Glade Manor—home of Spyce Magazine.
“That’s it, Scarlet. Now cross your ankles...a bit more... Good. Hold still.”
Detective Scarlet Reid tried not to breathe—afraid any movement would bare her breasts even more. The camera already had a full view of her ass as she posed on the fluffy white carpet, chin resting on bent fingers, feet crossed at the ankles. She didn’t need her nipples on center stage too. Not that she had much choice. What was supposed to be a two- day assignment with nothing more revealing than swimwear had quickly snowballed into a full-blown nude photo shoot. And unless she was willing to break her cover, her only option was to play along—pretend each click of the camera didn’t make her skin crawl.
She looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the photographer. Her brown hair hung in long curls, the red Christmas hat tilted off to one side, and, other than the leather version of elf shoes laced up her feet, she was completely bare. She cringed inwardly. The guys at the station would never let her live this one down.
“Nice, now push your chest out just a bit. We want men dying to see what your nipples look like, so give them just a hint.”
The bastard’s voice was just a bit too eager, too raspy to be professional. She’d heard the other women talk about him—John Everett. How he had a penchant for touching the girls, whether they gave him permission or not. That he used his position to force himself on them. She sighed. Most of the women she’d met were young, naïve. Girls who had lost their way and were hoping this one magazine spread would be their ticket to fame. And if that came at a price, most seemed willing to chalk it up to the business.
“Pinch them for me, sweetheart. I need them hard.”
She hated the endearment, his voice making the word sound tainted. A dizzy feeling swirled through her head as she placed her fingers against her breasts, rolling her nipples until they puckered against her skin, the tips slightly reddened.
“Much better. Now lift up just a bit...”
She resumed her position, arching her back slightly, cringing when Everett hummed his approval. The sound sent a shiver racing down her spine, the unspoken innuendo making her stomach roil. A throaty huff rasped behind the creep, and she chanced a glance at her partner standing off to Everett’s left. Roman leaned against the wall, his dark eyes focused on her. He swept his gaze down her body, pausing where her nipples peaked. Heat danced along her skin when he locked his gaze on hers, the intensity in his stare more than unnerving. He’d never looked at her like that before.
“Great work, Scarlet.” Everett straightened beside his camera, capping the lens. “If that doesn’t make grown men wish for their own Christmas angel, nothing will.”
She feigned a smile but knew it didn’t reach her eyes. She accepted the robe he handed her. She pushed to her feet, ignoring the way he leered at her before she managed to wrap the soft terry around her, belting it at her waist.
“You’re very beautiful, Ms. December. I’m glad Mr. Glade decided to shoot a teaser pose with all of next year’s centerfolds. Men will be aching to see your full spread.” Everett moved closer, drawing his finger along her arm, a flash of black ink on his wrist as he lingered a bit too long. “Perhaps you’d like to continue this shoot...in private?”
Scarlet stepped back just as Roman grabbed the man by the scruff of the neck and threw him against the wall.
“I thought I’d made it clear. Scarlet’s my lover.” He inched his face closer, ruffling the creep’s collar. “She’s not interested in playing with you.”
The man laughed. “You know something, Roman? You keep claiming she’s yours, but I haven’t seen you so much as kiss her outside this room.” He pushed Roman back and smoothed the front of his shirt. “I’ve been watching you two. Sure, you go to all the games, but you don’t participate in any of them. Why, just this afternoon there was a pussy-eating contest.” Everett licked his lips as he shifted his gaze to her, his focus lingering on her crotch. “I don’t recall seeing her sweet little cunt up there on display, your head wedged between her thighs.” He turned back to Roman, a sneer spreading across his lips. “I’m starting to think maybe you two aren’t what you appear to be. There’re rumors the cops are trying to infiltrate events like this. Maybe—”
“Do I look like a cop?” Scarlet moved in beside Roman. “Please, give me some credit. I learned early that when you’ve got breasts and an ass like mine, you don’t have to do more than wiggle them to make a living.” She wrapped her hands around her partner’s arm, easing into his embrace. “Roman’s just following my lead. I don’t mind posing nude, Mr. Everett, but I’m a bit shy when it comes to public displays.”
Everett eyed her. “Shy?” He shook his head. “If you say so. But if you don’t want me to pass my suspicions along to Mr. Glade, you’re going to have to convince me.”
Roman’s cock peaked against her at the man’s words, and she couldn’t halt a soft whimper from feathering across his shoulder. He bent down, brushing his lips along her neck, tasting the sweet spot behind her ear.
He arched an eyebrow at Everett. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
“There’s no one else here and this was my last shoot.” Everett waved at the bearskin rug. “If you want me to believe you’re her lover, then show me.” He patted his chest pocket. “I’ll even take you with me tonight to meet my supplier. I know you both want more of what’s been floating around.”
Scarlet stilled. This was it. Their big break. Seven days on the damn job, and they were literally one fuck away from nailing this drug dealer and his mob supplier. But could she go through with it? Would Roman? She clenched her jaw, not sure how to answer, when Roman’s voice sounded above her.
“So you want to watch?” He shrugged. “That’s cool. I’m sure Scarlet won’t mind one set of eyes watching her. But you’d better be serious about your meeting. That shit you’ve been trying to pass off as cocaine isn’t going to cut it.” He slid his hand down and cupped the curve of her ass. “My baby deserves the best.”
Everett mumbled something back, but it got lost in the thrumming of her heart. Roman was going to do it—make love to her, right there on the damned floor of the studio. While another man watched! The world dipped a moment before she realized she was in Roman’s arms, moving over to the rug.
She looked up at him, captivated by the erotic gleam in his eyes. He didn’t look upset... He looked like a hunter claiming his prize after a long, hard chase. And if his cock was any indication of his enthusiasm, she had a feeling he was in the mood to put on quite a show.
“Easy, darling.” He lowered her to the rug, tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “I know this wasn’t how you envisioned me loving you tonight,” he began, his voice loud enough for Everett to hear. “But under the circumstances...” He motioned back to where the man had taken root in a chair. “Just close your eyes and feel everything I can do for you.”
Detective Scarlet Reid has spent the past three months trying to make her alter ego, Ms. December, a ghost of Christmas past. Forced to become the sexy centerfold in a high-stakes undercover assignment, she’s spent more time pulling copies of her naked butt off the bulletin boards at the precinct than she has collaring criminals—and it’s far from over.
A deadly agenda.
A gruesome new case has revealed a disturbing trend—one that has placed Scarlet on a list of possible targets. With limited options, she’s going to have to resurrect Ms. December—and her old partnership—which means facing the one man who stole more than just a kiss.
A love worth fighting for.
Federal Agent Roman Kinkaid has some explaining to do. His final assignment with Scarlet changed him, and he’s been running from her ever since. But he’s ready to make things right—only he’s not alone. His partner and lover, Special Agent Aiden Cross, is just as invested and determined as Roman is to claim Scarlet as theirs. And they aren’t taking no for an answer, especially when their souls—and Scarlet’s life—are on the line.
They have three weeks to catch the stalker before Scarlet’s time runs out and they lose their one chance at a happy ending.