Caught on Camera

Read the Excerpt

The big, bold, take-charge man sat cross-legged on the floor, his suit jacket tossed on a nearby chair, with the boy sitting on his lap. They both gripped the same helicopter and flew it in the air, JP explaining the intricacies of the vehicle in a softly modulated voice. All the while, the girl combed his dark hair, securing twisted clumps with tiny, pink clips, and rattling nonstop about a television show Vega knew was a current favorite among little girls.

 She had the urge to back out of the room and leave the house. This was not the man she expected JP to be. He was a politician, for crying out loud. Not yet, maybe, but there was no doubt in her mind he would accept the position and soon start a long-lived, successful—if you called any political path that—career. Politicians did not sit on the floor and play with their niece and nephew so candidly unless there was a photographer in sight.

 And then it hit her. She was a photographer.

Had he expected her to show up with a video camera or was he simply planting seeds of ideas for the interview?

“JP,” his sister spoke softly. JP’s wide gaze swiveled to hers, a grin in place from ear to ear at the same time Cat said, “Your guest is here.”

The grin disappeared and his eyes momentarily widened as he sought out Vega’s gaze. He made contact, seemingly embarrassed at first for being caught letting his niece treat him like one of her dolls, but then shrugged good-naturedly. He pulled both kids close and planted a kiss on their chubby cheeks. “Uncle JP has to go now.”

Both kids complained, but it wasn’t real. It seemed to be part of a game they played. When they collapsed into his lap, he snaked a hand over each of them and tickled their bellies, sending them into fits of giggles before tenderly rubbing their blond heads. They finally settled on either side of him while JP removed the clips and threaded his hands through his thick, dark hair, bringing it into submission with ease. He rose to his full height and Vega’s heart rate increased. His presence filled the room.

After scooping up the discarded jacket, he shrugged into it, all while eyeing Vega from across the room. His gaze took in every inch of her bare legs then traveled up over her tight skirt and matching bright blue shirt, pausing at the deep V where the tiniest hint of cleavage peeked out. Her toes curled in her python-skin shoes when his gaze swept back down and landed on her feet, both of them aware of what the heels did for her legs.

He moved toward her and she couldn’t help returning the appraisal, admiring the way the tailored, pin-striped suit framed his body. She was here for dinner, she reminded herself, not to have him for dinner. Or be the main course herself. His gaze implied he had a hard time remembering as well. He stepped to her side and the same woodsy scent she’d noticed before pulled at her, attempting to lure her closer.

“Impressive,” he murmured for her ears only.

“Wow,” Cat’s youngest said, his innocent voice the epitome youth. “You’re bigger den Uncle P.”

Vega laughed softly and took in her height against JP’s. She did have a couple inches on him. “Yes, but only for tonight. See.” She briefly slipped out of one heel and placed her foot flat on the smooth wood floor, bringing her back down to a more respectable height. “It’s just the shoes.”

The little girl was in awe, her eyes brightening as she gazed at the brooch on the vamp of each shoe, but the boy suddenly seemed less impressed.

Without warning, the girl made a beeline for the crystals winking from Vega’s feet, her hands outstretched as if desperate to reach the jewels as quickly as possible. “Pretty.”

“Becca!” Cat’s reprimand came an instant too late. Although most of Becca froze with her mother’s command, one finger gently traced the outer curve of the hardware on one shoe. Her face slowly turned toward her mother, but she didn’t relinquish her touch on the bauble.

“I don’t mind, Cat.” Vega shook her head slightly, her voice soft, almost laughing. “Really. I always appreciate meeting a young lady with exceptional tastes in shoes.”

“Exceptional taste or not,” Cat muttered, “those are darn expensive, and Becca’s fingers spend more time these days in dirt than soap and water.”

Vega laughed with ease. “Then you should feel better knowing this pair is several years old.”

They were the last she’d purchased on her modeling income. Wearing nothing but sensible clothing and shoes for the last few years, Vega should have gotten rid of these along with the remainder of her collection a long time ago. But as a shoe enthusiast from the instant a modeling job had stuck her in designer heels, she’d been unable to separate herself from the footwear even though she’d refused to wear them anywhere but the comfort of her own home.

A masculine chuckle in her ear pulled her attention back to JP, and his blue eyes almost made her forget the subject at hand. He nodded toward her feet and she looked down to see Becca now on her backside, her own sandals discarded beside her.

