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“I heard she was pregnant, so maybe that has something to do with it.” Lena leaned in and whispered as if she really cared about keeping it a secret. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t an ounce of truth to it.

Aidan stared at her with bloodshot eyes and a look of horror on his face. “Are you serious?”

“I don’t know. It’s just what I heard. I’m not surprised though. She’s such a slut. She sleeps with all her bodyguards. I’ve even heard that she had a thing with Robert Carson for a while. That is of course until she got bored with him.” She smirked to herself when she realized that Aidan was eating up every single word.

“Anyways, who wants to talk about her? I’m sure there are more interesting things we can discuss.” She smiled seductively at Aidan and ran her hand up his leg. “I hear you’re single again.”

“Uh, yeah,” he mumbled and she could see the shock on his face.

She shouldn’t be surprised. They didn’t exactly run in the same circles and she hid her emotions well. She’d wanted to get him into bed for years, but he’d always been unavailable. Until now.

“Do you want to get out of here?” She leaned in and whispered low so that only he could hear her.

Aidan stood up and stumbled. “I’d love to.”

They made their way for the stairs, but halfway there Aidan keeled over and passed out on one of the waiters. A tray of champagne glasses smashed against the wood floor and all over one of the female guests who wouldn’t stop shrieking about her new dress.

“That’s just great.” Lena threw her glass of champagne in his face. When he still didn’t move she kicked his leg and stepped over him, her heels crunching over broken glass. She glanced around for Billy and sighed. She’d have to find someone else to fill her bed for the evening because it was obvious to any onlookers that Billy was otherwise engaged.


Amber, Calista, and Dane all witnessed Aidan’s tumble, and even though she tried, Calista couldn’t hold in her laugh. She spared a quick glance at Dane, and though his face remained stoic, the laughter in his eyes was unmistakable.

“I can’t believe I’m laughing.” She held her stomach, but her body still shook in silent laughter.

“I’ll get this taken care of.” Amber sighed and shook her head, already shouting orders.

Calista looked up at Dane as soon as Amber was out of ear shot and grimaced. “This is exactly why I avoid scenes like this. Drama everywhere. Have you seen anything out of the ordinary?”

“Nothing yet, but that doesn’t mean our guy isn’t here.” He slipped an arm around her shoulders and drew her closer. “I think you’ve sufficiently made your point to this guy, honey. Everyone now thinks you’re engaged, so if for some reason he’s not here, he’ll know tomorrow when this hits the tabloids. Are you ready to go home?”

Beyond tired and in no mood to argue, she agreed by laying her head on Dane’s shoulder. He led her down the long flight of stairs to the lobby. When they hit the streets photographers bombarded them. Flashes blinded her from every direction, but Dane and Nikolai kept her in a protective embrace. The photographers even followed them back to her place, but thanks to the extra security they couldn’t make it past the front door.


“I’m going to have to change my number again,” Calista muttered to herself.

Apparently her number had gotten out, and reporters had been calling almost non-stop for the past three hours. She stood in her shower and let the scorching jet-powered stream rush over her body. She desperately needed to relax. Having Dane around was certainly a nice distraction, but it was impossible to ignore the phone. She’d taken to completely ignoring it. There was a certain amount of risk that it might be her stalker calling, but he normally called late at night. At this point it was a risk she was willing to take, if only for her nerves. It’s not as if he’d called lately anyway.

“Calista? Connor’s on the phone.” Dane opened the door to her bathroom.

She peeked out and sighed. She’d totally forgotten about her brother. “Is he upset?”

Dane shrugged and grinned mischievously. “He’s not happy.”

“Give me a few minutes to dry off. I’m sure this won’t be the last of our calls.”

Two minutes later, wearing a thick green bathrobe, she was curled up on her bed, trying to work up the courage to say hello to her brother. She gripped the phone in her sweaty hand and took one last deep breath.

“Hey, Connor.”

“What the hell is going on? Are you really engaged?” He didn’t yell. If anything his words were deceptively calm. That unnerved her more than anything.

“No, haven’t you talked to Dane about this?”

