Moving back to the bedroom, she stepped into the dress. Sitting on the padded bench at the foot of the bed, she slid her feet into the gunmetal-gray slingback sandals adorned with crystals across the toe strap. Walking over to the full-length mirror, she surveyed the overall effect. As much as she hated to admit it, Karen had picked out a winning combination. The shoes and matching evening bag were a perfect complement to the little black dress. She took one more glance at her watch, inhaled deeply, stuffed the key card in her purse and left the suite.
Downstairs, she approached the large man standing outside the closed ballroom door observing the people milling around the hallway. “Excuse me.”
“May I help you?”
“Hello. My name is Janae Simms, and I’m with RC Productions. I was told you would have my name so I could enter.”
He folded his arms across his massive chest and chuckled mirthlessly. “You and about twenty other women who’ve already tried that tonight, honey. So stand in line.”
She stared at the huge hulk of a man and tried to keep her voice steady. “I have no idea what any other woman has tried, but I’m telling the truth.”
“Who told you this?”
“Ter...Monte,” she corrected. “He’s a friend of mine, and he said it would be no problem.”
“Now I know you’re lying. Monte definitely wouldn’t have told you that.”
She silently counted to ten. Striving for patience, she said through clenched teeth, “Sir, I don’t lie.”
“Like I said, take a number and stand in line.” He turned away.
Instead of arguing, she took out her cell phone to call Terrence.
“Janae? Is that you?” It was Donovan’s voice behind her. She turned to find his jaw unhinged. “Damn, girl!”
She turned and gave him a small smile. “It’s me,” she said, replacing her phone.
“You know her, Donovan?” the bouncer asked. “She said Monte invited her,” he added skeptically.
“Yep, he did.”
His eyes widened. “I don’t believe it. I’m really sorry, miss.”
“It’s all right. I understand.”
She followed Donovan into the ballroom and immediately heard the music. The band was only practicing, but she could feel herself being drawn in already. Tables had been set around the stage, leaving room for dancing near the front. Several people rushed around taking care of what she assumed to be last-minute tasks.
Janae searched the room for Terrence, spotting him on the far side talking with a small group next to the stage. As if sensing her presence, he turned. She gave him a tiny wave.
* * *
Terrence lost track of everything around him when he saw Janae. If he’d thought her beautiful before, he had no words to describe what she looked like now. He became instantly aroused and didn’t realize he was holding his breath until he felt the pressure in his chest.
“Who is that?” Jason, Kaleidoscope’s saxophonist, asked.
“Is she a new RC employee?” Gary asked.
Chris, the band’s drummer, stepped off the stage. “I think I’ll go introduce myself.”
“Ah, I wouldn’t do that if I were you, my brother,” Donovan said, grabbing Chris’s arm.
Terrence stepped away from the group without commenting and slowly walked across the room to where she stood waiting. “You look absolutely breathtaking.” Leaning down, he kissed her cheek, being careful not to touch her. It wouldn’t take much for him to toss her over his shoulder and go back to their room.
“Thank you,” she replied through lowered lashes. “This is very nice.”
“Come on. Let me introduce you to the band.”
As they approached, Terrence noticed the stunned looks on everyone’s faces except Donovan’s. He made the introductions, and anger surged through him when a couple of the band members held on to Janae’s hand longer than politeness dictated.
Janae extricated her hand from Chris’s and ignored his flirtatious comments. Terrence then introduced her to a few of the record company’s employees.
“Why is everyone staring at me?” she asked as they walked away.
“I guess they’re all surprised because I’ve never invited a date to any function before.”
Her steps slowed. “Why me?”
“I like you.” He placed his hand on her back to urge her forward and froze when he came in contact with bare skin. He glanced back at the smooth caramel skin and groaned.
After they were seated, he leaned close to her ear and whispered, “You’re killing me with this dress, baby girl. All I want to do is strip it from you slowly and make love to you all...night...long.” He eased back, letting her see the unmistakable desire in his eyes.