A Night of Living Dangerously
April 2012 (North America)
February 2012 (United Kingdom)
Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents
2013 Harlequin Special Edition
Like Cinderella at the ball…
Lilley’s fairytale wish is about to be granted. She’ll swap her grey suits for a fabulous dress and killer heels, and dance the night away with the man every other woman wants… but only for one night.
When the clock strikes twelve…
Alessandro Caetani does not do happy-ever-afters. In fact his charm extends only as far as getting his Little Mouse secretary into bed. Lilley has never taken such a risk before, but this is her night of living dangerously…
Who is going to call time on the fairytale ending?
In the shadowy, deserted office, Prince Alessandro walked around her, slowly looking her up and down. Lilley’s cheeks went hot. Compared to his gorgeous perfection in his sleek, sophisticated tuxedo, she knew she was frumpy and frightful in her sweatshirt and gray baggy sweatpants.
“I’ve watched you for weeks, Little Mouse,” he said, “trying to avoid me.”
Lilley’s lips parted in shock. “You saw me?”
He gave a single nod. “Scurrying the other way when you saw me in the halls. This type of behavior from women is very…singular. It intrigued me.” The sexy, deep, accented timbre of his voice moved over her like a spell. “But now, I understand.”
“You do?” she croaked.
He touched her cheek, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Most women I’ve met would have deserted their lovers in an instant to be with me. Loyalty is a rare quality. This man who betrayed you, he is a fool.”
Lilley couldn’t argue with that. She stared up at him. She couldn’t move or look away from his masculine beauty as he towered over her, strong, powerful, and wide-shouldered, with thighs like tree trunks.
Thighs? Who said anything about his thighs?
He dropped his hand. “But you have nothing to fear. Our romance will be only an illusion. I will not call you tomorrow. I will not call you ever. After tonight, you will again be just my employee, and I will be your boss, pretending not to notice as you avoid me in the shadows.”
Lilley swallowed, still feeling his touch on her cheek. “You mean if I go with you to the ball tonight,” she whispered, “you’ll ignore me tomorrow? You’ll ignore me forever?”
She exhaled. She had to make him forget her existence. It was the only way to guarantee he wouldn’t be curious enough to discover her secret. But in her heart of hearts, she knew that wasn’t the only reason.
You’re always running away, Lilley. Jeremy’s stinging indictment rang in her ears. You said you came to San Francisco to pursue your jewelry business and spend time with me. Instead you’ve avoided us both since the day you arrived here. Either you never really wanted us, or you’re the worst coward I’ve ever known.
Lilley closed his eyes. That morning, she’d been too angry to listen to his words. Jeremy and Nadia had betrayed her, pure and simple. She’d done nothing wrong. Right?
But suddenly all she wanted to do was prove Jeremy wrong. To be one of the glamorous, carefree, fearless girls who wore sparkly clothes and danced, laughed and drank champagne. To be the girl courted by a knight in shining armor.
To be the girl who attended a ball with a prince.
She wasn’t a coward. She wasn’t. She could be as brave and ruthless as anyone. She could watch Prince Alessandro and learn!
She opened her eyes. “I accept.”
He looked down at her. “Do you understand, Lilley?” he said evenly. “It’s not a real date. There will be nothing between us tomorrow. Absolutely nothing.”
“Yeah, I get it. Monday I’ll go back to the file room. You’ll go back to Rome. I’ll continue to work for you and you’ll never bother me again. Perfect.”
He stared at her, then snorted a laugh, shaking his head. “You continue to surprise me, Lilley,” he murmured, wrapping his hand around her waist. “Come. We haven’t much time.”
As he led her out of the office, she felt a rush of sensation from the heaviness of his arm around her. Trying to ignore the wobble of her knees, she glanced back at the file cart. “But I haven’t finished my work – ”
“It will be arranged.”
“And I don’t have a dress!”
His lips curved. “You will.”
She looked up at him, annoyed. “Who am I, Cinderella? Are you supposed to be my fairy godmother? I’m not going to let you buy me a dress!”
In the hallway, he pushed the button to summon the elevator then took her hand in his own. “Of course you will.” He gently pushed some strands of brown hair out of her eyes. “You will let me do exactly as I please, and I will give you an evening of pleasure. A beautiful gown, the envy of your co-workers, and revenge against the people who betrayed you. It will be… an interesting night.”
Lilley breathed in his scent of clean skin and sandalwood, of seduction and power. She felt his palm against her own, rough and hot, and her pulse quickened, sending shivers up and down her virgin body. “All right. Yes.”
His dark eyes gleamed in the shadows of the hallway. “Yes?”
“Yes to the dress. To your help.” She licked her lips and gave him a trembling smile. “Yes to everything, your highness.”
“Call me Alessandro.” He lifted her hand to his mouth. She felt the press of his smooth, sensual lips and the heat of his breath against her skin, and gasped as fire raced up her arm and down the length of her body, igniting her like a match thrown into gasoline. “And women always do,” he murmured.
She licked her lips, dazed. “What?”
He straightened. His dark eyes were hot as a smile curled his sensual lips.
“Say yes,” he whispered. “To everything.”
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Text Copyright © 2012 by Jennie Lucas • Cover Art Copyright © 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.