Master magician Drake Conover is dark, dangerous and irresistible to women. But a terrorist? Agent Erienne Duval doesn't think so, but it's her job to find out--by any means necessary.
Publisher's Note: Previously released in the Love Magic anthology.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Illusions by Ann Jacobs
Tall, dark, and dangerous. That's how the press described Drake Conover, the thirty-six-year-old magician from a small coal mining community not far from here, who performed his tricks around the world for the rich, the famous, and the infamous. They weren't far off the mark.
Erienne stared at the photo, sensing it didn't hold a candle to the man himself. Some would say he was classically pretty-boy handsome, but he wasn't, at least not to her. His features had a ruggedness she thought suggested physical strength and unapologetic male machismo. Those qualities seemed somehow incongruous with his career choice as a performer. She was especially drawn to his eyes, more for the intelligence she saw there than for the unusual jade-green color gossip columnists insisted came from colored contact lenses.
She had a job to do, and it wasn't to drool over Drake Conover's photo. She had to seduce the man himself and learn his deepest secrets. With a lot of luck, to get herself invited to tag along on his next European gigs--he had shows scheduled in Hamburg and Brussels following his benefit performance here--and capture him if he was selling out his country.
Seducing him might prove impossible. From all she'd read, it seemed Conover had a string of women constantly at his heels. Beautiful, rich, famous women--all of which Erienne was not.
Tall, long-legged women with long, lustrous hair and voluptuous bodies.
But who knew? Like Rob, he might get turned on by her short-cropped hair and the compact body she honed daily with weights and karate practice.
Whatever. She'd get him into bed somehow. After all, not many of the man's globe-trotting lovers would be likely to join him in provincial Pittsburgh, where the glitz was minimal and coal dust hung in the air on hazy days. And she'd come loaded for bear.
She'd bought new sexy, sensual underwear that showed off her best attributes. Had her pubes waxed clean and her cap of glossy reddish-brown hair clipped even shorter, to where it left her nape bare for a man's attentions. She'd even adopted the persona of a hot-blooded sex kitten with short, tight skirts, easy-to-open silky blouses, and spike-heeled shoes that showed off her well-toned thighs and calves.
With luck the master of illusion would want to work his magic on her, if only to alleviate the boredom he was certain to experience away from the bright lights of Broadway and the pleasure capitals of the world. Maybe he'd even welcome a stand-in lover who didn't have bleached-blonde big hair and forty double-D boobs, she thought when she remembered seeing a recent photo of porn star Deirdre Dee hanging on his arm.
* * * * *
The next day as his plane descended, Drake dutifully raised his seat back to its original upright and locked position and enjoyed the anonymity afforded in the otherwise empty first-class cabin. He glanced at his PDA, refreshing his memory as to the name of the woman the hospital's community relations director had said would meet his flight.
Erienne Duval. Supposedly a volunteer worker.
It produced a mental image of a cool, tall blonde with horn-rimmed glasses and a business suit she wore like armor. A woman with a pedigree and three generations of family money.
The sort of snooty broad the mine owner's daughter who'd turned up her nose at him when they were kids had probably become.
Hell, it had been twenty years since he got up the balls to ask heartless little Cindy Moran to the junior prom only to have her laugh in his face. Why did he suddenly recall his humiliation as vividly as if it had happened yesterday?
The rough landing jarred him a bit, took his mind off the brush-off. What did he care who chauffeured him around for the next three days? Hadn't he decided to take a sabbatical from sex for the foreseeable future? Or at least for the next few days?
That vow went out the window when he spied the woman holding up a sign with his name on it. She was no ice princess.
No, unless Drake missed his guess, Ms. Erienne Duval was one hot chick. And from the lascivious look on her face, he had the flint that would spark her into flames.
So much for the sabbatical from sex.