Home > Off the Record (Record #1)(10)

Off the Record (Record #1)(10)
K.A. Linde

“I try,” she said, trying for nonchalance. “And you’re following in Daddy’s footsteps, Mr. Jefferson.”

“That’s Senator Jefferson to you,” he responded.

Liz laughed. “I didn’t know you were related to the Jefferson family, Senator.”

“Someone didn’t do her homework,” he said, tsking her as if she were a schoolgirl. “Whatever will we do with you?”

“I’m sure we’ll think of something,” Liz said, playing along. Her body was humming with the playful banter.

“I’m sure we will.” The sentence hung in the air between them. Liz was holding her breath. His gaze was too intense. It was like the night back at the club when he had fixed her with that same stare.

“I read your article,” he said, ending the silence.

Liz swallowed. Great. Why was he even talking to her after reading it? She hadn’t been mean, but she hadn’t been gentle either. “I bet you loved it,” she said with a hint of sarcasm.

“Love might not be the right word. Is there something stronger than love?”

“Hate?” she offered.

Brady chuckled and shook his head. “I particularly like the part about me being—what did you say?—power hungry with my only interests in money? How did you write that, knowing I have other interests?”

He looked at her pointedly, and she swallowed hard. He certainly had other interests…like throwing her off balance.

“I was speaking politically. Talking about work.”

“Well, are you working tonight? I don’t see your voice recorder. No notepad…”

Liz shook her head. “No, not tonight.” Well, not exactly.

“Good. Then our conversation is off the record?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

She wished he hadn’t clarified, but she wasn’t going to write another article about him yet.

“Of course,” she said, holding her hands up to show him she wasn’t hiding a microphone or anything.

“Then would you like to dance?” he asked.

Liz shook her head, glad she had her cheesecake in hand. “No. Uh, no, thank you. I prefer my cheesecake to the waltz.”

“Oh, come on. Everyone likes to dance when they have a good partner, and I happen to know where you can find one.”

“Are you referring to yourself?” she asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Only the best.”

“Sorry, I don’t dance,” Liz told him. She stuck her fork into the cheesecake to emphasize her disagreement.

He gave her a look that said he was calling bullshit on the remark and took the cheesecake from her hand. “You can have this later. Right now, we’re going to dance.” Liz glared. “Don’t look so sad about it. I promise I’ll show you a good time.” The comment was laced with seduction.

He grasped her elbow softly in his hand and veered toward the dance floor. He placed her delicious-looking Oreo cheesecake on a table as they passed by.

“Why can’t you find someone else?” she asked. She didn’t really want him to do that.

“Are there other people in the room?” He placed his hand on her waist and pulled her close. Her breath left her in a whoosh with their bodies so close together, her left hand moving up to his shoulder, and their hands clasping together gently.

“How are the airplanes treating you today?” she managed to ask.

“Much better now that I have you in my arms.”

Liz didn’t get the chance to comment as the next song began and Brady swept her away into the crowd. She knew she was a bad dancer, but he was amazing. Was there anything he wasn’t good at?

His hand held her easily in place and she dared a glance up into his eyes. They were smiling down on her, and she felt like the only person in the room under that gaze. Here she was, dancing with a sitting State Senator.

“I thought you said you didn’t dance,” he observed.

“I don’t,” she told him.

“Well, what are we doing right now then?”

“You’re currently dragging me around a dance floor. I’m not sure I’m actually participating at all,” Liz teased.

“At least you’re humoring me,” he said, pulling her against his chest.

She leaned her head into him and reminded herself to breathe. They were just dancing.

His hand pressed into her back, his thumb pressing into the soft flesh beneath her dress. The electricity rolling off of his fingertips and into her body was like a constant current wherever he was touching her. How was he able to keep their movements even? She was melting in his arms.

“I do have one question,” he breathed into her ear.

“Um…” she hesitated, clearing her throat. “What’s that?” Where were her reporter instincts? Why wasn’t she pushing him away? Why couldn’t she keep her heart under control?

“I was curious how you were able to speak so strongly about my character when you haven’t had the chance to get to know me.”

“My article was based on your voting record. It was an accurate portrayal,” she responded unapologetically. His thumb trailed a circle into her lower back, soothing away her defenses.

“You should know that voting records don’t always tell the whole story,” he said with a smile. “Sometimes you really have to get to know a person before judging them so thoroughly.”

“You’re not going to change my mind about what I wrote, no matter how charming you are.”

“So, you think I’m charming?” he asked with a smirk that said he already knew he was.

She humphed and looked away. The heat was still rising between them, and she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of giving in.

Brady’s head tilted down toward her ear, and he whispered, “I’m asking you to get to know me. Is that so bad?”

It wasn’t. Actually, with his mouth so close to her ear, it was sounding more and more like a better option than standing on this dance floor.

They left the sentence hanging between them as the song ended.

