Dance With Me
Author:Hayden Braeburn

chapter TWO



Priscilla McClaren gaped at the text message. Surely it couldn't say what she thought it did. She looked at her screen again.

Mason is getting married

No. It still said what could not possibly be true. Mason was hers. He had been out sowing his wild oats for a while, but he hadn't been seeing anyone for almost a year, and no one seriously since Melanie. She snickered. Poor girl had been as green as her dress the last time she was out with Mason. That'll teach a girl to take what wasn't hers. She snatched her phone up, replying to Cassidy's message with one word.

WHO

The answer came almost instantly, rocking her to the core.

Katerina Nemecek

She resisted the urge to throw her phone across the room purely by force of will and the inconvenience it would cause her later. The little bitch thought she could marry Mason, did she? She would not be beaten by some washed up dancer with a tiny studio. She had readjusted her time line three times for him, and now he was pulling this on her? Didn't he know she was almost thirty four? Didn't he know he had wasted the better part of her childbearing years prancing around, never settling? And now this?

Giving in to the need to throw something, she hurled her glass of iced tea into the wall, reveling in the smash of glass and the rivulets of dark liquid running down the pale plaster. How dare he do this to her?

She tore her gaze from the carnage that used to be her tumbler, and stalked the room as she thought. Right this very minute, Mason would be taking his little dancer home. She kicked over an upholstered ottoman, swearing when her delicate leather pump did nothing to protect her toes. The thought of him making love to the little whore made her seethe. She'd waited for him for sixteen years. Sixteen godforsaken years.

When all her friends were getting married and having babies, she'd waited. Even while standing up in countless weddings and attending even more baby showers, she'd never lost sight of her goal. Mason had always been hers, but she hadn't pushed him, understanding his need to grow up, make it in the banking world, and get his wildness out of his system. At first, she hadn't minded biding her time. She'd had pageants to win, degrees to obtain, and a business to learn. Now, she was ready to take what was rightfully hers.

A sly smile curved her lips. Her father and grandfather practically built Tyler by themselves, and her father still owned half the buildings in town. She tapped her fingers together as she paced. Within the next year she would take her father's place as the McClaren of McClaren Properties, with all the executive powers that entailed. She laughed. She knew just what she was going to do. Priscilla McClaren was done waiting, and she didn't care who she had to destroy to make Mason her own.

~*~

“I told you they wouldn't care,” Mason reminded Kat as he guided her to the car.

She felt a little sheepish for assuming the Everetts would be judgmental just because they were rich. What did that make her, a classist? Mason's family was nothing like she had envisioned. Where she had expected austere and stuffy, they were warm, and close, and everything she'd always thought a family should be. Huh. Maybe she was a classist. They were genuinely nice people, and she felt like she'd won them over. Well, four out of five, at least. “Cassidy didn't seem as accepting as everyone else.”

“Nugget is a little less trusting than the rest of us,” he defended. “She started working in the prosecutor’s office even before she graduated Georgetown Law.” He sighed. “It's worse now that she's an Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney.”

Whoa. He'd only told her Cassidy was a prosecutor. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney? Great. Instead of freaking out, she said, “I can see how putting the bad guys away can jade a person.”

“She's seen a lot of bad things over the years,” he agreed, distracted a bit as he pulled into traffic.

Wait a second. Cassidy couldn't be that much older than she was. Just how long had she been with the prosecutor's office? “Cassidy is the second oldest, right? After you?”

He nodded. “She's two years behind me, then Cale is two years behind her. Cam is six years younger than Cale– ten years younger than I am, believe it or not.”

She knew most of that, but was doing the math in her head as he talked. Mason was thirty-four, making his sister thirty-two. If Cassidy was associated with the prosecutor's office eight years ago, then she might have been involved with Mila Nemecek's trial. Kat herself had been only twenty-two at the time, dancing in the US National American Smooth Closed Dance Champions with her partner Damian Naccari. They had won, but two weeks later her mother had been convicted and Damian had decided he couldn't dance with the daughter of a convict, no matter her talent. She shook off the unwanted trip down memory lane. She had come home to Tyler to open her studio three years ago hoping her mother's conviction wouldn't taint her, and it hadn't so far. Maybe she was being paranoid. Swallowing, she asked, “Remember when Cassidy said I looked familiar?”

