Chapter 1 - Seven Nights of Sin (Penthouse Affair #2)


Presley is standing on the curb as I pull up to the gas station. I took the Porsche, not the SUV; she doesn’t get to see that part of my life anymore. She lost that privilege about the same time she destroyed whatever trust we had built, shattered it like a crystal glass thrown against a concrete floor. It’s messy, the ugly remnants still there, mocking me by reminding me of what happened and of what we had.

I still feel so deceived, so hurt and angry. But I’m here.

I’m still not entirely sure why I’m here, but I guess it’s because she sounded so desperate on the phone, the sound of tears evident in her shaky voice. Not that she told me much on the call, only that she needed me to come get her. Curious and a little bit worried, I called Francine to come over, then grabbed a jacket and took off once she arrived to watch the girls.

I had a lot of questions, and even more spring to mind now that I see how Presley is dressed. She’s wearing the same little black cocktail dress and heels she wore on our weekend at Roger’s lake house.

Was she on a date?

My hands grip the steering wheel harder. It shouldn’t matter; we’re broken up now. I don’t even want to be involved with her anymore, but none of that reasoning stops the twinge of jealousy I feel low in my stomach.

When I get closer, I see her makeup is smudged beneath her eyes. She’s been crying, either before or after her frantic phone call to me, I’m not sure. And she’s shaking like a leaf. What the hell is going on? How long has she been standing outside? More importantly, why is she standing out here all alone?

It may be summer in Seattle but the nights, like tonight, can be chilly. Her arms are bare, but still, she waited out here. For me.

When I park beside the curb, she scurries to the passenger door and quickly gets into the car.

“Thank you so much,” she says through chattering teeth, rubbing her exposed arms. “I didn’t know who else to call. I know it’s late. I’m really grateful.”

I nod in acknowledgment. I should ask where to drop her off, but for some reason, I can’t bring myself to take Presley to her apartment and leave it at that with no explanation. Telling myself it’s because I want answers first, I turn toward her.

“So, what’s going on?” I ask. I deserve at least some answers as to why I was her first phone call, don’t I?

She stares ahead, not meeting my eyes, fidgeting with her purse strap. “W-well, my phone was dead, and the only number I could remember was yours, so . . .”

“That explains why you called me, but it doesn’t explain why you needed my help. I want to know what happened.”

Although I’d never abandon a woman stranded alone at night, I make no effort to soften my tone. My genetic makeup won’t allow me to ever walk away from or hang up on a female in need, but I also don’t have to forgive her betrayal just because she’s in trouble.

Presley’s gaze drops to her lap and her hands wring her purse strap so hard, I’m surprised it doesn’t break. “I . . .” She pauses, hesitating.

I say nothing, just wait. We can sit here all night if that’s what it takes. The only sound is the subtle purr of the Porsche’s engine. It’s a sound that used to calm me. But tonight I feel anything but. On edge,

anxious, pissed off, sexually frustrated—hell, maybe even a combination of all of them.

Finally, she mutters, “I was doing a gig for Allure.”

My gut twists so hard at her admission that I’m glad I waited to start driving, because I’m pretty damn sure I’d have wrapped this car around a tree with the physical reaction I have to this bombshell. Rage burns hot inside me, and it takes a minute to respond because my heart is hammering so hard, blood roars through my ears.

“You what? Allure? Like as an escort?”

She winces. “I needed the money! I thought I’d lost my job, because of, well, the whole Genesis thing.” She twists to face me, her eyes pleading. “Dominic, I’m so sorry ab—”

“Stop. We’re not doing this right now.”

Her mouth snaps shut.

After a tense few moments, I grit out, “We can talk about it later.”

Surprise flits over her face. “At work?”

“No. Tonight. I’m taking you to my place.” I pull back out onto the street.

A different kind of surprise flashes across her features now, mixed with emotions I can’t read.

Is she happy about that? Apprehensive? Just plain confused? I don’t know. I can barely sort out the chaos inside my own head, let alone try to figure out what’s going on in hers.

But I do know the last thing I want to do is take her back to a darkened apartment, not knowing what the catalyst was for her to be out here, all alone, after having just left God knows what type of situation

that would warrant her calling me from an out-of-the-way gas station. This possessive feeling I have over her is entirely inappropriate, but in this moment? I give zero fucks.

I’m driving too fast. But I’m angry, and hurt, and beyond frustrated with her.

Why would she have put herself in an escort-type situation? Why do I even care where she was tonight? Those files and the jump drive she had her bag are all I should give a damn about. I am still pissed about that, beyond pissed, but this . . . stings, in a different way.

And deep within my anger is a tiny grain of relief that even though she was with another man, in whatever capacity, at least he wasn’t a man she really cared for. Which just makes me even more furious—this time at myself.