Seduced Online - Melody Anne Page 0,1

an iron-tight grip. “Get — me — out — now!”

“OK. OK. There’s no need for violence,” Shane said, unable to control the laughter spilling from him. “We wouldn’t want you to be thrown back in jail before you even get out.”

Once Rafe released him, it didn’t take long for Shane to post bail, and then he was leaving county detention with a very irate Rafe. “That wasn’t amusing the first go-around, Shane, and certainly not this time,” Rafe growled as he climbed into Shane’s sleek silver Porsche.

“I seem to remember that you found it quite amusing when the shoe was on the other foot and I needed to be bailed out.”

“That was different,” Rafe muttered, rubbing his eyes. He hadn’t slept in forty-eight hours, and he smelled like stale tequila and sweat. He didn’t want to analyze the other odors drifting from his clothes.

“We need to get out of this town. One month in Italy wasn’t long enough for Ari to forgive you, and you’ve been back for two months doing nothing but causing trouble. I think the best thing you can do is give the woman space. I’m scheduled to leave next week for South America because your unbelievably stubborn sister still won’t speak to me. Let’s take the hint and get away for a while.”

Rafe stewed silently as he considered his best friend’s words. The Gli Amanti Cove project was on hold because of environmental disputes, so they were stalled there. Rafe felt like crap, and for the first time in his life he had no motivation whatsoever to find the next big acquisition. Maybe he should just leave for a while. It would give him time to pull himself together. He didn’t even know who he was anymore.

He hadn’t seen Ari in three months and it was taking its toll on him. Every time he tried to speak to her, she would hang up the phone. He’d had gifts delivered to her new place, but she just returned his packages. The one time he’d cornered her, she’d coolly told him he wasn’t ready yet.

Yes, he’d screwed up, but didn’t people make mistakes? What was so wrong with liking sex? Was he that bad a man because he knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to be with women who weren’t intimidated to explore their sexuality? He didn’t see it that way, but Ari apparently thought his actions were unforgivable. He’d even tried to enter into other satisfying sexual liaisons — not romantic, of course — but those had fizzled before they had even started.

He couldn’t seem to forget one bright-eyed blond woman who’d stolen his breath away.

“I’ll go with you.”

Shane turned in surprise; his car swerved slightly into the next lane and almost clipped a station wagon. If Rafe had been in a better mood, he would have chortled at the look of terror on the father who was driving the old Volvo. The poor man had probably peed himself.

“Seriously?” It was obvious that Shane had never expected Rafe to walk away from the business world so easily.

“Yes. I need to get away before I do something incredibly foolish.”

“Like you already haven’t,” Shane said with a laugh.

Rafe glared at him before replying. “I’m serious. I’m ready to do this.”

“What about work?”

“I thought you were the one trying to talk me into this in the first place,” Rafe said with a frustrated sigh.

“I am. Really. I just want to make sure you aren’t going to get there and then turn around and leave in two weeks. These people are really counting on us.”

Rafe knew that Shane was right. The homes and businesses they built in Third World countries changed lives. Rafe was surprised by how much he wanted to be a part of it. He’d grown anxious, bored, and frustrated with his life.

“I’ll make some calls. My manager can run things from here. I’m ready to leave.”

Assessing Rafe for several moments, Shane finally spoke. “Good. Pack up, because we’ll be gone at least six months.”

“What if you get called away?” Rafe asked.

“We’ll cross that bridge,” Shane said. He was used to being yanked away, and he always came back as soon as the task was finished.

This was a brilliant idea. Some hard physical labor was sure to take Rafe’s mind off of Ari. He just needed to get away from this mess for a while. His infatuation with one woman was out of character; hell, it was completely insane. But it was all in his head and he’d