Our luxurious medical facility specializes in discreet, opulent care for exclusive clientele. Due to some recent "occurrences" at the hospital, bodyguard Tanner Doyle--a blond, tasty hunk of man--has been hired to keep an eye on the place. But he can't seem to focus on anything other than Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez.... Tanner's job is twofold: take care of security and be an undercover, personal bodyguard for Vanessa. Unfortunately, the "personal" part is turning into "very intimate," and Tanner's professionalism is flying out the window--along with his clothes! But can their smokin'-hot chemistry make up for the fact that he's been deceiving Vanessa from day one?
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July 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Secret Seduction by Lori Wilde
"Hey, chica. Wanna come over, sit on my lap and see what pops up?"
Dr. Vanessa Rodriquez settled onto the bar stool, tugged down the hem of her flirty red dancing dress so as not to expose too much leg and bit back the scathing retort aching to spark off her tongue after her exceptionally disturbing day. At the same time, her mind was gauging how quickly she could get to the pepper spray clipped to the key chain at the bottom of her purse, in case things turned ugly.
The urge to seek refuge from the chic, white-bread world of Confidential Rejuvenations, the VIP boutique hospital where she worked as a resident in plastic surgery, had driven Vanessa to Emilio's, a neighborhood bar in a mostly Hispanic section of Austin, Texas, on this sultry evening in early August.
Lately, the staff of Confidential Rejuvenations had been left reeling from a series of odd occurrences and circumstances that was chipping away at the hospital's once impeccable reputation as a soothing oasis for the rich and pampered with very private health issues. The stress was starting to take a toll on the employees; Vanessa wasn't immune.
No matter how rough her childhood had been or how far she'd risen from that El Paso barrio, sometimes she simply had to sate her cravings for the culture she'd left behind.
She was feeling fragile, but was determined not to show it. She came to Emilio's whenever she felt out of step with her environment. Seeking to wash away the blues with top-shelf tequila, chicken flautas and mariachi bands. Unfortunately, along with the food, drink and music came masculine attention. She was in no mood to fend off unwanted admirers, innocuous or otherwise.
All she wanted for the night was a place where she could lower her guard, let down her hair and blow off some steam. A place where, if she so desired, she could let her true personality shine through. If the people she worked with at Confidential Rejuvenations knew the real Vanessa, they'd be thoroughly shocked at the bad-girl essence she struggled so hard to conceal.
At Emilio's she was free to express herself. Maybe even take a wild turn on the apron-sized dance floor if the spirit moved her. Just not with the overweight, middle-aged man sporting a gold wedding band on his left ring finger and a sprinkling of tattoos on his Popeye forearms who was leering at her from the other side of the bar. It had been a long time since she'd had to live by her wits, but she still knew how to deal with the likes of this loser.
Vanessa batted her lashes and retorted, "What, Cabron? And waste all your Viagra on something you'll never have?"
"She nailed you there," his buddy snickered in Spanish and elbowed him in the ribs.
The man scowled darkly.
She ignored the guy, raised two fingers and motioned for Julio, the bartender. "Tequila shot straight up, best you've got, lime and lots of salt," Vanessa ordered from the handsome, muscular man making his way over to her.
The corner of Julio's mouth tilted upward. He had a white bar towel thrown over one shoulder. "Bad day?"
Now that was a serious understatement.
"I've had better," Vanessa said evenly, hoping he wouldn't fall into bartender-as-therapist mode. Julio was a nice guy, but she wasn't interested in talking about her miserable day.
She was here to drink.
And to dance.
Julio, who had the dreamy face of a poet and the solid body of a heavyweight prizefighter, slapped a shot glass down on the scarred mahogany bar, poured in three fingers of Clase Azul Reposado, then put down a saucer of fresh cut lime wedges and a shaker of Marguerita salt in front of her.
He murmured an old Spanish axiom that roughly translated into, "May the burn soon sear away your troubles."
Vanessa dipped two fingers between the cleavage of her bra, extracted a folded twenty-dollar bill, warm from her body heat, and slid it across the bar to him. "Take me as far as this will go."
He nodded. The twenty would just cover two shots of the expensive tequila and his tip.
"And when the band comes back from their break, how about requesting something upbeat and danceworthy?"
"You got it," Julio said, polishing the chrome fixtures with the bar towel until they gleamed. The air smelled of lemon oil, cocktail peanuts and beer.
Vanessa licked the area between her thumb and index finger on the back of her left hand, and then shook a dusting of the Marguerita salt onto her dampened skin. Fully aware that the men across the bar were practically drooling over her, she picked up a lime wedge with the fingers of her salt-crusted hand and raised the shot glass of tequila with the other.
With a flick of her tongue, she licked the salt from her hand, swallowed back the tequila and then bit on the wedge of lime. The tart burst of green citrus rode her throat down after the velvet smooth fire of the high-quality liquor.