Dani’s fault that she made the boss man go all weak in the knees.
Helen didn’t look impressed. She managed to close the door with a displeased yet still very polite snick, and Dani looked at Winston, who was now gazing solemnly back at her. He leaned against his desk and folded his arms.
Dani offered the painting to him. “Your spoils, Mr. Winston.”
He just smiled.
They stood there a moment more, assessing each other like circling wolves. Dani felt a bead of perspiration slip down her neck, and cycled through her options. If Winston had figured out that she’d scammed him, it didn’t change anything, she told herself. His check had cleared, and he’d had days to reverse it. That meant the con was done, and that she’d won. Even if he’d realized she’d conned him, she’d still won.
“Please, open it,” he said, surprising her. He gestured to a small table across the space. “I’d like to see again what my little impulse purchase has netted me.”
“Of course,” Dani said. He was playing her, she knew, his gaze heavy as she walked across the room and set the wrapped painting on the table, frowning at the thickly taped corners. Before she could look up, Winston appeared at her side, a slim letter opener in his hand. “Will this be strong enough?”
“I’m sure.” This close, she could smell his cologne. Of course he would be wearing cologne. And not too much of it either, just enough to tickle her senses and make her even more aware of him. Without his heavy winter coat, and wearing a sleek black suit, with a silky blue button- down shirt open at the neck, he seemed even more sensual, more vital, more dangerous on this cold, wet, miserable Boston night, with the rain sheeting down like the end of the world. Dani admired how steady her hands were as she slipped the letter opener under the package’s edge and knifed through the tape, her movements quick and efficient. She’d worked with her share of box cutters, switchblades, and shivs, after all.
Winston apparently noted her efficiency with a blade as well. “Hmm. It’s Miss Michaels, correct?”
“Correct.” Deftly, Dani sliced through the edge of the paper and unwrapped the painting. It had been reset into a lovely silver and grey frame, the gentility of the rich wood serving to make the stark sensuality of the figures within its boundaries even more unsettling. Rand leaned forward, peering at the painting, and his heat was like a physical presence between them. Once again, she was struck by how much larger he seemed up close than he did from a distance, as if his body held more power than it should, leashed so tightly under control that you didn’t notice it until it was almost too late. Now, standing next to him, she was nearly overwhelmed by the man’s intensity. His sharp gaze was focused on the artwork, true, and yet it seemed to encompass her as well, even though he wasn’t looking at her. He reached out and stroked the frame of the painting, and she imagined how that touch would feel: rich with promise—and threat. Watching those long, cool fingers, feeling them on her skin, in her hair... it was all Dani could do to hold her ground.
Jennifer Chance is the award-winning author of the new adult Rule Breakers series. A lover of books, romance, and happily-ever-afters, she lives and writes in Ohio.
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