When Dr. Ariel Summers starts her dream job in the newly elected mayor of New York City's administration, she has no plans to fall for anyone. But the lust-filled banter and intense physical attraction she has with the mayor's security expert, wereleopard Nicholas Savage, does not make things easy.
Not all citizens are embracing the mayor's agenda for paranormals being out in society and threats are being made. Clues to the identity of their enemies start unraveling once Ariel and Nick stumble upon angry clowns calling themselves the Carnival of Sins. By the time they realize the mayor is not the only one in need of protection, could it be too late for love?
Ariel was pleased to watch Nick and Philip's current behavior from afar. They appeared to be treating each other respectfully, as they greeted important people in the city who wanted to make their acquaintance. Although Nick glanced at her a few more times, he didn't come over to speak with her. It was for the best right now. They were both on duty.
She saw Emilio motion Nick and Philip over to his location in a corner with other heavyweights of the press for interviews. Ariel continued to socialize, but the more wine she drank the more she wanted Nick back for some up-close and private conversation. She looked up to where the Mayor was still cornered with his paranormals. A crowd of people were now gathered to watch.
Ariel supposed that she could go over and listen. She might learn more about Nick and the way he handled himself in a group. As she stood at the fringes, she felt a nudge to her left arm.
A medium-built man with curly brown hair was standing next to her. He was only an inch or two taller than she was. "Hello."
"Hi." Ariel glanced at him and smiled back.
"I can tell you're interested in what's going on up there," he spoke softly.
"I am. The new administration seems to be exciting for everyone. I think it's the anticipation of change."
"Ah, change." The man paused a moment. "Not everyone feels that way, you know. Not everyone thinks the change Mayor Hernandez is talking about is good for our city."
Ariel turned to the man. His brown eyes seemed to burn into hers. "The voters have spoken."
"But not for all the citizens, dear lady."
As she looked back to Nick and Philip, she decided she didn't like this man.
"So which one holds your attention the most? Which one does a pretty woman, like yourself, find the most fascinating? The vampire or the wereleopard."
Ariel wasn't sure what to say. Just be polite. "They're both great. Intelligent and friendly. I'm looking forward to getting to know each of them better." She could feel the man's eyes looking her over and it felt uncomfortable. That's what you get sometimes for wearing a revealing dress in public.
"So you know them already?"
"I'm their doctor."
"Oh? So you're on the Mayor's staff?"
"Yes, I am."
"And what would your name be?"
Introductions required eye contact. Ariel firmly believed in that. As she turned toward the man, he grabbed her hand and stared into her eyes. "I'm Ariel Summers."
He placed his other hand over hers, too. It felt uncomfortable for someone she didn't know to do that and she didn't like it at all. Didn't like the intensity…the intimacy of it. Ariel looked away from his face and noticed a pin on his lapel. It was a gold tent with red and yellow vertical stripes. A circus tent? She couldn't be sure.
"And your name?" she asked, glancing back into his face.
"Please excuse me," the man muttered, as he looked away from her. "I need to take a phone call. I hope to see you again, Dr. Summers."
The man swiveled around and was gone within the crowd. Ariel had no idea where he went so quickly. She glanced up and down the room. He had vanished. Was he trying to get away from her so he didn't have to give her his name? Or was his phone really ringing? She thought about what he had said for a moment. When he was talking about not all people being accepting of change, was he talking about himself? Ariel had no idea.
A set of glass doors over to her right was a welcome sight. A breath of fresh outside air after that last glass of wine sounded good. She should probably switch to water now.
Going as quickly as she could to them, she burst outside and breathed deep. The night had cooled off and the air felt good inside her lungs. She strolled over to the edge of the dark terrace and look down onto the small cement courtyard, then up at the quarter moon. The sky was clear and the air was still…and chilly. She crossed her arms tightly to her body.
She twirled around to see Nick staring down at her. Her breath caught in her throat just listening to his voice. "Yes, I did. How did you know I was here?"
"I have radar. Didn't I tell you?" He placed her pashmina shawl around her back.
"Thank you," she said, as she pulled it around her. "Hmm. I guess you do have radar. Did you see the moon tonight? It's beautiful in a clear sky."
He shook his head. "I'm ignoring the moon, which is a hard thing for someone like me to say. I didn't want to be distracted from your face. You know, of course, any resistance to me tonight is futile."
Her eyes widened. "How do you know I planned on resisting tonight?"
Nick sputtered out a cough.
She must have taken him by surprise. Point for her, even in her drunken state. "Are you finished with your responsibilities?"
"I am. Emilio says my duties are over for the evening."
"Is it time for me?" She blinked her eyes at him and wondered why those words even came out of her mouth.
He raised his eyebrows. "If I can only please one person today, I definitely pick you."
"Good." Ariel glanced up at him.
Sometimes you shouldn't think too much and that was something she tended to do. It could definitely get in the way of fun. But with all the wine she had drunk tonight, her motto for the rest of the evening would be: Don't think. Just do it.
"You liked hearing that? You're not going to yell at me?"
She looked into his eyes. They were staring intensely into hers with a hot, feral expression. "Because I'm ready to be pleased."