“Sure,” he acknowledged with a barely perceptible shrug.

“I look a lot like my mother.” She paused, then said again, “A lot.”

He nodded slightly, his eyes still on the road. “She must be beautiful, then.”

“Thanks, but that's not what I meant.”

Confusion on his handsome face, he turned toward her. “I'm not sure I'm following you here, babe.”

“Well...” she started. “Mom was tried just under eight years ago. Cassidy might've been in the prosecutor's office when my mother was convicted.”

“Oh,” he said.

“Yeah, 'oh' is right.”

He took his hand off the gearshift to place it on her thigh. “It'll be fine, Kat. Don't worry.”

Sure, sure. Why would she worry if her rich fiance's prosecutor sister knew her mother was a thief and a fraud?

~*~

“Everything will be fine, babe,” Mason reiterated when they arrived at his property.

“I hope so. My mother made her choices, and she's serving her time.” She had to believe the Everetts could separate her from her mother when it came down to it. She smiled as they turned into the driveway. There were much better things to do than worry about her mother. She loved Mason's house, and she was finally alone with him after not only admitting she was in love with him, but he had proposed! She'd been here only a few times before, and was blown away every time. Crafted in stone and glass, surrounded by trees and backing up to a creek, the house was beautiful and rustic in an upscale way.

He pulled into the attached garage, sliding the Audi into its spot between a Mercedes SUV and a custom built motorcycle.

“A motorcycle, Mason?” she asked. “You could get yourself killed.”

He grinned. “Sometimes I like to remember what it was to be a rebel.” He gestured toward the kitchen they'd stepped inside from the garage entrance. “I can't always be Mister Banker-man.”

She swept her gaze around the room. Granite, maple and stainless steel, his was an immaculate gourmet kitchen. She ran his tie between her fingers, fitting her body to his. “So, I get a buttoned up banker and a rebel?” She pulled him closer as she thought back to the last time they were together and his absolutely unrestrained passion, deciding she liked the rebel in him. Why had she never realized that about him? She had never thought about Mason having a rebellious side, just as she'd never expected his family to accept her so easily. “How well do I know you?” she asked. “I love you,” she assured as she pushed to her toes to kiss him, “there's no question about that, but I expected something completely different from your family.”

He wrapped her in his arms, holding her still. “You know me better than anyone. You know how I think.” He brushed his mouth over hers. “You know how I feel.” He dropped kisses down her neck. “You know what I want,” he finished before claiming her mouth completely. He devoured her, sliding one hand into her hair to cup her head.

“There's no denying what you want,” she murmured as she stroked him though his pants. “Be a rebel and take me here,” she whispered before gently nipping at his ear.

Accepting her challenge, he backed her up to the counter, effortlessly lifting her to set her on top as he slid up her dress. She jumped a little when she landed on the cool granite, causing a chuckle to rumble from his chest. “I'll warm you up, babe,” he promised before tearing the lacy thong from her body. “God, I love your underwear,” he said roughly as he pushed two fingers into her.

Taking her mouth with a drugging kiss, he tunneled in and out, curling his fingers to caress her with every pass as his thumb toyed with her. It wasn't long before her back arched and her muscles fluttered around him signaling her impending orgasm. A wicked grin on his chiseled face, he dropped to a crouch, adding his mouth to his fingers. He loved the taste of her on his tongue as it danced over her and the clamp of her knees around his head as her body tensed. When he sucked her into his mouth, she shattered, her cries bouncing off the stone, wood, and steel surfaces of the room.

He gathered her limp body to his chest. “It may not make me a very good rebel, but I want you in my bed.” He carried her to his bedroom, placing her gently on a silk comforter the color of the stormy sea. He watched as she shimmied out of her dress and bra, leaving her naked but for those sexy silver shoes and his diamond ring. “Leave them,” he commanded when she bent to unbuckle her stiletto.

