Sinful Love (Sinful Nights #4)

By: Lauren Blakely

Book #4 in the Sinful Nights series



DEDICATION


This book is dedicated to the women who helped shape and refine the Sinful Nights series – Jen McCoy, Kim Bias, Lauren McKellar, Crystal Perkins, Trish Mint, and Candy’s amazing editor. And, as always, to my dear friend Cynthia.





CHAPTER ONE


The letter smelled like her. Like rain.

He ran his thumb over the corner of the paper and closed his eyes briefly. Memories rose to the surface, bringing with them feelings of hope and possibility.

Things that were far too risky when it came to her.

Michael shut them down, opened his eyes, and stared out the floor-to-ceiling windows of his penthouse on the Strip, trying to focus on the here and now, not the enticing lure of what if. Tonight the lights of Vegas would blink like a carnival unfolding below him, from the miniature Eiffel Tower, to the pyramid, to the blazing signs adorning the Cosmopolitan. Neon, glitz, and billboards ten stories high whispered of the best nights ever.

But he had to stay fixed on the minute details of the present, not be seduced by the past and how good it was, or of how much he’d longed for a future with her.

He wasn’t having the easiest time of that. From his vantage point, twenty stories above the concrete ribbon that beckoned millions of tourists, he brought the letter to his nose for one final inhale.

The scent of falling rain.

Try as he might to fight it, a reel of sensory images rushed back to him from years ago, like the snap, snap, snap of old film. How many times had he kissed Annalise in the rain? Brushed her wild red hair off her cheeks and touched her soft skin? Listened to her laugh?

Countless. Just like the times his mind had lingered on her over the last eighteen years, including that heartbreaking day in Marseilles, which had damn near slaughtered all his hopes in the world.

Carefully, he folded up the letter, slid it back into the tiny envelope postmarked from France, and stuffed it into his wallet next to a crinkled, faded, threadbare note from his father that he’d carried with him always. Her letter had arrived two weeks ago, and he’d read it a thousand times already. He could read it a thousand more, but it wouldn’t change his answer—the same one he’d emailed back to her.

Yes.

It was always yes with her.

Dear Michael,

I hope this note finds you well. I will be in Las Vegas for business in a few weeks. I would love to see you again. Would you like to have a coffee with me? Come to think of it, do you drink coffee now? If memory serves, you were never fond of it. Perhaps a tea, or water, or martinis at midday? Any, all, or some would be lovely.

My information is below so you can respond. I would have emailed, but a letter seemed more fitting. And, truth be told, easier to ignore, should that be your preference.

Though I will be wishing to see your name pop up in my email soon.

xoxo

Annalise

As if he stood a chance of not emailing her. As if there were any universe, parallel, perpendicular, or otherwise, where he wouldn’t take her up on her offer for coffee, tea, liquor, or a few minutes in a café.

Any, all, or some.

He turned away from the midday view of the city he loved and headed to the stereo system above his flat-screen, which piped music through his home. Thank Christ for the soundproof walls—they allowed him to blast his tunes. This Sunday afternoon, following a long, hard run and an even longer workout at the gym, he’d cued up his favorite playlist as he got ready to see her, methodically picking music he’d discovered in the last year, rather than the music he’d shared with her when they were younger.

Not that he didn’t still love his late 90s tunes. He just knew he’d be a goner if he let himself trip that far back in time.

He turned off the fading guitar riff from The Foals, and silence descended on his home.

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