Mistaken Identity: excerpt Playing to Win
This week’s theme is mistaken identity, and I’ve chosen an excerpt from my romantic suspense Playing to Win.
Playing to Win by Shelley Munro
“Damn, that feels soooo good.”
Kate Alexander grinned and worked steadily, competent hands gliding over her client’s powerful body, massaging knots from tight muscles until each breath the man took was deep and even and relaxed.
Forest birdsong and the bubble of flowing water poured through concealed speakers in the corner of the dimly lit room. A tea candle flickered under a bowl of scented water, steam rising to release floral notes of lavender and exotic sandalwood.
Without warning, the strident demand of a doorbell shattered the calm oasis. Pried from her deep concentration, Kate dug her fingernails into the muscle of her client’s right calf.
He jerked awake with a grunt, wincing. “Ow! Whaz’s wrong?”
“Sorry, Adam.” Kate made a soothing sound and continued with feather-soft stroking until he relaxed again, but her attention had fractured and she glared in the direction of her front door. The sign in the middle of her door was clear enough for even a child to understand. Aromatherapist at work. Do not interrupt.
The bell rang again with three staccato bursts. A brief interval later, deafening thumps echoed through her inner sanctum. Kate cursed under her breath and eased the massage to an end. She wiped her hands on a towel to remove the last traces of oil and shrugged off her pale green protective coverall. “I’m sorry. I don’t think my caller can read.”
Adam glanced over his shoulder, flashing a grin as he pushed up and secured a towel around his waist. He checked the clock hanging on the far wall. “No problem. It’s time for me to leave anyway. My last scenes are being filmed tonight and the makeup artists need plenty of time to make me look pretty.” He chuckled, enjoying the joke at his own expense.
Kate smiled at the well-known Auckland actor. If anything, they used the makeup to downplay his boyish blond looks. At least that’s what his wife and her best friend Danielle said. “Thanks. Tell Danielle I’ll call her later in the week.”
“Sure thing, sweet pea.”
She left Adam to dress, closing the door between her sanctum and the hallway. The impatient hammering continued unabated. For the love of Pete! Her white runners slapped against the tiled floor as she rushed to answer.
Probably Jamie and he’d forgotten his key again…
Kate jerked the door open. “Jamie, what…?” Her words trailed off when she came face-to-face with a stranger. Tall, he loomed over her, his dark hair and tetchy expression reminding her of a thundercloud. Admittedly a very sexy one. She gaped at the enigmatic man trying to read him, for some unknown reason fascinated with learning what had ruffled his day. “Can I help you?”
The impassive mask slipped momentarily and she read the flush of displeasure high on his cheekbones, in his glittering eyes. Tightly leashed emotion radiated from him in waves and alarm seeped through her. Kate shifted uneasily before common sense told her to stop being stupid. Help was a call away. Still, as his broad shoulders angled closer, she inched backward, pleased Adam was still here. Her slow retreat didn’t go unnoticed. The hard planes of the man’s face tightened and he observed her closely like a predator stalking prey. Pewter-gray eyes fixed her with cool speculation then, just like a light switching off, his face blanked.
Her skin tingled under the scrutiny and, to her chagrin, the sensation wasn’t entirely nerves. The sexy thundercloud thing. She shuffled her feet again, barely resisting the urge to check the buttons on her cream blouse were correctly fastened. Adam would make an appearance soon. She hoped. Heck, if she reacted to a grumpy stranger like this, celibacy was definitely doing something weird to her hormones. Dark, rich chocolate had worked as a sexual substitute in the past. She’d grab a chocolate bar from the pantry the minute the man left.
Kate conducted a quick, edgy survey of her own. He appeared well groomed, wearing an expensive suit that probably cost more than she earned in a month. She was positive she’d never seen him before. The man would make a lasting impression with most people. He bore an innate charisma, not traditionally handsome or striking like Adam, but intensely masculine. His powerful build coupled with strong, dark features demanded attention, but it was the mesmerizing gray eyes surrounded by lush lashes that would make a woman take a second look. And long to run her fingers through his silky hair. Her survey swept his body from top to bottom and back again.
Oops. Her mouth dropped open when her gaze collided with a cool gray one. Piercing eyes shot salvos of exasperation at her, as if he were impatient to complete an unpleasant chore. Kate racked her brain trying to work out why he was here demanding entrance, wrinkling her brow in concentration. Maybe he had the wrong house?
“Katherine Alexander?” he drawled.
Kate’s heart sank. Not the wrong house after all. And why would it be? Everything about him radiated self-assurance. For a brief moment, she considered shutting the door in his arrogant face, but a speculative glance at the muscled shoulders filling out his charcoal-colored designer suit changed her mind. Not a viable option. Kate sensed he didn’t intend to leave until he’d gained exactly what he wanted. Whatever that was.
“I’m Kate Alexander,” she admitted with a touch of caution.
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