By: Leslie Kelly

Had worked, damn it.

The hotel had opened fewer than six months ago. Viv had eaten lunch at the restaurant a few times, since the place was so close to her office—former office. But she’d never stayed there. It was definitely out of her price range, as it catered to wealthy international tourists, who came to explore the nation’s capital, or Wall Street bigwigs on business trips.

Speaking of which... “I didn’t ask, were you heading somewhere when you decided to play Sir Galahad wielding his mighty cell phone?”

“Yes, but it’s nothing I can’t reschedule.”

“You’re sure? I don’t want to keep you from an important meeting or anything.”

“No. I was planning to stop in and check out a business interest of mine, but I didn’t have an appointment.” He glanced over at her, his lips quirking up into a smile. “It can wait.”

They reached the hotel, and the doorman immediately opened the door for him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Black.”

Nice service they had here, at least for the registered guests. Keeping staff good enough to remember the names of the clientele had to be expensive, which could explain why the rooms started at five hundred dollars a night.

“Have you been staying here for a while?” she asked as they entered the opulent lobby, tiled in sleek, black marble.

Tasteful gold accents brought in some color without making it look ostentatious.

“I got into town last night. But I always stay here when I visit DC.” He smiled and nodded at the concierge, who had immediately snapped to attention. “This is my favorite hotel chain.”

“They’re pretty new, aren’t they?”

“Not really. They started in Miami around twenty years ago, and have about fifty locations around the world. The Paris one is my favorite.”

Mmm, Paris. Visiting the city of lights was number one on her bucket list. She’d always loved the idea of it—the art, the music, the food, the romance.

Probably few people would believe it, but Viv was a romantic at heart. Most saw her as either a tough girl—as she’d had to be, being raised with all those brothers—or a sexual siren. So she seldom had a chance to reveal her softer side. And the one time she had...well, her ex hadn’t exactly been the romantic type, and had been amused to find out she was.

She tried to shove Dale out of her mind. Not easy since his damn campaign signs were all over the place. Whenever she saw one, a chant of, “Lose, lose, lose,” roared through her mind, but she had a sense that he was going to win his coveted-above-all-else Virginia delegate seat this fall. The bastard.

She supposed it wasn’t a surprise that Dale was on her mind now, even though she was definitely over him. Well, she was over the tender emotions, not quite over the hurt or anger. Anyway, losing her job had brought all those feelings to the forefront again. Dale had commented when they’d broken up that a “woman like her, who worked around a lot of men” was bound to get into trouble. Damn, she hated that he might hear about this and decide he’d been proved right.

“Jackass,” she mumbled.

Damien immediately stopped raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, sorry, I guess I was talking to myself.” Feeling herself flush, she quickly added, “And I was not talking about you.”

“Your boss?”

She shrugged, noncommittal.

“You talk to yourself a lot, don’t you. I heard one of your scintillating conversations when I walked up behind you in the parking garage.”

She winced. “Did I singe your ears?”

“Don’t worry about it. Anybody who’s had a day as bad as yours gets a pass on language and just about everything else.”

“Everything else, huh?”

Possibilities flooded through her mind. She could think of a lot of things that would help her get her mind off her ex, her job, her car and all that ailed her. Getting back in the saddle, sexually speaking, was the perfect way to move past everything that had been going wrong for the past few months. She could get her rocks off, have an unforgettable night of passion and walk away tomorrow, clean slate, ready to start again. And doing it with the incredibly sexy man escorting her to a private table in a corner of the bar sounded heavenly.

Remember—make him want to.

She hadn’t come on to a man in months, hadn’t even really flirted, and definitely hadn’t tried to get a guy into her bed. But it was kind of like riding a bike, wasn’t it? A woman never really forgot how to make a man want her. At least, a woman as skilled at it as Viv Callahan had once been.

Instinct kicked in, her body making the decision one second ahead of her brain. As he pulled out her chair, she reached up and unbuttoned her suit jacket, slipping it off. There was nothing she could do about the shapeless skirt that reached her knees, but she was wearing a silky white blouse that could be considered sexy when it wasn’t concealed by the jacket.