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Title: Laws of Attraction
Author: Crystal Kauffman
Publisher:Pink Pixel Publishing
Emily Larson can hardly believe she agreed to Derek’s audacious scheme. But she knows it’s just sex and that suits her fine. There’s no room for the emotional chaos of jealousy or heartache. Derek is just a drop-dead sexy guy who knows how to cook—in the kitchen and in the bedroom. But he’s a little bit dangerous and makes no secret of his desire for revenge against her father. Emily cannot allow herself to trust him, even as she finds herself falling deeper under the spell of his devilish charm.
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The door banged open and Emily bristled, expecting another barrage of questions.
But it wasn’t a reporter. A man strode through the doors, his sky-blue eyes pinned on her. And not just any man. Derek Malone. Emily’s heart skipped a beat.
She turned away from the sink and faced him, but said nothing.
He advanced with purpose, and before Emily could stop herself, she stepped backward.
Mistake number one. Don’t show fear. Her back met the cold tile wall.
She’d known he was handsome from photos and video of his original trial, but now, standing less than a foot away, she recognized how truly gorgeous he was.
There were rumors that during his incarceration he’d received marriage proposals from women he didn’t even know, and lonely, horny strangers showed up to offer “unofficial” conjugal visits.
“Do you know who I am?”
How could she not? “Mr. Malone. What are you doing here?”
Emily knew his case as well as she knew the stunning planes of his face. Derek’s was one of three overturned convictions resulting from the investigation into her father’s actions, and though she’d never say so out loud, she couldn’t help but feel the four years he spent in prison were her fault for not discovering what her father was up to much sooner.
Of course, screwing that underage slut was all on him.
“You probably think I’m here to thank you.” Mockery rang in his voice.
He stalked directly across the restroom floor and planted his hand on the wall beside her head. She swallowed so hard her head bobbed up and down. Mistake number two.
“In the women’s restroom?”
He pressed close. Another inch, and he’d pin her to the wall with his muscular body. He was clean-shaven and smelled lightly of minty cologne. Black, wavy hair brushed the collar of his shirt. The shirtsleeves were rolled to the elbows, revealing the tight cords in muscular forearms. Even under the pale-blue cotton that made his eyes stand out more brilliantly than the sky, his broad shoulders and the bulge of well-formed biceps were obvious. He’d spent the last four years lifting weights and avoiding trouble in prison.
Those amazing eyes flicked down to her lips. “Nice comment to the press. Too bad you didn’t mean it.”
So he’d been following her. The fear swirling in her gut increased two levels.
“I meant it. No one is above the law.”
He snorted. “Right.”
“My father is in prison.”
“Your father is at a country club for the rich and privileged.”
She didn’t argue that. It was essentially true. But her father was a fifty-eight-year-old white-collar criminal with influential friends in the court system and ties to the community. He wasn’t a threat to the general public, or a flight risk.
Derek Malone had done hard time in one of California’s most brutal maximum security prisons.
“Why are you here, Mr. Malone?” Emily hoped he couldn’t hear the quaver she felt in her voice.
The thin mask of pleasantness in Derek’s face vanished. He eased closer yet, and his leg slipped between hers. “I spent four years in prison for a rape I didn’t commit. I think I deserve what I paid for.”
Black spots popped into her vision. She could hardly draw a breath. “So you’ve come here to rape me, is that it?” Emily’s pulse thundered in her ears. Had those words really come out of her own mouth?
He frowned. “Of course not.”
The door swished open. A woman peeked in, a cameraman looming behind her. It was Rita Ward, the snarky reporter from Channel 4.
Derek shot a glare over his shoulder. “Get out.”
The woman backed out and the door eased closed.
Rita had seen her, too, but it didn’t relieve Emily’s fear. Derek’s anger seeped out of every pore like a living, breathing monster.
“I’m owed retribution. I’m going to get it, one way or another.”
Enough was enough. She hadn’t fought her way up the corporate ladder through a jungle of chauvinistic bravado only to turn into a shrinking violet now.
She squared her shoulders. “What do you want from me?”
“A private moment, alone.”
“We’re having that now.” Her voice still trembled, like it used to during her first year in court. The man had turned her into a jumpy novice all over again.
“A longer moment.” Malone cocked a slow, lazy grin. “Six weeks, to be exact. A day for every month I spent in prison.”
A moment of confusion passed. He was crazy. Then his eyes slid down her body slowly, appraisingly, and understanding clicked.
Sex? Dear lord in Heaven! Six weeks of sex?
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.
“I could sue your father. A lawyer has already contacted me about a class-action lawsuit.”
“My father is going to be sued anyway. What do I care if you take part or not?”
