The Rich List Series

By: Talia Hunter

His fingers loosened, and she realized the script directions said for her to pull free of him and turn away. Ally hesitated before reluctantly letting his hand go. Get a grip, Ally. Follow the script! She rose to her feet, trying to be graceful in the tight leather skirt, then turned so she couldn’t see him. Better. Incredible how a little role-play so quickly blurred the line between fantasy and reality. For a moment she’d been close to forgetting this was just an act.

She lifted the script and took a breath before delivering her next line. “I’m surprised you have the balls to tell me you’re a nark. Aren’t you afraid for your life?”

He stood too. She sensed him behind her, and turned. Although only a head taller, his obvious strength made her feel fragile. Her gaze trailed from his broad shoulders to his toned stomach. Man, did he know how to wear a pair of low-slung jeans. Acting Thomas’s role, his voice and manner were shy and eager to please. But his movements still had the unconscious grace of an athlete, and nothing could disguise his muscled physique.

“That’s not what I’m afraid of,” he said.

She dragged her eyes back to her script. “Then what?”

“I’m afraid of what’s inside me. That if I don’t let it out, I’m going to…” He moved closer. No matter how hesitant his lines, his body language was still commanding and his physical presence made her legs weak. “I’m not sure how to put it into words. And I’m not sure I can control it anymore. I don’t think I want to.”

“What do you feel?” she asked faintly. “Tell me.”

“I don’t want you to get hurt. You’re in danger. The police know too much.” He moved to stroke her hair, but he hesitated and dropped his hand before he touched her. The light caught the chiseled plane of his cheek and her breath snagged in her throat.

The timid look he gave her made her want to take his gorgeous face in both hands and force his lips down to hers. Max might be way out of her league, but Thomas seemed so much more vulnerable. Both made her heart quicken. But there was something about Thomas that made her want to be bad.

Script, Ally. Read the script! “You’ll tell me everything they know?”

“I will, if you’ll let me stay with you. I’m afraid for you, but I don’t know how to make you safe.”

The script said she should cross to the window and stare out. Then there was a beat, which she guessed meant she should pause. She stalked to the window, letting her hips sway in the tight leather skirt, knowing he’d be watching. The high stilettos she wore made her feel completely unlike herself, and instead like the woman she pretended to be. No, like the woman she wished she was. Cora didn’t take crap from anyone. She would have seen through Barry from the beginning, instead of letting him pick away at her confidence.

Ally stared out at the view. Thousands of lights twinkled, as though she had the whole city laid out at her feet. From so high up it felt like she could be queen of the world, that she could have everything she wanted, if only she’d reach out and take it.

She strode back to Max, stopping close enough for the warm scent of his cologne to envelop her. Close enough that she could put her hand on his broad chest if she wanted to. Or if she leaned forward, she could press her whole body against his. The thought sent tendrils of excitement through her that made her feel warm and tingly.

But… oh god, was she really going to do this? Pretending to be Cora was so intoxicating, she was in danger of losing herself in the role. And would it be so bad if she did? She stared down at the script, letting her hair drop forward to hide the fact that she was wavering between pulling back and letting herself go completely.

He touched her shoulder. “Ally?”

It was just a brush of his fingertips on the fabric of her blouse, but it felt intimate, as though he’d caressed her bare skin. Thomas wouldn’t have touched Cora without permission.

Instead of answering, she read her next line. A one-word command delivered by a woman who didn’t have any insecurity. A woman completely in control.


It didn’t come out like she wanted so she barked the word again.


A spark flashed in his eyes. Was it defiance? Max’s dislike of being told what to do? He slowly lowered himself to his knees, but his gaze didn’t leave hers.

“Drop your head,” ordered Ally. “You’ll tell me everything. And I require total obedience. Is that clear?”

He didn’t answer. He didn’t lower his head, but his gaze moved down to her shoes.

She caught her breath. However reluctantly, he’d obeyed her. She sank onto the couch. The script didn’t say to pause, but she left him on his knees while her heart beat fast. He was one hell of a man and she controlled him. It was a heady feeling.

Her drink was still half full on the side table, and she took another sip to wet her dry throat before saying her next line. “Now, you’ll tell me all the information the police have on me, including the names of your colleagues who’ve been listening in on me.”

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