Excerpt, His to Lose — Dan

Dan Cannon sat on his low-slung living room couch facing the wide expanse of floor-to-ceiling window. Rain coated the glass, blurring the panorama of late night city lights. His image reflected in the window as he swirled the whiskey glass absently in his big hand, his eyes staring out at the night without really seeing.

The image of Riley Montgomery kept reappearing in his mind, her lean sensual frame in her trim gray suit and the unmistakable trace of tears in her green eyes. He had to give her credit—whatever baggage dragged her down, she made a fast recovery as soon as she saw him. Her focus on business had snapped into place instantly, and somehow her determined promise for a ‘hands-on’ approach reassured him.

Or maybe, old man, he laughed to himself, what you are experiencing isn’t reassurance. Maybe it’s something more exotic, like, maybe, pure animal lust. He hadn’t felt attraction like this in a long time. Or ever, he questioned, trying to remember. He forced his memory past Bryn and ran smack up against Cathleen. He couldn’t remember feeling desire for Cathleen, although he knew at some point he had. He sighed. The fact that Riley gave zero acknowledgement to his insinuation meant one of two things—either she had no antennae for male/female communication, or she recognized and wasn’t interested. Either way, he felt amused and intrigued.

But whether she intrigued him or not had to remain completely beside the point. This wasn’t about relationships, or anything personal. She came highly recommended, and he had to hope she could find their money hole. A wave of despair swept over him. Wherever the money had gone, it went out the door on his watch. It would take a damn impressive discovery for him to be relieved of the guilt he felt. He shook his head. No matter how hard he tried, it seemed as though he’d never get it quite right with anything in his life.

As for hope, he had learned a long time ago, and in more than one situation, that hope was one of those absurd concepts. He made the best choice, based on the information, that Riley would be competent in her task. That’s what his life had come down to: gather information, weigh options, make decisions. There were expectations, demands, problems, solutions. Problems got solved or they didn’t. One way or another, this problem would be solved and hope would have nothing to do with it.

He had no doubt that other problems would occur and he’d have to solve them as well. That was his job. Tiredly, he accepted that his life was made up of problems and solutions, running off in a long stream into the future like the stripes down a highway. He couldn’t see much else to expect. He tried to reassure himself that success for him meant success for Cannon, more contracts, happy clients, stunning projects of brick or stone taking their places in the real world. Why couldn’t that be enough?

His jaw pulsed, and he threw the rest of the whiskey down his throat before thrusting himself up from the couch. He stood at the window briefly then turned off the lights. The black silk robe brushed open against his boxers as he walked to his bedroom.

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