Something’s hot in Seattle, and it’s not just the espresso.
The Seattle Steam Series
First, Gabe’s a little hung up on the fact that she’s his best friend’s little sister, and he’s determined to keep his hands off. Second, her shop gets robbed by the increasingly violent Espresso Bandit, and now she’s the only one who can identify him.
Gabe whisks her into hiding for her own protection, but soon finds his heart is under assault by the luscious—and persistent—Madison. But no matter where they hide, danger follows.
On such dangerous grounds, the trick will be to live long enough to keep the flame alive.
That settled it. The next person to ask why she had come to the party alone was getting the bowl of guacamole thrown at them.
Madison Phillips squeezed her hand around a diet soda, crushing the can and raising the level of the cola. Taking a deep breath, she looked at her brother, who stood below a banner proclaiming, “Welcome home, Eric!”
Her scowl deepened. Not because Eric had returned home from fighting in Iraq—she was more than proud of that. No, it was because he had his beautiful girlfriend snuggled under his arm. They looked so in love it made her nauseous. There were at least a dozen of them—happy couples spread about and looking like they couldn’t wait to get back to the bedroom.
Being the only person without a date, she felt like the damn black sheep of the room. She felt ridiculously self-conscious. But more than that, she felt alone.
“Hi, Madison. Isn’t it great to have your brother home?” Her cousin Stacia passed the refreshment table and grabbed a chip, stuffing it in her mouth. “Hey, where’s Bradley?”
Madison glanced at the bowl of guacamole. Hmm. If I dumped it on her pink cashmere sweater, she’d look kind of like a watermelon. She glanced back up, forcing a polite smile onto her face as she shrugged.
“We’re no longer together.”
“What?” Her cousin’s jaw dropped, her voice rising with unnecessary drama. She leaned forward and stage whispered, “Was it a mutual thing?”
Madison sighed. “No, Stacia. It wasn’t a mutual thing. He broke up with me.”
“Really? The bastard! He should’ve put a ring on your finger a long time ago.”
Madison blinked, her stomach clenching at the fact her cousin had brought up such an awkward subject in a room full of people.
Most of the people in the room had turned toward them, their expressions ones of sympathy. I’m not related to this woman. It’s impossible. Stacia must have been the result of an extramarital affair.
“And aren’t you tactful.” She didn’t have the energy to be polite anymore, but winced as the words left her mouth. “I’m sorry. Excuse me, I just need some air.”
She walked away before she could say anything else bitchy.
Seeing all those couples had also brought up some other feelings. The realization at just how long she’d gone without sex. Though Bradley had just dumped her two days ago, they hadn’t done the wild thing since Valentine’s Day. Four months without getting laid should be considered a crime. Talk about a constant state of horniness.
“Hey, kid.” Eric caught her just before she stepped outside. “Thanks for the party.”
Her annoyance faded, replaced by a warm affection for her brother. Ignoring the kid label, she murmured, “It’s the least we could do.”
“Did you behave yourself while I was gone? Not doing anything too dangerous or crazy, are you?”
Even after just returning from a war zone, her brother’s concerns were about her. He was so damn protective. Always had been.
She lifted an eyebrow. “I’m always on my best behavior, remember?”
“Wait, are we talking about the same Madison Phillips?” He tweaked a strand of her hair. “I worry about you, kid.”
“I know you do. And it’s very sweet. Have you made the rounds socializing with all the relatives?”
“Most of them. I’ve been avoiding Stacia, though. Never could handle her.”
Her lips twitched into a smile. “Yeah, good call on that one.”
“Well. I guess I’d better get back to the party. Be inside in about an hour, okay? I’ve got a surprise.”
“All right, have fun.” She gave him a quick hug, and slipped outside onto the balcony.
She rested her arms on the stone railing and stared out into the night, taking a moment to consider her new status as a single woman. She needed to move on, and fast. What was that saying? The best way to get over someone was to get under someone. Easier said than done, though.
Her thoughts were momentarily distracted by the view in front of her. She’d never get used to it. Her parents’ home sat atop Queen Anne Hill and looked out over the Seattle skyline. Tonight the buildings twinkled through a clear night, and the Space Needle seemed close enough to touch.
She sighed and inhaled the warm spring air. Her mind turned back to the idea of meeting a man just for fun. Rebound sex. Hmm, not a bad idea, but could she actually do it? Having casual sex had never been her thing.
Though it was inevitable that the next person she tried to sleep with would pretty much just turn out to be the transition guy. Why not choose the time and the man, and get it over with? She could find someone available, attractive, and with no strings attached. Besides, getting laid would be good for her.
Images flitted through her head. Images of a man’s weight pinning her to the bed while he moved deep inside her. Her sex clenched, wanting something to fill the constant ache.
“You know…I think I’m gonna do it,” she muttered aloud.
She spun from the railing, her eyes widening with surprise as she made out the shape of a man half-hidden in the shadows.
He stepped forward into the light and her breath caught.
Thank you, God. Whoever had coined the expression tall, dark, and handsome must’ve meant this man. His eyes were a dark coffee brown, the expression in them closed off and unreadable. He had short hair, just darker than his eyes. Even if the trace of accent hadn’t colored his voice, his features gave away his Latino heritage. And the body? He had Bradley beat hands down.
Her body, already jacked up from the possibility of having sex, grew warm and tingly.
“Are you done?”
Madison’s gaze snapped back up to meet his. Done? She hadn’t even gotten started. If she planned on going through with this, then he had to be her man. Gabriel Martinez—her brother’s best friend. Her mind compared the Gabe from several years ago to the Gabe now standing in front of her. He was, without a doubt, a sex god. A sex god who would be her rebound. Well, if he could be persuaded.
“Am I done?” She licked her lips. “What do you mean?”
“Giving me a visual inspection.”
His voice ran deep, with the slightest bit of abrasiveness to it. You knew right away this was a man you didn’t want to piss off. Good thing he sounded somewhat amused.
“Well, now.” She stepped forward and tilted her head, giving him a small smile.
“What if I said that you require closer inspection?”
“Nice.” He shook his head and then smiled. “Were you always this much of a flirt, Maddie?”
“Sorry, Gabe. I haven’t seen you in a while and am just discovering that being a cop has been good to you.” Her gaze drifted down his body again. Tall, muscular, hard. “Very good to you.”