When Leah loses her fiancé, Mark, in Afghanistan, it takes nearly a year to get to the point where she’s ready to live again. Although she doesn’t want an emotional commitment, a night of consensual sex, even with a stranger, might help bring her some closure after Mark’s death. Enlisting the services of Madame Evangeline’s high-end, online dating service, One Night Stand, promises exactly what Leah is looking for—sex with a man she doesn’t have to see again, but one who will satisfy her physical needs now that she's ready to move on with her life.
Jackson Castillo has no desire to go on a date with one of Evangeline’s clients. One Night Stand uses his hotel for its client’s rendezvous, but otherwise, he never gets involved. When Eve threatens to take her business elsewhere unless he helps her with a particular case, he’s no fool. He’ll go on the date. But he won’t sleep with the woman.
When one thing leads to another, his good intentions to stay out of the bedroom with Leah are shattered. The sex is phenomenal, but there’s more to Leah he wants to explore. After she leaves the next morning without a goodbye, he’s both disappointed and royally pissed. Will he let her go or find a way to convince her she’s ready…to feel again?
Leah slipped the plastic card in the lock, entered the hotel room, and blew out an impressed little whistle. She ran a hand along the watered silk wallpaper near the door. Luxury and Castillo Hotels were synonymous, and this room didn’t disappoint, all part of the expensive-and-hopefully-worth-it 1NightStand experience. Madame Eve promised only the best for her clients.
A one-night stand...not something Leah ever contemplated she’d experience, let alone pay for.
“You can do this,” she whispered, fighting the intense urge to make a run for the elevator and ditch the whole rendezvous.
Tossing the key card on the nearby secretary desk, she took stock of the large suite. Cream, beige and chocolate browns dominated, both warm and inviting. She spied an enormous bathroom through an open door off to her left and wandered over to peer in. Heavens, the Jacuzzi was big enough to swim laps in. Turning back, she found the heavy drapes open to reveal the entire city of Las Vegas glittering below. Underneath the gigantic flat screen TV on the far wall sat a fully-equipped wet bar. Perfect. Maybe a cocktail or two could persuade the butterflies in her stomach to land. What had she been thinking, signing up for a night of sex with a stranger? If her therapist knew what she’d arranged for the evening, he’d probably fire her.
Did therapists even do such a thing?
What she couldn’t ignore any longer was the room's focal point, a California-king, three foot high bed. As big as the room was, the bed dwarfed it—in spades. And, at some point in the next few hours, she’d be on that bed, in that bed, rolling around having hot, sweaty sex with a man she didn’t know.
Bending down, she stepped out of one of the stilettos she’d earlier thought were such a great idea to wear. Easing the other one off, she groaned and wiggled her toes in the plush carpet. The evil things weren’t touching her feet again before she left. Not even four-inch stilettos hid her short stature—vertically challenged as the women in her family liked to call their common genetics. And what did it matter when you spent the evening horizontal? That’s how the evening would end anyway…horizontally. She shivered.
Eyeing the bed again, she approached it and frowned. How on earth would she gracefully get on that thing? Easing the oversize purse off her shoulder, she laid it on the ocean of mattress and climbed up. Her legs dangled over the edge and she resisted the urge to swing them like a kid. Instead, she pulled the bag closer and unzipped it, staring in at the contents. Wallet, cell phone, breath mints, passport.
Lucky Stiff brand—when opportunity strikes, we’ve got you covered!
Leah winced at the gift from her sister. Leaning over, she yanked the nightstand drawer open and tossed the box in where it landed next to the Gideon bible.
Oh, the irony.
You Sexy Thing sang from the bottom of her handbag, piercing the quiet. She jumped, fumbled for her cell phone then jabbed the talk button.
“Since you answered, I’m assuming you’re alone and still dressed.”
Leah had to laugh. If anyone could find the humor in this ludicrous and completely out-of-character-for-Leah situation, it would be her sister, Lana. “Yes, on both counts.”
“No sign of Prince Charming yet?”
Leah laid back on the thick coverlet and stared at the ceiling. “No. But, I got here early.”
Lana’s hesitation echoed over the airwaves. “It’s not too late to call this off, you know.”
Leah shook her head. “Not happening. I need to let Mark go and move on with my life. This is how I choose to do it.”
Lana sighed. “Sleeping with a stranger isn’t the most ideal way, honey.”
God, how many times would she and her little sister have this same conversation? Leah tuned out the same-shit-different-day dialogue and began to count the number of tiles in the ceiling.
“…afraid this will hurt more than it helps,” Lana droned.
A firm knock on the door jolted Leah out of her distracted state. Bolting upright in alarm, she dropped the phone before tumbling gracelessly off the gargantuan bed.
“Damn.” She tried to breathe around the sudden hammering of her heart. Lana’s voice continued somewhere under the bed and Leah fished around past the dust ruffle for the phone before locating it near the wall. She clutched it to her ear like a lifeline, and cut her sister off mid-sentence. “Oh, my God, Lannie—he’s here.”
Lana waited a beat before replying in a rush, “It’s not too late. Tell him you’ve changed your mind.”
Another knock sounded and Leah jumped again. Pressing a hand to her heart, she whispered, “No. I need to do this.”
“Don’t be silly! He’ll understand if you don’t—”
“I’ve got to go, Lannie. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Flipping the phone shut, she muted the volume and set it on the nightstand. Then, on auto-pilot, she crossed the room and unlocked the door.