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Tropical Heat Book 5
BY SOPHIA KNIGHTLY
She is a fire in his blood.
Former tennis champion Roman Spenser is back in town and hellbent on making amends with the woman he wronged years ago. polishing up his tainted reputation. His upcoming charity event will give him the media boost he needs to polish his tainted reputation. But he suddenly has his hands full when his widowed mother begins to behave oddly. The only person he can turn to for help is the one woman he shattered years ago.
As a co-owner of a senior concierge service, Piper Chandler is a bleeding heart nurturer. She’s never been known to turn away a senior citizen in need, but she balks when the man who broke her heart suddenly comes into her life seeking her help. Unable to resist the sexy “Roman Lion,” Piper finds herself growing closer to him–and his mother all over again. But as strange events occur, Piper realizes that something is amiss. Someone is out to sabotage Roman’s event, and Piper is determined to uncover the truth.
Can Roman convince Piper to put the painful past behind her and look forward to a second chance with the one man she’s always loved? Sometimes the lion’s cage needs to be rattled.
This scene is the first time Piper sees Roman after they broke up several years ago and he went on to become a world class tennis champion.
Piper slowly walked into the Bearded Dragon Ale House and paused at the entrance. The rustic décor and casual atmosphere were perfect to unwind in after a day’s work. Many patrons, mostly in their late 20s and 30s, were clustered around the large nautical themed bar, swaying to reggaeton music, guzzling beer and munching on bar food – spicy Buffalo wings, steamed shrimp, crab cakes and beef sliders.
A fit of nerves hit Piper full force as she searched the room for Roman. She filled her quaking lungs with a steadying breath when she spotted him at one of the tables on the right side of the dance floor. Leaning back in his chair with athletic ease, he chatted with a young girl in tight ripped jeans and a snug white T-shirt with a bearded dragon drawn over her full breasts.
The redhead was openly flirting with Roman, and Piper wasn’t surprised. Roman’s innate friendliness and charm never failed to draw others, especially women. He won them over with a mere crook of his charismatic smile. But why would he be encouraging her flirting when he planned on meeting with Piper?
Indignation sent blood rushing up from Piper’s chest to her throat, face and ears. Staring daggers at them, Piper counted to ten so the hot flush on her face would dissipate.
When she felt composed enough not to scowl, she put steel in her spine and marched past the male patrons at the bar who gave her an appraising once-over. Her long oatmeal sweater skimmed over her skinny jeans that were tucked into slouchy taupe suede ankle boots with three-inch heels. At 6’2” Roman would tower over her, but at least she wouldn’t look like a shorty next to him.
As she got closer, she willed her wobbly legs to slow down to a saunter. Let him see that you’re in no rush to see him.
When she was about two feet away, Roman looked up and their eyes met and held for a searing moment. Topaz-flecked eyes glowed in his tanned face as he rose from his chair to greet her.
Piper’s breath caught. The reckless boy she’d loved so deeply had metamorphosed into a compelling man. Gone were the shaggy layers of long, chestnut hair. He wore it cropped close now, throwing his chiseled bone structure into bold relief. The press hadn’t dubbed him The Roman Lion for his leonine eyes and thick mane of caramel hair, though those attributes would have been enough. It was his hard-muscled physique, athletic grace and fierce competitiveness on the courts that earned him the title of The Roman Lion.
Blessed with insane eye/hand coordination, a deadly forehand and a formidable serve, the Lion had dominated all court surfaces and dazzled crowds around the world. Though retired from competing, Roman appeared in high-end ads, the latest for Tesla automobiles. Every time the TV commercial appeared to haunt Piper with his memory, she quickly changed the channel.
When Piper got to the table, the girl made a hasty exit, leaving Piper feeling at loose ends with Roman. She scrambled to pull herself together and not give into the bittersweet jumble of emotions threatening to undo her. Her pulse jackknifed when his gaze slowly roved over her from head to toe.
He leaned forward to kiss her hello on the cheek, but she stepped back and half-toppled into the chair across from him. Quickly righting herself, she felt his searching eyes peruse the mass of long, ebony waves that cascaded over her shoulders and down her back. Normally, she would have tamed her wayward curls with a flat iron for a first date, but this wasn’t a date.
She hadn’t bothered with makeup either. Her only adornment was her handcrafted rose gold dangling earrings – hollowed out long diamond shapes that reached midway down her neck and a serpent ring that wound around her pointer finger and ended with a ruby eye at the tip.
“Gypsy.” Roman’s deep voice rumbled out huskily causing her a flutter deep in her belly. “Thanks for joining me here.”
I’m not your gypsy…not anymore, she wanted to remind him. She should have never worn her hair down, but she knew Roman had a weakness for her hair. Years ago, he’d called her Gypsy when he’d tenderly kissed her for the first time, threading his long fingers through her wild mane of hair and anchoring her to him. The nickname – and sweet memory – had stuck ever since.
Piper coolly lifted her chin, reminding herself of the flirting scene she’d walked in on. Did he really think he could pick up where they’d left off?
The corners of Roman’s mouth inched upward as he watched her. Nothing she did escaped him. He’d always been fine-tuned to her moods, accepting that she had the temperamental soul of an artist. He’d often said being around her creative energy was exciting.
In mounting silence, they stared at each other until a smile spread over his face. “You look wonderful,” he said.
“What would you like to drink? Wine, beer…a cocktail?”
“Nothing…thanks.” Piper squared her shoulders. “This isn’t a social visit, Roman. You summoned me with an urgent message, and I’m here.”
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, Sophia Knightly cooks up hot romance and delicious humor in her sexy contemporary romances that pair hot, alpha heroes with strong, smart women and throw them on an emotional journey. Traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, and Samhain Publishing, her popular Tropical Heat Series and Heartthrob Series have consistently been on multiple best selling lists. Sophia loves writing books that end with a sigh and a smile. In addition to traveling, foodie adventures, and the arts in all forms, one of her favorite pastimes is simply watching people–especially those in love!
Links to Sophia’s website, blog, books, etc.
Write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @SophiaKnightly
“Like” her Facebook author page at: http://on.fb.me/vGfJ5t
Visit her website at: http://www.sophiaknightly.net
Sign up for her New Release & Giveaways Newsletter at: http://sophiaknightly.net/newsletter-sign-up.html
Thanks, Sophia, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!