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Undercover Love(5)

By:Lucy Score



One small but exquisitely decorated powder room and waiter with a tray of champagne later, Ashley was in better spirits. She peeked into the salon and spotted Steven still at the fireplace with a fresh scotch and a cluster of people.

He wouldn’t notice if she just ducked out for a few minutes. Maybe find a couch on which to face-plant. There had to be less formal rooms somewhere off the stately, arched hallway.

The second door on the left yielded carpeted stairs leading down. She darted a quick look over her shoulder before shutting the door quietly behind her. She flicked on the light switch and descended.

The stairs opened into a spacious room with a pool table, Jumbotron-sized TV, and a bar. She pried off her shoes and squished her grateful toes into the plush, cream-colored carpet.

There were doors and windows that led outside to a covered patio, and, if it wasn’t so dark outside, Ashley knew she would be staring at a yet another beautiful river view.

There was a hallway past the bar with yet another powder room, a fully equipped home gym, and a large glass window. The room beyond was dark, but when Ashley peered against the glass she could just make out painted lines on a court.

This guy had a freaking racquetball court in his house.

This was too good of a find to ignore. Ashley hurried to the next door and found the entrance to the court. Outside was a rack with racquets, balls, even gym towels.

Maybe it was the champagne, but when faced with a perfectly good unused racquetball court, Ashley couldn’t think of a reason not to hit a few balls. Just for a minute, of course.

She dropped her shoes and grabbed a lightweight racquet.

Ashley had met Steven her sophomore year of college in gym class playing racquetball. She had pegged him in the kidney returning his “unreturnable serve.”

Still holding her glass of champagne, Ashley balanced the ball on the racquet, bounced it once, and then fired it at the front wall. The satisfying sproing noise made her laugh. She hiked up the skirt of her dress and skipped to catch the ball on the bounce. Volleying with herself, she moved leisurely across the court.

“I thought all the entertainment was upstairs.” The deep voice echoed around the court catching Ashley completely by surprise.





CHAPTER THREE


Whirling around, she managed to spill the entire glass of champagne into her cleavage.

Her pulse thundered in her ears. Caught! And not by just anyone. Mr. Hot Cold himself was leaning casually against the open doorway holding a towel.

No graceful way out of this one. Ashley cleared her throat. “Well, you caught me. I am a racquetball-playing cat burglar.”

She couldn’t tell if that was a smirk or a smile playing on his lips.

He studied her in silence for another beat.

“Lucky for me my security system has a program specifically for protection against racquetball-playing cat burglars.”

Relief flooded her. She had been half-afraid he was going to scream at her for trespassing. After all, he was sort of related to Victoria.

Ashley was starting to feel very exposed standing at the center of a floodlit room with him blocking her only escape. There was something more than a little dangerous in the way he was watching her.

“So what’s my punishment?” Her voice sounded forced to her own ears. Why the hell had she said that? It sounded so S&M-y.

Wordlessly, he held out the towel.

Ashley looked down at her champagne-soaked dress and took a tentative step forward.

His half smile made her think he was laughing at her. What champagne-soaked person wouldn’t want a towel?

Probably one who felt like she was being lured to her doom. Her hot, sexy doom.

He was just a host dealing with a wayward guest, she told herself. There was nothing to be nervous about. Her pulse ignored her rationalization and continued to thrum a frantic beat.

Chicken.

Ashley forced her feet into motion and closed the distance between them. She reached for the towel and inhaled sharply when his fingers brushed hers. She expected the jolt this time, but just because she was expecting it didn’t mean she was ready.

How much champagne had she had?

Self-consciously, Ashley pressed the towel to her breasts, blotting up the dampness.

“Thank you. I’d better check the floor to make sure I didn’t leave a puddle ... of champagne.”

He was still staring at her. It was unnerving. He obviously wasn’t making an effort to be polite.

She hurried back to the center of the court. Her dress didn’t allow for easy bending, so she knelt down to mop up the spill. She could feel the wet fabric digging into her breasts, making them spill over the top. What a picture this must make. With the floor clean, she grabbed the racquet.

“Are you ready for your punishment?” He moved soundlessly and was now standing over her. She looked up at him from her crouched position.

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