Contemporary Romance

Excerpt: A Night To Remember

Excerpt: A Night To Remember

Heroine’s Point of View

Chapter One

Anna Cosgrove slipped into the shadows of an alcove at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel and peeked around the burgundy gossamer curtains for a closer look. Her heart threatened to burst out of her chest as she ogled the man standing a mere eight feet away, engrossed in a conversation with two others. Although the buzz of the crowded ballroom drowned out their words, she could still hear his hearty laugh. The sensuous sound resonated deep within her, sending delicious little chills racing down her spine. She closed her eyes and savored the moment; it had been too many years since she last heard the rich timbre of his voice.

“Why are we snooping?” 

Anna jerked back and bonked heads with her assailant. “Christ, Ellen!” She turned to glare at her best friend while her hand quickly assessed the potential damage to her exquisite up-do. “Could you give me a little warning next time? Maria will kill me if you ruin my hair before this charity event is over.”

“Here,” she said in a hushed tone, thrusting a flute of champagne at Anna. “I thought you might want one before the fun starts. Answer my question.” When a mischievous gleam appeared in Anna’s eyes, her friend’s platinum blond head disappeared around the corner of the curtain for a second. “What the…” Her dark brown eyes grew to the size of saucers. “Is that guy for real?”

Anna chuckled and flipped open her fan, waving it to cool her flaming neck and cheeks. If Ellen only knew the fantasies she’d conjured up in the moments before her arrival. There was something about a man with a slightly crooked nose that lent him a distinguished – or perhaps mysterious quality – like he wasn’t above getting dirty if need be. And that plump lower lip of his, a touch thicker and fuller than his top lip, screamed to be sucked into her mouth. Or was it his piercing blue eyes? So translucent and bright it was like a gateway to his soul. 

She downed her champagne and indulged in another peek of her own. “Brett has always been smoking hot! Like a good wine, he keeps getting better with age.”

“Brett?” Ellen’s mouth gaped open. “You know him?”

“Umm hmm,” she confirmed with a nod. “We went to college together. He was my ballroom dancing partner. He was the star quarterback…president of his fraternity…you know the type. Nearly every woman on campus wanted in his pants.”

Ellen’s brow shot up. “Every woman except you, right?’

A guttural laugh bubbled out of Anna’s chest and she tapped her friend on the shoulder with her fan. “Shhhhh …I’m the irresistible and daring Anna Karenina tonight. Don’t blow my cover with stories of my prudish ways.”

“Prudes don’t read erotica,” Ellen said, rolling her eyes. “It was a lucky guess. A relationship with Mr. Popularity probably would’ve scared the crap out of you back then. You never were into the whole tail gating and sports thing, were you?”

“Unfortunately not!”

The women gasped in unison as they whipped around to face the intruder poking his head through the back side of the curtain. A sexy smile tugged at the corner of Brett’s mouth, slowly revealing perfectly white teeth and a dimple in his right cheek. How many times had she dreamed
of kissing that mouth? A thousand? Ellen was right. Anna has been overwhelmed by his bigger than life personality and popularity but that didn’t mean she hadn’t secretly lusted after him. She sighed and smiled back at him. 

“I would recognize your throaty laugh anywhere,” he said, reaching out to grab her hand, pulling her towards him. He leaned in, whispering in her ear, “Hello, Anna. It’s been way too long.”

Warm lips brushed against her cheek within an inch of her mouth, causing a riot of tingling sensations to explode in her stomach and radiate throughout her body. His familiar musky cologne washed over her and bathed her in the memories of their twelve weeks together: the contours of his muscular body as it pressed against hers, the hooded eyes blazing a sensuous trail to her most private parts, husky words followed by an even huskier laugh. Surely he must see the desire flashing in her green eyes as they raked over him, taking in the fine figure he cut in his black tuxedo. What she wouldn’t give for another chance to dance in his embrace. No doubt he still rocked a six pack under his finery.

A sharp elbow to her side ripped her back into reality. 

“Hello,” she said, pulling her hand out of his and gesturing to her friend. “This is my best friend, Ellen.” Her eyes connected with his again. “And this is Brett Montgomery.”

Ellen shook his hand briskly. “It’s nice to meet you.” 

Seconds ticked by in silence as they gazed upon one another.  

“Excuse me,” Ellen said, clearing her throat. “I should speak with the conductor. We’ll be starting the festivities soon.”

Brett lifted his chin in acknowledgement when she wandered away, never once breaking eye contact with Anna. As soon as they were alone, he took a tentative step closer. The space between them charged and nearly vibrated in its intensity. She stepped back further into the alcove, only to find her back suddenly up against the wall. A lazy smile crept over his face as he advanced on her and she braced herself for the onslaught of emotions that were sure to come. 

