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My Sinful Love (Sinful Men #4)
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She was my what if girl. The one I longed for. The one I tried to find again after she left for the other side of the world.
Now, years later, fate has swept the only woman I’ve ever loved back into my life.
With her intensity, her honesty, her passion, Annalise tries to break down my walls, because she’s the one who knew me before my family shattered.
When we collide again, it’s tender and savage, gentle and rough, and makes me hungry for more of this electric, once-in-a-blue moon kind of connection.
If I want to keep her close, I’ll have to serve up the whole truth of where I went and what I did after she left.
But if I do, I risk losing her again, and that’s not a fate I’m ready to face. Not when each day brings me closer to finding the people who ripped my family apart and seeing them put behind bars.
Until the day I learn Annalise is holding the final piece of the puzzle to solving the mystery.
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The letter smelled like her. Like rain.
I ran my thumb over the corner of the paper and closed my eyes briefly. Memories rose to the surface, bringing with them feelings of hope and possibility.
Things that were far too risky when it came to her.
I shut them down, opened my eyes, and stared out the floor-to-ceiling windows of my penthouse on the Strip, trying to focus on the here and now, not the enticing lure of what-if. Tonight the lights of Vegas would blink like a carnival unfolding below, from the miniature Eiffel Tower, to the pyramid, to the blazing signs adorning The Cosmopolitan. Neon, glitz, and billboards ten stories high proclaimed the best night ever.
But I had to stay fixed on the minute details of the present, not be seduced by the past and how good it was, or of how much I’d longed for a future with her.
I wasn’t having the easiest time of that. From my vantage point, twenty stories above the concrete ribbon that beckoned millions of tourists, I brought the letter to my nose for one final inhale.
The scent of falling rain.
Try as I might to fight it, a reel of sensory images rushed back from years ago, like the snap, snap, snap of old film. How many times had I kissed Annalise in the rain? Brushed her wild red hair off her cheeks and touched her soft skin? Listened to her laugh?
Countless. Just like the times my mind had lingered on her over the last eighteen years, including that heartbreaking day in Marseilles, which had damn near slaughtered all my hopes in the world.
Carefully, I folded up the letter, slid it back into the tiny envelope postmarked from France, and stuffed it into my wallet next to a crinkled, faded, threadbare note from my father that I carried with me always. Her letter had arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I’d read it a thousand times already. I could read it a thousand more, but it wouldn’t change my answer—the same one I’d emailed back to her.
It was always yes with her.
I hope this note finds you well. I will be in Las Vegas for business in a few weeks. I would love to see you again. Would you like to have a coffee with me? Come to think of it, do you drink coffee now? If memory serves, you were never fond of it. Perhaps tea, or water, or martinis at midday? Any, all, or some would be lovely.
My information is below so you can respond. I would have emailed, but a letter seemed more fitting. And, truth be told, easier to ignore, should that be your preference.
Though I will be wishing to see your name pop up in my email soon.
As if I stood a chance of not emailing her. As if there were any universe, parallel, perpendicular, or otherwise, where I wouldn’t take her up on her offer for coffee, tea, liquor, or a few minutes in a café.
Any, all, or some.
I turned away from the midday view of the city I loved and headed to the stereo system above my flat-screen, piping music through my home. This Sunday afternoon, following a long, hard run and an even longer workout at the gym, I’d cued up my favorite playlist as I got ready to see her, methodically picking songs I’d discovered in the last few years, rather than the music I’d shared with her when we were younger.
Not that I didn’t still love my late ’90s tunes. I just knew I’d be a goner if I let myself trip that far back in time.
I turned off the fading guitar riff, and silence descended on my home.
I grabbed my keys and my phone from the entryway table, locked the door, and headed down the hall, wishing my pulse wasn’t already competing in a race.
The ride down the elevator was both interminable and not long enough. Anticipation curled through me as I left my high-rise building, crossed the big intersection, and headed toward Las Vegas Boulevard. The air had cooled—September had rolled into my hometown. This brief walk in the crisp air would surely quell the nerves that bounced in my chest.
I didn’t want to feel them. Nor did I want to experience this wild sense of hope rattling in me like a marble sliding down a chute. Dragging a hand through my hair, I tried to focus on anything but her.
Later this afternoon I had a meeting with a client, then this evening I’d review some new contracts for work. Sometime this week I’d meet with the detective working my father’s case, touching base with him before I left for a trip. I also needed to check in with the private investigator.
My phone bleated from my back pocket, and I grabbed it quickly. My friend Mindy’s name flashed across the screen. “Hey there,” I said, while winding my way through the throngs of visitors on the sidewalk.