First Temptation(9)

By: Joan Swan

He grinned, and his arm slid away from Zoe’s waist. “I’m not that bad.” He glanced at her, his eyes heavy lidded. They immediately dropped to her mouth, and he licked his lips. “But she sure as hell just lit me up, so I’m not arguing. I’m going to splash cold water on my face. I’ll man the store while you get the third degree.”

When Walker turned away, Mara passed another head-to-toe glance over Zoe and whispered, “You’re too pretty to be police.”

The woman’s Hispanic accent came out in the way she pronounced poh-leaz, making Zoe smile. Mara was probably in her early thirties but looked barely twenty-five. She was a beauty, with a slightly exotic look.

“Thank you.” Zoe smoothed a hand over her slim gray slacks, pinstriped in light blue to match her V-neck sleeveless blouse. It crisscrossed tightly over her breasts, then hung loose to her waist in a handkerchief hem. The sheer fabric made the blouse both pretty and sexy. “You don’t need to worry about the store. I have a lot of retail experience, and Agent Walker and I—”

“Shh.” The woman darted glances around the store like she expected Vice to rush in.

Mara dragged Zoe into an adjoining room. Across one entire wall, clear plastic shelves displayed…

Holy. Shit.

Zoe’s mouth dropped open. She averted her gaze from that wall and turned so the million-and-one dildos were out of her direct line of sight.

Okay, she’d expected a few. But so many? And on display? Why weren’t they in boxes or something?

“You can’t say those kinds of things in here, señorita,” Mara said, her dark eyes imploring, her voice warm but strong. “Half my customers feel guilty of a crime by simply walking in the store. If they suspect you and Taft are policia, I’ll go bankrupt.”

Walker’s deep laugh rolled through the store. Mara’s eyes narrowed. She crossed her arms, leaned backward, and glared through the walkway leading out of the dildo mecca.

This assignment wouldn’t last long. Zoe had chased violent, sociopathic, money-grubbing, drug-toting, raping, murdering cartel members through the night for eight years. She could certainly maintain a presence with a few stationary, crazy-looking, space-age devices for a couple of weeks.

“He’s trouble, that one,” Mara muttered. “I knew it the minute he stepped in the door. Don’t let him extend my Fifty Shades BDSM lair over the entire store while I’m gone.”


Zoe knew she should have spent the afternoon on Google instead of sleeping.

“Of course not. We won’t change your…um…displays. Hopefully, this will go quickly so we can get out of here and get you back in.”

Mara’s dark eyes narrowed on Zoe, and her shoulders slid low. “Oh no. You’ve got to be kidding me.” She lapsed into Spanish, muttering worst-case scenarios of how her store would never survive.

Zoe had been made as a sex-store virgin. All-freaking-ready.

“Mara, shh. You have customers.”

“How could they send me the Devil Incarnate and the Virgin Mary?” Mara’s gaze was more pleading than angry. “Is this a secret plot to destroy my store?”

Zoe couldn’t control the burn engulfing her face. “Just because I’ve never needed toys to enjoy sex, doesn’t mean I can’t learn about and sell them.”

Mara had both hands pressed against her cheeks in a look of utter desperation when Walker strolled into the opening between the rooms with a look of suspicious curiosity.

“Girl talk here. Go away, handsome.” Zoe brushed the air with her fingertips, shooing him out. “We’re working.”

His lopsided smile set Zoe’s insides aflame before he disappeared back into the main area of the store.

“All right, señorita,” Mara muttered and dropped her hands. “There’s only one thing to do.”

A rock formed in Zoe’s gut.

Mara’s deep brown eyes fixed on her face as she gripped Zoe’s arms with both hands. “Prepare yourself for a crash course in sexual nirvana.”

TAFT SAT ON A STOOL BEHIND THE REGISTER, tightening a bit in the drill he’d brought from home as Brooks coaxed Mara out the back door with her tenth promise in the last ten minutes to call with the smallest question. Brooks definitely had a way with the woman. They’d bonded within ten minutes of Brooks dragging her sexy self into the shop. Mara had taken her under her wing, and they’d gone over every product on every shelf.

He slid his tongue over his lips, wondering if Brooks had soaked through her panties. If he’d had to endure that kind of inventory blow-by-blow, he’d have balls as blue as the Pacific. And if Brooks was all worked up, maybe he’d get lucky. After that kiss, he was more than ready to see what other secrets she had hiding under the hood.