He always loved looking at her, but she was exceptionally gorgeous tonight in the middle of his bed, her mouth swollen from his kisses, her skin flushed from her climax, her hair tousled by his fingers. She was perfect, she was his, and he couldn't let her doubt him. No matter what happened with her mother, Cassidy, Priscilla, or anyone else on the planet, he was never letting her go.

Panting, she turned sultry blue eyes to him. “I'm naked in your bed. Now what are you going to do with me?”

“What do you want me to do?” he asked, one side of his mouth tugged up into a half-smile. He shrugged out of his jacket before loosening his tie. “Do you want my hands on you? My mouth on you?” He took a step back to drape his jacket and tie over the chair in the corner, then slowly unbuttoned his shirt. “Do you want me to take you, slow and easy, or hold you down and ravish you?” He pulled his shirt from his pants, adding it to the pile as he opened his belt, leaving it hanging there. “I could bind your hands with my belt and have you at my mercy,” he pulled the belt from the loops, folding it over in his hands, “or I could spank you with it,” he finished, his dark eyes gleaming.

She jerked. “What? Why?”

He stepped toward her. “For doubting me. For doubting us. For thinking you're not good enough.” He turned, tossing the belt into the chair with his discarded clothing. “But I won't.”

She was sopping wet from his mouth, from her climax, from his words. Something about him spanking her was wickedly sexy. “Maybe I deserve it,” she conceded.

“Maybe you do,” he agreed. He'd never entertained the thought of spanking a woman, and as enticing as the thought was, he didn't want to start with a belt. “Maybe I have a better way of punishing you,” he said before toeing off his shoes and stepping out of his pants.

She eyed the glorious erection captured beneath tight cotton boxer briefs. “Do your worst,” she challenged, a sly smile on her lips.

He watched her for a moment, weighing his options. When he had threatened punishment, he hadn't had anything planned, but now he needed to make good on his promise. Not that he minded the pause. She was spectacular, laid out naked on his bed as she was, but he didn't love her solely for her beauty—there was so much more to her than just her stunning face and tempting body. Still, he couldn't let her get away with doubting him. She had expected him to be ashamed of her, and thought he had hidden her from his family. He tilted his head. Maybe punishment wasn't the right word. He had to show her he would never abandon her no matter the circumstances, that he would never be ashamed of her, and that he wouldn't let anyone treat her like anything less than the amazing woman she was.

She was dying for him as he appraised her through narrowed eyes. She knew he was trying to decide what to do with her, but after his sexy strip tease, she wanted nothing more than the feel of him over her, inside her, loving her. She shuddered. Maybe this was the punishment—staring at her while she ached for him.

A slow grin slid over his face as he crossed to the bed and grabbed her ankle. He teased her with his fingertips before he pulled her toward him until his mouth hovered just above heaven. Torture by tongue. He liked the sound of that.

“Oh, God, Mason,” she whispered as he began to lick. As he teased her, he reached beneath the bed to pull out the vibrator he'd hidden there weeks ago but had yet to use on her. He looked up to flash a smile before he slid the buzzing purple phallus into her, then dropped his head once more to work her with his mouth while he thrust in and out, the rhythm relentless. He had to hold her down as she thrashed against him, her clutch on the sheets so tight he was surprised she didn't tear them to pieces. He gave her no quarter, bringing her to the edge again and again before finally sucking her into his mouth, reveling in her primal scream when he allowed her the climax she desperately wanted.

“Please,” she begged. “Please make love to me.” His mouth was amazing, but she needed him.

“Always,” he promised as he covered her.

~*~

Priscilla nodded, ear to the phone. “Are you sure you can do this? You can't screw this up,” she demanded as she drummed dark red nails against the shiny polish of her desk. “Untraceable, nothing less.”

“Consider it done, Ms.McClaren,” came the clipped reply.

She laughed as she carefully removed the blueprint from the scanner and refiled it, pleased with her plan. Davis was nothing if not discreet, and would take care of the competition. She had waited long enough and there was no way she'd let that kitten of a dancer stand in her way.

