Tonight You Belong to Me

By: Cate Masters


Chapter One





Nervous as a virgin in a prison rodeo, Jillian Jones tugged down her form-fitting silk sheath as she stepped into the Castillo Resort lounge. She had enough problems without her dress riding up. She’d already had her heart chewed up and spit out by that two-timing Casanova, Danny O’Malley. Why she’d agreed to do one last favor for Karenna before hightailing it out of Sin City, she couldn’t say. Yet something in her heart told her she wouldn’t regret tonight. Maybe it would change her life.

Ha! Yeah, and I’ll marry a good ole boy. No chance. If she’d wanted a redneck, she’d have stayed in Nashville and contented herself with singing honky-tonk in a second-rate bar. No, she wanted better. Deserved better.

A familiar voice, sweet as honey and intoxicating as whiskey, sounded through the speakers as if singing to her alone. The baritone wound through her head, down her spine, pooling in heat that shivered along her nerve endings. Melting the last of her bravado that took all day to store up. Danny! Damn the man. He’d never worked Thursdays before. Now he’d ruin it all with his sexy smolder.

No way in hell would she let him, even if she had to squirt seltzer from head to toe and extinguish his fire. The image of him dripping wet only ratcheted up the sexiness factor, the extra oomph she always said would be their ticket to the top. Now she knew better—her name didn’t appear on the ticket, only his. And Lace’s. Shards of ice filled Jilly’s veins, remembering the two of them onstage, and off.

Squaring her shoulders, she strolled to the bar and perched on a stool. Careful to avoid the piano spotlighted in the corner, she scanned the room. As a leaving-Vegas-forever gift, Karenna promised her the night of her life with a 1Night Stand hookup, and had said to look for a knock-her-socks-off gorgeous guy wearing a charcoal blazer and red carnation. Her 1Night Stand date. Though she could never see herself with anyone else but Danny. Maybe a one-night stand was exactly what she needed to sear off the brand he’d imprinted on her heart.

She’d given him her virginity on a platter, and he’d promised her the moon. So much for saving herself for the right man. Oh, he could send her over the moon, all right—his touch lit a fire in her only he could quench. From now on, people would have to prove themselves worthy before she gave them anything. No more letting the tail wag the dog.

The bartender leaned his hands on the counter. “What can I get you?”

A new life? No, she’d concoct that herself. As she twisted the edge of her handbag, her belly twisted, too. “Ginger ale. No wait, make that white wine. No, sorry. Sex on the Beach.” In hopes of what this night might hold. Revenge.

Where in hell was her date? No one in the room wore a gray jacket or any sort of flower.

She blocked the sad tune he played on the baby grand, pouring his heartbreak out in song. She tried not to think of his fingers sliding across the ivories. Those talented hands tickled her ivories, too. Every moment, it grew more of a challenge not to glance over.

Strains of a new song stole her breath. Tears burned her eyes. “Now that’s low.”

“Pardon?” The bartender set her drink on a napkin and shoved it toward her.

She held up a twenty. “I’m pathetic. A failure.” For still letting him get to her. She raised her glass in a cheer. “He’s playing Tonight You Belong to Me.”

“Is he?” The bartender slapped her change atop the glossy black counter.

Scooping it up, she doled out two ones for his tip. “It was our song.” The bastard must have spotted her. Performing the song would be his way of having the last word. Well, no way. Downing her liquid courage, she set the glass on the bar, tottered on shaky legs to the piano and plunked a penny in the tip jar.

When he looked up at her, slow and easy, she wanted to melt.

Ebony bangs fell across his forehead, making his eyes look bluer than the skies over the desert. Full of longing, sorrow and smoldering heat all at once. “Penny for your thoughts?” he asked.

Her throat tightened, choking back a teary sigh. Same as the night they first met, down to the song and the bad line. But not his outfit. She glared at his wide shoulders, draped in a charcoal jacket, set off by a red carnation.