Provocative Attraction. AlTonya Washington
Sophia and her team had just come leagues closer to wrapping up a complex money-laundering scheme that had implicated several members of the force. Sophia’s predecessor was among them.
Viva stepped up to draw her younger sister into a tight squeeze. “Congratulations, sweetie. Are you done for the night?” she asked once they broke from the embrace.
“Hardly,” Sophia sighed in a manner that sang with satisfaction. “I just wanted to get back. Mama went to all this trouble to put together this party for me. My people can handle the wrap-up and I’ll be back at the job in the morning.”
Sophia slid Rook another smile and squeezed his arm. “Think you can fit me in for a quick talk sometime tomorrow?”
“Sure. Might be early. I’ve got a five a.m. chat to Europe tomorrow.”
Sophia whistled, her eyes twinkling. “Good luck with that.”
“I’ll need it.” Rook smoothed a hand over his chest as though the idea pained him. “I should’ve been in bed hours ago.”
“Well, I plan to make it an early day myself,” Sophia said. “I’ll make time whenever you can drop in.”
“Count on it.” He nodded before gracing Viva’s face with his arresting gaze.
Sophia appeared as though she could read the look. “So, V, I’ll just see you inside, okay?”
“No, you stay,” Rook said. “I’m the one who needs to get going.” He gave Viva a smile. “Good seeing you. How long before you leave?”
Viva lifted her shoulders and let the move hold a few seconds before she lowered them.
“I’m not sure yet.”
“Don’t leave without saying goodbye, okay?”
“Count on it,” she returned the earlier confirmation he’d given to her sister. With effort, she kept a cool smile in place while he said good-night to Sophia and made his way from the terrace.
“He hasn’t changed.”
Sophia smiled at Viva’s remark. “Did you think he would?” she asked.
The ebony flecks in Viva’s warm chocolate stare appeared to sparkle beneath a sudden nudge of emotion. “I prayed he wouldn’t after everything that happened. Sophia, um...is he, um...is he seeing anybody?”
Sophia looked off in the direction where Rook had taken his exit. “I’d have to ask Tigo,” she said, referring to her fiancé and one of Rook’s oldest friends, Santigo Rodriguez. “Far as I know there hasn’t been anyone since you.”
Viva shot her sister a stunned expression.
“No one steady since you,” Sophia qualified.
Viva wasn’t wholly convinced of that either, but such a statement was easier to swallow than one suggesting there had been no one since her.
Rook Lourdess was a presence. He exuded a power that went beyond the obvious potency presented by the striking breadth of his physique. His massive build, combined with a jolting stare and remarkably crafted face, had a talent for unsettling women as thoroughly as it mesmerized them.
Still, it was the subtle aspect of his persona, Viva believed, that was even more alluring. Unarguably, the face and body were difficult acts to follow. The body was a well-honed six and a half feet of solid muscle sheathed in a rich caramel-toned casing that was only rivaled by the face. It was surrounded by a halo of blue-black that, despite the efforts to keep it close-cropped, remained an unruly cap of waves.
The carefully crafted face was accentuated by a heavy-lidded amber stare of such a hue, it seemed almost translucent. The nose emphasized strong, high cheekbones offset by a generous and fully kissable mouth—one Viva remembered was capable of exerting the most extreme forms of pleasure and release.
She cleared her throat, not sure if the moan she’d just given in to had been overheard by her sister or merely an echo in her own head.
“Sure you don’t want to catch up to him? He probably hasn’t gotten to his car yet.”
Viva snorted. “If I punch you, would that be considered assaulting an officer?”
Sophia gave in to a sly grin. “I’d make the charges stick.”
Viva countered with a shrug. “I’m sure I could find a lawyer to get me off.”
“Mmm... I thought you’d want Rook for that.”
A few seconds of silence followed the playfully lurid comment. Then, the sisters gave in to wild laughter that was as much about amusement as it was about happiness over the fact that they were together and that so many troubling aspects of the past were finally being laid to rest. So many...but not all.
“So did I interrupt anything here?” Sophia clasped her hands and eyed the terrace speculatively. “Anything...promising?”
Again, Viva snorted. “If you count small talk promising.”
“Ah, honey.” Sophia moved close to drop an arm around Viva’s shoulders and squeezed. “I’m sorry.”
“No need. It’s for the best.”
“I don’t think you believe that.” Sophia used her height advantage to drop a kiss to the top of her sister’s head. “Are you saying you hold absolutely no hope that you guys could have what you once did?”
“It’s been a long time.”
“And? A lot of time passed between me and Tigo too.”
Viva conceded with a smile. “Fair enough, but it still wouldn’t be a good idea, Soapy.”
“Not a good idea?” Sophia challenged once she’d chuckled over the name Viva had given her before she could correctly pronounce her little sister’s name. “You did just see the man, right? I’m surprised he walked out of here alone with all the...attention I saw him getting before I had to hustle out of here earlier.”
Viva moved to the terrace railing and looked out into the night as though she were seeing Rook there. “There’re things I don’t want him to know. Ever. Things that might hurt him and that’ll make me feel like more of an ass for leaving than I already do.”
Intrigued, Sophia’s gray eyes narrowed, all teasing elements leaving her face. “Any details you can share?” She joined Viva at the railing. “Is this about Murray?”
“This all happened near the beginning of my career.” She slid her sister a sly smile. “I promise there aren’t any moves I wish I didn’t make. At least none of the truly graphic variety. There are choices I made, though, and later wished I hadn’t. Choices I may not have made if working for Jazzy B’s hadn’t made me immune to certain signs.”
“And that’s Mom and Dad talking now.”
“Maybe,” Viva bumped her side to Sophia’s. “Parents can make a lot of sense sometimes.”
Sophia folded her arms over her chest and turned to lean back against the rail. “So are you going to let these old choices keep you from going back to the man you love?”
“Soap, it’s been six—”
“Back to the man who still loves you?” Sophia interrupted. “V, these things you mentioned... Murray was with you at the beginning. Are you sure that doesn’t have anything to do with this present mess?”
Viva was shaking her head. “This particular choice doesn’t have much to do with Murray but some of my other choices... If I hadn’t made them, you probably wouldn’t have what you need to put your case to bed.”
“Hold it, V.” Sophia took her sister’s shoulders and gave her a slight shake. “I can damn well put my case to bed without drawing you into it.”
“Maybe I want to be drawn in.”