~*~

“You need to lead, Jerry. You can't let Liz dominate this dance. She has to follow where you send her,” Kat instructed. As she sent the couple around the room again, she heard the door open and shut. “Excuse me a second, let me see who's here,” she apologized. “Keep doing what you're doing. Good job.”

She turned to leave and ran into two uniformed police officers. “Is something wrong?” she asked the pair.

“We're here to serve a warrant, Miss Nemecek. Please stand aside.” The taller of the two officers brushed past her, gesturing toward a loose ceiling tile above her desk. “Let's take a look up there.”

Kat watched in disbelief as the tile was removed and four white bricks were pulled out. Was that cocaine? In her ceiling? She barely heard them read her rights as she was cuffed. It wasn't until she was sitting in the back of the cruiser that she found her voice. “I didn't know it was there. I didn't put that there. I swear.”

The shorter officer, with his bald head and thick mustache, arched an eyebrow at her. “You have the right to remain silent, Miss Nemecek. I suggest you use it.”

“But, I...” she trailed off. They weren't listening to her anyway. She'd call Mason and he would fix this. A lawyer. He'd have to get her a lawyer. She slumped against the scarred seat. Yesterday had been like a fairytale and today she was handcuffed in the back of a police car before lunchtime.

~*~

Mason gathered his jacket and keys like a man possessed. He'd been in a meeting when Kat's call had come through, and he'd almost missed it. Thank God he hadn't. Arrested for drug possession with intent to sell? This had the stink of Priscilla all over it, but how did he prove it? And how did he get Kat out of this mess?

On the way to the station, he dialed Cassidy's cell. “Kat's been arrested,” he blurted as soon as the line picked up.

“For what?”

“Drug possession with intent. She didn't do it.” He went on to explain situation, sure Cassidy could help.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Fix it. She didn't do this.”

He could hear the frustration in his sister's voice when she replied, “I can't just fix it, Mason. If there's evidence, it will have to be investigated. I know you don't want to believe it—”

He didn't allow her to finish. “She was set up, Cass. I'm as sure of that as I am sure my eyes are brown.”

“If that's the case, that's what the police will find.”

“What good is having a prosecutor for a sister if she can't help my fiancee?” he muttered. With a sigh he spoke into the phone, “I can't just sit by and wait for an investigation. I know she didn't do it. And I know who did.”

“Wait. What?”

“It's Priscilla. She's undermined every relationship I've had, but this time the bitch has gone too far.”

“Excuse me? You're telling me Priscilla McClaren hid drugs in your girl—sorry, your fiancee's studio?”

“Yes. She wants to get Kat out of the way so she can have me.”

“Delusions of grandeur much, big brother?” she scoffed. “Don't you think Priscilla has more important things to do than put your gi—fiancee in prison for possession?”

“I wish she did, Cass. I really do.”

It was Cassidy's turn to sigh. “Look, Mase, I want to help, really I do, but I can't.”

“Can't, or won't?”

“I can't help—this has conflict of interest written all over it, and that's assuming it even gets to trial. If it's as you say, and Katerina is being set up, that will come out in the investigation. And, even if I could help, I wouldn't. If she really did this—”

He cut her off again. “Don't finish that, Cassidy Anne Everett. She didn't do this, and you're going to regret not helping when you could,” he growled, his teeth clenched. She was lucky she was on the other end of the phone and not in the car with him. He might not be prone to violence, but right now he was pretty sure he'd be able to throttle his own sister.

~*~

“How long do I have to stay here?” Kat asked the short officer, whom she had since learned was Officer Longwood.

“A night, maybe two, until someone springs ya. Shoulda thought about that before you broke the law.” He raked his gaze over her before he added, “It's a shame you got into drugs. We might've been able to work out an... agreement if you were a hooker.”

Appalled by his comment, she forced her expression to remain neutral as she merely replied, “I'll be using that right to remain silent now, Officer.”

