Paige’s jaw dropped. Vanessa’s husband was Colonel Jack Scatalone, a longtime Special Forces officer and team leader. He was still one of the Medusas’ primary instructors. And Rowe had worked for him?
“Are you telling me Thomas Rowe is … was … one of us?”
“He was. He’s not an active operator anymore.”
Paige asked grimly, “So, if he wanted to go off the reservation, he’d know how to do it?”
Vanessa sounded surprised. “You seriously think he’s turned? That he killed Ando?”
“I think we can’t rule it out.”
“Jack’s going to have a cow at the idea. He thinks the world of Tom.”
“So don’t tell him about it just yet. Let me poke around a little and see what I can find out.”
Vanessa sighed. “That’s not how Jack and I do business, but thanks for the offer. Call me if you learn anything new.”
She lifted the phone away from her ear thoughtfully.
“And what are you poking into now?” a male voice asked from directly behind her.
Paige whirled, startled, and almost dropped her phone in her shock. Thomas Rowe. “That’s none of your business, Mr.
“Ah. So the journalist likes her secrets, too, does she? Are we being a hypocrite, perhaps?”
She scowled at him. “You wish. I’m just doing my job. What’s your excuse?”
He laughed, a low masculine sound that scraped across her skin, leaving goose bumps in its wake. “You’re missing all the fun, Miss Ellis. Come inside.”
“Because I want to dance with you.” That made her stare. “What on earth for?”
“To start rumors and wreck your credibility should you attempt to do some sort of negative report on me.”
“I thought you don’t give a damn what the press says about you.”
“I don’t want them to say anything about me at all. That’s entirely different.”
“Dancing with me isn’t going to shut me up.”
He grinned. “I doubt much of anything could do that.”
“And on that insulting note, Mr. Rowe, you can take your invitation to dance and shove it.”
She turned and strode away from him with as much aplomb as she could muster. But she didn’t count on him following her inside. Furthermore, she didn’t count on him reaching out fast to wrap his arm around her waist tightly enough that it would take violence on her part to shake it off. Heads were already turning their way, and if she wasn’t mistaken, eyebrows—and tongues—were wagging.
“Don’t be a spoilsport,” he murmured. “Dance with me. It’s a waltz.”
“And your point?”
Of course he ignored her question entirely and instead commented, “Did you know the waltz was declared scandalous when it was introduced? It was thought to be too sensual for proper ladies. So. Are you a proper lady or not, Miss Ellis?”
She opened her mouth to suggest as politely as she could that he remove his hand from her waist before she broke his fingers, but before she could, he spun her around him and onto the dance floor. Despite his dashingly lean appearance, the guy was shockingly strong.
And she was waltzing.
With Thomas Rowe.
Playboy. Billionaire. Bastard.
And all she could think about was how incredible sex with him would be.
Chapter 4 (#ulink_90fa807e-4d8e-51a2-a914-ba99d81cf0f0)
Tom grinned as the waltz shifted into a slow ballad, the kind where the guy pulls the girl as close as he thinks she’ll let him without slugging him, and the dancing is actually just swaying and shuffling while checking out each other’s bodies. Paige made to step back, but he tightened his arm around her waist to prevent the movement.
“What are you doing?” she whispered furiously.
Amused, he murmured back, “Your reputation isn’t wrecked, yet. One dance with me could just be a polite thing after I granted you an interview. But two dances means there’s something going on between us.”
“You are such a jerk!”
“You’re just now figuring that out? You mustn’t have done your homework on me before our interview, Paige.” Her entire body vibrated in his arms, almost like she was growling. He grinned down at her. “You’re cute when you’re mad.”
Her eyes narrowed to distinctly feline slits. For just a moment, alarm resonated in his gut. If she’d been a man and looked at him like that, he’d have given second thoughts to provoking the guy any further. But as it was, she barely came up to his chin and couldn’t weigh much more than half of his solidly muscled 220 pounds.
His left hand slid down the slinky satin of her gown, caressing the inward curve of her spine. Her body arched slightly away from the touch, which brought her belly very nicely into intimate contact with his groin. Blue lightning snapped and crackled in her eyes.
He probably ought to stop. But damned if he didn’t want to see just what she’d do if she exploded on him. His hand slid lower. The pert bulge of her derriere filled his hand like it had been made for him. Her flesh was firm and resilient and, about as quickly as he registered its sexy texture, went rock hard under his palm.
Her gaze went black. Cold. Furious.
Oooh whee, she was pissed off. It was a sight to see. He had himself an armful of fireball, now….
Her gaze left his for a moment, focusing on something over his left shoulder. Alarm flashed in her eyes, at sharp odds with the fury pouring off her.
And then, without warning, she went limp in his arms, a hundred plus pounds of deadweight jerking him downward. It wasn’t that he couldn’t hold her weight. In fact, he did it easily. It was just that he had to adjust to the surprise of it.
A slight breeze whiffed over the top of his head. What the—
Something hooked behind his right ankle. Jerked sharply. Twin fists smashed into his shoulders. He flew backward, slamming onto his back at full length on the dance floor.
Something heavy landed on top of him. Breasts smashed into his face, and he smelled the most luscious combination of warm female and sexy perfume he’d ever encountered.