Rosa Matthews is a journalist who can sense the good and bad in people. It's helped in her job until recently when her ability backfired, causing another's ruin. Her doubts lead her to test her abilities by pursuing a man who might give her answers.
Dominic Zane is a grudgingly self-declared bachelor. His constant companion, Gunner, tends to drive the good-wife-material women away. What people don't realize, however, is that Gunner is his Doppelganger -- a twin who doesn't always have Dominic's best interests at heart. When Dominic wants Rosa for himself, he and Gunner come to odds.
To build a relationship requires trust and sacrifice. Are Rosa, Dominic and Gunner willing to make themselves vulnerable in order to have a relationship, or will taking that extra step tear them apart?
Good Gone Bad
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Ayla Ruse
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Rosa Matthews was not one given to daydreaming. As a journalist for Atlanta's favorite underground magazine, The Gold Dome, she couldn't afford to let her mind wander. Get the facts, present them in an easy-to-read format, shoot them to her editor and bam, on to the next assignment.
Her rock-and-roll pattern had hit a rough patch this morning, though. Her editor sent Rosa to interview one Dominic Zane, an up-and-coming architect. Easy work, and she usually did well with these assignments. As a stronger than average intuit, she could immediately tell someone's honesty by their positive or negative energies.
Sitting across the desk from Mr. Zane, Rosa faced a conundrum. Aside from the fact that he was drop-dead gorgeous, she couldn't read the man. Not clearly. In one breath she could see the shade of gold from the truth he spoke, but in the next breath, his words rang hollow and clouded as if he were lying but wasn't aware of the slip.
People didn't waver like this. Even if not being entirely honest, every human being either leaned toward the positive end of the energy scale or the negative. She'd never in her life met someone who tipped both ways.
Rosa snapped away from her thoughts. "Sorry? Could you please repeat that?" She had the digital recorder on her tablet recording their conversation, and she knew she'd go back and listen when she wrote her article, but she winced inside that he'd caught her loss of attention.
"I asked if you want to come back to see the layout for the new business center we're working on. We took every precaution to design the structure even above the recommended code."
"That would be fine. Can I set the appointment with you or your secretary?"
"My secretary can do that. She knows my schedule better than I." He rubbed the back of his neck. The movement distracted her, bringing her attention again to the man. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. Wearing business casual in dark slacks and a dark blue pullover, the man exuded confidence and ability. Underneath the polish, there was muscle, but not the bodybuilding type. He seemed more like a runner or swimmer.
"Will you answer a personal question for me?" she asked before she could stop her curious nature.
His gaze grew hooded. "Maybe."
"Are you a runner or a swimmer?"
His sudden grin caused her to mirror the action. "Both. Anything, really. I'm a jack-of-all-exercises. I keep my gym bag handy so whenever the mood strikes, I head to the gym and see what's going on. Do you go much?"
She shook her head. "I'm not heavy into it, but I go to aerobics from time to time."
"What gym do you use?"
They spent a few minutes talking exercise, and her mind wandered. Again. Remembering how he'd rubbed his neck, she imagined what could happen if she offered to do the job. She'd lick his neck and nibble on his earlobe. In return, he'd take his hands and smooth them up her arms, pull her around and have her straddle him. They'd make love in his desk chair, and she'd bite her lip so her screams wouldn't alert the other staff.
By habit, she reached out to sense his energies, wanting the positive pulse to let her know her fantasies were safe and that she wasn't thinking about having sex with a serial killer. Instead of a soft glow, the gray fog enveloped her, immediately crushing her fantasy and reminding her that her Sensing was off. At least she prayed her Sensing was off. This guy couldn't be bad.
She looked down fast. Why were her abilities going wrong again? The last time -- the only time -- she'd been mistaken about her abilities, she'd nearly caused the ruin of an important man and had practically been run out of town. She raised her eyes and smiled at one of Mr. Zane's comments. She'd smile until her lips ached, but no one would see her growing worries.
Weird. She wasn't looking for his energy now, but the fog left and in came the soft, ticklish glow. She liked this version of Mr. Zane -- Dominic. He could prove an interesting distraction from her worries.
The physical attraction was overpowering. Mutual, too, if his own glances toward her were any indication. Would she want to pursue something with him, considering she couldn't tell if he was a proverbial good guy? Or maybe... he could be just good enough?
He met her gaze and the corner of his mouth quirked as if he knew she was thinking about him. A blush lit her cheeks and she turned her head. This was unlike her. She didn't blush when a man smiled at her.
Dominic cleared his throat. "If that's all the questions, then..."
"Oh, yes. That's all of them," she said, straightening. "I'll review my notes, get in touch with your secretary about another meeting and call you with any questions."
"Sounds good. Don't wait too long." He stood and she made a production of putting away her tablet. She glanced at him as she rose and looped the strap of her bag over her shoulder. His short, dark hair was offset by one slender lock of blond over his left ear. She longed to ask him about that. Better yet, run her hands through his hair and watch that odd lock slide through her fingers.
"Are you okay, Ms. Matthews?" he asked.
She mentally swatted herself. The guy must think I'm some kind of ninny the way my mind is wandering today. "Yes. Sorry, I was, um, noticing the blond streak in your hair."
He ran his hand over the spot. "Yes. I've had that quite a while. Almost born this way."
She stared, fascinated and a little afraid when his words rang both true and false. How could that be?
Dominic escorted her down the long hallway to his receptionist's desk. "Thanks for the interview, Ms. Matthews. I hope The Gold Dome will appreciate this." She'd barely returned the thanks when he nodded, turned and walked back down the hall.
Rosa set her hand on her hip and blew a stray lock of curly hair from her forehead. "What is wrong with that man?" she muttered, enjoying the sight of his ass as he made his way back down the hall.
"Oh, that one. No one knows, but there's an office bet going around that he's gay."
Rosa turned on her heel and looked at the receptionist. She remembered her name was Beth, and she had a lively, trusting Sense about her. "No way. That man is not gay."
The receptionist shrugged. "I don't think so, either. It's the pretty girls here he's turned down that want to say that. Me, I just think he's picky."
"Yeah, but picky for whom?"
The receptionist chuckled. "Good luck with that one. Dominic is one hard nut to crack."
"But I bet those nuts hold some salty sweet goodness," Rosa murmured, to Beth's delighted shriek of laughter.
An idea struck. "What are his hours, Beth?" Rosa turned full to the receptionist now that Dominic had left her eyesight.
Beth rolled her eyes. "You're going for him, aren't you?"
"No," she drawled. "He told me to make another appointment to come back and see some kind of plans. I guess it takes more time than what we had this morning?"
Beth snorted. "He has all the plans in his office. Two minutes tops and he could've had them out." She waggled her eyebrows. "Maybe he does want to see you again."
"Hmm, you might be right. He said he'd leave the appointment-making up to you, so if he works late sometimes..."
Beth caught on quick. "He does occasionally have evening business meetings."
"Perfect. Turns out I'm only free at night for the next few days. Could you pencil me in for tomorrow, or even tonight? What's the latest you can arrange?"
Rosa knew the only way to get a good Sense on the man was to get him alone with no distractions, and the sooner the better. Besides, the hopeful thought of being alone with him in his office sent tingles through her body. If she were lucky, the next time she met with Dominic, she'd not only be able to find out if the guy was on the up-and-up, but she'd also be able to explore their mutual attraction.