Liz dropped her arms to her sides reluctantly, and was surprised to find she actually wanted another dance. She had to agree with Brady; it was better when she was in his arms. And it felt like a weight had been placed on her shoulders when he let her go. But that wasn’t what she was here for. She wasn’t here to get to know Brady Maxwell. She was here to make connections and to make her time this summer at the paper tremendously easier. If she didn’t take the networking opportunities seriously tonight, then she would be in for an upward battle the rest of the campaign.

“I think I’ll go back to my cheesecake,” she murmured, wanting nothing more than to stay.

“I think you’ll stay with me.”

“Is that a good idea?” Liz couldn’t help but wonder how it might look if they were seen together. Not that she believed many people here either knew who she was or knew that she had written an article. They were probably safe, but she never felt like it surrounded by politicians and reporters.

“I think it’s the only idea I care about,” he told her as a matter of fact.

She swallowed hard. She knew what his intentions had been that night in VIP. Of course she had known, but without him in her presence she thought that maybe she had imagined how alluring and powerful his appeal was.

“I know I’m keeping you from your cheesecake,” Brady said with a smile, “but you’ll have to forgive me. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

“I think I can manage to forgive you,” Liz whispered. If she could be more shocked than she already was, she didn’t think it was possible. He was so forward…so different from all the other guys she was used to. She was sure that was part of his charm, but how could she resist it?

It worried her a bit—a very little bit at the moment—that she didn’t even want to resist him. She had never had the impulsive demeanor of Victoria or the party-girl side of her college friends. Liz’s world was rooted in reality, and she had always liked it that way. But she was starting to think that was only because she had never met anyone quite like Brady Maxwell.

And he was staring at her with an unrivaled intensity. She had the odd feeling that Brady Maxwell was seducing her. He had said that he wanted her at the club, but this…this was entirely different. This was him at his finest, and she wasn’t just happily falling victim to his charming words, gentle touches, piercing eyes, and knowing smiles; she wanted this.

“Liz?” he asked discreetly, brushing his hand up her arm, sending shivers up her spine.

“Yes?” Her eyes fluttered closed at the electricity flowing through her body at his touch. They opened back up to stare into his eyes, and she felt her walls crumbling.

“We should go,” he said, lust evident in his voice.

Even knowing it could be a bad idea, she nodded. “Couldn’t agree more.”

“I have a limo out front. Give the valet this,” Brady told her, pulling a small slip of paper out of his pocket. “I’ll meet you there.”

Liz took the paper out of his hand and without another thought veered toward the door. This was not like her. It was not like her at all. One-night stands weren’t in her repertoire. Yet here she was leaving the Jefferson-Jackson gala that she was supposed to be working for networking contacts to get in Senator Brady Maxwell III’s limo.

How had her world flipped upside down so easily?

Chapter 8

NO ONE ELSE KNOWS

Liz was leaving the gala. She was actually leaving.

She took a deep breath and kept her feet moving toward the valet station. She had to force herself not to look over her shoulder at the party she was leaving behind. The evening was just beginning and she was walking out on the festivities.

It was deserted outside, and Liz briefly wondered if anyone would notice her absence. No one had known she would be in attendance, and she wasn’t a name in journalism. Hayden was the only one who knew she was going to be here, and she didn’t want to think about him right now. Liz tucked her gold clutch under her arm higher and strode to the valet.

“Can I help you, miss?” he asked with a smile.

Liz handed him the slip of paper Brady had given her and waited as he called for the limo. She tried not to think about her decision. If she thought about it too much, she wouldn’t go through with it; she wouldn’t get into that limo. And she knew that if she didn’t, she would regret it forever.

She wasn’t prone to rash actions, but something about Brady made her insides flop. Her body heated despite the weather being balmy, comfortable, and beautifully breezy. She felt more as if she were sitting in the heat of her Tampa home than the cool North Carolina weather.

A long black stretch limo pulled up to the valet and he motioned her over.

“Here you are, miss,” the valet said, pulling the door open for her.

“Thank you,” Liz said, sliding onto the black leather seat. The door closed behind her and cast her into dim lighting.

She looked around, taken with the beautiful sleek interior. An uncorked bottle of champagne chilled in a bucket filled with ice. A flat-screen TV hung against the back wall, and a fully stocked minibar with an assortment of glasses took up a seat on the left.

Liz had never been in a limo before. Her high school boyfriend had wanted to get one for prom, but she had thought it was a waste of money. They had taken his dad’s BMW instead. And Brady had a limo just for a gala event. What a different world. Liz found it ironic that this would be her first experience. Victoria would die to know the details, but there was no way she could tell her.

She knew that this was a bad idea…a really bad idea. If anyone found out that she had slept with Brady, then she could lose all credibility as a journalist. It would be career suicide for her. The paper had been the only thing she had wanted and worked this hard for. Maybe she shouldn’t even be here. Maybe she should get out the other side and walk back to her car.

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