Haunting the Mayfair
(Previously released from Ellora’s Cave as Reckless Assignation – newly revised and re-edited)
A sexy Halloween tale
Rick loves Cindi, but he worries about her. Apart from his past, there is the very real problem of her insatiable curiosity, so for Halloween he decides to teach her a lesson she’ll never forget...
Rick Leighton is a world-class, sophisticated intelligence operative with a questionable past. He’s tried retiring, leaving it all behind, and for a time he did. But the past has a way of catching up to you, and he was the company whore for a long time when he was an active agent. Much to his surprise he’s fallen in love with the daughter of his mentor, a girl fifteen years his junior, but her love and devotion to him–her acceptance of him–has taught him the kind of love he once scoffed at.
Rick loves Cindi, but he also worries about her. Apart from his past, there is the very real problem of her insatiable curiosity, and for Halloween, he decides to teach her a lesson in being more careful. He lures her to an old hotel that’s been abandoned for decades, and reputed to be haunted. She goes, led by the intrigue and her curiosity, just as he knows she’ll be.
When Rick grabs her in the hallway, her anger is quickly overwhelmed by the scope of his private party and all it entails. In the afterglow of their passion, though, the ghosts of the place become all too real, and Rick’s past clashes violently with the love that defines his present.
When Cindi is taken hostage by a woman he once used and left, one who blames him for the death of her son, blood and death are the only way back to safety.
You should know better than this.
She couldn’t escape the twinge of conscience that reminded her how often she played out of her league. When her father had retired from the Agency and started his own private investigation business, he’d thought his daughter would be safe from the ghosts of his violent past. More than once though, Cinthya had paid for the deeds and decisions of Joshua Bradley’s previous career. Her relationship with Rick wasn’t a point of reassurance either in the creaking darkness of the forsaken hotel.
There were people who knew Rick and his reputation. Sometimes it was a point of protection, but here that was irrelevant. It was with Joshua’s very reluctant blessing that his twenty-year-old daughter had stepped into a loving relationship with his former business partner, the shadowy, sophisticated and lethal Rick Leighton. The more than fifteen-year age difference was only the first objection her father had voiced when Cinthya had been forced by her own conscience to open up to him—conscience and the undeniable need to share her happiness with the other important person in her life.
Rick’s recent decision to leave Bradley’s Private Investigations and reenter the life of an active operative set up an entirely new array of potential dangers for Cinthya. It was a risk she was more than willing to take, but not something that lessened the worry from her father and Rick.
She leapt back in fright when something clingy and featherlight brushed against her face. With a cry of disgust, she batted away the filmy cobwebs and peered into the shadowy stairwell. She was on the second floor—only one more flight to climb. Then she’d have to find room 313.
Some people claimed the Mayfair Hotel was haunted, and those who lived in the area could tell endless stories about “sightings” and other mysterious events in the ancient edifice.
Another shudder ran the length of her spine when she heard skittering near her feet. Rats! The place had to be infested with rats. She glanced around, her breath still as she searched the growing darkness for the beady red eyes she was sure she’d find watching her. There was nothing staring at her from the blackness of the corners and she sagged against the wall as she gasped for air.
God! Rick was right, I should never have stayed up all night watching horror movies.
He’d consented to sit through the original version of The Phantom of the Opera—he deemed that particular film “a classic”—but Cinthya had been on her own after that. It had been nearing daybreak when she’d finally crawled into bed—and about another thirty seconds before she flew out again, tripping in the sheets and falling flat on her face at his unexpected grab. Rick had almost fallen out of bed himself from laughing at her. He was still laughing when he’d left the apartment earlier this afternoon.
Cinthya dismissed the monsters and ghouls of the previous night and concentrated on locating the room where she was supposed to find her mystery caller. A sag in the weathered wood of the floor creaked in the hollow corridor. She bit her bottom lip to prevent any sound from escaping. Her hammering heartbeat gradually subsided and some of her fear-induced dizziness passed. A chill skittered across her skin when she stared up at the shadowy ceiling, her gaze drawn to the vast network of cobwebs that had been woven over the years. It looked like wisps of cotton, stretched to the point of breaking, except that this thready cloak was dulled with years of dust and grime.
A distinct thud at the other end of the long hallway had her heading in that direction.
When she was still several doors away from Room 313, she was grabbed from behind.