Mason searched the parking lot for Carter Jamieson's Lexus. He didn't want to walk into the station without an attorney. He hated that he had to call his friend, and he hated Priscilla and her misplaced possessiveness. They had dated junior and senior year of high school, had lost their virginity to each other, but had parted ways when he went to University of Virginia and she to James Madison. They hadn't made any plans, and he'd never thought past the summer after graduation. Hell, he'd been eager to leave Tyler and see the world, so to speak. It wasn't until he'd come back eight years ago that he'd discovered Priscilla carried a torch for him, and it wasn't until he started dating he found she'd not only staked a claim, but had been using drastic measures. Until the incident with Melanie it had been annoying, but this was pure evil. There was no way he would let Kat be punished just because he was in love with her. He'd get Kat out of this mess, and Priscilla would pay for it. He banged his hands against the steering wheel. Just last night he had promised it would all be fine. How the hell was he going to make that happen now? A knock on the window pulled him from his thoughts. Carter had arrived.

He stepped from the car, nodding once in acknowledgment of the lawyer. “You have to fix this. This is all my fault, I didn't do anything to stop Priscilla years ago, and now...” He slammed his car door. “I did this to her, and I don't know what—”

“Mason, calm down,” Carter interrupted his friend's tirade.

“Calm down? Calm down?” He pointed at the station across the lot. “That's the love of my life in there. She's in jail for a crime she didn't commit, facing God knows what. Calming down is not an option.”

Carter held his hands up in surrender. “I get it Mason, I do, but you can't act like a lunatic when we walk in. We'll see what they know, what they charge her with. I have to know what I'm working with in order to help.”

“We can't bail her out?” He leaned against his Audi. “God, I just want to take her home.”

Carter adjusted his rectangular glasses before answering, his grey eyes solemn. “Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the judge and the charge.” At the pain in Mason's dark gaze, he hurried to add, “We'll try. That much I can promise.”

Mason blew out a long breath. “Just get her out, Carter.” He raked a hand through his hair. “I swear she didn't do this.”

Carter's lips went up into a half-smile. “How long have we known each other now? Fifteen years? I never doubted you. I'm just worried about whatever evidence they have and what we can prove.”

“I don't care if we have to make shit up to put Priscilla away. I just need Kat out. Now.”

“C'mon then. Let's see what we're up against.”

It didn't take much for them to find Kat once they'd walked in, her pink dress a bright spot in a sea of blue. She was cuffed, her hands in her lap, sitting in a straight-backed chair. He was by her side in seconds, kneeling on the floor before her.

“Are you okay?”

She nodded. “Physically, I'm fine. I just can't figure out how it got there.”

“Someone put it there, then called in the tip. It's classic”

“Classic? What kind of person would do that?”

“Priscilla,” he spat.

“Wow.” She shook her head. “I love you, Mase, but framing someone for drug trafficking to get them out of the way is a bit extreme.”

He appreciated her stab at levity, even if he didn't feel like laughing. “Unless you're selling drugs on the side, I can't think of another reason there was coke in your ceiling.”

Neither could she, but she couldn't wrap her head around it. Instead of questioning him further, she asked, “Can you get me out of here?”

“Carter is trying now.”

“Jamieson?”

“How many lawyers named Carter do you know?”

She almost smiled at that. “His mother offered to buy Dance With Me just last month. Maybe I should've accepted the offer.”

“Don't think like that. Carter is the best defense attorney in Northern Virginia. He will prove you're innocent, and you will teach for years.”

She opened her mouth just as Officer Longwood returned to his desk. “You can't talk to her, Everett!” he shouted.

“And just why the hell not? She's my fiancee, and I brought her attorney with me.”

“She's in custody.”

Mason stood up, drawing himself to his full six feet. At least four inches taller than the officer, he used that to his advantage, coming toe to toe with the shorter man. “She may be in custody, but she has done nothing wrong.”

“Four kilos of coke says different,” the officer shot back.

“Four kilos she didn't even know was there.”

“Says you.” He stepped away from Mason to grab Kat by the handcuffs. “The lady has an appointment with me and her lawyer. Step aside, lover-boy.”

It was all Mason could do not to slug the short, mustached man. Hands clenched at his sides, he watched Kat disappear behind a scarred wooden door, and there was nothing he could do to help her.