Maddy Terrell is forty years old with an adult son and a time-consuming career. The last thing she is looking for is a relationship. In fact, all she wants is a ride—from Los Angeles to San Francisco so she can attend her niece’s wedding. But the ride she was counting on has just stood her up, and her only choice is to accept a lift from Tonio Herrera.
He’s Latino. He’s hot. He’s also twenty-four, just too much of a stretch for Maddy to even contemplate, no matter how attracted she is to him.
Tonio’s not driving Maddy to San Francisco out of the kindness of his heart. In fact, he has a very specific ulterior motive. Maddy is the most attractive woman he has ever met. After months of flirting, he’s determined that this weekend in San Francisco will finally get her attention.
Then comes the hard part—convincing Maddy he wants more than just a weekend fling.
If he had been a gambling man, Tonio would have gone out and bought a lottery ticket as soon as they checked into the Mark Hopkins. Because he hadn’t had luck this phenomenal in months.
When Shawn had called with his dilemma, it had taken everything Tonio had not to offer his services before Shawn could even ask. Drive Maddy Terrell to San Francisco? Spend countless hours sitting next to the woman who had been driving him crazy with fantasies ever since Christmas? This was the opportunity of a lifetime. If he hadn’t been able to convince Maddy to give him a shot after having the entire drive to get to know him, he never would.
He had never considered the reservation at the Top of the Mark as a sure thing. He wasn’t even convinced she would go through with it. He’d hoped, certainly, and he’d had high hopes when she didn’t slap him down right away, but there had been a niggle of doubt all the way through checking in at the hotel. While they’d ridden up the elevator in comfortable silence. It had lasted until the moment they reached Maddy’s door, she smiled back at him, and said, “Give me half an hour to freshen up.”
Tonio washed up and dressed in record time. He’d chosen his clothes very carefully for the weekend, knowing that a woman of Maddy’s experience wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the best, and wore black dress pants with a light tan dress shirt, the finest of white pinstripes running through the soft fabric. He left the collar undone and forewent the tie. He didn’t want to look like he was trying too hard. But the ensemble highlighted both his build and his coloring, and Maddy didn’t seem immune to his looks. He was going to use every advantage he had.
With two minutes left on his half hour, he pocketed his wallet and room key. His stomach was doing the jitterbug, but a glance in the mirror said that it didn’t show. It was now or never. Do or die. And God, he really hated all those craptastic movie clichés. Even if they were mostly true.
Maddy had the adjoining room, and he reached her door exactly thirty minutes after they parted. He knew she would change out of her jeans and into something more formal, but he was entirely unprepared for the vision she presented when she answered his knock. She wore a sleeveless, dark green dress that ended several inches above her knees, showcasing her perfect legs. Had she known his fascination with her legs? Had he been that blatant in his appreciation? He didn’t think so.
Even so, Tonio forced his attention upward, over her tempting curves, past the cleavage the sweetheart neckline teased him with. She’d pulled her hair up, and a few curls escaped from the knot to hang softly against her cheeks. He itched to touch her. He wanted to know if the memory he had from their gas stop of how silken she’d felt against his fingertips was a valid one. But this wasn’t the time or place for it, not yet.
Maddy smiled at him. “You clean up nice.”
Pleasure burned in his gut. She’d noticed.
“I’d say the same for you, but you looked amazing back in LA. This, however…” He gestured toward the dress. “If you look half this good at the wedding tomorrow, nobody is going to be looking at your niece.”
“You’re very sweet.” She stepped into the hallway and shut the door behind her. “My dress for tomorrow night is not quite so…revealing.”
Taking her hand would have been too forward, so Tonio moved easily at her side as he led her down the hall for the elevators. Her perfume was delicate, something floral with just a hint of musk, but it still managed to make him want to press her into the wall then and there and bury his nose in her neck.
He settled for allowing their arms to brush against each other, ever so casually. It was enough to make his cock twitch.
“What time does everything start tomorrow?” he asked as they waited for the elevator to arrive.
“The ceremony is scheduled for ten, then we set sail at six for the reception.”
The doors whooshed open. Tonio rested his hand in the small of her back and guided her onto the car.
“Then I don’t have to worry about keeping you up too late tonight.”
“You promised to have me safely tucked in by ten thirty. Though I might be willing to extend that to eleven.”
“Might be? That’s going to be a definite.” He pressed the button for the nineteenth floor. “You haven’t tasted the food yet. Or heard the band.” He smiled down at her. “Or seen the dance floor.”
“You sound like quite the expert. Have you brought dates here before?”
“Dates? No. My Aunt Lily has a soft spot for the city. She uses me as an excuse to come in and splurge a little bit.”
She arched her eyebrow. “So is my image of you all wrong? Here I’m thinking you’re quite the player, and you really spend your free time entertaining old ladies?”
Tonio held a hand to his chest in mock pain. “A player? What the hell has Shawn been saying about me?”
“Hmm.” She tapped her chin. “Let me see if I can remember. He did mention that you got more tail than you knew what to do with, but he didn’t know I was listening to that conversation.”
“To Shawn, ‘more’ means anything other than a girl a year,” he teased back. Turning to face her, he took a dangerous step closer, unable to resist. “And if you have any doubts about me knowing what I’m doing, I’d be more than happy to turn this elevator around and show you, Maddy.”
Her gaze traveled up and down his body, and Tonio knew she was mentally undressing him. He could almost feel the clothes being removed from his body, an item at a time. He didn’t fidget or back away from the appraisal, and her slow smile made his pulse quicken. “You can show me. On the dance floor.”
Beside them, the doors whispered open, the distant sounds of the band filling the car. That was the only reason Tonio found the fortitude to pull away, but it didn’t stop him from capturing her fine-boned hand in his to lead her toward the hostess.
“Two for Herrera at nine.”
The plump blonde looked over the listings in the book in front of her before turning a brilliant smile to Tonio. “Right this way, sir.”
Without letting go of Maddy’s hand, he followed the hostess along the edge of the dance floor, aware of the multiple gazes turning in their direction. At least two men raked their attention down Maddy’s legs, but all that did was make Tonio caress the side of her palm with his thumb.
Tonight, she was his. He was going to enjoy it for as long as she let him.
The hostess stopped at a table along the outer wall. Through the long windows, the lights of the city twinkled in rainbow hues, brighter for the velvet sky blanketing overhead. Tonio held the chair out for Maddy, but her eyes were fixed on the view, delight shining in their light green depths.
“Was it worth it?” he asked, taking the chair opposite.
“Was it worth being stuck with you all weekend?” She bent closer and lowered her voice. “Between you and me, a trip to McDonalds would have been worth it.”
Tonio leaned in until only a couple inches separated them. “Does that mean I can redeem my real kiss now?” The decision not to kiss her at the gas station had been a risky one. She had clearly expected him to do it, but at the last moment, Tonio knew a roadside peck wouldn’t suffice. If he was gauging her correctly, the touch against her cheek fueled both her confusion and her desire. It kept her on edge. He liked it that way.
She tilted her head to the side, the corner of her mouth lifting. “Yes, it does.”
He didn’t reach for her, as much as his palms yearned to curve around her face and hold her still. Instead, Tonio stretched those few extra inches and touched his lips to hers, keeping it tender while lingering as long as he possibly dared.