Head Harem Girl at The Sultan’s Palace, Veronica Rowan isn’t interested in a relationship with any man – especially not hunky Fantasy Ranch handyman Chance Emery. When he finds out about her personal security experience, she can’t refuse his plea for help. Drawn into a twisted past marked by a trail of decapitated dolls, she struggles to protect her heart as they fight to keep from losing their heads.
“Good evening Sir,” she said, keeping her voice low and breathy. “You must be Mr. Green.” At his nod, she put her hands together and made a small genie-style bow to Eleanor, who clumsily followed her lead. After the other woman left, Veronica turned back to her client, extending a hand toward the chaise. “Please, make yourself comfortable. Let me dance for you.”
She held the pillows while he situated himself, adjusting them under his back. When he was comfortable, she began to move with the music, keeping the gyrations slow and sensual. Tiny bells tinkled around her ankle with each step, and the gold coins that made up her belt shimmered with every hip thrust. The sheer harem pants flowed easily with her movements, and Green appeared fascinated by the skimpy satin boy shorts she wore underneath.
As most men were.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled, and she knew he was watching. Not Mr. Green, though his eyes never left her undulating body. No, this feeling was more intense, almost primal. Only one man could make her feel like that, and she executed a lazy turn to meet his hungry gaze for a long moment before turning back to her client.
Chance Emery, handyman for the ranch, was one hundred percent prime beefcake from his six-foot-three height and broad, muscular torso to that mass of curly brown hair that rode low on his neck. Unfortunately, he was well aware of the fact, and there never seemed to be a shortage of women vying to take advantage of his appetite for female flesh.
She didn’t blame them.
Letting the dance wind down, she caught a glimpse of Eleanor heading in Chance’s direction and barely suppressed a frown. The woman hadn’t been on payroll for a week and already she was honing in on the resident playboy. Apparently Veronica was going to have to go back over the staff fraternization rules with her again. Soon.
Smiling at Mr. Green, she picked up a large silk palm frond and asked him about his day. Giving him her full attention, she listened, commiserated, and alternately fanned him and fed him grapes, dates and other finger foods for the remainder of the hour. Guests of The Sultan’s Palace came for two seemingly opposite reasons – to both relax and be excited. At the end of the session, she led Mr. Green back to the dressing rooms confident that he was happy with her service and accepted the tip he pressed into her hand. Once he was safely inside, she went back to the main entertainment hall and scanned the room for Eleanor.
“Looking for me?”
Veronica jumped at the warm breath across her shoulder as the handyman himself spoke low in her ear. Willing her heart to slow down, she resisted the urge to cover it with one hand.
“Actually, no,” she said, managing to sound more or less normal. “I’m looking for Eleanor, the new hostess. You were talking to her a little while back – short, dark brown hair, big eyes. Have you seen her recently?”
* * * *
Chance braced himself as Veronica turn to face him. It was pathetic, really, that the only woman he was attracted to in the whole joint was this one – the one most likely to push him out a window if he so much as looked at her wrong. He’d tried to be friendly in the beginning, but she was ice cold, to him at least.
He’d quickly learned to give her a wide berth, but when she danced he had a hard time keeping his eyes off her. She hired some very competent help, but none of them compared to her. The way her body moved was magic, and it called to some primal instinct that urged him to carry her off and rip the filmy fabric right off that lithe little body of hers.
He was sure she felt it too – the vibe between them was so thick it was nearly tangible. Yet she held him at arm’s length, all because of some stupid policy the bosses didn’t even follow themselves. Three years they’d been tip-toeing around this thing between them, and he was getting tired of it.
Maybe it was time to shake things up a bit. Or her, at least.