He leaned closer. “Come on, Counsel. I don’t have to tell you a class-action suit is a lot worse than a joint suit, at least to all the snobs in your neighborhood.”
She swallowed. He was right about that, especially in her mother’s eyes. “Even if I…What’s to stop you from doing that anyway?”
His smile grew, dangerously alluring, and Emily understood why strangers had gone to Holt-Lincoln Penitentiary to offer him sex. His teeth were even and white, his lips perfectly shaped. He had a strong, chiseled jaw and a straight, patrician nose. But his eyes were the most amazing part of him. She’d never seen blue like this. It was the flecks of gray that made them almost silver, and the circle as dark as a midnight sky around the iris. They were mesmerizing eyes, and their magic had her spellbound.
He shifted his body, pressing his hips against hers. The length of his erection pushed against her abdomen, a rock-hard ridge beneath black jeans, leaving no doubt to his intentions.
Rushes of something unidentifiable rolled through Emily that couldn’t entirely be called fear.
She didn’t want it to be desire, but heaven help her, it sure felt like it. Her pulse raced. This was unreal!
“How do you come up with six weeks?”
“I’m rounding up in my favor.”
Those tiny lines crinkled around his eyes as he laughed. “You want it.”
“Your body doesn’t lie.” His thumb flicked over one stiff nipple, separated from her skin only by a sheer silk blouse and barely-there bra.
Powerful waves of hot need crashed to the center of her. She didn’t need to look down to see her nipples were like pebbles. They were so tight she wasn’t sure which ached more: the one he teased or the one he neglected.
He squeezed the full mound of her breast and her legs turned to jelly. He snatched her purse with his other hand.
“You’re going to give me what I want, or I’m going to sue your father for everything he’s got.”
Her breath rushed out in a whoosh. “That’s your right.”
Derek shoved backward and dug through her purse. “You wouldn’t want your mother to lose that fancy house in Beverly Hills, would you?” He held up her keys.
She grabbed them out of his hand. “Forget it.”
His grin turned wicked. “You’re so starched. When was the last time you got some?”
“None of your business!”
He snatched the keys back. “I’m coming over tonight, and we’re going to discuss it.”
“You don’t know where I live.”
He singled out a silver Kwikset from the ring and held it up. “Forty-eight Blossom Valley Drive. Cute little bungalow with Bougainvillea over the front door.”
Her jaw fell open. Fear replaced any confusing hints of desire.
He chuckled at her shocked expression. “You’re listed in the phone book. You should be more careful, Counsel. Some people don’t like public defenders.”
“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to let you fuck me.”
He laughed. “Let me fuck you? Sweetheart, you’re going to do most of the work.”
His arrogance was almost laughable. But his suggestion was almost…exciting.
“You’re going to rock my world, and maybe I’ll go away happy.”
“You just want to hurt my father. Why the hell should I help you?”
“Maybe it’s enough to me that he knows I’m making his sweet little girl’s legs ten inches longer.”
The image that statement conjured sent her reeling out of control. She forced a laugh. “You have a high opinion of yourself.”
“What can I say? I’m good. Women want me.”
“Not this one.” She swallowed again. Mistake number three.
“Six weeks of crazy, gorilla sex. When was the last time anyone made you an offer like that?”
Never. Not like it was something she’d ever want them to.
“I have a boyfriend.”
“No you don’t.”
“How do you know?”
He gave her that wicked grin again. It was working on her. Combined with his racy suggestions, her insides were melting like chocolate on a warm day. A very warm day.
Just the idea of what he proposed made her sweat. The thought of actually going through with it made slippery heat bloom between her legs.
He jingled the keys, holding the Kwikset to her front door.
A moment passed where she didn’t breathe, and her heart didn’t beat. “You can knock, like everyone else.”
What the hell did she just say?
“As if you’ll open the door.” He chuckled as he worked the Kwikset off the mini carabineer she used as a ring.
The door banged open. “Everything all right in here? Ms. Larson?” Travis pushed his hulking frame through, nightstick in hand. God bless that nosy reporter.
“Just having a chat with Ms. Larson,” Derek tossed over his shoulder.
“Chat somewhere else,” Travis commanded in a deep voice. “You can’t be in here.”
Derek eased away and tossed the ring of remaining keys back to her. They hit the wall beside her and crashed to the floor with a tinkling like breaking glass. Still grinning, he gave a little wave. “See you tonight, Counsel.”
Crystal Kauffman is a native Californian who also writes romantic suspense. She is a Golden Heart Award winner, an EPIC Award nominee, and the recipient of a Top Pick review from Romantic Times.
Crystal loves all types of genre fiction, but believes every story is better if there’s a guy who gets a girl in the end. To her, a story without a Happily Ever After is like a house without a roof.
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