EXCERPT ~ CALLING HIS BLUFF

callinghisbluff_finalOnly in Vegas…

It has to be Vegas’s glitzy, seductive atmosphere that made Sarah Tyler trade her strait-laced persona for that of a cardsharp in a red halter dress and heels. But when the Chicago vet wakes up next to her longtime crush—with a ring on her finger—she knows she’s in serious trouble.

Fifteen years ago, Sarah was madly in love with JD Damico, her brother’s best friend. She didn’t expect to ever see him again . . . until the bad-boy-turned-Hollywood- photographer persuaded her to accompany him to the city of sin for a whirlwind weekend. Now Sarah thinks they’re lawful husband and wife. Only JD isn’t a stick-around kind of guy. Worse, he no longer believes in happy endings. Or does he?

JD grew up with Sarah Tyler, one of his best friend’s little sisters. Sarah was always the sweet, quiet one he would find hiding in a stairwell with a book and a pocketful of cherry licorice. He invited her to come along on his trip to Vegas on a whim. But now that they’ve arrived, JD is about to discover that the Sarah he meets in Vegas is a completely different woman than he expected…

 

“The trailing ends of a halter-top dress skimmed between ivory shoulder blades before brushing gently against the small of a bare back. Half a moment after the dress started covering what was clearly a backside worth watching, it stopped again, leaving a mile of pale, shimmering leg between a hemline that would make a hooker blush and four-inch red spike heels that sculpted calves and thighs to perfection. When the woman stepped away from the door, her hip bumped into his.

He jumped back into the middle of the hallway as if he’d been grazed by a branding iron.

He certainly felt burned.

As the woman turned to face him, the long dark waterfall of hair she’d pulled over one shoulder swung free, a curtain of silk that moved like india ink, strands sliding over each other slickly.

She crossed herself, pressed a kiss to her fingertips and tapped them on her door over her shoulder.

One thing was clear. He hadn’t lost Sarah, although it was still up for debate whether or not he’d lost his mind.

She took his blank stare for one of inquiry, and looked back over her shoulder to where she’d tapped the door. The gesture did interesting things to the drape of the dress. He lifted his eyes from the chest of his best friend’s little sister and tried to tell himself he wasn’t going to hell.

“Old gambling superstition.” She nodded at the door. “You pray you still have enough money to pay for the room by the time you come back to it.”

“Ah. I see.” He willed the heat out of his eyes as he let his gaze run—platonically, he hoped—over her dress one more time, trying not to swallow his tongue. “Are you sure you don’t want to step back in that room for just a minute and grab something to wear over that dress? Like a sweater?”

She started to turn toward him, eyes framed in gunmetal-gray liner and big dark fringes of lashes, when she dropped her little jeweled clutch. As she sank gracefully into a crouch to retrieve it, the skirt rode up even more and he felt himself get hard. He broke out in a sweat.

“And maybe some pants.”

“What?”

Sarah was still kneeling at his feet, looking up at him in confusion as she adjusted a skinny, crystal-encrusted strap across the bridge of one foot. Her mouth was a slick of cherry-red gloss that shined like the paint on a newly waxed Corvette.

Then she licked her lips, her face hovering around knee-level.

“Will you get up?”

He hauled her to her feet with a grip on one arm that he released the moment he didn’t think she’d fall down. Then he shoved his hands in his pockets. Took them out and buttoned his jacket, feeling grateful that it wouldn’t occur to Sarah to give him the same once-over he’d given her.

Or, at least, the old Sarah wouldn’t even consider glancing at his crotch. Who knew what this Sarah would do?

“Ready?” she asked and began stalking toward the elevators, smoothly shifting her weight with each long stride she took on those impossibly high heels.

She’d already stabbed the elevator call button by the time he caught up with her.

“Sarah, wait. Don’t you think you’re a little bit overdressed?”

Which was the first time in his life he’d ever tried to get a woman out of a dress like that without trying to get his own pants off at the same time.

“No way, baby. This is Vegas.”

“Most of this town consists of retirees in velour tracksuits.”

“Not in my Vegas.” The elevator doors slid open noiselessly in front of them. J.D. didn’t miss the appreciative twinkle in the eyes of the gentleman standing with his lady companion in the back of the car. The man was ninety if he was a day and had a pair of pants belted up over his round belly, but that didn’t mean he was blind. “In my Vegas, Dean-o or Frank could be waiting right around the corner, striking up a match just in time to light my cigarette.”

He leaned away from her in shock.

“You smoke?” Was the world coming to an end?

“No.” She grinned up at him. “But in my Vegas, I just might.”

 

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