“I wanted to talk to you first. He’s lucky we’re not in the same vicinity or I’d break his nose again.”

Calista laughed until she realized he wasn’t joking. “You’ve broke his nose before?”

“It was right after the incident in Germany, but don’t change the subject, Cal. What’s going on?”

“Nothing. We went to this party last night to get some exposure. There was this guy all over me. Apparently Dane didn’t like what he was seeing, so he told the guy we were engaged. Next thing I know, everyone at the party is congratulating me.”

“So nothing is going on with the two of you?”

Calista swallowed. She didn’t want to lie to her brother, but she also didn’t want to divulge her sex life to him either. She didn’t want to admit they were involved until she at least knew where this relationship was headed. Telling her friends was one thing. Telling her brother was something else entirely.

The small word stuck in her throat. “No.”

“Hmm.” Connor was strangely quiet.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Have you seen the latest cover of US weekly?”

She stiffened and ignored the sinking feeling in her gut. “No, why?”

“Well there’s an interesting picture of you and Dane making out at a place called…” He paused and she heard the shuffling of the magazine.

“The Liquid Lounge. Do you still want to tell me there’s nothing going on between the two of you?”

“We weren’t even there last night. That must have been taken a couple weeks ago.” Calista bit her tongue when she realized what she’d just said.

“A couple of weeks ago?” Connor demanded.

“Whatever, Connor, I don’t have to answer to you. My personal life is my business. If I want to kiss someone, I don’t need to run it by you first.”

“I know that. I’m just looking out for you.”

“Look, I’m not sure what’s going on with us. There’s too much going on right now for you to worry about Dane and me. I’m trying to stay alive, Connor.”

He sighed. “You’re my sister, and since I was born one minute before you, that makes me your older brother. Just be careful.”

She frowned. “I thought he was your friend.”

“He was my team leader and he was the best agent I’ve ever worked with. Hell, he’s saved my ass more times than I care to admit. But, there’s a lot about him you don’t know.”

“I realize that, but he’s safe and that’s what I need in my life right now. He’s good for me.”

Connor snorted. “Safe? I don’t think I would have ever put that word in the same sentence as Dane, but whatever you say.”

“Connor.” Her voice had a warning note in it.

“All right, I’ll leave it alone. For now. Just be careful.”

“I will and I’ve got to go, Robert is calling on the other line.”

As soon as she switched lines, she could tell Robert was in a tizzy over the new developments.

“Look, honey, I don’t care what’s going on with the two of you. I just need a heads up so I have a response ready when those vultures call me at six in the morning.”

“Robert, I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t think the story would catch on this fast.”

Robert muttered something unintelligible under his breath before he continued. “I don’t think I have to ask, but you’re not really engaged are you?”

She nearly dropped the phone. “Robert! I can’t believe you even asked that.”

“Just wanted to cover all my bases. So, what exactly is going on with you two, and don’t you dare say ‘nothing’, because I know you better than that.”

Calista pulled her comforter over her head. How could she answer that? “I knew you were going to ask that. Honestly, I have no idea. We’re physically involved, but anything beyond that is just too much for me to contemplate right now.”

“I can truly say I didn’t see this coming. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, you both have very strong personalities.”

“Dane is a lot different than I originally thought. He’s really sweet, and I know that sounds crazy, but I feel safe with him. It’s hard to put into words how I feel, probably because I don’t even know myself.”

“That’s not crazy, honey. Hell, it’s about time you found someone like that. Granted the circumstances suck, but you can’t expect everything to be perfect.”

“Hey, I’m not complaining.” She smiled to herself as she thought about their lovemaking the night before. Once again, it had been amazing.

As soon as they’d returned from the party she’d barely made it to the living room before he’d stripped her down to her lingerie. It was startling the way he looked at her. She could see the desire in his eyes with his every glance, and she couldn’t seem to get enough of him either. There was no doubt about their physical connection, but there was a nagging in the back of her head that told her one day she’d want more. At this time she wasn’t ready to take the next step. Not yet, but she knew she would be soon enough. She craved normalcy in the same manner she was starting to crave Dane Leven. That alone scared the crap out of her.