The Hill

By: Carol Ericson

When they hit the dance floor, Judd pulled London snug against his body.

Wrapping one arm around her slender waist, he reached up with his other arm to tuck her head against his shoulder. Her breath warmed his skin through the thin material of his shirt.

He rested his cheek against her bright hair and the golden strands stuck to the stubble of his beard. Reaching between their bodies, he opened her leather jacket and drew her close again, his chest pressing against her soft breasts beneath the silvery material of her dress.

She shifted and her soft lips touched the side of his neck.

He gritted his teeth to suppress the shudder threatening to engulf his body … and for the first time in a very long time and a very long line of women, he felt on the edge of losing control.

Then the door to the bar burst open and London’s driver, bloodied and battered, staggered into the room and dropped to the floor.

Chapter One

“Your father was murdered. You could be next.”

London Breck jerked her head up from the slip of paper and caught the waiter’s arm as he turned away. “I’m sorry. Who gave this to you?”

The young man’s eyes widened and London released her death grip on his white jacket.

“Like I told you, Ms. Breck. I found the folded piece of paper on my tray with your name written on the outside. I—I don’t know who put it there...and I didn’t read it.”

She crumpled the note in her fist and dropped it into her evening clutch, trading it for a ten-dollar bill. “That’s okay. Thanks for delivering it to me.”

The waiter pocketed the money and scurried away without looking back.

Someone had decided to play a joke with that note, or it signaled the opening gambit of some sort of scam. London tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. If this con man believed he could pull a fast one on her or Breck Global Enterprises, he hadn’t met their legal team.

She straightened her spine and turned to face the room, smiling so hard her cheeks hurt. It was an occupational hazard—if one could call glad-handing and raising money an occupation. But it was the only one she’d ever had, the only one she’d ever trained for.

She swept a champagne flute from a passing tray with practiced ease and turned her attention to the crowd jamming the Fairmont Hotel’s ballroom. Which well-heeled donor or wannabe had left that note? Scanning the room, her gaze tripped over the hottie in the corner.

Even though his crisp tux conformed to the dress code for the evening, he had outsider scribbled all over his amazing body. The tux couldn’t mask the sheer power of the man, and it had very little to do with the way the material puckered and stretched across his massive shoulders, crying out for a good tailor.

His stance, his demeanor—okay, the dark sunglasses—marked him as a member of the bevy of body-and security guards that littered the room, jealously watching their clients or their clients’ jewels or both. Probably not the author of the note, but definitely worth a closer inspection.

The note almost forgotten, London squinted at the pretty people bedecked in diamonds and designer duds and wondered which one had invited that powerful panther into the midst of the pampered trust-fund babies and oily politicians.

“Don’t you know squinting like that will bring on the wrinkles, my dear?”

London rolled a sip of champagne on her tongue as she eyed her cousin. Speaking of trust-fund babies...

“Have you seen Roger tonight?”

“Your square-jawed, preppy suitor?” Niles shook his head. “For someone practically running the company, he sure misses a lot of soirees, doesn’t he?”

She drew her fingertip around the rim of her glass. She didn’t want to talk about the company. “Did you bid on something fabulous, Niles?”

“Of course I did. It’s all rather too late, though, isn’t it?” He plucked a cracker brimming with caviar from the tray on the table and studied it before popping it into his mouth.

“Too late?” She steadied herself for one of her cousin’s acidic barbs.

He brushed his fingers together. “Here we are raising all this money for heart disease, but your father, Spencer Breck, already bit the dust, leaving you gazillions of dollars and handing you the reins of Breck Global. Should’ve had this fund-raiser before he kicked the bucket.”

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