Dead Man Fucking

MARCH 2007

Vanessa knocked lightly on the heavy walnut door.

“Mr. Thompson?”

Mr. Thompson, her ass. Nash Piper, or Vanessa didn’t know her country music—and he was a lot hotter up close and personal than in pictures, brand new Jesus hippie look notwithstanding. She wasn’t sure if it was his dark good looks or the pinging of all that caged energy in a big body still too small to hold his personality in.

The door opened and she saw him stride back into the suite. She followed, rolling in the service trolley.

“Close the door, doll.”

Vanessa, her hands on the trolley, simply bumped it closed with her hip and continued on into the room to serve her latest guest.

It wasn’t even as if she hadn’t considered flirting with him just enough to get the message that she might be up for a little fun, but the jumble of items on her to-do list coupled with his arrogant demand for food pushed the idea out of her mind.

Now, she was here in his suite, serving him food the way she did the rest of her guests when they requested it, and didn’t give much thought to the fact that he wandered about in one of Whittaker House’s complimentary bathrobes.

“I like your paintin’,” he muttered, touching a skunk pelt blanket.

Vanessa made her usual sound of acknowledgment, her mind on the food and its presentation. Her painting was another of her gimmicks, which was why she’d hung it where she had.

“What would it take to let me have a gander at that body without all those clothes?”

She chuckled. That was a once-a-week proposition, but since she’d already thought about it, it took on a different meaning for her.

“I’m a food whore, Mr. Piper.”

He barked a laugh. “I saw how you looked at me, doll, so don’t think I don’t know it crossed your mind.”

“Guilty as charged,” Vanessa said as she finished laying out the food.

She straightened, turned, and looked square at him. He returned her look second for second. She glanced pointedly at his midsection, but couldn’t tell if he had a hard-on or not through the robe.

He smirked at her.

“You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the world thinks you’re dead, letting people make shrines and hold candlelight vigils. Why?”

“That ain’ none o’ your business, Ms. Whittaker.”

“It is if you expect me to hide you.” He blinked, and she chuckled. “I see. I can do that better with a little more information.”

He said nothing for a moment, then said, low, “I got some things I gotta take care of an’ I gotta do it alone. Can’t, with people yellin’ in my ear an’ holdin’ their hand out.”

“How long are you staying?”

He shrugged. “One, two years, tops. Be mighty nice if I had a little comfort food to help me pass the time.”

“You didn’t come here for my food.”

“Well, yeah, I did,” he said. “That’s just not all I was fixin’ to eat while I was here.”

“And you think being a guest here gets you the chief executive chef on a platter?”

He folded his arms over his chest and rocked back on a bare heel to study her, inspecting her slowly up and down, back up again. Vanessa’s body responded. “If I didn’t think I’d get the chief executive chef on a platter, I’d’a gone somewhere else,” he murmured, his tone dangerous.

Vanessa remained poised in spite of her arousal. “A lot of powerful and famous people come here thinking that, Mr. Piper. What makes you think you’re special?”

He inclined his head. “I was willin’ to be wrong, but turns out I wasn’t wrong. Was I?” He jerked his chin at her. “Get nekkid.”

Vanessa almost laughed. What did it say about her that she found such imperious men arousing? Screw pleasantries and skillful seduction. Nash approached her the way she liked, and it hadn’t occurred to her until now that she had any preference. But she did have one inviolable rule—

“Are you married?”

“Ain’t been for a while now.”

“Then let’s get something straight right up front,” Vanessa said, as she began to unbutton her blouse. Nash’s smirk turned into a predatory smile. “Nobody finds out about this. Ever. I have a lot of credibility here as a professional. No nonsense.”

“Oh, like you ain’t splashed your affair with Ford all over creation.”

“Do you believe all of the rumors you hear?”

“Who do you want me to believe? You or my lyin’ eyes?”

“Take it or leave it.”

“You think you’d lose somethin’ if people thought you and I were lovers?”

“They’d question my judgment, possibly my sanity. If any one of my staff—or the co-owner—figures this out,” she said, dropping her blouse and kicking off her shoes, “I’ll have the paparazzi down here so fast you won’t have time to pack up and leave.”

“Deal.” He dropped his robe and her breath caught.

“Condoms?”

“I never go bareback.”

She tilted her head as he fell on the bed and locked his fingers behind his head to watch her. Then she laughed and dropped her skirt. Shimmied out of her expensive panties, locked the door and dimmed the lights.

“I want you to know,” she murmured as she put one knee on the bed and then crawled toward his bare, muscular body, “that I don’t do this for just anyone.”

“I wouldn’t’a thought different,” he murmured once she pulled even with him, running his hand through her hair and drawing him to her. “I hear Ford’s no slouch in bed, an’ that paintin’s a few years old, so I expect he trained you and you got spoilt.”

“He did and I did,” she whispered, kissing him. Long, slow. “And you’re right. He was my first. You’re my second. You’re welcome.”

“Mmmm, yeah, doll. Where’s my manners? I’ll send Taight a thank-you note tomorrow.” She stilled and he began to chuckle. “No secrets amongst celebrities, doll. He’s my money man an’ he knows where I am.”

“That’s disturbing,” she whispered right before she deepened the kiss. “And oh, that paparazzi thing? Sebastian doesn’t find out, either. Got it?”

“Wouldn’t think of it.” He handed her a condom and said, “Why’n’t you do the honors, doll?”

“Glad to. Your food’s going to get cold.”

He slipped a hand between her legs and she whimpered. “Don’t think so. That’s plenty hot.”

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