Strip SearchSexy Capers, Book 2 (Novel)
The best way to go undercover…is to take it all off.
If the feds want to nail a Mafia kingpin, they need a slick trap to catch him. Enter Mark Sullivan, built for the job—to go undercover as a male stripper in the mobster’s Vegas club. The perk? The club’s owner. Sure she’s got some unsavory connections but how can anyone with those legs be all bad?
When it comes to business, Nicola DiStefano’s a pro. As for pleasure, she’s been out of commission too long to care. If anyone can strip her of her inhibitions it’s the new guy who’s stirring her wildest g-string fantasies. But Mark and Nicki have more in common than sizzling sexual chemistry. They each have their share of secrets and motives, and with the mob closing in, what gets exposed is as irresistible as it is dangerous.
“Bring in the next victim,” Nicki DiStefano called with a long-suffering sigh.
Within moments, her younger half-sister Lucia appeared, thick auburn hair restrained in an elegant French twist and white librarian sweater perched on her shoulders. Nicki laughed as she stared down at herself. The black bra she hadn’t realized she was wearing was visible through her yellow tank top, and her diamond navel ring winked in the club’s dimmed lights.
“So how was the first audition?” Lucia asked.
Nicki pushed aside all thoughts of the ways she and her half-sister were different and realized this was one thing they would agree on wholeheartedly.
She made a face at Lucia. “Blech! He’d been watching too many old Michael Jackson videos, I think.”
Lucia laughed, managing to sound so refined and mature, despite being a mere twenty-three, more than three years Nicki’s junior. Then again, earning a Ph.D. the same year she could legally drink, rather than learning intimately the inside of every nearby evening hot spot, did make Lucia more mature. Nicki had never finished college…but she’d sure known every nightclub worth knowing in New York. She grimaced at the realization and shoved the thought away.
“All the crotch grabbing…” Nicki said with a shudder. “I think he liked the self-touching for an audience way too much. Put a whole new meaning to the song ‘Beat It.’”
With a hand over her mouth, Lucia stifled another laugh. “Well, maybe your second candidate will be an improvement. He’s certainly very easy on the eyes.”
With that cryptic comment, Lucia disappeared. She might be a refined history professor, but that twinkle in her eye was pure mischief. Maybe her sister was being facetious.
“Bring him on,” Nicki called.
A moment later, the stage door creaked, then slammed shut. Dang it, she really needed to buy some WD-40 for that…
Oh. My. God.
Through the stage door and past the black curtain, her second audition entered the room. Nicki lost her breath—and the ability not to gape like an utter idiot.
Who was this Adonis dressed in a crisp white collared shirt and black leather pants? A glance at her list told Nicki that his name was Mark Gabriel. Such an innocuous few syllables to term the embodiment of every sexual fantasy she ever remembered having.
The room felt warm suddenly as he stepped onto the stage, under the dimmed lights, a worn leather backpack slung over one shoulder. Lord, he was huge—very tall, broad, bursting with muscle. Blond hair an amazing golden color hung past his collar. His eyes—green? Maybe darker?—pierced her as he nodded.
Wow, his deep, powerful voice alone was orgasm-inducing. Would he be offended if she told him she wanted to take Polaroids so she could fantasize about him the next time she spent a lonely morning with her battery operated boyfriend? And could she get an MP3 of him saying her name, just for effect?
“C—call me Nicki.”
Was she actually stuttering? He hadn’t danced a step, and she was acting like a groupie. Most likely, he got that a lot.
“Nicki,” he returned smoothly.
Was it her imagination, or were her panties actually turning damp?
“And you’re Mark?” she managed to say in a somewhat even tone.
Not a big talker, apparently. That was just as well. All she really wanted to do was look at him…fantasize about touching.
Wait! It’s an audition, not a grope fest, logic screeched. Wishing that logic would keep its nose out of her thoughts, she returned her full attention to Mr. Yummy-Enough-to-Drool-On.
“Ever done this sort of work before? I didn’t get a resume from you.”
No explanation. No offer to get her a resume. Interesting…
“Where are you from?”
Which explained the gorgeous golden skin. “That’s a long way from Vegas.”
“Looking for a change of scenery.”
Nicki hesitated. Something in Mark’s face, a certain tenseness maybe, seemed to say it was far more complicated than having grown tired of looking at palm trees and beaches. But it really wasn’t any of her business. The man was here for a job. If she hired him and he did it well, then the rest, his past, whatever—it didn’t matter.
“Can you dance?”
He shrugged one massive shoulder, even as his lips—oh, how did she miss that scrumptious mouth earlier?—curled up in a smile. “I get by.”
Lord, he gave her the tingles. Why was she interrogating him? He could stand perfectly still and make them both a small fortune. A fortune she desperately needed, if she ever wanted financial independence and freedom from the tight press of her Uncle Pietro’s thumb.
Still, it wasn’t in her nature to take anything at face value, especially men, even if her hormones were doing the mambo.
“Can you flirt?” she asked. “This job requires it.”
As if she had challenged his very manhood, Mark set down his backpack, eased off the stage, and strode toward her table. He didn’t swagger—it would have been too cheesy on him. He…prowled, as if hunting someone. Her, by the look on his face.
