Their world is one of shadows and lies.
Maxim Ivanov never met a person who didn’t want something from him and wasn’t willing to lie to get it. There has only been one person he’d had any honest interactions with—Aida Roussel—but only because her time and attention was bought and paid for. Well, he is ready for more with her.
Aida isn’t without a few secrets of her own but Max is the only one who’s ever made her want to share them. She knows who he really is behind the debonair façade, but how can she tell him the truth about herself when she needs his unique talents? Without his help against the madman chasing her, Max stands to lose more than he realizes.
Maxim would do whatever it takes to protect the one source of light in his life, but what happens when the lies surface?
Exotic scents rushed past him in the attempt to escape out the door, dragging with it the hypnotic music. The entire row of houses, it seemed, were interconnected and burrowed underground. Drawn further in, he followed the hall around a corner and into a room of decadent wonders that he could only describe as a cross between Venice during the Carnivale and the barely controlled chaos of a circus.
Between glittering chandeliers, acrobats swung on trapezes. On the floor beneath them, jugglers and fire eaters wandered through the throng to delight and amaze. Contortionists dressed as fairy creatures twisted themselves in mind-boggling knots, drawing gasps and adulation on platforms above the crowds.
To add to the illicit feel, everyone—except him—was masked.
Half and full-faced, glittering and gilded, feathered and embedded with gemstones, the masks worn ran the spectrum of styles and colors. Combined with the luxurious costumes, sumptuous décor and live music created a fantastic ambiance that was a veritable feast for the senses.
Amused that there was a place on earth that could have him stop and gaze in wonder, Maxim took a moment to enjoy the rare novelty. Taking in his fill, he followed a wandering drummer who managed to harmonize and keep the beat with his unseen partners.
The surreal circus atmosphere delighted him, or at least it would have if he wasn’t so keyed up. It was just like Aida to lead him somewhere so decadent and delicious. But where was she?
He continuously scanned the crowd for anyone resembling her but with so many people and everyone’s face obscured, it was a slow and frustrating task.
Max ignored the gambling tables. Though he enjoyed the occasional game, they weren’t Aida’s style, so she wouldn’t be at any of them.
There were several groups where people congregated around a performer or musician, but there was one that was predominantly men avidly watching something or someone at the heart of the cluster.
On instinct, Maxim headed toward them. Having to push his way through men who were quite unwilling to move only cemented the belief that he had finally found her.
It took him wading through a circle—at least five men deep at the thinnest point—to finally catch a glimpse of the woman who had captured their attention so thoroughly.
She was masked, like everyone else, though there was no way even that could hide her stunning beauty. Lips painted blood red and her hair dark and glossy as a raven’s wing cascading loose over her shoulders, she writhed in time with the music, showing off her lithe form. Her delectable body was only barely covered in a glittering red concoction of sequins and feathers that hid nothing of the lush body he’d been so desperate to get under him.
Every kick and sweep of her elegant limbs enthralled her audience further to the point that the men seemed ignorant of each other, they were so riveted by her performance. Her exquisiteness.
That they watched her covetously, probably imagining her naked and dancing only for them, incensed Maxim. Aida was his. At least for now. She wasn’t supposed to be wasting his time teasing others.
He nearly choked on air thick with lust as he watched. Desire and envy coursed through him in equal measures, urging him to drag her away. To take out all who set eyes on what should have been solely for him. Max was milliseconds away from doing just that when he caught her attention.
When Aida smiled, it truly was just for him. Small and secretive, the curve of her lips hinted she held the key to all the mysteries of the universe and that she might be willing to share with him. If he could persuade her.
She swept over, turning her back to him as she approached. With her arm stretched back, she wrapped it around his neck as she wiggled her way down his body and back up. Unable to stop the smug smirk from spreading over his face as the others watched begrudgingly, Maxim allowed her to use him as a prop to dance around. Was proud to do so. As she did, she inflamed him further with all-too-brief caresses. Even her damned scent—something exotic and floral and entirely Aida—had his mouth watering.
By the time she ended the torment, she had her arms around his neck and hitched a leg up around his hip, pressing herself against his aching cock.
They stayed locked like that for what felt like an eternity, breath mingling and staring into each other’s eyes. There were applause and roars of approval somewhere in the distance. Maxim couldn’t focus on anything but the woman in his arms. But when she dragged his head down for a kiss, the leash on his control snapped.
Tasting Aida again, feeling that incredible body pressed against him, wiped away the rest of the world.
Only Aida could do this to him.
He gripped her body closer as they sank into the kiss. It was hard and biting. Teeth scraped and tongues dueled as they fought for dominance. Aida never took passively. She gave as good as she got. Something he enjoyed about her very much.
Too soon, voices broke in through the pleasurable haze that had cocooned them. There was anger, censure, more than likely directed at him taking away their entertainment.
Let them complain. Max didn’t give a shit.
That was until someone tried to drag her out of his arms. He only pulled her closer to him as he shoved the prick away.
Growling, he pointed a finger at another man who dared to get too close. “Back off, suka, unless you want to lose something you’d rather keep.”
The others seemed to take the hint and let them pass without comment when he dragged Aida along with him.
“This way.” Aida tugged at him until he turned toward the back of the building.
They burst through the door and into the cool night onto a balcony that overlooked the gleaming ocean. Maxim wasted no time kicking the door shut and shoving her up against the cold stone.