“If the look on Ellen’s face is any indication, you’ve still got the touch,” she said, falling easily into the flirty banter from their college days.

He chuckled and reached out to twirl his finger in the dark brown lock of hair dangling over her shoulder, right where it rested on the swell of her bosom. “I’m rather enjoying the look you’re giving me. You’re so beautiful … but still trying to evade me.” He hesitated before grabbing her left hand and placing a soft kiss on her bare fingers. “Dare I hope this is a sign you’re single?”

The man hadn’t lost his touch one bit. She licked her lips and marveled at the myriad sensations coursing through her. Lord help her. If they were alone, she might already be ripping open his shirt. Was she single? Right at this moment she was single, and she would be until about this time two weeks from now when she announced her engagement to her best male friend, Jorge. But he was gay. And it was a marriage of convenience. So that didn’t count until it was official, right?   

“Why would it matter?” she asked with pursed lips. “I was never your type.”

His beautifully sculpted brow shot up in question. “You’ve always been my type – but stubbornly resisted my charms – despite all of my best moves.” He shook his head softly. “It was cruel and unusual punishment.”

She bit her lip, recollecting every one of his moves. Such sweet torture he had put her through! Probably along with a host of other females. 

“You tried your best moves on all the ladies,” she said, poking her finger into his chest while a smile spread across her face. “I would’ve been another drop in the bucket.”  

He captured her chin between his fingers and thumb in thought. “That’s not fair. As I recall it was the other way around. The ladies were making the moves on me.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Can’t hold that against me. Being the star quarterback came with some draw backs. ”

A smirk tugged at her lips. “Oh, really? Most guys are dying to have women crawling at their feet.”

“Guess I’m not most guys.” He caged her between his arms, bracing his hands against the wall. “All I ever wanted is you.”

She dragged in a rough breath and her gaze lingered on his sinfully full lips for a moment, imagining how they’d feel pressed against hers. Not soft and feathery, rather hard and possessive. Out-of-control. A finger crooked under her chin, lifting her eyes to meet his bold stare. The intensity of it set her body on fire, igniting a burning ache between her thighs. Could his words be true? Had she made him out to be a rogue because of her own insecurities and fears that she might not be enough for him? 

“How about a dance for old time’s sake?” he asked, stepping back and holding out his hand. “Let me hold you in my arms again.”

A well of emotions bubbled up in her and she longed for the chance to rekindle their friendship. Why hadn’t he shown up in her life six months ago? The orchestra music suddenly trailed off on a single, elongated note and she closed her eyes, taking a deep, calming breath.   

“I can’t – that’s my cue.” She grabbed the voluminous skirt of her blood red gown and twirled gracefully before him. “Tonight I’m Anna Karenina and unfortunately my dance card is already full. It’s for a wonderful cause, you know, to fight cervical cancer.” A sparkle glinted in her eyes, recalling the joy of dancing in his arms all those years ago. “You used to dance with me for free in our ballroom dancing course. Imagine paying five hundred dollars per waltz now.”

He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her roughly to his chest, the gesture in stark contrast to his soft and husky voice. “I’d pay one thousand. You’re going to be mine tonight, Anna. When does the auction begin?” 

“After the dancing.” She took full advantage of the moment and splayed her hands across his chest, feeling his rock hard muscles. It might be her one and only chance to touch him again.  “You didn’t read your invitation. Only the eight men who paid for the privilege to dance with me are allowed to bid on me at auction.”

He pulled out his dance card and scanned it. A deep furrow settled between his brows when he came to the same frustrating realization that she had; Anna Karenina was not on his list. She cupped his face in her hands and searched his eyes. How she wished tonight would be a night to remember with him before she committed herself to Jorge. Jorge would be the first to tell her to go for it. Just once she wanted to feel Brett’s lips on hers. She slid her fingers through his luxuriously thick blond hair and pulled his mouth down to hers. His lips were soft as velvet. Once … twice … she raked her mouth over his and on the third time her tongue slipped between his lips. His hand grasped hold of her neck, pulling her closer to deepen the kiss, while his tongue boldly explored her mouth. Within seconds the kiss exploded, taking on a sense of urgency, as if they both knew it was now or never. 

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the commentator announced, his booming welcome echoing throughout the ballroom. 

Anna pulled back, gasping for air. How had she ever resisted him? Surely the man could make a sinner out of a saint. She held her fingers briefly against her ravished lips and soaked up the remnants of desire glowing in Brett’s eyes before she trailed her finger along his square jawline, committing it to memory.  

“You’re still smoking hot,” she said with a wide grin and then turned to rush towards the stage.