Striping Hot - Page 6

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Gianna’s heart was pounding so hard that she was actually dizzy. With each beat, bright spots danced across her eyes, and her hands flickered with numbness. She couldn’t draw a breath.

Bolting across the dance floor in this state while trying not to fall in her high heels was not helping the situation.

I have to catch Voren.

She had looked up from the shadowy corner where she had been wrapped around Rex to see Voren striding purposefully away from the party. The bolt of blind panic that had shot through her cleared her mind of all else and flushed her body of desire like a cool rinse through her cells.

Are you running towards Voren or away from Rex?

She tried to take a long, deep breath but didn’t quite manage it. Her head swam even worse than before. She slowed, taking careful steps out to the edge of the terrace.

The big doors were open, so people could come out and take air in the beautiful gardens. She could see Voren headed toward the car park and stopped by the railing, hoping to give herself a minute to recover.

I can’t chase him down puffing like a racehorse with broken wind.

She took a deep breath and held it. Her heart literally trembled in her chest, and her stomach twisted. She closed her eyes, squeezing them shut until it was painful.

What the fuck happened in there?

She didn’t know. Gianna had always prided herself on having a clear head. She thought her way through situations, she didn’t make decisions on the fly, and she never committed to anything unless she was absolutely sure of herself.

However, she had always trusted her instincts too. It had made her an excellent reporter. She knew when to push and in which direction to go. Every editor said she had a knack for getting into all the dark corners of a story, and it was her intuition she had to thank for it.

Maybe that was what frightened her so much. She didn’t know Rex. She’d only just met him, spent mere moments in his physical presence.

This is ridiculous. I’m acting like a teenage girl with her first crush.

But her heart and her gut told her something else. Crazy, strange things. She dared not put words to it … it was too ridiculous. Images came to her. Pictures of them together. They felt like memories, only they hadn’t happened.

Not yet.

Gianna finally released the breath she had been holding. Her heart had slowed, and her vision was clear again. She pulled off her heels and hurried across the grass, seeing Voren disappearing into the shadows by the garage. She slipped against a wall and, staying in the shadows, crept closer and closer to the underground level.

Voren headed over to an empty space by a pillar. She heard him call out softly, but she was too far away to hear what he said. She frowned, pulling out her phone. She looked around, trying to think of a way to get closer. There was no way to do it without being seen.

Another man came out of the shadows. He was shorter and broader than Voren. They shared a few words, and the other man gave a hearty laugh. She raised her hand, pointed her phone, and quickly zoomed in. As the guy tossed his head back, she got an excellent shot.

She looked at the pic for a few seconds. She didn’t recognize him, but she could do research on it later. She put her attention back on the two men.

Their conversation was more urgent now. Voren looked tense. She wondered if this had to do with environmental permits and fines. It was a pretty common thing for developers to get around the rules with bribes.

She thought that would be an excellent reason for the other man to meet Voren in secret like this.

If he’s a government official, this story is absolute gold! This is it, the big one!

She leaned forward in anticipation, wishing she could get closer. The two men were talking in low voices and had their heads turned into the shadows. She held her phone up, ready to take another happy snap of the two of them the second they looked up.

If this is a secret lovers’ meeting or something, I’m going to be a laughingstock. I suppose I could sell it to the tabloids.

Then Voren snapped at the other man. She didn’t hear the whole sentence, only a few clear words about the dam and protestors. It was enough for her to creep even closer, even though she risked being seen. Now she knew for sure that this was part of Voren’s dirty deal.

Voren pulled an envelope out of his pocket. The other man took it and opened it. Gianna was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of green bills jammed inside and took a picture at just the right moment. She ducked down behind the cars again, her heart pounding and her breath short.

I got what I came for. I should get out of here.

Her instincts never failed her. Even if there was a good chance of getting more evidence, she knew that she'd get caught if she didn’t move soon. Gianna shuffled her feet as she began to creep away.

Then her shoes swung off her wrists and bumped against the edge of the car she was crouched next to. It was only a soft thud, but it was enough to fill her with panic. She heard the two men react immediately, and she dashed along the ground, duck-walking as fast as she could to keep her head down.

She managed to get a few aisles away, but she was still trapped in the garage. She couldn’t plan her way out if she didn’t know where the guys were, so she sidled up to a pillar and slowly stood, trying to stay in the shadow but see where the men had gone.

Voren came into view, far too close to her. She froze, hoping it was too dark for him to see her. To her shock, he had a gun in his hands as he stared out across the car park, his eyes sweeping all the corners.

What the fuck is Voren doing with a gun?

She had not expected to see a rich and powerful man carrying a weapon, especially at a party. She had always known he was dirty and that blasting open his corrupt businesses would be the story of the century.

Seeing him carrying a gun while glaring into the shadows with every intent to use it immediately changed her impression of him.

