Risky Pleasures

By: Brenda Jackson


“Take it from someone who almost found out the hard way, Van. Running away never solves anything.”

Vanessa Steele shifted her gaze from the open suitcase to the woman standing in her doorway. Sienna Bradford had been her best friend since grade school, but it bothered Vanessa that at times Sienna thought she knew her better than she knew herself. Unfortunately, some times Sienna actually did.

“I am not running away.” But not even Vanessa’s short, gruff tone could convince anyone that she wasn’t getting the hell out of Dodge because a certain man by the name of Cameron Cody was on his way to Charlotte, supposedly to spend some time visiting with her cousins.

“Then please explain what you’re doing if you’re not running away.”

Vanessa sighed and tossed aside the blouse she was about to pack. “I’m leaving for Jamaica because Cheyenne called and asked if I would house-sit while the builders are putting in her pool. She hadn’t planned on having to go to Italy for an unscheduled photo shoot,” Vanessa said of her sister, an international model. “There’s not a lot happening at work and a vacation in Jamaica is just what I need.”

Sienna arched a brow. “And your leaving has nothing to do with Cameron coming to town?”

Vanessa nervously averted her gaze. “I wish I can say one has nothing to do with the other but that wouldn’t be true and you and I both know it. Cheyenne’s phone call gave me the out I need, and I’m taking it.”

Sienna came farther into the room, forcing Vanessa to look at her. “What are you afraid of, Van? Why do you feel so much dislike and anger toward one man?”

“You of all people know why, Sienna. You know what Cameron tried to do to my family’s business.”

“Yes, but that was three years ago. And if your cousins have gotten over it and consider him a friend, why can’t you?”

“I’ll never consider that man a friend,” Vanessa snapped.

“Then maybe you need to wonder why,” Sienna replied smoothly. “There has to be a reason for your intense dislike of him.”

Vanessa rolled her eyes. “There is, and I’ve told you what it is.”

“I only know what you’ve convinced yourself it is.”

Vanessa lifted a brow. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Only that I have eyes. I’ve been watching you and Cameron for a while now, especially at Morgan and Lena’s wedding last month. What I saw between you wasn’t animosity, but a buildup of sexual chemistry of the most potent and compelling kind. And I think the reason you don’t like being around him is because, if given the chance, you’d want to have your way with him.” Sienna grinned. “You’d probably jump his bones in a heartbeat.”

“What!” Vanessa exclaimed, folding her arms over her chest and giving her pregnant best friend an incredulous look. “How can you even think of anything so ridiculous?”

“Is it really so ridiculous, Vanessa? Think about it. He’s the only man I know who has pushed your buttons since that guy you met in London.”

“Well, yeah, that might be true, but he’s pushing them the wrong way.”

“And what if he starts pushing them the right way? What if one day you discover that Cameron isn’t as bad as you think and that an affair with him is just what you need to take the edge off?”

Vanessa laughed. “I don’t have an edge on.”

“Yes, you do, and we both know it.”

Vanessa walked over to her bedroom window and looked out. Yes, she had an edge on, all right. Not that she was counting, but it had been almost four years since that summer she’d spent in London with Harlan, a man she had fancied herself in love with. But Harlan couldn’t hold a candle to Cameron Cody. As far as she was concerned, Cameron was the sexiest, most handsome man alive—which wasn’t helping matters. It would be a lie to say she hadn’t thought about doing him, because she had. A part of her saw it as the perfect way to get him out of her system. Right?


Another part of her saw it as dominance on his part, a sure victory for him. Eventually he’d take her over just as he’d enjoyed taking over corporations that suited his fancy. He had a reputation that made Genghis Khan look like a choirboy.


She turned back around to Sienna. “Are you suggesting that I engage in an affair with Cameron? Especially after what Harlan said?”

Sienna frowned and rubbed her stomach as she felt her baby kick. “Forget about what Harlan Shaw said. As far as I’m concerned, an affair with Cameron sounds like a good plan to me. You’re twenty-six, old enough to know the score, and you and Cameron are spontaneous combustion just waiting to happen. I’ve never been around two more volatile individuals. And I’m not the only one who can feel the intensity, the passion, when the two of you are in the same room. Do us all a favor and finally do something about it.”