A guy. A girl. A silver pole...
As owner of Jensen Securities, Max Jensen lives by one simple rule: Never take your eyes off the target. Once he spies lithe little Jordan Landon wrapped around a pole, though, his eyes aren't the problem. It's keeping his mind on his job.
Her job as a pole-dancing instructor might cause a few raised eyebrows, but it's what she does on a speeding motorcycle that kicks Max's protective instincts into overdrive. And puts the hurt on his determination to keep his hands to himself.
Years ago, Jordan left her wealthy, disapproving family behind to pursue her dream of opening her own dance studio. Approaching a hottie in a bar was easy in her college days, but now? If she wants him, she'll have to put her big-girl panties on and go for it.
Once alone, their inhibitions disappear faster than their clothes. But when someone breaks into Jordan's home, Max finds himself in an uncomfortable position--as the target of Jordan's suspicions about his real motives.
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May 03, 2010
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Excerpt from To the Max by Annmarie Mckenna
Max Jensen sang along with Nickelback's "Rockstar" as he followed the woman he was currently investigating. Annie Devlin's husband was positive his wife was having an affair. Normally Max would have passed the case on to one of his subordinates, but considering Jack had broken his ankle that morning and Kent was out sick, the job had landed in his lap.
He hated these cases. Hated chasing after women, or men, who couldn't keep their pants zipped, thus pissing off their respective spouses and causing him to have to waste time snooping when he could be working more exciting cases.
Which was exactly why, when his company had gotten big enough, he'd hired employees.
Mrs. Devlin exited the highway into a middle-class area. Max wondered what her husband would think if he discovered his wife was not only having an affair but slumming too. Mr. Devlin would for damn sure think anything less than his own worth to be slumming it. He would also likely divorce the woman rather than have to touch what he'd perceive as her dirtied hands.
At least, that was the impression Max had gotten from the man. He sort of understood why Mrs. Devlin would look elsewhere if she needed relief.
She drove a few miles more before turning into a dimly lit lot and parking. Max parallel parked his own vehicle across the street where he could still see her, then extracted his camera from the bag on the floor. He reached for the big daddy lens. No doubt he'd need to do some zooming in.
A small strip mall sat to the left of the lot, an apartment complex directly behind it and a convenience store to the right.
Twenty bucks she was headed for the apartments and her lover. Why else would she have come all this way, out of her comfort zone of diamonds, fine china and high tea?
The woman would make a great friend for his mother.
Max turned off the car and slouched back in the seat to wait Mrs. Devlin out. The street lamp cast an eerie glow on the white car in front of him, making it a disgusting shade of...newborn-poop, mustard yellow.
Worse though, was the fact he even knew the color of baby poop. He had Ridge Casey, one of his clients, to thank for that. The man's son was adorable, Max admitted, but stinky as hell. And if Ridge's partner, Carter Malone, and Ryan, Carter's wife, kept it up at the rate they seemed to go at it, another baby would be making its way into the Malone and Casey fold before the year was up.
Made Max shiver. A grown man shivering over the thought of having a baby.
He tucked the camera into his lap and unwrapped the PB&J he'd made on the fly. Eating with the whole color thing going on in front of him sorta made him want to regurgitate the bite he took. Then again, at the moment, Max was hungry enough to eat dirt. He could be out enjoying a steak if the client hadn't insisted he follow his wife.
"She always goes out all secretive on Friday nights," he'd said, pacing Max's office in his Armani suit. "And she's been...wanting sex." The man had seemed downright offended.
Max had almost snorted out loud but somehow held it in. Imagine someone's wife wanting sex. What was the world coming to? He'd wondered at the time why in the hell the pompous ass couldn't follow his own wife to her destination, but then the supremely rich felt those kinds of things were beneath them. They'd rather pay an exorbitant fee to have someone else do it.
Another thing that reminded him of his mother. She had a real knack for paying too much for any service available whether she needed it or not.
Several minutes passed before Mrs. Devlin got out of her car. Her head swiveled in every direction. She was definitely afraid someone would see her.
But see her doing what?
Finally she shut the door, wrapped her fists in the lapel of her ankle-length fur coat and walked briskly toward...the strip mall?
A giggling mass of girls exited one of the shops, followed by what Max guessed were their mothers, attracting his attention.
Max sat up in his seat and gripped the camera, ready to snap a few shots. "Where in the hell are you headed, Mrs. Devlin? Meeting a man at his work?"
He scanned the shops. A donut place, a dance studio from which the girls had exited, a UPS store, a Subway and a used bookstore.
Mrs. Devlin paused on the walk to let the girls pass. The way she stuck herself against the brick wall, she almost looked like she thought the girls would sully her somehow. She shielded her face by turning into the wall and covering the other side with her hand.
What in the hell? Did she think a bunch of eight-year-olds would recognize her?
When the group had passed, Mrs. Devlin again looked around. As soon as she was sure the coast was clear she continued on.
And stopped at the dance studio.
So she was meeting a young, nimble dance stud then. Interesting.
She glanced to her right and left, tugged the door open and quickly disappeared inside.
Movement behind the window had him lifting his binoculars instead of the camera. A tall, lithe woman paced, sort of bouncing on the balls of her feet as she twisted long coffee-colored hair into a knot on top of her head. With the direction she faced he couldn't see her exact features, but what he could view was the rise of her breasts as she reached upward.
Damn they'd be a small handful. Just the right amount. Gorgeous. Outlined succulently by a thin black leotard which he suddenly felt the need to peel off her to reveal her skin inch by inch until he'd divested her body of the skimpy piece of clothing.
She had to be commando beneath it because from the view he had with the lens that could pick up a playing card at five hundred yards, there were no panty lines in the skintight material.
"Damn it." The woman glided away before he could look his fill. Not that there was enough time in the day to do so. He figured he'd need several weeks for that.
With a groan he slumped into the seat. "On a job and fantasizing about the scenery. Nice, Maxo. Real professional."
A few minutes later three women jaunted up the sidewalk, headed for the same place. The way they laughed and clung to each other made Max think perhaps they'd imbibed something before making their way to the studio.
Would make for an interesting ballet session.
There were a few more stragglers, ladies who waltzed into the studio just after six. Then the blinds used to shield the window during the day were tilted upward. Not closed, because light still spilled out.
"Damn it." He wouldn't be able to see inside from his position. He'd have to be up above the window to see down in, or standing at the window itself. Too bad he didn't have x-ray lenses.
Max waited a good ten minutes to make sure no one else showed up, then grabbed his coat from the passenger seat and climbed out of the nondescript Chevy Impala. Missing the luxury of his Lexus, he stretched his six-foot-three frame to wring out most of the kinks he'd acquired from sitting in the cramped space. Whistling, he crossed the street, hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, and peered between the slats. Thank God it was winter and the streets were lonely after dark or he'd look like some sort of Peeping Tom.
What he saw would make any male above the age of twelve choke on his own spit. His breath fogged the glass in the cold night air, and he fought the temptation to reach for the sudden throbbing behind his zipper.
Two things registered at once.
One, this was no ballet class. The beautiful woman he'd seen in the window had her sweet, tight, firm, lithe body wrapped around a silver pole, undulating with the pulse of music he could barely hear, her head dropped back in ecstasy.
And two, this job was officially over because Mrs. Devlin wasn't having an affair. Her secretive Friday night rendezvous were with a pole.