He’s done this before. He’s a bad guy.

How bad? Has he murdered people? Has he ever shot anyone?

The questions were academic as well as personal. A rich CEO like Voren also being a murderer was juicy stuff. She also didn’t want to get shot, though.

She waited for Voren to turn away and ducked down again. On her other side, she heard the shorter man walk by. His shoes clicked a little as he moved. She didn’t bother to get up this time.

She could hear the faint click as he readied his own weapon. She had to assume they would kill her if they found her … especially once they realized who she was and why she followed them.

They had the back driveway covered, and that was the way she had come in. The front roller doors were an impossibility. Not only were they too far away, but trying to open them would announce her location immediately. Toward the front corner, though, there was a small service door, and it was open.

All I have to do is get there.

She shuffled along on her bare feet, the smooth concrete very cold on her skin. She was only able to move a few steps at a time, and more than once had to stop or detour because Voren or his buddy had taken a turn toward her.

The closer she got to the service door, the more confident she became. Gianna paused by the last car in the row, patiently waiting for Voren and the other guy to turn away. The second they did, she dashed across the empty space and slipped through the doorway. She let out a huge sigh of relief.

Then her arm caught on the edge of the door. She tried to catch it, but she wasn’t fast enough. It slammed shut with a loud bang.

Gasping in fear, she took off up the stairs. She could hear Voren and the other guy shouting as they ran after her. She didn’t slow down, even as she hit the kitchen and service area. She paused to slip her heels back on, smoothed her hair, and then stepped casually out of the kitchen, walking calmly up to the nearest table.

Just as Voren came bursting through the service doors, Gianna raised her champagne glass and took a sip. She had her body tilted away from Voren, even though her eyes were on him. There were three people standing at the table picking up fresh glasses of champagne, and she leaned toward them as if she were part of their conversation.

Voren looked around the room, his face tense. He knew he had no hope of finding his rat now. She watched him smooth his lapels and run a hand through his hair before joining the crowd. His accomplice must have gone in a different direction.

Gianna took another sip of champagne, her eyes sliding around the room. Her heart sped up a little, and she smiled softly. She had been back in the ballroom for a total of ten seconds, and she was already thinking about Rex.

She wondered if he was still here and if she should resume their date. It was tempting. However, she couldn’t forget how much the intensity of her own feelings had disturbed her. She had never been so out of control before.

Gianna took great pride in being able to remain calm in any kind of situation. The fact that she had almost torn off her dress right here in this ballroom a short time ago was a hard one to swallow.

Hard … Swallow … Shut the fuck up.

An intensity was growing inside her, a heat that spread from between her legs and up her belly, making her nipples tingle. The strength of her arousal only helped her to make up her mind.

I’m getting the hell out of here.

Rex was a wonderful fantasy, but that was all he was. She had felt something amazing in his arms. It was true. The heat in her body right now would not go away, and she could keep it in her mind forever if she chose to.

This fantasy could not become real. She was just a brassy reporter, a nobody, chasing after Somebodies. Rex was a Someone, a big one. Surely, he had only been entertaining himself with her before he wandered back to his privileged, exciting life.

Gianna headed for the main doors, proud of herself. Tonight had been a success. There were deliciously exciting loose ends to chase and some wonderful, hot, sensual memories to linger over as soon as she was alone. She was thinking longingly of a hot bath and soft pajamas when someone grabbed her arm.

“Gianna! You’re not heading home, are you?”

She turned to Gerri, her smile polite but firm. “Yes, I am, Gerri. Thank you, it’s been a lovely party.”

“Don’t go, dear. I’m sure that …”

“Look, I appreciate the invite, but I’m done here,” she said smoothly. “You were wrong. Voren didn’t talk to Rex. I didn’t get any information that way.”

“Are you sure?” Gerri asked, her face calm and confident. “Maybe they spoke to each other, and you simply didn’t see. I thought an investigative reporter was supposed to be thorough and see things through.”

Gianna frowned.

What the hell is she getting at?

“I just mean, isn’t it worth getting close to Rex to find out if he’s actually involved with Voren’s … activities?” Gerri’s eyes narrowed.

Gianna gasped. The violent events that had recently occurred flashed through her mind, making her knees weak.

“You think Rex is involved?” she whispered. Gerri shrugged.

“I’m not sure you’d believe anything I have to say, especially since you just accused me of being wrong.”

Gianna found the response frustrating, but there was also truth in it. She could tell that Gerri was not going to say anything more. Whatever she knew, she was going to keep it under wraps.

Rex had expressed an interest in her and enough of an attraction for Gianna to use it to her advantage. It was, without a doubt, the best way to find out if Rex was involved with Voren and what exactly the dirty deal was.

Gianna knew how to play. She was good at these games. She just had to keep her head and not let her heart get in the way … Otherwise, she might lose both.

Tags: Milly Taiden Paranormal