“Sam, this is bad,” she said when he’d finished and they’d climbed into his truck. “The studio’s liability if someone gets hurt is bad enough. But we have sponsors that expect a family show. If there’s the slightest piece of footage of someone doing something they shouldn’t, we could lose them. And that could be the end of us.”

“And,” he said, “it gets worse. Kiki told Josh that you approved this.”

“What? No. Please tell me no, Sam.”

“I know the truth,” he spoke softly. “I have your back, Meagan.”

13

THOUGH SHE’D MADE SAM WAIT for her to run inside the production building for her purse and phone, having learned her lesson about leaving them behind, the short ten-minute ride from the studio to the hotel felt like a lifetime to Meagan.

The instant Sam put his foot on the brake, stopping next to the valet stand, they were both already shoving open their doors.

“Which way to Club Z?” he was asking the young kid he’d palmed his keys to, as Meagan came around to his side.

“Two blocks to the right, then another right, you can’t miss it,” the valet told him.

She and Sam were walking before the kid ever finished speaking. “I can’t believe Kiki is there, and brought cameras. How did she even manage that, Sam? I mean there would be release forms and legal issues.”

“You know the answer,” he said. “She planned this in advance.”

“Right. She did. She had to have done just that. I can’t let this go, Sam. I have to let Sabrina know, but Kiki’s going to say I’m behind it. I can’t believe this is happening.”

They approached the club, loud music banging through the door, and a long line of people waiting to enter the building. Sam motioned her toward the door, then chatted with the bouncer, leaning in close to the brawny man guarding the entryway, to say something that was, apparently, worthy of entry.

Sam reached for her hand and pulled her in front of him, into a narrow hallway. His touch sent a shiver of awareness up her arm, and all over her body. Her mind went back to the break room, to the kiss, to his departure. She’d gone after him, and not because of this mess. She hadn’t known about any of this. She’d followed him because whatever had made him leave so abruptly, whatever had made him withdraw, she had this horrible feeling, it was going to haunt her in ways she had yet to discover—and didn’t want to. Because like it or not, she liked him. He mattered.

One of his hands settled on her waist as she pressed her way toward the crowded bar, which appeared to have two levels, and balconies above the dance floor. There were also stairs leading to a lower floor.

Sam pushed in next to her, his body framing hers, branding her with memories of the prior night. He bent down, his lips near her ear. “Let’s stay close. I don’t want to lose you in this chaos.”

She turned instinctively, and suddenly, her mouth was inches from his, his breath warm on her cheek. “Yes. Okay.” Their eyes locked, and all the shadows in the world couldn’t mask the connection that crackled between them. She was so alive with Sam.

He leaned in closer again, to talk to her, the spicy scent of him rushing over her—she so loved the way the man smelled. “Shall we try upstairs or down first?” he asked.

“Hey!” Someone screamed. “Some television show is filming downstairs. We have to go downstairs.” A rush toward the lower level followed, bodies flooding past them.

Meagan and Sam shared a look of inevitability. They knew where they were going now, and clearly, they weren’t the only ones headed there. He motioned with his head and drew her hand in his. A lot of maneuvers, bumps, and her feet getting stomped, and soon they made it down the stairs to find a huge area blocked off around a stage. Four of Meagan’s dancers were performing, with cameras rolling. No director, no Meagan—just Kiki and everyone who hadn’t been busting their butts in the editing room.

Anger rolled inside Meagan and she pulled away from Sam, charging forward. Meagan had been cautious around Kiki and her corporate connection for too long. She and her assistant were going to do a little dancing of their own.

* * *

SAM’S MEN HAD STEPPED UP to the plate, which was one piece of good in a lot of bad. He owed Josh a heck of a lot of kudos. The stage was well secured, the safety of the cast ensured as well as it could be, considering the circumstances. But there was no way to get the dancers off the stage, in the middle of a routine, without making matters worse.


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Stepping Up Romance
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