And what a face it was. Square jaw, square chin, covered with a fine five o’clock shadow.
As he edged closer, Nicki realized his eyes were neither green nor brown. They were somewhere inbetween, like moss growing over rich earth. They were gorgeous, and she wondered if he was aware of her awestruck stare. Lord, bury her in a hole now if he was.
Mark sat on the edge of her table, leaned forward, and sent her an amused smile.
Dimples. Real, live dimples creasing each side of his face. On any other man, they might have looked girlish. On him, oh no. He looked all man. She’d died and found heaven.
“I can flirt, if I have to. I’d rather just talk to you. About you.”
It had to be a line, and she’d be stupid to be affected by it. Ignoring her speeding heartbeat, Nicki cocked her head and regarded him with what she hoped was a cool gaze. “That’s laying it on a tad thick.”
He leaned in. “It’s being honest. I Googled you before this meeting. You run with quite a crowd. What was it like hanging out with Paris Hilton at parties?”
“Relatively dateless. And once she got into home movies…well, then I really couldn’t compete,” she said flippantly.
“So all the men you met in the past were stupid?”
“To be more interested in a careless bimbo than you, they’ve got to be stupid. To run a business takes some guts, brains, and substance.”
A burst of pleasure flushed her body at his words. For years she’d wondered why men failed to see the qualities of a woman beyond her waistline, ass, or breasts. Maybe this guy did. And maybe he was blowing sunshine up her skirt. She couldn’t deny, however, that he was good.
“You have the most interesting eyes,” he murmured. “They’re so blue and exotic next to your beautiful olive skin.”
“My dad was both a typical Italian and a typical man. I got his skin. Everything else, I got from my mother. She was half Norwegian, half Chinese.”
“No kidding?” His smile widened. “That’s a unique combination.”
“My father liked possessing unique mistresses. She was a beautiful woman.”
“So is her daughter.”
Boy, he looked at her. Right at her. With those vivid hazel eyes, he stared, taking her in. She didn’t want to be affected by his praise or his gaze on her. It was stupid, unprofessional.
You don’t always get what you want, a pesky voice in her head reminded her.
“You going to dance for me, or you going to sit here and gab all day?”
“Whatever you want, boss.” He winked and turned away.
From his backpack, Mark extracted a CD and placed it in the portable player located stage left. Moments later, a rich, sexy techno rhythm filled the air. To the beat of the music, he strutted to the front edge of the stage, his expression mysterious, arrogant, as his gaze locked on to hers. For a man who stood about five inches over six feet, he moved with a slick grace, a smooth prowl. Generally, if a man was a good dancer, he was also good in—
Get your mind out of the gutter, girl. He’s here to audition, not light your fire!
Nicki knew she should be more jaded. She saw this kind of stuff all the time. Every night, in fact. But something about Mark made being impervious utterly impossible. She had no idea why he affected her more than any other hottie working here. But when a bump of his hips had her catching her breath, she couldn’t deny that he did.
A large hand raking through the pale sheen of his hair as he prowled closer had her heartbeat racing. The pure sex attitude and intent stare had her lamenting every last moment of her two years of celibacy.
But when he grabbed the edges of his shirt and ripped them wide, exposing a chest bulging with muscle and abs rippling with definition, Nicki pretty much lost her mind.
5 out of 5! “Ms. Black has penned yet another explosive hit. Spine-tingling action and edge-of-your-seat danger… a gripping tale that will stay with you long after you close the book.”
—Coffee Time Romance
5 out of 5! “HOT, HOT, HOT!!! The characters are very well written, the plot is fast paced and never boring and the sex is incredible. This is a great book for your summer reading and one of my top picks!”
—Romance Reviews Today
Reviewer’s Choice Award. “STRIP SEARCH packs a hell of a wallop, is an exciting, steamy and magnificent story. If I had to rate this book out of ten, it would certainly get a fifteen! Twists, turns, titillating and explosive sexual chemistry and memorable characters—readers can’t ask for more.”
—Road to Romance
Golden Rose Award. “STRIP SEARCH is a real page turner and you will want to keep a special place on your keeper shelf free for this book. You really don’t want to miss the wonderful story.”
“Spicy hot love scenes, powerful emotions, and terrific characterizations deliver a superb story.”
Recommended Read! “STRIP SEARCH is delicious… Ignore the sugary cover because inside is a thrilling, erotic and searing read! I highly recommend STRIP SEARCH…”
“Are you ready for the ‘hottest’ read of the summer? If so then, STRIP SEARCH is the book you do not want to miss. Ms. Black has definitely given readers a book for the keeper shelf… Readers will be unable to put this book down.”
—Romance Readers Connection
5 out of 5! “STRIP SEARCH is … definitely worth reading—repeatedly. I congratulate Ms. Black on her work of art.”
—Just Erotic Romance Reviews
5 out of 5! “STRIP SEARCH kept me spellbound and on the edge of my seat from the time I started reading it until I read the very last word. As far as heroes go, Mark has to be one of my favorites.”
“Black has created a hot and steamy fire bed of romance… Readers who like a lot of heat and passion with one of the hottest hero hunks around should make sure they put STRIP SEARCH at the top of their list.”