15th Affair Page 2

She said, “Hang on a minute. I’m losing reception.”

Ali stepped into the elevator and stood with her back to the corner, her jacket parting to reveal the butt of a gun tucked into her waistband. The doors closed and the car rose swiftly and quietly upward.

When Ali got out at the fourteenth floor, she spoke to her daughter as she walked along the plush carpeted hallway.

“Miss Mitzi?”

She reached room 1420 and rapped on the door, and it opened.

Ali said into the phone, “Happy birthday. See you soon. Kiss, kiss. Bye-bye.”

She clicked off, stepped inside the room, and kicked the door closed behind her as she went into Michael’s arms.

“You’re late,” he said.


MICHAEL CHAN TOOK off Ali’s glasses and sucked in his breath. He couldn’t get over this woman—and he had tried. She smiled at him and he put his hands on both sides of her face and kissed the smile right off her.

One kiss ignited a string of them: deep, telling, momentous. Michael lifted Ali and she hooked her legs around his hips and he walked her into the luxurious blue-and-bronze suite backlit by the watercolor sunset over San Francisco.

Chan didn’t notice the view. Ali smelled like orchids or some exotic musk, and she had her tongue at his ear.

“Too much,” he muttered. “You’re too damned much.”

She was panting as he lowered her to the bed.

“Wait,” she said.

“Of course. I’m a patient man,” he said. His blood was surging, narrowing his focus. He put his hands on his hips and watched to see what she would do.

She looked up at him, her warm gaze flicking over his body and his strong features as if she were memorizing him. They met infrequently, but when they did, they pretended they were strangers. It was a game.

“At least tell me your name,” she said.

“You first.”

He pulled off her boots, tossed them aside. She sat up, shrugged off her coat, and shoved it over the edge of the bed. He plucked the gun from her waistband, looked through the sight, smelled the muzzle, and put it on the nightstand.

“Interesting,” he said. “Hand-tooled.”

He sat on the bed next to her and told her to lie down, and he lay next to her. He moved her bangs away from her eyes.

“Your name.”

She reached down and ran her hand across the front of his pants. He grabbed her wrist.

She said, “Ummmm, I’m Renata.”

“Giovanni,” he said. “Prince of Gorgonzola.”

She laughed. It was a terrific laugh. “Finally, I meet the Prince of Cheese.”

Michael kept a straight face. “Correct. And you should never keep royalty waiting.”

He stroked her cheek, then dipped his fingers beneath the neckline of her blouse.

“I think I may have met you once before,” she said.

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