“Can I try?”

“Becca!”

Cat and her daughter both spoke at the same time, Cat clearly mortified Becca didn’t yet have the grace not to ask a total stranger if she could try on her shoes.

“Do you know how to walk in heels, Becca?” Vega would have squatted to the child’s level if not for fear her skirt would rip up the back. Instead, she rested her hands on her thighs and bent her knees a fraction as she peered down at the girl.

Becca nodded, her blonde curls dancing around her face. “I wear Mommy’s all the time.”

Vega glanced at Cat and saw she’d given up on being humiliated by her daughter’s behavior. She shrugged. “Since she learned to walk.”

“That long, huh?” Vega continued to Becca. “Then I guess you do know how to walk in heels.”

Becca nodded and scrambled back to her feet. “I’m a good walker. I promise not to hurt them. Tyler can’t walk in them, though. He falls down.” She crinkled her nose and looked at her brother, still sitting on the floor and flying the helicopter, as if his status as a male made him worthless as a sibling.

Vega slipped a foot from one shoe and JP’s hand connected with her elbow, his fingers strong and hot through the sheer fabric of her sleeve. After she reminded herself to breathe, she slid off the other shoe and noticed her eyesight was now level with the angled ridge in the middle of JP’s throat. His fingers remained wrapped around her elbow.

“Look at me, Mommy!” The girlish squeal squeezed Vega’s heart. She’d once been that innocent and free, that certain that happiness was a given.

Becca marched back and forth, her tiny feet crammed into the toes of the shoes so that she barely wobbled. The heels clomped behind her with each step, and Vega felt an ache in her chest. She was approaching thirty and had yet to find anyone she trusted enough to consider settling down with, much less settling down to have a child with.

Tyler inched closer as if realizing he was no longer in the middle of the action.

“You can’t do it, silly.” Becca flapped her hand at her brother as she clomped toward Vega. “Boys don’t know how to walk in heels.” Hot heels apparently brought out the big-sister attitude in the girl.

“Tell Vega thank you.” Cat scooped up her son and waited for her daughter to comply. Once she had, Cat smiled warmly at Vega. “I appreciate the attention. As you can see, she does love girly shoes.”

JP held tight as Vega once again slipped into her heels, then finally, almost reluctantly, his fingers trailed down the back of her arm before disappearing. The fire from that soft touch roared through her body and filled her ears to the point she barely made out Cat’s words as she said her good-byes and headed to the front of the house.

JP disappeared with them, the momentary silence giving Vega a chance to pull in a deep breath. She inhaled until her lungs burned, then let it out. Rubbing her hand up and down the arm where he’d touched her, she looked around the massive room with the high ceilings and authoritative elegance, and nerves hit her, pooling in her belly. She was in the home of one of the Davenports. With Jackson Parker Davenport, himself.

Dinner.

Get the interview.

Nothing else.

“I love the skirt.” JP stood in the middle of the open French doors, his admiration clear in his heated look. “I think I even like you being taller than me.”

Vega played it off, giving him a slight curtsy and dipping her eyelids. “As you wished.”

He growled, low and dangerous. “You are a tease, Vega Zaragoza. But I do like it.” He motioned down the hall. “Our dinner awaits. Shall we?”

She crossed the room, suddenly unsure how to walk in the spikes as he devoured her every move. When she passed in front of him, he touched a hand to the small of her back and fire licked from his heated fingers into her body, toasting all sorts of hidden places.

“What was it you wished to talk about again?” he asked, his voice as coarse as gravel.

“You know full well what I’m here to talk about.”

“Honey, at the moment all I know is how bad I want those legs wrapped around me.” His fingers drifted lower but he remained a gentleman.

She stopped in the threshold of the dining room and took in the scene. The ambience was far too intimate. Two place settings angled together on one corner of the twelve-person table. Gleaming china trimmed in gold, flickering candlelight, and elegant crystal all beckoned.

Seduction.

And she had seen this particular play before.

She wiggled her fingers together in a nervous gesture, unable to control the action, and reminded herself this time was different. This time she was older, not as naive, and no one was hiding anything. They both knew exactly why the other was here.

She wanted the interview.

He wanted her naked.

Gulping, she moved forward and wondered which one would get their wish.